Reply To: July, August paddling

Allan Edwin

Hi John and welcome back!

Your WW skills will be very helpful in rough water. Where river running teaches you how to read the water to find the best line, sea kayaking teaches you to anticipate the weather, wind, tides, and currents to manage a safe passage and make efficient mileage.

God’s Pocket – This is within reach of a paddler with solid skills without a guide, but the it’s best to know the facts. The park is situated at the north end of Vancouver Island, where Queen Charlotte Strait opens up to the weather and waves of the North Pacific. Though it sits in the lee of Hope, Nigel, and Balaklava islands, wind and swell sweep down Goletas Channel and the Strait onto the islands. It is used regularly by Paddle Canada courses for level 2 and 3 certification because you can rely on that swell to practice rescues in. Access to the park requires a 3 NM (1 hr) crossing of Goletas Channel, though you can take a break at 40 minutes if you stop at Duncan Island.

West Coast Paddler Trip Report – 2013
West Coast Paddler Trip Report – 2017
John Kimantas: BC Coast Explorer Vol 1

None of the above should be taken as scare tactics. There are plenty of people who have paddled around God’s Pocket in benign conditions. Since you can’t guarantee those conditions, having better judgement and skills simply increases the range of conditions that you find manageable.

Johnstone Strait and Robson Bight – in some ways, Johnstone Strait (and specifically the Bight) are more dicey propositions than God’s Pocket. This is due to the interaction of wind and current on Johnstone Strait. If you have them crossing each other, you get short, nasty chop which a miserable to punch through. There are launch locations all along the Strait. The ones with highway access are Telegraph Cove on the north end and Kelsey Bay at Sayward around mid-point. The rest are accessed by Forest Service Road — get a copy of the BC Backroads Map Book for the area you are interested in.

Robson Bight itself is closed to the public, but you can paddle up to the eastern boundary from Naka Creek Forest Recreation Site. It’s about 40 minutes of paddling up to the boundary.

If you want to see orca, you can plan a 3-5 day trip out of Telegraph Cove out around Hanson Island, Blackfish Sound, and Swanson Island. To be fair, there are all kinds of animals to be seen around the Broughtons.

Down here where I live, there are many 2-3 day routes I could suggest, as well as 4-8 day trips as well. Try circumnavigating Sonora, Quadra, Maurelle, Read, or Cortes islands. All will challenge your planning and paddling skills to be able to catch slack at well known tidal rapids. If you want to try surfing standing waves, you’ll want to check out Surge Narrows.

Beyond our club resources, you should be aware of the BC Marine Trails map ( which shows many sites logged in John Kimantas’ guidebooks as well as those contributed by other volunteers. If you are willing to report back information on areas that need scouting, you may even get map information on sites not yet listed.

There are also useful links listed on their website here: