Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sea kayaking to Chrome Island Lighthouse on Denman Island

by Keith and Heather Nicol
   On Saturday, May 30 with the good weather continuing we decided to head south from Courtenay and do a sea kayak trip from Deep Bay to Chrome Island Lighthouse which is just off the southern tip of Denman Island. It is about at 40 minute drive to Deep Bay and we put in at the end of Burne Road (10 U 0374280E 5480721N) where there is a small parking lot at the end of Mapleguard Point. We hauled our sea kayaks for about 40-50 meters or so along a sandy trail to the sand beach on the inside of a spit of land that extends out into Deep Bay. Another option is to put in at the boat launch at Deep Bay. We headed out around 2:30 pm with a tide of around 2.9 meters and the finished about 5:15 pm close to high tide (4.1 meters). The weather was sunny with light-moderate south east which turned out to be just the opposite of the marine forecast which had called for light NW winds. 
Chrome Island Lighthouse is a great destination
 We paddled about 2.5 km across to Denman Island and paddled along the shore toward the lighthouse. This part of Denman Island is quite rugged with a steep slope descending to the water and a mix of cobbly – bouldery beaches with some possible landing areas where the cobbles are abit smaller. We headed out and around Chrome Island Lighthouse which is on a scenic island just off shore. It is a classic lighthouse with bright red roofs and bright white paint on the buildings. It was started in 1891 so it has been around for a long time. We were surprised to see little wildlife like seals or sea lions on this trip but we did see a colony of cormorants on the north side of the island. From there we headed along the eastern side of Denman Island to Eagle Rock (a small offshore island) where we landed on a small beach to stretch and have a snack before backtracking to our put in at Deep Bay. Overall the trip was about 11.5 km according to our GPS so this is a good morning or afternoon trip. Since there is an open water crossing, keep an eye to the weather and the tides as well as the general boat traffic. There are other full day paddling options here which could involve heading to Hornby Island or further along the Denman Island shore.

For 4 other blogs on 1/2 day sea kayaking trips on Hornby Island see these posts:

Heather paddling past the end of Eagle Rock with Hornby Island behind

Landing at Deep Bay where we ended (and started) our trip

Photographing wildflowers along the Paradise Meadows trail in Strathcona Provincial Park

by Keith and Heather Nicol  
 On Friday, May 29 we decided to check out Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park since
Western Bog Laurel
the last time we were there was in early April hiking in 20 cm of fresh snow. This area is just a 30 minute drive from Courtenay –Comox and is a quick way to get into the sub alpine. On this hike we decided to focus on some of the wild flowers which we were told we easy to see along the Paradise Meadows trail. This area is certainly popular and we were surprised to see the parking lot near the trailhead virtually full when we got there. Fortunately there is lots of overflow parking in the Nordic skiing lot nearby and we started out with a visit Strathcona Wilderness Information Centre which we suggest especially if you want to get hiking trail maps, brochures etc for the park. We were told that over 10,000 people come through the visitor centre each year and we thought the volunteers at the centre do a great job providing a much needed service.
The board walk trail is very popular and has numerous benches enroute
  The Paradise Meadows trail is about 4 km and you can do a shorter 2 km wheelchair accessible
Jeffrey's Shooting Star likes wet areas
boardwalk trail if you have people with mobility issues or small children in your group. There were about 17 species of wildflowers out when we did the hike and there are markers identifying many of them along the trail. The trail also gives views of Mount Washington Alpine Ski Resort as well as several ponds. Also several other trails branch off from these trails providing access to the higher mountains nearby. Our goal is investigate some of those trails in the near future. For more information on the Strathcona Wilderness Institute which runs the information centre see:

You get good views of the runs of Mt Washington Ski Resort as well as small ponds

Friday, 29 May 2015

Sea kayaking around Goose Spit with the Comox Valley Paddlers

Starting out in Comox Harbour

by Keith and Heather Nicol
     We had not been back to paddle in the Goose Spit area of Comox since mid November 2014 so we decided to join the Comox Valley Paddlers for their Wednesday evening paddle on May 27.  The Comox Valley Paddlers run regular Wednesday evening paddles in various locations and it is a good chance to meet some other paddlers and find out about new destinations to explore. It was another calm, sunny, warm evening so conditions were ideal for getting out on the water. We arrived at around 6:15 pm and had our kayaks in the water by 6:30. Over all there were 2 canoes and over a dozen sea kayaks in our group led by Frank and Anne Mccullough. 
The lighting was perfect for pictures

