Pre-Trip Information | Multi-Day Camping Tours

 

Welcome to Powell River Sea Kayak!

 


TOPICS
  1. Welcome Note
  2. General Information on the Tour
  3. Travel Information
    1. Getting Here
    2. Ferry Schedules
    3. Pacific Coastal Airlines
    4. Powell River Taxi
  4. Trip Itinerary
    1. Day 1
    2. Day 2, 3, 4...
    3. Last Day
  5. Clothing and Packing
  6. What You Need to Bring
  7. What We Provide
  8. Fishing in Desolation Sound
  9. Post-Tour Information
    1. Feedback and Testimonials
    2. Guide Tipping
  10. Connect With Us on Social Media
  11. Exercises
  12. Cancellation Policy
    1. Insurance
    2. Weather and Environmental Considerations
    3. Experience
  13. Local Attractions: Accommodation, Restaurants, and more

 


 

Welcome Note

First, let me thank you for choosing Powell River Sea Kayak Ltd. to provide what will undoubtedly be a wonderful sea kayaking vacation. 

Also, thank you in advance for taking the time to complete our online medical questionnaire. This important information can sometimes be a little tedious, but it is very much appreciated and is necessary to ensure a safe and enjoyable kayak trip.

With your tour booked, it’s time to enjoy the anticipation-stage of your upcoming sea kayak adventure. After all, it has been said that 50% of a holiday experience happens during the imagination and anticipation stage. With that in mind, you may want to watch one of our videos on Youtube, such as Over Desolation, which provides a unique eagle’s-eye view of some of the areas you will explore.

As you may still have some details to sort out, we have prepared this pre-trip information document to help make your planning as easy as possible. Having said that, if you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are very resourceful and glad to help make your planning go as smooth as possible.

I look forward to meeting you in person.

Sincerely,

Adam Vallance

Powell River Sea Kayak

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General Information on the Tour

Like anything in life, hope and expectations play a role in how we react emotionally. If expectations are not met, we feel disappointed or frustrated. If an experience goes beyond our expectations, we feel happy. In an effort to create realistic expectations and positive mental preparation, here are a few points to understand.

This is a self-supported wilderness trip. All the food and equipment must fit into the group’s kayaks. There are limitations on what we can bring – including how much each guest can bring.

Having said that, we have been running kayak trips since 1995 and have developed very efficient systems over this time. This efficiency allows us to bring many items that would otherwise be considered luxuries on a typical wilderness trip. Although many guests recognize this, it is not always obvious in a world where household luxuries are plentiful. We appreciate input and new ideas, especially when they are offered in the context of a wilderness trip.

On the same thread as above, food is a unique challenge. Again, we have developed many great systems that allow us to provide wonderful meals on our multi-day tours. Having said that, unique diets these days seem to be the norm not the exception. Without a kitchen, fridge, oven or well-stocked pantry, it can be extremely difficult to cater to individual tastes and diets for a large group over many days. BUT, we do our best and hope our guests understand these challenges.

With all the great gear we bring comes a little extra work - and we do not have Sherpa’s for either hauling gear or setting-up camp (besides, this would make the tour significantly more expensive). When arriving at a new camp, the kayaks must be emptied and then everything (kayaks included) hauled to the camp area, above the high tide. This is a group effort (guides included) and is a great way to get the blood flowing either before paddling or after sitting in the kayaks for a few hours. The point: some lifting and setting-up of tents is required.

Paddling speed is another point of communication. Ultimately we can only paddle as fast as the slowest paddler. Although we try to group paddlers with similar expectations, experience and fitness together, this can be difficult to gauge over the phone or through email. Joining a group tour sometimes means choosing to go-with-the-flow. Even at a slower pace, we often cover as much as 6-8 nautical miles per day. In addition, a more relaxed pace allows for a more intimate experience and exploration of the intertidal marine life and beautiful scenery.

We have been running wilderness kayak trips since 1995 – and strive to improve our offerings every year. Our trips this year provide significantly more than what our trips provided 10 or 15 years ago. Despite that, guest comments 10 or 15 years ago were fabulous. In a world of increasing gratification, we hope each of our guests appreciate all the wonderful details that go into enhancing the entire experience in this beautiful environment.

As you will see under the gear list, we mention bringing a positive attitude. We can’t stress this enough. Of the things under our control, we have plenty of experience and will do a very good job. However, there are many things we can’t control, such as the weather. For all the things we can’t control, it is up to each individual to choose a positive attitude. With that, we are very confident your experience will be awesome!

