Presentation given by George Prevost to the February 16, 2023 cross-club meeting hosted by BC Marine Trails
The Sea Kayak Association of BC (SKABC) was first registered under the BC Society Act on February 23, 1983, which makes us 40 years old a week today.
We’re based in Vancouver and have been averaging about 230 members for the past few years, some from as far away as Portland, Oregon and Medicine Hat, Alberta. We hold club meetings the first Monday of each month, currently on Zoom. We offer a wide variety of trips each year, ranging from regularly scheduled day paddles in local waters to overnight and multi-day trips further afield. Members also use our online forum to arrange their own day paddles and trips.
Over the years we have created a number of club courses with professionally developed curricula. These are offered to our members on a cost-recovery basis (i.e. cheap) with unpaid club members providing the instruction. Our courses include:
- Boat Handling and Rescues
- Trip Leaders’
- Kayak Camping Best Practices
We also offer workshops in various areas including Improving Your Kayak’s Decklines, Greenland Paddle Carving, Knots and Tarps, and Packing your Kayak.
On the social side, for many years we have held a May Spring Fling which combines various day paddles with a dinner hosted by the club and is seen by many members as the unofficial start of the paddling season. We’ve recently added a similar Fall Fling held in late September and this year we’re hoping to have a number of mini-flings, combining land-based workshops and/or day paddles with club-sponsored lunches. We also have a long-weekend camping get-together at Newcastle Island each September and a yearly Christmas party.
However, what I am most proud of are our various efforts to give back to the community. Each year we offer adults from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations an opportunity to paddle together in double kayaks with the little brothers and sisters that they befriend and support, and over the past several years we have also held a number of invasive plant removal workdays in conjunction with Metro Vancouver Parks.
However, by far our biggest contribution has been to the network of marine campsites in Howe Sound. I remember visiting the area about 25 years ago and being very disappointed by the minimal opportunities for camping along the mostly steep and rocky shorelines, so disappointed I didn’t return for many years. Now, if you visit the area, you’ll find six new, well-developed, easy accessible campsites available to all paddlers free of charge. How did that happen?
In 2014 and 2015 BC Marine Trails, Trans Canada Trails, and Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) created six new paddle-in campsites in Howe Sound at a cost of around $25,000, mostly provided by Trans Canada Trails. In 2017 SKABC signed an agreement with RSTBC to maintain the sites, which we have continued to do since then, while also making many improvements to the infrastructure. Currently there are:
- Boat runs cleared by volunteers at the four sites with rocky beaches.
- Steel food caches at each of the six sites.
- Composting toilets at each of the six sites: Five built by contractors and one built by SKABC volunteers.
- Thirty-one tent sites, many cleared by SKABC volunteers.
- Ten tent platforms – three contractor-built and seven built by SKABC volunteers.
- Seven picnic tables – one built by a contractor and six built by SKABC volunteers.
- Two log bridges – one built by a contractor and one built by SKABC volunteers.
How was all of this paid for?
- SKABC has contributed slightly more than $45,000.
- The club has applied for and been awarded a total of $30,000 dollars in grants that have been spent on the project.
- We’ve saved money by scrounging second-hand building materials and using them wherever possible, and by having much of the work done by SKABC volunteers.
What about maintenance?
- SKABC site stewards keep an eye on the sites and they and other volunteers do the routine maintenance work required to keep the sites clean, tidy and safe. SKABC pays for the necessary equipment and materials, including toilet paper!
Plans for this year include the installation of three additional tent platforms, improvements to the existing boat runs, and replacing three of the steel food caches with larger, more durable aluminum ones.
We’re involved in another initiative, too. You may have heard in the news of plans for a large walk-in campsite at Cape Roger Curtis on Bowen Island. Well, with much less fanfare, a paddler-only campsite, similar to the Howe Sound sites, is being developed at Apodaca Provincial Park on the east side of Bowen. SKABC involvement started with repeated lobbying of BC Parks to get them to finally follow through with long-standing plans for a water access campsite. We then helped to arrange the required archeological assessment and contributed about thirty-five hundred dollars to the $13,000 cost of this assessment. We also applied for and then received and spent two BC Parks Enhancement Fund grants: $3,000 for trail work and $5,000 for four tent platforms. We are waiting for BC Parks staff to set a date this spring for our volunteers to build the platforms: the necessary materials have already been delivered to the site. BC Parks will build a composting toilet and, if all goes well, the campsite may be open for use as early as this summer.
What about the future? After the various expenditures I’ve already described we still have a significant amount in our Legacy Fund. This money is intended to be used for the long-term benefit of sea-kayaking and sea-kayakers and we’re always looking for worthwhile ways to spend it. Suggestions are welcome and of course you’re always welcome to join our club and help with the work!