Kayak Wet Launching

MV Uchuck III Kayak Wet Launching

The remote northwest coast of Vancouver Island offers kayakers an opportunity to paddle in wilderness areas that few have experienced.

Kayakers departing from the MV Uchuck III where there are no docks are lowered overboard on a cargo raft. From there they simply paddle off on their adventure.
Kayakers departing from the MV Uchuck III where there are no docks are lowered overboard on a cargo raft. From there they simply paddle off on their adventure.

From Nootka Sound to Kyuquot Sound and points in between are miles of uninhabited shoreline waiting to be explored. This pristine wilderness is home to an abundance of wildlife including Grey Whales, Killer Whales, Sea lions, rafts of Otters, Black Bear and Bald Eagles. A lucky paddler can see them all in a single trip.

Paddlers can explore sheltered inlets and stretches of open ocean. Hear the roar of the surf breaking on the rocky shoreline, explore sea caves and paddle around sea stacks. Some of the more popular destinations include the Bunsby Group of Islands, historic Nootka Sound, Brooks Penninsula and Rugged Point.

What makes these destinations so special is their remoteness. With minimal or no road access getting there can be a challenge. Get West Adventure Cruises offers wet launching from the 140’ MV Uchuck III. Departing from Gold River, BC on regularly scheduled runs, kayakers can load their kayaks and provisions and enjoy a marine cruise aboard this working marine cargo vessel. Along the route the MV Uchuck III drops supplies off to remote resorts, fish farms and logging camps using a cargo winch system and a lifting platform to retrieve supplies from the hold and drop them off on wharves.

This system of off-loading supplies is the same system used to wet launch kayakers along the route. Kayaks are positioned onto the lifting platform on the ship’s deck with the kayaker in position, ready to paddle. As the paddler hangs on to the cables the lift platform is lowered overboard to just below the ocean’s surface, allowing the paddler to simply paddle off on his or her adventure. These wet launches take place at select locations along the route within proximity of choice paddling destinations.

Ken Ellison and Mark Perrin, both Calgary residents, are avid kayakers. Since Alberta is limited in kayaking destinations they are drawn to Vancouver Island’s west coast. Their goal is to circumnavigate Vancouver Island by doing 100 to 200 kilometer stretches each summer.        

“Our biggest expense and logistic problem is always arranging a shuttle or water taxi to reunite us with our vehicle, especially when we only have one vehicle, says Mark, “Ken discovered Get West Adventures online and booked passage for us to be wet launched at Rugged Point (Kyuquot Sound) from the MV Uchuck III. We stopped at a number of fish farms, logging camps, and fishing lodges as the ship loaded and unloaded freight. We found it to be a very relaxing way to travel to our launch site. We arrived at Rugged Point and were wet launched with only a 100 meter paddle to our campsite.” he added.

Talking to the captain, Ken and Mark learned that the MV Uchuck III will also pick up kayakers along her regular weekly routes. “I have an INREACH so when we knew when we would arrive in Nootka Sound I sent an email to Get West’s office and arranged to be picked up on the Friday afternoon as the ship was returning to Gold River. We talked to the captain on VHF radio and he told us where and when to be so they could literally pick us up.” said Mark.

“The whole experience with the Uchuck was absolutely a pleasure, from the people working on the ship, the Captain, who took us into the bridge to see how things work, the lady who runs the kitchen on the ship, and the people in the booking office, and the actual launch and pick up. This was my favourite kayaking trip on Vancouver Island. The scenery on the west coast is fantastic and the experience with the Uchuck and being able to avoid car shuttles and all the logistics involved, was great.” added Ken.

Mark added, “The real highlight was the actual wet launch and pick on the ship, I am pretty sure most kayakers have not experienced this and they will talk about it for quite awhile.”

Kayak rentals are also available for those who don’t want to haul their kayaks to the west coast. At the Gold River Dock, Get West rents Boréal Design single and double kayaks complete with a PFD/life vest, paddle, throw rope, spray skirt, spare paddle and a safety kit.