Mayne to Ganges - Trip Description
Total trip distance: 34 km
Minimum distance: about 9 km each way from Village Bay to Prevost campsite
Coordinates (WGS 84):
N48 50.702 W123 19.443 - Village Bay put-in
N48 50.409 W123 23.943 - Prevost Island campsite
N48 51.264 W123 29.903 - Gov. Dock at Ganges
- No. 3313 Small-Craft Charts: Gulf Islands (various scales)
- No. 3442
Canadian Topographic Maps:
Because three of us were starting from the Vancouver area and two from Victoria, we left on this paddling journey from Village Bay on Mayne Island since ferries travel to that destination from Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. In fact, on the day that we began our trip, the respective ferries arrived within a half hour of each other. When we left on Sunday, both our ferries were scheduled to depart at the same time.
There is a small beach right beside the Village Bay ferry terminal that is perfect for putting in. The area is used by ferry passengers to walk their dogs so keep an eye out for dog bombs. Access to the beach is through an opening in the fence at the bottom of the parking lot next to the northern most ferry slip.
When you leave Village Bay, stay alert -- there's a steady flow of ferry traffic going in and out of Active Pass throughout the day. You should also consult your tide tables and charts as the currents can flow swiftly through Trincomali Channel -- ferrying across the channel will likely be necessary.
A good crossing destination is Hawkins Island, which is within a couple hundred metres of Prevost Island. As you approach Hawkins Island you'll begin to see lots of sealife -- starfish, seabirds, and an abundant number of oysters on the small beaches. It's worth stopping on Hawkins Island to spend some time exploring tidal pools, if you're lucky you'll find some sea anenomes, sea cucumbers, and a host of other sea creatures.
James Bay comes into full view as you round Peile Point at the north end of Prevost Island -- it's a large sheltered bay with a campsite located on the south west side. The campsite is an old orchard that is very muddy following a lot of rain. We opted to camp a bit east of the orchard as the ground was a lot firmer. Hopefully, Parks Canada will do some improvements of the orchard area to make it more suitable for tenting.
There is a trail to the east that leads to Peile Point. After crossing the creek, the trail is fairly easy but gets increasingly more difficult near the point.
From the campsite at Prevost Island, the trip to the government dock in Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island is roughly 9 kilometres. As you enter Ganges Harbour there are a group of islands -- the three Sisters, Deadman Islands, Goat Island, and Powder Island -- these islands make for an interesting place to explore and poke around in. Note that the islands are all private property and stopping on them is not encouraged. There is a public government dock at the town of Ganges that is within laking distance of most shops and businesses.
On the day that three of made the crossing to Ganges we were paddling in 2 to 3 foot wind waves so be wary of weather conditions.
If you prefer a shorter distance to the Prevost Island campsite, you might consider taking a BC Ferry to Long Harbour on Saltspring Island, from where the distance to the campsite is only 4 kilometres.
Village Bay on Mayne Island.
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.
Opposing current and wind direction can create very dangerous wave conditions. Be aware of tide and current flows, and marine weather conditions.
Trip Date: April 1-3, 2005
Weather: Light breeze to strong gales; sunny to heavy rain
Water condition: Rippled to 2-3 foot wind waves
Tides/currents: Minimal current
Submitted by: Dan Millsip
Images copyright: Dan Millsip
The photo of the BC Ferry on this page was taken by Darren McQuitty