Camping within one (reasonable) paddle from False Creek?

janew

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Jul 22, 2015
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I'm tempted to subtitle this with something like "low-budget paddling" -- I've recently moved here from Gabriola Island, and I've got my kayak at Ecomarine on Granville Island. And, I don't own a car.

But in getting to Howe Sound or the Sunshine Coast, the problem seems to be a lack of places to camp within a reasonable distance from False Creek.

1.) Point Atkinson: I don't want to invite admissions of illicit activity, but has anyone ever camped on the (sort of) beaches at the south side of Lighthouse Park? Not that I'd consider doing so in anything other than an urgent situation, but I was curious and it does look do-able.

2.) Apodaca Park on Bowen: Information on this tiny, undeveloped provincial park seems sketchy and contradictory. Does anyone have any experience of camping there?

3.) Indian Arm and generally east of Ironworkers Memorial bridge: I believe the inner harbour is forbidden to kayaks etc.(?) But is it tacitly okay to paddle through there?

4.) Other suggestions (besides buying a car, or a Feathercraft)? English Bay is tons of fun (especially with fireworks!), but it gets a little boring.

Thank you!
 

kayakwriter

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Good timing. I just got back from a trip where I paddled directly out of English Bay (though my long-suffering wife picked me up at Porteau Cove, I could have paddled back).

janew said:
1.) Point Atkinson: I don't want to invite admissions of illicit activity, but has anyone ever camped on the (sort of) beaches at the south side of Lighthouse Park? Not that I'd consider doing so in anything other than an urgent situation, but I was curious and it does look do-able.
I've hiked there a lot, and paddled there on day trips. Never camped. I would be concerned about being evicted in the middle of the night - the neighbourhood has a rep for guarding their exclusivity.

janew said:
2.) Apodaca Park on Bowen: Information on this tiny, undeveloped provincial park seems sketchy and contradictory. Does anyone have any experience of camping there?
Haven't camped there since the late 1980s, but I understand from a friend who lives there they are pretty strict about the no-camping rule.

janew said:
3.) Indian Arm and generally east of Ironworkers Memorial bridge: I believe the inner harbour is forbidden to kayaks etc.(?) But is it tacitly okay to paddle through there?
Vessel Traffic Control (what Air Traffic Control is to planes) monitors the area with cameras. They can and will bust non-motorized boats anywhere from Lions Gate Bridge to Iron Workers. Besides, the currents around both bridges can be rather too exciting at the wrong stages of the tide.


So after all that bad news, some good news: you can do some pretty decent overnight/weekend trips directly from Vancouver into Howe Sound. I've gone to Keats Island, just off Gibsons, and to Halkett Bay on Gambier Island.

The trip I just did I had planned to camp at the Ramilles Channel campsite, part of the recently announced Marine Trail sites in Howe Sound. All I found at the given lat and long were a couple of strips of surveyor's tape - no tent sites or even pit toilets. I can't speak for the other sites like Thombrough Channel, Islet View or Zorro Bay.

janew said:
4.) Other suggestions (besides buying a car, or a Feathercraft)? English Bay is tons of fun (especially with fireworks!), but it gets a little boring.
The car share services I've looked at are geared to short-term, in-city use, and are really expensive for just parking a car somewhere for the weekend while you paddle. Maybe put a personal ad in the Paddling Partners section here, offering to share gas and ferry fares, or if you're a good cook, offering to do slap-up suppers?

Whatever you opt for, happy, safe paddling to you!
 

janew

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Jul 22, 2015
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Wow! Thanks very much! And, I actually got arrested once for obstruction of navigation, for paddling my tiny inflatable dinghy along the south shore of the inner harbour.
 

Byron

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May 17, 2009
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Vancouver, BC
I think Philip has pretty much covered it.

For other ideas...the "paddling partners" idea is good.

Not so good are the following: Can one store kayaks at Deep Cove? If so maybe move your kayak storage out there when you are bored of English Bay. Indian Arm has camping on Twin Islands and at the top end (Granite Falls and Bergs Landing) and is otherwise a nice area to paddle. If not Deep Cove then maybe storage at Barnet Marine Park (I see a storage area there) or Rocky Point (ditto). Another crazy idea...are there any taxi services that can/will take a kayak? Or maybe rent a kayak whenever you want to camp Indian Arm (pricey but there are costs associated with not owning a car...).

Philip: I wouldn't have expected specific tent sites or pit toilets. But I would have expected a suitable place to pitch a tent. Are you saying that you couldn't find a reasonable place to put your tent?
 

kayakwriter

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Byron said:
Philip: I wouldn't have expected specific tent sites or pit toilets. But I would have expected a suitable place to pitch a tent. Are you saying that you couldn't find a reasonable place to put your tent?
That's what I'm saying. A gravel/cobble beach that was too narrow with the expected tide reach and an uncampably steep, uncleared upland. Beyond the two strips of tape, no sign the area had been visited or worked. I took the lat and lon off the poster announcing the new sites. I'll have to double check if I screwed up imputting them to my GPS. (Don't have time now: off to the Parade today.) Otherwise, maybe some of the Marine Trail crew can shed some light on the situation.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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kayakwriter said:
A gravel/cobble beach that was too narrow with the expected tide reach and an uncampably steep, uncleared upland. Beyond the two strips of tape, no sign the area had been visited or worked. I took the lat and lon off the poster announcing the new sites. I'll have to double check if I screwed up imputting them to my GPS. (Don't have time now: off to the Parade today.) Otherwise, maybe some of the Marine Trail crew can shed some light on the situation.
Is this the place (Ramilles) that you were at?
From the pictures, it doesn't seem to me to meet the description of 'Primary campsite'. I don't know how BCMTN classifies these things. (Strange, really....I was on a paddle where we had a 'lunchtime lecture' from 2 BCMTN people and one of their big ideas was that it was a 'no-no' to cut branches or prune underbrush...'Good campsites are found, not made' was the line they used...)

