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Around Sechelt Peninsula by canoe


Jan 30, 2006
This year I decided to try something different. The original plan was for a Bella Bella-Port Hardy kayak trip with my regular tripping buddies, but they both had family commitments that made the trip unworkable this year, so I figured I’d do something cool and interesting in my new canoe (some months ago I posted about buying a solo canoe as my nagging back pain is making kayaking long distances a little uncomfortable). So here was my crazy plan:

Launch from Jericho, where my canoe is stored, paddle to Sechelt, portage through town and then head up the inlet into Jervis Inlet all the way to its head; then back down and around Nelson Island to the Strait for the downwind run back to Jericho. I figured three weeks would be suitable for this trip. In the end, due to some bad weather and my lingering to enjoy Sechelt Inlet, I ran out of time and I turned around at Hotham Sound and I had to change my destination to Porteau Cove, but the resulting trip was excellent. Here’s the route:


There were many highlights to the trip, as our local coast contains many gems that only boaters know of. It was a great opportunity for me to poke around places that I’ve never bothered to visit over the years, such as Narrows Inlet and Thornbrough Channel in Howe Sound. And I had the thrill of camping on an island in Skookumchuck Narrows and watching the full tide cycle work its way from ebb to flood and back again. Here are some pics:

Skook at sunset as the flood tide was building:


Cliffs in the north end of Hotham Sound:


Cape Cockburn:


And an incredible campsite on Thormanby:


So many beautiful places close to Vancouver and so few people out there.

One more thing: this trip was really pretty local, even when it came to gear. My boat was a Clipper Solitude, built by the fine people out in Abbotsford; the spraydeck was built in Vancouver by the folks at NorthWater; my bent shaft paddle was a Werner from just south of the border; and from a little farther afield came my straight shaft paddle, a Grey Owl carved in Ontario.

What a lovely circuit! [he did the flat 1.4 km portage thru Sechelt!] For all of you mainland paddlers look at how proximate a whole host of locations are - just plan for weather across or thru Howe Sound and somewhat down or up the coast.
Although there are only a few camping locations from Thormanby to Gibsons, the whole rest of the area has a myriad of possibilities that are not being touched - as Andrew says.

Hey Andrew, could you put a few dots on that map indicating locations you liked and/or stopped at if you wish to. In any case, more photos!

Just brilliant Andrew, great circuit!
Gorgeous shots and a very cool trip! I'm glad you're enjoying the new canoe!
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Thanks for the hand annotated route map. It's exactly the kind of thing that fires up the imagination and lowers the intimidation factor for folk. I really hope people are inspired by it. The Sunshine Coast and Howe Sound were home waters for me for a long time. There is solitude still to be found because everyone rushes off to the popular destinations. I've enjoyed Sechelt Inlet all on my lonesome on more than one Canada Day long weekend.

I'm glad the canoe keeps you and your back in the game. Last I checked, this site was called West Coast Paddler, and to my mind that's a pretty big tent. Any day on the water with a paddle is great day.
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Thanks, folks. Mick, you are co-author of this trip — it was a comment from you that got me thinking about it. We were talking about the lack of good camping options between Thormanby and Keats and you said that someone could always portage into Sechelt Inlet and camp at Porpoise Bay. I filed that thought away and it returned to me in a flash recently when I was thinking of a trip: yes, portage into the inlet and then keep going, coming back by the strait.

I took 16 days to do this route, and you can see from the map of my campsites below, I set a leisurely pace with lots of shore days for hiking and exploring, as well as a couple of weather days:


Night 1: the cove at the tip of Keats Istand, near Salmon Rock. This is still owned by Keats Camp, but apparently it will be turned into a park.

Night 2: Porpoise Bay in the cycling campground. The cyclists were great: young people getting out and exploring under their own power.

Nights 3-4: Halfway Beach, Sechelt Inlet. It was raining, plus I had the place to myself, so I took an extra night at this beautiful marine park site.

