Beyond the beaten paths and crowded anchorages of the Southern Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound, and the Broughton Archipelago lay some of the more unexplored areas of the British Columbia Coast.
If you are local to BC and plan to go paddle, sail, or motor this summer, I wholeheartedly encourage you to go beyond that little green anchorage symbol on Navionics, and get out to truly explore. If you aren’t local to BC, this can mean getting more adventurous wherever you spend your time on the water!
No matter where your off-the-beaten-path adventures will take you this summer, here are 5 tips from our personal practices for how to prepare yourself for time off-grid, out of bounds, and into the isolation of hardly-visited corners of nature.
1. Start With Safety
Going beyond the crowd also means being more remote, so prepare to be almost fully self-reliant. First things first, always make sure to have the proper safety equipment onboard. When it comes to flotation, our go-to’s are the HIT Hydrostatic Inflatable PFD’s for sailing and the Khimera Dual Floatation PFD’s for our paddling time.
- Have a well-equipped and up-to-date first aid kit on board, and a small one to carry into the bush.
- Carry bear spray—and know how to use it without ‘seasoning’ yourself—for your onshore adventures.
- Ensure you have a high-power VHF onboard the boat, and carry a portable radio when you go to shore.
2. Discover New Routes
With only a few extra days and a bit of extra time spent reviewing weather and charts, you can find some pretty amazing hidden gems to visit:
- Areas you may get entirely to yourselves where you can feel completely connected with nature and the wilderness
- Areas you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated
- “Secret spots” you can add to your repertoire of favourite places, and *maybe* share with your other close cruising friends.
ONE important reminder: make sure to leave these places just how you found them (or even better if you can!).
3. Stock Up
Depending on the time you can allot to explore new areas, consider carrying double the amount of food you would typically pack for a given period. Here’s how we do it: if we are planning to be away from civilization for a month, we usually carry about a two-month supply of food. We buy fresh produce in different stages of ripeness (and in season)—we can make fresh fruit last a month or more with proper storage, and veggies for almost two months. I have also been studying up and practicing some wilderness foraging over the last few years, which I’ll share about in a future episode.
(Heads up: it’s a best practice to not forage unless you’re incredibly confident in plant identification. Mis-identification can get you and your adventure-mates incredibly sick...or worse; not the safest experience when you’re far from civilization and medical support)
If you’re living aboard full time like we are, I recommend getting as much as you can in bulk; it is much cheaper and easier to store more food efficiently—just make sure to store it properly to avoid moisture or bug contamination. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker (like we are) I highly recommend buying this in bulk also. We order 5lb bags from www.larkcoffee.ca; each coffee is ethically sourced from small, community or family-owned farms and is packaged in heat sealed 3x biodegradable bags (note: they last about a year before beginning to breakdown). Ordering these 5lb bags has saved us hundreds of dollars a year on coffee and we can feel good about our cuppa, no matter what time of the day or night we need that jolt o’java.
4. Plan to Hydrate
Equally important is having a good water supply onboard. If you aren’t able to hold much water in your vessel’s tank, carry an extra blue jerry can for filling from the source and always boil it for at least 1 full minute whether the water looks clean or not. Boiling will kill any disease causing-organisms that have the potential to make you sick. If you’re on the water in BC, you will most likely find many fresh water sources as you travel. As backup, we also carry a SteriPEN (with a 4L bag) and a LifeStraw in case the situation gets exceptionally dire.
5. Get Power-full
Depending on how long you plan to be out, and what your setup is, make sure you have a way to make power if needed, and save power whenever possible. On board Akhlut, we have two 75w solar panels and one larger 150w panel as well as a wind generator. We also carry a small Honda generator in case we aren’t able to make enough power from our solar and wind capacity.
A kerosene lantern acts as our main light source after dark, and we try to keep our fridge use restricted to the warmest summer months. These small hacks help us save quite a bit of power.
I hope that reading this inspires you to try at least one new anchorage this summer. If you have any questions or want to share a story about your experience off the beaten path, I always love connecting with fellow water folk. Send me a message on IG!
Note: make sure you stay up to date with BC Parks closure due to the pandemic at https://bcparks.ca/covid-19/parks-affected/ . That being said, you’d be surprised how many places are actually open to explore by boat.
Words/ photos/ contact - Celeste Brooke-Landon
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