Saturna Island Touring
Title: Saturna Island Touring; by Terry Connellan
A Human Powered Weekend, Saturna Island Style.
Most people prefer the Canadian Gulf Islands to the
American San Juans, and to those perceptive souls
Saturna is the island that gets them all dreamy eyed.
In preparation for this trip; The Gulf Islands Explorer;
by Bruce Obee, and Mary Ann Snowden's wonderful,
Island Paddling 2ed, will broaden your knowledge
and heighten your expectations.
Less settled than the urbanized Saltspring, and
harder to get to than most, Saturna has been
avoided by Human Powered Tourers (backpack,
bicycle, and kayak) in the past because of its
absence of accommodation and campsites.
This is no longer true and I've selected a combination
of Bed & Breakfast, Lodge, and two restricted
campsites, together with some wonderful sightseeing
to give you a perfect Saturna weekend.
Fridays favoured ferry from Swartz Bay (Victoria)is the
4:15 PM, or the slow 6:10 PM, and from Tsawwassen
Vancouver)the 7:10 PM.
Monday mornings 7:00 AM ferry arrives back at Swartz
Bay at 9:10 AM, or Tsawwassen at 9:25 AM. Note;
times change June 25, with the summer schedule.
I like to come off the 4:15 ferry on friday just in time
for the supper special at the Lighthouse Pub. The
last one I had was lasagna with caesar salad and
garlic bread, on the deck watching the ferry fade away
to the west. If you are kayaking, or biking you can
leave your "transporters" in sight on the dock while
you dine, then launch and go.
Saturna Islanders are properly paranoid about fire
so if you're camping overnight it's zero-impact
camping. No fires, pack out everything you pack
in, and take everything with you in the morning even
if you are returning that evening.
Winter Cove Marine Park has tables, drinking water,
toilets, fire pits and garbage cans. Use the first three,
but not the last two. Put your tent in an unobtrusive
corner, overnight only, and you won't be bothered.
The generosity of the Tsawout Band allows us to camp
at Fiddlers Cove. It is not necessary to get advance
permission, but you must practice zero-impact camping.
Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints,
make yours a pristine presence.
Fiddlers Cove is easy to get to by kayak, hikers and
cyclists must use a trail the leads to the right off the end
of Fiddlers Rd., south of Cliffside Rd., from East Point
Road. It is possible to hike the steep trail down to the
beach, but the more spectacular views are from any
one of a dozen campsites at cliff top.
If you like to be spoiled, Poppy Hill Farm B&B with its
homey atmosphere at $50 plus includes a delicious,
full breakfast complete with Janets special muffins,
and home made jams.
A fascinating alternative, at $40-$55.00, is Breezy Bay
B&B located on the historic Payne farm. The ambiance
here is so laid back it makes everywhere else you've
ever stayed seem frantic by comparison, and the
breakfast selection is "60's and cyclist sized".
At the top of the scale is Boot Cove Lodge. This is the
third re-incarnation of the lodge that I've experienced and
it just gets better. The luxuriously appointed rooms are $90-
$140, including a special breakfast, and the silent hours
begin at 11PM. The spacious dining room is flanked on
two sides by a wide deck with tables for outdoor dining.
For your hiking, biking, and kayaking adventures, any of
your hosts will pack a picnic lunch for a small cost. A good
saturday tour is along East Point Road for 13 kms to the
lighthouse and down to the beach facing Tumbo Island. On the
way is the kilometer long "missing link" a 15% grade that is
easier coming back, trust me.
Back down at sea level the trees along the road remind
us of Vancouver Islands "Cathedral Grove", and deer
sightings are plentiful. Above, eagles and every other
native bird abound and on nearby Cliffside Rd. is a wildlife
East Point Lighthouse beach is perfect for snorkeling,
whale watching, reading, dreaming, for this is Saturna
and monday seems so far away. If you are staying
at Fiddlers Cove make sure you pack in sufficient fresh
water, and allow enough time to set up camp
Sundays bike or hike is perhaps best done late in the day
to take in, and photograph, the spectacular sunset from the
top of Mount Warburton Pike. By way of Narvaez Bay,
Harris, and Staples roads, it is a 4km climb at an average
of 12% to reach the 490m peak, but it's well worth it. If you
don't have a BLT light system or its equal on your bike
leave enough time to come down safely in the twilight.
The Haggis Farm Bakery on Narvaez Bay Rd.,is a
worthwhile short side trip on the way in or out. They mill
their own flour, and prepare all sorts of delicious
goodies with strange sounding names.
The operators of the places I have suggested will
unselfishly refer you to other equally fine accommodations
on the island if they are booked up. I have recommended
these because I am familiar with them, and because
they are convenient to the ferry.
Enjoy your Saturna time.
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