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Travel Information

Getting Here

Driving via Vancouver

Due to ferry schedules, guests typically must arrive in the Powell River region the day before the tour. 

From West Vancouver, take the Horseshoe Bay ferry to Langdale. Follow Highway 101 for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes to Earl's Cove. From here, take the Earl’s Cove ferry to Saltery Bay on the Upper Sunshine Coast and follow Highway 101 for 30 minutes and you will arrive in Powell River.

Continuing north from Powell River, follow Highway 101 for approximately 30 minutes, and turn right on Malaspina Road (you will see signs for PR Sea Kayak, Laughing Oyster Restaurant and Okeover Arm Provincial Park). Follow Malaspina Road for 5 minutes until you come to the Laughing Oyster Restaurant. 100 metres beyond the restaurant, turn left on to Crowther Road (a gravel road) and follow this for another 5 minutes. Powell River Sea Kayak is on the right at the bottom of a large hill (follow the signs!)

Driving via Vancouver Island

It is possible to catch the first ferry from Little River (Comox) to Powell River on the morning of the tour and then drive straight to our site on Okeover Inlet in time for launch. From the ferry terminal in Powell River follow the instructions in the above heading to our launch site in Okeover Inlet.

Flying from Vancouver

It is possible to catch the early flight on the morning of the tour and then take a taxi from the Powell River airport to our site on Okeover Inlet. 

Please note, we do not have a shuttle service.  Guests will need to book a taxi from Powell River to our site on Okeover Inlet (see telephone number below).

If flying into Powell River on the morning of the trip, the earliest you will be able to arrive at our launch site in Okeover will be 9.30am. Please make sure your gear is well organized beforehand so as to maximize the chances of getting on the water as quickly as possible once you arrive. If you need advice as to how to organize your gear, please don’t hesitate to call.

Click here for a map that shows Powell River and our waterfront office in Okeover Inlet in relation to Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

 

Ferry Schedules 

Click here to view ferry schedules for Powell River and the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver and Vancouver Island. 

If you are travelling to the Powell River area by car, we highly recommend you visit the BC Ferries website and make any ferry reservations you need well in advance. Summer is a high traffic time of year for this service and a reservation can take the stress out os travelling to and from this beautiful part of the world.

 

Pacific Coastal Airlines 

Click here for the website of Pacific Coastal Airlines, with multiple daily services between Powell River and Vancouver International Airport's South Terminal. 

 Toll Free: 1-800-663-2872 

 Tel: 604-273-8666

 

Powell River Taxi 

 Tel: 604-483-3666 

 

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Trip Itinerary

The journey is part of the experience – and expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the train to mecca. – Anthony Bourdain

We have been running trips in Desolation Sound since 1995, and as such we know the area very well and value flexibility and spontaneity within the bounds of weather, group dynamic, and considerations for safety and enjoyment. 

Day 1

Guest arrival: 9:00 am sharp.

Arriving at our beautiful oceanfront location on Okeover Inlet, everything is taken care of to ensure a smooth and efficient launch.

To ensure a smooth logistical flow on the first morning, our guided trips need to be on the water by 10:30am. This allows us plenty of time to comfortably paddle the distance from our launch site to the camp (with time for lunch) and provide plenty of time for you to get comfortable and settled in before dinner.

Another consideration for the 9am arrival time is the fact that it is highly likely you are not the only participants on the trip, and arriving late means that other guests (and guides) are waiting around for your arrival, eager to get their own vacation underway. Please give yourself enough time to arrive at our Okeover site in the morning - this may mean coming up from Vancouver a day earlier and staying nearby in Lund or Powell River the night before.

For guests choosing to fly into Powell River from Vancouver, flights do not arrive in Powell River until 8:30am. This will require taking a taxi to our site on Okeover Inlet and will delay your arrival until closer to 9:30am, which is fine. In this case, we ask guests to be well organized by booking the taxi in advance and making sure any personal clothing, etc, they are taking with them in the kayaks can be quickly re-packed into dry bags for the paddle. This will help us get on the water as soon as possible. 

Park your vehicle in our shaded private parking lot and walk down to the office, where our operations staff help with your final payment and introduce your guide(s), who will show you to your kayaks and pass out dry bags for you to use, and help with the packing of your personal gear.