Primary Campsite
Coordinates lat 49° 30.025' lng -123° 20.467'
Land Tenure Provincial Forest Recreation Site
Landing Comments Wide 7% sand and gravel beaches.
Beach may flood at Springs. Some drift logs.
Camp Comments Level upland forest sites along grassy bench behind beach.
Other possible sites along shore at top of beach except at Springs.
Tent Sites 6 or more
 

kisielk

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Jul 5, 2010
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I also paddle from Granville Island. I've paddled to Halkett Bay before and also have done Keats Island from Horseshoe Bay, it would be doable in a (longish) day from False Creek.
 

mick_allen

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May 15, 2005
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Philip, I sure am perplexed you didn’t find anything at Ramillies. But to start off, these sites are simple sites with some development or remediation to achieve:
  • 1) landing at all tides
    2) a trail from the landing to the camping area if necessary.
    3) 4 or more flat areas that a tent can be set up on.

We had hoped to get a pit toilet at least at one of the six new sites, but that will have to wait for another budget and another year. This will happen one way or another.

The Ramillies campsite is a 2km long piece of land that consists of 3 fairly wide bays of which the centre is the most useful right now. Funny thing is that we have photos of the site before most of our work but got so distracted or tired afterward that I don’t have good final photos but here’s something for now.

Firstly, here is an updated layout of the central bay. The main camping area is on the linear bench of the central bay’s north end. There’s room for a bunch of tents:


Probably got carried away, but here's the 'grand staircase' constructed out of found concrete foundation blocks that were in and around the bench:


And an WIP photo of the bench looking south:


Anyway, I personally spent a full day building a trail and levelling 3 sites here. One on the S end of the bench beyond where Kyle is standing, and the two isolated little guys you can see on the site plan further south.

**

janew, the BC Marine Trails Network [and others too] think that having interesting, numerous, and easily accessible camping opportunities for smallboat[er]s near populated areas is essential for present and future retention or expansion of all our interests. To this end, several of us are spending much time looking closely at possibilities in Howe Sound. The idea you have of just plunking your boat in the water and paddling off for a week or four where every night is spent at a different location is exactly what we wish to achieve. We have just gone from 3 campsites to 9, but there is much more we are reaching for.
 

kayakwriter

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Sorry for going off air for a bit - I was/am busy with Pride and with prep for an upcoming paddle in the Gulfs with my sister and neice.

JohnAbercrombie said:
Is this the place (Ramilles) that you were at?
Primary Campsite
Coordinates lat 49° 30.025' lng -123° 20.467'
Well, as they say, "There's your problem!" The co-ordinates I had were N49 30 02.0 W123 20 28.0. Close, but no cigar. Guess I got distracted by the surveyor's tape and didn't look around enough. Also, from outer coast paddling, I'm used to seeing a net float hanging from a branch or other sign of human activity on backcountry sites. Mea culpa.

mick_allen said:
Philip, I sure am perplexed you didn’t find anything at Ramillies. But to start off, these sites are simple sites with some development or remediation to achieve:
  • 1) landing at all tides
    2) a trail from the landing to the camping area if necessary.
    3) 4 or more flat areas that a tent can be set up on.

We had hoped to get a pit toilet at least at one of the six new sites, but that will have to wait for another budget and another year. This will happen one way or another.
SNIP
Anyway, I personally spent a full day building a trail and levelling 3 sites here. One on the S end of the bench beyond where Kyle is standing, and the two isolated little guys you can see on the site plan further south.
SNIP
We have just gone from 3 campsites to 9, but there is much more we are reaching for.
Hey Mick. Thank you and all the others for your hard work. My failure was obviously due to what we called "customer malfunction" back when I worked at a retail exchange desk. I'll look forward to trying again!
 

mick_allen

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May 15, 2005
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3,481
Heh, heh: oh yeah - I forgot there's a sign up now on all these sites. . .


Close-up:


**
**

I guess we all look forward to your next travelogue installment "Things I see along my journey".

Anyway I think that grand staircase is just made for you: I can just imagine you in your cape [ draped cag? ], gallantly mounting the treads with grovelling acolytes kissing at your ankles as you majestically pronounce the arrival of your next culinary masterpiece or regale us with your next intricately crafted story. A perfect image.

**********

But . . . back to the important stuff: possibilities in Howe Sound.

janew, if you go to the map at bcmarinetrails.org, those 9 sites in Howe Snd will show up with locations, information, and photos with a click on ea icon. As well there are Day-Use and Access point locations and information shown. Although we don't show the whole of the information, here's a taste of the majority of what we are looking at: [the numbers in the icons refer to the number of sites [many are day-use, though] below the icon].
 
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