Prevost Island

This trip log is a little late in getting posted, but Tim and Dave and I had a great paddle around Prevost Island a couple of weeks ago, and I didn’t want to let any more time slip away before I posted about it.

As is often the case, we put in at Thieves Bay on North Pender Island, but instead of taking Prevostour usual route west to Portland, Moresby, or Rum Islands, we took a more northerly route to Prevost instead. We have often talked about doing a trip around Prevost. It seems so close to Pender, but with the heavy ferry traffic, time and circumstances have never favoured it. This time, the universe aligned, and the three of us headed off.


Prevost Island with the hills of Galiano Island in the background on the right.

I hadn’t been to Prevost Island since I was a teenager. Back then, the island was a large family farm owned by the descendants of Digby de Burgh, an Irish nobleman who bought the island in the 1920’s.  I had a friend who worked on the farm for awhile in the late 70’s, and a few of us used to boat over from Ganges on SaltSpring Island to visit him. It wasn’t like what we think of privately-owned islands today: expensive, reclusive get-a-ways, complete with generators and security systems for the wealthy who only visit them twice a year. The de Burghs may have come from nobility, but they were real farmers who toughed it out, decade after decade with very few modern conveniences, and probably lived a very healthy life as a result.

The trip over to Prevost got a bit choppy on us, but only a little. The big bonus for the day was that one of the major ferries that travel between the mainland and Vancouver Island had developed a problem and wasn’t sailing. For us this meant we didn’t have to be quite so exact with the timing of our crossing of Swanson Channel.

Prevost-3It didn’t seem to take very long before we were approaching the high cliffs of Prevost’s south shore. As a kid, my father and I spent a lot of time fishing in these waters, and the views certainly brought back a lot of good memories.

Prevost-4Prevost-7Prevost-8There are a number of smaller islands along the south shore of Prevost including one called Secret Island. Judging by the number of docks and homes on this tiny island, I would say the secret was out!

Prevost-10Prevost-12Prevost-13Prevost-14We had a little ways to go yet before we put into shore for lunch. Our main destination was James Bay, on the opposite corner of the island from where we first arrived. Along the way, we passed Annette Inlet, probably one of the most popular anchorages in the area for boaters. As usual, we passed beautiful Gulf Island scenery.

Prevost-15When we did arrive at James Bay, the small part of Prevost Island that is now part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve, we found it to be more rustic than other parks in the reserve that we’ve visited. We had no intention of camping, but even if we had, we would have had a difficult time figuring out where to set up. Unlike other camping areas we’ve visited, the individual sites were on sloping terrain and very poorly identified as camp sites. The park itself is lovely and worth visiting and worth camping on, but if you intend to go there, you might have to be creative about where you pitch your tent. Below is a shot of the small pebble and sand beach where we landed.

Prevost-18The first thing we did after ungluing  our creaking bones from our kayaks, was to sit down and have lunch. As we ate, we noticed a mink hopping around the rocks not far from where we sat. Mink are usually very timid animals, so we never expected it to get any closer. But suddenly, the mink gave up on foraging for food along the shore line and came running toward us. It’s the first mink I’ve ever come across that didn’t seem at all concerned about humans. It only halted in its progress long enough to give us a good look-over, then hightailed it on its way.

Prevost-6Prevost-17After we finished our lunch, we went for a short hike around the area. Most of what you see is an old orchard. The whole area is slowly being returned to the forest, but the ancient apple trees are still producing well, and in some cases the branches were laden with apples that will likely just fall to the ground.

Prevost-22Prevost-21Prevost-24After the orchard, we continued our hike through the forest and along the shoreline.

Prevost-25Prevost-26Prevost-27We had to keep an eye on the time to some degree, mostly to catch a current that would send us home in reasonable time (thanks, as usual, to Tim’s skill at reading the current tables). But such a long trip home deserves a stop at the local facilities. Thankfully, the composting toilet had been finished before the Federal Government had chopped funding for such services, like others we’ve come across in the park system.

Prevost-19Soon we were on our way again. This time, we would slide along the north shore of Prevost, taking advantage of the ebbing tide. Sometimes these plans don’t work out the way you would hope, but in this case, Tim was right on the money, and soon we were making great time with very little effort. It seemed like we had barely been on the water more than a short while when we came across our point of departure from Prevost. The southeast point of Prevost is also part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve, and comes complete with a handsome lighthouse known as Portlock Point Lighthouse. We didn’t put in here because we were again having to plan our crossing of Swanson Chanel to avoid the bigger ferries. But I include two pictures of Portlock Point, one of the lighthouse, and one of Richardson Bay just beside the light, a favourite anchorage of friends of mine who sail throughout these waters in the summer.

Prevost-30Prevost-31But as I was saying, we had to make sure we planned our crossing of Swanson so we didn’t encounter any of the big boats. As it happened, the Coastal Celebration passed us just as we were at Portlock Point, so we tucked in behind it and carried on back to Pender. The current was good all the way, so we were back at Thieves Bay in no time.

Prevost-32Prevost-33It was a good paddle, and it was also nice to finally get to Prevost. And, for a bonus, we were met on shore by a young family. Admittedly, they didn’t stick around and ask questions, but not everyone is interested in kayaking.


About gregorychankins

I am a writer, volunteer fire fighter and avid kayaker. I live in Canada’s Southern Gulf Islands with my wife Susan and our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Charlie.
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10 Responses to Prevost Island

  1. David Morton says:

    Greg, Jennifer and I have been to Secret Island many times, as we have friends that have a long-time cottage, there. … there are 42 or 43 properties, I think. It’s a beautiful place, but of course, there are no services there, so you have to be pretty hearty if you want to set up a cottage on the island!

    • Hi David. We used to go over to Secret Island back in the 70’s, but I don’t remember it being quite to crowded. I love the house at the south tip of the island, but I bet it gets hit pretty hard in the winter by the Southeasters.

  2. Deb says:

    Love the mink and lighthouse shots, and the one with the kayak and the ferry in it. So are you making a return voyage to pick apples in the fall? Great post!

    • Hi Deb. That lighthouse is just so picturesque. I would like to get over there just to wonder around Portlock point and out to the light. As for picking apples, it looks pretty abundant, but not sure if we’ll be doing a return trip to Prevost this year. Someone with a fast boat could certainly load up.

  3. Beautiful pictures!

  4. Amy says:

    Wonderful adventure! Cool photos!

  5. What a great place to be.. Love the solitude and beauty of this place. I have never experienced a place such as this but would love to live in that wooden cottage :-)
    Much enjoyed this Greg!

    • Hi Lynne. Yes, I must admit I quite like that wooden house as well. I love the sea so much I would be in heaven perched on the rocks like that. Might he a different story in winter when the winds are at storm force and coming right at you. But still beautiful.

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