Sharing the joy of the cruising lifestyle with family and friends is incredibly rewarding. It brings people closer together and provides opportunities to learn new skills, enjoy nature, and have fun in a relaxed environment on the water.
And, most importantly you don’t need a second stateroom on your boat to invite overnight guests to go boating with you.
Guests enjoying learning about the boating lifestyle.
Pacific Northwest Cruising to B&B’s
When my husband, Peter, and I were searching for the perfect cruising boat, one of my criteria was to have a second stateroom so that we could invite our children or friends to join us. As it turned out, the boat we fell in love with did not have a spare room. Peter convinced me that we wouldn’t need it because 1) it would seldom be used as sleeping quarters and 2) would most likely end up being the catchall space for spare boat parts and extraneous stuff.
After one season of boating, I had no doubt he was right.
Over the course of nine years and 20,000 cruising miles, we have had other people on board with us only five times and for periods of no more than a week at a time. We discovered a great way to handle overnight excursions with family or friends on board is to find marinas with hotels or Bed and Breakfast’s nearby.
How does cruising to B&B’s work? Peter and I sleep on board and our guests sleep ashore. This allows our guests to fully participate in the boating activities during the day and then in the evenings they can retire to comfortable accommodations. And, we can often enjoy some of the land amenities offered our guests such as pools and restaurants.
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B & B’s are an excellent way to cruise with family and friends.
Pacific Northwest Cruising to B&B’s
Our most memorable time cruising to B&B’s was when our boat first arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Peter and I were excited to share our great love for our boat and our cruising lifestyle with his parents who, up to this time, had been following our cruising adventures from afar through our photos, stories, and satellite location texts. Where better to make them a part of our boating adventure than in the beloved San Juan/ Canadian Gulf Islands where Peter spent many of his childhood summers.
Peter’s parents live on Orcas Island year around, so this was the logical starting point for the four-day cruise we carefully planned. Our criteria for this cruise was:
- Space our stops so that we were underway no more than three hours at a time.
- Select inns within easy walking distance of the marinas where we docked.
- Find nearby dining venues.
We normally create a tentative itinerary before a journey, keeping the schedule very flexible in case of weather challenges. In this instance, we needed to make reservations for overnight accommodations well before knowing the weather conditions. Our timing for this trip was after Labor Day weekend, so most summer vacationers had returned home, and overnight accommodations were not difficult to secure. We found that most hotels/inns do not charge cancellation fees as long as you notify them within 24 hours of the reservation. So if we had to cancel or rearrange our schedule due to weather we would not be penalized. Fortunately for us, the weather was spectacular. Our days were shorter and evenings cool, but our short cruising days ensured that we would be docked and settled long before sunset.
View from the deck at Poet’s Cove Resort & Spa.
Pacific Northwest Cruising to B&B’s
The morning of our first day, we picked Pete’s parents up at Deer Harbor Marina on the west side of Orcas Island where they could leave their car for four days. Our first day’s destination was Poet’s Cove Marina Resort & Spa in Bedwell Harbor on Pender Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands. Not only is this the home of a full-service resort community, it is also one of the locations of the Canadian Customs office. We had to pass through customs to travel in the Canadian Gulf Islands, so this was the perfect stop for our first night. We enjoyed a stunning sunset from the deck of the resort followed by a great meal.
The crew sitting in the patio garden at Hastings House.
The next port of call was Salt Spring Marina at Salt Spring Island. We picked this marina because it is conveniently located near the charming town of Ganges and is next door to the wonderful British-style Hastings House County House Hotel, well-known for its award-winning restaurant. We made reservations for Peter’s parents to stay the night in one of their 18 luxury guest suites, and we reserved a table for four to dine there as well. What fun for Pete and I to be able to enjoy the stunning views and beautiful English gardens spread over 22 acres of this country house hotel located on the hill above the marina.
In the cockpit of Bee Weems at Roche Harbor Marina.
Our last stop of the tour was Roche Harbor on the North side of San Juan Island. Here, we passed through U.S. Customs to re-enter U.S waters. Roche Harbor is home to one of two major marinas on San Juan Island. The other is in the town of Friday Harbor, the largest town in the San Juan Islands.
These two major marinas contrast greatly in atmosphere. Friday Harbor is a bustling port with the car ferry and other commercial boating activity mixed in with pleasure yachts. Whereas, Roche Harbor is reminiscent of days gone by, with its historic waterfront hotel built in the 19th century and the classic yachts in the harbor. Set in a spectacular naturally protected harbor, it is busy with boat and seaplane traffic and yet is relaxing and peaceful.
We reserved rooms for Peter’s folks this third night in the contemporary boutique hotel on the hillside above the harbor. Accommodations are also available in Hotel de Haro, the oldest continually operating hotel in Washington State. There is no town along the shore of this harbor, but a small grocery market and both casual and formal restaurants are available to marina guests.
Watching the color ceremony in Roche Harbor is a must-do experience.
More like a yacht club than a marina, Roche Harbor caters to the upscale cruising crowd and at the same time is casual and family friendly. Part of the charm of this nautical community is their nod to yachting traditions of earlier times. Every evening just before sunset, from early May to the end of September, a traditional color ceremony is held. The dock staff retires the flags to music and the boom of a cannon. Following this ceremony, announcements about weather and special events are made. My favorite moment of this four-day cruise was watching Peter arm-in-arm with his parents standing at attention during this special ceremony. What a wonderful conclusion to this magical vacation.
The next morning, we cruised at a leisurely pace the short distance back to Deer Harbor Marina; all of us relishing the amazing gift of spending just the right amount of time underway balanced with beautiful settings ashore, perfect weather, memorable meals and great company.
~Dorothy W. Trogdon