Kayaking, Sailing, and Boating

Sooke, Vancouver Island, BC

Sailing on Vancouver Island, BC

Kayaking in the Sooke Basin

Boating in the Sooke Basin

Boating in Sooke, BC

Madrona Cottage is located on the Sooke Basin, a sheltered ocean bay on the southwestern tip of Vancouver Island, just 40 minutes from downtown Victoria. The basin is approximately 3 km x 4 km wide and is connected to the Juan de Fuca Strait by a deep, narrow channel around Whiffen Spit near the town of Sooke. Sooke is a popular place for boaters, sailing, and kayaking.

Kayaks & Canoes

The best time to discover the Sooke Basin is in the morning quiet, when the wind is light. The wind normally picks up in the afternoon. In the evenings, the winds start to calm again. Kayakers may want to take advantage of the calmer air in the mornings or evenings to avoid the constant afternoon breeze that blows across the open water.

Discover Anderson Cove, with its narrow, shallow entrance and peaceful waters. The towering Sooke Hills shelter this bay. From the cottage, it will take about 30 minutes to paddle to the entrance. Along the way, you'll have front row seats to swan, geese, heron and sometimes seal.

Always have the appropriate safety equipment and check weather conditions before heading out onto the water. If you don't have your own kayak, they are available for rent from Rush Adventures who also offer guided tours.

Sailing & Boating

Day sailors can enjoy the open air on the basin. The mornings are usually calm but a nice breeze can be found in the afternoon. The winds tend to die down around dinner time (barring storms, of course). Note that strong currents in the channels near Whiffin Spit and Billings Spit occur during tide change.

Discover the hidden beauty of the Sooke Basin that can only be experienced from a boat:

Anderson Cove - The winds can funnel near the steep-walled entrance and the water may be shallow depending on the tide (check nautical map 3411 for details). Once inside the bay, the air is calmed by the surrounding Sooke Hills. Fog usually forms in the early morning hours making for a misty and mysterious atmosphere after sunrise.

Roche Cove - This is a small, quiet bay on the eastern side of the basin and has thick, green foliage going down to the shore. This secluded area offers a quiet rest stop. The Galloping Goose Trail is hidden along the upper edge of the shore and you may even find yourself striking up a conversation with hikers (no need to raise your voice either - sound carries over water!). A wooden trestle bridge spans the mouth of the cove. Sailboats and wide beamed boats will not be able to enter.

Cooper's Cove - This picturesque bay on the northern shore is home to several industrial ships and smaller yachts. It's a good place to moor your boat as you head to the local Stickleback Restaurant. Docking is only with permission from Rush Adventures.

Boat Launches

There are two public boat launches around the basin and a number of private ones:

  • Sunny Shores Marina (250-642-5731) - a full-service marina including boat launch and fuel. This marina is located across the basin from the cottage.

  • Jock's Dock (250-642-2218) - a public boat launch in the town of Sooke. Note that there is no parking for trailers.

  • Anderson Cove - There is an undeveloped boat launch on the beach, tucked amongst the trees along East Sooke Road near Anderson Cove. Although launching small boats here is possible, precautions should be taken. The incline is shallow, the access can be muddy at low tide and the entrance is located around a blind corner. Extreme care should be taken if launching here.

The Sooke Harbour Authority (Government Wharf) (telephone: 250-642-4431) has a hoist but no ramp. It's located on the northwest side of the basin in Sooke, on Maple Avenue.

Additional Information

  • If you plan to discover the Juan de Fuca Strait, consider ordering hydrographic maps.

  • The waters west of Vancouver Island flow down from Alaska, past East Sooke and then to Washington, Oregon and California. The water temperature is cold throughout the year so be sure to dress appropriately (and in layers) and be aware of the signs of hypothermia.

  • Even though the basin looks like a lake, it is actually ocean water and experiences tides with up to 12 foot displacements. Check the tide tables and save your hull. Rocks are may pose a hazard around the islands (Noname & Goodrich Islands) and along all shorelines.

  • The waters of the Sooke Basin are fairly calm throughout the year. However, check the marine weather reports before heading out. During windy or stormy conditions, waves can get to 3 feet at the far end.

Ready to plan a holiday to Sooke, BC? Contact us for availability and rates!