Looking to Rent Two Tandems in June

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
33
Location
Cultus Lake
Hi, everyone. My wife and I, plus another couple are hoping to do a trip from Victoria to Nanaimo in mid June. We'd like to use wheels to carry our boats onto the ferry at Tsawwassen, sail to Swartz Bay and begin making our way north. We'd like to end up at Duke Point and sail on the ferry back to Tsawassen, making it a nice tidy loop.
Two questions:
1. Where would be the closest place (to Tsawwassen) to rent two tandem kayaks from? There was one place in Whiterock that has since moved to the Sunshine Coast. Western Canoeing no longer rents kayaks. We're not sure where else to look.
2. Does anyone know where we can take out near Duke Point? One of the Sunshine Coast operators told us today that there was nowhere near to Duke Point to exit the water.

Any beta would be appreciated.
 

mick_allen

Paddler & Moderator
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
3,269
2. Look on bcmarine trails map for a location on the W side of the spit. The landing is not great [rock shelves if I remember] but compares to lot of landing sites on the westcoast.

DukePt-access.jpg
 

kayakwriter

Administrator
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
985
Firstly, may I suggest Departure Bay as your takeout rather than Duke Point? It's just an hour or two paddling further north, the takeout is a nice public ramp just south of the seaplane terminal, and (if it's open during COVID this summer) you could camp on Newcastle Island your last night.

departure bay.JPG


Re the rentals: it might be easier to rent boats on the Vancouver Island side. Perhaps check if places like Pacifica Paddle will pick up/drop off boats for a fee. (https://www.pacificapaddle.com/rentals).
 

AM

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Joined
Jan 30, 2006
Messages
896
Location
Vancouver
I agree with @kayakwriter. I have launched and landed from Brechin boat ramp beside Departure Bay for years. An excellent location right across from Newcastle Island.

If you start there, you can rent right on the water from Coastal Expression:


The trick would be getting the boats picked up at the Swartz Bay end of the trip. As Kayakwriter said, perhaps you could pay extra for that service. Failing that, you could do a loop trip, starting and ending at Departure Bay. @SheilaP and I did a similar trip years ago, taking 10 days to wend our way through the Gulf Islands from Swartz Bay to Departure Bay and back to Swartz Bay again. It was really one of my favourite trips ever:


Lots of options in the Gulf Islands. I would suggest making the logistics as simple as possible so that all your energy goes into enjoying the many possible route choices.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
33
Location
Cultus Lake
Thank you, folks. The reason for Duke Point was to be able to leave our vehicles any Tsawwassen which goes to both Nanaimo and Duke Point and hence a nice triangle is possible, especially now that I see that takeout point at Duke Point. Now if we can only find our rentals on the mainland, there will be no need for shuttles..... I do like the idea of the out and return as well although that would have us setting up camp more often. We could also launch from Saltspring and shorten up the distance. I’ll look at the links you provided.
Cheers

Kevin
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
33
Location
Cultus Lake
I agree with @kayakwriter. I have launched and landed from Brechin boat ramp beside Departure Bay for years. An excellent location right across from Newcastle Island.

If you start there, you can rent right on the water from Coastal Expression:


The trick would be getting the boats picked up at the Swartz Bay end of the trip. As Kayakwriter said, perhaps you could pay extra for that service. Failing that, you could do a loop trip, starting and ending at Departure Bay. @SheilaP and I did a similar trip years ago, taking 10 days to wend our way through the Gulf Islands from Swartz Bay to Departure Bay and back to Swartz Bay again. It was really one of my favourite trips ever:


Lots of options in the Gulf Islands. I would suggest making the logistics as simple as possible so that all your energy goes into enjoying the many possible route choices.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
33
Location
Cultus Lake
Well, I think I found a workable plan. I’m going to copy it here and ask for anyone to offer comment on it, particularly regarding some suggested spots we shouldn’t miss as there are some gaps to be filled anyway. Andrew, I read with delight your Shambolic Trip with Sheila report. Perhaps you could offer some must stay places to what I have so far.
The route and campsites are all flexible now that we have the dates and retrieval logistics

