Seasonal Information: What time of year do people usually sail there, What are the average dominant wind conditions, Typical sail size range in square meters used by the average size guy in average wind conditions
Accessibility: Parking, Rigging, and Launching
Wind Reference Station(s): The name(s) of the relevant wind data station(s) that you can check for wind data information
Hazards: Identifies pertinent hazards such as shorbreak, debris, cold water, submerged hazards etc. Know your substrate!
Amenities: Lists facilities available, if any such as food, camping, toilets etc.
Wildlife: Lists common wildlife
Other: General comments or other pertinent information
Vancouver Island, west of Vancouver Mainland, is a treasure trove of friendly windsurfing sites for all levels of boardheads.
The Island is accessed from the mainland by B.C. Ferries from either Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay. The Tsawwassen Ferries land near either Victoria or Nanaimo on the Island and the Horseshoe Bay Ferry lands at Nanaimo on the Island.
Details regarding B.C. Ferry Sailing times and fare rates can be obtained from the B.C. Ferries Web Site.
You can drive your car or RV directly onto the Ferry and enjoy a spectacular ocean voyage through the Islands. The voyage takes 1.5 to 2.0 hours. You can dine in or relax on one of the rooftop sundecks while taking in the spectacular scenery during the voyage.
Sewage outfall, primary treatment only (that means almost raw sewage)
Windsurfers, surfers, and kite surfers should write the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, to protest our current provincial sewage regulations, which are the worst in Canada. They must be changed, and they will only change if the public starts writing letters. We must request tertiary treatment with closed loop treatment facilities. Sewage outfalls hurt people, marine life, fish, whales, etc etc etc. Visit Our No Outfall in Sooke Website for more information.
Location: Vancover Island South, Western Communities, near Royal Roads University, just off Sooke Road (Highway 14), about 15 minutes from downtown Victoria
Skill: Beginner on the Lagoon side and Intermediate on the Ocean side
Seasonal Information: Summer thermals are generally onshore or sideshore, W and SW, usually 15 - 25 knots, up to 30 - 35 knots on a really good day, Sails - 4.0 to 5.5, Ocean chop, Usually good in the evening 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the summer
Access:Park on Ocean Boulevard, rig on nice long sandy beach, launch from either ocean side (more advanced) or Esquimalt Lagoon side (more protected)
Wind Reference Station(s): Esquimalt, Sheringham Point and Race Rocks. Best web site to check is Big Wave Dave, which has a wind predictor for this area.
Hazards: Very cold water, no excessive debris
Amenities: Lots of space for a picnic, no real amenities
Location: Vancouver Island South, Western Communities. About ten minutes northwest of Sooke on Highway 14, just past Otter Point. Look for a long stretch of houses and ocean views on the highway. There are three beach access points. Gordons Beach is just before Tugwell Creek.
Location: Vancouver Island South, Western Communities. About one hour from Victoria, west on Highway 14.
Seasonal Information: Summer thermals, usually windiest in August late in the day, W-NW, 15-25 knots, Sails 3.5 - 5.5, wave and chop, shorebreak.
Access: Nice Park, Parking, grassing rigging area, sandy beach, easy access
Wind Reference Station(s): Sheringham Point and Race Rocks. Best web site to check is Big Wave Dave, which has a wind predictor for this area.
Hazards: Very cold water, some large woody debris from logging, ocean shorebreak, share with other users such as surfers, kiteboarders and kayakers
Amenities: Nice Park Area; Camping: Used to be free RV and tent camping on site, but now I think that they are charging $14 or $15 (Cdn) per night; Toilets; Food - (Shakies Burger Bar and the Breakers Restaurant)
Food: Check out Shakies Burger Bar; the surfer cookies are the best!
Wildlife:seals, river otters, orca whales, sea birds
Environmental: Jordan River is a river estuary that has been dammed by BC Hydro. A horn blast is sounded for periodic 'dam' water releases. BC Hydro recently completed the Jordan River Water Use Plan.
Location: Vancouver Island South, Western Communities. About fifteen minutes northwest of Sooke on Highway 14, past Gordons Beach, and just after Tugwell Creek, just before Shirley.
Skill: Nice spot for beginner surfers, intermediate windsurfers, kitesurfers
Seasonal Information: Summer thermals, similar to Tugwell Creek, Wind W-NW 15-30 knots, Sails 4.5 - 5.0, wave and chop with shorebreak
Access: Pullout northwest of bridge, with small parking lot and concrete barriers; A bit of a trek from the parking lot to the estuary to pack your gear; Rig in grassy glade; Launch - long shallow sand and pebble beach with ocean surf
Kiting:Could be a nice launching alternative to Gordons or Tugwell for kiting.
Wind Reference Station(s): Sheringham Point and Race Rocks. Best web site to check is Big Wave Dave, which has a wind predictor for this area.
