Monday, August 13, 2012

Flat Top Islands - Day Five (Revised)

WOW!!  What a whirlwind finish to our vacation. One day we are paddling out to the Flat Top Islands and the next day we are at Victoria's Largest Little Airshow raising money for great charities.

So here we go .......  For our Day Five paddle we planned to head out to the Flat Top Islands located at the south east end of Gabriola Island and visit one of the most beautiful kayaking locations that we could only dream of. Our kayak Sensei recently posted pictures of this magical place and we just had to see it for ourselves. 

Photo courteous of Sheila Rami-BamBam Porteous

Silva Bay Kayak Adventures
We left our base camp and headed to the Nanaimo BC Ferry dock servicing Gabriola Island for the 09:30 departure for just a small "hop" across the Northumberland Channel. Pre-planning (thanks Wendy) really came to to pay off big time as our put in location at Silva Bay has limited access points so we contacted Silva Bay Kayak Adventures to see about launching from their location. Pat Masson was was absolutely fabulous in allowing us to have access to their facilities for the day so we just rolled our rides down to their dock and we were on our way to visit the Flat Tops.

Leaving the Silva Bay we found many islets that were home to seals and in particular on this day the number of baby seals was quite amazing. Like curious children they seemed to wonder what we were doing and came closer and closer to us until their mothers chased them away.

The first things that we realized that there are so many islands in the Flat Tops that it would be really easy to get "lost" if you didn't have a map or GPS (we had both) to find your way back to the launch location. However, having knowledge where we were, we started our clockwise trek to see a little bit of them all while keeping our goal of visiting that little piece of heaven on water in our minds.

Meandering our way through the islands we headed out to the northern side of Acorn Island and here we got our first view of the Straight of Georgia with nothing between us and the British Columbia mainland. It was amazing how small we felt and it almost had a weird feeling of being alone as we couldn't see land anywhere except behind us.

Bath Island on the left, Saturnina on the right and the special spot in the middle

Making our only crossing of the day we headed towards Bath Island and in the distance a got a glimpse of our goal that we came for. We decided to round Bath Island and come at the Crown Flat Top Islets from the south so that we could enjoy every angle of their beauty. Our first view was simply amazing and we were very proud that we accomplished this kayaking "bucket list" item. 

We then paddled around Saturnina Island and came at the "Crowns" from the north and decided to land for lunch on the gravel bar connecting the islands at low tide. 

Here we came across Ryan and Malory Masson who were guiding a youth group having lunch on the same beach. We also met the couple from our previous trip to Pirate's Cove so we shared some more laughs and stories with them before they headed off. Today the main camping area on the islet was occupied so we didn't intrude but we did explore the exposed sandstone formations that the islet sits on. 

The landing shelf with the camp just above.
Looking back towards Saturnina

All things must come to an end so we sadly left our lunch beach and hope to return one day to spend a night or two on the Crowns. Now that would be magical!! 

We headed back towards Silva Bay exploring the other marina and resorts and stopped by the Silva Bay Shipyard School which is home to Canada's only full time wooden boat building school. 

Arriving back at our put in location we loaded up the kayaks and headed towards the other end of Gabriola Island to check out the Malaspina Galleries and another special place along the way. Robyn's parents owned this cabin (center section) in the early 70's and since then a number additions to the main cabin have been made. It was nice to see it still standing and now someone else pride and joy.

Making the 16:30 ferry back to Nanaimo we reached base camp at Living Forest Campground just in time to experience the lightening storm that hit southern Vancouver Island. It was a pretty good light show and capped off a great last day on the water in the Nanaimo area. We can't wait to go back!! 


  1. Sounds like another good one, Mark. You do go on a lot of great paddles.

  2. Thanks Greg! Yes one could say we are committed kayakers or just crazy about kayaking. LOL

    Love your blog posts as well.