GUNKHOLING: the lost art of cruising | NW Explorations


GUNKHOLING: the lost art of cruising

Won’t you join us so we may properly introduce you to GUNKHOLING?

While Gunkholing may sound like a smelly and messy activity, it is for many cruisers the ultimate goal in cruising.   It is finding the small, quaint, and most importantly private place to drop anchor.

GUNKHOLING, according to Wikipedia is a boating term referring to a type of cruising in shallow or shoal water, meandering from place to place, spending the nights in coves. The term refers to the gunk, or mud, typical of the creeks, coves, marshes, sloughs, and rivers that are referred to as gunkholes. Because of the slow pace, this type of cruising is best enjoyed by those cruising by sailboat or trawler. While not necessary, gunkholers typically seek out the serenity of isolated anchorages over the crowds of marinas and popular bays.


We hold that gunkholing embodies the ultimate cruising lifestyle – it’s one of those rare experiences that is best enjoyed slowly and deliberately. Gunkholing is the type of cruising that makes our coast one of the best locales on the planet.  We are blessed with 1,000s of kilometers of wilderness coastline where the mountains fall right into the sea.  We have marinas that range the luxury to quirky.   Those that are in the wilderness to ones that in the center of major cities.   Anchorages where you can be the only boat to ones with over a hundred boats.   Where can even boast a few anchorages with water warm enough for comfortable swimming.

Some prefer to conquer oceans; we thrive on a good cup of coffee in a peaceful anchorage or quaint marina. Some would spend days and days aboard; we prefer a shoreside adventure such as a hike under the canopy of our coastal rainforest.  Some brandish their swords as they battle other boats on a race course; we prefer to raft up to our fellow boats and make a few new friends.

The magic of gunkholing is really a collection of small experiences that weave together into the fabric of our boating community.  It is impossible to fully describe what one gains by embracing the gunkholing lifestyle with a passage of words, but here is a small sample of the threads that combine to provide the allure of this pastime:

  • The satisfaction of piloting your boat into an unfamiliar harbour by making
    reference to the local charts and publications
  • The joy of kids exploring tidal pools
  • Flashing the barbeque up after a day of cruising from one island to the next.
  • Beachcombing poker – win or lose those treasures found earlier in the day
  • Sitting back and watch an eagle dive for her dinner right next to you
  • The playful banter as we line up at the pilgrimage to the shoreside showers with a towel and kit in tote
  • The camaraderie of flotilla cruising
  • Watching the best in people come out as they assist with docking, mechanical challenges and tips as to the best spot to catch shellfish, take a dip or find the elusive baked goods
  • Sharing the waters with orca whales, dolphins, harbour seals and sea lions

The term originates from that spectacular gunk that oozes off an anchor as it breaks the water.  We know it to mean so much more.  Won’t you join us so we may properly introduce you to GUNKHOLING?


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