Sea Kayak - Canadian Coast: Prince Rupert to Bella Bella


Sea Kayak - Canadian Coast: Prince Rupert to Bella Bella

Paddle from Prince Rupert to Bella Bella along the remote outer coast line in an adventurous three week trip. Paddle with otters, sleep with bears, wake to the sound of loons.

  • Sun, Jun 18, 2023 — Wed, Jul 12, 2023
  • Seattle Sea Kayaking
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Adults
  • Sea Kayak V
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 220.0 nm
  • Maximum Wind: 25 kts
  • Maximum Waves: 12 ft
  • Maximum Currents: 5 kts
  • Pace: Brisk

Carpools to be arranged.


Join an expedition to paddle the remote coastline between Prince Rupert and Bella Bella.  The planned 220 nm route follows the intricate outer coastline of Banks and Aristanzable Islands for roughly 220nm of travel through remote country.  There will be open ocean paddling, surf landings, long crossings, and remote wilderness camping.  

I’m looking for partners who are willing to step … erm, paddle into the unknown and trust that their skills and group teamwork will bring us through happy, healthy, and with a wealth of new experience.  This is an expedition in the sense that there is relatively little information about this area, we will discover many things about it, and the nature of our experience is unknown.


My tentative schedule is below. 

  • 6/18 - Drive to Port Hardy
  • 6/19 - Ferry to Prince Rupert
  • 6/20 - about 21 days of kayaking
  • 7/10 - Arrive in Bella Bella and board evening ferry to Port Hardy
  • 7/11 - Land in Port Hardy and drive to Nanaimo
  • 7/12 - Return home

Our exact start date can be adjusted by some number of days.  I’ve allowed 21 days of paddling.  The return date is less flexible as there are limited ferries returning from Bella Bella.

In addition, through the spring please anticipate joining the group in

  • Day paddles (proposed:  April 15, May 6)
  • One 3 day outing (proposed: June 2-5)

Where we will gain experience paddling together, practice skills, gain familiarity with shared equipment (tarps, water filter, stoves, etc)


Our route will primarily be down the outer coast of islands, with some forays inland to explore interesting sections.  From Prince Rupert I expect to travel through these major sections.

From Prince Rupert we’ll cross out to Porcher Island, traversing the intricate west coast and poking into the inlets.

Cross to Banks Island where we can explore the intricate north west corner.  

The crux of our route is likely the run down Banks Island’s west coast, which is described as remote with few stopping points.  However, the shoreline is complex, with sheltered inlets and island groups.  We may find camping options or we may have a 24 mile run to known camping at Terror Point.

From Banks, we wander around the Estevan Group then cross to explore the sandy beaches of Campania Island.

Aristazabal Island is another outer coast stretch with minimal information.  The shoreline is complex and BCMT has few marked camp sites.  

A long crossing of Laredo Sound brings us to Price Island, another complex coastline with minimal information.  

We will cross to Milbanke Sound and make our way to Bella Bella to catch a ferry home

Skills and Equipment

A long wilderness trip requires a diversity of skills:

  • Good boat handling in dynamic conditions.
  • Strength to paddle briskly when we are traveling and endurance to paddle long days.
  • Patience to wait for the right conditions for our next leg.
  • Willingness to take some risk launching into an unknown leg where the conditions, length, and camp site are unknown.
  • Able to endure adversity with good humor.


We will research a mid-trip resupply.  There are limited options and they may add some days of paddling.  It is likely that we will either make this a 21 day trip with out re-supply or a slightly longer trip with a re-supply.  Either will require careful selection of equipment and food.


Expenses will be shared.

  • Cost of car travel to Port Hardy
  • Ferry
  • Consumable supplies (fuel, water filter, etc)


While concerns about COVID-19 fade, it and other communicable diseases are still present.  In 2022 I caught a mild cold during travel to a trip and suffered from it for the first half.  Another group I know likely caught respiratory illness during travel to the trip and it eventually passed to everyone.   Therefore, I request that all participants reduce their risk of exposure in the week leading up to our trip and that we avoid exposure during travel.    


