Escape to Clayoquot Sound

Finding Home in a Wild Place

By (author): John Dowd, Bea Dowd
ISBN 9781772034714
Softcover | Publication Date: April 2, 2024
Book Dimensions: 8 in. x 10 in.
320 Pages
$34.95 CAD
E-Book Price: $14.99 CAD

About the Book

A couple’s affectionate retrospective of their decade spent living off the grid, in a coastal paradise for paddlers, whale watchers, and naturalists.

Twenty years ago, two empty-nesters with a love of the outdoors stumbled upon a vacant beach house on a small island in Clayoquot Sound, part of an off-grid, ten-acre stretch nestled within a provincial park reserve. Escape to Clayoquot Sound is an extended love letter to this place, chronicling the decade John and Bea Dowd spent as year-round caretakers of the property.

Told with humour and heart in alternating voices, and lavishly illustrated throughout with stunning natural photography, this book a story of joyful solitude, of living in harmony with wildlife and respecting the forces of nature. It is about the fleeting definition of home and family, and about creating community in the wilderness. Above all, it is a tribute to an achingly beautiful, fragile place.

About the Author(s)

Bea Dowd is a photographer and editor who has worked in magazine and newspaper publishing and corporate communications. With her husband, John Dowd, she co-edited Sea Kayaker magazine.

New Zealand-born John Dowd is an internationally renowned kayak expert, photographer, and the bestselling author of Sea Kayaking: The Classic Manual for Touring, from Day Trips to Major Expeditions, as well as several adventure books for youth. With his wife, Bea Dowd, he published and co-edited Sea Kayaker magazine.


"A fascinating, immersive memoir of life off the grid. Will appeal to boaters, fishermen, adventurers, armchair travelers, and readers interested in the natural world."
Library Journal
“This book is an example of how life should be lived—following dreams, taking risks, accepting the pull to what inspires you. With lyrical prose and evocative images, it is a beautiful testament to John and Bea Dowd’s enduring love for the ocean, the land, and each other.”
—Maria Coffey, author of Instead: Navigating the Adventures of a Childfree Life
"A wild, wet, and wonderful tribute to lives lived well by the ocean, setting schedules to tides and storms, and praying that the boat will start one more time. A delight for all coastal dwellers, or those who wish to be."
—Grant Lawrence, author, Adventures in Solitude
“This deeply felt memoir from John and Bea—legends of Canadian sea kayaking—is a reminder that the grandest journeys often arise not by casting bowlines, but from setting down roots. Asking nothing and giving everything to a tiny yet unspeakably precious corner of the coast, they are rewarded with love, joy, and the rarest of commodities in today's frenetic world: true freedom.”
—Bruce Kirkby, author of Blue Sky Kingdom
“Escape into the adventures the Dowds found when they chose to live like modern-day Robinson Crusoes on bucolical Vargas Island in Clayoquot Sound, BC. This book is about what happens when real life meets the fantasy of living off the grid on a small island, and the interesting friends, neighbours, and wildlife that visit them in their remote, semi-wilderness homestead.”
—George Gronseth, the founder of Kayak Academy, co-author of Sea Kayaker Deep Trouble, and a former columnist for Sea Kayaker magazine
“For anyone who has ever entertained the thought of escaping to a rustic cabin on Canada’s west coast, John and Bea Dowd share how the dream can live up to reality. Their years in Clayoquot Sound were legendary before this book; now we can all experience the beauty and tranquility of this special location firsthand.”
—John Kimantas, author of the Wild Coast series