A very important notice to the readers of my books
In all four of my books I recommend using “Maptech Chart Navigator Pro” software to print charts for kayaking trips.
Maptech recently removed the “Print Chart” function from Chart Navigator programs and the programs are now unable to print charts.
Do not buy Maptech programs to print charts.
I now recommend a chart printing program that has all of the features of the old Maptech Chart Navigator program.
The program is “Coastal Explorer” and is produced and sold by “Rose Point Navigation Systems”.
To learn more about the Coastal Explorer program please visit their website at: http://www.coastalexplorer.net/

Alone in the Passage: An Explorers Guide to Sea Kayaking the Inside Passage

In the summer of 2012 I completed my second, solo, Inside Passage kayaking adventure. I have chronicled the trip in my latest book, "Alone in the Passage: An Explorers Guide to Sea Kayaking the Inside Passage". Besides giving a day to day run down of my experiences, I provide the reader with valuable information that would be necessary to successfully complete this incredible journey. The book is available in both paperback and Kindle e-book versions from Amazon. To find out more and read excerpts from the book CLICK HERE.

If you are not particularly interested in paddling the Inside Passage, but would like some useful tips on expedition kayaking, check out my book, "Tactics for Long Distance Sea Kayaking". This book is designed to provide mid to advanced level paddlers with proven techniques on how to plan and successfully execute a long distance sea kayaking trip.
If you already have or plan to get my other book "Alone in the Passage" be advised that this book is comprised of information that is covered in "Alone in the Passage".
The book is available in both paperback and Kindle e-book versions from Amazon. To find out more and read excerpts from the book CLICK HERE.

Topics covered include:

  • How to research destinations and plan long distance trips
  • Techniques for traveling solo and in groups
  • Equipment and clothing checklist and evaluations
  • Communications
  • Weather
  • Dangers and cautions
  • Charts and navigation
  • Camping and life on shore
  • Food and water
  • Wildlife encounters

Point To Point: Exploring The Inside Passage By Kayak

A complete chronology of my 2007/2008 Inside Passage kayaking adventure is now available from Amazon Books in both paperback and digital "Kindle" format.
By clicking on the bold type title above, you will be brought to the Amazon page where either of the formats can be ordered.


In the summers of 2007 and 2008 I completed a solo sea kayaking trip through the Inside Passage from San Juan Island, Washington to Skagway, Alaska.

This is the story of that trip and the adventures I had along the way.

Denis Dwyer

Day 1 - Friday - June 8 - San Juan Island to Prevost Harbor

Canada's Coast Range appears across the Strait of Georgia as seen from the ferry.

As I rode the ferry across Puget Sound and looked north up the Strait of Georgia, I could see the snow capped peaks of Canada’s coastal mountain range stretching off into the distance. The kayaking trip I was about to undertake would take me well past the farthest mountains I could now see. In a few weeks, these distant peaks would be further behind me than they were in front of me now. The challenge was real, but I was confident that if I took it a day at a time, these sentinels would slowly disappear from my view as new vistas opened before me.
After months of planning, and a 3,000-mile drive across the US, I had finally arrived at my launch point on beautiful San Juan Island in Washington‘s, Northern Puget Sound. The “put in” would be Small Pox Bay at the San Juan County Park. I picked this spot to start the trip because it allowed me to avoid heavily urbanized areas along the mainland and put me in a good position to enter Canada’s Gulf Islands and travel within their relatively protected waters.
San Juan County Park is very popular with kayakers and whale watchers who come to catch a glimpse of the many pods of Orcas that frequently pass within a short distance of its shoreline. It can be crowded during the summer, so reservations are necessary if you plan to spend the night. Access to San Juan Island is via the Washington State Ferry that leaves the mainland in Anacortes Washington and arrives on the island at Friday Harbor.

First Leg - Days 1-12 - San Juan Island to Powell River

The main natural and man made features encountered along this stretch of the route include: The San Juan Islands, Boundary Pass, the US / Canadian border, the Gulf Islands, Trincomali Channel, the city of Nanaimo, the Strait of Georgia, Texada Island, Malaspina Strait, and the city of Powell River.

My big adventure begins at Small Pox Bay on San Juan Island.