If you would like to join in this excellent adventure please read on.  The first thing for you to do is read the Goals, Expectations, and Style I have laid out below.  This will give you a better idea of the trip I intend to create as well as the skills necessary and participant temperament that may make for a compatible team.


  • Paddle from Prince Rupert to Bella Bella
  • Be safe:  Aware of risk and management.
  • Enjoy being out there, whatever conditions we encounter.
  • Enjoy company of each other.
  • Paddle the outer coasts of Banks, Aristazabal, and Price Islands
  • Explore intricate islands around Porcher, Estavan, Campania, and Anderson
  • Hike to the summit of Mount Pender on Campania Island


  • Support the goals above
  • Think about and express your goals, expectations, and style
  • Have the skills and fitness required for this trip *
  • Bring appropriate equipment *
  • Train skills as a group *
  • Work as a team member to help the group be happy and accomplish our goals 
  • Participate in group decision making
  • Abide by decisions made by the group or by the leader 
  • Don't take risks that other group members do not support 

* Participant Skills

  • Endurance to paddle 15nm days in sequence.
  • Pace of 3.7kt (flatwater pace you can sustain for over an hour)
  • Strength to paddle into 15 knot winds @ 3.0kt pace.
  • Able to sail in 15 knot winds
  • Quick, efficient buddy rescue.
  • Camp skills:  stoves, filters, tarp/bug tent, group systems.
  • Able to camp in wet, cool conditions.
  • Able to land and launch through 3ft surf.
  • Able to paddle Deception pass in 5kt current.
  • Good brace reflex - don’t tip easily.
  • Reasonably reliable roll in conditions.
  • Know your history of sea sickness in swell and be able to manage it.
  • Camp in bear & wolf country:  hang food, clean camp, carry bear spray, cautious going out alone.
  • Patience or at least submission to the inevitable.

* Personal Equipment

  • Expedition boat able to pack 3 weeks of equipment
  • Sail
  • VHF Radio
  • Bearproof storage for food
  • Bear pepper spray

* Group Training

  • Two 1 day paddles
  • One 3 day weekend


  • Most days are moving days and start early
  • However, since all happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast, we don’t rush to launch.
  • Take time to explore the coastline
  • Off the water early enough (4pm) to have unrushed time for camp chores and relaxation
  • Some layover days
  • Some silent mornings for personal space and reflection
  • Shared dinners, if others are interested
  • Sit together for dinner as time to reflect and discuss
  • I wish to avoid danger but don’t mind adversity
  • Intention to create a community of mutual respect and enjoyment.
  • Interest in focused, inclusive conversations.

Two Great Compatibilities

I’ve found pace and risk tolerance are two significant points of compatibility.  Please take seriously the need to train for this trip.  You should be able to comfortably paddle at a pace of 3.7 knots through a 15nm day.  That is the momentary pace in flatwater, not averaged with breaks, but can be sustained.  We will often be paddling in conditions, with a head wind or contrary current, with multiple landings, maybe in surf, possibly an extended hunt for a suitable camp, and then camp chores.

Risk tolerance is difficult to assess.  I consider myself to be middling to cautious on expeditions, but that is a very relative statement of tolerance.  


If you have read this and are still interested in spending your early summer in this manner the next steps are

  1. Contact me (Tom)
  2. Think about and write your own Goals, Expectations, and Style for this trip.
  3. We will get together, maybe with other participants, and discuss our goals, expectations, and style.  The purpose of this is to surface any different understandings or incompatibilities before the trip
  4. If you have not paddled with me, we must paddle together on some appropriate trip.
  5. Be ready to set aside dates (to be negotiated) for training paddles with the team, including a 3 day weekend, on the coast if possible.

Canadian Coast: Prince Rupert to Bella Bella

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Personal Equipment

  • Expedition boat able to pack 3 weeks of equipment
  • Sail
  • VHF Radio
  • 3 gallon water capacity
  • Bearproof storage for food
  • Bear pepper spray

Group Equipment

  • Stoves, fuel, pots, and kitchen
  • Repair supplies
  • First aid
  • Water treatment
  • rain tarp
  • etc.
Trip Reports