Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008.35.128 - Windy Day on the Bay

We weren't sure if we were going to have much of a paddle today as Louise, Richard, Paula and I met at Cadboro Bay beach. Wind warnings were up, and Richard's pocket weather station was picking up gusts of 15 knots on shore. Our initial idea of going out to Chatham Island was up in the air (no pun intended), but Cadboro Bay itself was reasonably sheltered so we thought we would poke our noses out of the end of the bay and see what the channel beyond looked like.
We weren't the only people out for a paddle; Ocean River brought down a bunch of kayaks for lessons, and a couple arrived with these beautiful wooden boats on their SUV.

We headed out to Flower Island, and looked out to Jemmy Jones and Chatham Islands beyond to the east. Looking north, we could also see that the "freight train" was running full bore. The flooding tide and northerly winds were kicking up a large standing wave and breakers across Baynes Channel. As the forecast was calling for the winds to increase, it was clear that we weren't going to cross today.

We decided to head north along Ten Mile Point towards the lighthouse at its tip. This was one of the few times that Richard looked at us and thought we were nuts. Usually, it's the other way around. But we assured him we had no intention of going further -- that would have put us right into the "freight train," and let's face it, we're wimpy flat water paddlers at heart.
It was a tough slog at times as the winds were getting stronger just as forecast. One of us (who will remain anonymous but her initials are Louise) was heard to remark, "I [DELETED EXPLETIVE] hate [DELETED EXPLETIVE] kayaking!" as the waves bounced her boat around and she somehow ended up with spray in her ears.
This is a small channel near the lighthouse. It's usually flat calm, maybe the occasional swell, and we've rarely seen a wave on the water beyond, but today it was a little gnarlier. The wind was not kicking up really large waves where we were, but it was coming in at close to its forecast 20-25 knots and paddling was becoming more like work than fun.

So we turned around to head back...

...and almost got run over by a flotilla of sailboats.

It was good to see that someone was enjoying the windy day!

Cadboro Bay
Trip length: 6.97 km
My photos are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008.34.127 - Silver and Gold

The sun glinted off the glassy flat sea in sparkles of silver and gold as Paula, Richard, Louise and I put in the water early on Sunday.
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The water was dead flat, practically a mirror.
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As I paused fo a moment to watch a heron, the other three had a quick discussion. Richard decided that he wanted to head south and check out Trial Island, while the rest of us would putter around and meet him out at the Chain Islands. We checked our radios to make sure they were working, and Richard headed off while the rest of us headed out toward Flower Island.
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From there, Chatham Island beckoned. The currents were mild as we paddled across under the clouds.
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We saw a few seals, but they were camera shy. After skirting the south side, we turned to make for the Chain Islands.
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When we got to the Chains, we saw more seals, and they were a little more willing to pose.
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Although the water was flat, there were currents pushing through the Chains, turning us around. This can a tricky place when the currents really get going. Then I spotted an eagle on a rock.
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I drifted in close....
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...and snapped pictures like crazy.

As we paddled around the far side of Great Chain Island (and scaring a dozen or so seals into the water as we did), we saw a speck heading our way from Trial Island. We waited for Richard, floating in the current around Great Chain. When he arrived, he said, "It was a high-pitched squeal on the Bernie-Cackle-Meter™! You guys would've killed me if I had dragged you down there! As soon as I hit the point, there was rough and confused water. The currents around Trial were crazy! I was paddling like mad and going nowhere!"
The currents where we were were not as crazy, but they were moving us quickly along. We thought for a moment that we could ride all the way back to Cadboro Bay, but we soon realized that they were taking us through Baynes Channel and out to sea. That meant that it was time to start paddling again.
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We headed towards Mary Tod Island near the shore, but I took a detour as I had spotted something perched on the navigational light.
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We headed back into Cadboro Bay, and the water was even smoother than when we left! A great paddle!
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Trip length: 12.66 km
My pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

2008.33.126 - Portland Island Circumnavigation

A beautiful Saturday morning on Thanksgiving weekend. The sun, the sea and Sidney's air raid siren. The siren was only a test, but the bright sun and the glassy sea were for real as Louise, Richard and I planned to paddle from Sidney to Portland Island.
Sidney Pano

As we headed out, this heron was sitting on a rock. We all whipped our cameras out and started taking pictures. The poor heron must have thought that he was sharing his perch with Paris Hilton.
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This heron seemed a lot more comfortable with ocean traffic.
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Looking out for ferries is standard procedure in this area. We're right by the Swartz Bay ferry terminal where major routes converge and we would have to cross them to get to Portland Island. We didn't have to worry about this particular vessel; it's a brand new Super "C" class ferry, and won't be in service until next month.
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We paused at Coal Island to wait for this ferry to pass.
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Louise had a moment as the ferry went by. Richard and I paddled out into the wake, but she got caught too close to shore as the wake came in, and she had a moment as she and the waves bashed into the rocks. But she survived, a little shaken, but she gamely carried on.
We quickly made the crossing to Pym Island. It's a short but vital crossing; once we'd made this crossing we could stay out of the ferry lanes.
From there, we crossed to Portland Island.
Portland Pano
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What a jewel this island is! We stopped at a shell beach on the south end. What a view!
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We hung out here for a few minutes as the ferries rumbled by.
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We put in and started our paddle around. Near the north side, we saw a seal enjoying the sun....
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...and a pair of eagles that were enjoying watching the seal.
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We put in at another beach on the north side...
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...where Richard just had to try the composting outhouse.
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Earlier as we started our way around Portland Island, we passed a couple in a rowboat enjoying the day. But as we readied to depart Portland, we saw them again. This time, they seemed to be following something that was swimming through the water. Louise moved in a little closer and it turned out that a raccoon was swimming from one of the small islets over to the bigger island of Portland. Okay, not as cool as when we saw the swimming deer last year, but it's still cool. Check out Louise's paddle report for her pictures of the raccoon.
We left Portland, casting one last look back. We'll come back to this magical place.
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We headed back, tired and bedraggled from a long paddle, but thankful for a safe and terrific journey.
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Portland Island

Trip length: 20.39 km
My pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.