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Boundary Bay - Sailing Site Info

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by C36 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:41 pm

BOUNDARY BAY
Including Centennial Beach, 4th Avenue, 3rd Avenue, the boat launch (1a Avenue) and Maple Beach

Image Intermediate
Gentle summer flat water.
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Image Expert Sailing
Storm front waves!
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Location

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Locust+B ... 8&t=h&z=18

Coordinates:
1. Centennial: 49.014708,-123.040941
2. 4th Avenue: 49.010036,-123.036661
3. 3rd Avenue: 49.008502,-123.036103
4. Boat launch (1a Avenue): 49.004701,-123.035481
5. Maple Beach: 48.994889,-123.03179

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Directions:
  • Find your way to the South Fraser Perimeter Road (Highway 17)
  • Travel west toward Tsawwassen/Point Roberts
  • Turn left onto 56th Street into Tsawwassen
  • Turn left onto 12 Avenue
  • Stay right and continue onto Boundary Bay Road
  • Turn left into the entrance of Boundary Bay Park*
  • Turn right at the stop sign to reach the south parking lot (windsurfing only)
*To reach any of the other launches continue further south on Boundary Bay Road/3 Avenue

Parking:
1. Centennial:
  • Is gate controlled and hours change seasonally - if you arrive early and the gate is locked park and launch at 3rd
  • Use the south parking lot (nice grass rigging area and closest to the launch)
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2. 4th Avenue:
  • On street parking on the residential streets (please be courteous to the residents)
3. 3rd Avenue:
  • On street parking on the residential streets (please be courteous to the residents)
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4. Boat launch (1a Avenue):
  • Four off-street angle parking stalls (one handicapped)
  • On street parking on the residential streets (please be courteous to the residents)
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5. Maple Beach:
  • On street parking is available on Roosevelt and some of the other residential streets

Wind
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Seasons/Days/Strength:
Centennial offers up more days of storm sailing than any other spot in Metro Vancouver, but isn’t as frequent as spots on the Island (Columbia and Comox) or spots to the south (Locust and Whidbey Island).
  • Cold weather sailing dominates
  • 7 months of the year have 20 mph days
  • Only 3 months of the year have 25 mph days - February, November and December (surprisingly March doesn't show better)
  • More days in spring (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr) but stronger days in the fall (Oct, Nov, Dec)
  • Summer is kite weather
  • Look at all the east wind (about half)
Direction(s):
Northeast through southwest
  • Northeast (cold, steady artic outflow, often flatter water)
  • East (straight onshore, small waves at 3rd and Maple Beach on higher tide)
  • Southeast (steadier wind and swell)
  • South-southeast (steadier wind and larger swell – more fetch)
  • South (puffier sideshore wind and down-the-line opportunities in the shore break at 3rd/4th)
  • Southwest (gusty, side-offshore wind that can allow down-the-line rides further offshore).
Quirks:
East wind:
  • Wind can be strongest to the south of Centennial and gradual get weaker to the south toward Maple Beach (rising land maybe lifting wind off the water)
Southeast through southwest wind:
  • Wind can shut off quickly
  • 3rd – wind can be slightly stronger and more consistent then at Centennial
  • Centennial – the wind can fan out (and get weaker) to the south of the launch
Water
Conditions:
Centennial often creates more of a crumbling wind-blown wind swell than a wave, although clean standing lines of waves can be presented and these are more common on the second bank (outer) bank of Boundary Bay.

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South 20-25 mph (2015 Feb 5), photo credit: Michael

On winder days the waves at Boundary Bay are generated by the rolling swell from the deeper water breaking over the shallow flat benches of sand.

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Photo credit: http://lilypointparklodge.com

The picture above shows the first bank exposed in a low-mid tide looking north from Lilly Point in bottom centre, Maple Beach on the centre right and 3rd/4th/Centennial in the upper right. As shown in the photo the edge of the first bank is much closer at Maple Beach than it is at Centennial. The graphic below shows the estimated edge of both the first and second banks as they sweeping away from the beach from south to north. The estimated distances of the two banks are listed below, moving from north to south you can see the distances decrease:
  • Centennial Beach: first bench about 1.5 km and second bench about 3.0 km
  • 3rd/4th Avenue: first bench about 1.2 km and second bench about 2.4 km
  • Boat launch: : first bench about 1.1 km and second bench about 2.2 km
  • Maple Beach: first bench about 0.6 km and second bench about 1.9 km

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Understanding the shape of the benches of sand in Boundary Bay helps to understand the water conditions.

Regardless of which launch you choose, the water conditions (wind swell/waves/ramps) often get better (bigger wind swell/waves/ramps) the further you go out until you hit the edge of the second bank and here they turn into deep water rolling swell. That’s why it is so hard to get a picture of what it feels like out in the ‘good stuff’, because it is so far out!

