Discovery Passage is a wonderful playground for sea kayaking.
You can paddle along the shore, you can cross over to Quadra Island, or you can ride the currents north & south.
You do require knowledge and skill, especially concerning currents.


Kayaking in Discovery Passage could be fatal for the inexperienced.
This document is for kayakers who already have training and experience.
A kayak with bulkheads, hatches, and sprayskirt is obligatory, as is the wearing of a PFD.


  • Discovery Passage separates Vancouver Island from Quadra Island.
  • Currents run up to 7 knots near Campbell River.
  • Discovery Passage is not suitable for recreational kayaks.
  • The crossing from Tyee Spit to Gowlland Harbour is an excellent day trip for the paddler with the required skills.
  • Crossings are also made to Quathiaski Cove, Yaculta Village, and Cape Mudge.
  • Riding the ebb and flood is great fun for the experienced kayaker.
  • A good intro ebb/flood trip is between Husky boat ramp and Gowlland Harbour.
  • Another good ebb/flood trip is between Orange Pt and Cape Mudge.
  • A longer ebb/flood trip is between Ken Forde park and Yellow Island.
  • The best ebb/flood trip is between Ken Forde park and Browns Bay, going through Seymour Narrows.
  • Seymour Narrows divides north Discovery Passage from south Discovery Passage.
  • Seymour Narrows is the narrowest part of Discovery Passage.
  • Seymour Narrows has currents up to 16 knots.
  • Seymour Narrows should be avoided by most kayakers.

    Orca in Seymour Narrows - photo by Jos Krynen of Eagle Eye Adventures Cape Mudge Lighthouse

    © Alan Dunham 2018
    Version 0.7 - June 23 2018
    send corrections to feedback@alyak.ca


    Your safety is greatly affected by your on land preparation and your on the water alertness:


  • Forecast: Check the weather forecast
  • Currents: Plan a trip using or avoiding the currents
  • Time: Allow extra time for the trip in case of headwinds
  • People: Match the people to the trip
  • Skills: Are there any particular skills needed for the trip
  • Route: Choose a route suitable for the participants, weather, currents
  • Kayak: Choose a kayak suitable for the trip
  • Immersion Wear: Wear immersion protection
  • Gear: Take the gear needed for towing, bad weather, capsizing, etc
  • Radio: A VHF marine radio is a very useful piece of safety gear
  • Float Plan: File a float plan with a responsible person


  • PreLaunch: Group talk, verify route, radio check
  • Weather: Monitor the weather, especially an increase in the wind
  • Waves: Are the waves getting bigger?
  • Traffic: Watch out for boat and seaplane traffic
  • Navigation: Keep track of where you are and where you are going
  • Timing: As you paddle, compare your location to where you expect to be
  • Currents: Are currents slowing you down or affecting your route?
  • Group: Is anyone way ahead or falling behind?
  • Breaks: Take periodic breaks to regroup, refuel, check navigation & weather
  • Route: Modify route in case of bad weather, slowness, gear failure


  • Brace: Brace as needed in chop, waves, boils, whirlpools
  • Roll: Roll your kayak to recover from a capsize
  • Tow: Be prepared to tow if needed
  • Assisted: An assisted rescue indicates a problem
  • Cowboy: Cowboy scramble is a nice recovery; but why are you out of your kayak?
  • Paddlefloat: Paddle float outrigger in conditions is a gamble for most kayakers
  • Mayday: Call for help via vhf, plb, or epirb


  • Rogers & Telus provide good cell phone coverage for south Discovery Passage

  • MAPS

    map of Discovery Passage with layers:

    map of Discovery Passage with layers:
      launch points, locations, hazards, training

    -click the icon at top left to add or subtract layers
    -click the map once to set keyboard focus
    -double click to zoom in (or use ctrl +)
    -use ctrl - to zoom out
    -or use ctrl & mouse wheel to zoom in/out
    -drag map to move center
    -hold arrow keys for a slow scroll
    -press page up, page down, home, end to quickly move the center

    Chart 3539

    Chart 3539 Discovery Passage
    Chart 3540 Campbell River
    -click to open a zoomable chart in a new tab
    -then click once to zoom in
    -click twice to zoom out
    -or use mouse wheel to zoom in/out

