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


Labrador Tea

Labrador Tea

Forgot the tea bags and dying for a cuppa? Look around the camp. Chances are your drippy socks are draped over a Labrador tea bush. Steep the leaves, but not the socks, in boiled water for a tea that was enjoyed by more North American Indians than any other kind. Don’t actually boil the leaves however as boiling releases a chemical called ledol which has a number of unpleasant side effects. Pregnant women should avoid Labrador tea altogether. As a mild narcotic, Labrador tea was also an essential ingredient in kinnikinnik, a tobacco-less smoking mixture used by native groups throughout much of North America.

Illustration by Manami Kimura