paddle spots near Sooke

Doug

Paddler
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
195
Location
Vancouver
We're going camping to French Beach next week, I think it is 1/2 way between Sooke and Jordan River? There's probably some good rip currents there. Where are some quiet/safe places to launch and paddle from in that area? I'm just looking for a spot to toodle around abit, it doesn't need to be an amazing trip.

cheers
 

Mark_Schilling

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Joined
Mar 8, 2005
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4,552
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"Home by the Sea" - Nanaimo, BC
Hi Doug,

I wouldn't expect much in the way of currents around there - it's all pretty open, so you'll just get the main flow of the Juan de Fuca (not more than about a knot I'd think). My charts indicate maximum current of 2 1/2 to 3 kts out in the shipping lanes, about 7km off-shore. It should be much less than that closer to shore.

Tidal swings are increasing next week, so later into the week you'll get increasingly strong currents with lower low tides (tend to be early mornings right now) and higher highs (late at night).

I'm not sure if French Beach is easy to launch from or not - there may be a steep trail down from the parking area (I don't remember specifically - haven't been there in a long time!). If you can't easily launch there, you can drive back towards Sooke exactly 8.0 km, and launch from the south-west side of Muir Creek. You can park in a little gravel area just south of the 'highway', and the creek is down a short bank. Paddle out the freshwater creek just a few hundred metres, hang a right and paddle about 7km back to French Beach. It's a pretty neat place to paddle if there are some light swells coming in, especially once you've gotten past the lighthouse at Sheringham Point.

You can also launch from Jordan River - French Beach would be about a 9.1km paddle from there. I haven't paddled that entire stretch, but it's probably quite interesting close to shore as well - perhaps a few little pocket beaches and light rock garden-type bits to play around in, much like the area from Sheringham Pt. to French Beach.

We've had some decent winds over the last week, so while I'm not sure what it's been like off-shore, there may be a bit of swell coming in now and over the next few days. If it calms down (it's calm today) I'd expect it to be a pretty serene place to paddle, considering that it's a reasonably exposed area (depends on your skill / comfort level, of course).

Enjoy!
 

Doug

Paddler
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
195
Location
Vancouver
Thanks Mark.
Earlier this morning I checked out the French Beach Provincial Campground website which stated:
Stay Safe:
* Canoeing and kayaking at French Beach is not recommended due to the strong ocean currents.
* There is no boat launch at this park. The nearest launches are located near Jordan River or Sooke.

So that's where my initial query came from. I haven't done any ocean paddling, whereas my wife has had some instruction but her paddling skills are not as strong. If only we could mind-meld our respective talents...
 

lance_randy

Paddler
Joined
May 17, 2006
Messages
568
Location
Victoria
You probably don't want to go off Jordan river then, or anywhere exposed. There can be some good swells out there. For a first time on the ocean paddle, it could be quite scary, and dangerous.
 

inpayne

Paddler
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Messages
158
Location
Victoria BC
Doug said:
We're going camping to French Beach next week...
Currents certainly won't be an issue and any appreciable swells won't be present this time of year.

What will likely be a problems are high winds. This time of year, westerly gales picking up in the afternoon are quite common in the Straight and along any exposed shoreline from Carmanah Point over to Victoria. Unless the forecast is specific for light winds such unsheltered waters as around French Beach are not a beginner location for paddling.
 

ken_vandeburgt

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Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
1,154
French Beach is exposed throughout its mile long length to surf. There is usually at least a surge and often breaking waves. You are nearing open ocean here.

The beach itself is easy to access. Paved pathway down a relatively easy slope. There are often logs to negotiate at the high tide line. Beach substrate is washed gravel and larger rocks.

I wouldn't recommend this beach as a launch point, not even for moderately skilled kayakers.

Lovely place to camp though.

Lots of good day hiking close by on the Juan de Fuca trail. Best access is China Beach and Sombrio Beach.
 

inpayne

Paddler
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Messages
158
Location
Victoria BC
ken_vandeburgt said:
French Beach is exposed throughout its mile long length to surf. There is usually at least a surge and often breaking waves. You are nearing open ocean here.
Such problematic shoreline surge and breaks as per the more openly exposed coast north of Carmanah Point are very rare south of that in the summer. North Pacific storms are sparse this time of year and therefore swell arriving past Port Renfrew into the Straight is very minor. Typically the only appreciable summertime waves will be locally generated in typically a 5-20km fetch by the regular and strong afternoon westerlies. Even without the open ocean swell, these conditions are to be a concern to any novice paddler and particularly one unfamiliar with the area.

Doug, taken from right now, this is a normal summer marine forecast for where you plan to be:

Juan de Fuca Strait - central strait
Juan de Fuca Strait - east entrance.
Strong wind warning in effect.
Wind westerly 20 knots diminishing to 10 to 15 early this morning
then increasing to 20 to 25 late this afternoon. Wind diminishing to
westerly 15 to 20 overnight then increasing to 20 to 30 Sunday
afternoon. Chance of showers this evening.

Juan de Fuca Strait - west entrance.
Strong wind warning in effect.
Wind variable 5 to 15 knots becoming westerly 10 to 20 this afternoon
then increasing to 20 to 25 Sunday afternoon. Chance of showers this
evening.
 
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