    Extract from Chart #1

    Rocks, Wrecks, Obstructions

    Chart #1 as pdf
    Chart #1 as html

    topo map Campbell River

    Ship Locations & Tracks

    Ship Locations & Tracks
    -click to open the map in a new tab
    -then double click to zoom in
    -or use mouse wheel to zoom in/out
    -drag map to move center
    -hold arrow keys for a slow scroll
    -press page up, page down, home, end to quickly move the center

    location of Powell River Queen
    location of Cape Palmerston


    The tidal currents near Campbell River run up to 7 knots. This is twice as fast as you can paddle.

    flood current is indicated by the arrow with fletching
    ebb current is indicated by the plain arrow

  • Seymour Narrows is the nearest primary current station
  • Race Point currents are 70% of Seymour Narrows; add 5 minutes to times
  • Orange Point currents are 50% of Seymour Narrows; add 10 minutes to times
  • Cape Mudge currents are 50% of Seymour Narrows; add 15 minutes to times

    Trips along shore can

  • stay south of Ken Forde Park, where the currents are less
  • do a short trip during slack current
  • do a one way trip with the current
  • do a two way trip with the current by using both ebb & flood
  • do a two way trip by paddling against the current with some effort (and hazard)
  • kayakers should be aware that countercurrents form along shore

    Crossings are affected by the current; you can

  • pick a day with very low currents (ie Apr 8 2018 1.5K flood & -2.5K ebb)
  • cross near slack, with a launch point somewhat upstream of the destination
  • pick a destination well downstream of the launch point and use opposite currents to go and return
  • paddle along shore against the current to reach a favorable upstream point to start the actual crossing

    North-south trips take advantage of the current!

  • when low slack is mid-day, paddle north with the ebb, then south with the flood
  • when high slack is mid-day, paddle south with the flood, then north with the ebb
  • when max flood is mid-day, a vehicle shuttle or dropoff/pickup lets you make a one way trip from Orange Pt to Ken Forde
  • when max ebb is mid-day, a vehicle shuttle or dropoff/pickup lets you make a one way trip from Ken Forde to Orange Pt
  • if you time your transit of Seymour Narrows properly, one way trips can be made between Browns Bay and Ken Forde (or the Husky boat ramp)

    Slack current does not occur at High and Low Tide.
    Tide info is helpful, but you absolutely need current info.

    Here is a sample of the current & tide graph that is online at http://www.alyak.ca/DiscoPass.html
  • currents are in knots
  • tide height is in feet
  • ebb currents are yellow
  • flood currents are blue
  • ebb tide is yellow
  • flood tide is blue
  • there are two floods and two ebbs per day

  • When planning a trip in south Discovery Passage, the first thing to do is to look at the Orange Pt current.

    For May 16th, one could kayak north with the ebb, have lunch, and then kayak south with the flood.
    For May 20th, a clockwise trip around Gowlland Island would be a good choice.
    For May 23rd, one could kayak south with the flood, have lunch, and then kayak north with the ebb.
    For May 26th, a counter-clockwise trip around Gowlland Island would be a good choice.

    other online resources:
    Seymour Narrows Current - Tables, Graph, Text (PST only)
    Seymour Narrows Current - Graph (PST/PDT)

    Campbell River Tide - Tables, Graph, Text (PST/PDT)
    Campbell River Tide - Graph (PST/PDT)

    Kayaking with Tides - Learn the basics
    Kayaking: Understanding the Currents and Tides
    Kayaking in Tidal Streams


    There are local marine forecasts for Johnstone Strait and Strait of Georgia North. Both of these regions have spots that are often windier than Discovery Passage. Thus local conditions may be much milder than the forecast.

    There are other sources that are more detailed. See paltec for more details.

    Forecasts for the city of Campbell River are based on the airport, which is 4 kilometers inland.

    SpotWx, Windy.com, and Sailflow give good detailed forecasts

    Visaweb is an Environment Canada interface to a detailed local forecast. It is not always available. See paltec for more information.


  • SpotWX 2 day forecast
  • Windy.com
  • earth.nullschool wind forecast
  • marine forecast Strait of Georgia, north of Nanaimo
  • marine forecast Johnstone Strait
  • Sailflow wind forecast
  • SpotWx 10 day forecast


  • GOES-W satellite image
  • DND Comox Fronts & Isobars
  • lighthouse observations
  • buoy & land observations
  • alyak wind & waves
  • alyak sky & precipitation

    Examples of internet weather images:

