Plumper island currents

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by sheldon spier, Jul 17, 2018.

  1. sheldon spier

    sheldon spier New Member

    Feb 11, 2018
    the weynton passage current prediction on the day We will paddle from Telegraph cove to blackfish sound is 2.9 knots in a ebb when I'll be going through the islands. We have lots of experience with currents. I would like to know what kinds of eddies and possible whirlpools to expect at ebb currents of 2.5-4 knots.
    Thanks, Sheldon
  2. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

    Dec 1, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I don't have specifics for that area, but do have a bit of experience in currents around islands like what you are asking about.

    Whirlpools should not be a danger issue, and likely won't be around at all. What you may see would either be very small (too small to catch your boats) or slow enough that paddling can overpower any turning forces they apply.

    You will see eddies and eddy lines. The eddy lines will likely have some choppy waves to them. You may also see areas of tide rips with choppy waves that may or may not be near eddy lines (some caused by currents hitting underwater geography).

    The stronger the current, the larger the waves could be. But also because tides change heights, the waves may form or die at different tide heights.
  3. jefffski

    jefffski Paddler

    Jan 2, 2014
    We paddled that stretch southbound from the north side of Hanson Island to the south side on a flood tide in mid July. The current pushed us along quickly but without problems. It reminded me of the Cariboo river in the Bowrons.
  4. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

    Jan 10, 2009
    Seattle WA
    I've capsized a kayak a few times during launchings and landings, but the only time I've ever come close to capsizing a kayak "at sea" was in the middle of the Plumper Islands in 2011.

    I never saw any whirlpools in the Plumpers, but I hit a ferocious eddy line on the east side of Ksuiladas Island that spun my 18-foot (540 cm) kayak around like a top. The eddy line was readily visible from a distance, but I badly underestimated its speed. I wrongly thought I'd be able to cross to the far side of the narrow channel with minimal lateral drift, but the moment I hit that eddy line, the current whipped my boat around in the blink of an eye. There was no time to brace. It was just sheer luck and the ludicrously fat beam of my boat that kept me upright.

    I entered the Plumpers about half an hour before max flood on a spring tide (new moon). The current table for Weynton Passage indicates a max flood of 4.3 knots that day, so there might have been a 4-knot current in Weynton Passage at the time I entered the Plumpers. Whatever the current speed was in Weynton Passage, it was substantially faster in the Plumpers. I don't know the speed of the current I encountered near Ksuiladas Island that day, but subjectively, I would say it was quite a bit faster than 4 knots!

    I can't speak authoritatively to what the currents in the Plumpers look like during an ebb, nor what they would look like during a 2.5-knot current measured in Wenton Passage, but I suspect they would still be strong. In their guidebooks, Peter McGee and John Kimantas each warn about fast currents in this area, and that was certainly my experience as well. McGee warns that currents at nearby Wenyton Island can run up to 5.5 knots (I suspect currents in the narrower Plumpers run even faster), and Kimantas warns that currents in the Plumpers can be "impassable or even dangerous." Kimantas's earlier guidebook even features a photo of a kayaker hauled out on the rocks in the Plumpers, waiting out a racing tide current!

    I would recommend a cautious approach to any eddy lines you encounter in the Plumpers. Better yet, pull over, take a break, and wait for things to quiet down.