The weather was perfect for my first day on the water, light winds, mild temperatures, and mostly clear skies. Launch time was 9:20am. I headed north thru Haro Strait with Canada’s Vancouver Island on my left and the west coast of San Juan Island on my right. Even though there was a slight current against me, I still made good time through Mosquito Pass and into Roche Harbor. As I entered the pass, I got my first look at a group of Harbor Seals that were sunning themselves on a rock while others seemed to be feeding or playing in the water near by.

As I start my crossing of Speiden Channel Vancouver Island fills the horizon across Haro Strait.

I cleared the pass between Henry and Pearl Islands at 11am and headed out across Spieden Channel towards the west tip of Spieden Island. This was my first open water crossing of the trip and a good introduction to what lay ahead. The wind was kicking up a light chop and there were recreational boaters speeding about in every direction. Even though Spieden Island is about halfway across the channel, there is no good place to land, so it is unusable as a refuge in bad weather. By noon, I had made the four-mile crossing to the entrance of Johns Pass. There was a one to two knot current running against me through Johns Pass so I stayed close to shore and out of the main flow.

My campsite at Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island.

In a short time, I had paddled around the eastern tip of Stuart Island and into Prevost Harbor. There is a state park here with a convenient landing spot for kayakers just west of the boat dock and a few yards from the designated campsites. All campsites are about twenty feet above high tide and have good views of the harbor. There are picnic tables, a composting toilet, and water. A trail winds through the park and offers a chance to stretch legs stiffened by a day of paddling.
Today’s paddle covered around 12 miles in 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Day 2 - Saturday - June 9 - Prevost Harbor to James Bay

Setting off across Boundary Pass from Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island toward South Pender Island.

The weather was gloomy but the wind calm as I woke up for my second day of paddling. After having a quick breakfast and breaking camp, I launched at 8am. As soon as I attached my spray skirt, it started to rain. Ahead lay the four miles of open water in Boundary Pass and the Canadian border. Since slack tide today was at 7:30am, I knew it was possible to make it across the four miles to South Pender Island before any serious current picked up. Boundary Pass is notorious for its fast tidal currents and heavy shipping traffic so it had been a major source of concern for me. Leaving early for the long crossing turned out to be a good idea as the weather later in the day got very windy and would have made the crossing dangerous. The light drizzle and lack of wind made the crossing go smoothly and by 9:30am I was tying up to the customs dock in Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island.

Entering Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island.

The Canadian customs station was unmanned. Instead of live personnel, there were three phones with direct links to customs agents. After asking me a few questions, an agent gave me permission to enter Canada. While standing in the rain talking to the customs agent, I started to get cold. I spotted a coffee shop nearby so I went over and got some coffee and a muffin. The combination of a hot drink and a warm room soon had me feeling better and ready to face the open water again. While there, I chatted with some friendly Canadians who were amazed that I had just paddled across Boundary Pass in a kayak.

A BC ferry enters Otter Bay on North Pender Island.

I left Bedwell Harbor at 10:30am and after rounding Wallace Point headed up the southwest coast of North Pender Island. The current was flooding south through Swanson Channel for the first two hours so I hugged the shore to stay out of the main flow. By 12:30pm, the current had turned and was no longer a problem, but now the wind and rain had picked up and created uncomfortable paddling conditions as squalls moved through. My original route plan was to go through Captain Passage along the west coast of Prevost Island. This would have required an open water crossing of 2.5 miles from North Pender to Prevost Islands. After considering the weather conditions, I opted instead to follow the west coast of North Pender Island. If conditions deteriorated, three large bays would offer me some protection.

A stormy day on Swanson Channel.

I stopped for a few minutes in the northernmost bay of Port Washington to consider the conditions that lay ahead in the crossing over to Prevost Island. The distance was about a mile and a half and a southerly wind was creating whitecaps that would be hitting me from the left rear. I decided to go for it and headed out for Portlock Point on Prevost Island. I was carrying a waterproof digital camera that could take short videos so I turned it on to try and capture the scene for friends back home that have no idea how it looks to be in a kayak in rough water. Unfortunately, it was just the first time that the camera was to malfunction on this trip so the crossing would go undocumented. After a determined thirty-minute paddle, I reached Prevost Island and could finally take a break out of the wind in relatively calm water.
The coast of Prevost Island was different from all the other shorelines I had passed in these first two days in that there were no homes visible from the water. Every other island had conspicuous homes indicating private property along their entire shorelines.

Approaching the beach at James Bay.

