September 22nd - October 6th, 2023
Preboard & Check-out 5PM on Friday, September 22nd
Provision & Depart on Saturday, September 23rd
Disembark 2PM on Friday, October 6th
Note: This Flotilla requires a minimum of three boats to run.
On this trip you will travel through the wonderfully diverse Salish Sea. Along the way you will stay in charming towns and visit secluded, tranquil anchorages. You’ll captain your vessel across open straits, through narrow waterways, along densly forested shorelines with cedar branches draped in moss, and under the towering 7,000 ft peaks of BC’s coastal range. Our new itinerary gives you nearly a week to spend in the renowned crusing area of Desolation Sound. During this trip, you’ll have the opportunity to luxuriate at the Dent Island lodge, enjoy fresh seafood with a waterfront view at The Laughing Oyster and relax in the calmest waters you’ve ever seen in Prideaux Haven. Your two-week itinerary takes you to a new place almost every day, including Ganges, Madeira Park, Grace Harbour, Prideaux Haven, Toba Inlet, Dent Island, Octopus Islands, Gorge Harbour, Chemainus, and Friday Harbor.*
*Note: This schedule is a tentative itinerary. The final route will be determined by the weather conditions, currents, group input, and the lead boat Captain. Please note that all participants are free to cruise on their own or with the group.
Check out the stunning scenery and wildlife from our 2018 flotilla around Desolation Sound.
Embark on a two-week journey around British Columbia’s stunning Desolation Sound—a place revered by mariners all over the world. This trip boasts some of the world’s most impressive fjords, along with gorgeous mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife. September is also the absolute best time to go—enjoy sunny weather, the warmest water in the Pacific Northwest, beautiful fall foliage, and quiet anchorages that beat the hustle and bustle of high season any day.
We’ve mapped out the perfect itinerary—taking you to the best stops and secret hideaways across Desolation Sound. Stay in luxury at Dent Island Resort, hike at the remote Octopus Island Marine Park, dine at the charming Laughing Oyster with your fellow travelers and relax in the calmest waters you’ve ever seen in Prideaux Haven. Your two-week trip takes you to a new place almost every day, including Reid Harbor, Poet’s Cove, Madeira Park, Grace Harbour, Prideaux Haven, Toba Inlet, Dent Island, Octopus Islands, Chemainus, Friday Harbor, and Bellingham.
Time and time again we hear that our flotillas are the most romantic experience in a couple’s life. And we don’t doubt it. Nothing does more for a relationship than some fresh ocean air and a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life—no cellphones, no computers, and no rushing around. Whether you book a trip with friends, family, or your partner—this trip offers the peace, laughter, and adventure you need to reconnect with the people you love, and have a fantastic time doing it.
This area is rich in First Nations history and culture. As the traditional territory of the Sliammon First Nations the Desolation Sound area has been inhabited for thousands of years. Some of the anchorages we’ll stop at were once Native Villages and still show signs of their first inhabitants. One site at Grace Harbour was so secluded, it was one of the few villages that incorporated multiple tribes. Desolation Sound was given its name by Captain George Vancouver in 1792, who found the rainy and remote area unpleasant. About 200 years later, the Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park was created and today, Desolation Sound is one of the most beloved boating destinations in the Pacific Northwest. While summer months see up to about 100 boats at each of the popular anchorages, during the quieter early fall (when we go), you will likely get a spot all to yourself! Desolation Sound also offers relatively warm water—making it perfect for swimming, scuba diving, and harvesting shellfish.
Enjoy a pristine, freshly-varnished yacht, with spa-quality linens, a professional-grade kitchen, and a private sitting area—complete with all the sunsets and glasses of wine you can handle. The icing on the cake? You get it all to yourself. Our fleet of Grand Banks and DeFever yachts—which are all at least 42-feet long—are some of the best in the business; each boat undergoes an extensive 18-page checklist that ensures you get to skipper a near-perfect yacht.
