To keep building your skills locally try taking on the more open waters of Howe Sound. Though less protected than Indian Arm the numerous islands and islets of this nearby waterway offers a degree of shelter during all but the worst of conditions. One local anomaly, known as a squamish, is a high wind born in the mountains behind the community of Squamish that bears its name. The Coast Salish name means literally "mother of the wind." Though resulting in some of the best wind surfing conditions around, when a squamish hits the mouth of the sound it can churn up seas that the inexperienced may find threatening.

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The many islands which comprise Howe Sound provide a labyrinth of channels and coves, beaches and banks to explore over many days. Two possible routes are outlined below but bear in mind that detours are possible depending on your schedule and time constraints.

Bowen Island Sea Kayaking has two locations to put in from. Rent your kayak at their main office on the dock at Snug Cove then, depending on your destination launch there or take advantage of their shuttle to Tunstall Bay to gain immediate access to Howe Sound.

Like Indian Arm, Howe Sound is not wilderness by any means. It is sparsely populated however and the further north you go the less signs of civilization you will encounter. One disappointment is a pulp mill at Port Mellon and another one at Woodfibre at the head of the sound. On windless days, when kayaking is at its best, the whole sound can fill with noxious haze that puts the lie to any notions of untamed wilderness. Yum!

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Krumholtz

Krumholtz

Trees clustered together in the sub alpine stand a much better chance of surviving the harsh conditions. Called krumholtz, these tree islands are miniature ecosystems unto themselves, providing mutual protection against the elements while acting as a catch basin for moisture. A krumholtz provides habitat for lesser plant species as well as insects, birds and mammals big and small. Usually trees in the krumholtz, German for "crooked wood," are old if not ancient, stunted by a short growing season, harsh weather and a paucity of nutrient-rich soil. Branches tend to flourish on the downwind side only.

Illustration by Manami Kimura