Archive for October, 2019
 

Destination Guide – Inside Passage, BC, Canada

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

This Summer my partner Amy and I headed over to British Columbia to paddle a section of the Inside passage. If you’ve not heard of the ‘bucket-list’ worthy Inside Passage, it’s a coastal route that stretches 1700km from Washington, USA, through Western British Columbia, up to Skagway, Alaska. It’s major draw cards being the teaming wildlife, multitude of islands to weave and the perfect balance of solitude versus opportunities to re-stock in remote First Nations communities.

We had a month to play with, so opted for a 780km section of this marine passage, from Comox on Vancouver Island up to Prince Rupert, in the north west of British Columbia. We had a brilliant time encountering wildlife, meeting locals and living the simple life, submersed in stunning scenery. This guide is intended to help you plan your Inside Passage adventure and hopefully provide a few nuggets of inspiration and lessons learnt.

When to go

The climate is quite similar to Scotland so expect rain and also stunning blue skies. We went mid August to mid September and paddled in t-shirts for 90% of the time. The great thing about Aug/Sept is the salmon are starting to run so lots of Orca, Humpbacks and the bears should be well fed (fingers crossed).

Where to go

Quick hit – The most compact enjoyment was certainly around Telegraph Cove. There are lots of guided trip options, amazing scenery and loads of Orca and Humpback to get excited about.

For wildlife – The Broughton Islands certainly offered us the most varied scenery, tides and wildlife. We saw about 60 Orca on separate occasions, Humpbacks galore, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, Bald Eagles but no Bears though…

Wilderness – The further north we travelled, the less people we encountered. Although most of the coast has been logged at some point, north of Vancouver Island, thick forest lines the high tide mark with only the occasional small village breaking the vista.

How to get there

Fly to Vancouver and catch either a bus and ferry over to Vancouver Island or get a float plane to your starting point from £50 upwards.

Boat hire

We found it surprisingly difficult to hire boats. MEC hire Scorpios from Vancouver city but then you need to get them to your starting point. Most of the companies in the north of Vancouver Island only do guided trips. The best option we found was from a company called Comox Valley Kayaks. They hire out boats for any duration and provide a drop off and pick up service. We met other paddlers on shorter trips who used private boat shuttles to fine tune their drop off and pick up points.

Maps

There are lots of marine charts and topographic maps available of the BC west coast. Depending on the length of your trip I’d recommend marine charts from 1:40,000 scale and smaller. As our trip was quite long and space was at a premium, we opted to use a road atlas for large scale planning and the Viewranger and Navionics apps for our day to day navigation. To charge our devices we had a 17 Watt, waterproof, Voltaic Systems solar panel and battery. This system worked amazingly well, enabling us to charge cameras, phones, VHF and head-torches.

Useful info

There is a ton of useful resources out there to help you plan your paddle. The Inside Passage Facebook group is a great treasure trove of knowledge. We downloaded the book ‘Kayaking the Inside Passage’ by R.H. Miller onto our phones which offered information on; history, tides, wildlife, routes, campsites and much more. There are various online maps from previous paddling trips, featuring notated information such as: campsites, water and resupply points.

General conditions

We found the paddling relatively straight forward. The majority of the route is sheltered by islands with only a few exposed headlands. The wind offered some challenges but was never a show stopper for us. However, we have heard from other paddlers that it gets much stronger & prohibiting. As a general rule of thumb you could set your watch by winds picking up at 3pm in the afternoon. Tides do get pretty strong in areas with overfalls and whirlpools so a good knowledge of tidal planning is vital. Lots of the tidal cruxs need to be paddled at slack water and it was often possible to paddle up tide by hugging the coastline. Landings are found quite regularly and we found many more campsites than recorded online or in Miller’s book. We carried up to 13l of water each and managed to fill up from taps with the back up of water purification means with us if necessary. Bears… We saw one from the water and heard another near camp whilst in our tent. Cook away from your tent spot where possible. Store all smellies in your hatches, seal them and flip your boat overnight. Get studious and read up on bear safe camping. Again not a show stopper, but we have heard of trips earlier in the year with a greater number of sightings & encounters.

This area really is a sea kayaker’s paradise, with something for everyone. If you are thinking about a trip out there, do it! Give me a shout if you would like to chat more about it and happy paddling.


Search

Admin
Log in
Pages
Blog Home
  • Sample Page
  • Archives
  • October 2019
  • September 2019
  • June 2019
  • April 2019
  • November 2018
  • September 2018
  • June 2018
  • March 2018
  • January 2018
  • December 2017
  • November 2017
  • August 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • April 2016
  • August 2015
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • February 2014
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • April 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • November 2007
  • September 2007
  • August 2007
  • July 2007
  • June 2007
  • May 2007
  • April 2007
  • March 2007
  • February 2007
  • January 2007
  • January 1970
  • Categories
  • Expeditions (10)
  • News (23)
  • Reviews (10)
  • Technical (11)
  • Trip Reports (834)
  • Contributors
  • P&H Paddlers Admin
  • Björn Nehrhoff V. H.
  • Brian Day
  • Christopher Lockyer
  • Dimitri Vandepoele
  • Doug Cooper
  • Gethin Roberts
  • Jay Rose
  • Jim Krawiecki
  • Jonny Hawkins
  • Kate Duffus
  • Mark Kalch
  • Olly Sanders
  • P&H Sea Kayaks
  • P&H Custom Sea Kayaks
  • Paul Kuthe
  • Robert Moffatt
  • Roger Chandler
  • Sid Sinfield