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Brooks, Bunsbys, and Back: Sea Kayaking Vancouver Island’s Northwest Coast

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Kyuquot Sound boasts an abundance of wildlife that would be the envy of any national park. Sleek little river otters and black bandit-masked raccoons, bald eagles and Pacific loons, oystercatchers and belted kingfishers, as well as the occasional black bear, all work the shorelines in search of food. Come prepared with good lengths of rope and a pulley to hang your supplies well out of reach of beaks and paws.

From the vantage point of a sea kayak, gently rocking in the swells, all of this natural activity is gradually revealed as one hour fades into the next, a pace perfectly suited to a place that time forgot.

Access: There are several launch points to begin an exploration of Kyuquot Sound, including the federal wharves at both Fair Harbour and the village of Kyuquot. To reach Fair Harbour, travel north from Vancouver via Nanaimo on Highway 19 to Nimpkish, a distance of about 300 kilometres. From there, head 35 kilometres southwest across the island to the village of Zeballos. Fair Harbour, which offers little more than a parking lot, a boat ramp, and a convenience store, is a further one-hour drive from there. The MV Uchuck III sails from Gold River to Kyuquot. To reach Gold River from Vancouver via ferry to Nanaimo, travel 150 kilometres north to Campbell River on Highway 19, then 90 kilometres west on Highway 28. The Uchuck III sails to Kyuquot on Thursdays and returns on Fridays. For rates and schedules, visit www.mvuchuck.com or call 250-283-2325. For water taxi service in Kyuquot Sound, contact Voyager Water Taxi, 250-332-5301 or visit www.voyagerwatertaxi.com. A detailed description of kayaking Kyuquot Sound is included in Kayak Routes (Peter McGee, Greystone Books). Indispensable marine charts of the Bunsby Islands and Brooks Peninsula region are 3623 Kyuquot to Cape Cook and 3683 Checleset Bay, available from the Geographical Survey of Canada (605 Robson Street, Vancouver; 604-666-0271). Kayak rental locations on Vancouver Island include Courtenay and Campbell River (www.comoxvalleykayaks.com), as well as Zeballos (www.zeballoskayaks.com). Tourism Vancouver Island’s website, vancouverisland.travel, is another valuable resource. For information on ferry rates and schedules between Vancouver and Nanaimo, visit bcferries.com. To learn more about Brooks Peninsula Park and Big Bunsby Marine Park, visit www.bcparks.ca.

Jack Christie is the author of The Whistler Book (Greystone Books). Visit him at jackchristie.com.

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