The west coast of Vancouver Island is a grand, lightly visited cruising ground. Most sailors cruise this coast by doing a circumnavigation, going up the inside, and then sailing down the outside with the prevailing northwest winds abaft the beam. Elsie Hulsizer and her husband, Steve, did not have the vacation time required to do this during their working years. Instead, they would sail out the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then work their way up the coast of Vancouver Island, sailing against the prevailing summer winds. Hence the title of her book.

The first nine chapters take the reader up the coast as far as the Brooks Peninsula, with chapters for each of the major sounds along the coast and Elsie and Steve’s personal experiences exploring intimate little coves, hiking up streams or walking on beaches. The final chapter, “Voyage Home,” captures the bittersweet feelings that often accompany the end of a great cruise.

Elsie is an accomplished photographer, and her pictures make this book enjoyable for a wide audience. However, what impressed me most was her deep appreciation for the history and diverse cultures of the island’s west coast. She and Steve formed strong friendships in many of the small communities along the coast; her book is further enriched by much of what they learned from these coastal residents.

We carry aboard a variety of cruising guides whenever we set sail on a cruise. At one end of the spectrum are what I think of as Pilot House Guides, the ones I reach for to refresh my memory about a tricky entrance to an anchorage or to find a protected cove nearby when the weather has turned foul. At the other end of the spectrum are the books that we read on a midwinter’s evening to begin dreaming about and planning our next cruise. Elsie’s book is a wonderful example of the latter. After reading this book, we too are now planning A Voyage To Windward.

Voyages to Windward by Elsie Hulsizer (Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd., 2006; 216 pages)