The best water conditions (wind swell/waves/ramps) seem to show up when the tide is about 3 m or higher and there is more water pushing over both banks.

Image
South 30-35 mph (2014 Dec 9), photo credit: Michael

On a good solid southeast through southwest wind:

  • The water conditions can vary greatly from launch to launch on any given tide, but in general the nicest wind swell/waves/ramps can be found between 3rd Street and the boat launch. Even on the same day the difference between Maple Beach, the boat launch, 3rd Avenue, 4th Avenue and Centennial Beach can be dramatic.

  • Inside (over the first bank) waves are generally good jumping ramps (short and steep) that sweep toward you in the side-onshore wind, but they are not really fast enough or organized enough to ride – they crumble (pitch, peak, sluff, and reform but do not really break, close-out or dump).

  • Inside (over the second bank) the wind swell is more wave-like (there are often tightly spaced standing waves in lines over sections of the second bank, depending on tide depth, tide direction, and wind/wave angle).

  • Ramp shape over the first bank on a shallower tide can often be quarter-round “C” shaped and taller, more vertical (or wall like) on the second bank.

  • Jumping opportunities abound (with larger flat sections between waves at Centennial allowing you the opportunity to build speed) with waist to shoulder high ramps common on ‘good’ days. If you enjoy jumping starboard, this is the spot for you!

  • Ramp/wave spacing is often greater off Centennial (there are often larger flat sections between ‘ramps’) and grows tighter the further south you go and they can be very tightly spaces at 3rd Avenue in certain conditions.

  • The ramps at Boundary Bay are large enough and steep enough for windsurfing back loop at 3rd Avenue – Daniel (DD) was seen to land two in one session (one he didn’t sail away from, but they were both pretty impressive). Even when 3rd Avenue sets up ‘just right’ you may have to watch for a ride out over both banks to get one wave face to stand up and say ‘back loop please’.

  • Outside swell can be moderate to large rolling swell – similar, but rounder than the deep channel at Acadia with jumping to starboard and port (if you drive to windward).

  • Riding waves is usually limited to a few linked backside turns or a single backside-frontside-backside transition (either outbound or inbound), but backside rides inbound to windward are possible if the wind/wave angle sets up right (most common just off 4th Avenue in the lee of the 3rd Avenue point)

  • Although the side-offshore wind on a southwest wind can produce a wind/wave angle that can present some short down-the-line riding opportunities

On a east wind the bay tends to stay flatter, but with stronger wind on a higher tide some decent chop and small waves can begin to roll.

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Width:
The bay is about 11 km wide between Centennial and Crescent Beach in White Rock and Maple Beach is over 2 km south of the launch at Centennial, so there is lots of open water. For those that want to cruise around a sail south (upwind) to Lilly Point (4 km south of Centennial) can prove to be fun adventure in steady wind and with a complimentary wind/wave angle.

Depth/Tide:
It is possible to sail Boundary Bay on any tide height – it’s just a matter of how far you will have to walk to reach the water. But at Centennial it can be a LONG walk on lower tides!

4+ m:
  • Launch at the beach (all beaches)
  • NO WALKING at any of the beaches
  • Water over head high on the first back – you will be swimming after you launch
3 m:
  • Launch at the beach (all beaches)
  • NO WALKING at any of the beaches
  • At Centennial about 100’ of the first beach can be exposed or be too shallow to sail over
  • water is about chest deep over the first bench
    Centennial
    3rd Avenue
    Boat ramp
2.5 m:
  • Some of the sand from the first bench will be exposed
  • MEDIUM WALK at Centennial
  • SHORT WALK at 3rd
  • The outer half of the first bench may have some knee deep water
    Centennial
1.5 m:
  • LONG WALK @ Centennial (over a km as the first bank would likely be fully exposed and the second bank may only be partially sailable)
  • MEDIUM WALK at 3rd
  • SHORT WALK at boat launch (with some sailing fairly close to shore)
  • Second bench is sailable at all beaches
    Centennial
    3rd Avenue
    Boat ramp
0 m:
  • Second bench is exposed
  • VERY LONG WALK (~3 km at Centennial or ~2 km at the boat ramp)
  • LONG WALK at 3rd
  • MEDIUM WALK at boat launch
  • Its doable, but only if you REALLY want a session
  • I couldn’t find any example pictures – the water must have been too far away!

Alton once mentioned that these tide heights are “predicted”. This is an important point as I have noticed that tides that are “predicted” as higher can seem lower and tides that are “predicted” as lower can seem higher (almost a meter different). This sometimes means you are walking out or home when there was ~3 m “predicted”.

