Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Sea kayaking from Sandpiper Beach to Norris Rocks on Hornby Island

by Keith and Heather Nicol 
Heather paddling past sandstone cliffs
We had been eyeing a trip to Hornby Island for some time and then in early September it all came together when brother Bruce and his wife Mary Ellen invited us to place they had rented for several days over the Labour Day long weekend. We were also joined by 2 of their kids- Ryan and Chelsea as well as Ryan’s girlfriend Ali. Rounding out our group of 8 was Terry Anderson who had just started sea kayaking. We mainly came to Hornby Island to sea kayak since according to the map there were lots of small islands just off shore and a reasonable number of launch points in various parts of the island. September 4 was sunny with light NW winds forecast and so we opted to put in at Sandpiper Beach Community Park (10 U 0380361E 5485031N). By paddling along the south shore we would be protected from stronger NW winds should they come up and plus we wanted to explore the rugged shore toward Heron Rocks and Norris Rocks which is just offshore. This launch point is best around high tide and even so we used a kayak trolley to reach the shore line from the parking lot. At lower tides you would face a longish carry back to the parking lot. 
There are lots of rocks and small islands to paddle around
  We launched off a gravel beach and then headed for Downes Point.  Near Downes Point we saw numerous gulls and some colourful Oystercatchers on the rocks. The shoreline here is particularly attractive and the pitted sandstone has been eroded into many artistic shapes. The bluffs of Mt Geoffrey Regional Nature Park come close to the water and in the distance you can see Denman Island and the Beaufort Range of Vancouver Island. From Heron Rocks we headed out to Norris Rocks and they were covered in seals.  Evidently Norris Rocks is also a good spot to see sea lions in the winter. After taking several photos of the seals we decided to return to our launch point to meet Ali and Ryan who also wanted to check out the sea kayaking in this area. Overall the trip was about 8.2 km and it took us 2 hours to make this trip. This route could easily be extended to include a trip to Ford Cove or if winds are light a paddle to Denman Island and Chrome Island Lighthouse could easily be done.
Lots of seals were hanging out on the rocks



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