Prevost Island - Trip Description
Total trip distance: 60 km
Minimum distance: about 8 km each way from Village Bay, Mayne Island, or 4 km each way from Long Harbour, Saltspring Island
- No. 3313 Small-Craft Charts: Gulf Islands (various scales)
- No. 3442
Canadian Topographic Maps:
Prevost is one of those little known islands. And yet, you see if every time you come out of Active Pass on the ferry. The lack of service by BC Ferries keeps it 'hidden' from most people, but it's well worth exploring - especially by kayak. James Bay is home to many curious (but almost always harmless) seals, and you might be lucky enough to sneak up on a playful river otter. Paddling around the island is a reasonably leisurely days journey of about 20km if you're a somewhat experienced paddler, and will treat you to lots of teriffic scenery.
The campground is located on the northern tip of the island, half way down James Bay on the west side of the bay. There are no designated camping sites; campers may set up in a large orchard just up from the beach. There are no amenities on the island with the exception of a single pit toilet on the west side of the camp ground.
My trip started from the Swartz Bay Government wharf, located just down the street from the staff entrance for the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. I paddled along the shore of Saltspring Island, around Beaver Point, and across to Prevost Island. On the return trip, I paddled around the northeast side of the island, and across Trincomali Channel to Active Pass. I crossed the pass (I don't recommend doing this unless you're aware of the currents and ferries at the time of your trip!) and headed to the beach beside the ferry terminal at Village Bay on Mayne Island. From there, I continued south past Mayne Island, North Pender Island, Moresby and Portland Islands and back into Swartz Bay.
I knew in advance that strong gales were forecast for the day I planned to stay there; there was no way to have paddled on that day without getting wind-driven to a rocky shore (or worse!) by the 60 to 80 km/h winds. Regardless of destination, paddlers should ALWAYS be aware of what to expect, and be prepared for the worse.
If you want to do a long trip consisting of two full days of paddling, my route was a fun one if a bit lacking in scenery on the way back. But there are many other ways to get to Prevost; most of them involving a ferry trip. You can walk on the ferry to Mayne Island with your kayak on a cart, and launch within 100 metres of the Mayne Island ferry terminal. From the Vancouver side, you can catch a ferry to Long Harbour on Saltspring Island, for a nice short 4km paddle to the campground. If Victoria is your point of departure, you'd need to drive on the Saltspring ferry, and drive from Fulford Harbour to Long Harbour. One final point of departure would be from Montague Harbour on Galiano Island; you would also need to drive on the ferry to Galiano for this trip.
Conditions can be quite favourable for most of the summer months, but paddlers should be aware that there is a lot of ferry traffic in this area (especially to the south, between Mayne and Prevost). Just give them lots of room, be aware of traffic through Active Pass and you should be fine. Don't lolli-gag across Trincomali Channel, or you will likely get into an encounter with a ferry or other commercial vessel.
Trip Date: March 25 - 27, 2005
Weather: Light breeze to strong gales; sunny to heavy rain
Water condition: Rippled to 1.5 foot wind waves
Tides/currents: Minimal current
Submitted by: Mark Schilling
Images copyright: Mark Schilling