Forgive the sighs of relief, but after two years of writing, editing, revising, improving, producing and proofing, followed by a nearly three-month turnaround at the printer, Jennifer and James Hamilton's extraordinary Cruising the Secret Coast cruising guide is here.
The complete title of the book is Waggoner Cruising Guide's Cruising the Secret Coast—Unexplored Anchorages on British Columbia's Inside Passage. That's what the book is about‐seldom visited (and often unvisited) fascinating destinations on the B.C.coast. The destinations range from Esquimalt Harbour, just west of Victoria, to St. John Harbour the edge of Milbanke Sound on the central B.C. coast, nearly 100 miles north of Vancouver Island. With a few exceptions, all the destinations are a long way from the city.
Jennifer Hamilton's writing is tight and easy to follow, and the photos (253 in all, most of them by James Hamilton) are exceptional. The book describes the destinations and tells how to get in and where to anchor. The book's 63 maps are filled with icons that explain where to anchor, hike, and take the dinghy or kayak. The maps were created especially for this book by our graphic artist Marni Erwin, and they make exploration understandable‐challenging in many cases, but understandable.
Secret Coast, as I'm sure the book will be called, is about more than navigation. Jennifer and James Hamilton are students of the history of the coast, especially the logging and fishing history. They outline hikes to take and treasures to find, such as an early 20th century steam donkey left behind in the woods, abandoned 1920s logging trucks, and the ruins of once‐thriving canneries.
The book begins with chapters describing the Hamiltons' approach to remote destination boating, with solid information about food, water conservation, spares to carry, auxiliary power, even how to do laundry on board. Then comes a chapter packed with general tips and techniques: clothes to wear, safety equipment, inflatable kayaks, bear precautions, insect repellant. Then an extensive chapter on anchoring, and why their anchors don't drag.
Finally, the cruising: Esquimalt Harbour, just west of Victoria; Sechelt Inlet, overlooked by boats on their way to Princess Louisa Inlet; Actaeon Sound, off Drury Inlet at the north end of the Broughtons; little‐known Fort Rupert and Suquash near Port Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island; Seymour and Belize Inlets, behind notorious Nakwakto Rapids.
These destinations could contain a lifetime of cruising, and they're still south of Cape Caution. North of Cape Caution, the boats are fewer and the destinations are wilder: Smith and Boswell inlets, at the back of Smith Sound; the head of Rivers Inlet; Draney Inlet, branching off Rivers Inlet; the Hakai area, including the remarkable Goose Group; and the maze of channels, inlets, coves and tidal lagoons bordering Queen Charlotte Sound between Hakai Passage and Seaforth Channel.
I appreciate that these place names will just be words to those who haven't already cruised the Inside Passage. But for those who have traveled north, they are an invitation to get off the “highway” and explore the places they know exist but haven't seen. Cruising the Secret Coast shows the way.
As the publisher and editor of the project I know I am biased, but I think Secret Coast has raised the bar for cruising guides. It will be an instant classic. It's magnificent.
— Robert Hale, publisher, Waggoner Cruising Guide
It's not unusual for books to be written about trends. Books that start trends are rather more rare—but this is one of them. Jennifer and James Hamilton's Cruising the Secret Coast is inspiring cruisers to explore islands and inlets they've never noticed before, from Esquimalt near Victoria right up the Inside Passage to Queen Charlotte Sound.
With gas prices so high, boaters who like to head to the wild shores of Alaska have been looking for destinations closer to home. In this book, the Hamiltons show that remote and beautiful anchorages can be found in abundance on the B.C. coast.
"We're selling more charts of those areas than ever before", says Brindy Bundesmann, owner of the nautical bookstore Armchair Sailor in Seattle. "And I think that's largely thanks to this book".
Published by Weatherly Press, Cruising the Secret Coast forms part of the venerable Waggoner series. However, rather than covering a large area with an eye to the facilities available, the Hamiltons offer an in-depth approach to small, unpopulated anchorages and unexplored inlets. Here you wind the tidal currents to beware of in narrow entrances; the holding, depth and wind protection in anchorages; trails and historical sites to explore on shore; and full-color photos of cloud-wreathed mountains and hidden lagoons. This cruising guide succeeds in being both thoroughly informative and at the same time charismatic.
If you want to explore a B.C. coast you've never seen before, it will be indispensable.
— Emily Mansfield, co-editor, Pacific Yachting PNW
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