newbie and Howe Sound

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by waterpup, Jul 1, 2005.

  1. waterpup

    waterpup New Member

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    Here's another newbie who has been very excited to come across this site. It's exactly what I've been looking for! Hi all!

    I just got back from a 4 day trip through the northern Gulf Islands with my sweetie and now i'm planning a 3 night, 4 day trip with a friend who I would classify as a beginner. I've done several trips through the Gulf Islands and am just starting to move to other areas further north. She drools at the Howe Sound area every time she drives to Whistler - so that's where she wants to go. I, however, am trying to find something that is appropriate for her and us - an area with a variety of campsites (as i don't know whether she'll poop out after a few miles), relatively low stress with channel crossings, and a nice place to show her just how amazing sea kayak camping can be (she's never been paddling outside of fresh water). Also, since we're going on the weekend, adding Friday and Monday, somewhere that we won't be fending off mass groups of tours and people.

    All this being said, how might Howe Sound be in the middle of July? Is there another area that we should explore that's not too much further than that (we're coming from Seattle) - Indian Arm? Sechelt Inlet? Or just take her back to places that I love in the Gulf Islands?

    I've read the major kayak guide books, looked at charts, read stuff from wavelength, etc. but nothing beats stories from fellow paddlers. thoughts? suggestions?

    Thanks gang! I'll have my trip report from our past trip up in a few days to share.

    Laura
     
  2. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Pretty tough to find all that and in a place where there are few people. My experience in the Gulf Islands is pretty limited, but you might consider the N. end of Wallace -- only a few tent sites, easy to reach, and some interesting paddling in the near vicinity. The Broken Group, using the steamer (Lady Rose) for access might be good, also, but expect lots of people in camp, not so many on the water. Good spot for a newbie -- distances are short. And, you have the luxury of composting toilets!
     
  3. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    I haven't paddled in Howe Sound quite yet so I'm by no means an authority on the subject, but from what I've heard, some very strong winds can kick up very quickly and without warning. For that reason alone, it may not be the best place to take an inexperienced paddler. But hopefully a few more paddlers will post here with some first-hand knowledge for you.

    Indian Arm can be a nice place to paddle, as the winds don't appear to get overly strong there. You can count on a bit of a wind in the afternoon to kick up some wind waves, but beyond that, the only waves I've seen come from boats. Crowds, however, may be a different story - it seems to be a popular place to paddle.

    From my experience, any camping spot accessible from the Victoria area will likely be relatively quiet, depending on the weekend, and the farther out in the Gulf Islands you go, the fewer people you'll encounter. D'Arcy Island is a great place to camp and explore, and most summer days the paddle out there is quite calm (but check the forecast just in case!). Alternatively, you could take a ferry from Vancouver or Victoria to any of the major Gulf Islands and paddle to a more secluded camp spot such as Prevost Island (from Mayne or Saltspring), Cabbage Island (from Saturna), or Montague Harbour on Galiano (best accessed from near the Mayne Island ferry terminal).

    Heading further up-island, there are a few more good camping spots, and you usually find fewer crowds as you head further north. Wallace Island offers some of the best camp spots I've seen, and there’s a lot to explore from that area as well. Blackberry Point (on southern Valdes Island) is also a great spot, as is Dionisio Park on the north-east tip of Galiano Island (although you'll have to time your passage through Porlier Pass at slack current). I'm currently working on trip location galleries for these areas, and there are other galleries on this site that will hopefully give you some more detailed info to help you with your choice.

    Given that you're from Seattle, I think you'll find that where-ever you paddle to, you may be pleasantly surprised at the lack of 'crowds'. I paddled over to Stuart Island in the San Juans last summer and the number of people there was staggering in comparison to any of the Canadian Gulf Islands or spots accessible from the Vancouver area.

    Either way, with a little preparation I'm sure you'll have a great trip paddling our waters!
     
