Friday, May 25, 2012

Sandy Island, Could It Be Paradise???

Sandy (Tree) Island on the left and Denman Island on the right from the Union Bay boat launch

This past week we scouted out the possibility of making the crossing over to Denman Island from Union Bay but the SE winds running up Baynes Sound have made the trip not possible. With the arriving high pressure the winds switched direction NW and other than a slight ripple in the morning the water totally flattens out by noon. So today we launched out of the Union Bay boat launch ($5 fee) and started our crossing over to Henry Bay.

One of the reasons for this trip was to visit Sandy (Tree) Island Provincial Park and the Seal Islets that make up a unique spit at the end of Denman Island. At low tide Denman, Sandy and Seal Islands are connected by expansive sand bars and you can actually walk from to each one. As our paddle was on the ebb we and were able to experience this geological feature although by our kayaks.

Arriving in Henry Bay in perfect conditions

Crossing Baynes Sound we experienced no ebb current at all and with only a slight breeze in our face we stopped for a few minutes in Henry Bay to take a few photos. When we looked back towards Union Bay the view of the Beaufort Range was spectacular with it's snow topped peaks glistening in the sun.

The Beaufort Range seen from Henry Bay on Denman Island

Paddling north towards Sandy Island we landed at the Sandy Island Provincial Marine Park to check out the information board and of course to find a Geocache close by. Although you are allowed to camp overnight at the park no fires are permitted. Sounds like a great way to spend a weekend of exploring Denman and neighbouring Hornby Islands in the future. Maybe a West Coast Paddler camp out opportunity???

While Robyn made the "find" I sorted through the hundreds of sand dollars in the shallow water to do a little creative addition to Gecko. There were so many of all sizes available that it wasn't hard to find the perfect ones to give the Gecko a little sunscreen protection on his pads. Once the photo was taken the live sand dollars were returned back to the water. 

When Robyn returned she brought back with her a trackable item called a Travel Bug (TB) from the Geocache. The goal of the TB was to get it's picture taken during kayaking trips so it fit perfect with what we are doing this week. We'll take this TB with us and place it in another "cache" during our future paddles.

Heading further north we landed on Seal Island and made the trek up above the high water line to have lunch. From here you could really see the exposed sand bar that connects Sandy Island and Seal Island. One day soon we'll have to make this trip during high tide to get the full perspective of this geological feature.

View from Seal Island of Sandy Island with Denman Island in the background.
At high tide there is water between all of these islands that make up the "spit" of Denman.  

For our paddle back to Union Bay we decided to head straight to the "barking" sea lions that we could hear all the way across Baynes Sound. Sure enough at the log sort just north of Union Bay we found a colony of massive sea lions sunning themselves on the log booms. Being careful not to get too close we managed to get some great pictures of the bulls establishing their territory and protecting the females and young. The roar they created as they barked at one another was so loud that it was hard for Robyn and I hear each other talk.

I counted 37 sea lions that I could see on the logs. Boy they sure are big out of the water.

Paddling our way back south to Union Bay we passed the area where the old coal loading piers used to be. The sea floor in this area still hasn't recovered from the years of pollution and slag that made it's way into the ocean. After paddling in such pristine conditions across Baynes Sound it was quite a contrast and sad to see.

Back into Union Bay to complete a fabulous day on the water. Tomorrow our plans are to visit the southern end of Denman Island which is home to the Chrome Island Lighthouse.

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