    Fog along the west coast of VI - GOES WEST Satellite image

    Fog along the west coast of VI - GOES WEST Satellite image

    Low Pressure over Haida Gwaii - earth.nullschool

    Low Pressure over Haida Gwaii - earth.nullschool

    an example of surface analysis from DND Comox (I added some color)

    an example of surface analysis from DND Comox (I added some color)

    an example of surface analysis from NOAA (image cropped)

    an example of surface analysis from NOAA (image cropped)

    alyak.ca wind map observations during a calm day May 12 2018 alyak.ca wind map observations during a SouthEasterly Feb 28 2018
    alyak.ca wind map observations during a calm day May 12 2018 alyak.ca wind map observations during a SouthEasterly Feb 28 2018

    Marine Weather Guide
    Environment Canada transmits a Marine Weather Forecast from various locations, using VHF channels
    WX1=39B   WX2=36B   WX3=97B   WX4=96B   WX7=98B   WX8=21B.

  • GEAR

    Mandatory Safety Gear

    A proper sea kayak:

  • has bulkheads & hatches
  • has a skeg or rudder
  • is 16 feet or longer
  • has a coaming and sprayskirt

    gear for Shoreline paddles:
  • PFD
  • Spray Skirt
  • Spare Paddle

    gear for Crossings:
  • all of the above
  • Chart
  • Wetsuit or Drysuit
  • Paddle Float
  • Stirrup

    gear for North-South paddles with the current:
  • all of the above
  • Drysuit
  • Marine VHF Radio
  • Towline
  • GPS
  • daytrip checklist


    There are several launch points for Discovery Passage

      • Elk Bay
      • Browns Bay
      • Menzies Bay A
      • Menzies Bay B
      • Gowlland Harbour north
      • April Pt marina
      • Orange Pt
      • Tyee Spit
      • Quathiaski Cove
      • Maritime Heritage Center aka Aquarium
      • Hidden Harbour
      • Husky Boat Ramp aka Big Rock
      • Husky alternate
      • Willow Point
      • Ken Forde Park
      • Cape Mudge
      • Oyster Bay

    Elk Bay -- 50° 16.488'N 125° 25.750'W
    -best launch is north of campsite
    -access to Okisollo Channel & Chained Islands
    -campsite is busy in summer
    back to list of launches

    Browns Bay -- 50° 9.723'N 125° 22.506'W
    -launch is sand with rocks
    -fee for overnight parking is low
    -facilities, store, camping
    -restaurant is open in summer
    -currents in Seymour Narrows can reach 16 knots!
    back to list of launches

    Menzies Bay A -- 50° 6.722'N 125° 22.416'W
    -not an easy launch.
    -a dirt road drops off the highway just south of the bridge.
    -take the left fork and follow a track through the woods.
    -there's a spot to turn around just before the creek.
    -at 9' tide at Bloedel, kayaks must be carried through the creek (poor footing on isolated rocks) to launch (2 people per kayak).
    -I'm not sure if a small car can get back on the highway.
    -getting back onto the highway involves a blind corner, so you need a spotter on the southwest side of the highway, or you should back up to the bridge (on the shoulder). Expect to get honked at.

    Menzies Bay B -- 50° 6.758'N 125° 22.325'W
    -an easy launch but difficult to drive to.
    -a dirt road drops off the highway just south of the bridge.
    -take the right fork and follow a track to a tiny campsite.
    -you have to drive through a mud bog so may only be suitable in late summer.
    -campsite has a plastic bag hanging in a tree that is full of beer cans.

    Gowlland Harbour -- 50° 5.594'N 125° 15.709'W
    -this small launch is at the north end of Gowlland Harbour
    -a lot of driving to get here
    -not much parking
    -launch is gravel or rock
    -expect currents
    back to list of launches

    April Pt marina -- 50° 3.709'N 125° 13.673'W
    -park on the west side of April Pt Road
    back to list of launches

    Orange Pt -- 50° 4.324'N 125° 16.555'W
    -lots of parking space
    -a grassy trail down a hill (often slippery) goes from parking lot to beach
    -launch is gravel with patches of sand
    back to list of launches

    Tyee Spit -- 50° 2.665'N 125° 15.170'W
    -aka Dick Murphy park
    -drinking water during summer
    -can launch on the estuary side or ocean side
    -estuary launch on grass or gravel at high tide
    -estuary launch on rocks or barnacles at low tide
    -ocean launch is on gravel or small rocks
    -beware of seaplanes
    -there is a light at the north end of Tyee Spit that flashes white when seaplanes land or take off
    -currents in Discovery Passage can reach 7 knots!
    back to list of launches