Night 5: Narrows Inlet. Very aesthetic surroundings plus a cool tidal rapid to explore. The camping is on an old log landing, so lots of crappy alder. Three kayakers shared this spot with me.

Night 6: An island in Skookumchuck rapid. It’s the island on the east side. There is a very obvious gravel beach as you approach from the south and very cool side channels, each with its own little rapid. I should have stayed here another night.

Nights 7-8: Elephant Point, Hotham Sound. This was bluff camping with a dodgy landing. Huge rains convinced me to stay an extra night, but it gave me the chance to check out all of Hotham Sound.

Nights 9-10: Cape Cockburn. Amazing site but I have the feeling it will be developed. There are surveyor stakes marking out the main beach. Visit now if you want to see it in its glory. I was windbound an extra day here, but I would have wanted to stay anyway.

Nights 11-12: One of the bays on the east side of South Thormanby. Bluff camping, good swimming beach, amazing views.

Nights 13-14: Plumper Cove, Keats Island. A water pump and good hiking and swimming. Several other paddlers were camped here.

Night 15: Thornbrough Rec Site. My favourite of the BCMTA sites locally. Four kayakers joined me here.

Here’s an example of a side channel in Skook:


Here’s Harry Roberts’ classic cabin on Cape Cockburn:


Here’s that perfect bay on Thormanby (circled in blue):

and you said that someone could always portage into Sechelt Inlet and camp at Porpoise Bay
yayy! I walked that portage shortly after doing the bowron and that piddly, paved, short [1.4 km], flat, and easy portage was peanuts in comparison.

the cove at the tip of Keats Istand, near Salmon Rock. This is still owned by Keats Camp, but apparently it will be turned into a park.
If this is true, it will be an amazing new possibility allowing more easy transit across Howe Sound. If you know more, PM me with what you suspect.

Cape Cockburn. Amazing site but I have the feeling it will be developed. There are surveyor stakes marking out the main beach. Visit now if you want to see it in its glory. I was windbound an extra day here, but I would have wanted to stay anyway.
Yes, an astronomically huge site. It had stakes on it when I visited it 3 yrs or so ago but hopefully if developed it will only be the central loader area. but it's a big big area and I'm sure it will be hard for hydro to not sell some of it. . . But the homesite and adjacent loooong, loooong beach I hope will stay.

So assuming one in the lower mainland doesn't have a car and gets a ride to Jericho beach or some other lower mainland beach
and looking at Andrew's trip, noting that he had some long distance days: 1st day to 1st site - 26 km, 2nd day to Sechelt inlet - 26 km, and 2nd to last day- 40 km . . . . what could one do to lessen or break up some of those starting distances? [in the meat of the trip, there are a myriad of options.]

Crossing Howe Sound there are options coming up - Apodaca park. That will really make a difference, and its coming. But in the meantime there's Little Flower Island up the W side of Bowen.
However, going up the lower sunshine coast to Sechelt, there is a dearth of sites except for a small UREP at Wilson Creek - good enough for a quick overnight altho you might have to share with a squatter once in awhile.
Anyway, some options to make everything up coast reachable with shorter steps.
Beautiful. Goes to show you that you dont have to load up your gear and travel to a put in spot. Just Go!
40 km day has me a bit worried
Yah, way too long for mere mortals, but:
The route from Thormanby Is to Porteau Cove passes right by the half way point of KeatsIs-PlumperCv which AM did on purpose to meet his schedule. So if he had the extra day, it would have been two 20+/- km days.

Or if he was actually 'little am' he coulda used Wilson Ck and Apodaca, 4 little tiny steps. Point is that a whole universe of opportunities is out there from the lower mainland starting with just a ride down to the beach. Don't need a car, just a lift.

look at the possibilities of AM's or anyone's trip could be just in Sechelt Inlet, so many interesting locations.

or alternatively skipping the typical Jedediah Island visit and discovering lower Texada and Lasqueti:

and who wouldn't want to be relaxing, or reading a book, or snorkelling around, or swimming in the warm lagoon of Jervis SE Islet in this weather? [centre of image above]

that's where I'd like to be about now.