Also, I use the AyeTide App but wonder if anyone can suggest a good resource for currents? Most of my paddling is on the west coast where currents are not as important. I did paddle from Saltspring to Nanaimo in 2004 but I’m hoping for some modernized sources to plan our days,

Here is the rough plan:
Gulf Island Marine Tour
Concept: a casual sauntering exploration of the Gulf Islands between Victoria and Nanaimo utilizing the dates from Saturday, June 19 to Sunday, June 27. Can also be shorter if we want to. Note, the route and places where we stay two nights are completely flexible. We can adjust as we do research. This is based on my research and experience so far:

June 19, 2021,Day 1 Drive to Horshoe Bay catch earliest ferry to Departure Bay. Rent kayaks from Coastal Expressions. Load boats and gear onto Ault’s truck. Leave Schwartz vehicle in Nanaimo. Everyone drives to Swartz Bay in Tundra. Ask Mark Kean and Tanya to meet us there and once we’re unloaded, they can take the truck back to Glenn Lake for the week.
We put in and paddle to Portland Island 7 km. Camp two nights

Day 2. Explore area. Head over to Pender Island or Saturna for wine tasting and lunch. (Check distances)

Day 3 Leave Portland Island and paddle to James Bay on Prevost Island 13 km Explore

Day 4 Prevost Island to Wallace Island 17 km for two nights
https://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/wallace/wallace-island-brochure.pdf?v=1611187306025

Day 5 Wallace Island day trip to ?

Day 6 Wallace to Pirates Cove 19 k
Day 7 Pirates Cove to ?
Day 8 second night at Pirates Cove or?

Day 9 Paddle to Nanaimo Departure Bay. Return kayaks and use Schwartz vehicle to get back to Keans’ in Victoria and go our separate ways.

Any intel or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. By the way, I normally paddle in a Pygmy Coho, of which I built two, one for me and one for Judy. Last year, we did a trip with a less experienced couple who liked the tandem option. My wife insisted that we rent a double as well as she is also less experienced. I’m OK with that but at $600 a week to rent, it wouldn’t take long to pay for a good used tandem so if anyone is looking to sell....My dream is to build a Pygmy double but I don’t currently have the time or space to work on it.
Cheers and thanks
 

drahcir

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Joined
Mar 26, 2010
Messages
564
Location
North Idaho (Sandpoint)
Others will be more familiar with your route. However, be aware that the currents through Gabriola Passage (south end of Gabriola Island) run up to ~9 knots, and that the currents through Dodd Narrows are similar. False Narrows is an alternative to Dodd and peaks at about half the speed of Dodd. You could stay on the outside of Gabriola Island, but would otherwise be more exposed. Appropriate current tables should allow you to find times for slack etc.
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
33
Location
Cultus Lake
Others will be more familiar with your route. However, be aware that the currents through Gabriola Passage (south end of Gabriola Island) run up to ~9 knots, and that the currents through Dodd Narrows are similar. False Narrows is an alternative to Dodd and peaks at about half the speed of Dodd. You could stay on the outside of Gabriola Island, but would otherwise be more exposed. Appropriate current tables should allow you to find times for slack etc.
Yes I had a GPS on when I rode that passage around the south east corner of Gabriola and I was doing at times 16 km/hr heading out into the straight.
 

Timfrick

Paddler
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
19
Location
Pender Island
If you have an iOS device then I can recommend Topo Maps Canada as a great free resource for estimating distances. AyeTides has served me well in the Gulf Islands for tides and currents. There is a Current Atlas app that is basically an app version of the paper based Current Atlas (used with Borsboom tables) - it has a few glitches but is pretty good.
 

AM

Paddler
Joined
Jan 30, 2006
Messages
896
Location
Vancouver
Hi Kevin,

The trip plan makes sense, at least on paper. Much depends on your paddling partners, as you already know. Some initial thoughts:

1) Drinking water. The challenge of tripping in the Gulf Islands is that some of the pumps previously on Parks land have been decommissioned. With your intended route, the only easily accessible public water sources that I know of are at Beaver Point (Ruckle Park) on Saltspring Island, Montague Harbour, and Dionisio Point. Plan accordingly. I can show you on Google Maps where to find the pumps/taps, if you wish.

