A Gulf Islands Marine Trail Series Article...
The trip from the Nelson Road Community boat launch directly to Pirates Cove Marine Park is about 4 nautical miles. The preferred route is to cross Stuart Channel passing Round Island and reaching the south end of Link Island.
You might feel a tug from the tidal currents of Dodd’s Narrows. The chart reads 3 knots of tidal current at this crossing on only maximum flood tide. Upon reaching Link Island follow its shoreline south to the ‘Hole in the Wall’, a narrow passage between Link and De Courcy Islands. You can cross between Mudge and Link Islands but you may have to portage across a tombolo. On my trip I paddled through the ‘Hole in the Wall’ and then traveled up the east coast of De Courcy in Ruxton Passage. The ‘Hole in the Wall’ is not do-able in a low tide so plan carefully if you want to travel this route. Portaging here can be slippery.
Pirates Cove offers six walk-in campsites with tent pads located just above the south beach. You can sometimes experience mosquitoes here. Luck of the draw. Please follow BC Marine Trail Code of Conduct when using BC Parks sites. You cannot reserve these sites, but you can pre-pay on the BC Parks website.
On my day trip here, I had access to fresh water, picnic tables and outhouses.
The west coast of DeCourcy has wonderful cliffs and rock formations. I’m always mesmerized by the beauty of this area. It’s not unusual to hear an eagle, see a raccoon or deer near the shoreline, or possibly see a river otter pulled out on a rock or frolicking in the sea.
The launch site at Nelson Road Community boat launch can be notoriously busy. If you are out more than six hours you need to park up and alongside the road. When launching from this site stick to one side of the boat launch. This will help avoid conflicts with people launching their boat from a trailer.
Blue Heron Park can be busy in the summer, but if you arrive earlier in the morning generally there is parking. Or you can park on the shoulder of Yellow Point Road. Don’t leave valuables visible but generally your car or truck is safe.
Blue Heron Park features a nice paved walkway to the beach. In the past there have been old timbered steps with logs blocking access to the beach. The easiest time to launch is near high tide, but even on a low tide the carry is not far.
Cross from Blue Heron to Pylades Island then turn south along the west coast of this island, passing Ruxton Island. DeCourcy Island is a short crossing from Ruxton. You will paddle a total of 4.8 nautical miles to Pirates Cove south beach. It is a solid hour’s crossing Stuart Channel to Pylades so pick the right day and safe weather conditions. Blue Heron Park and Yellow point where the Yellow Point Lodge is located, have a healthy bird population especially in winter. I’ve observed everything from Harlequin ducks to the smaller Bufflehead duck. I’ve personally paddled along this stretch of coast dozens of times and have noted different reactions from different birds. I find Harlequin ducks are less likely to fly away quickly—but you don’t want to scare them off a nest in June/July when they lose feathers—to cormorants who take to flight quickly from a greater distance. My theories are paddle-based not scientific.
The trip home to Nelson Road Community boat launch was beautiful and uneventful. I paddle this area often because I love paddling along the shorelines. Sometimes in the evening I venture out to watch the sun setting in this general area and marvel at the sheer magnificence of the Salish Sea.