Tide/Current Question: Boiling Reef

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  • #11439
    Peter Tutak

    In transiting from Cabbage Island to Narvaez Bay, what is the optimum

    tide/current condition to navigate between Saturna and Boiling Reef ? Or is it better to skirt it on the outside ? I’m doing this in a very stable 23 foot tandem (Aleut II) but never having paddled this side of Saturna, I wanted to ask the question.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.


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  • #11456
    Peter Mountstevens

    Hi Peter

    I don’t know any launch sites on the north west side of Galiano. Portier Pass Rd always looks to be a possibility but I’ve never tried and I’ve not heard of it being used.

    My preference would be setting off from Salt Spring Island, driving north from the dock at Long Harbour and launching from Hudson Point.

    https://www.bcmarinetrails.org/map#marine-trail-sites-within-bc-parks You’ll need to accept the terms to view the map

    There is a ferry dock at Vesuvius, on the west side of Salt Spring, and a beach that’s accessible as well but you’d need to check on overnight parking before trying there. It might be your best bet or else you’re only left with Montague Harbour.


    Peter Tutak


    We’re going out for only two nights. If we do Wallace, it might be a different campsite at a different site each night.

    I’ve done the cart before on the Washington State Ferry system in the San Juans, but for expediency this time, we’re saddling up the Volvo to take on the ferry. Besides, it’ll be with us on Mayne, so might as well keep using it.

    Right now I’m leaning toward my a. option, i.e. Galiano, and paddling to the Secretarys, and then SE to the Wallace Islands. Accoringly, I’m looking for a place to launch from on the northwest side of Galiano, to take advantage of the morning ebb, paddle across to the Secretarys and then mooch along the current to Wallace. Do you have any suggestions regarding places to launch on the NW side of Galiano ? (I’d also be leaving my car there for a couple of nights.)

    I know Bodega Ridge PP is mostly high bluffs, so that’s out. Is there anywhere along Portier Pass Rd north of Bodega to launch from that you might know of ?

    Thanks for the insight on your experiences that you’ve offered in your responses. They give me food for thought for future trips up into the Gulf Islands. I’m *most* appreciative – not knowing any paddlers in BC, am indeed indebted to you for any information you can provide.


    Peter Mountstevens

    Hi Peter

    I agree with the other members having rounded it myself whilst is the flooding. I don’t know what percentage it was at but it was certainly at low tide. I would certainly do it again if I knew I was within an hour of slack in an ebb current because that would be enough. The current was strong but only for a 200-300 meters and then eased off although I admit it was still quite a slog into Navarez despite being a short route.

    How long are you out for? I normally take my kayak as a foot passenger using wheels when going on the ferries and park the car at the terminal if I can’t get dropped off. The Cabbage Island trip we took the ferry to Sturdies Bay, crossed Active Pass at slack before a flood tide and headed down to Cabbage.

    I’ve also disembarked at Maine and headed straight to Prevost, overnighted there (nice site with deers and fruit trees), moved to Portland for 2 nights with a day trip to Gooch and back and then into Swartz Bay and the ferry home.

    Coming the other way I’ve gone to Nanaimo by ferry and paddled to Pirates Cove via False Narrows, going through an hour before slack on an ebb. Pirates Cove to Wallace, camping there at the camp site in the northern tip for two nights (best site I’ve ever been to!). Over to Montague Harbor for 1 night and then into Long Harbour and the Ferry home.

    There have been a other combinations of those trips but I recommend using the ferries as a foot passenger and the kayak in wheels over taking a car anywhere because it eliminates the necessity of doing a round trip when you can enter and exit for different terminals.

    Good luck with your trip and I’d be interested in how it went and where you went.




    Peter Tutak



    Thanks so very much for your input on this. Other folks I’ve talked to suggest navigating East Point at slack, and no other time. I’ve consulted the Current Atlas Tables for my date and approx. times to transit this area, and it shows the current flow is strongly SE off Trumbo, strong NE off East Point/Boiling Reef, and W/SW off the entrance to Narvaez Bay. (Althogh the resolution on the current charts is very high level, I can’t recommend these enough.)

    That’s enough for me. I know it’s a short paddle from Cabbage to Narvaez Bay, but that part of the route sounds a little too dicey for me at those times. I’m pretty conservative.  Accordingly, will re-plan my route.

    Right now, I have three options-

    a. Early morning ferry from Village Bay to Sturdies Bay, drive N to north end of Galiano and launch from there across Trincomali to the Secretary Islands, and SE to Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park, overnighting there.

    b. Same as above, except shove off from Montague Harbor MPP and paddle NW alongside Galiano, veering WNW to Wallace Island MPP.

    c. Same as b., except transit to Prevost Island/James Bay to overnight.

    d. Early morning ferry from Village Bay to Otter Bay, and launch from there to Prevost/James Bay.

    I’m aware that c. and d. encounter a lot of pleasure boat and ferry traffic, so I’m leaning to a. or b.

    If you have any comment on my alternates, by all means, please let me know.

    With Thanks,




    Peter Mountstevens

    Hi Peter

    I transitioned around there a couple of years ago whilst doing a trip around Saturn’s and The Penders. I was unable to find a current chart for the reef so took it at the nearest low tide. We approached from between Tumbo and Saturna, the reef looked calm with no standing a waves, eddies or apparent rips. Initially it was calm and easy as we gave it a wide berth want remained that way but the current was in flowing and strong. It took the two of us  in singles, and strong paddlers half and hour to make enough headway to clear the point and round it enough to get onto the kelp and make easier headway.

    I’ve never been back, want to because Navares is a great camp site but my lesson was that in future, if I don’t know if currents find out before venturing somewhere that’s known for strong currents. We could easily hand turned and made it back but didn’t want to but will never try that again until I know which is ebb and when.

    Good luck with the trip and if you find out how to chart the currents there please share.


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