Please select your home edition
Edition
Fremantle to Bali Race 728x90

Tranquil, colourful and funky, Genoa Bay is a must stop for West Coast

by Deane Hislop on 20 Jul 2014
The marina offers 1,200’ of guest moorage and it can fill up during boating season. Deane Hislop
The day brothers Will and Ben Kiedaisch assumed ownership of Genoa Bay Marina, they inherited outstanding bills, the bank was about to foreclose on the property, and the electricity was in danger of being turned off.

'We didn’t know port from starboard when we took over,' says Will, laughing. 'We had to learn how to run a marina from the ground up.'

'We didn’t even own a boat and the first tool we had to buy was a bolt cutter because the marina was locked and abandoned,' recalls Ben.

When their first visitor asked how much they charged, the brothers asked him what he paid where he stayed the previous night.


From those humble beginnings, the Kiedaisch brothers have turned Genoa Bay Marina into the kind of place you don’t want to leave after just a couple of days. The service is second to none, and everyone involved in running the marina love what they do. My wife Arlene experienced the Genoa Bay hospitality on a recent cruise through the southern Gulf Islands.


Genoa Bay is a quaint little settlement with a marina nestled in a quiet and picturesque bay on Canada's southeast Vancouver Island, at the south end of Sansum Narrows. It was named by pioneer settler Giovanni Baptiste Ordano in 1858 because it reminded him of his home in Italy.

Career Change

The Kiedaisch boys are California transplants. In 1971, when they were children, their family relocated from California to Nanaimo, British Columbia, which led to the family owing the marina for more than 20 years; their father and a friend owned it jointly. After the passing of their father the brothers had a couple of options: let the property foreclose or operate the weathered marina. Will (aka 'Mr. Hooper') is the elder of the two, with an education in sales and marketing; Ben, (alias 'Muffin Man') is trained in the culinary arts. Working in their respective fields at the time, they opted for career and lifestyle changes to take over the marina.


Will, with wife Karen and their two children, returned to Vancouver Island. Ben and his spouse Kirsten lived on a float home at the marina until the birth of their first child.

'We have Canadian wives, landed immigrant status, and we know all the rules for hockey, so we’re hoping that means we can stay,' Will said. 'This was the last place we imagined being.'
Now, they can’t imagine being anywhere else.

'During the first summer, our Uncle Jim was the wharfinger,' Ben said. 'Because he is an ex-Navy man, we had great faith in his nautical knowledge, but it was shaken when a visitor asked him where they could find the wharfinger and he responded, ‘Don’t have that boat here.’'

They have come a long way since then. Their progress is the result of hard work and a pinch of luck, seasoned with huge doses of humour. The brothers?with the help of their crew, Frauke McCashin and Geoff 'Mr. Fix-it' Hill?have earned a reputation for making visiting boaters feel at home. Their good nature is reflected in the character of the marina itself. It’s a feel-good place, the kind of place that gives you a sense of pride and a feeling ownership. And boaters have responded: Genoa Bay is a favourite stop for more than 3,000 visiting boats each year.

Ask Ben what the marina’s stylish logo represents, and he responds characteristically: 'What do you want it to be? If you’re a sailor, it’s a sail. If you’re a powerboater, it’s a crescent moon. We aim to please.'

Scenic Setting

The approach to Genoa Bay is scenic, offering a panorama view of Saltspring and Vancouver islands, punctuated in all directions by channels, passages, inlets and narrows. Approaching from the southeast, skippers need to beware of rocks and shoals near the eastern shore after they pass Separation Point. A mid-channel course is advisable.

Genoa Bay’s entrance is wide, open and has a clearly marked straight-in approach. Once beyond the red and green channel markers at the entrance, arriving vessels will find the marina to port. The guest moorage floats are located in the centre of the marina, oriented north and south, and approached from the north.

Berth assignments are available by hailing the marina on the VHF. The marina monitors VHF Ch 66A from April through October. Sometimes, because of the rugged local topography, they can’t get calls until boats are close by.