    Quathiaski Cove -- 50° 2.558'N 125° 12.922'W
    -fee parking
    -launch from boat ramp
    -currents in Discovery Passage can reach 7 knots!
    back to list of launches

    Maritime Heritage Center & Aquarium -- 50° 1.171'N 125° 14.184'W
    -parking lot is busy on saturdays in summer (farmer's market)
    -beach is off the south edge of the parking lot
    -beach access may be hindered by logs
    -the Aquarium is worth visiting
    -currents in Discovery Passage can reach 7 knots!
    back to list of launches

    Hidden Harbour -- 50° 0.407'N 125° 13.989'W
    -parking for 4 vehicles
    -difficult launch/carry at low tides
    -launch is okay at tide height of 7 feet
    back to list of launches

    Husky Boat Ramp aka Big Rock -- 49° 59.370'N 125° 13.564'W
    UNDER CONSTRUCTION summer of 2018
    -aka Big Rock, MacCalum Park
    -busy with sport fishing boats. they prefer the north side of ramp
    -avoid parking in spots that will fit a vehicle & boat trailer
    -may have to park in overflow parking N of Husky
    -good breakwater
    -can also launch immediately south of the breakwater
    -facilities across the street at Husky gas station
    -avoid rolling inside breakwater (oil, gas, fish guts)
    -currents in Discovery Passage can reach 7 knots!
    back to list of launches

    Husky alternate -- 49° 59.352'N 125° 13.537'W
    -use south side of parking lot, toward the water
    -launch is immediately south of the breakwater
    -no boat traffic here
    -steps down are uneven
    -there may be logs at the bottom of the steps
    -avoid parking in spots that will fit a vehicle & boat trailer
    -may have to park in overflow parking N of Husky
    -currents in Discovery Passage can reach 7 knots!
    back to list of launches

    Willow Point -- 49° 58.325'N 125° 13.033'W
    -sheltered from south winds
    -low tides are best avoided
    -small parking lot can be busy
    -park is host to Transformations On The Shore in late June
    back to list of launches

    Ken Forde Park -- 49° 57.856'N 125° 12.502'W
    -boat ramp is busy in summer, but usually blocked by logs in the winter
    -boat ramp may be littered with fish carcasses in summer
    -fishing boats cannot launch at tides below 8 feet
    -gravel beach is also good for launching kayaks
    -beach cookouts in summer
    -currents in Discovery Passage can reach 7 knots!
    back to list of launches

    Cape Mudge -- 49° 59.940'N 125° 11.781'W
    -at the lighthouse
    -launch is rocky
    -limited parking
    -currents in Discovery Passage can reach 7 knots!
    back to list of launches

    OysterBay -- 49° 53.758'N 125° 8.824'W
    -gravel high on the beach
    -a wide sand beach at low tide
    -parking, facilities
    -currents are small
    back to list of launches


    Discovery Passage has a few potential hazards, but I don't consider it overly hazardous.
    Kayakers need to check the weather forecast and avoid south easterlies.
    There is boat traffic but it is not bad.
    Finally there is turbulent water in certain places at certain times.

    Kayakers should be aware of the Power Boat Rules of the Road
    but equally important is the Rule of Max Tonnage
    which tells us to get out of the path of anything larger than us.

    One of the problems is that boaters may not see us.
    They may not be expecting kayaks so even if the eye see us the brain does not register it.
    Check out this video and Cognitive Issues in Head-up Displays
    Another factor is that you can navigate a powerboat via gps & radar and never look out the windshield.
    Also, in rough conditions, waves hitting the windshield make it difficult to see anything.

    Before launch, you could check boat traffic via the APRS map
    and while paddling, you could listen to
    channel 71 (VTS Comox Traffic) for "Cape Mudge" & "Steep Island" calls

    further reading:
    kayaks & boats
    paddler etiquette
    tips on avoiding collisions
    the need for a signal light

    Only once has a boat passed close to me ... I heard later he was drunk and buzzed several small boats.
    But you can see more of his starboard than his port side, and he is moving to my right wrt the background; so no worries.