2) Ferries. Leaving Swartz Bay you are immediately in the ferry lanes. A VHF is really useful here. Same with the crossing to Pender.

3) Speaking of which, there are a couple of crossings on your intended route that require care. Portland to Pender can see wind vs. current conditions. It can be snarky. And the final crossing from Duke Point to Newcastle is also pretty exposed.

4) Current. The only pass you have to transit according to your plan is either Dodd Narrows or False Narrows. I’ve done both. The easier option is False Narrows. But Dodd is fun...

5) That final slog to Nanaimo can be a beast.

Anyway, it‘s a good trip on paper. I’ve paddled a lot of places on the coast, but the Gulf Islands give me a special feeling. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you‘ll get it when I say the GI are like the Shire — not spectacular and dramatic, but comforting and lovely.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

Tangler

Paddler
Joined
Sep 5, 2016
Messages
92
Location
Nanaimo, BC
Just a few random thoughts...
Your plan seem perfectly workable. Did you consider camping at Dionso?
Water is always an issue on long trips in the Gulf Islands and can be hard to find.
If you are driving over you could leave your vehicle near the Cedar boat launch (Nelson Road) which would eliminate the need to paddle through Dodd narrows and the last, industrial, section of Nanaimo.
You could also drive to a midway point, even onto Saltspring and do an interesting loop. Though obviously that won't work if your goal is to paddle from Swartz to Nanaimo.
Renting boats on the mainland and doing your initial plan might save money in ferry fees (as well as seeming cool) but there is a reasonable chance that partway through pulling your fully loaded double through the ferry terminal you would gladly spend that money. (I could just be projecting here...) Singles are a different matter. :)
Hope you have a great trip.
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
33
Location
Cultus Lake
Hi Kevin,

The trip plan makes sense, at least on paper. Much depends on your paddling partners, as you already know. Some initial thoughts:

1) Drinking water. The challenge of tripping in the Gulf Islands is that some of the pumps previously on Parks land have been decommissioned. With your intended route, the only easily accessible public water sources that I know of are at Beaver Point (Ruckle Park) on Saltspring Island, Montague Harbour, and Dionisio Point. Plan accordingly. I can show you on Google Maps where to find the pumps/taps, if you wish.

2) Ferries. Leaving Swartz Bay you are immediately in the ferry lanes. A VHF is really useful here. Same with the crossing to Pender.

3) Speaking of which, there are a couple of crossings on your intended route that require care. Portland to Pender can see wind vs. current conditions. It can be snarky. And the final crossing from Duke Point to Newcastle is also pretty exposed.

4) Current. The only pass you have to transit according to your plan is either Dodd Narrows or False Narrows. I’ve done both. The easier option is False Narrows. But Dodd is fun...

5) That final slog to Nanaimo can be a beast.

Anyway, it‘s a good trip on paper. I’ve paddled a lot of places on the coast, but the Gulf Islands give me a special feeling. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you‘ll get it when I say the GI are like the Shire — not spectacular and dramatic, but comforting and lovely.

Cheers,
Andrew
Yes, Andrew. If you can send me the locations of water pumps, I would be grateful. Thanks.
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
33
Location
Cultus Lake
Just a few random thoughts...
Your plan seem perfectly workable. Did you consider camping at Dionso?
Water is always an issue on long trips in the Gulf Islands and can be hard to find.
If you are driving over you could leave your vehicle near the Cedar boat launch (Nelson Road) which would eliminate the need to paddle through Dodd narrows and the last, industrial, section of Nanaimo.
You could also drive to a midway point, even onto Saltspring and do an interesting loop. Though obviously that won't work if your goal is to paddle from Swartz to Nanaimo.
Renting boats on the mainland and doing your initial plan might save money in ferry fees (as well as seeming cool) but there is a reasonable chance that partway through pulling your fully loaded double through the ferry terminal you would gladly spend that money. (I could just be projecting here...) Singles are a different matter. :)
Hope you have a great trip.
No, we ditched the wheels idea. We'll take two vehicles, use Coastal for our boat supplier and that means we can take whatever we'd like. Cheers
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
33
Location
Cultus Lake
Hi Kevin,

