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The Broken Group 2013

Paddling Barkley Sound

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Launch Point Sechart, Vancouver Island, BC
Max Difficulty: SKIV (paddling in the islands requires less experience, but paddling the outer edges does require a higher level of skill and knowledge
Paddle Length/Time This was a 10 day paddle,  we paddled approximately 95 miles as shown on the map
Tide/Current Station Stopper Island & Effington, no current stations.
Destination The Broken Group

Off the west coast of Vancouver Island, a vast maze of islands, islets, and rocky outcrops thrust upward from the gentle waters of Barkley Sound. A kayaker’s dream, the sheltered hundred-plus islands comprise what’s known as the Broken Group—a favorite vacation spot for Vancouver residents and paddlers from the US and around the world.

Formed at the end of the last Ice Age, the islands’ rugged bedrock and nutrient-rich waters support ample marine life, as well as old-growth rain forests, lagoons, arches, blowholes, tide pools, and sandy secluded beaches. Stone fish traps and the remains of villages—traces of culture from the aboriginal Nuu-chah-nulth people—add an element of curiosity and discovery to a paddle through the Broken Group’s narrow passageways.

The Broken Group are part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve camping is permitted in designated areas on seven of the islands. All of the spots are family-friendly and include composting toilet facilities.  The fee for camping is 9.80 cdn.

In 2013 Toguaht Bay was closed due to heavy metals contamination from an old sawmill operation.  This limited access to the Broken Group and probably enhanced our stay since we did not have any crowds and rarely had more than a couple of other parties sharing the camp sites.  In 2014, a new campground, Secret Beach Campground was opened next to the old site and I would expect that there will be more people paddling in the islands now.  We entered the islands via Sechart Lodge on the Lady Rose.  It’s a pleasant 2 hour cruise from Alberni. 

We used Clark and Hand Islands as a base for our paddles as you can see from the map.  When the weather conditions are good the paddling is gentle and enjoying.  Do use caution because afternoon winds can come up and blow 15-25 kts, if you are on the outer west edge of the islands you will get the full impact of that wind and the swells that it will drive.  We also experienced AM fog but it usually burned off by 9:30-10 AM.

You can paddle a variety of routes, our goal was to try and paddle past every island.  You can do your paddle any way you want.  You do have to pack all of your food and water into the islands,  there is no fresh water on the islands.

Don't miss the sea caves and arches on the east side of Effington.  They are great to look at and if the tide is right paddle through.  Use caution paddling these narrow passages as there are rocks and if a wave comes through you could get pushed into or dropped onto a rock.  Don't forget the duck tape! 

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Copyright © 2015 Chuck Hemphill. All Rights Reserved
Last Updated:  June 02, 2015