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Campbell River to Mill Bay: The Trip, the Currents, the Plan

A few weeks ago, we moved our boat from Campbell River to Mill Bay. We did this because she is for sale and we knew that moving her down to Mill Bay would mean bringing her to a larger potential market- and this is also where the broker we chose to sell her has his office. So, after waiting two weeks for a weather window, we altered our plans a little to get out of Campbell River and headed south to Mill Bay. We had initially planned to head directly south along the coast of Vancouver Island, but there aren't any places to hide from the wind for 50 miles along the coast and the wind just didn't seem to line up with currents on any of the days we had to leave. So, eventually, we gave in to nature and decided to alter our course and head east to the sunshine coast before heading south and the back across the strait again to get to Mill Bay. Here is a little bit of info on the route we took, the currents we dealt with and where we stayed our nights. There is also an interactive map at the bottom so you can geographically see where we travelled!

First stop: Heading to Savary Island

Our initial plan was to head south from Campbell River to Comox (the only real anchorage in a 50 mile stretch). However, we couldn't seem to find a day when current times, the sun and the wind all lined up. For this reason we eventually decided it made more sense to sail over and down the sunshine coast. This would mean our initial trip out of Campbell River would be shorter and we wouldn't have to leave before sunrise like would have happened if we headed to Comox. This proved to be a great idea as we were able to leave Campbell River at noon on a slack current and arrive at Savary Island before dark. So, night #1 was spent at Savary in nice calm waters, minus a few boat wizzing by in the night.

Second Stop: Pender Harbour

Day two was probably the only day when we didn't have to deal much with currents. Still, we decided to leave early to have the knot or so of current with us and to avoid a large blow that was supposed to come into the strait in late afternoon. We headed south from Savary down the Malaspina Strait between the Sunshine Coast and Texada Island all the way to Pender Harbour. We followed this route instead of heading across the strait right away because we knew there were a ton of spots we could tuck into if we needed to escape the wind. Luckily, we were able to get into Pender Harbour without any problems.

Third Stop: De Courcy Island

The third day we left Pender Harbour and were able to sail part of the way across the Georgia Strait. Once on the other side we were luckily able to motor through Gabriola Pass, despite having two knots of current against us. We were lucky that on this day there wasn't a large tide change in the middle of the day causing a crazy current, as the current can run up to 8+ knots in this area and neither of us had a boat equipped to fight that kind of current. We had a backup plan of staying on the Georgia Strait side of Gabriola if we for some reason hit the pass too late when the current was too strong, but we luckily made it through in time and motored a few more kilometers to De Courcy Island where we anchored for the night.

Fourth Stop: Mill Bay

Our last day consisted of fog, lots of logs and running with a 2+ knot current all the way from De Courcy through Sansum Narrows and on to Mill Bay. We usually have a cruising speed of about 5-6 knots, but with the current we were running up to 9 knots at the end of the narrows and averaged 6.5 knots for the day.

This map shows our path, as well as the passes that we went through to make it to Mill Bay.

If you would like to watch our videos of these adventure, you can see them on our YouTube channel- episodes 57-60. You can also see more info about the passes and currents discussed above through this Canadian Yachting page.

We love to chat with other cruisers about trip planning, so if you would like to chat with us more about this trip or others, feel free to send us an email- it's the fastest way to reach us.

Also, shout out to Mae for adding some of her amazing shots for this post!

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