Canoe Trips


VCKC holds Club Day trips for paddlers with basic to advanced canoeing or kayaking skills.  Every VCKC Club trip has an appointed leader. However, since the unexpected can arise – e.g. the trip leader has to escort another boat to shore away from the put in or take out point - each paddler should approach any trip as if he or she were leading it – know the conditions and the geography; be prepared to find their way to shore safely and to be able to get to help if needed. VCKC trips are not like commercially guided trips; they are a common activity that Club members like to do together, and for which all participants bear a responsibility. This applies to day trips as much as camping trips.

The Trip Leader’s responsibilities include:

  • Equipment review – are all canoes safe and properly equipped ?
  • Skill level review – has each paddler the necessary skills for the trip proposed ?
  • Route selection – to accommodate the skill levels of the group where possible.
  • Group Size – to limit the size or split the group as needed for safety.
  • Group equipment – e.g. a Wrap kit for river rescues; radio and flares for sea trips
  • Ensure that appropriate charts/maps are available in the group for flatwater trips.

The trip leader will usually consult with other experienced paddlers in the group on the above, but the final decision is the leader’s.

All sanctioned Club canoe trips must have at least 3 boats. All boats must be properly equipped and paddlers suitably clothed and prepared. PFDs are mandatory on all Club trips and must be worn at all times while on the water.

The Trip Participant/Paddler’s responsibilities include:

  • Providing or using equipment that is in good repair and appropriate for the trip - see River and Flatwater trip sections for details.
  • Dressing appropriately; bringing necessary food and drink food and personal items, including personal medications and first aid.
  • Bringing any medications he/she may need.
  • Inform the trip leader of possible health problems that might affect the paddler during the trip – e.g. hypoglycaemia, seizures, musculoskeletal problems, etc.
  • Checking the weather forecast for the day for the South Island.
  • For river paddles, to have checked the on-line gauge readings (Cowichan, Chemainus and Nanaimo Rivers only). see site
  • For Flatwater ocean paddles to have checked the tide and current tables for the proposed paddling site. See site
  • To pay the driver of the vehicle a share of the gas costs.

Club equipment may be borrowed for canoe trips, but it is expected that regular paddlers will bring their own PFD and paddle. The trip leader will arrange, where possible, to partner up single paddlers and provide equipment where needed; but the Club does not guarantee to be able to provide all needed equipment.

Please consult the following VCKC policy document about use of club canoes by Active members following successful completion of level 1 course work.  Use Of Club Equipment

 River Trips

There are 5 rivers within an easy day’s drive from Victoria that can be paddled in open canoes. Two of them, the Cowichan and Chemainus, get the most use: both have on-line Hydrographic gauges. Two other rivers, the Koksilah and Sooke, rise and fall quickly in response to rain and snow, so are often less suitable for paddling. The Nanaimo is a longer drive away but offers some good paddling unobstructed by sweepers. The grade of these rivers varies by section but does not exceed Grade III on the International Scale of River Grading

River paddling safety and enjoyment depends on river levels, weather, equipment and participants’ skill-levels. Trip leaders will always try to select a section of river that is within the comfort zone and abilities of those who want to paddle, but this cannot be guaranteed if river levels are high or otherwise dangerous. The Trip leader will consult with other paddlers as required concerning the river and section to be paddled; the size of the group and the skill levels of the participants, etc. The leader’s decision these trip related matters is final.

The usual meeting spot is the clubhouse. Ride sharing for boats and paddlers to reduce energy consumption is done then. Starting time varies with the time of year. See the VCKC Newsletter for details.


  1. Participants must be current members of VCKC or have signed a waiver.
  2. Participants must have taken and passed the RCABC Moving Water Level 1 (tandem) course or equivalent.
  3. Participants must have appropriately rigged canoes for white water – floatation, painters, throw-rope and bailers, as required by the Canadian Coastguard.
  4. Participants must be dressed appropriately for the conditions. Wetsuits or drysuits are mandatory in the winter months (November – March), and at other times as determined by the trip leader.
  5. Club boats may be used by Club members, when available, for a daily usage fee.

Flatwater Trips

There are many areas in South Vancouver Island that are suitable for day-long canoe trips. Most are on the ocean or slow-moving sections of rivers, there being relatively few large lakes within easy reach.


The trip destination will depend on the tide levels, the wind forecast and the strength of the group. Typical trips during the year include: Shawnigan Lake; Thetis Lakes; Somenos Lake and Richards Creek; Sooke Basin and Sooke River; Cowichan Bay and river delta; Chemainus River delta; Saanich Inlet and Finalyson Arm; Haro Straits – Dock Island, Portland Island, etc; Discovery and Chatham Islands.


The Flatwater trips start with a meeting at the Clubhouse parking lot, usually at 8:30 am. Boats and paddlers are shifted around to minimize the number of vehicles needed, and any needed Club equipment is picked up. The usual trip length is 4-6 hours, and can cover from 10 – 20 kms. Trip leaders expect to be notified by the Thursday evening prior to the (day) trip by those planning to take part in order to know numbers, experience level and equipment requirements.


  1. Participants must be current members of VCKC or have signed a waiver. Non-members may attend two day-trips to get the feel of them; after that, they must join the Club to take part in further expeditions.
  2. Participants must have taken and passed the RCABC Lakewater Basic Tandem Level 1 course or equivalent.
  3. Participants must have appropriately equipped canoes - painters, throw-rope and bailers, as required by the Canadian Coastguard.
  4. Participants must be dressed appropriately for the conditions.
  5. Club boats may be used at the discretion of the trip leader.
  6. All participants are expected to have spare clothing in a watertight container and to have food and drink as appropriate for the length of trip.

For more information on the Canoe Program, please email the Canoe director: 


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software