Hazards: Very cold water, booties recommended
Amenities: Nothing formal. Large grassy area, very nice beach, nice day spot for picnics, walking the dog on an endless pebble beach, tide pools; Camping: No formal camping site, but folks sometimes pack in their gear to the grass glade or park their RV in the parking lotinformal camping; Food: Visit the Country Cupboard Restaurant in Shirley, about 5 minutes north of Muir Creek for an excellent quiet lunch or dinner
Location: Vancouver Island North: about 300 km north of Nanaimo near Port McNeil. Off the highway at a small, open, logging campsite, frequented
by a small group of very dedicated locals and any number of visitors that
choose to make the long and weary haul (good highway). Access to the
water is limited to a small central area and a couple of other jump-in
Seasonal Information: Summer thermals, NW, Can be very windy, 4.0 - 5.0, but not as reliable as Nitinat, Lake chop with some waves up the lake
Access: Bit of a wind shadow to get through before reaching full wind exposure.
Wind Reference Station(s): Check marine weather and wind reports for Johnstone Strait
Amenities: Camping. Very casual. Friendly, with families.
Photos of shredding at Nitinat 2001 on a typical classic 3.5 to 4.0 kind of day are from the Crickmer Family! Thanks! Shred On!
Location: Vancouver Island Central, about 2.5 hours from Victoria or Vancouver plus BC Ferry time. Total of about 1 hour of logging roads past Youbo/Cowichan Lake, W of Duncan. Step One: Get to Vancouver Island and head for Duncan, which is south of Nanaimo and North of Victoria. Step Two: Head West to Youbou. Be sure to drive on the North side of Lake Cowichan and not on the south side. Drive straight through and past Youbou. Step Three: You will be heading (sort of) East and South on gravel logging roads to the Ninitat Lake Band Reservation and Campground. The windsurfing/kitsurfing campground is past the Indian Reservation and not far from the general store. You can stop at the local grocery store for more detailed directions. Have fun:)
Skill: Beginner to Intermediate
Seasonal Information: Light to strong summer thermal winds winds. Sunny days are usually reliable 15 - 25 knots/4.5 - 5.5 (average size male with course/slalom board - anywhere from 8'6" to 9'6"), with winds consistently moving up the lake off the ocean around 11 a.m. (it is remarkable to see the white caps approaching while the remainder of the lake lies calmly awaiting to be awakened!), blowing solidly until around 6 p.m., W-NW (side, side onshore), April through September (well over 100 superb sailing days per year). Lake chop conditions, with waves upwind towards the ocean.
Access: Very long and fairly wide pebble beach provides lots of access to the lake once you get yourself out of the woods.
Amenities:Camping: The campground (started by Mac-Blo and popular with fishing people) is a very popular isolated spot amongst a wonderful forest of large trees and enormous stumps. A narrow road winds through a small area of camp sites that has gradually expanded over recent years to contain a large number of travelling
windsurfers (Victoria Area, Vancouver/Lower Mainland Area, Squamish
/Whistler Area, Other parts of BC, Other parts of Canada, Northwestern
U.S.). No amenities (bring your own food, water, etc.), but recently the
neighbouring Native community built a gas station/food store with hot
showers. Generally very casual (leave your stuff rigged on the beach all
the while you're there); very friendly (lots of socializing amongst
"neighbours"; even with many of the locals/regulars), some families;
some weekends can be loud. Toilets. Sauna on the beach. Due to increasing popularity of this sailing site it is hard to get a good camping site during peak periods such as during events and on weekends. There is a day launch area available.
Wildlife: Bear, cougar, racoons, small mammals, salmon, gigantic jellyfish in late fall, water birds
Lots of alternative activities with the hiking
trails and big trees of the Carmanah Valley not far away (through
some gruesome slash'n burn sites), mountain biking options, nearby walks,
early morning waterline exploration options (bring your own watercraft
- canoe, kayak, etc.), and of course, for those who are so inclined,
Popular place for learning kite boarding.
An annual event has been running for several years now,
called "WIRED" (Windsurfing Instruction, Racing, Equipment Demos), which
draws something like 250 people (so I've heard). Huge success!
Location: Vancouver Island Central near Nanaimo, just north of Departure Bay.
Seasonal Information:Summer thermals, NW
Access: Free parking, ?
Wind Reference Station(s): Check Ballenas, Sands Heads, Sisters Islands, Entrance Island, Merry Island
Amenities: Small provincial park. ?
Wildlife: Fish, oysters, ?
Compliments of Sue! Thanks Sue!
A natural inlet and perfect place to have a picnic. You can park for free and walk along the path which divides the lagoon from the Straights of Georgia. The walk leads to a small Provincial park which is easy to walk around providing you are able bodied. The lagoon at low tide is flat and muddy. The entrance to the lagoon is a seabed of oyster shells surrounded by fishing shacks on rock outcrops. The scenery is very beautiful with Vancouver's mountains in the distance and it is an ideal place to launch your kayak or canoe.
Location: Vancouver Island South, Western Communities. About 15 minutes northwest of Sooke on Highway 14 just past Gordons Beach. There is a small cluster of houses just before (south) of the creek bridge. There is a turn around pullout just past the bridge. Drive over the bridge, turn around, and come back on the west side of the highway.
