The Skookumchuck tidal rapids are perfect for playboating

Contributed by Rob M.

The Skookumchuck is a tidal rapid in British Columbia, located near the town of Egmont. It's also known among paddlers as "The Skook."

These rapids are similar to river rapids, but are instead caused by a tidal flow. When the tide is coming in, billions of gallons of water rushes into the narrow inlet, creating a set of waves and whitewater features that many use for playboating. When the tide goes out, the direction of the flow changes, which is quite the sight for those unfamiliar with it.

For kayakers, the monstrous play wave that forms on the incoming tide at the Skookumchuck narrows is a spectacular feature. At its best, the wave is a playboater's dream: smooth, consistent, and huge. According to those who frequent the area, the best conditions are when the flow is at 11 to 12 knots. (The current can reach 17 knots, depending on the tide.) You want to be there about two hours before maximum flood, until about one hour after.

The wave is relatively accessible for novices, but the downstream boils are troublesome, and a swim will mean spending an hour getting back to the wave. More tentative paddlers may want to add one hour on each end of the peak time suggested above.

To protect marine life, paddlers are required to stay within the restricted area, near the eddy. But most importantly, one should be careful when putting in, since dragging or sliding your boat can damage the natural surroundings.