    Map of Hazards

      • seymour boils (ebb)
      • seymour whirlpools (ebb)
      • maud whirlpools (ebb)
      • menzies whirlpools (flood)
      • race pt boils (flood)
      • race pt whirlpools (flood)
      • walcan rip
      • moving log booms from Menzies Bay to Gowlland Harbour
      • May Island wreck
      • whales
      • Gowlland Island narrow passage - fast current
      • april pt turbulence
      • April Pt water taxi - boat traffic
      • CR river outflow - fast current
      • seaplanes - major hazard
      • white flashing light when seaplanes take off & land
      • Powell River Queen(ferry) - boat traffic
      • tide rip south of Qcove
      • yaculta shoal - boils
      • freighters etc - boat traffic
      • sport fishing boats - boat traffic
      • cruise ships
      • cape mudge rip
      • fog
      • wind & waves

    An area that is a hazard to some kayakers is a training location for other kayakers.

    Map of Training Locations

      • Surge Narrows - boat control, surfing, bracing, rolling
      • Seymour Narrows - route finding, bracing
      • Walcan tide rip - bracing
      • Mouse Islets - flatwater rolling
      • April Pt tide rip - bracing
      • Campbell River Estuary - flatwater rolling
      • McIvor Lake - flatwater rolling
      • tide rip south of Quathiaski Cove - bracing
      • Strathcona Gardens - pool rolling
      • Cape Mudge tide rip - bracing
      • Stories Beach - surfing during south easterlies
      • Saratoga Beach - flatwater rolling
      • Saratoga Beach - surfing during south easterlies


    Where you are paddling dictates the skills you need ...

    SKGABC Water Classification Map

    Georgia Strait is class 2
    Discovery Passage and Okisollo Channel are class 3
    Seymour Narrows will be class 4 at high currents

    Here's a list of valuable skills:

  • Calculate current speed at any time of the day
    ----- Orange Pt Current
    -----Seymour Narrows Current
  • Plan route appropriate for the currents
  • Assess the weather
    ----- Sea Kayak Videos Episode 3: Weather
    ----- Reading the Weather
  • Assess the wind speed
    ----- What Wind Speed is Safe for Kayaking
    ----- The Beaufort Scale (jpeg)
    ----- A Mariner’s Tool for Estimating Wind Speed
  • Paddle in wind
    ----- How To Paddle Your Kayak In Wind
    ----- How to Deal with Wind While Paddling
    ----- How to Sea Kayak in Heavy Wind
  • Paddle in waves
  • bracing in tide rips
  • bracing in surf
  • Rolling in rough water
    ----- Rolling rough water, high brace
    ----- 10 Rolls at Surge Narrows

  • A pool roll is not a combat roll!
    Strathcona Gardens is a great facility for learning how to roll. But a pool roll is only good for flat water, and you are unlikely to capsize on flat water. If you are going to be kayaking anywhere except along the shore, you owe it to yourself and your companions to learn how to roll in conditions. The only way to learn to roll in conditions is to practice rolling in rough water. Surge Narrows is the obvious choice, as it is reasonably close, it is predictable, and it is quite safe. You can progress through increasing current speed and hence increasing difficulty.
    The tide rips at Walcan, April Pt, south of Q cove, and Cape Mudge are semi-predictable in that you want a high current, preferably just before max flow, and some opposing wind helps. But these rips are trickier for anyone who swims.
    Stories beach & Saratoga beach have surfable waves during south easterlies - sometimes. The best conditions are as the wind is dying down but before the waves decrease.

    Each paddler will have to evaluate which paddle and which roll works best for them.
    The euro paddle and euro rolls excel in rough water. If a euro paddle has the same surface area as a greenland paddle, then the euro paddle has more leverage. In most cases, the euro paddle is better than the greenland paddle for turbulent water. There are no whitewater kayakers that use greenland paddles.
    The greenland paddle is better for extended paddle rolls. Some people will conside it better for paddling into a headwind. It is probably better for sculling rolls and hence better for sculling on the surface during a roll that is not immediately successful.

    For touring in Discovery Passage, either paddle is fine.
    For Surge Narrows, the euro is better. Period.
    For Seymour Narrows, I usually take my Aleutian (or Greenland) paddle for the touring portion. If I am going into a headwind through the narrows, I stick with the Aleutian. If the water is especially turbulent, I will switch to the euro.

    One should be careful during the process of learning to roll. An introduction from an aquaintance is a great way to see if you have the aptitude to learn to roll. But, that aquaintance is unlikely to have good rolling technique. Beware of self-proclaimed "instructors". If you learn bad habits, it will be difficult to unlearn them later. You could compromise your ability to roll when you need it most, because you learned bad technique at the start.
    If you are at all serious about learning to roll as a recovery from capsizing, you should look into professional instruction.

