Vancouver Island kayaking trips

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of March 20-26, 1997
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Enjoying a week in Puerto Rico
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Vancouver Island kayaking trips

Vancouver Island kayaking trips
Question: We are planning a trip to Seattle and Vancouver this July and we would like to do some sea kayaking. Can four adventurous, capable, but inexperienced guys (25-27) rent the equipment and explore the area's islands alone?

Wyc Cheatham
Macon, GA
[email protected]

Even the inexperienced can enjoy kayaking off Vancouver Island
Adventure Adviser: Well, I did some checking, because at first glance things didn't look so good for you and your cohorts. Blame it on hefty insurance premiums, but kayak shops are making it harder and harder for inexperienced paddlers to rent boats on their own.

Luckily for you, however, Ocean River Sports, on Vancouver Island, isn't so uptight. They'll dole out boats to novice kayakers for $75 Cdn. for the weekend (including all the necessary accoutrements--paddle, sprayskirt, PFD, etc), as long as you sign on for their three-hour introductory course at $49 Cdn). It'll teach you the basics in kayak safety and paddling strokes, skills you'll definitely want to be up on if you decide to do a multiday camping trip through the southern Gulf Islands. Or, better yet, go the extra mile and do their full-day beginner's workshop ($110 Cdn), which goes into greater detail on all fronts.

For the most part, paddling the Gulf Islands is a little on the laid-back side, thanks to the nearly 200 islands and scores of protected channels. Still, you'll need to be comfortable in your familiarity with rescue methods, tidal navigation, and general kayak safety. That said, a rental office for Victoria-based Ocean River Sports is located just down the street from the ferry terminal in Sidney, an easy boat trip from Anacortes, Washington, which is 85 miles north of Seattle.

After you've made rental arrangements and taken their course, put in at Tulitsa Park, adjacent to the ferry dock. If you want to be out overnight, consider the three-day paddle around D'Arcy and Portland Islands. The 22-mile route will take you by Sidney Spit, D'Arcy Island, and Princess Margaret marine parksas well as scores of deserted beaches and grassy headlands. Camp the first night on D'Arcy's east shore and on day two at Portland's Arbutus Point. Or, if you'd rather leave the navigation and logistical details to somebody else (namely, a local paddling expert), I'd highly recommend doing a guided two- to five-day paddling trip. Ocean River Sports 604-655-2036), Ecosummer Expeditions (800-688-8605), and Adventure Spirit Travel Co. (800-667-7799) charge $160-$580 for their full-service summer outings. Call them for details. For ferry info, contact Washington State Ferries at 206-464-6400.

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