Skill: Intermediate to Advanced. Extremely challenging on a windy day.
Seasonal Information: Summer thermals, Winds N-NW 15-30 knots, Sails - 3.5 to 5.5, Wave chop, swells, and ocean shorebreak
Access: Park on the west side of the highway. Look for a large wooden board fence, about seven houses from the creek bridge and a very crooked hydro pole.
Small rigging area on the grass. Pebble beach launch.
Hazards: Very cold water, booties recommended, very little large woody debris, large bull kelp fields (not really a hazard but more of a nuisance), wind conditions can change very fast up or down
Wildlife: River estuary in ocean bay. Seals, river otters, sea lions, orca whales, sea birds, salmon.
Kiting: Not a good spot for learning kite boarding! Consider driving another five minutes west up the highway to Muir Creek, West side of the bridge, for kiting.
Due to the increased popularity of kiting, and understandably so, we are seeing a lot more days where there are both windsurfers and kiters at this launch site, and accidents happen. Play safe. Here are a few suggestions from Joe for kiting out at Tugwell, that is if you are not launching from "Chez Martin & Marions" or Muir Creek.
Always, always, use a safety release system!!!!! Get an Ocean Rodeo punch-out, or some other system.
If launching in an unfamiliar location, ask around (other kiters OR windsurfers) about conditions, hazards etc.
Wear a helmet!
Pay attention to the wind conditions. Spend some time watching. If the wind looks and feels volatile, maybe unpredictable.....it probably is.
At Gordons, launch up by Tugwell Creek where there is more room and a better angle.
At Gordons, keep your kite over the water. Do not bring it over the beach, cabins or trees.
Bring your kite up SLOWLY.
If things go wrong upon launch and you are overpowered, let go of your kite!
Do not launch hooked-in (I know some will disagree with this rule under certain circumstances but it could save you)
Some revised info in from Shredder Markus! Thanks!
Location: Downtown Victoria near Oak Bay, Similar to Island View, but a bit less extreme. Small protected bay with rocky outcrops.
Skill: Intermediate, also a great learning site...my kind of place!
Seasonal Information: Spring, Fall, Winter sailing with S and SE Winds. Good winter day 3.5-4.0 not unusual. Winds are generally higher toward cattle point or 50M distance away from beach, with great waves developing at times depending on tide, avoid hero-jybing in front of the Cattle point launch for the parked tourists unless you want to become splattered if you blow something....also baaaad reef running a ways out (50-70 M) from the 1st launch on the E side
Access: Nice park, parking lot, beautiful grassy area, nice sand and and small pebble beach for launching
Lauch:Just below the teahouse or slightly west of parking lot is good; can be tough water entry due to directly onshore break if S, walk 100M toward the marina bay from parking lot and look for flat reef area (watch the reef and pipe on entry); stay away from beach after launch, in particular the "beach hole" starting at playground and E along the beach as wind lifts off, causing you to be under and can get swept ashore into the break
Wind Reference Station(s): Check Discovery Island, Kelp Reef, Saturna Island, Smith Island, and Trial Island
Watch out for the "fin eater", the small submerged outfall, at the end of the beach;
Watch out for the "snaggers", three or four low tide walls that run out into the water (not usually a problem during high tide);
Watch out for the "ankle breakers", small debris and rolling logs, when launching;
In spring, watch out the "wind eaters", the small yachts, dingy racers, and wonky spinakers, in your windline;
Watch out for the "toe biters", the crab pot buoys and lines;
Bull Kelp is rare except during high wind events;
And, last but not least, watch out for dog s_ _ t on the grass and walkway, and unleashed dogs running over your gear. You know the type.....
Driftwood can be a problem, in particular on wind change from SE to S or on
first day of storm, getting progressively better after that;
Tidal change has a high impact on the wave size/sets and chop hard (worst after and E of Cattle point) on slalom gear on high wind days;
Amenities: Great parking, Great people, Sandy beach makes barefooting okay (one of the few areas); Rigging: best behind the Kiwanis Club Teahouse (nobody in their right mind rigs on the grass because it is often too windy there), Water fountain (new and appreciated) at the Tea house, which serves hot drinks and basic food if open in the fall and spring, but is closed in winter; Snack bar and toilets.
Wildlife: People, pets, tourists, children...
Great safe learning spot for high winds and waves: you just get swept into the relative safety of the sandy beach where several waiting spectators and Good Samaritans will drag your sorry butt out of the water if necessary...
Secure your gear: Swirling wind off the beach once hitting trees, cars and buildings make all gear airborne easily!! Sails are regularly peeled off adjacent trees and cars - proper laydown position doesn't always work!! Carry your board to the beach first, then your sail on higher wind days, 5.0 or better (not the other way around unless you secure the sail!!!) railings, swirling wind due to beachwalkway and beach drop make it difficult to carry both without striking something on way in or out.