We are regular visitors to your web site and have every edition of Waggoner since 2003! What a great resource for PNW boaters. Thank you.

We are planning to circumnavigate Vancouver Island counter clockwise with our Meridian 411 early next summer. I have a question I am hoping you can help with. Waggoner (and other references) warn about ugly water conditions when wind opposes current around Cape Scott. The prevailing winds in summer would be NW but I do not find reference to the direction of the current around Cape Scott. Is the current tidal and would it reverse based on the tide, or is uni-directional as one would find in Ocean Currents.

Could you kindly shed some light on this?

Etienne Grobler


Hi, Etienne,

Look for the ebb to run northwest toward Cape Scott along the north side of the Vancouver Island, with the potential of tide-rips when the currents meet at Cape Scott. Wind would make any tide-rips worse, even dangerous. On the north side of the island the flood runs east, toward Goletas Channel.

According to Sailing Directions, pp. 294-95, a summertime residual current runs northwest along the west side of Vancouver Island, both ebb and flood. This means the current is flowing toward Cape Scott. Wind can reverse this current, but you shouldn’t look for help from the flood after you round Cape Scott and head down-island toward Quatsino Sound.

If you don’t already have Sailing Directions British Columbia Coast, South Portion, I urge you to get a copy from a Canadian Hydrographic Service chart agent. The book contains a wealth of valuable information.

Remember that despite all the warnings about dangerous conditions at Cape Scott, the trip doesn’t have to be dangerous. The keys are to be aware of the weather and tidal conditions (Sailing Directions recommends rounding Cape Scott at slack water), and waiting for everything to be right before you go. Hundreds of roundings are made safely each year.

Bob Hale

Share this: