BC Marine Trails is advocating for a system of marine trails optimized for safety to allow the public to transit the coast based on minimum criteria. The standard to be set is for favourable weather conditions where paddlers have the skill and experience appropriate for the waters they are transiting. This criteria is to be applied to determine where sites should be located in designing a marine trail to meet a minimum standard for safety, to compensate for potentially unsafe conditions along marine trail routes, and to flag areas where site choices are insufficient to meet minimal standards, thereby indicating the public is at risk in these locations.
A Marine Trail is a network of launch sites, day use, safety stops and campsites that facilitates safe travel along its length.
Marine routes for paddlers already span the entire BC Coast, with the exception of small sections where naturally-powered craft are specifically prohibited. The BCMT challenge is that a route must be supported by formal, secured access to shore for launching, landing, resting/refuge and camping in order for a marine route to be a usable and safe Marine Trail.
Scope and limitations
The BCMT marine trail mandate is intended to pinpoint general geographic locations where sites are needed for safety and trail connectivity. However, the BCMT acknowledges that numerous factors will affect whether a site is appropriate or inappropriate for the marine trail.
The main criteria for the marine trail safety mandate is the distance between locations. This is defined as a typical day’s paddling ability for a party of moderate skill and endurance, approximately 8 nautical miles (15 km).
For each campsite on a trail:
- Locate a site at at less than or equal to the optimal distance, for travel in either direction on the trail.
- In the event a suitable site is not found within the optimum 8 nm/15 km distance from another site, a maximum distance of 12 nm/22.5 km is allowable.
- In the event a site cannot be located within the maximum distance of 12 nm/22.5 km between sites, that section of the trail will be red-flagged and identified as incomplete for the purposes of meeting the BCMT marine trail safety mandate. Travelers of the coast in that region will be strongly cautioned of the hazardous nature posed by that route.
- Locate a site near the approach to each major potential hazard on a trail (such as significant crossings or tidal rapids) to allow a party shore access until it is safe to proceed.
- Apply the minimum site standards to a proposed site, noting as described in those standards above, a second alternate, complementary site may be required in specific circumstances.
The full BC Marine Trails Safety Mandate document can be viewed here.