Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Going Back In Time - Thetis Island Memories

This past Sunday was a bit like going back in time for Robyn and I as we joined the SISKA Energizer Paddle from Chemainus to Thetis Island. It was only a few weeks back that we did a similar trip with the Nanaimo Paddlers around the neighbouring Penelakut Island. Of course we also spent a lot of time on Thetis Island when her parents used to have places there.

Normally SISKA paddles are not held this far away from the waters of Victoria and this one was also longer in distance than most as well. Led by our Paddle Leader (Reale Emond) who like Robyn and I and others on the paddle, she is also is a member of the Nanaimo Paddlers so it kinda was like an inter-club paddle.

After a few days of stormy April weather the folks at Environment Canada sure nailed a good day for this outing. It doesn't get much better than 5 to 15 variable with a mix of sun and cloud. Come to think of it, Robyn and I haven't missed a paddle yet due to the weather exceeding the paddle guidelines. We must have weather karma or something.  :-)

Hard to believe that Saturday was a mix of wind and hail storms around Vancouver Island. Sunday was perfect!

Our group of 16 gathered at the Kinsman Park beach in Chemainus and prepared for 15.5 nm day ahead of us. There were such an assortment of kayaks being used this day from the usual touring kayaks (Current Designs, Delta, Wilderness, Pilgrim and others), a few greenland Tahe's and a couple of rotomold plastics like a Wilderness and my P&H Delphin 155.

I really debated taking the Delphin on such a long trip as I thought it might not be as comfortable as my Delta Expedition 15.5. Keeping in mind that I will be using the Delphin a lot over the next month in bigger conditions, I decided to see how it would impact my body.

Departing right on time at 10:00am the group made the 6 km (3.24 nm) crossing of Stuart Channel. Nearing Alarm Rock, Robyn and I decided to sprint ahead of the group so that we could get some pictures of them rounding the marker buoy.

Chemainus in the distance, the group reaches Alarm Rock and heads towards Telegraph Harbour
We paddled through Telegraph Harbour just after a Tofino Air deHavilland Beaver took off past us. I had a little smile on my face as she flew by as I had just been putting the finishing touches on some Beaver windshields that I made this past week at work. :-)

The group made our way through "The Cut" between Thetis and Penelakut Island. One of the paddlers asked the question about the cut being dredged . It was first dredge open for boats to pass through in 1905. Before that the two islands were joined by an extensive mudflat which can still be seen at low tide. Robyn and I also took the time to once again view her dad's former residence that is situated right on the cut. We both have very fond memories of times spent on Thetis Island and it was such a pleasure taking part in this different way of touring the island.

After a brief rest stop on the east side of the cut we headed north along the eastern shore of the island but we caught sight of a fellow rushing down to his kayak. While the rest of the group slowly paddled on, I made my way over to meet him since he looked like he wanted to join us. It turned out that his name was Andy Lamb and he and his wife operate the Cedar Beach Ocean Lodge B&B and he just wanted to pass on some business cards. Andy also took the time to describe his scuba diving expeditions and proudly showed me his book Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest. I probably could have spent a lot more time with Andy and who knows maybe one day we might just check out his B&B but, I had to play catch up with the rest of the group.

Our planned lunch stop was to the north located in North Cove so we played around in the changing seascape as we made our way there. Heading into the cove Robyn and I witnessed something that we have only seen once before in our lifetime. There were a number of eagles soaring on the thermals and we got to witness a couple mating in mid air clinging to each other by their talons while the spiraled down towards the water. Only with a few feet to spare they released each other and flew back up into the thermal. As I mentioned, we have only seen this once before and it was in this exact same location several years ago while we were Geocaching on Thetis Island. Now if that doesn't stir the memories nothing will!

Lunch stop on the beach at North Cove and home to Adam and Marg Hunter one of the longest residents on the island. 

A view of the resting kayaks from the Geocache that Robyn and I found on the breakwater.

During the lunch stop Robyn and I took the opportunity to locate a Geocache on the nearby breakwater and get some great pictures of the area including the old Adam Hunter Homestead and our kayaks on the beach. Soon after it was time to head south along the sloping western shores of the island which are quite different from the exposed eastern side.

Gradual sloping shoreline along the western side of the island.

We paddle our way past Don and Gwen Hunter's place which Robyn and I have memories of Don blasting off his oxygen acetylene cannon on New Year's. This was also the location where the old Canadian Pacific 737 was prepared before being sunk off shore as an artificial reef. If you look in between kilometer 20 and 21 of our track you can see the location and even better still, when you zoom in on Google Maps the airplane is still shown being dismantled on their beach!

737 on the Hunter's beach before becoming an artificial reef.

It was time to start heading back across Stuart Channel so we made our way to False Reef and then towards the freighter Bellemar located about a 1.5 km from our launch location. I think a few of us were starting to feel the effects of a long day on the water as we landed on the beach at around 16:30. It was a fantastic day of memories with many friends that we have grown to know well this past year and meet new ones as well!

Delphin report: Well it performed as expected in terms of maneuverability. Me on the other hand ... considering that I did a couple of high speed runs during the day I felt pretty good. I have to admit that it isn't the best kayak for touring with but that isn't what we bought it for as it is meant for rock gardening and surfing. Speaking of which ..... we are heading to Ucluelet on Friday morning to do such a thing with a group of Nanaimo Paddlers. Ya Dude ...... we are getting stoked for that!

p.s. Robyn is just unpacking our new Spot Satellite GPS Messenger which will let our family and friends know where we are and that we are OK when out on the water. Cool thing is that we can also send the message to our Facebook account too!!  Yeah, yeah ..... I know. More Gearhead stuff!!  LOL

Type to ya after Ucluelet

2013 Paddle # 19 SISKA Thetis Island
Distance:  28.56 km  (15.42 nm)

YTD: 201.06 km (108.56 nm)

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