San Juan Islands
Including the Canadian Gulf Islands, Broughton Archipelago & Desolation Sound
Let the magic of the Pacific Northwest cast its spell when you charter with NW Explorations. Our spectacular scenery and protected waters are truly a boater’s paradise, and our growing list of repeat charterers will confirm that there are no finer cruising grounds and no finer charter fleet!
There is an adventure waiting for you in the lush green wilderness, snowcapped mountains, remote anchorages and bustling marinas of the Pacific Northwest. Bareboat charter within the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands, the Broughton Archipelago and Desolation Sound with NW Explorations and experience the charter trip of a lifetime in the world’s most amazing cruising arenas!
View our sample itinerary:
- PDF download: Cruising the San Juan & Gulf Islands (PDF)
- Interactive tour: Cruising the San Juan & Gulf Islands (Google Map). Red pins indicate destinations and yellow bubbles indicate points of interest. Zoom in and out, switch to Satellite mode. Have fun planning your trip!
The Inside Passage and Alaska
The coast of British Columbia and Alaska is a magnificent maze of islands, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and glaciers that has allured boaters for time immemorial. With its protected channels, lush green forests and abundance of wildlife, it is a cruisers paradise! You will see bald eagles as they search for salmon from atop a towering Sitka Spruce, grizzly bears strolling the beach or fishing in a stream and humpback whales defying gravity as they catapult themselves clear out of the sea.
Explore the area with NW Explorations by either a group flotilla or individual bareboat charter. Unlike larger vessels, small-boat charters provide the opportunity to cruise smaller coves and anchor for the night. You will experience the remoteness that Alaska and British Columbia have to offer as well as the quintessential coastal towns and communities with all of their culture and local flavor.
Best of all, no matter which way you choose to travel with us, you are guaranteed to experience the same level of unparalleled service our repeat clients have come to expect.
Captain Brian’s Thoughts: Why cruise in Alaska?
After spending over 20 years as CEO I retired seven years ago. Six months after retirement my wife of 34 years informed me that she married me for better or worse; but not for lunch. She suggested that I should find a job, buy a company but for sure do anything that would get me out of the house. After feeling much unappreciated, a company found me and I bought what is now NW Explorations in 2004. Having held a Coast Guard License since 1962 and a long time Grand Banks owner, the transition to owner of the largest all Grand Banks Charter fleet felt very comfortable. My passion was cruising our Grand Banks. We found a way to participate in my passion that was complementary to our business; leading a group of Grand Banks to Alaska.
Beginning in 2005 we started the guided flotilla trips to Alaska. We have a licensed Coast Guard Captain, a certified Alaskan Naturalist and a deck hand aboard our lead boat. The lead boat has an abundance of navigation and communications equipment as well as spare parts for our fleet of Grand Banks. The summer is divided up into six separate “legs” or trips. The first leg starts in Bellingham and terminates in Ketchikan. These clients get off their boats in Ketchikan and new clients fly in and get on the boats for next trip and so on throughout the summer until the final leg and group of clients take the traditional Inside Passage trip from Ketchikan to Bellingham. This year, however, we will be exploring Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, before heading down the Inside Passage back to Bellingham, WA.
We are frequently asked, “Why do you keep returning to Alaska?” For me, it is three reasons: First, the anticipation, planning and preparing our boats is a spring ritual that would be missed. It is a great sense of accomplishment knowing that we have over 25,000 miles of cumulative cruising miles and never had a major system failure. It would not seem like spring if we were not headed north. Second is the absence of many of the day to day activities most of us our engaged in. The frequent rings of cell phones, office phones, home phones, e-mail, texting, tweeting, blogging, posting. The daily news cycles, balancing act with needs of families, friends and affiliations. When we are underway, most of the time we are out of cell phone and e-mail contact. There is no TV, newspapers or e-mail updates. We are interrupted only by breaching whales, magnificent scenery, the sighting of a brown bear or the soaring of an eagle. Third are the people that we meet and cruise with. We have made many new friends with the people whom we have cruised with. We have the time to simply sit and have a conversation. A dinner that is unrushed while we are at anchor in a pristine wilderness looking at the wolves on the beach. The chance for a couple to spend time together without interruptions. This is a trip of a life time that we get to enjoy six times a year.