All packed, you are led through a brief equipment introduction and safety briefing, and you’re on your way! No need to hop in a van to travel to the launch site with all the gear, we are located right on the water in Okeover Inlet, meaning that your adventure begins the moment you arrive. 

Day 2, 3, 4…

You wake to the smell of fresh coffee and rise to the sight of breakfast being prepared in your island camp. After completing your morning routine, we aim to hit the water sometime around 10.30 to explore your surroundings.

There are many things that will fulfill each day. Paddling sleek touring kayaks over colourful marine life and amongst towering mountains or scattered islands and waterways is pure pleasure in itself. We will enhance this with interesting interpretation, great food and perhaps a few really bad jokes. At any rate, we know the areas we tour very well, we’ve been doing this for many years and we look forward to providing a great experience.

Many of our trips consist of a few hours of paddling each morning to a beautiful site for a shoreside lunch, followed by a few more hours to camp, with plenty of on- and off-water breaks as needed to regroup, refresh and refuel along the way; perhaps even some 'snorkeling with the stars' while lunch is being prepared on shore.

Definitive routes and camps vary depending on many factors: group paddling speed, time of year, wind and weather considerations and the general wishes of the group. Many trips use one or two central base camps, while others prefer island hopping each day and breaking camp to cover more ground.

Please keep in mind not everyone is created equal. Fitness, experience and even attitude are all factors we must consider. Safety is our number one concern and with that in mind, we can only paddle as fast as the slowest paddler. For those with little experience or whom feel their fitness is below average, paddling in a double kayak can help balance the scales. We carry very nice double touring kayaks. They are comfortable, sleek and fast boats to paddle. Many guests also appreciate the stability of doubles - especially when sea state is less than desirable! Please let us know before the trip if you feel a double would best suit your needs.

In the evenings, relax by the ocean with a glass of beer or wine while your guides prepare another creative and appetizing meal from fresh ingredients you never thought possible in such a wilderness environment!

Last Day

We aim to return to Okeover on the last day at approximately 3pm, depending on variables such as wind, current and group speed. From here we unpack the kayaks one last time, load up the car, and say goodbye to our new friends after an unforgettable few days in Desolation.

We typically do not have the ability to return earlier on this final day - for example, so certain guests can rush off to catch a flight or ferry - as there are usually more than one group of guests on each tour and returning early on this last day will unfairly impact on the enjoyment and flow of this last day of kayaking.

If you need to rush back home on the afternoon of your final day, we ask that you please check the ferry or airline schedule ahead of time and plan or book your ongoing transport at later times that correspond to the above schedule. Thank you for your understanding!

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Clothing and Packing

We Need Your Help!

Please keep personal items to a minimum. It is our experience that guests often bring many items they do not need – and therefore do not use. This can create difficulty in packing kayaks quickly and efficiently, and it means lugging around a bunch of stuff for no reason.

Please note: we will provide pretty much everything needed to ensure the trip is safe and that each guest is comfortable and able to thoroughly enjoy each day to its fullest.

You need only bring your clothes, compact sleeping bag and a few personal items such as a camera and items for personal hygiene.

Clothing Hints and Reminders

Try to avoid cotton – especially when paddling.

Cotton can be comfortable for simply lounging about, however, when doing any physical activity or when clothing is at risk of getting wet (i.e. paddling in rain conditions or sweat), cotton is not the best choice. Once wet, cotton does not dry quickly and is not only uncomfortable but also cold. A better choice for more active times (or wet times) is some type of quick dry material. This includes materials such as polypropylene, fleece or any number of non-cotton sport-type outerwear available these days. In addition to keeping you warmer and dryer, quick dry clothing wicks moisture away from the body and is less bulky. 

Layers of clothing work best

Layer 1: Against the skin. Lightweight and comfortable, this layer wicks moisture away from the skin and is used as a base layer beneath outer-layers, or, it can be warn alone on a warm day. A short sleeve and a long sleeve base layer are useful.

Layer 2: The warmth layer. It can be nice to have a couple different options for this layer. One option may be warmer than the other. This allows you to add or delete clothing depending on your activity level and the air temperature. Fleece is a good 2nd layer.

Layer 3: Outer protection from wind and rain. A waterproof/breathable jacket (eg: Goretex) is the natural choice of many. However, on the coast, often a decent rubber-type rain jacket is just fine.

Please note: Powell River Sea Kayak provides waterproof paddling jackets if needed.

Packing

Tightly rolling your clothing will allow for a more efficient fit into the dry bags.

