Looking for Answers?
Take a bit of time and go through some of the most common questions in regards to kayaking and travelling our beautiful British Columbia coastline.
WHAT IS INCLUDED? WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?
There are no additional costs once on our tour. On our guided tours we supply everything that you will need for kayaking and camping except for a few personal items such as a sleeping bag and rain gear (these can be rented if needed), your clothes and toiletries. We are happy to pick you up free of charge from your accommodation on Quadra Island on the morning the trip starts and we will drop you off there when the tour is finished. All other transportation, food, gear, etc, while on trip is included in the cost of the tour. Once the tour begins we provide all meals and non-alcoholic beverages (wide selection of teas, coffee, juices, hot chocolate) from morning snack on day one to lunch on the last day. You are welcome to bring your favourite wine, beer or pop, but this is not included in the tour price. There is a grocery and liquor store very close to the location of the pre-trip meeting if you would like to pick up extra beverages on the evening before the tour.
HOW MUCH KAYAKING EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED TO JOIN THIS TRIP?
No experience is required for this kayak tour! Our adventure is 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.
DO I NEED TO BE IN GREAT SHAPE FOR THIS TRIP?
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 and are comfortable with the uneven ground in a wilderness environment. 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.
ARE THERE ANY AGE REQUIREMENTS?
Spirit of the West caters to all ages of adventurers. Although we do prefer a minimum of 12 years for our multi-day tours, we like to assess each case individually. Those concerned with being in ‘their older years’ are welcomed to contact us to discuss their physical abilities.
HOW MUCH PADDLING IS GENERALLY DONE IN A DAY?
Paddling time will vary depending on our destination and the group’s abilities and desires. Generally we travel between 3-5 hours a day, not including breaks and lunch.
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.
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 capsize or change of route plan.
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. In the Johnstone Strait area, the weather will generally be cooler than what you may see on the forecast for Campbell River – sometimes by as much as 10 degrees. Fog is very common on summer mornings, however this nearly always clears at midday to make way for clear skies and sun. Although it is uncommon, it can rain in the summer. A good rule of thumb is to be prepared for any type of weather and you will stay comfortable. Layering is the key, and it allows you to put on or take off layers while on the water if you need to.
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 run-off from the mountains, ocean currents, tiderips, eddies and upwelling these waters are among the most productive on earth. From the rich marine life of colourful 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.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SEEING KILLER WHALES? HOW CLOSE DO WE PADDLE TO THE ORCAS?
On our tours to Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound, 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 from your kayak while traveling on our water taxi or from a 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 in accordance with industry whale watching regulations we do not approach killer whales (orcas) within 200 meters. This is out of respect for the whales’ space and to ensure that we do not interfere with their natural behaviour.
WHAT IS THE CAMP SET UP LIKE?
On the expedition-style trips all of our campsites are in wilderness settings, and shelter is provided by the tents and tarps we carry with us. We seek out sites with beautiful surroundings and those that offer solitude; these are all undeveloped and may be clearings in the forest or space on the beach. There may be times (on occasion) when we are camping next to another group of kayakers. Campsite choice will be based on weather conditions, route choice and group size and preference.
Our permanent camp in Johnstone Strait, while in a wilderness setting, offers some amenities to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Our driftwood-style kitchen and sitting area are the hub of our camp and are sheltered from rain and sun. Large, dome-style tents are set up on wooden tent platforms and are equipped with thick thermarest-style mattresses and pillows. Spare blankets are also available. Our wood-fired hot tub is perfect for soaking tired muscles after a day of paddling and the on-demand hot water shower has one of the best views in the world.
WHERE DO WE WASH AND ARE THERE TOILETS?
There is very little fresh water to be found on the small islands through which we travel. Therefore, seawater is your best bet for washing up. Please use biodegradable, environmentally friendly soap brands. Toilet facilities are not common in most wilderness settings, although some areas may have pit toilets. We also carry a portable toilet system. Your guide will generally designate an area or system that works for ensuring your privacy. We are very accustomed to making sure all of our guests feel as comfortable and informed as possible in this regard – please feel free to ask us any questions you might have, before or during your tour.
At our basecamp trips we have established and comfortable outhouses, and at the Johnstone Strait Ultimate an on-demand freshwater hot shower is available.
Please be sure to contact us with any questions at all, before or during your trip – your comfort is important to us.
WHERE CAN I LEAVE LUGGAGE THAT I WON’T NEED ON TRIP?
If you are staying on Quadra Island, many of the B&Bs offer free luggage storage – simply check with your host. Alternatively, guests staying on either Quadra Island or in Campbell River have the option of storing excess luggage at our office. Please ensure that your luggage is clearly labelled with your name, tour and trip date, and leave it with us on the first day of your tour for return to our office.
WHERE CAN I LEAVE MY VEHICLE WHILE ON TOUR?
Free parking will be available on Quadra Island for your vehicle while on tour with us. Many of the accommodations on Quadra Island also have free parking included with your stay. Parking is also available at Telegraph Cove for a daily fee. Parking details will be discussed further at the pre-trip meeting.
IF I WOULD LIKE TO TIP THE GUIDES, WHAT IS THE INDUSTRY STANDARD?
If you would like to express your appreciation to the guides through a gratuity, such recognition would be enthusiastically received. The industry standard for tipping is approximately 10% per person of the trip cost. All tips received will be collected and disbursed amongst your guides & basecrew by the trip leader.