-5C and dark. That's what you get when you get up before the sun does. By the time Louise and I made our way to Cadboro Bay beach for the first paddle of the new year a couple of hours later, the temperature had risen to a balmy -4. But at least it was no longer dark.
We met Paula for a quick paddle to start the New Year. The highlight was going to be us taking pictures of Bernie taking his annual polar bear swim. Louise is fighting a cold but volunteered to photograph Bernie from shore and I was was going to take shots from my kayak. However, Paula informed us that Bernie woke up feeling under the weather and had decided to hibernate instead. So Louise didn't get any pictures of Bernie, but she did get one of me all geared up and ready to go.
Paula started out in her small inflatable while I was still gearing up. I told her I would catch up as she paddled along the south side of Ten Mile Point.
As I departed a few minutes later, I tried to keep an eye out for her but the sun was low to the horizon and she was lost in the glare. We finally connected near Sheep Cove and paddled together towards Flower Island.
We saw the occasional seal head pop up here and there, as well as a heron who seemed to take special delight in tormenting photographers. I spotted him on the shore off a small rocky islet, and I carefully maneuvered so that the low sun was behind me. I pulled my big camera out of its waterproof bag, but just as my camera was ready, he flew off. He didn't fly far, just from the shore to the top of the islet, but I had to pack up the camera and reposition myself to try again. And again, it was as soon as I had the camera ready that he moved, but this time he didn't fly. He merely took a few steps down the far side of the rocky outcropping and out of my sight. I could almost feel his disdain -- apparently I wasn't even worth the bother of flying away from!
Paula hung around Flower Island, but I ventured out a bit to watch the wind and the currents working. We were near the end of a huge high tide, and the current was going to pick up later in the day with a fast-flowing ebb. The breeze picked up a bit as I paddled into in the more open channel. I looked over saw Mount Baker looming in the distance.
Earlier in the bay we could just barely make out the top of Mount Rainer, so today was what Paula likes to call a two-volcano day.
As I headed back towards Paula at Flower Island, I could see she was over by Evans Rock on the south-ish side, and as I came closer, she paddled towards me with a look of concentration that made me think that she was trying to impart some message to me telepathically.
As we met, she said, "Go slowly around. On the left side of that rock there's two otters."
After being burned by that heron, I was certainly willing to try to get a few shots of the otters.
At first I only saw one otter....
...and he was busy rubbing his ass against a big log. How charming.
But as they scampered around the rock...
...I quickly realized that there were three otters on the rock.
I don't think the otters even realized we were there. Paula had drifted behind me as I took pictures, then the otters hit the ocean for a swim. They followed Paula for a while...
...until they finally realized that something big and red was behind them and they disappeared with quick splashes of their tails.
After that we headed back towards shore....
...where we looked down the beach and saw Mike Jackson and some buddies putting in for their first paddle of the year. Guess my lead over him for most paddles this year is not going to last long!
Trip Length: 4.75 km
YTD: 4.75 km
More pictures are here.