Easter Weekend, West Redonda Island

AlphaEcho

Paddler
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
117
Location
Quadra Island, BC
This week marks the 1 year anniversary of my kayak being stolen from my apartment's underground parking area. It was that raw and personal violation that crystallized my decision to leave the city and begin on this path, making possible my adventures here in the Discovery Islands (and the trip reports here on WCP). It makes me shake my head in wonder. Like whacking the side of the vending machine in frustration because your candy bar got stuck and having 4 fall into the pick-up tray beyond all reason.

This trip was almost on theme. We shuffled through a bunch of different options for this holiday weekend. Blackfish Sound was our first choice, but after looking at all the extra driving time and the wind forecast, West Redonda Island popped to the top of the list. Looking at the chart, I was intrigued by the squiggle of Waddington Channel meandering up to Dean Point. Yeah, sure, let's check that out.

2021-04 WRendondaIsland.png Going widdershins 'round West Redonda Island. Start and End at Squirrel Cove, Cortes Island.

Day 1 - Our first day was a short 8.6 NM to Roscoe Bay along the south shore of West Redonda. Desolation Sound and the Redondas (East and West) are hugely popular. In any other year, there would be other groups of kayakers and plenty of holiday weekend traffic on the water. As it was we crossed over to Refuge Cove alone and unmolested. We luxuriated in the peace and quiet of a truly desolate sound.

We launched at 1 pm and wandered into camp around 5 pm after logging photos of sea stars along the shore for the Tracking Starfish Wasting & Recovery project on iNaturalist.

Somewhere along the shore on the way to Marylebone Point, you'll spot a rock formation that looks exactly like the shape of our province. It was to me exactly like finding an image of the Virgin Mary on your toast (surely an appropriate comparison as it was Easter).

2021-04 WRedondaIsland-01.jpg Squirrel Cove
2021-04 WRedondaIsland-02.JPG Ochre Sea Star, Vermilion Sea Star, and Giant (California) Sea Cumber
2021-04 WRedondaIsland-03.jpg Along the south shore of West Redonda

If you look at the satellite images of Roscoe Bay on Google Earth, there are typically a dozen power boats moored there. We had it all to ourselves. Though the site is on the east side of the island, the setting sun on the trees and then peaks around us was sublimely beautiful.

The BC Marine Trails map shows the campsite is next to a creek on the north shore about 500 metres from the head of the bay. If you land there at low tide, look for the boat run cleared of oyster shells. It's stinky mud, but not truly disgusting. This is a "backcountry" site with no outhouse or food cache. If those are important to you, camp at the BC Parks campsite located at the head of the bay. It's a little less picturesque, but hey, there's facilities.

Mind the very slimy algae on the hard mud/soil/rock at the high tide line. My friend slipped and had a hard fall. She was alright but could have sprained her wrist badly.

2021-04 WRedondaIsland-04.jpg Roscoe Bay
2021-04 WRedondaIsland-05.jpg Roscoe Bay
2021-04 WRedondaIsland-06.jpg This is the view rewarding those who climb the bluff above the campsite

Day 2 - Our second day dawned grey and cloudy. We kept to our meandering ways and paddled north up Waddington Channel. Though the ebb was running against us, we didn't really feel it following the shore of West Redonda. We investigated the channel between Allies Island and West Redonda in hopes the notes on the BCMT map were incorrect. Alas, the channel does dry out. However, even if it didn't dry out, would be no point using it because the bay on the north side of Allies Island is one giant shellfish farm lease. You're not getting through that tangle short of wielding a lightsaber.

2021-04 WRedondaIsland-07.jpg Allies Island channel

Side note: @adm posted about their trip to climb Mt. Addenbroke on East Redonda, adjacent to this adventure. I have to concur that the views are awesome. I was very much entranced looking down the long finger of Pendrell Sound on our way up Waddington Channel.

Our goal was the campsite at Gloucester Point, which is only a few miles past Walsh Cove Provincial Park, aka Gorges Islands. The clouds closed down onto us and we paddled past Doctor Bay in a gloom that felt like our paddle to Whale Passage back in February. When the rain started drizzling that sealed our decision and we camped on the Gorges Islands. Mileage for the day: 9.7 NM.

We arrived at low tide and it was a slithery climb to get up to the campsite on the NW islet. Mind your step and avoid the algae covered rocks.

2021-04 WRedondaIsland-08.jpg Approaching Walsh Cove
2021-04 WRedondaIsland-09.jpg Morning at Walsh Cove
IMG_0673.jpg

Looking south, down Waddington Channel from Walsh Cove

Day 3 - Despite the bright sunshine, this was probably my toughest day of the weekend. We had mileage to make up and our goal was a campsite on Lewis Channel that would make for an easy day back to Squirrel Cove. We reached Dean Point and turned west on Pryce Channel. The waters turned choppy and rough. It was the classic case of wind against the tide. On Pryce Channel things can get even a little more chaotic because winds and currents collide there coming from Homfray Channel, Toba Inlet, Raza Passage, and Deer Passage.