    Comox Valley Kayaks Skils

    Rolling Instructors in BC

    Instructors in BC


    Roll Your Kayak
    This is by far the best option. It puts you back upright in a few seconds, minimizing exposure to the water; it results in little or no water in the cockpit, since the spray skirt remains attached; it requires no extra gear to be deployed; and it doesn't require assistance from companions who might be having difficulty themselves. - Complete Sea Kayak Touring, Jonathan Hanson

    The Kayak Roll Part 1of 3
    Dympna Hayes
    common mistakes - Gordon Brown
    how to - Buck Johnson
    how to - greenland - Matt Gebhardt
    fast roll - Surge Narrows
    how to - Pawlata
    Rolling - Common mistakes and how to improve them - Kayak Hipster

    Re-enter & Roll
    The Reenter and Roll is potentially the fastest solo reentry in this book. Where the Reenter and Roll really comes into its own, however, is in rough seas, because it skips the vulnerable part of both the Paddlefloat Recovery and the Scramble - the point at which you climb on top of your kayak and try to balance. - Sea Kayak Rescue, Schumann & Shriner

    Sanders & Hoare
    Dympna Hayes

    Assisted Rescues
    The first condition, of course, is that you have someone to assist you. Then, conditions must not be so bad that your companion or companions are fully involved in their own struggles to stay upright, or would put themselves in danger trying to reach you. Otherwise, an assisted reentry can be fast and easy, resulting in very little more exposure time than a reentry and roll. An added advantage is that your companion can continue to stabilize your boat while you fasten the spray skirt and pump out the cockpit. - Complete Sea Kayak Touring, Jonathan Hanson

    X Rescue - Sanders & Hoare
    Heel Hook - Gordon Brown
    The Dump - Body Boat Blade
    The Scoop - Body Boat Blade
    Hand of God - Alder Creek
    Back Deck Carry & Tow - Neptune Rangers
    Contact Tow - Body Boat Blade

    Cowboy Scramble
    One of our personal favorites, the Scramble is among the fastest solo reentries in the book. It can be an excellent self-rescue in places like surf zones or rock gardens, where it may be difficult for a partner to come help you, or where you may not have time to rig a paddlefloat between waves. - Sea Kayak Rescue, Schumann & Shriner

    East Coast Kayaking
    Ladder variation - Sanders & Hoare

    Paddle Float Re-enter & Roll
    To beef up your re-enter and roll, you can supplement the roll portion by affixing a paddle float to your paddle. By attaching a paddle float to your rolling blade, you'll get much more support for your roll. You'll also have a solid brace to use while pumping the water out of your kayak. - Sea Kayaking Rough Waters, Alex Matthews

    Gordon Brown
    Skagit Bay
    rolling with a paddle float - Skaban Evasmata

    Paddle Float Outrigger
    The paddle float rescue has been described as an excellent way for a novice to reenter a kayak in calm water. - Complete Sea Kayak Touring, Jonathan Hanson
    These days the Paddlefloat Self-Rescue is widely considered essential for sea kayakers. We'd even go so far to recommend that no paddler leave shore without it. ... Technique and practice are what make this rescue effective. The amount of practice and the attention to certain details will determine whether this rescue will work only in flat water or in a wide variety of rough-water sea conditions. - Sea Kayak Rescue, Schumann & Shriner

    East Coast Kayaking
    Gordon Brown
    with deck lines - Steve Bennett
    with stirrup - Daren B

    use a Stirrup to get your torso out of the water

    Radio for Help via VHF
    VHF radios provide another powerful means of signaling for help, because they reach other boats in the area as well as the coastguard. You can even use a VHF radio to make a phone call through a marine operator - but perhaps most importantly, you can access marine weather forecasts easily. - Sea Kayaking Rough Waters, Alex Matthews

    Adventure Kayak
    Marine VHF around Campbell River

    Satellite Signal via PLB or EPIRB
    These devices are intended for life-threatening emergencies only. They incorporate three levels of integrated signal technology – GPS positioning, a 406 MHz signal (most transmit at 5 watts), and 121.5 MHz homing capability – the PLB’s will quickly and accurately relay your position to a worldwide network of search and rescue satellites financed by international governments. When rescue parties get close they can zero in on the 121.5 MHz homing signal. So, if your needs are strictly the most reliable emergency beacon available, PLB’s are the best choice. - Ocean River Sports
    McMurdo Fastfind PLB


    There is not a lot of protected paddling in Campbell River. The estuary is the first choice, with good parking, an okay launch, and various areas to explore.
    The next most popular area would be Ken Forde park, with paddling in the immediate area and short trips south to a prominent rock. If you live on Quadra Island, then Gowlland Harbour, Quathiaski Cove, and Rebecca Spit are good choices. The Main Lake system is extensive, as is McIvor Lake with its connection to the Campbell Lakes.
    If you can plan around the currents, then all of the waterfront shoreline comes into play, from Orange Pt to Stories beach. If you are going with the currents, then you may need to be a hundred meters offshore to avoid counter currents. If you are going against the current, then the counter currents will help you, but at most Points you will encounter the current itself.

