Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meetup Of Paddlers

Today Robyn and I headed up to Cedar, BC to join the Nanaimo Paddlers in a Meetup paddle to Pirates Cove Marine Park located on DeCourcy Island. The plan was to leave from the Cedar By-The-Sea boat ramp at 09:30, figure 8 Link & DeCourcy Islands with lunch at Pirates Cove and back through False and Dodd Narrows.

However, waking up this morning the weather forecast didn't look promising as we were expecting rain showers with NW winds 10-15 late in the morning increasing to 25 NW with a gale force warning during the afternoon. Robyn and I figured we head up to the put in location anyway and see what was happening and at the worst we would find some place along the way that we could paddle.

After driving through Cedar in the fog we arrived at the boat ramp that was bathed with beautiful warm sunshine, no wind and absolutely flat calm water. Could the marine forecast have been wrong? Meeting some familiar faces and some new we got our trusty rides ready for the day. Event Host, Reale Emond and Walter Van Bruggen went through a paddle talk on the water taking in consideration of what might happen during the day if the winds did come up. I was especially impressed with Walter asking the new kids (us) about our paddling experience and making note of our equipment.   

New friends and some familiar faces from the Nanaimo Paddlers gather for an on the water paddle talk

The area that we were paddling today is greatly influence by the ebb and flood currents that run through Dodd Narrows which can reach over 7 knots. We have hiked into the look out at Dodd Narrows before and seen it's fury on a -5 knot ebb so we had a little apprehension about today's adventure. Click HERE to see a video from our blog last year at Dodd Narrows.

Our goal today was to actually make a run through False and Dodd Narrows right at the time of the slack tide so timing was going to be very important today. Crossing Stuart Channel we passed Round Island and headed for the tombolo joining Mudge and Link Islands. The group decided to stay on the west side of DeCourcy Island since the weather was showing no signs of changing an boy are we glad. Robyn and I had paddled this route last year but today the galleries were stunning in the warm spring like sunshine.

Ursula Vaira, Walter Van Bruggen, Joanne Nicolson and Dave Ursulak enjoying the great conditions.

Dave Nichols and Kathleen McKinnell glide by one of the amazing galleries shimmering in the sun

We lazily paddled along the rocky shoreline on the way to Pirates Cove while playing in the rock gardens and observing the hundreds of Giant White-Plumed Anemones, Orange Sun Stars and Ochre (purple) Sea Stars on the rock walls below us. 

Robyn and Kathleen at Pirates Cove

Landing in Pirates Cove the group had a chance to stretch their legs, have a bite to eat and of course ... Robyn headed off to find a Geocache nearby. Did anyone bring their camping gear??? This would have been the perfect day to set up camp as the marine park was totally deserted. It was time to rig up the GoPro on my helmet for the rest of the paddle especially if we were going through Dodd Narrows.

Lunch stop #1 at Pirates Cove Marine Park

After our first lunch stop the group paddled up the east side of DeCourcy navigating around the small islets and shallow oyster beds. The water was so clear it was hard to keep our eyes above the surface. :-)

The shadow of my kayak on the bottom and a sea star captured with my GoPro

Since time was in our favor the group decided to take another lunch stop near the tombolo between Kink and Mudge Islands. Two lunch stop?? I like these Nanaimo Paddlers!!  :-)

The sheltered cove at our second lunch stop.  

However, during this stop the weather started to change dramatically, so much that it was decided by the group that we wouldn't be transiting False Narrows up to the head of Dodd Narrows. The NW winds were now starting to kick up pretty good so we portaged our kayaks across the tombolo and prepared for a lumpy crossing back to the put in location at Cedar.  

A wise decision to cut the paddle short but we had to haul our kayaks across the Mudge / Link Island tombolo. 

With the winds increasing, Walter's leadership skills were very evident as he made sure that the group was prepared for the next leg of our paddle up the west side of Mudge Island. Although a direct crossing could have been attempted the best course of action was to reduce the crossing of Stuart Channel. The safety of the group as a whole is always the best solution and in this case by hand railing up the shoreline we actually got into the shadow of the hill near Cable Bay which reduced the exposure to the wind.  

We made the shorter crossing of Stuart Channel and for the first time we got a view of Dodd Narrows from the water. So close but yet so far ..... next time!  A great first adventure with the Nanaimo Paddlers and we look forward to joining them on more Nanaimo Paddler Meetups.

2013 Paddle # 4
Distance: 18.61 km
YTD: 57.86 km

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