Saturday, September 29, 2012

Esquimalt Harbour

It's been over a year of paddling and for some reason (maybe we were too busy LOL) we seemed to have missed kayaking out of the Esquimalt Lagoon. So this past weekend we figured we would saturate ourselves with a couple of trips launching from the great little sandy beach that is a) easy to access and b) doesn't cost a dime to park at. It doesn't get any better unless you are kayaking with great friends as we did both days.

Arial view of CFB Esquimalt and the harbour.
The Saturday paddle was planned during the middle of last week with Sheila and Neil joining us on a tour of the Esquimalt harbour which is home to the Royal Canadian Navy Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC). We had the opportunity to visit CFB Esquimalt only once before when the U.S. carrier Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)  came to port for a visit.   Otherwise we have only caught glimpses of it from higher vantage points around the city. So this paddle we would be viewing the base from the water.

Leaving the put in location we headed towards the Esquimalt Harbour but got side tracked by playing in the small surf waves just before Fisgard Lighthouse. It wasn't long before we were soaked but what the heck ... we are kayakers and kayakers get wet sometimes on purpose! After our play time we headed into the harbour and were greeted by a couple of Dall's porpoise hunting in the harbour. 

Keeping our distance from the active navy docks we made our way to Cole Island which has quite a naval history dating back to the mid 1800's establish by the British. Once an ammunitions facility and now a heritage site, there is an effort under way to make the site a marine park to preserve the historical significance of the military presence on the west coast.

Sheila and Neil playing in the archways of the ammunitions buildings

We took the opportunity to land (literally) and check out the island and I have to admit it was pretty cool! It also gave us the opportunity to get the Geocache that is hidden on the island. We also met up again with a couple who were out on the their first paddle in their new Venture "Flex" kayaks and they stopped to explore Cole Island as well.

After our Cole Island exploration we paddled up the river under bridge near the 6 Mile Pub in hopes of reaching the waterfall. However the water level was too low but we did have some fun paddling in the shallows. Here Neil does the walk of shame after running aground in a narrow leg of the river. LOL

Heading back down stream we entered the harbour and made our way over to Richard's Island for our lunch stop. It also gave Robyn the opportunity to find the Geocache on this island as well. Robyn and I had a little opposite circumnavigation race around the island after lunch which you can see on our track at the 9km mark.

The idea was to see who could make it back to the starting point first. I will brag and say that I won but Robyn held her own and I only beat her by about 15 yards. I knew she would love that Werner paddle!!

We had dinner plans for later in the day so we had to be off the water around 3:30 so we paddled back past the lighthouse and played in the wave surge in the rock gardens. Oh yeah .... I tried my skill at towing the other three paddlers while they hung onto my kayak. Yeah ...... I don't want to do that too often. LOL

Nearing the put in location we again saw small breaking waves near the point so Sheila and I headed over to them to try our luck at surfing the small sets. Although tough to see the waves starting to form, every so often a set would show themselves a little further out and we tried to ride them.

This was my first real experience of surfing waves breaking on a beach and I must admit that I am pretty well hooked and want to do it again and in bigger conditions. It wasn't long before Robyn and Neil were right in the surf zone riding the edges of the waves as they came in. Another great paddling extended summer day on the west coast.

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