    Campbell River Estuary

    Ken Forde Park south to obvious rock
  • Paddling along the West Shore
  • Paddling along the East Shore
  • Paddling in Gowlland Harbour
  • Paddling in Quathiaski Cove


    There are many places to cross Discovery Passage during slack current,
    but you should cross & return quickly before the current increases.

    If you don't mind some current, then your options expand ...

      • Orange Pt to Steep Island
      • Tyee Spit to Steep Island
      • Tyee Spit to April Point
      • Tyee Spit to Quathiaski Cove
      • Aquarium to north of Yaculta village
      • Hidden Harbour to Yaculta Village
      • Husky boat ramp to Cape Mudge
      • Ken Forde park to Cape Mudge

    While one can cross Discovery Passage at several locations, the crossing to Gowlland Harbour is one of the best.
    This is because Gowlland Harbour has two entrances, which gives the kayaker more flexibility regarding currents.

    Tyee Spit to Gowlland Harbour during Slack Gowlland Harbour to Tyee Spit during Slack

    Gowlland Harbour to Tyee Spit during Ebb
    Tyee Spit to Gowlland Harbour during Ebb using counter current along Orange Pt
    dotted lines indicate better path

    Tyee Spit to Gowlland Harbour during Flood
    using counter current along Orange Pt Gowlland Harbour to Tyee Spit during Flood

    Tyee Spit to Gowlland Harbour during Flood
    using countercurrent along Gowlland Island
    Gowlland Harbour to Tyee Spit during Flood
    using countercurrent along Gowlland Island


    The wise approach is to start with shorter trips in lower currents and then progress. A good first trip is Husky boat ramp to Gowlland Harbour.
    Pick a day where the current at Orange Pt is 4 or 5 knots. Then go again when the current is 6 or 7 knots.

    An exploratory trip to Yellow Island could be the next step. This gives you some idea of the currents near Race Pt without putting you in Seymour Narrows.

    Trips through Seymour Narrows can launch at Tyee Spit, Husky boat ramp, or Ken Forde Park. Start with slow currents in the narrows and work your way up (see next section).

    There are fewer options for paddling south with the ebb and return north with the ebb. The only launch points are Orange Pt and Browns Bay. Orange Pt to Cape Mudge is a good trip, but short.

    Husky Boat Ramp to Gowlland Harbour

    Ken Forde Park to Browns Bay (red=ebb, cyan=flood)

    for the above trip:
    distance = 54.9 km
    time on the water = 4 hours 39 minutes
    average speed = 11.8 km/h (6.37 knots)
    maximum speed = 22.6 km/h (12.2 knots)

    Computer generated current plot with launch times & checkpoint times for ebb (purple) and flood (red) for a Seymour Narrows trip.
    By launching at Ken Forde (K) at 9:42, I arrive at Seymour Narrows when the current is the desired 8 knots (at 11:40).


    A two way trip from Campbell River through Seymour Narrows, riding the currents, is the crown jewel of Campbell River touring.
    Where else can you get an average speed of 12 km/hr for a 55 km trip?

    Lunch & turnaround spots are usually Browns Bay or Separation Head. It is possible to lunch further north during lower tidal exchanges, but you must always be aware of the possibility of south winds delaying your return to the narrows, causing you to kayak through the narrows at a higher current speed than you would like.

    What do you need to kayak Seymour Narrows?
      • a day with the right currents
      • good weather
      • kayak, paddle, etc suitable for rough water
      • you should know the path to take
      • you should be comfortable in boils & small whirlpools
      • you should know how to brace & edge
      • you should be able to route find in moving water
      • you should have a solid roll

    Your first trip to Seymour Narrows should be near slack current, perhaps entering at 3 knots ebb and exiting at 3 knots flood. From there you can work up.
    If you arrive at Race Pt when the narrows current is too high, you can pull out and wait at various spots:
      • north of Walcan - sandy beach, mild currents
      • Race Pt NW side - pass close by Race Pt & take a hard left
      • Yellow Island - a detour but mild currents
      • Maud Island south - active currents, small rocky ledges
      • Nymphe Cove - exit main flow early to avoid entering the narrows proper

    While in the narrows at higher currents you avoid the whirlpools by staying in the downstream V (for both ebb and flood).

