Saturday, July 14, 2012

Discovering Discovery Island

After we spent last weekend land locked so to speak attending a Geocaching Mega event (with over 746 registered attendees) in Duncan it was time to get back on the water with a trip that has brewing in the back of my mind for a while. This past April, I had the opportunity of circumnavigating the Chatham and Discovery Islands with Roy Scully and Sheila Porteous and was mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape and the forces of the ocean currents. That day, Robyn couldn't make the trip and ever since I have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to share the experience with her.

With the recent arrival of summer on the west coast, the perfect tides and current conditions along with favourable winds they presented the opportunity to venture across Baynes Channel and explore a really special place with Robyn. Launching out of Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay at 10:30am we headed out past Flower Island and then to Jemmy Jones Island to do a final assessment of the conditions of Baynes Channel before crossing to over to Chatham Island. 

I had calculated maximum flood of 2.55 knots at 12 noon in Baynes and we could see a good rip between Ten Mile Point and Strongtide Islet so we sighted a beach on Chatham Island that would be our transit destination and free natural water turbulence. As expected, Baynes was very active with large yachts, sail boats and whale sightseeing vessels so we didn't waste any time making our way across the channel riding their wakes.

See Robyn? She is in the bottom of a wave trough and so am I creating the illusion of really big waves.

Arriving at the smaller of the two main Chatham's we started our clockwise navigation by working our way through the passage between Strongtide and Vantreight Islands and then headed south along the eastern side of the main Chatham Island towards Discovery Island. One thing we noticed were a number of picnickers on the beaches of Chatham that had arrived by small motor boats. Even though they were below the high tide water lines I was under the impression that there was no trespassing on the Indian Reserve lands of the Chatham's.

On my previous visit to the islands the tides were a lot higher and arriving today at low tide, the massive kelp beds that protect much of the eastern and southern approaches to the islands were very visible. Passing through the kelp beds not an issue for our kayaks but they sure limit the access of powered boats into areas around the Discovery Island lighthouse and Rudlin Bay which would be our lunch stop.

As we entered Rudlin Bay we spotted four kayakers coming from the south and we figured it was Yves Aquin and Patti Stevens of Go Kayak. We saw their van in the parking lot back at Gyro Park and figured that they might be heading over to Discovery Island. They were taking a day off so to speak from their regular kayak instruction routine to show some friends from Squamish our special play land.

A happy girl at our lunch stop location in Rudlin Bay. It was great to get her to this special place.

The Geocache can be found if you can solve the puzzle
After a lunch stop at the camping area we decided to complete one of our goals for coming to Discovery Island which was to find the only Geocache that is there. The Geocache is not your normal walk up to "find" but rather what is known as a Puzzle Cache that requires a little research to answer a number of questions which in turn provides information to the final coordinates. Calculating the information before we left home we were able to locate the cache in the marine park and cross off another water accessible cache from our Geocaching bucket list.

Last week word started to get around that there was a wolf on Discovery Island after whale watching tour operator Jim Zakreski took photos of it on the shoreline of Rudlin Bay. Although we didn't see any signs of the wolf there were notices posted to be cautious in any case.

Coastal Wolf photo by Jim Zakreski

Leaving Rudlin Bay we rounded Commodore Point experiencing the last of the flood tide that was hardly noticeable at all. Last April I got to experience a pretty good flood at this location and played in small water falls between the islets along the shoreline but today it was flat calm. Heading west into Plumper Passage there was only a hint of small rips as we navigated or way back through the smaller islets of the Chatham's and into Baynes Channel. With the slack about to begin, Baynes was just another open crossing with the only hazard being the pleasure craft going back and forth. Passing Jemmy Jones and Flower Islands we took our time following the shoreline back to our launch location. A perfect ending to discovering Discovery Island with Robyn.


  1. Beautiful place to visit. Maybe we'll camp there one day!!

    1. We definitely will camp there one day. Maybe even this month. :-)

  2. Looks like an interesting trip. See any whales?

    1. No whales on this trip Malcolm but they are on our "bucket list"

  3. Looks like you just did my favourite paddle! What a great group of islands in our back yard! Heading home from Ecuador tomorrow, so should get out paddling soon.

    1. Mike, we actually thought about you doing this paddle on a regular basis as we headed towards the lighthouse. Of course you probably have done it in all different weather and current conditions. It is a special place. :-)