Surfing Vancouver Island  

Ferry wake surfing in BC! by Aaron Jackson  


Ferry wake surfing in BC!

by Aaron Jackson

Just wanted to show you a funny surf picture with a bit of a surf travel story here in BC.

photo of surfing the Pacific Cat ferry wake off Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada

Two nights ago my friend Ian Soellner and I, left for Gabriola Island in the Gulf Islands in a crazy attempt to score waves generated by the new PacifiCat Ferry (the two hundred million dollar wave generator). The Gulf isn't otherwise exposed to any other forms of swell. We'd heard stories about people surfing its wake in various locations but just could not believe it ourselves so we set out on our epic 24 hour quest to find the PacifiCat wave. We had zero expectations to start so everything was up and up from there.

After making friends with several locals at the SURF CLUB Bar (an unlikely club to find on an otherwise surfless island)that night, we were schooled on possible surf break locations and other entertaining island facts that later became part of our video documentary of the whole trip. Some how our surf quest story was also instrumental in achiveing several free shooters from the cute female bartender there as well. (Probably just an excuse for her to have a few shots too.)

The next morning, as luck would have it, our constant chatter with any and every local led to us meeting the mother of one of the local surf stars in a small corner grocery store (what are the chances?). She introduced us to others who had property overlooking the point break and even had us over for lunch on her farm later that day.

We got to the break just in time for the 1st session and were amazed as at least 30 or more waves came in - 6-7 of them being definitely rideable (chest to shoulder high)and even barrelling over heavy enough to spit out like backdoor, Hawaii. The locals said that it gets way better at a (different) tide so we decided we would come back after lunch for the second session of the day.

Since Ian got to surf the morning session while I filmed, I surfed the second session. To our amazement the wave count was even higher the second session and the wave quality picked up too (refer to photo). We just couldn't believe our own eyes. The wave broke left and right but at that particular tide the left was the best and the safest. (we wanted to avoid any barnacle induced PacifiCat scratches that may occur on the grinding right - the locals had the warning scars!) Apparently, on a better tide situation, the waves can reach hights that are just over head and judging by the grinding power of the shoulder high sets we surfed, those would be some pretty heavy waves - exact same shape as the Tahitian killers but on a very small scale. One of the most powerful waves in that size category that I've ever surfed!

photo of surfing the Pacific Cat ferry wake off Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada

the ferry hull in the enlarged photo is not generating the swell and is a conventional ferry

Our tale ended with a promise to visit again for even better waves and with a renewed stoke for surf travel adventure. (Grab a tide chart and ferry schedule and go surfing!)

Your BC extreme surf explorer,
Aaron Jackson
Copyright © 1999 Aaron Jackson. All rights reserved.

check out Aaron's 5mm Canada surfing video

The Fastcats are out of service and were sold by the BC Government in March 2003.
They were well hated by the traveling public.

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