The Spit - Squamish, BC, CA

squamish-bc
featured

#1

So who hasn’t heard of the Spit before?!

It’s a man-made breakwater/ sandbar built at the mouth of the Squamish River on the west-side of the Squamish deep-sea terminal and it’s smack-dab in the middle of a wind-funnel that turns on with thermic winds when the sun comes out.

Google maps location: Squamish Spit

AND these winds are generally STRONG and CONSISTENT while the sun shines (18-24 its). The season here lasts from May through September where July and August are most consistent. The water can be cold with thawed freshet ice-water flowing out of the river mouth and the spring and fall ocean surface temperatures aren’t too warm either.

Riding conditions: The spit will protect inside the breakwater providing calmer to calm water conditions from wind directions ranging from southwest to south. Waves out in Howe Sound can get big (2 -3 ft.) -generally not too choppy. The Squamish River flow produces a fun conveyor to surf on and it will get you out in lighter winds.

The Spit is operated by the Squamish Wind Sports Society, which provides kiters with an abundance of services. Check out their website: Squamish Windsports Society

Some services there provide:

  • staff on watch & retrieval service
  • site familiarization
  • on-site wind & weather conditions
  • washrooms
  • carpeted launch with weight bags
  • free air from air-compressor
  • Floating jump ramp
  • the list goes on… check out their website…

The site has a $20/ day user fee or an annual membership fee ($165 in 2018).

For the best current weather information go to their website: Wind | Squamish Windsports Society

The site is beginner friendly (they have a retrieval service!), however you may find both the location and number of people intimidating. The society recommends beginners take lessons. Most of the lessons entail being taken way-up wind in a zodiac away form the crowded spit. The instructors boat-launch you and let you practice downwinders for hours free of people and any dangers.

There are a number of kite-schools at the Spit itself, in town-Squamsih or out of Vancouver. You can also rent gear in Vancouver, Squamish or off a bus parked at the Spit.

The Spit is a bit out of town on a bumpy gravel road and there is free parking on site. However, there are kiting schools that you can walk to from town another kiting spot right in town - Nexen Beach.

For more FAQs - go to their website!


Vancouver, BC, CA
#2

#3

This spot sucked major! Wind is less than stable even mid summer. Off shore wind with So many noobs trying to launch and land over each other. “Rescue” could keep up fishing them all out. Water is deep and lots of wind shadows. Totally NOT worth the drive. Waaay better spots closer to Van. Squamish sucks, don’t go!


#4

Thanks for the comment Clancy, sorry to hear you had a terrible session.

Next time, I’d recommend you check out the Squamish Windsports Society weather page: Wind | Squamish Windsports Society.

The weather is updated every 5 minutes and the weather station is located right on the spit. You can look back through the calendar’s history to see general trends - most days through july and August the wind starts blowing onshore around 9 am. The graphs show a difference between lull and gusts of 2 - 5 its on average - that’s pretty smooth!

The terminal and areas further to the east of the sound can get some wind-shadows. Once you get away from the spit the water does deepen. On lower tides the sandbars are exposed and a waist deep area off the east-side of the spit developes.

The Spit can definitely get pretty busy on a summer weekend or holiday. There’s a good launch/ land policy on the spit with designated areas explained on signage that prevents too much chaos from ensuing.

The staff on site have been providing the retrieval service for going on ten years now and their excellent at what they do. The launch can be intimidating for new kiters that are having a hard time staying upwind - the landing is harder to get back to when there’s more west in the wind. That being said, any kiter should know how to self rescue before trying to kite here - worst case scenario you get carried into the estuary or over to the shipping terminal.


#5

Clancy,

Welcome to the discussion. This site is a place for local and international kiters to come together and share information on kiting destinations. I understand from your post that you would like to protect your local resource, which is understandable - so do I, but would you not also want to feel welcome kiting somewhere that is not your local. My hope is that the Kite Travel Club can bring locals and visitors together world wide. But I would appreciate hearing your opinion. Do we want to welcome outsiders? Is the spit overrun? I’d be happy to air that discussion here if that is the case. This Squamish Spot Chat is intended to be a resource for locals to discuss important matters surrounding the Spit, which in turn will inform visitors as to the sensitivities of the spot they are visiting and allow them to be more educated.


#6

Locals, tourists… None of that matters anyway. The new municipal government is in the process of reviewing the plans to start dismantling The Spit in the very near future with financial backing of feds and environmentalists: ( The feds are putting $1.5m into helping the Sea to Sky's Chinook salmon population | Vancouver Is Awesome ). So with the Spit gone and Wind Sports “relocating” to downtown, away from the wind tunnel, none of the “prazing” of this spot REALY be accurate. The fact would remain the same however: It is NOT a beginner friendly spot.


#7

I agree that the spit is not necessarily a beginner-friendly spot. My wife is new to the sport and she has taken lessons from both aerial and sea to sky for her safety and out of consideration for people that have already been through the learning process. Once you have been escorted upwind and away from the “intermediate/advanced” areas there is plenty of sea room and the steady consistent Squamish wind arguably creates a great learning environment, where you can be assured that your technique is to be blamed for mishaps and not the consistency of the wind. I learned in gusty and unpredictable wind conditions which made learning much more challenging, not knowing what was technique and what was erratic-wind related.

As far as the spit and the golden triangle are concerned, I think that the new mayor sees that windsports are an essential part of the Squamish “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada” and so will any future mayor. Protecting salmon habitat is critical too though and so modifying the spit to suit both needs makes sense. Relocating is not as ideal, but the wind tunnel will always be there as long as you’re willing/able to kite over to it.


#8

I invited the new mayor of Squamish, Karen Elliott, to provide her insight on the future of the Spit. She kindly replied and mentioned that some key factors in the decision around the future of the Squamish River Training Berm (or Squamish Spit) are outlined on page 53 of the city’s Integrated Flood and Hazard Management Plan.

One of the points that she highlighted in particular was that “The training berm currently provides valuable recreational access to Squamish Spit”. She also stated that “there are no current plans to dismantle the spit” and that this will not happen without a “significant amount of public consultation” to find a “win-win for all affected groups”.

Image from p.21 of the Integrated Flood and Hazard Management Plan:

Excerpt from p.53 of the Integrated Flood and Hazard Management Plan is below:

Squamish River Training Berm

The Squamish River training berm extends south from the Squamish River dike into Howe Sound. The IFHMP Background Report concluded that it will be costly to preserve and protect the training berm from the effects of Sea Level Rise.

As the District begins planning for a new sea dike, there is also an opportunity to consider the future of the existing training berm. Several key issues should be considered:
• The training berm was originally built to support industrial development that never occurred. The estuary now provides valuable habitat as part of the Skwelwil’em Squamish Estuary Wildlife Management Area.
• Environmental assessments have recognized the value of reconnecting the river to Crescent Slough. Several large culverts through the training berm were installed to provide some connection.
• The future sea dike will mean that there is no longer any flood protection benefit for downtown.
• Removing the training berm may allow sediment to accumulate more quickly near Squamish Terminals.
• The training berm currently provides valuable recreational access to Squamish Spit.
• Removing the training berm would lead to long-term savings on operation, maintenance, repair, and upgrading.
• Cost savings may be available if material from the training berm can be used to construct the new sea dike.
• If the training berm is removed, larger waves will be able to travel further up Crescent Slough.
Questions about the future of the Squamish River training berm are beyond the scope of the IFHMP. The District should review its options as part of a future IFHMP update.