Tofino to White Rock 2021

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
25
Location
Cultus Lake
I have been paddling on the West Coast of Vancouver Island since 1997 and have, over various trips paddled from Port Hardy to Tofino as well as the Broken and Deer Groups, Johnson Strait and the Gulf and San Juan Islands. For the summer of 2021, I would like to paddle from Tofino south and around to White Rock in mid August to complete the entire west coast. This plan assumes that the West Coast Trail will once again be open and that I can land on some San Juan Islands by then. (I have also paddled from Bellingham to Victoria). Here's one of our favourite trips from 2012 - you need 40 minutes for this.
I know that several of you have done all or part of this route so I am once again laying out my plan for input, sage wisdom, suggestions, do's and don'ts's, etc. My partner over the years has been an adventurous anesthesiologist from Mission, BC who craves the wilderness experience and is less enthusiastic about paddling in populated areas so he hasn't quite signed on the dotted line. Thus I may, by March, be soliciting potential paddling partners for this trip, but not quite yet!
Richard and I both carry VHF radios and Garmin In reach Satellite messengers.

Here's the bones of the trip so far
Tofino to White Rock Paddling Adventure

Logistics - Approximately August 15
My wife Judy, will take us to Tofino and abandon us. She may meet us south of the WCT to provide sundries or we could just take an Uber to Costco in Victoria
We paddle home (to White Rock or thereabouts)

Kevin’s recommended Route Also see Google Earth all stops
Distances/destinations
  1. Drive to Tofino and spend the night
  2. Tofino to Wya Point 33 km
  3. Wya Point to Gilbert Island 16 km
  4. Gilbert to to Keeha Beach 17 km
  5. Keeha Beach to Cl-oose Beach 31 km
  6. Clo-oose Beach to Yau Creek 35 km
  7. Yau Creek to French Beach 37 km
  8. French Beach to Long Neck Island 30 km
  9. Long Neck to Discovery Island 30 km We can have rest days and I will ask Mark Kean to provide some support in Victoria. A ride for resupply, possibly a night at their house. We can leave our wheels at his house if we need to take the ferry home.
  1. Discovery Islands - Portland Island - 34km
  2. Portland Island to Tumbo Island 31 km
  3. Tumbo Island to Matia 19 km
  4. Matia to White Rock 36 km https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopi...-Victoria_Victoria_Capital_Regional_Dist.html
http://boating.ncf.ca/usborder.html
Allow 4-7 days extra for weather/resupply 17-21 days time away or much shorter if we take the ferry from Victoria
Total Distance 357 km


Input From Peter Gibbs
So, as I mention in that trip report, I'd never done surf landings prior to that trip. I was terrified for months ahead of time of paddling Juan de Fuca Strait. The fact that there are no all-weather haulouts I found very intimidating. I ended up having quite good weather and low swell, and while I did have to do surf landings at Keeha Bay, Clo-oose, and China Beach, they were all mild enough to be very manageable. When I landed at Clo-oose, I got out of my boat and said out loud "Was that it!? I've been worried about this landing for months!" That said, the conditions can be really heavy and the surf landings/launches much more dangerous. I just didn't experience that on this stretch so don't have a lot to offer there.
From Tofino, I camped at

1) Francis Island (spitting distance to Uclulet)
2) Gilbert Island (Broken Group)
3) Keeha Bay
4) Clo-ose
5) Thrasher Cove
6) Some random beach in Sooke

Input From Brian Loyd the paddler:
Have paddled the trail in both June and September, and section in winter (the later not recommended). Long days in June help but had a couple of days of big surf and landing were more difficult as beaches often fore fronted by a lot of rocky shelf. Camping was more pristine. September is known for the post season camper detritus, but seas in early September can be extremely calm and allow for good exploration without the white knuckling. Lots of boomers, so keep a wary eye, especially sleepers in early fall. I have a detailed route commentary marked down on the old long, rectangular top maps the government use to produce; so, any specific questions let me know. Paddlers who have done August stayed off the water until the fog lifted but then in gets windy really fast. You need open water experience preferably out here. There is a lodge near Bamfield running trips by kayak down the coast now (at least they were last year) with boat support. I used to love pulling up to a beach, pulling out a dozen beer, chips, etc., that easily fit in a kayak with the poor hikers looking on jealously as they downed their freeze dried potatoes and drank their insipid tang...ah the good old days you know.