Sweet Spot(s):
East wind:
  • Playful little knee-high waves off the boat launch
  • Waist-high waves off Maple Beach
  • A field of waves can appear to either side of the boarder marker (concrete monolith) on a predicted tide of about 1.6 m
Southeast to southwest wind:
  • Outer edge of the second bank off Centennial (waves can set up in clean lines)
  • The sand bar in the cove off 4th on a higher tide
  • Shore break at 3rd on a higher tide (particularly on a south or southwest wind)
  • Big swell south of the boarder marker (concrete monolith)
Southwest wind:
  • Over the second bench and beyond (depending on the tide)
Weeds:
  • Heavy (fall) to light (spring) – Eelgrass
What to Wear:
  • Winter: 6/5/3 full suit with hood, boots, gloves
  • Spring/fall: 5/3 full suit, hoods, boots
  • Summer: 3/3 full suit or less
Beach
Centennial is the largest of these beaches, followed by Maple Beach, 3rd, 4th (which really is the northern end of the point at 3rd) and the boat ramp (which is quite narrow). On a mid to low tide all of the beaches are connected by the sand of the exposed first bench.

Rigging Areas:
  • Centennial: grass lawn (windsurfing gear only)
  • 4th Avenue: grass lawn on the boulevards on 4th Avenue (windsurfing gear) and the open sand of the upper beach (kites)
  • 3rd Avenue: grass lawn on the boulevards on 3rd Avenue (windsurfing gear) and the open sand of the upper beach (kites)
  • Boat launch (1a Avenue): hard surface and wild grass (windsurfing gear)
    Maple Beach: to be confirmed
Launches:
  • Launch into side-onshore conditions in a SE (side shore in a south and onshore on an east wind)
  • Windsurfing only at Centennial Beach (Metro Vancouver doesn’t allow kites)
  • Lots of room to stage and launch kites at 3rd
  • Narrow beach at boat ramp on high tide, sand bench exposes on mid-1 m tide
Amenities:
  • Change rooms/washrooms at Centennial (all year)
  • Outdoor showers at Centennial (summer only)
  • Café at Centennial (summer only)
Fees:
  • None
Heads Up
Cautions:
  • Shore break on high tide/storm surge
  • Floating logs on high tide/storm surge
  • Nasty reflective wave off shore to the south of the boat launch (caused by the vertical concrete break wall) on a high tide
  • Sand bars on ebbing tide (they are pretty solid when you hit them at speed)
  • Long walk in if you are caught on the outside when the tide ebbs to leave one or both of the banks exposed
Tips:
  • If you see clear blue sky to the west on a southeast storm front, stick close to shore (the wind may be spinning southwest and/or shutting down soon
  • If the tide is high and the shore break is really nasty at 3rd take at look at 4th
  • If the tide is less than 2 m consider launching at the Boat ramp (or Maple Beach)
Weather
When to go:
  • SE forecast with the path of the low passing over Vancouver Island
  • Check WindGuru GFS forecast (tends to triumph the others)
  • Make sure BWD forecast 1 is predicting wind over 20 mph all three of the following sites (Tsawwassen, Point Roberts and Centennial)
  • Check METAR-TAF forecast on the day of (all you need here is more than 12 mph)
  • Actuals on iWindsurf Centennial site averaging over 20 mph (subscription required)
  • When Michael uses the words “nice waves” in his OSR
Links:
Tides
Sunrise and sunset
Hourly forecast temperatures (winter)
Boundary Bay webcam

Pictures and Videos
Unless noted otherwise, all pictures used and referenced in this post are by C36 (all rights reserved).

Centennial:
East 20 mph on a mid-3 dropping to 2 m tide (2014 Dec 29)
East 30 mph on a 4 m dropping to 3 m tide (2014 Nov 11)

South 20 mph on a 4 m dropping to 3 m tide (2014 Nov 27)
Southeast 25-30 mph on a mid-4 m dropping to a 3 m tide (2012 Nov 18)
South-Southeast 30-35 mph on a ~3 m tide (2011 Mar 2)
Southeast 35-40 on mid-3 m tide (2012 Dec 15)
South 40+ mph on a 4 m tide (2012 Mar 12)

3rd:
Southeast 20-25 mph on mid-3 m tide (2011 Mar 12)
South-Southeast 30-35 mph on ~3 m tide (2011 April 8)

Boat Ramp:
Southeast 20 mph on an 3.8 m dropping to 1.2 m tide (2014 Apr 4)
Southeast 25-30 mph on 2 m tide (2013 Sept 22)
30-35 mph on a 3 m tide (2014 Feb 16)

Centennial southeast 20-25 mph on 4 m tide (2014 Nov 21)


Centennial southeast 25-30 mph on mid 3 m tide (2014 Nov 6)


3rd southwest 15-20 mph on a 4 m tide (2014 Nov 23)


3rd to Centennial south 20-25 mph on a 4 m tide (2014 Nov 27)


3rd south 30-35 mph on a 4 m tide plus storm surge (2014 Dec 9)


Other Stuff
First Discovered By:
Lore and Legend:

Disclaimer
Every sailor is responsible for sailing safely, including checking local conditions first hand, choosing appropriate gear and sailing within their ability. Have fun, sail safe!

