Frequently Asked Questions

Skills Required:

Food:

Animals:

Gear:

Health:

Weather:

Money:

Emergency Planning & Communication:


Skills Required:


Do I have to know how to roll a sea kayak?

No. In fact it is not really an option in the double sea kayak as a rescue technique. The preferred method is for one of the paddlers to brace the kayak while the other climbs in. Then the paddler in the water scoots into their cockpit. The sprayskirt is then attached and the bilge pump is used to evacuate the water from the cockpit. This whole procedure should take 3-7 minutes for paddlers who are being supervised by a guide. An experienced sea kayaker in a single usually knows how to roll and practices once in a while to keep their skills sharp.

The double sea kayaks are extremely stable and unlikely to capsize in less than expert conditions. At Batstar, we are very conservative when determining our daily float plans. We do not go out in conditions that would potentially risk a kayak to capsize.

Realistically, it is the surf zone that poses one of the greatest dangers for a sea kayaker. A breaking wave can cause a kayak to go parallel with the beach making the kayak very susceptible to capsizing. On Batstar trips, a guide always lands first to determine the best spot to land and then helps land the rest of the kayaks. The only exception to this is when there is virtually no surf at all and guests have had several opportunities to land their kayak.

Do I have to know how to swim?

No. You will have a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) on at all times on the water. Stay with your boat, a guide will be there quickly to help you get back into the boat. Swimming hastens body temperature loss and should only be attempted if the kayak cannot be retrieved and the shore is 500m away or less. The current must also be taken into consideration.\

 

Food:


Is the food good?

Yes. What else can we say? The roomy double sea kayaks can carry an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables which makes remote cooking a pleasure. We plan balanced meals and can accommodate the palate and special needs of our guests. We do not harvest shellfish in the National Park but enjoy dressing and cooking any fish that we might catch. Cod, mackerel & salmon are common catches.

We always have fluids and snacks available for guests.

What if I have a food intolerance, food allergy or am a vegetarian?

Batstar can easily accommodate the food requirements of our guests. In the case of food allergies, we typically omit the food (i.e. nuts, etc.) that would cause a problem. For allergies that are not dire in their consequences, we will discuss the menu with the person who has the allergy. For instance, some guests are allergic to fish but are comfortable with us serving fish, so long as their meal is not contaminated. We will make an equally delicious entre for the allergic guest. This is quite common.

If a guest is a vegetarian, and about 15% of our guests are, we prepare a delicious vegetarian main course in addition to our non-vegetarian menu.

We always discuss any special needs with our guests well before the trip.

Can I bring my own snacks?

Yes, although it is not really necessary considering the quantity and diversity of snacks that we bring. However, it is critical that we are informed that you are bringing them as some of the other guests on the trip might have food allergies and snacks are often made with nuts or peanut oil. We cannot stress this fact enough and our guides will not be very happy if you bring food without telling them before you leave on the trip.

 

Animals:


Are there any bears in the Broken Group Islands?

No. With food so plentiful on the mainland, the relatively small islands do not interest them. However, bears do live on Vancouver Island and on the British Columbia mainland. In these areas, we bear camp. For what it is worth, we are much more concerned about raccoons, mice and crows than bears as these smaller animals are a much more real nuisance than bears.

What do I do if I see a whale?

Smile and count your lucky stars. If you are concerned that a whale is coming at your kayak and doesn’t know that you are there, simply knock on the hull of the kayak and they will get the message. Our philosophy is that we do not approach within 100m of a whale, nor do we encircle whales should we see them. However, sometimes whales will come close to the kayaks and if they swim your way, enjoy the view.

 

Health:


Where do I go to the washroom?

In the Broken Group Islands we only use the National Park campsites which have wonderful solar composting “cedar chalets”.

On the rest of our trip, the intertidal zone is Nature’s best washroom when choosing the right spot. Our guides will discuss the skills and etiquette with you.

What happens if I hurt myself?

Our head guides have Advanced Wilderness First Aid (our minimum standard is Wilderness First Aid for assistant guides — most have Advanced) and both carry a well provisioned first aid kit. If it is a minor scrape, we will get you on your way and monitor the injury. If it is serious enough situation, the guides will evacuate an injured guest.

Are there showers on the trips?

No. However, we bring a couple of solar showers to use. Many guests enjoy bathing in the ocean using sea soap (available at outdoor stores). We heat up water for guests to give themselves a sponge bath. This is really refreshing.

What about my jewelry?

We highly recommend that guests do not bring jewelry on their trip, especially sentimental or significant pieces. We are not responsible for lost jewelry or jewelry that is damaged in order for it to be removed in an emergency situation. Bring an inexpensive watch.

 

Gear:


Do I have to buy special sea kayak clothing and equipment?

No. Gearing up for sea kayaking is very similar to camping. As we are in a marine / rainforest environment, synthetic clothing such as fleece and underwear are a must. A rainproof jacket is a must as is a good wide brimmed rain hat. A baseball cap will not stop the rain from going down your neck. However, a favorite ball cap is always in my dry bag for sunny weather.

We recommend rubber boots, a water shoe/sandal or neoprene diving boots for kayaking.

Batstar provides all clients with dry bags to use (a kodiak sac 25 litre & kodiak tapered 20 litre), and a 20 litre day bag for the kayak. We even supply pogies (neoprene mitts that attach to the paddle which you slide your hands in) if your hands get cold.

See our gear list for a complete list of equipment that you should bring.

 

Weather:


What happens if it is raining?

If conditions are suitable, we will dress accordingly and get in the kayaks and continue our trip. Paddling in the mist and light rain is a wonderful experience. If you keep your head dry, it is amazing how comfortable it is on the water when it is raining. Most guests prefer to kayak rather than hang out in camp.

If we get a serious rainstorm, we will stay in camp and drink warm beverages, converse, play cards, read, play charades, sleep, etc. Most guests simply hang out under the group tarp or in their roomy tents and look out at the amazing scenery. The guides will make sure that everyone comfortable.

 

Money:


What do I have to pay for once the trip is underway?

One of the benefits of our trip is that there are no stores. You do not have to pay for a thing once we are kayaking. We supply a lunch while in transit to our destination. Snacks are provided on the way back to Port Alberni. National Park camp fees are included in your price.

Do I tip the guides and how much?

It is common for guests to tip the guides but only because they feel that the guides did an exceptional job for them. There is no obligation to tip the guides. Tips are typically given to the guides at the end of the trip and range from 5-10% of the cost of the trip.

 

Emergency Planning & Communication:


Does Batstar have an emergency plan?

Yes. We have several contingency plans depending on the type of emergency. Each guide has a list of all the relevant emergency numbers for each area that we paddle in. We use float plans and guides contact the Batstar head office daily when trips are in the field. We have standard protocols for emergency situations and our guides have a plan to communicate with Batstar personnel and emergency responders. In the event of a cataclysmic event, each trip is a self contained unit and has the ability to function remotely until help arrives.

What happens if I have to get home quickly?

If you have to leave the trip to respond to an emergency, we will present the options to you depending where you are and how fast you have to get back. The guides and Batstar head office will then help you coordinate transportation to get you where you need to go.

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