My paddling partner motored through it all, but I struggled to find a stroke and a pace I could settle into. I think I overstrained myself in that first hour of paddling and put myself behind the 8-ball the rest of the day. I distracted myself looking at the eagles, seals, and sea lions we passed along the way. We did 14 miles in 7 hours. I'm OK with that pace. I was in control of my boat and I didn't tear any muscles or tendons. A bad day is a bad day. It's still better than a day injured.

By the way, there is no good camping at Gloucester Point. It was the site we were aiming for the previous day, so we stopped in to check it out. The BCMT site notes say "Undeveloped. Several sites could be readily brushed." That would only be true if you were "brushing" with a chainsaw and a small excavator.

There are two campsites on Lewis Channel (approx. mid-way between north and south, West Redonda shore). They both have decent landings, "kitchen" areas, and really nice views. Users should be aware of them both as neither are overly spacious. You could probably get away with 2-3 tents in each if you squeezed.

2021-04 WRedondaIsland-10.jpg Pryce Channel
2021-04 WRedondaIsland-11.jpg Sea Lions on Pryce Channel
2021-04 WRedondaIsland-12.jpg Camping on Lewis Channel


Day 4 - The weather gods blessed our final day with sunshine and light breezes. We returned to a calm pace and wandered along the shores of Teakerne Arm to check it out. If you haven't been, there are some very pretty waterfalls at the far end of the arm. On the way down Lewis Channel going back to Squirrel Cove, keep an eye out to the east for views of Mt. Crawshay and Dudley Cone, last seen from the campsite at Roscoe Bay. If you paddle from the Lewis Channel campsite directly back to Squirrel Cove, it's approximately 6.5 NM. With the detour into Teakerne Arm, it's a little over 11 NM.

The total mileage for the circumnavigation is around 45 NM depending on how closely you hug the shore and which detours you take.

All in all, this was a good long weekend trip. I got to see some really beautiful new territory, stretched my skills, and learned something new about myself (trust your instincts and stick to your pace). I recommend this trip for summer paddlers ready to brave Pryce Channel and expedition paddlers wanting to stay tuned up in the shoulder seasons.

2021-04 WRedondaIsland-13.jpg Teakerne Arm
2021-04 WRedondaIsland-14.jpg Squirrel Cove

Our launch (and return) was at Squirrel Cove. Unload your boats and gear at the public dock. Take the trail down to the beach on the right of the pier. It's easier than on the left. You likely won't find parking at the pubic dock, but you can park on the shoulder of the road above the parking lot.

The question of direction came up and we opted to go anticlockwise. We later found that we got lucky with the tides and currents, riding the floods and ebbs in the directions we were going already. You'll want to stack the deck in your favour by planning accordingly when you do this trip.

You don't have to do the full circumnavigation to enjoy West Redonda Island. You can launch at Squirrel Cove and explore Teakerne Arm on a regular weekend. There's a lake above the falls that is a popular swimming hole in the summer. You can also make it more epic if you launch from Okeover Arm or in Lund.

Unlike many routes on the BC coast, this one has reasonable access to fresh water. You will find many creeks along the way. Check your charts and plan accordingly.
 
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adm

New Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Read Island
Great trip report - looks like a great way to spend the long weekend locally!

LOL I love the description of Gloucester Point 'campsite'! A few years ago I pulled in there late one evening in the hopes of finding something cleared....I ended up clearing a space in the driftwood and getting up early to avoid getting wet! Great views down Toba though :)
 

AlphaEcho

Paddler
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
117
Location
Quadra Island, BC
Hey thanks neighbour! I decided it would be a great drinking game. Every time you see "needs brushing" in a BCMT site description, add "with a chainsaw and excavator" and take a drink.

I have to say a major factor in my reaction to Gloucester Point is that it's a really beautiful location and it has a creek right there. The only thing missing is an actual, you know, campsite. There's little point in mentioning the place if it's not ready for people to use. The beaches are stony, true, but usable at all tides and can you really say that generally about landings in the region? I hope it gets on the list of sites that get developed at some point. It is well positioned as a primary site for paddlers exploring the area. Walsh Cove is great, but there need to be viable alternate campsites to avoid the issues brought on by overuse and crowding.

Gloucester Point, West Redonda Island
Gloucester Point Beach - in case it isn't obvious from the tangle of drift logs, this is a lee shore.

@nootka - correcting deficiencies in site descriptions on the BCMT map is one of my goals. The organization needs a proper feedback loop making it easier to (a) log user observations on sites and (b) have those reports reflected back to users.
 
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