Thanks in advance for your input.
 

alexsidles

Paddler
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Messages
405
Location
Seattle WA
That's a great itinerary. You're going to have a blast. However, there were a couple things that jumped out at me as deserving of more thought:

A. Customs

There is no U.S. Customs port of entry on or near Matia Island. You could try using the "CBP Roam" app to clear customs via smartphone. When the app works, you can check in anywhere along the border—no need to report in person at a port of entry. The downside is that, if there is a problem with your use of the app, you will be redirected to a port of entry, which, under your itinerary, could lead to a paddle of 30 km or more out of your way. Here is a trip report describing my failed attempt to use the CBP Roam app on a crossing from Discovery Island to San Juan Island. If you decide to use the app, you should call customs first and make sure the app is suitable for the purposes you intend.

A safer alternative would be to make an in-person check-in at the port of entry in Roche Harbor. The Roche Harbor port of entry is only open seasonally, but it will almost certainly be open in August (coronavirus permitting, of course). Under this option, your route would go:

1) Discovery Island – Roche Harbor – Jones Island (~30 km); or else Discovery Island – Roche Harbor – Posey Island (~25 km).​
If you do Posey Island, you should make reservations through Washington State Parks, as there are only two campsites on this tiny island. If you do Jones Island, reservations are neither required nor available, and there are many more sites. My recommendation would be for Posey Island, assuming you can get a reservation, because Jones Island can be a bit of a zoo in the summer months. Here is trip report to Posey Island, a real gem.​
2) Jones Island to Matia (23 km); or else Posey Island to Matia (30 km);​
3) Matia to White Rock (36 km)​

As an alternative to Matia, you could camp on Patos Island. Patos is, in my opinion, more beautiful and more interesting than Matia. It may also be a shorter paddling distance to White Rock.

I have no idea what the options are for clearing customs in Canada at White Rock. Presumably, you've done your research.

Finally, I will just note, slyly, that although the Haro Strait and Boundary Bay borders are patrolled sometimes, they are not very heavily patrolled.

B. Camping in BC

At least some of the campsites you've identified along Juan de Fuca Strait and the Gulf Islands may not be lawful places to camp. Long Neck Island appears to be an Indian Reserve, for example, and Tumbo Island is not open to camping (although nearby Cabbage Island is). I will leave it to the BC folks to weigh in on this issue.

Alex
 
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chodups

Paddler
Joined
Nov 2, 2005
Messages
1,079
That stretch from Tofino is the last piece that is on my BC outer coast list to do so I am very keen to follow this thread. If you find yourself short of a partner please keep me in mind, otherwise, I hope to learn everything I can about the logistics.
 
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cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
712
Location
Bend OR USA
When I saw “Cultus Lake”, I wondered if that was Bend’s Cultus Lake? If you were planning on driving into Canada, as far as I know, It’s closed to the USA with no definite “Were back open, eh - Welcome!” date. If you paddle into Canada from the USA (note that Rum Island (BC) is a relatively short distance from Stuart Island (USA) I don’t know the legalities - perhaps they were covered above.

I’ve been to all those San Juan islands mentioned and my favorite outer island is Patos. there are camping spots in the trees behind anopen field at beach level and more remote (but close to compost toilet) camp sites up a hill. There’s a two wheel cart you can use to get your gear up there.

The big question is drinking water access. The info in old guide books is … old. For example, the well on Wallace Island (off of Salt Springs) is now blocked. And water sources that were available may be turned off during these Covid times. So carry enough or be sure the water source you are relying on will be there for you.
 
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JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
2,646
Location
Victoria, BC
If you wanted to avoid the hassles of border crossings, you could always return via ferry from Nanaimo. It's only a few days beyond Portland Is.
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
25
Location
Cultus Lake
That's a great itinerary. You're going to have a blast. However, there were a couple things that jumped out at me as deserving of more thought:

A. Customs

There is no U.S. Customs port of entry on or near Matia Island. You could try using the "CBP Roam" app to clear customs via smartphone. When the app works, you can check in anywhere along the border—no need to report in person at a port of entry. The downside is that, if there is a problem with your use of the app, you will be redirected to a port of entry, which, under your itinerary, could lead to a paddle of 30 km or more out of your way. Here is a trip report describing my failed attempt to use the CBP Roam app on a crossing from Discovery Island to San Juan Island. If you decide to use the app, you should call customs first and make sure the app is suitable for the purposes you intend.

