Day 7 - Thursday - June 14 - Nanaimo to Ballenas Island

Getting ready to launch from Newcastle Island at low tide.

According to the tide and current tables, the currents around Nanaimo should flood north during a rising tide. To take advantage of this, I planned to launch from Newcastle Island at the turn to high tide, which on this day was at 11:42am. This strategy would give me plenty of time in the morning to get ready and even allow me to have breakfast at the park pavilion. The disadvantage was that since I would be launching at low tide, the equipment carry to the waters edge would be much longer than when I had landed at high tide two days earlier. I was willing to make this compromise, as the net effort involved would be less. As it turned out, the current was against me for the first two hours after I launched so it was like paddling upstream. By 2pm, the current had reversed and I was getting a push toward my destination. As I soon began to realize, the current does not necessarily change direction as soon as the tide changes. Depending on the location, some time has to go by before the current changes direction after a tide change.

A BC ferry leaving Nanaimo's Departure Bay as I round Newcastle Island.

Today’s paddle would take me past the densely populated coast of Vancouver Island north of Nanaimo. The weather was clear and the wind was light. I made good time passing through the Winchelsea and Ada Islands. This area is full of dozens of small islands and rocky islets. My destination this day was South Ballenas Island and as I paddled through all these small islands, I wondered how hard it would be to find the island I was looking for. As I continued along however, it soon became obvious as the two Ballenas Islands were much further north and more isolated out in the Strait of Georgia than any of the other islands in the area.

Before reaching Ballenas Island there are dozens of small rocky islets that must be navigated.

On the north side of South Ballenas Island, there is a small bay with a nice beach composed of smooth rounded pebbles. This beach is perfect for camping and offers protection from all winds except northerlies. The view from the beach looks out on the route across the Strait of Georgia to Lasqueti and Texada Islands. There is no water on South Ballenas Island.

Looking out across the Strait of Georgia toward the mainland from the north facing beach on South Ballenas Island.

When I arrived at the beach, the kayaker I had met at Newcastle Island Park was there already. After reviewing the day’s events, it seemed that launching earlier and not having to carry my boat and gear so far down to the low tide line would have been the better choice. I may have had to paddle against the current for a while longer, but the net effort would have been less. This strategy was useful in planning launch times throughout the remainder of the trip.

The beach on South Ballenas Island makes a great campsite.

Today I launched at 12:10pm and landed at 4:50pm, covering 16 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes.