Kayaking West Vancouver Island, British Columbia: Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Day 1

26 09 2012

Toquart Bay

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1993. Yet I have never explored the big backyard to the north – British Columbia! In that time I have been to Thailand 7 times, Cambodia twice, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore twice, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. Yet a world class destination lay at my doorstep. I was not going to let another summer pass without visiting BC. Time to go!

Early in 2012 a bunch of my friends decided to kayak camp in and around Vancouver Island. By May, the group was whittled down to three. Myself, Lisa and Bill. Round and round we went on the length of drive (which might include two ferries) and which venues were most interesting. We settled on the Broken Group which is in Barkley Sound, on the west side of Vancouver Island.

The Broken Group consists of at least 100 undeveloped islands scattered in the sound – and it’s a national park. There are several island campgrounds. The outer islands, nearer the Pacific Ocean, are exposed and require a higher skill level whilst the inner islands are not unlike freshwater lake kayak camping, with the exception of seals, sea stars, kelp, and other saltwater fauna and flora which abound. Not to mention humpback whales, gray whales, and orcas!

I live in Portland, Oregon. To get to Toquart Bay we’d have to travel 12 hours by highway, back roads and ferry. We’d spend the evening camping there. Then launch the next morning with the outgoing tide and explore the islands.

 

The adventure includes a ferry from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria, British Columbia. We arrive early and wait in the staging area. Countless cars and trucks, some with kayaks like us, pile in. I’m excited for the ride! Once underway the splendor of the Pacific NW was visible everywhere!

Lisa and Bill on the deck!

Once at sea, we glimpsed the Olympic Mountains, which form a backdrop for Port Angeles.

Along the way spectacular sights abound.

Way off to the right is towering Mount Baker. In the middle sit the San Juan Islands. And directly ahead is Vancouver Island and Victoria!

The day’s weather is sunny and warm. Our forecast is optimistic – light winds with dry days ahead!

We arrive in famous Victoria Harbor. It’s busy with sea planes coming and going, ferries, yachts, kayaks and tourist boats plying the waters.

 

It’s really pretty. People are walking about. And the British heritage is evident everywhere.

Customs…yes…everybody’s got to wait and go through customs…yet another delay.

So we sit and wait while the agents do their thing.

But our visit with customs officials goes without rigorous inspections or interrogations.

We sail through and are on our way.

Then it’s several more hours on the road. We’ll have to pick up some supplies at a grocery store somewhere on the way, then register and camp at Toquart Bay campground.

The road is full of fantastic scenery. Countless mountains and fjords line our path. We make it to our destination about 6:30 p.m. and settle in for the night.

Toquart Bay Campground is not what I’d describe as a “communing with nature” experience. This is a spot for fishermen – period. Ninety percent of the folks here have trucks with trailered fishing boats – so fishing is their primary interest, not the camping amenities! Trucks and boxy hunting tents sit

On the beach at Toquart Bay

shoulder to shoulder along the waterfront.

We’re happy to be at the starting point for the paddling adventure.

Can’t wait for tomorrow’s launch!