Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Winchelsea Exploring

Yesterday we decided to go explore an island that we had heard about a few times from the Nanaimo Paddlers named Winchelsea Island near Nanoose. Not really knowing too much about this particular area we did a little research starting with John Kimantas's BC Atlas for the South Coast and East Vancouver Island. John's series of atlases and Wild Coast companion series are considered to be like the "bible(s)" for sea kayaking around Vancouver Island. We also looked at the area using Google Maps to locate possible put in locations.

We loaded up the kayaks onto the truck and headed through Nanaimo making a couple of stops at marine and outdoors stores looking for Canadian Hydrographic Chart #3459 but none could be found. Whenever possible I like to have a chart of the area that I can reference on my deck especially when we are heading into unexplored areas for us. Another tool that we use is a good GPS and Robyn's Garmin Oregon 550T works great as we can navigate to put in locations, navigate on the water, use it to find Geocaches on the islands we visit and record our track data like you see at the bottom of our blog posts.

After checking one put in location we decided on Schooner Cove Marina which would give us a more direct route to Winchelsea Island instead of launching out of Nanoose Harbour. Go figure ... they also had the chart that we were looking for and the launch fee was only $4.00. Nice!!

Whenever possible launching at a boat ramp we try to stay out of the way of boats and trailers and so the clean out ramp was perfect for us to get our rides ready for the trip.

Once again an amazing sunny afternoon as we paddled out of the marina just after 1:00pm. Although the winds were SE 5-10 kts the conditions were perfect even though we had to paddle into the flood and wind.

Winchelsea Islands in the distance

Our main goal of Winchelsea Islands was just over 2 nm in the distance but we decided to head past Ruth Island and towards Southey Island which has a geocache. Arriving at Southey we located a little bay that had lots of oysters so while I started picking enough for dinner (6) Robyn located the unmarked camping area. We decided not to try and find the geocache on this island only because it was on the southern tip and there was no easy landing area. Next time we visit we'll land in the oyster bay and walk to cache location so it gives us another reason to come back soon.

The "oyster cove" on Southey Island

A resident juvenile eagle greets us as we arrive at Ada
Our next islands to explore were the little group known as the Ada Islands. Here there was also a geocache and after looking for a suitable location to land our kayaks we located a shelf like rock formation just under the water that allowed us step out of the kayaks. One thing that we did notice on this paddle is that other than Southey Island, most of the shoreline of the neighboring islands was very steep and rocky making possible landings tricky.

Not an easy landing but we found a spot on the northern Ada Island

A "micro" film canister Geocache with soaked logbook
While Robyn went off to locate the geocache I headed out to the highest point on the island to take in the panoramic views of all the islands in the area. Like most rocky islets on the south coast the ground cover vegetation was very dry and consisting of rocky type plants, lichens and grasses.

I did manage to locate an area where a bird of some sort ate it's shellfish. There were lots of broken clam shells and in the middle a perfectly hollowed out dried sea urchin with all of it's spikes still intact.

The DND facility on the northern Winchelsea Island

After such an exhausting exploration of the island (LOL) we sat back and enjoyed lunch before heading over towards the Winchelsea Islands. The northern island is part of the DND Torpedo Range facility located in Nanoose Bay while the southern island is owned by The Land Conservatory. We decided to stay clear of the DND facility and round the southern island before heading back towards Schooner Cove. Once again there is very little places to land a kayak on the island other than the main dock. One day we'll land and visit the TLC property.

Rounding the tip of the southern Winchelsea Island Robyn points to the seam that runs through
most of the island. I'm not sure but it sure looked like coal that is dominant in the area.

The paddle back to the marina took just over 1/2 an hour and we arrived back at the boat ramp at 4:30pm. A great way to spend a few hours exploring the little group of islands that are known as the Winchelsea area. We definitely will be back to explore the many more that are so close by. As for the oysters we picked .... tabasco and a little parmesan and they were yummy!!!

2013 Paddle #48 Winchelsea Islands
Distance:  6.88 nm ( 12.74 km)
YTD:  262.57 nm (486.27 km)

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