Warmth

Toques (Canadian word for wool caps) are great for keeping you warm – the funkier the better as this will keep the spirits of others warm as well!

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Equipment and Clothing List – What You Need

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Spare prescription eyeglasses
  • 2 of any medications stored in separate containers (your guide will carry one of these containers for the entire trip)
  • 1 warm fleece jacket
  • 1 rain jacket for camp
  • 1 rain pants for camp
  • Hat for sun and rain
  • 1 pair pants for camp (may be cotton but quick dry is best)
  • 1 pair pants for paddling (quick-dry material only!)
  • 1 pair long underwear pants (quick-dry material only!)
  • 1 long sleeve t-shirt (quick dry best)
  • 2 t-shirts (at least 1 quick dry material but 1 cotton for camp is ok)
  • Extra socks (avoid that cotton!)
  • 1 pair shorts or bathing suit for swimming
  • 1 pair shorts while paddling or in camp (quick dry material)
  • 1 pair wettable shoes (no open-toed sandals for paddling unless a thick pair of wool or polyester socks are worn with the sandals. This is to avoid serious cuts which may occur from walking on shorelines covered with oysters and barnacles)
  • 1 pair dry shoes, sandals or rubber boots for camp
  • 1 personal water bottle
  • Personal effects (e.g.: toothbrush, toothpaste...)
  • Towel (preferably a quick dry pack towel vs. a big cotton towel)
  • Compact sleeping bag in a compression sack (if your compression sack is not waterproof, line the sack with a garbage bag and then re-stuff your sleeping bag). If you need to rent a sleeping bag, we have these available for a fee of $25, regardless of trip duration. Please book this in advance.
  • A positive attitude (absolutely essential)

Note: The above list is a general checklist used for all durations of trips and may need to be adjusted for shorter duration (eg: 2-3 days) or longer duration (eg: 7+ days) trips. In our experience, longer duration trips don’t necessarily require much more clothing than shorter duration trips. Guests on longer trips may choose to bring an extra pair of pants, shirt, shorts & socks/underwear – all preferably quick dry material. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

You may consider these extras

  • Cotton gloves or bike gloves for blister protection
  • Toque (wool hat)
  • Pillow case cover (stuffed with a fleece jacket it makes a decent pillow)
  • Camera
  • Insect repellant
  • Book
  • Fishing license and fishing gear
  • Camp chair (e.g.: Crazy Creek or converter chair for a Standard Thermarest)
  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Tent - if you have one that is lightweight and would prefer to use
  • Beer, wine or spirits (please keep this to a minimum)

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What We Provide

  • All meals and snacks
  • Lunch is provided on the first and last days
    • Due to the difficulty of providing great food in remote areas, we may not be able to adjust our menu to accommodate special requests or serious allergies. Having said that, we will do our best to provide food that is enjoyable and meets individual needs. This may include asking a guest to augment a particular meal with their own dietary option, or, to add a small up-charge in order for PR Sea Kayak to purchase unique food items. At any rate, we are keen to work with each guest to ensure a safe, easy and enjoyable experience all-around, including the food.
    • Please note: Gluten-free and Dairy-free options are available for an additional 5% of the tour price.
    • Please be sure to complete the medical form and return this as soon as possible. This form includes dietary information and is used by PR Sea Kayak management and guides to plan and prepare food accordingly.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Tents (3 season, waterproof with vestibules, single and double)
  • Thermarest Sleeping Pads (full-length, standard size)
  • All sea kayaking equipment
  • Dry bags
    • 1 x 20 litre tapered dry bag that fits into the unique shape of the bow or stern of a kayak. This helps for efficient packing.
    • 1 x 10 litre cockpit bag is intended for items you need while paddling but also need to be kept secure and dry.
  • First-aid equipment
  • All cooking equipment and utensils
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Waterproof paddling jackets (if needed)
  • Soap for washing
  • And a guide...with a smile

Do not bring the following

  • Hand or hair soap (unless safe for environment - PRSK provides environmentally friendly products on tour)
  • Pillow (hint: a pillow case works great when stuffed with a fleece jacket)
  • Toilet paper (PRSK provides this essential item!)

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Fishing in Desolation Sound

Some of our guests  are interested in opportunities for fishing in Desolation Sound. Over the years we have had many avid guests and guides who have incorporated fishing into their Desolation Sound experience, however there are certain restrictions and considerations that need to be taken into account before you drop a line over the edge of your kayak. 