A safer alternative would be to make an in-person check-in at the port of entry in Roche Harbor. The Roche Harbor port of entry is only open seasonally, but it will almost certainly be open in August (coronavirus permitting, of course). Under this option, your route would go:

1) Discovery Island – Roche Harbor – Jones Island (~30 km); or else Discovery Island – Roche Harbor – Posey Island (~25 km).​
If you do Posey Island, you should make reservations through Washington State Parks, as there are only two campsites on this tiny island. If you do Jones Island, reservations are neither required nor available, and there are many more sites. My recommendation would be for Posey Island, assuming you can get a reservation, because Jones Island can be a bit of a zoo in the summer months. Here is trip report to Posey Island, a real gem.​
2) Jones Island to Matia (23 km); or else Posey Island to Matia (30 km);​
3) Matia to White Rock (36 km)​

As an alternative to Matia, you could camp on Patos Island. Patos is, in my opinion, more beautiful and more interesting than Matia. It may also be a shorter paddling distance to White Rock.

I have no idea what the options are for clearing customs in Canada at White Rock. Presumably, you've done your research.

Finally, I will just note, slyly, that although the Haro Strait and Boundary Bay borders are patrolled sometimes, they are not very heavily patrolled.

B. Camping in BC

At least some of the campsites you've identified along Juan de Fuca Strait and the Gulf Islands may not be lawful places to camp. Long Neck Island appears to be an Indian Reserve, for example, and Tumbo Island is not open to camping (although nearby Cabbage Island is). I will leave it to the BC folks to weigh in on this issue.

Alex
Excellent suggestions Alex. I will follow up. Thanks
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
25
Location
Cultus Lake
When I saw “Cultus Lake”, I wondered if that was Bend’s Cultus Lake? If you were planning on driving into Canada, as far as I know, It’s closed to the USA with no definite “Were back open, eh - Welcome!” date. If you paddle into Canada from the USA (note that Rum Island (BC) is a relatively short distance from Stuart Island (USA) I don’t know the legalities - perhaps they were covered above.

I’ve been to all those San Juan islands mentioned and my favorite outer island is Patos. there are camping spots in the trees behind anopen field at beach level and more remote (but close to compost toilet) camp sites up a hill. There’s a two wheel cart you can use to get your gear up there.

The big question is drinking water access. The info in old guide books is … old. For example, the well on Wallace Island (off of Salt Springs) is now blocked. And water sources that were available may be turned off during these Covid times. So carry enough or be sure the water source you are relying on will be there for you.
I live at Cultus Lake which is about 100 km east of Vancouver. So no border issues from that point of view at least
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
25
Location
Cultus Lake
If you wanted to avoid the hassles of border crossings, you could always return via ferry from Nanaimo. It's only a few days beyond Portland Is.
Yes and that is certainly something that we will probably do if the border issues are still present. For those of you that have followed my previous post I will just have paddled from Victoria to Nanaimo with my wife and another couple in mid June.
 

SalishSeaNior

Paddler
Joined
Nov 15, 2020
Messages
25
Location
Okanagan Valley, Canada
If there is wiggle room to change the destination to Tsswassen in your trip, then you could cross the Straight from Georgina Point on Mayne Island. Distance is about 19 kms. Alternatively, from Cabbage Island to Tsswassen direct is about 23 or 24 kms. That way you avoid all border crossing issues. Especially if there are still cross border restrictions when you leave for your trip. Here us a useful link to an Distance Calculator .

Good Luck, Sounds like a great trip.
 

WGalbraith

Paddler
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
202
Location
Victoria
I am not sure where the border crossing discussion came from since you live in Canada, are paddling from Tofino to White Rock and didn't mention stopping in Point Roberts.

As for the West Coast trail, for 2021, it is almost certain the trail will be closed or hiker numbers significantly reduced. Several years ago, I planned a trip from Bamfield to Victoria and had hoped to camp on the West Coast Trail. After many emails and phone calls to the National Parks Service running the WCT, it became apparent that they did not wish to accommodate anyone coming from the ocean to overnight. I was told that I would have to pay the fees for the whole hike ,including the boat crossings at Nitinat and Port Renfrew. I was also required to attend an orientation before setting foot on the trail. After discussion with many others, it became obvious that I could not be refused stopping on the West Coast Trail if I was too tired to continue or unable to go further due to weather and sea conditions.