 We set off on the protected Northwest side of the spit and our plan according to Frank was to paddle around the spit and then head east along the cliffs toward Pt Holmes. Along the way we saw several standup paddle boarders, some other sea kayaks and a few seals. The previous Wednesday we had seen an Orca whale on our paddle near Royston!  We pulled out on the southeast side of the spit and had a somewhat longer carry to get our kayaks back to the cars. Overall we had paddled about 7.5 km and we were off the water by 8:30. This is one nice aspect of paddling Goose Spit is that you can do a loop around the spit and since it is quite narrow in many places so it is feasible to pull out on the opposite side you started on and return to your car. For more information on the Comox Valley Paddlers see:
Coming ashore at Goose Spit with the mountains of the B.C. mainland in the distance

Monday, 25 May 2015

Sea kayaking in the Rebecca Spit - Breton Islands area of Quadra Island

 by Keith and Heather Nicol
On Sunday, May 24 we headed to Quadra Island to check out the Rebecca Spit area for sea kayaking. We were joined by 4 others including Doug Taylor and Christine Gornall who had been here many times in the past.  In fact, Christine used to guide sea kayaking in this area so we were in good hands. We caught the 9:20 am ferry from Campbell River and launched around 10:45 am from the boat launch on Rebecca Spit. We even saw some dolphins on the short ferry ride which we took to be a good omen. The boat launch is easy to find and we then crossed over and paddled past Heriot Island and into Hyacinth Bay. We paddled in and around some small islands which made for very scenic kayaking. From there we headed to Open Bay and had lunch at the bottom of Open Bay on a broad sand beach. Our route to this point was around 9 km according to Doug’s GPS.
Playing follow the leader through the islands
    Then we looped around the Breton Islands which made for more picturesque paddling and we stopped for a short break to stretch on one island before we crossed back to Rebecca Spit. The winds all day had been light and the forecast had called for light NW winds.  But now the winds were out of the south east and there were some small white caps forming. After a 15 minute stretch we decided that the winds were not getting stronger so launched off the cobbly beach and headed for Rebecca Spit. We were off the water by 4:30 and had paddled a total of around 19 km according to the GPS. We were very impressed with the Rebecca Spit-Breton Island area and can certainly see why this area is a “must paddle” area for people visiting this area. We were impressed  by the scenery and will definitely be back to sea kayak in this area again. (Paddlers note-Be aware that the ferry to Cortes Island crosses here and depending on your proximity to it it can send out a large wake).
Starting off in flat calm conditions

Lunch was on a broad sandy beach in Open Cove

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sea kayaking from Royston to Kingfisher Oceanside Resort with the Comox Valley Paddlers

by Keith and Heather Nicol  
  On Wednesday evening May 20 we joined the Comox Valley Paddlers (CVP) for a trip from the Royston waterfront to Kingfisher Oceanside Resort. We had just joined the CVP and this was our first outing with this group. Overall we had about 20 people on the water and although most were in sea kayaks there was also a canoe and a foot peddle style kayak which we had not seen before. We put in around 6:30 pm  but just prior to launching we were given a quick briefing about the trip and that if we had time on our return from Kingfisher Oceanside Resort we might try paddling up the Trent River. The weather was perfect with just a light breeze and our convoy of paddlers headed south along the shore. Before long someone shouted “Orca” and there is the distance was the distinct fin of a killer whale. This attracted everyone’s attention and we all swung our kayaks around to check it out. But it that was the last we saw of it! 
All eyes are on the Orca
     We paddled just past Kingfisher Lodge and then turned back toward the Trent River.  By now the tide was high and we were able to ascend to just past the highway bridge before shallow water forced the end of that side trip. We paddled back to our launch point just as the sun was setting! Overall it was a great introduction to the paddling club and we were struck by how friendly everyone was. For more information on the Comox Valley Paddlers see: and on their web page they have a listing of their summer paddling schedule. Check it out. 
The night was perfect for paddling

We ended with a short paddle up the narrow Trent River