Please click through to our Fishing in Desolation Sound page and thoroughly read through this information before you plan to go fishing on your Desolation Sound kayak vacation.

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Post Tour Information

Feedback and Testimonials

We truly hope you have a wonderful kayaking experience. From the high-end kayaks and equipment to the great food and attention to detail, we truly strive to provide a great product. If there is something we can improve upon – please let us know. We’re not perfect, but we want to keep improving.

Share with the World!

After your tour you may feel inspired to share your wonderful experience with others – and we greatly appreciate this! It is often through reading positive comments and testimonials that people book with us. Here are some great ways to share your experience with others:

Travel Websites:

Guide Tipping

No, this isn’t when you paddle up to your guide and flip his or her kayak over… We included information about tipping because some of our guests suggested we should. Questions that came-up were:

  • Is tipping common?
  • Is tipping expected?
  • How much should I tip?

Guests are often quite amazed at how hard the guides work to make each person feel safe, comfortable and special. Most guests feel compelled to show their appreciation through tipping. Part of guiding involves establishing relationships – and thus a hug or meaningful handshake means a lot to the guides. However, as professionals making their living in this manner, tips become an important part of their income. The amount a guest tips often depends on budget as well as the emotion tied to the job the guide did on tour.

Tipping a guide is not unlike tipping a server in a restaurant. However, you will find your guide(s) works much harder than any restaurant server – not only while leading the tour but also over 3 meals a day as chef, server and dishwasher. Tip amounts typically range between 5% and 15%. Tips are 100% for the guides.

Please note that Powell River Sea Kayak is unable to put tips onto credit cards. We recommend having enough cash on hand after a trip to cover this, however we have found that e-transfers, PayPal transfers and even a simple check works perfectly as well.

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Connect With Us 

For updates, photos, trip reports and general information about life at Powell River Sea Kayak and Desolation Cabana Eco-Resort, consider connecting with us on the following forms of social media:

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    Exercises

    If you’re interested in tuning-up a few of the muscles commonly used while kayaking, here are a few good examples of exercises that really help.

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    Cancellation Policy

    Cancelling a trip is the last thing one thinks about when planning a vacation. However, circumstances can and do occur that result in an unplanned need to cancel. Although we have empathy for events that may result in needing to cancel, we operate during a very short season and with a very limited number of tours each year, and this policy is in effect under all circumstances.

    When traveling, it is only prudent to ensure you are appropriately insured for all eventualities.  All our guests are prompted to look into trip cancellation insurance through a travel agent or your insurance provider. Another good way to ensure you are covered for any unforeseen circumstances is through your credit card company. Check whether your credit card has the option to include travel insurance for all cancellations if you use the card to pay for your trip. 

    If you need to cancel, please understand our cancellation policy belowThank you for your understanding.

    The following states our cancellation policy. If you need to cancel:

    • More than 60 days before the start date of the tour --- Full deposit returned less a $50 handling fee per person cancelled.
    • 60 days or less before the start date of the tour --- Deposit will be retained.

    We will naturally endeavour to find replacement guests to fill your position, but please understand that unless all spots are eventually filled a cancellation during such a short season has significant financial consequences on a local, family-run business. However, if all the spots on the tour are eventually filled after your cancellation, we will happily charge just the handling fee above.

    Insurance

    Be sure your personal insurance is adequate to cover expenses caused by accidents in remote locations. Any costs arising from an unscheduled evacuation will be the responsibility of the client.

    Weather and Environmental Considerations

    Summer in coastal British Columbia is generally a time of relatively clear skies and light winds. However, it is important for our guests to understand that at any time of year Desolation Sound and its surrounding waterways can experience extended periods of rain, high winds that can make sea kayaking dangerous for multiple days at a time, and in recent years periods of smoke in the atmosphere that reduces visibility and air quality for undetermined periods of time.

    Please note that Powell River Sea Kayak Ltd. is not to be held responsible for any environmental factors that may cause a tour or portion thereof to be cancelled due to safety concerns, or any perceived reductions in quality of a tour due to rain, wind, smoke, fog, cold, heat, or any other environmental phenomenon during the tour.

    Experience

    We welcome all levels of paddlers and are happy to work on your paddling skills throughout the trip. Although experience in not necessary, we do recommend people who have never been kayaking before take an introductory lesson prior to the trip. This will help ensure a safe and efficient journey. Powell River Sea Kayak Ltd. offers a 4 hour introductory lesson. Please arrange at the time of booking or contact a kayak operator in your area.

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