Sailing in the Gulf Islands

With wind full in our sails, sun shining brightly on our faces, the concerns of life just blew away with the wind. Sailing in the gulf islands was fantastic!

Written Gretta Kennedy • Traveling islanders
Traveling Companions: Captain Chris, 1st mate Scott and Adventurous Annabelle

I quite enjoy new experiences, especially when those experiences have an element of adventure to them. I was enjoying an afternoon with Jay and the boys down at the dock when a friend pulled up in his sailboat and asked if we wanted to go out for an hour or so.

None of us had ever been in a sailboat, but jumped at the chance for a new adventure of sailing in the gulf islands.

We live on the East side of Vancouver Island right next to the gateway to the gulf Islands and directly across from Salt Spring Island. The natural landscape easily makes this one of the most beautiful places in the world.

It’s no wonder people from all over the world travel to the Islands for their vacation time. The activities and attractions abound, the list is never ending.

We hopped in the small sail boat with life jackets on and I quickly decided sailing is a fun activity.

Sailing in the gulf islands, sailing, Vancouver Island sailing, Salt Spring Island sailing tripYes, even though our Captain Chris looks like a wild man with his tongue hanging out in this picture, we still trusted him with our lives.

All I have known of sailing is what I’ve learned from movies. It seems someone always falls overboard when the boom (you know, that big bar at the bottom of the sail) swings quickly from one side to the next, knocking the unsuspecting person over. So though this was at the back of my mind as a possibility, I was still able to relax.

Watching Jay sprawled out on his stomach over the top of the boat when the boom swung by, I figured he was the most likely to get knocked overboard anyways.

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With wind full in our sails, sun shining brightly on our faces, the cares of the day, the concerns of life just blew away with the wind.

Our friend and captain, Chris let the boys play with the rudder a bit and was patient as I asked questions trying to figure out exactly how it’s possible to get back to the dock even when the wind is blowing in the opposite direction.

As we headed back, I stuck my feet over the edge into the water and a few squeals of delight escaped as we turned hard into the wind.

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I felt like I would soon fall in the water or tip over, but was quickly assured I was perfectly safe and this was normal.  Who knew a boat could tip so much and not fall over?  After an hour of sailing in the gulf islands Captain Chris brought us back to the dock and we said goodbye.

What a fun, spontaneous outing. Next time, we’ll have to go for longer.


  • I have to say I'm very jealous as I've lived in Vancouver my whole life and have yet to sail around the Gulf Islands although it's high up on my list. Did the experience make you want to learn to sail yourselves? Our nomadic life actually started with the plan to buy a sailboat and travel by sea. However after over a year of learning to sail, researching routes and even boat shopping we decided that we did not have enough money or experience to do it right. It's still on our list of future goals though! - Reply

    • There is something very appealing to us to one day go for a longer sailing trip, but maybe with friends that know what they are doing! And maybe some friends with a big expensive yacht that can take us around the world. We definitely enjoyed our little sailing trip, but I don't think owning a sail boat is in our future plans at the moment. But good for you! I hope you can make it! - Reply

  • Great article! This looks like so much fun, I've only ever been on cruise ships and ferries, never a sailing boat. How does the boat sail back when the winds blowing the other way lol! - Reply

    • Hi Paul! I just remember from the movies you are supposed to yell "tacking!!!" and then brace yourself! We were having fun with that. Our little sail boat was a lot of fun because it turned on a dime! - Reply

  • In my younger days I spent my entire summer in boats on the St. Lawrence river. Many different shapes, sizes and speeds of motor boats. Never been sailing though. I think I'd like it, especially here around the islands but I would want to be on a really big sailboat. Even though you were on a small sailboat I'm jealous especially because of where you got to sail. Happy to see you all enjoying yet another adventure together. Thanks for sharing! - Reply

    • I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, Shelley. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I didn't have to be responsible for knowing or remembering anything technical. We were with someone who did it all for us. :) It helped to make it just that much more relaxing. Did you live along the St Lawrence River as a child? I've never spent time out that way, but hope to see it one of these days. -g - Reply