If you've wondered what it might be like to paddle in the archipelagos of Alaska without going the distance and bucking the notorious bad weather that spews out of the north pacific, you don't have to look far to get the same coastal experience--paddle the Discovery Group. Disappointment won't be in your vocabulary.
After heading north from the open waters of Georgia Strait, the Discovery Group will be the first set of islands you'll encounter. Entering this lesser known area of the Inside Passage will expose you to intricate waterways that wend their way through a multitude of picturesque islands. You'll paddle through all with B.C's Coast mountains as a verdant rugged backdrop.
What\'s neat about this area is that it is out of the commercial mainstream of ocean liner traffic heading up the busy highway of Johnstone Strait/Seymour Narrows. The hidden passages of the Discovery Group snake between the mainland and islands east of Vancouver Island. Around Hardwicke Island the crooked waterways peter out and connect once again with Johnstone Strait but not until they have given the ocean paddler a scenic taste and wilderness solace of what the coast can really be like.
Traveling north from Victoria or Nanaimo via the Island Highway to Campbell River will be the first step you take in shucking the shackles of urban life. That will take about 2 hours from Nanaimo, more if you want to drive the scenic old road that passes all the seashore communities along the way.
Your next degree of urban separation will have you take the Quadra Island Ferry to Quathiaski Cove ($20 return/2 persons) (note the wild current on your passage--this is from Seymour Narrows where big fishing boats have been sucked into huge whirlpools only to emerge as debris) and then driving to Heriot Bay on the east side of the island about 10 kilometres away.
Your launch will be at Heriot Bay beach at the government wharf or at Rebecca Spit. We put in at Heriot Bay. There is limited parking here, so let the wharf-master know if you intend on going for more than 3 days. Day trips can be done from Heriot Bay, no problem, with lots of opportunities to scout out the convoluted coast of Quadra and the seal colonies on the Breton Islands.
For those that want more adventure, try a circumnavigation of nearby Read Island. For this, head north up Hoskyn Channel past the steep bluff of Sheer Point into the neat little protected bay below Surge Narrows. Don't bother heading toward the Settler Group at Surge Narrows; it has roaring currents and is for experts only. Instead head east through the full-of-life, shallow Whitefish Passage. There is a fun little current on the flood that will sail you through at a gentle pace. Head toward North Rendezvous Island to camp or eke out another spot with a view on many of the other islets in the area. Continue down toward the south end of Read Island and camp again before heading back west toward Heriot Bay.
Current - The Surge Narrows area is easily avoided by staying south of the Settlers Group.
Pay attention to the SE wind from Georgia Strait.
The crossing around the south tip of Quadra and back to Heriot Bay can be rough. Plan your return passage before or after the mid-day winds rise.
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Posted By: Tim Kasten
- Mon Aug 17 10:46:29 UTC 2015
GroupTrip4 of us are looking to join a few others who have sea kayaking experience on a multi-day kayak trip in the Desolation Sound area next summer(2016). We have all of our own gear and lake kayaking experience but have not explored the coast as of yet. If you would like to join us let me know.DETAILS are in this forum: Desolation Sound
Posted By: yakdog
- Sun Jul 14 20:32:58 UTC 2002
CommentThanks for the great info! We just returned from this area! Launched at Heriot Bay but had extremely low tides - so was a long walk to hoof the gear! Thanks again!