Sunday, October 16, 2011

Alternate Destination...Brentwood Bay & Tod Inlet

Robyn and I headed down to Ocean River this morning looking forward to spending the afternoon paddling around the Victoria Inner Harbor but were surprised to find our that there was some sort of kayak race happening. Funny, we called OR yesterday and there was no mention of the race weekend but Dan at OR today was very apologetic and offered to get us into boats if we didn't mind the congestion at the dock. After taking a walk down to see the action on the dock we decided to take a pass on the Inner Harbor today and look for an alternate paddling site to rent our equipment.

Robyn suggested that we head out to Brentwood Bay so after searching the internet for the local "yak" shop and stopping off for a Starbucks recharge we were on our way. The day was shaping up to be spectacular with the warm autumn sun working hard to take the morning chill out of the air. After parking close by the Mill Bay ferry ramp we followed the signs to Pacifica Paddle Sports where Sandra  set us up for a couple of hours of paddling. It was another opportunity to try out a couple different designs and I got my hands on 18'.3" Nimbus Telkwa and Robyn got a 16' Necky Arluk IV. Getting to be pros at setting the cockpit and safety gear up, we were on our way in a short amount of time after testing the boats for feel and turning capabilities. 

Robyn paddles by the BC Ferries Klitsa. For many years this ferry serviced the Chemainus to Thetis Island route where Robyn's Dad lived. Many times we traveled on the Klitsa and it was nice to see her once again after so many years.

It's been years since I was last on the waters of Brentwood Bay and boy it has developed a lot with condos looking like they run all the way down to the water line and pleasure craft of all shapes and sizes. Right in the heart of the bay,  BC Ferries operates the Klitsa between Brentwood Bay and Mill Bay. This has been a much debated service over the years but it's what makes this part of Vancouver Island lifestyle what it is.

We paddled our way clockwise from Pacifica to check out the busy marina and some of the vessels moored at the docks or in the bay itself. One of the largest ships in the marina is the MV Sea Lion that was built in 1905 to tow huge log booms down the BC Coastline. Her massive 33-metre keel was carved out of a single old-growth Douglas fir and 10 cm planks were cut from forests that no longer exist around Vancouver today.
In later years she served as floating hotel for kayakers and Eco-tourism operators and certainly is showing the wear and tear of 106 years on the rugged BC Coast.

Gecko Paddler nestles up to the MV Sea Lion..... she's an amazing piece of  the BC maritime history.

No sooner had we past the last jetty than we were paddling into a special place known as Tod Inlet. Robyn was being watched closely on the rocky shoreline by a mother raccoon and her two young cubs and even from where I was about 100 feet away I could see their "bandit" masks in the sunshine. We paddled into a small cove that is home to the world famous Butchart Gardens which backs onto Tod Inlet and where boaters can view the magical fireworks show every Saturday night in July and August. It is such a peaceful place to visit by water and you can even visit the gardens by paddling up to their private dock. The thought of Robyn and I walking up to the Tea Room in our wet suits would be a sight to see for the tourists. LOL

The Bucthart Gardens dock with the Eco-friendly electric tour boats. I just love the sign for different types of water craft.

We continued our way deeper into the inlet and came to the old cement factory dock and pilings that are now home to the Purple Martin nesting boxes. We came across a number of kayakers near the end of the inlet including a group of students from Ocean River Paddlesports learning basic paddling strokes.

Purple Martin nesting boxes, Ocean River Paddlesports training and me (Gecko Paddler) near the cement factory piles.

Robyn passes a couple of paddle tourists from Scotland
A tandem Necky heading out of Tod Inlet

At this point we had been on the water for just over an hour and we were thoroughly enjoying trying out these kayaks. Both had features that we liked and some that we didn't but I really think that to get the perfect kayak you would have to build it yourself. One thing I did notice was the plastic blade paddle that I had seemed to flex during my stroke and even Robyn noticed it too when she tried it. Maybe we were spoiled last weekend using a composite blade that seem more efficient. Things you learn trying different equipment go a long way in getting the right equipment when it comes time to purchase your own stuff.

We completed our paddle back to Pacifica by going straight across Brentwood Bay with a slight breeze in our face. A few powered pleasure craft crossed our paths and we waived hello back and forth respecting each others place on the water. During our transit we discussed the possibility of moving our kayak acquisition date up if the opportunity came around so we will see...... maybe Santa will come early this year!

Next up: Navigation 101 Course at Ocean River Paddlesports


  1. Looks like you guys had a great day on the water. Great photos :-)

  2. Tod Inlet is a great place to paddle -- peaceful, quiet and easy to get to. Enjoy your Navigation course!