On a sunny August morning my wife Lisa and I, along with six of our paddling friends, departed Swartz Bay for a 13 nautical mile paddle to our destination of Village Bay on Mayne Island.
Before the fun could start, a bit of work was required! Our launch site was a beach next to a government wharf at the foot of Barnacle Rd. The path to the beach is short, but narrow and steep with tricky footing. Thankfully, our plan to paddle out on a flood tide and take the ferry back from Mayne Island meant we wouldn’t have to carry our kayaks and gear back up the path. Leaving at the start of the flood would give us a helpful current the entire way.
Some of us found parking on the street, and the rest parked in the BC Ferry long term parking lot for $12. We quickly packed up our boats with lunches, the necessary kayak wheels, water and sunscreen, and we were off.
Our scenic course took us across Colburne Passage, between Pym and Knapp Islands and across Shute Passage to Portland Island. From there we paddled along the eastern coast of Portland, and out to Canoe Rock in the middle of Moresby Passage. This stretch involved crossing ferry routes, which were marked on our charts. At each crossing we gathered together, checked the time, made visual checks for ferries, then proceeded directly to the closest clear area. Once out to Canoe rock we were no longer intersecting with these craft. Next up was the 2.5 nautical mile (4.6km) crossing of Swanson Channel to North Pender and into lovely Shingle Bay for a leisurely lunch break.
After lunch we followed the west coast of Pender and made the short crossing of Navy Channel to Dinner Pt. on Mayne Island. Crane Pt. was next and then we happily arrived at Village Bay. The weather, as predicted had been beautiful, warm, sunny and light winds.
There is a pretty little beach just to the left of the ferry dock at Village Bay. It’s an easy landing and a short carry up a grassy path to an open gate in the fence that surrounds the ferry parking lot. Here we loaded our kayaks on wheels and prepared to walk on the ferry for the ride back. Gulf Island ferries from Swartz Bay are all round trips so there are no ticketing facilities on the islands!
We had planned our 3 ½ hours of paddling and 1 hour lunch so we would have an hour to spare. But the ferry was late. Now with two hours to kill we had plenty of time to go for a swim, get changed and contact the local brewery! One cell phone call and a quick delivery later we were all enjoying a cold ale on the beach, not at all concerned about any ferry schedule!
Back in Swartz Bay we did the lengthy walk off the ferry to our vehicles and quickly re-loaded our boats and gear. Lisa and I decided to head over to Sidney for dinner at a local restaurant. The rest just headed home. Everyone agreed it was a lengthy but very enjoyable and well-planned day. No whales this time, but seals, sea lions, eagles, vultures and spectacular scenery!