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Sunshine Coast Images and Information

Imagine deep, narrow fiords and inlets like Norway or New Zealand with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains to the east. Across the sparking blue water of the Strait of Georgia are the mountains of Vancouver Island. The setting couldn’t be more stunning! To top it all off it’s not far from home, it’s sunny and the water is warm! Why is it called the Sunshine Coast? The sun shines almost every day because it’s in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island. The weather is often perfect…70-75 degrees with little or no wind (except for Sechelt Inlet where it’s always windy in the afternoon).

The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia is a 40 minute ferry ride out of Horseshoe Bay north of Vancouver. Kayakers enjoy beautiful, clear saltwater filled with marine life. Porpoises, seals and bald eagles are frequent paddling companions. Besides excellent paddling, a hike to see the legendary Skookumchuk Narrows at the top of Sechelt Inlet is a popular activity. The full tidal exchange passes through these narrows, creating a tidal rapid can run at 10-14 knots with up to 16 foot over falls. Huge whirlpools appear out of nowhere then disappear. Both kayakers and surf boarders ride the standing wave. It is a sight to see!

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Additional resources:

Areas of Interest:

  • Sechelt: This quaint town has a large First Nation population, which sponsors a gallery and museum on the south end of town.  An excellent kayak shop allows you to replace lost or forgotten items. All services are available. Bayside Camp-ground is a short drive.
  • Trail Islands: These tiny island, privately owned and barely offshore, have abundant wildlife, rocky coasts, and are a popular destination.
    West winds and waves are a concern at times.
  • Upper Sechelt Inlet: Many official and unofficial trips occur in these relatively sheltered waters. Putting in at the Tuwanek location north of Sechelt and proceeding north avoids the more built-up area. Bird life abounds, seals and porpoises are popular. There is one petroglyph. Primitive campsites abound.
    Seaplane traffic is common in the extreme south of the inlet hear town.
  • Secret Cove, Halfmoon Bay area: Many trips are made in this region. Secret Cove, despite poor parking, is a good put in for exploring the many small coves in the area. Merry Island, with its lighthouse and weather station, is a good destination. North and South Thormanby Islands can each be circumnavigated in a day; to do both is possible, but long. A member described circumnavigation of South Thormanby “the best paddle I’ve ever been on.” Swimming is possible on a sand beach between the two islands.
  • Irvine’s Landing: Three small towns in a sheltered bay offer tours through built up and uninhabited islands. Ventures into the Georgia Strait to circumnavigate offshore islands are common.
  • Howe Sound: Trips based from Gibsons Marina can explore this huge, scenic area. Conditions allowing, Keats Island is a good circumnavigation. The Pasley Group is scenic but exposed.
    Inflow and outflow winds are a danger, as is the shallow bar between Keats Island and the mainland south of Gibsons.
  • Skookumchuck/Sechelt Narrows: Twice a day, huge tidal flows create strong currents, standing waves and whirlpools. A short hike leads to view-points. Expert paddlers only.
  • Nelson Island & Agamemnon Channel: Long round trip drives have kept most OOPSters from exploring this beautiful area.

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Sunshine Coast Annual Event

British Columbia's Sunshine Coast lies on the west coast of the continent, in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island’s mountains and north of the the Georgia Strait. Blessed with warm water, (usually) abundant sunshine and beautiful scenery, the area is a paddlers joy.  Islands and inlets beckon. Seals, geese, eagles and sometimes porpoises can be seen.

When:  Summer

Paddling Trip Considerations:  Participation in the Sunshine Coast event is limited to OOPS members. Violations of this policy has caused friction in the past.  Official OOPS trips follow all guidelines in OOPS activity policy. We strongly recommend organizers of unofficial trips adhere to the requirements as well.  Please read the OOPS Activity Policy.

Where:  Our base camp is Sechelt, about 350 miles from Portland. There is one ferry and Canadian Customs, so allow extra time.

Camping and Social Considerations:  You must sign up a minimum of 3 weeks before the event. You must prepay for your campsite if staying at Bayside Campground. Prepay with Dede Moore, contact information below.  OOPS has reserved all the non-hookup sites at Bay-side Campground. Hookups are available there.  Additional camping is at Porpoise Bay provincial park. The Sechelt area has hotels and B&Bs.

Meals:  The Saturday night potluck takes place at the Bayside Campground. All participants, wherever they stay, are welcome. Dishes should be made to feed about 6 people, not the whole hungry 30 or so.  There may also be a Sunday night celebration dinner.

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