I would advise a stop in West Bamfield to pick up that cold beer and fresh steaks to cook on your campfire while the hikers drool over the comforts offered by kayaking.

I very much enjoyed your adventure paddling, Paddling Pilgrims to Nootka. Great job on the production and editing.
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
25
Location
Cultus Lake
I am not sure where the border crossing discussion came from since you live in Canada, are paddling from Tofino to White Rock and didn't mention stopping in Point Roberts.

As for the West Coast trail, for 2021, it is almost certain the trail will be closed or hiker numbers significantly reduced. Several years ago, I planned a trip from Bamfield to Victoria and had hoped to camp on the West Coast Trail. After many emails and phone calls to the National Parks Service running the WCT, it became apparent that they did not wish to accommodate anyone coming from the ocean to overnight. I was told that I would have to pay the fees for the whole hike ,including the boat crossings at Nitinat and Port Renfrew. I was also required to attend an orientation before setting foot on the trail. After discussion with many others, it became obvious that I could not be refused stopping on the West Coast Trail if I was too tired to continue or unable to go further due to weather and sea conditions.

I would advise a stop in West Bamfield to pick up that cold beer and fresh steaks to cook on your campfire while the hikers drool over the comforts offered by kayaking.

I very much enjoyed your adventure paddling, Paddling Pilgrims to Nootka. Great job on the production and editing.
Thank you, Sir. We will be trackable during the journey with our Inreach devices using a paragliding website called XC find. I’ll post a link just prior to our trip.
 

Kault316

Paddler
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
25
Location
Cultus Lake
That's a great itinerary. You're going to have a blast. However, there were a couple things that jumped out at me as deserving of more thought:

A. Customs

There is no U.S. Customs port of entry on or near Matia Island. You could try using the "CBP Roam" app to clear customs via smartphone. When the app works, you can check in anywhere along the border—no need to report in person at a port of entry. The downside is that, if there is a problem with your use of the app, you will be redirected to a port of entry, which, under your itinerary, could lead to a paddle of 30 km or more out of your way. Here is a trip report describing my failed attempt to use the CBP Roam app on a crossing from Discovery Island to San Juan Island. If you decide to use the app, you should call customs first and make sure the app is suitable for the purposes you intend.

A safer alternative would be to make an in-person check-in at the port of entry in Roche Harbor. The Roche Harbor port of entry is only open seasonally, but it will almost certainly be open in August (coronavirus permitting, of course). Under this option, your route would go:

1) Discovery Island – Roche Harbor – Jones Island (~30 km); or else Discovery Island – Roche Harbor – Posey Island (~25 km).​
If you do Posey Island, you should make reservations through Washington State Parks, as there are only two campsites on this tiny island. If you do Jones Island, reservations are neither required nor available, and there are many more sites. My recommendation would be for Posey Island, assuming you can get a reservation, because Jones Island can be a bit of a zoo in the summer months. Here is trip report to Posey Island, a real gem.​
2) Jones Island to Matia (23 km); or else Posey Island to Matia (30 km);​
3) Matia to White Rock (36 km)​

As an alternative to Matia, you could camp on Patos Island. Patos is, in my opinion, more beautiful and more interesting than Matia. It may also be a shorter paddling distance to White Rock.

I have no idea what the options are for clearing customs in Canada at White Rock. Presumably, you've done your research.

Finally, I will just note, slyly, that although the Haro Strait and Boundary Bay borders are patrolled sometimes, they are not very heavily patrolled.

B. Camping in BC

At least some of the campsites you've identified along Juan de Fuca Strait and the Gulf Islands may not be lawful places to camp. Long Neck Island appears to be an Indian Reserve, for example, and Tumbo Island is not open to camping (although nearby Cabbage Island is). I will leave it to the BC folks to weigh in on this issue.

Alex
Thanks. I also have a Nexus card, the renewal of which is stalled currently by Covid. I’ll download this App and see what it can do for me. I have no problem with checking into Roche Harbour if need be. God, I miss the San Juan Islands! My last trip was a circumnavigation of Orcas in 2018. A bit Smokey that year.
 

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
712
Location
Bend OR USA
Kault316, So Funny. Cultus Lake is about 52 miles SW of Bend. You are so missing the San Juans, and I - a near resident to our “Cultus Lake” -am so missing the Gulf Islands. Wait! … it that the Twilight Zone theme music I hear :)
 
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