I rounded Peile Point on the North West tip of Prevost Island and headed into James Bay and a Cascadia Marine Trail (CMT) campsite. After landing in the rain at 3pm, I set up camp on a grassy meadow where a flock of Canadian geese had left plenty of proof of their recent feeding activity. The area has no improvements other than an outhouse but the landing site was good and the tall grass made for a comfortable campsite. Although there is no fresh water available at James Bay, I was able to collect a couple of gallons by strategically placing cooking pots to catch water running off my rain tarp.

After a stormy day of paddling the sky begins to clear at James Bay.

After dinner, I made a call home on my cell phone and was amazed when it actually went through. Today I covered eighteen miles in six hours.

Day 3 - Sunday - June 10 - Layover at James Bay

The camping area at James Bay is in a big field of tall grass.

I had a hard time sleeping last night due to pain in my right shoulder no doubt caused by two days of strenuous paddling. Since it was still raining off and on, I decided to take a day off and let my shoulder rest.
James Bay was full of wildlife that kept me company during my stay. Besides the flock of Canadian geese that seem to have made the bay home, there were deer grazing in the meadow around my campsite, and a river otter feeding in the calm water just offshore. Eagles flew overhead and perched in the nearby trees while a martin searched the shore for its next meal.

Looking NW up Trincomali Channel from James Bay on Prevost Island.

In the afternoon the wind shifted to northerly, the rain stopped, and the sky started to clear. This gave me a good opportunity to do some exploring. A trail along the shore brought me to an abandoned homestead site on a hill with beautiful views overlooking James Bay. Nearby was an abandoned orchard that in years past would have provided the Prevost Island settlers with fresh fruit.

A BC ferry passes off in the distance from James Bay.

Day 4 - Monday - June 11 - James Bay to Blackberry Point

After an early breakfast I broke camp, got the kayak loaded up, and launched at 7:20am. Although the sky was cloudy and gray, the rain had stopped. Today’s route would take me along the northeast coast of Saltspring Island and through the Trincomali Channel. The shoreline of Saltspring Island was full of wildlife. As I paddled slowly along the rocky shore, I spotted beaver, raccoon, martin, deer, seals, eagles, and starfish.

Wallace and Secretary Islands come into view in Trincomali Channel as I pass Walker Hook.

A planned stop at Conover Cove on Wallace Island to get water turned out to be a challenge. The only shallow area in the cove consisted of thick sticky mud so it was necessary to tie up to the pier to exit my kayak. Depending how a pier is constructed it can be anything from easy to impossible to get in or out of a kayak. Luckily, this one was not bad and I was able to get out easily. Finding the water proved more difficult as the unmarked source was a few hundred yards from the dock along a trail leading to the north end of the island. The antique water pump had seen better days and I found it impossible to hold a water bottle under the outlet and pump the long handle at the same time. The only way to get water here would be to have two people operate the pump, or have a bucket to hang under the faucet while operating the pump handle from four feet away. A sign on the pump warned to boil water before drinking. As I would soon discover, all public water sources that I encountered on the trip would include this disclaimer, apparently to protect its public provider from litigation. Through out the trip, I did not boil, or even chemically treat water collected from these sources, and did not get sick even once.

Heading through the pass between Wallace and Secretary Islands.

I continued paddling along the west shore of Wallace Island and cut across at Chivers Point to follow the east coast of the Secretary Islands. After passing Hall Island on its west side and Reid Island on its east side, I headed north to Valdes Island across a mile and a half wide section of the Trincomali Channel. Kayakers in this area should stay clear of Porlier Pass except during slack tides as the currents flowing through it can create dangerous tiderips.

Looking NE toward Porlier Pass as I paddle along the eastern shoreline of Reid Island.

Shingle Point on Valdes Island was a good place to stop for a break. A grassy meadow with some abandoned buildings was all that remained of a homestead on this beautiful point of land. A small cemetery nearby held the remains of some of the areas early settlers.

Looking west across Pylades Channel from the beach at Blackberry Point on Valdes Island.

My destination on this day was Blackberry Point, where a designated camping area for kayakers has been established. Although there were a few possible sites up in the trees, I opted instead for a breezy beach site, as the mosquitoes seemed to have taken over the wooded area. Tonight’s high tide would not reach the top of the beach, so I did not have to worry about it getting to me in the middle of the night. There is no water available at Blackberry Point. A rustic pit toilet is the only amenity.

Vancouver Island in evening sunlight from Blackberry Point.

I arrived at Blackberry Point at 1:15pm after paddling nineteen miles in six hours.