Monday, July 29, 2013

Tubbin In Nanaimo

This week we are on vacation and are staying at Living Forest Campground just south of Nanaimo, BC and it is our base camp for doing some day paddles around the area. Yesterday the 47th annual International World Championship Bathtub Race took place so we joined the Nanaimo Paddlers for their version of a relaxed paddle to enjoy the festivities in the area. Launching out of the campground river access to the Nanaimo estuary we headed over to Gallows Point on the south tip of Protection Island to meet the paddlers for the Protection Island Community Association pancake breakfast and watch the tubbers head out on their 36 mile challenge.

The pancake breakfast festivities
The paddle from the campground to Gallows Point was a bit of a slog with the rising NE 15-25 winds that were predicted for the day. All the way I couldn't help think how those tubbers were going to have a tough one out there on the Salish Sea. It brought back fond memories of the days when I piloted the Greyhound tub for a few races. Believe me when I say that a sea kayak is waaaaay more comfortable than a fiberglass bathtub who's sole purpose is to go fast.

The landing zone for the Nanaimo Paddlers at Gallows Point. I never get tired of picture of kayaks on the beach!

Just before the rest of the paddlers arrived, Robyn and I hunted down a Geocache that was on the point. The last attempt to find the cache resulted in a DNF (Did Not Find) and the owner disabled the cache. We however located it and sent the owner a message saying that it is actually there and back in play.

After a great breakfast we headed down to point and watched the start of the race as the tubbers came ripping past the beacon. Once past the beacon each tubber was required to locate his or her chase boat before heading out onto the open water part of the course. This was great for the leaders but by the time the middle of the pack reached the beacon the water was a churned up mess of waves and wakes going in every direction. It was a wonder that they all made it out of the harbour without overturning or sinking!

And they're off!

Locating their chase boats was no easy task ... Yikes!!!

Once the competitors were heading out towards Gabriola Island our group of paddlers took to the water and headed towards the finish line to wait for the tubbers who would be arriving about 2 hours later. While most of the group took the sheltered inside route along the harbour, Robyn and I joined Reale, Deb, Susie and Dave to take on the outside of Protection and Newcastle Islands. Yeah it was blowing pretty good out there but it was great to be working our muscles again heading straight into the 15+ kt winds. I kept looking out towards where the tubbers were and spotted the chase helicopter way out on my starboard side. The sea state made me glad that I wasn't in one of those contraptions again.

Susie Marsh & Robyn making their way towards Newcastle Island

A brief rest break in Kanaka Bay allowed us to get some liquids and for some of us just cool off the kayak way by simply rolling. It had been a while since I last rolled my Delta and with the encouragement from Reale who said that she would rescue me I just got it done. (nothing like encouragement) LOL.

And I came back up with my sunglasses and hat still on!

Arriving at the northern end of Newcastle Island we then played chicken with the arriving and departing BC Ferries ships leaving Departure Bay. Actually they weren't that close but still having two bearing down upon us was enough to deal with along with the arriving tubbers. We made the crossing over to Jesse Island and explored the sea caves that we have so much wanted to see. They are also known as an Earthcache so getting the opportunity to visit them was awesome too.

Me exiting the Jesse Island sea cave which is more than an archway 

While visiting the caves the first tubber came ripping by us and towards the finish line at Departure Bay beach. I was really surprised how fast he was going and the fact that he arrived almost a good half hour before anyone else means he had a really fast tub or was lucky enough not to flip. Maybe he had a bit of both on his side.

We made our way to the finish line and met up with the rest of the paddlers who took the inside route. We couldn't get much closer to the finish line than we were.

The first female pilot to finish arrives at the beach

Just look at all of the rubber foam inside the tubs and yes .... no seats!

After having lunch on the beach the paddlers started heading to their put in locations. For us it was another 5 nm paddle back to Living Forest but this time we had the winds at our backs as we paddled past the marinas in the Nanaimo harbour.

As a footnote, Robyn and I were watching TV last night and on Shaw Nanaimo there was a program covering the race. They even got footage of us in our kayaks as we approached the finish line. We also found out that most of the tubs flipped while making the run between Entrance Island and Winchelsea Islands and had to be righted by their chase boats. In some cases the spark plugs needed to be removed and the water drained out of the motors before continuing on. Just imagine trying to do that in 3 to 6 foot breaking waves!!! There was only a hand full of tubs that didn't make it to the finish line and I can attest that they probably had a crazy ride.

A great first paddle to start our vacation. Thanks Nanaimo Paddlers for such a great "Relaxed Paddle" LOL

2013 Paddle #46 Nanaimo Paddlers Pancake Breakfast
Distance:  12.16 nm (22.52 km)
YTD:  255.69 nm (473.53 km)

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