Whether you’re a seasoned captain or new to the boating world, the NW Explorations team will make your trip seamless. The lead boat—skippered by a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain—is with you the entire way, giving you tips, training, and keeping your itinerary on track. We help with whatever you need: whether it’s getting picked up at the airport or finding the best restaurant in town. And lastly, our certified naturalist will narrate key sightseeing spots, explain the history of local cultures and indigenous tribes, and pinpoint rare wildlife.
Your efforts to keep the boats running smoothly, surprising us every day with a walk, and taking the time out to buy us a beer in the local pub, give us a car tour in the larger towns, and deliver us with bags to the airport made the adventure really enjoyable.
We have chartered with NWE nine times now and Change of Latitude is the best equipped boat we’ve used. Kirk was impressed by the spotless engine room and premium navigation equipment. I appreciated the quality cookware and little touches like hooks in all the right places.
I can say without exception we have never had an experience that came close to matching our adventure. You and your staff were accommodating and gracious at every step of our arrangements. The NW Explorations staff operates at a Ritz Carlton level of service.
The trip of a lifetime. That’s how everyone described my upcoming assignment to Alaska on a 10-day charter with NW Explorations. After returning I have to say, it was that and so much more… I can now say without a doubt that I wouldn’t have wanted to experience Alaska any other way. The flotilla allows clients to visit the immensely beautiful Alaskan coast independently on a chartered boat, while providing the comfort of guidance from a lead vessel (hence the name Mother Goose) and the camaraderie of fellow charterers doing the same thing.
By joining NW Explorations on one of the company’s guided flotillas, you will be embarking on an adventure with fellow cruisers–and have the comfort of knowing an experienced captain is aboard the lead vessel. Along the way, you’ll hear from the lead boat regarding native culture, local history, and wildlife. Once the flotilla arrives at an anchorage, you have the option of participating in guided on-shore and dinghy explorations, or relaxing in your chartered Grand Banks yacht. NW Explorations is a first-class operation, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Consider the fact that 70% of their charters are taken by repeat customers.
Guests often fly in and out to join our charter clients for portions of their trip. There are certainly locations along the way where scheduled flights facilitate this happening. In other cases, we must employ the assistance of chartered float planes. There is always a way to make “crew changes” happen along the way!
Each flotilla has a detailed itinerary which will specify areas that have cellular and/or Internet service to help our clients plan ahead if they will need to check in with family or business while away.
The flotilla price includes the rental of the vessel, insurance, moorage fees, and the support of the lead vessel. The lead vessel has a USCG licensed captain, a marine technician, and a naturalist. Our crew will be there to catch your lines, assist with any maneuvering needs, communicate over VHF on wildlife sightings/important sites, and even collect your garbage & recycling at the end of each day! Fuel and provisions are at the expense of the client as well as transportation costs getting to and from the specific port of call where your vessel is moored.
Each flotilla has a detailed itinerary that will specify locations where provisioning opportunities will be available. We do recommend for those charters that originate in Washington and cross into Canada shortly thereafter to wait and purchase their fruits and vegetables until they have crossed into Canada. Certain restrictions apply and can change regarding these items.
CANCELLATION FEES: (1) All cancellations must be received in writing. (2) Final payment is due 120 days prior to your departure date. If you must cancel your charter, the following terms shall apply:
- 120 or more days: Cancellation Fee of $500 per week, no proration
- 119 – 90 days: Entire reservation deposit
- 89 – 0 days: Entire charter fee
Each flotilla participant is asked to fill out a Medical & Emergency Form. The purpose of this form is to provide the crew on the lead boat with valuable information to use in the case of an emergency. To the extent that the crew is able to assist, they will make every effort to do so. For those situations that are outside our level of training, we have VHF radios and a satellite phone that allow us to be in constant communication with the US Coast Guard. Although it is not a situation that we anticipate or hope for our clients to have, we are prepared to make arrangements to have guests flown out to receive medical treatment if needed.