Q - How much kayaking experience is required to join one of the trips?
No experience is required for our kayak tours! Our adventures are for everyone. Our trips are designed to cater to all levels of experience and abilities. The majority of people who join our tours are first time kayakers. All that we ask is that you welcome adventure with an open mind and are able to laugh and have fun when encountering the unexpected.
Q - Do I need to be in great shape to join one of the trips?
No. Our adventures are not considered to be strenuous or physically demanding, and we do not require a high level of fitness. We just ask that you are capable of a few hours of moderate exercise each day. Keep in mind that good general health will go a long way if we happen to encounter some strong winds or time restrictions. Most important is an adventurous spirit.
Q - Are there any age requirements?
Spirit of the West caters to all ages of adventurers - people from ages 5 to 85 have been comfortable at our base camp. Although we do not have any age restrictions on our day tours we do prefer minimum of 12 years for our multiday tours. Those concerned with being in ‘their older years’ please contact us to discuss their physical abilities.
Q - How much paddling is generally done in a day?
Paddling time will vary depending on our destination, the group's abilities, and group desires. Generally expect to be on the water between 3-5 hours a day. In our day's activities we also like to incorporate some hiking, swimming, beachcombing and of course leisure/lounging time.
Q - How stable are the kayaks? What is the likelihood of flipping over?
The kayaks we use on our tours are stable and designed for comfort. For those a little concerned, the double kayaks are slightly more stable than the singles. The likelihood of a capsize is minimal, and generally only occurs in an uncommon situation.
Q - What happens if my kayak flips over?
If for some reason your kayak flips over, all of our guides have ample practice time on the water with rescue procedures in order to quickly and efficiently get you back in your boat. At this point we will take you to the nearest shore to change into some warm cozy clothing and carry on with our journey. While we are out on the water, it is of the utmost importance that the group sticks together in the event of a capsize or change of route plan.
Q - What if the weather turns bad? Will I be comfortable and warm?
Our weather in the Pacific Northwest is generally pleasant from May through until the end of September. The temperature will vary slightly depending on which area you visit. For example if you visit Desolation Sound or the Discovery Islands it is not uncommon in mid summer to savor a swim in the refreshing waters in order to cool off. Johnstone Strait or Nootka Sound/Nuchatlitz, being a little further north and more exposed to weather, will have cooler temperatures. Although it is uncommon, it can rain in the summer. A rule of thumb is to be prepared for any type of weather and you will stay comfortable. Layering is the key, for at any time if you need to adjust your temperature while on the water, you simply adjust a layer.
Q - What sort of wildlife might we see on the tour?
The diversity and abundance of wildlife in the Pacific Northwest is one of our privileges. With river runoff from the mountains, ocean currents, tide rips, eddies and upwellings these waters are among the most productive on earth. From the rich marine life of colorful plants and invertebrates, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, mink, otter, seals, sea lions, dolphins, and whales, to the land animals of deer, raccoons, cougars, wolves and bears, we are bound to see something. For those with an eye for eagles take note that they are most prominent in the earlier months before the salmon migration in the late summer/early fall. Depending on which tour you take, some areas offer more wildlife opportunities than others. Inquire if you would like to know what sort of wildlife you might see on your tour.
Q - What are the chances of seeing Killer Whales? How close do we paddle to the Orca Whales?
On our tours to Johnstone Strait and Mothership tours we stand a high chance of seeing the whales. Understandably we cannot guarantee what nature will dictate, but we can tell you that this area has one of the highest concentrations of Killer Whales on earth and this is where they spend their summer holiday. It is very likely that you will see them, whether it be within reach from your kayak, while traveling on our water taxi or our beach camp on the shore. Hearing the blow of a whale even from a mile across the Strait will create a sensation of excitement. Note that regulations say that we must not paddle within 100 meters of the whales—this is out of respect for their space. However, if they decide to approach us, we may find ourselves within arms reach.
Q - What is the camp setup like?
All of our campsites are in wilderness settings. We seek out sites with beautiful surroundings and those that offer solitude. There may be times (on occasion) when we are camping next to another group of kayakers. Where possible we choose camps near fresh water streams. On our Johnstone Strait Ultimate tours, although our base camp is wilderness camping, it is set up slightly more upscale than on the nomadic tours, with tent platforms, larger tents, an established outhouse, sitting area, and shelter.
Q - Where do we wash? Are there toilets?
For those wanting to wash up, you have the option of using small streams, the ocean, or one of the fresh water lakes that we may visit. For washing in the lakes we do not suggest using any cleansing agents, but your guide can recommend the most appropriate method of using biodegradable environmentally friendly brands. Toilet facilities are not common in most wilderness settings, although some areas may have pit toilets, and we often carry a portable toilet. On our Johnstone Strait Ultimate tours we have an established outhouse that is well maintained. On other tours your guide will generally designate an area or system that works for ensuring your privacy. In your detailed info package we have some guidelines and suggestions for comfortably and correctly ‘doing your business in the outdoors’.