  4. Jill

    Jill Paddler

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    Hey Waterpup, paddling up the Sechelt Inlet looks pretty good for beginners. Theres Salmon inlet and Narrows inlet too. There are several campsites along the way. I have not been there myself but I am planning on taking my adult daughter there for a trip. You should avoid skookumchuck narrows {Sechelt rapids} as this is a very dangerous place. A good book on kayak routes is Kayak routes of the pacific north west. by Peter McGee. I also borrow cruising guides from the library. The dreamspeaker guides by Anne& Laurence Yeadon Jones are pretty good they include some references for campsites for kaykers. late Jill
     
  5. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Waterpup, you didn't mention how much experience, if any, your friend has in a kayak -- if your friend has never been in a kayak before or has only been out once or twice for an afternoon, I'd play it on the safe side and avoid areas where weather is a major consideration. As Mark says, the wind in Howe Sound can kick up pretty quick and there are crossings ranging from 3 - 4 kilometres -- that can a long way if you're not comfortable. Changing winds and tides can quickly create conditions that a beginner may not find pleasurable or secure in. I'd suggest taking your friend somewhere a bit more sheltered -- better to provide a pleasurable (and memorable) experience than a scary one, not to mention that you'll both be a lot more relaxed.

    Campsites in Indian Arm can be a bit busy on the weekends, but if you arrive at Granite Falls on a Friday, you'll most likely get a good selection of tent spots to choose from. If you don't care for the sound of the falls at night there are a few very nice, undeveloped spots for pitching a tent south of the toilets. Berg's Landing is pretty nice as well and a lot quieter than Granite Falls and is the less busy of the two campsites. Either way, even if there are other people around, you'll still get a nice spot and have a terrific trip without having to as concerned about the weather.

    The paddle to Granite Falls at a steady leisurely pace of about 4 km/hr will take about 4 hours. Paddling to Berg's Landing at the same pace will take about 3 1/2 hours. You can stop at Thwaytes Landing and if it's hot, hike about 100 meters from the beach area to a small waterfall where you can have a quick soaking in some very cold refreshing water. This time of year, if you leave later in the morning from Deep Cove (around 10:30 or so), you'll usually have a nice afternoon wind at your back all the way from Thwaytes Landing to the top.

    I haven't yet paddled in Sechelt Inlet but it's on my list for this year. Because of this, I can't comment on what it would be like to paddle there but I've heard it is nicely sheltered and suitable for beginners -- Jill is right though, Skookumchuck Narrows is not a place for novices.

    As Mark mentioned, the Gulf Islands would make a nice destination too.

    I'd suggest gathering as much information as you can of the area and make a destination decision based on yours and your friend's abilities. Perhaps a few who have paddled in these areas can also offer more specific information.

    I'm working on an album for Indian Arm at the moment that you'll probably find useful if it's done before you expect to start out -- when are you planning to do your trip?

    Dan

    *****
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Amen to that. 3-4 km of fetch and even 10 knots of wind will make for intolerable conditions for most novices. Another thought: select a place that has multiple beaches handy for rest stops and pee breaks.
     
  7. waterpup

    waterpup New Member

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    Thanks

    Thank you all for your insight! You have definitely supported my thoughts that Howe Sound is going to be too much for her and that I should take her to areas that I *know* will be more suitable. We did an assessment paddle over the weekend and longer distances are going to be a challenge for her (not surprising) - and I definitely want *fun* to be goal of the trip for us. I appreciated hearing that the Gulf Islands aren't as crowded as the San Juans during the summer. Good to know!

    I am also excited about paddling the Sechelt Inlet and the Indian Arm myself. That'll have to come later on in the summer with a more adventurous/experienced paddler.

    And I am hoping to get my trip report/photos up from our Gulf Island trip a week ago ... where does the time go?

    Laura
     
  8. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    Sechelt Inlet is a pretty easy paddle. I used to paddle there fairly often a few years ago when a buddy had a cabin on the inlet. There is easy launching at Tillicum Bay Marina where there is also kayak rentals. My favorite put-in is at Tuwanek at the end of Porpoise Bay Rd. This is a very popular spot for divers and parking is a bit limited. There is a nice sandy beach for launching and is an excellent starting point for a day paddle around the little islands at Tuwanek and the nearby oyster farms. It is also fairly close to a couple of marine parks for camping. Definately worth checking out.