How to get to
|Crossing the border||Who's coming?|
From the United States
There are no ferries direct from the US. You should drive north on the I5, crossing the border into Canada at Blaine. From there, you can follow the signs to the BC Ferries terminal at Tsawassen, about a 20 minute drive. Here's a quick summary:
On the Canadian side of the border, you'll find yourself on Highway 99. Drive for about 17 miles, then take Exit 28 for Highway 17 -- you'll exit right, but turn left and go back over Highway 99. Once on Highway 17, as long as you followed the sign for the ferries, you just keep driving until you reach the payment booths. You want the Southern Gulf Islands route. Follow directions for "From the Lower Mainland" below for more.
From the San Juan Islands:
If you live in the San Juans, you already know more than I do about Washington State Ferries. The spring schedule is not posted, but I believe there will be one sailing a day to Sidney, on Vancouver Island, and one back. I also believe this would be the most economical route, given the cheaper fare from Vancouver Island to Galiano. See the section "From Vancouver Island" below.
Here's a WSF web page for US travellers to Vancouver Island.
From the Lower Mainland:
BC Ferries Southern Gulf Island Ferry leaves from Tsawassen, south of Vancouver. Here's the schedule for sailings to Sturdies Bay on Galiano. The return schedule is here. Note that times vary with the day of the week, for example, if you travel on Friday it will vary from Saturday's timing.
Fares are here -- be aware that these are one way only, so you must pay again to get off the island, but the return fare is lower. Travelling on weekdays is cheaper than on weekends, if this can be fitted into your plans.
You can reserve space both ways. Although space should not be a problem on these dates, there is no guarantee of space. There is a fee for reservations. Here's the web page.
From Vancouver Island:
You catch the Southern Gulf Islands Ferry at Schwartz Bay (about 3 miles from Sidney). The good news is that your fare is a return fare, and it's still cheaper than the Tsawassen ferry. You can see the schedule to Sturdies Bay here, and the return schedule here.
On your own keel:
From Sidney, on Vancouver Island, it's about 15 nautical miles to Montague Harbour. From Nanaimo, it would be closer to 20. Read on for Chemainus.
If you are coming from the San Juans, or passing through them from Port Townsend, your most convenient entry to Canada is Bedwell Harbour on Pender Island. Going home, you can re-enter the US at Roche Harbor or Friday Harbor.
It's a serious undertaking to sail over from the mainland, or from Puget Sound, as you will be crossing big water either way. Even sailing from Vancouver Island, another Gulf Island or the San Juans is potentially dangerous. Anyone contemplating any of these crossings must have a suitable, properly equipped boat and the expertise required for ocean sailing. Power and Sail Squadrons in both Canada and the US provide training, as do various other certified organizations. Your safety is your concern.
At a minimum an expert sailor will carry all the required safety equipment, charts and compass, tide and current tables, water and snacks. A VHF radio let you communicate and provides current weather information.
Your safety is your responsibility.
Kirk Coleman provided this information on an alternative launch from Vancouver Island
Chemainus for Montague Harbour