Genoa Bay Marina is charming, funky and postcard-picturesque. It occupies the site of a former sawmill, said to have been one of British Columbia’s largest at the turn of the century. A colourful and eclectic mix of vessels, boathouses and float homes fills the western portion of the marina. Flowers abound in dockside containers, while the emerald green bay is surrounded by steep forested hillsides.


The marina has 85 permanent moorage slips and 1,200 linear feet of transient floats that are wide and stable, and supplied with water and 30 or 50-amp power. The water comes from a local community well and is filtered and monitored; the supply is somewhat limited. Boats to 80’ can be accommodated on the guest moorage docks. Larger vessels will find plenty of anchorage in the bay over a sticky mud bottom.


Relax, Enjoy

The marina facilities are adorned with attractive local art; a fiberglass orca leaps from an intersection of two floats while an airborne salmon and a great blue heron constructed of wire adorn a boulder on the east side of the main pier. Every boathouse on F dock bears a construction by Tom Faue, an area pioneer in 'found art.'

There’s plenty to enjoy here once you’re settled. Watch eagles soar overhead. Listen to the breeze stir in the treetops while otters, seals and cormorants provide endless entertainment. For a minimal fee you can access email via the dock’s wi-fi network. Take a taxi for a round of golf or a shopping excursion to nearby Cowichan Bay or Duncan, drop by the tasting rooms of the area’s many vineyards or just put your feet up and do nothing at all.

The marina store at the head of the guest docks carries an eclectic mix of local products, snacks, grocery items, nautical books, magazines, marine supplies, souvenirs, coffee, ice, and a full line of Genoa Bay shirts, jackets and hats. On July 1, 2011 the brothers opened a breakfast cabana adjacent to the party dock and it quickly became a gathering place for the morning crowd. Visiting boaters with two consecutive nights of moorage receive free breakfast on the dock.

The covered party dock accommodates visiting yacht club rendezvous potlucks or impromptu dock parties. Upland facilities include an excellent restaurant, clean and spacious showers and restrooms, coin-operated laundry, and a small but inviting picnic area.


Waterside Dining

For us, a visit to Genoa Bay would not be complete without a meal, or two, at the Genoa Bay Café, open seven days a week from June through September. Perched on the water’s edge overlooking the marina, the café offers five-star quality cuisine in a casual atmosphere. It has 40 indoor seats and another 30 on the seaside deck. The combination of the view, smell and taste provide diners with sensory overload.

The café is operated by Stacey Johnson, Dan Caird and Gord Rumley. Johnson told us that Chef Dustin Cooknell’s menus provide a variety of choice and showcase the foods of Vancouver Island and the Pacific Northwest.
'We are proud to feature local seafood, such as our Saltspring Island mussels and seasonal specials such as fresh halibut and spot prawns,' Stacey said.

We enjoyed a wonderful leisurely dinner the first night of our visit, starting with the spinach salad. Arlene selected Herb Crusted Spring Halibut for an entrée, and I chose Ribeye Steak with Roasted Garlic Mash Potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The meals were so delicious we returned the next afternoon to sample the lunch menu, and Cooknell’s signature calamari did not disappoint.

If you feel the need to work off some of those calories or just want to stretch your sea legs, the moderately easy hike up the trail from the marina to Skinner Bluff on Mount Tzuohalem offers great views of Cowichan Bay…and a good, light workout.

Back at the marina, a short walk down the dock from the store brings visitors to Genoa Bay Gallery. This is the workplace and home for owner Colleen Irwin. She and two friends opened the floating gallery, which features pieces by local artists, in 1999. Not surprisingly, much of the art on display favours nautical and wildlife themes.

On the last morning of our visit I walked the docks, the aroma of fresh coffee and breakfast filled the air, and the sound of whistling tea pots added to the tranquil morning, all making for a memorable Genoa Bay experience. Genoa Bay Marina is open year-round and worth a visit for a day, or a week.

