Cruising the San Juan Islands

Chartering a Boat

Islands & Marinas

Getting up to speed

We started preparing for our cruise two weeks before our Oct. 3rd departure date. First we picked up a copy of the 2002 Wagoner Cruising Guide and a chart covering the area. Danelle, at San Juan Yachting, had assured us that there would be a full compliment of charts on board the Exodus, but we wanted to familiarize ourselves with the islands and the straits & passages around them.

It looks to me like the biggest difference between the San Juans and San Francisco Bay is the swift tidal flow through the narrow passes between the islands. Weather Underground, provides marine forecasts, tide information, and the speed of the currents through the major straits and passages. Washburn’s Tables with Current Atlas also covers this area and is available at marine book stores for $5.95.

Our general plan was to spend our nights in marinas where we would have shore power and a nearby restaurant. We would have a leisurely breakfast on board and leave the next morning around 10am, planning to be at our next destination by 4pm. Lunches would be on board either on the way or anchored in some protected bay.

We decided to choose our next marina each morning rather than have a set itinerary. This meant we would need to know a fair amount about all the marinas so we could pick and choose at random depending on the weather and our current inclination. I made up a form, (leaving room for San Juan Yachting to make note of any potential marine hazards and add thier comments.), and we started collecting information.

The internet is a great source for information on the San Juan Islands and the surrounding area. IslandCAM provides a real time look at several marinas. The Washington State web site, "Your Guide to the San Juan Islands" has a list of most marinas and state marine parks along with their web sites. Using these, along with the Wagoner Cruising Guide, we were able to get a pretty fair idea of what we would find at each location.