Level: Moderate

Distance: 32 km

Time: 6 hr

Warning: Marine Traffic

Marine Chart: 3526

Tide Table: Squamish

Starting from either of Bowen Island Sea Kayaking's two locations at Snug Cove or Tunstall Bay will do if you decide to paddle around Bowen Island itself. Let wind and current direction dictate whether you take the Island in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Allow plenty of time if you plan to circle the whole island. Two alternate routes are possible. The northern route from Snug Cove to Tunstall Bay is 18 km while the southern route is a mere 14 km. You may wish to spend a few extra hours exploring the group of small islands [Paisley, Hermit, Mickey, etc.] off the southwestern tip of Bowen.

Stay close to shore in the busy Queen Charlotte Channel and be prepared to encounter frequent large wakes from passing BC Ferries south from Snug Cove as far west as Collingwood Channel. Moreover the southern end of Bowen faces on the open Georgia Strait and is sometimes subject to heavy northerly seas. Steep cliffs and a sparsity of beaches further complicate the southern passage during inclement weather.

The northern and western shores are exposed to the aforementioned squamish winds as well as the infrequent wakes of ferries plying the Sechelt-Horseshoe Bay route. Luckily numerous small rocky beaches provides a modicum of shelter in the event of heavy swells. There are no beaches suited to camping on Bowen Island.

If lacking confidence at the approach of large boat wakes turn to take the waves head on and you'll easily ride out their passage. As your experience grows you'll discover that sea kayaks are extremely seaworthy craft capable of handling just about anything the sea can throw at them. Technology is not the problem. Paddlers' ability and confidence are more important factors in determining what kind of weather conditions to attempt. The key to safe kayaking is to know your limits and never exceed them.

The End


Fireweed

Fireweed

Gashes in the forest caused by fire, blowdown or human intrusion are quickly filled in by pioneer species such as fireweed or salal. Quick growing red alder and maple soon take over, being themselves supplanted in turn by Douglas fir once soil has stabilized. Eventually shade tolerant climax species such as western red cedar and western hemlock will come to dominate. The whole process can take centuries if not millennia. Immature fireweed plants can be cooked whole like broccoli while the young leaves can be used as salad greens. Fireweed is high in both beta-carotene and vitamin C. During pre-contact times fireweed seed fluffs found utility as pillow stuffing.

Illustration by Manami Kimura