Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Tale Of Two Rums

Summer continues strong here on the west coast with warm days and amazingly calm winds it made for the perfect opportunity to explore some of the furthest southern Gulf Islands from Sidney. Today we teamed up with Sheila and Neil for a day paddle to Rum Island.

But first a little history about our destination is in order since it it has played a role in the relationships between Canada and our U.S. friends just across the Salish Sea. Rum Island otherwise known as Isle-de-Lis, is located less than a mile from the Canada/U.S. border. Just like its name implies it was used as a base during the 1920's prohibition era from which smugglers used to transport prohibited spirits to Stuart Island in the U.S. The island became part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve in 1978 and although there is very little evidence left of the smugglers dwellings it has become one of the favourite camping destinations for kayakers on the south coast.

Playing with my Fuji camera before launching, I discovered the panoramic feature. In the distance
Little Shell and Ker Island can be seen almost 2 kilometres away which we would visit on the way back.
(see track image 19km point at end of blog)

Launching from Ardwell Beach, the conditions were absolutely perfect for this day trip to Rum Island. Taking advantage of the conditions we set out for a direct 5 km crossing to Forrest Island where we met up with the SISKA group (4 km mark) heading to Sidney Spit for the annual beach clean up. Lead by Mike Jackson the group was checking out the Little Group of islands before heading to work on Sidney Spit.

Almost at Forrest Island we kept an eye open for the Anacortes ferry coming around Sidney Spit.
Paddling along Gooch Island. Almost to
 Rum Island just around the corner
We paddled the length of Forrest Island and then made the 2 km crossing to Gooch Island and finally to our destination of Rum Island. The great thing about the perfect conditions is that it allowed us to relax, chat and eat wine gums along the way. At least Sheila and I did :-)

This was our first time visiting this little island and it has now been added to our kayak camping bucket list. With only 3 established tent pads facing south east the view is spectacular and today we were surprised to see them all full of boaters camping gear as evident by the giant Rubbermaid gear tubs. Nobody was around camp so we borrowed a pick-nick table for our lunch break. 

After lunch we hiked around the island on the not too established trail and I think we all got a little Salal bush whacks along the way. Oh yeah .... If you take the lead on a hike such as this make sure to carry a stick to knock down all the spider webs. I didn't and I'm pretty sure I had a bunch of those critters that I hate crawling all over me.  LOL   The hike allowed us to check out some of the other places that you could set up camp if the main area was full and offered some great views as well.

Stuart Island just beyond the arbutus tree. Not far to head to head to the U.S. from this location by kayak.

The kids ... Sheila and Neil

The tombolo landing area between Rum and Gooch Islands.

It was time to head back and this is when Sheila turned the paddle over to me. What???? I was just along for the paddle today and left all the planning to the girls for this trip. OK ..... time for me to play guide. So .... I, yes I, navigated, no GUIDED the group back home on a slightly different course island hopping our way to the north past Comet and Brethour Islands and then through the tiny pass between Sheep and Domville Islands. 

Making sure the group was together, we stopped for a brief liquid break and for those who might feel energized to actually try and go to the bathroom I even took them to the local outhouse.  No kidding, this was an actual functioning outhouse that is on the west side of Sheep Island. Too funny!!

Robyn playing in the currents near Dock Island

GUIDING the group over to Dock Island we played in the flood currents a bit before we made our way back to our put in location. It was a good way to unwind a bit and build up an appetite for our next port of call ... Rum Runners Pub in Sidney. Kinda fitting I would say ;-)

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