Thanks
Thanks to the early Boundary Bay pioneers. Thanks to Alton, Daniel, Elliot E, Jerry and many others who shared the water and their local knowledge in my early sessions there. Thanks to Michael who worked with iWindsurf/iKitesurf to have the Boundary Bay sensor reactivated after the Bayside Squash Club changed ownership.

Updates
If you see anything that should be corrected or you have information that you think should be added, please post it to this thread and we will update the main post. Thanks.

/edit (2015 Mar 29) - reference to gate added for Centennial in the "Parking" section
Last edited by C36 on Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:35 pm, edited 17 times in total.
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by Michael » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:43 pm

Thanks Dave! Love that shot of Elliot!
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by Richi » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:26 pm

Yeah those are amazing write-ups David! You should write your name somewhere on there as the publisher, it would keep C36 alive in windsurfing folklore :)
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by gabrielb » Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:05 pm

C36, Thanks for all this info. I'll print it. All this helps as I should start getting serious about windsurfing . There should be a direct link on the menu of this website detailing different aspects of SUP, Windsurfing, Kiting, Surfing locally like the post you wrote (a wiki article)... so it does not disappear buried in other posts.
People are making the same mistakes locally choosing to drop the sport altogether for the lack of proper info ... the more information the better, the more people in the water the more awareness about keeping our local waters healthy (surfing with lion's gate primary treatment close by, on outgoing tide has made me sick a few times, kiters too).
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by C36 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:30 pm

Michael wrote:Thanks Dave! Love that shot of Elliot!

Glad you like it M. I like that shot too! :ugeek:

Richi wrote:Yeah those are amazing write-ups David! You should write your name somewhere on there as the publisher, it would keep C36 alive in windsurfing folklore :)

:D Glad you like them Richi! I appreciate the kind words, although technically I think http://www.wtfbc.ca is the publisher. :D ;)

gabrielb wrote:C36, Thanks for all this info....

You are very welcome!

gabrielb wrote:...There should be a direct link on the menu of this website detailing different aspects of SUP, Windsurfing, Kiting, Surfing locally like the post you wrote (a wiki article)... so it does not disappear buried in other posts...

There is - as each of these are posted Alton has very kindly been pinning them to the top of the "general" discussion page and adding links on the right side-bar menu (shown on all pages) at the bottom under the "Sailing Site Info" heading. 8-)

gabrielb wrote:...People are making the same mistakes locally choosing to drop the sport altogether for the lack of proper info ... the more information the better, the more people in the water the more awareness about keeping our local waters healthy (surfing with lion's gate primary treatment close by, on outgoing tide has made me sick a few times, kiters too).

That is the reason for doing it - to help share the info and encourage more people to participate. :D
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by Faceplant » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:31 pm

Well done! Many hours must've gone into that for sure!
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by Slappy » Sat May 30, 2015 11:22 am

What's the consensus on which tide station to use for centennial?

I've always used White Rock but I could see some people using tsawwassen instead. Comparing them today I see tsawwassen can read a full 0.3m higher than White Rock.
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by Michael » Sat May 30, 2015 12:55 pm

Slappy wrote:What's the consensus on which tide station to use for centennial?

I've always used White Rock but I could see some people using tsawwassen instead. Comparing them today I see tsawwassen can read a full 0.3m higher than White Rock.

I use the Tsawwassen one. I keep all my records of the best tide setups I've sailed over the years with that one and know how it relates to Boundary Bay best. I also like to check the webcam as a reference. They are just an estimate and sometimes vary from time to time.
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by C36 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:02 pm

ShonanDB wrote:I sailed at Lighthouse Park in Point Roberts on a SE one day 2 years ago near low tide (ebbing) as I didn't want to walk from 3rd and it was decent. I was sailing parallel to the Southern beach between the Lighthouse and the Marina and once in a while a few sets that wrapped around Lily Point would come through at 90 degrees. On the West side of the point there were waist to chest high well spaced rollers coming through and some breaking waves to jump right at the point. Much better than flat water at Tsawwassen.

Cross-posted for easy reference.
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