The trip plan makes sense, at least on paper. Much depends on your paddling partners, as you already know. Some initial thoughts:

1) Drinking water. The challenge of tripping in the Gulf Islands is that some of the pumps previously on Parks land have been decommissioned. With your intended route, the only easily accessible public water sources that I know of are at Beaver Point (Ruckle Park) on Saltspring Island, Montague Harbour, and Dionisio Point. Plan accordingly. I can show you on Google Maps where to find the pumps/taps, if you wish.

2) Ferries. Leaving Swartz Bay you are immediately in the ferry lanes. A VHF is really useful here. Same with the crossing to Pender.

3) Speaking of which, there are a couple of crossings on your intended route that require care. Portland to Pender can see wind vs. current conditions. It can be snarky. And the final crossing from Duke Point to Newcastle is also pretty exposed.

4) Current. The only pass you have to transit according to your plan is either Dodd Narrows or False Narrows. I’ve done both. The easier option is False Narrows. But Dodd is fun...

5) That final slog to Nanaimo can be a beast.

Anyway, it‘s a good trip on paper. I’ve paddled a lot of places on the coast, but the Gulf Islands give me a special feeling. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you‘ll get it when I say the GI are like the Shire — not spectacular and dramatic, but comforting and lovely.

Cheers,
Andrew
Andrew, I am a ham radio operator and I have a marine radio but can you explain how to use a VHS radio to monitor ferry traffic? I've never done that. Thanks.
 

AM

Paddler
Joined
Jan 30, 2006
Messages
896
Location
Vancouver
I use the radio in that area in a few ways: first, I will monitor channel 11 (Victoria Traffic) to get info on which boats are leaving/arriving at Swartz Bay. and by which route. If you look at a chart, you’ll see that the ferries have a few different options for their route into and out of the terminal. When they leave the terminal, they call Traffic with their name, destination, and usually their route. Similarly, when they are coming south they call out the same info at Portlock Point on Prevost Island. By keeping the radio on, you can get an idea of who’s in the area and what their intentions are. This area is particularly busy and I’ve never been able to consistently guess which route the ferries will take, so I always listen.

Another way I have used channel 11 is to call Traffic with my position and route. I’ve only done this once, when crossing from Portland Island to Saltspring in fog with a group of kids. (Aside: I’d be interested in knowing if anyone else on this forum calls Traffic and under what conditions).

Finally, you can use channel 16 to call the ferry directly. I’ve done this twice, once when caught mid-crossing with a large vessel heading my way. This was a “hey, I’m here. I’ll stop and let you pass in front” sort of message.

Obviously safety is a concern in these situations. But so is “professionalism” or “seamanship”, if you understand my meaning. I don’t want to be the idiot that interrupts the flow of vessel traffic, particularly when those vessels carry thousands of people and the goods and materials that fuel the economy of the province. Kayakers don’t have a great reputation among professional mariners (they really do call us “speed bumps”) and I think we could improve our image by focusing on a few basics, such as using our VHF radios.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
720
Location
Bend OR USA
AM - when you announced your Portland Island/SaltSpring crossing, did you just say, “I’m here, going there.” or did you prefix it with Securite, Securite, Securite?

Kault316 - I hope you get to enjoy all the wonderful water you plan to play in. June is a long way away so check everything. Here are some things to consider:
Water - as mentioned some wells/water sources you might read about in guide books may not be available either because COVID concerns or other issues - like wells being sealed. So carry a good supply of water and make reflll plans you are sure of. Often, if the wells are open, boiling the water is recommended.

SaltSpring: If possible, see if you can be on SaltSpring on Saturday. They have a great Saturday Market at Ganges Harbor.
Showers: You can shower at the community pool on SaltSpring (down Rainbow Road) but it’s really just that “trickle” shower you go through on the way to the pool. The cost could be $2 or $6 depending upon the day or time - like after 6 pm on a week day it might be $2 but higher earlier in the day. These policies change so you might check with them ahead of time.