Details and coordinates
Charts: 3441, 3442, 3478 and Gulf Islands Atlas 3313
Location: 48° 45.5? N, 123 ° 36’ W
Marina Info: www.genoabaymarina.com
Hazards: Navigational aids mark rocks and safe channel at bay entrance
Attractions: The tranquility of picturesque Genoa Bay, funky and colourful marina setting, excellent restaurant
Nearest Fuel and Provisions: Cowichan Bay





This feature article content is brought to you courtesy of Canadian Yachting magazine is Canada's premiere source for compelling boating lifestyle experiences, travel destinations, boat reviews, tips on gear, marine events and breaking news for sailors and power boaters. Enjoyed by readers in digital, online and print formats six times yearly

Festival of Sails 2017 660x82Harken AUS Reflex 660x82Pantaenius - Fixed Value

Related Articles

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Whales steal the limelight on Day 3
With the IRC class racing postponed ashore, the cruising classes were sent to an eastern course in search of breeze. With the IRC class racing postponed ashore, the cruising classes were sent to an eastern course in search of breeze. The only action in the racing area came from the whales rolling around without a care for the yachts that surrounded them.
Posted on 24 Aug
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2016 - Day 1 Video
Day 1 of Audi Hamilton Race Week 2016 provided the first opportunity for Wild Oats XI and Scallywag to go head-to-head Day 1 of Audi Hamilton Race Week 2016 provided the first opportunity for Wild Oats XI and Scallywag to go head-to-head on an inshore race course. The two boats shadowed each other in the pre-race manoeuvres prior to the start of a race to Lindeman Island and back, starting in Dent Passage. Both boats made a fine spectacle as they reached to the northern tip of Dent Island before heading upwind
Posted on 21 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images from the Mens RS:X Medal Race
Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class won before the race by Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) without needing points from the Medal Race. Nick Dempsey (GBR) was second on a similar basis.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Sailors talk of Life at the Extreme on the Atlantic Ocean
Certainly the Volvo Ocean Race catchcry of Life at the Extreme is not a phrase associated with the Sailing Olympics. The 470 crews were suffering the mixed emotions of survival of an extreme test by nature, the cold, and for some elation at their placings, after Thursday's battle for survival. In conditions that looked more out of the Volvo Ocean Race, than an Olympic sailing regatta, crews battled 20kt plus winds and Atlantic Ocean rollers that towered up to four metres.
Posted on 13 Aug
Rio Olympics - Fourth gallery of images the fearsome Niteroi course
Fourth image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean Fourth image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean - sailing in 3-4 metre swells and 20kt plus winds. believe it or not the sea conditions were worse inshore as the fleet encountered the backwashed Atlantic rollers
Posted on 12 Aug
Rio 2016 - Third image gallery of 470's braving the Atlantic Ocean
Third image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean Third image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean - sailing in 3-4 metre swells and 20kt plus winds
Posted on 12 Aug
Gladwell's Line - The challenges of Guanbara Bay
The decision to run Medal Racing on the Pao de Acucer course, probably won't be remembered as one of the brightest The decision to run Medal Racing on the Pao de Acucer, probably won't be remembered as one of the brightest of the 2016 Sailing Olympics. Over shadowed by a 1300ft tall granite and quartz mountain in the shape of a sugarloaf, the bay suffers from dramatic windshifts, and huge variance in wind pressure.
Posted on 11 Aug
Rio 2016 - Fresher breezes expected inside and outside on Day 3
Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Two of the fleet scheduled to race outside on the Atlantic Ocean course off Copacabana Beach, while the 470 Men and Women will race inside on Guananara Bay.
Posted on 10 Aug
Rio 2016 - Day 2 brings more tumult for some, salvation for others
The course area may have changed, but Brit, Nick Dempsey's performance early on stayed the same. The course area may have changed, but Brit, Nick Dempsey's performance early on stayed the same. He picked up where he left off on Day 1 in Race 4 of the Men's RS:X class on the Escola Naval race area to record his third win in four races. Poland's Piotr Myszka finished second with Brazil's Ricardo Santos third.
Posted on 10 Aug