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Broken Island Group

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Travel Article: BC Sea Kayaking

Broken Island Group

by Brian High

Photos and Route Map:


Increasing head wind
All the islands look alike
Stay calm in rough seas

Hand Island breakfast
Yesterday she broke my spork
White shell works just fine

Getting There

Our group was Tom, Ellen, Marcia and Brian. We Left Seattle Sunday July 17, 2011 at 8:30-9:00 am. We had a reservation on the Tsawwassen to Duke Point ferry for 12:45. The border crossing took only a few minutes. We arrived in the ferry line with plenty of time to spare. After the two-hour ferry ride, we stopped in Nanaimo for gas and some groceries. The detour onto 19A from 19 took a lot of time. In the future we will wait to get gas and groceries in Port Alberni. To get there, take the 4A (Alberni Highway to Coombs) shortcut from 19 to save time. We stopped for a picnic dinner at Kennedy Lake then drove the 10 mile dirt road to Toquart Bay. This road is fairly easy to drive even in a commuter car, as the surface is in pretty good shape, but watch for oncoming cars and logging trucks. We had no reservation at the Toquart Bay campground, but got a pair of campsites adjacent to each other and near the launch beach. For a busier night, like a Friday or Saturday night, reservations would be a good idea. The campground had mosquitoes and no-see-ums, but we enjoyed the hummingbirds at the feeders of the campground office.

Day 1

We took our time packing boats and moved the cars to the parking lot. We launched at a leisurely 12:30 or so and paddling in a light south wind to South Stopper Island, where we found a nice lunch spot on the north side. It appears to have a good camp spot. This is an island not in the park, but shaded on the chart/map as "crown land", so we suspect camping is okay here and free of charge. We then went around to the east end of the island and made the crossing to Lyall Point against a 10 kt south wind and 1 foot wind waves. An easy crossing to Hand Island brought us to the reefs on the north side of that island, where we located the camping area at a tombolo between the main Hand Island and a couple of islets.

There were several tents on the beach, so we looked around quite a bit and found the other side of the tombolo and also the forest area completely empty of campers. There is also a beach on the north end of the islet and a meadow on the islet with additional camping. The white shell beach is lovely, with a fair amount of oysters (even more on the reefs to the west) plus the bonus of two great views -- sunrise and sunset -- either side of the tombolo. Another highlight is the new (aerobic) composing toilet, smelling fresh with cedar shavings and open to the breezes. The older (anaerobic) composting toilets are dark and smell strongly of ammonia. This camp has a few more mosquitoes and crows than the others further out from the mainland, but like of all of the islands, has many bald eagles and hummingbirds.

Day 2

We took the morning duties casually and launched mid-day to cross to Mence Island of the Brabant Group. There was a 5-8 kt SW wind making for some chop. We then crossed Peacock Channel to Chalk Island with more wind a chop. Lunch was at the camp area on Dodd Island. where the winds were whistling through the inner channels of the Dodd Island group. After lunch, we passed between Dodd and Walsh and between Turtle and Willis to reach Thiepval Channel. The short crossing was mostly protected from the wind and this made the paddling easy.

We came to another tombolo among the reefs west of Turret Island. As it was nearing high tide, we were able to pass through the reef avoiding an extra couple of miles paddling. We faced bigger waves with a hint of ground swell on the other side of the reef, but the paddle to the Turret Island camp was very short. You have to pay close attention to not miss this camp, especially went approaching from the west. It is in a little cove NW of Nantes Island. There were a couple of small parties there, but still plenty of room for us.

We pitched tents in the woods in a very protected grove just beyond the small meadow. We then put up the tarp on the beach, as it was now starting to sprinkle. The rain stopped once the tarp was up. We enjoyed our dinner and met the other campers. We pulled the boats up into the logs and tied the boats together and to a log. The beach offers a good view of the sunset when you walk to the rocks to the Southwest. We will be here for a total of three nights so we looked forward to day-tripping around the outer islands with a camp to come home to.


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