Camping on SaltSpring (Ruckle Park): you can drive in and haul your gear to a site using a supplied wheelbarrow. But you might just make reservations (or just show up - take your chances) with Mowhinna Creek Campground. About $20 and Real Showers!

Wallace Island: Find some shingle wood and put you and your boat’s name on it - also names of other participants names/boats - and the month/year - day too if you want. I used a woodburning set to do mine (felt pen would probably work) but had to leave the date open for a few years till I was sure I’d be there. Bring it with you. You’ll find out why as you explore the island.

Dionso: We went through the pass a slack time and I had to navigate 4 ft swells with stern quartering seas. At the bottom of one trough, I saw and otter floating in the swell above me. We headed down the east side to the designated camp area. The guide books make a big deal about a “rack”for you boats. What they don’t tell you is you will be landing on rock. Note I said “landing” not pulling up to shore. You’ll want to time it carefully so your boat will approach the rock shelf on incoming wave, be let down as gently as possible, and exit the boat before the next wave starts pounding your boat up and down on the rock. Then you’ll unload your boat on that shelf and start carrying your gear to the small bluff with stairs up to the camp area. Once the boats are unloaded, you then carry them across the rock and UP the stairs to the noted boat rack. OR, you could pull into the main beach - about mid pass - and shuttle your gear from there. There are plenty of little lagoons along the pass route you can pull into if you want to wait something out. Note that we went back though the pass at slack time the next day and it was glass smooth.

Pirates Cove: If you’re up to it - check out Silva Bay as a day trip. At one time they had a restaurant, indoor bathrooms that flush, showers and laundry. Google Earth is not coming up with pass name (Gabriola?) you go through. You’ll want to check times for that too. If you need to wait a bit, you can hang out in Degnen Bay or Drumbeg Park.

Now this last part can be controversial: If I were paddling in those waters, especially with someone who would help me re-enter, especially in the summer, I would be wearing my lightweight neoprene rather than drysuit. The water was swimming warm. Note that any extended time in the water is dangerous. But so is overheating. And a drysuit with an open zipper is not a drysuit. But if I were with people who might need extended assistance, I’d be in a drysuit.
 
Last edited:

kayakwriter

Administrator
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
985
Andrew, I am a ham radio operator and I have a marine radio but can you explain how to use a VHS radio to monitor ferry traffic? I've never done that. Thanks.
Just gonna insert a reminder that to use a marine VHF, you need to have a ROC (M). And technically even turning on the VHF to monitor traffic or weather is "operating" the radio, even if you don't transmit. (Though how they'd ever know, I don't know.) Kault, in case you're interested, I'm teaching a couple of online courses for the ROC (M) in the near future. Should be a cinch for someone with your HAM background.

https://jerichobeachkayak.com/lessons/online-vhf-radio-course/

Now this last part can be controversial: If I were paddling in those waters, especially with someone who would help me re-enter, especially in the summer, I would be wearing my lightweight neoprene rather than drysuit. The water was swimming warm. Note that any extended time in the water is dangerous. But so is overheating. And a drysuit with an open zipper is not a drysuit. But if I were with people who might need extended assistance, I’d be in a drysuit.
No argument from me about the wetsuit in summer in the Gulfs. In full summer, the risk of hyperthermia from a drysuit is higher than the risk of hypothermia from swimming. (Unless you're regularly roto-cooling with rolls or hip flicks off a buddy's bow.)
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
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Victoria, BC
Wallace Island: Find some shingle wood and put you and your boat’s name on it - also names of other participants names/boats - and the month/year. I used a woodburning set to do mine (felt pen would probably work) but had to leave the date open for a few years till I was sure I’d be there. Bring it with you. You’ll find out why as you explore the island.
That collection of 'boat signs' is at Conover Cove. I've used all three campsites at Wallace; Conover is at the bottom of my list. It was full of 'partying' teenagers banished from their parents' sail and power boats when I was there.

Giving your kayak a name is an individual choice. Thankfully, I've yet to see a kayak with one of the more common 'big boat' names (WetDream, OceanMistress, etc), :)
 
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