Sunday, August 5, 2012

Nanaimo By The Sea - Day Two

I normally put our track at the bottom of the blog entry but yesterday's track covers so much distance in the Nanaimo Harbour area that I think it would be better to show it first so that you get a better overview of our paddle.  

Yeah ... our longest (distance 21.95km and time 7.5 hours) paddle to date and #49 on our kayaking adventure. Amazing huh???

We left the river access at Living Forest Campground at 10:25am knowing that we had to get out of the estuary fast with the ebbing tide. Lucky for us we only has to walk our rides about 20 feet in one of the river channels and then we were on our way towards the Nanaimo harbour for a fun day of exploration. 

The predicted NW winds were blowing 10-15 knots into our face so we hugged the coastline until we had to transit around the Nanaimo Port Authority and then it became a bit of a slog until we reached the the Nanaimo Water Airport home to Harbour Air. One of the first things that we noticed was how busy the waterways are here with pleasure craft of all types and then throw in seaplanes trying to take off and land. Although on charts the sea plane activity area is marked there seemed to be no firm rules that pleasure craft are not to use those areas.

From this point on we were sheltered from the winds by Newcastle Island as we paddled through the various boat jetties and up the narrow channel that separates Nanaimo from Newcastle. Newcastle Island is a marine park and prior to this trip we really had no idea that it was such an amazing place and a very popular destination for boaters and kayakers. There is small walk on ferry service from the Nanaimo harbour so there are lots of ways to get there. Making our crossing over to Newcastle we made a quick stop to find a Geocache before heading towards Departure Bay.

Stopping for lunch we had a great view of Departure Bay and the BC Ferry service that goes between Nanaimo and Vancouver. There were a number of other kayakers also stopped here as well as a local scuba diving boat anchored just off shore. Once again we had no idea that Newcastle Island was such destination play area.

The seascape of the northern Gulf Islands is so much different than the southern island close to home. Everywhere we see what looks like volcanic rock that was once filled with air bubbles but I think that they might have been rocks that have worked themselves loose over time. I guess I need to research this a bit to figure out how the islands were formed.

An armada of kayaks heading towards us
After our lunch stop we paddled south towards the Dingy Dock Pub and as we came around Bate Point into Mark Bay :-) the number of pleasure craft at anchor really came into view. In between all of the boats we saw what must have been at least 50 kayaks heading towards us. At first I thought they must have been some sort of tour group but then we figured out that it must have been the Nanaimo Paddlers out on a day paddle to the islands.

Newcastle Island dock access

Playing a bit in the shallow waters between Newcastle and Protection Islands we headed to the famous Dingy Dock Pub for refreshments. They even have kayak and dingy docks to tie up at which is pretty cool!! The beer, margarita and food was great and what the heck .... we bought a Dingy Dock Pub t-shirt as well!!

The Dingy Dock Pub ..... like they say on the Food Channel.  "You Gotta Eat Here!"

Time to head back towards our base camp at Living Forest so we kept a close eye out for marine traffic and sea planes before crossing back over to the Nanaimo Water Airport. The good thing is that you can see approaching sea planes and those taxing out for take off.

The NW winds had pretty well dropped off by the time we headed into the Nanaimo River Estuary and with the flood tide, the paddle back was pretty easy. Good thing as we were starting to feel the effects of 34 C heat, length of paddle and the time on the water today. Arriving back at the river put in location there were lots of kids playing in the warm water and it looked like the kayak rentals doing a great business today as well. Hummm ...... maybe a good place to practice tomorrow on our rest day. :-)

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