Coastal Journeys

A Gulf Islands Marine Trail Series Article

As I drink my morning coffee, I can look out our kitchen window to see the Salish Sea and D’Arcy Island in the distance. 

There were four of us at home under COVID-19 restrictions with no socializing at Christmas; we were going a little stir crazy. 

It was not hard to talk the family into a camp out on D’Arcy Island. We found a one-night window with little chance of rain and relatively low winds.  We quickly packed up camping things and food for a night.  We launched on December 28, 2020 from Island View Beach which is a five-minute drive from our house.  Normally one needs to get a permit from the Municipality of Central Saanich to park overnight, but the office was closed.

We paddled across Cordova Channel to James Island and along the eroding cliffs before stopping for a lunch break. 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe south end of James Island

Then it was across Sidney Channel to Sidney Island and south along the west shore before crossing over to D’Arcy. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAD’Arcy is the island on the right

We had the island and campsite all to ourselves and had the pick of the tent spots.  How luxurious to camp with picnic tables and a clean out house all stocked up with TP! 

DArcy4.jpegView of the campsite

 D’Arcy Island was the site of a leper colony for Chinese immigrants from 1891 to 1924.We thought about those poor folks quarantining out there for years with little help from the outside world.  This makes our stay-at-home orders seem minuscule in comparison.

We had happy hour in the sun looking out over Haro Strait.  Sometimes we see whales out here, but not on this day.

 DSC7579Bird watching with Little D’Arcy Island, Haro Strait and San Juan Island in the distance.Then we thought we should go for a hike across the island to see the site of the old village.  After wandering around for an hour, we realized that it was further than we thought.  The days are so short at this time of year.  We found our way back to camp to make dinner in the dark.  Evening was spent playing a new card game by headlamp and eating Christmas treats.  It was a beautiful night for star gazing despite the chill in the air.

The next morning started out with calm weather, but high winds were forecast to arrive later that day.  Nevertheless, we decided to take the long way home by going around the north end of James Island.  We stopped for a walk on the west side of D’Arcy to look at the site of the leper colony. We paddled along the west side of Sidney Island for a while before crossing back to James Island and around the north end. 

As we started the crossing back to Island View Beach the south east wind was picking up quickly and the girls had to fight one of the toughest head winds that they have ever been in.  They did well landing in the surf.  We quickly threw everything into the waiting cars (we were relieved to see that we did not get a ticket) just before the rains came down.  The timing could not have been better.

DArcy6.jpegBack in the nick of time

 

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