    Seymour Narrows is dangerous if you take the wrong path.
    If a big whirlpool grabs your kayak, you will swim unless you can roll repeatedly (or you are very good at dynamic bracing when both ends of your kayak want to twist in different directions).
    You may need to roll on your off side.
    Swimming in big whirlpools is a bad idea as you could be sucked underwater and drown.‡
    Your kayak is a huge pfd - stay in it! And stay away from the big whirlpools!
    The following diagrams will help you seek the best path to avoid whirlpools, but it is always better to travel with someone who has kayaked the Narrows before.

    At slack current, you can go anywhere you want, subject to other boat traffic.
    But as the current increases, your line is constrained by boils and whirlpools. You want to follow the downstream V.
    The following paths have been repeatedly field tested at 8 knots current.
    They may or may not work at current speeds of 12 knots or more,
    but at this time I cannot recommend kayaking through Seymour Narrows at current speeds in excess of 10 knots.
    The highest current speeds I have gone through have been 10 knots (ebb & flood).
    The limiting factor is that I don't know how much suction the whirlpools have.

    Captain Rick Edwards on taking a tug & barge through the narrows:
    “When I’m going south with the flood, our rule of thumb is that we will run with eight knots of tide. Depending on traffic and weather conditions I have run 14 knots. It is okay as long as you stay in the channel and out of the back eddies. If it’s dark or foggy and you can’t see the back eddies I wouldn’t try a 14-knotter, but ten knots, I don’t even think about it. It’s nothing. At 14 knots it’s really boiling, you don’t waste anytime.
    Alan Haig-Brown


  • follow the downstream V
  • aim for the 8th marker ball from the east
  • stay away from the boils downstream of ripple rock
  • stay away from the eddy line on the west
  • stay away from the eddy line on the east
  • turn north & east when the downstream V closes out
  • navigate through boils and small whirlpools


    Photo shows the downstream V during the flood. Also shows the turbulence downstream of Ripple Rock.


  • aim approximately for the 8th marker ball from the east
  • this lines you up for the middle-left of the V
  • stay away from the boils downstream of ripple rock
  • stay away from the eddy line on the west (big whirlpools)
  • stay away from the eddy line on the east
  • turn east as or before the main current turns east
  • navigate through boils & small whirlpools
  • stay on the north side of the main current as it goes past Race Pt
  • there are big whirlpools near Race Pt when the current is approx 8 knots

    For more information on kayaking Seymour Narrows, see Downhill Both Ways

    ‡ I wear a Kokatat SeaO2 PFD, which provides 22 pounds of flotation when inflated.


    Tyee Pool Webcam

  • Browns Bay
  • Menzies Bay
  • Tyee Pool
  • Tyee Spit
  • south of Quathiaski cove
  • C.R. Ferry
  • C.R. Museum
  • Salmon Pt


    Current & Tide:
  • Beazley Passage Current - Tables (PST only)
  • Beazley Passage Current - Graph (PST/PDT)
  • Surge Narrows Tide - Tables (PST/PDT)
  • Surge Narrows Tide - Graph (PST/PDT)
    WEATHER forecasts:
  • marine forecast Strait of Georgia, north of Nanaimo
  • marine forecast Johnstone Strait
  • Windy.com
  • SpotWx 2 day forecast
  • SpotWx 10 day forecast
  • earth.nullschool wind forecast
  • Sailflow wind forecast

    WEATHER observations:
  • GOES-W satellite image
  • DND Comox Fronts & Isobars
  • lighthouse observations
  • buoy & land observations
  • alyak wind & waves
  • alyak sky & precipitation
  • Discovery Passage Passage 2010
  • Timelapse from Fishing Pier
  • Intro to Charts & Tides
  • a south easterly
  • Board Surfing at Stories Beach
  • Eagle Eye Adventures
  • Ripple Rock Lookout - Drone Footage
  • Ripple Rock Explosion
  • Comox Valley Kayaks
  • AccommodationCampingDining
  • Sailing Directions
  • Quadra Ferry scheduleQuadra Ferry location
  • Sunrise & SunsetMoon Phases