Tag Archives: gulf islands

Flying Over the Gulf Islands

When my buddy, Mark, was visiting, he wanted to get a little floatplane flying in and took me along for the ride.  Kenmore Air have a ticket you can get for a ride along with the scheduled service.  You don’t know exactly where you will be going but you will head out to the Gulf Islands and will be out for about three hours.  Originally, they said we would stop off at Lake Union to pick up and drop off but that ultimately wasn’t needed although we do do a flyby as I covered in this post about the Space Needle.

The weather wasn’t too sunny which actually made for some smooth flying conditions.  We were in a piston Beaver and probably never got above 1,000’ when transiting.  Some of the sections were a bit below that which meant a great view of the scenery.  We also saw some boats and they got a post here as well.  We skirted passed some islands and over others as we made our way.  Our first stop was Friday Harbor and the second was Deer Harbor.

There was a small airfield on one of the islands that we passed close by.  A brief look down the runway as we crossed the center line but then it got harder to see.  It was surrounded by trees so was hard to make out. These shots are a selection of those that I got as we made our way around the islands and across the bays and inlets.  With spring coming, I think I might need to book another one of these trips.

BC Ferries at Work

Our ferry ride to Swartz Bay was on one of BC Ferries larger boats.  There were multiple decks to explore and a great view to watch passing by once we got in amongst the Gulf Islands.  We also saw a few other ferries as we went.  The ferry running the opposite service to ours passed us by as we made our way through one of the narrow passages between the islands.  While not identical, it was a similar size to our boat.

The smaller islands also have service.  Since they are not generating anything like the traffic that Vancouver to Victoria generates, the ferries are a lot smaller.  We saw some docked up as we passed while others were making their own crossings.  The waterways were pretty busy with ferry traffic for a November weekday.  I wonder how many were tourists like us and how many were people going about their normal business.

Passing Through the Gulf Islands

To get to Victoria for our visit, we took the BC Ferries route from Tsawwassen.  This route crosses some open water but then it weaves its way through the Gulf Islands.  This makes for a really picturesque journey.  On the day we crossed, it was a cloudy day but the beauty of the islands and the waterways between them was more than enough to compensate for the gloomy skies.  Some of the passages are really narrow so you find yourself very close to the shore and looking at the houses and woodland areas along the water’s edge.

If you don’t mind being blown about a bit, standing out on the deck rewards you with great views.  The only problem is you can only see to one side at a time.  You need to nip through the boat to the other side periodically to see what is passing on that side.  Not such a relaxing way to sightsee!

The Smaller Ferry

AE7I9591.jpgOur vacation included a few ferry rides.  Washington State Ferries come in various sizes depending on the route you are taking but they are all a fairly decent size.  However, we passed this guy on one of our legs.  This is what I would call personal ferry service.  I imagine that, with so many islands and less traffic to most of them, this is the best way to deal with transportation needs.  I don’t know whether there is a schedule or if it is on demand but I love the idea.  I imagine the onboard catering is pretty limited though.