Skookumchuk – by boat!

Skookumchuk – by boat!
by Cindy Dalcourt, 7 Jan 2018.

On a rainy Sunday morning just before daylight, 20 naturalists gathered at the Saltery Bay marina to meet captains Bryce of Sunshine Coast Tours and John Dafoe, Coastwise Guide.

Dividing into two boats we made the half hour trip down Jervis Inlet while both captains shared their vast knowledge of the local area.  After stopping near Earls Cove to look at some first nations pictographs we proceeded towards Egmont where we entered the Skookumchuk Narrows (strong or turbulent water in the Chinook language).

The narrows are an unusual geological feature consisting of a narrow opening between the open waters of the Georgia Strait and the large Sechelt Inlet.  It is here that the Sechelt Rapids, the second largest salt water rapids in the world, are created as the tide comes in and out of this small opening.  Over 2 billion litres of saltwater are pulled in everyday and we were there in time to view the maximum flood tide of the winter.

 Our first sight of the rapids were from a little ways off and we could see white water jumping and splashing in the distance.   As we got closer we witnessed the magnificent power of the water as we could actually see the difference in water levels between one side of the rapids and the other.  This was causing waterfalls, boiling tidal currents, standing waves and whirlpools and definitely made my heart beat faster.  Captain Bryce estimated the water to be running at 14+ knots and he somehow managed to hold the boat on course so we could take in the amazing and thrilling sight before us.    After enough viewing, picture and video taking, we put in at Egmont for a short break and exchanged boats with the second group as their boat had a problem.

Our group then made our way slowly back towards Saltery Bay where we were met halfway by our faster original boat.  Our final excitement for the day was transferring from one boat to the other while out on the open water so we could have a quicker ride home.  I’m sure most people will agree that the whole trip delivered more than expected as once again were able to marvel at the wonders of nature.