Monday, August 26, 2013

Gone Fishin!

Yesterday we headed out towards James Island with a little fishin trip in mind. We couldn't have picked a better day to be on the water considering the whole south coast was in a wind warning except for Haro Strait.

Robyn preps her ride while other kayaks launch at the boat ramp. What a glorious day!!

Launching out of Island View Beach right at 10:00am against a slight ebb we paddled across Cordova Channel to the sand bluffs on the south end of James Island. Along the way I set my fishin line and trolled it behind my kayak on our way to Sidney Channel. One thing we noticed was a kelp bed on the south tip of James that we have never seen before and I had to take a wide track around it to avoid hooking the bull kelp.

Robyn hugs the shoreline while I navigate on the outside of the kelp bed.

Kayak Man .. GoPro, Scotty rod holder and nothin but sun!!!

Making our way up the eastern side of James Island past the golf course we had to paddle against the ebb current which slowed our pace down a fair bit. What the heck .... we were in no rush since we were just fishin anyway. :-)   After making the point by the Powder Wharf we were then pulled into the back eddy that whisked us up towards the north end of the island. If you look at our track you can see where our speed whet from around 1.2 kts against the current and then it jumps to around 3.7 kts in the back eddy.

As we reached the northern tip of the island there was a little tide rip with small standing waves which we played in for a bit after I gave up fishin! While riding the waves I realized that it would be real ugly if I rolled with my fishing rod still in the holder. Note to self ..... take rod out of holder when having fun!

It was just one of those Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah type of days so we landed on the sandy beach near the marker on the NW tip of the island. Staying below the high water line we enjoyed a lunch of salami, pepper cheese and crackers and read our e-readers for a bit. We had never landed on James Island for a break before so I kept an eye out for any of the locals that might try and chase us back out to sea. As a note, some of our Facebook friends commented about a rottweiler guard dog they have encountered before but we didn't see it.

Lunch on the James Island  spit beach.

For a change of pace, we Dah-Doo-Dee-A-Zipped our way back across Cordova Channel towards Bazan Bay and made our way down the coastline towards Island View. Along the way I spotted a deceased baby seal (sorry no picture permitted as this is a family blog) entangled in a ball of bull kelp. So sad :-(

We paddled back around Cordova Spit and made our way back to our put in location arriving just around 3:30pm. It felt good to get back out on the water again after a few weeks off and we are looking forward to our camping trip this coming weekend on D'arcy Island. We are going rain or shine!!! Must pack guide tarp last to put up first.! LOL

Kinda looks like we paddled around Africa huh?

2013 Paddle #52 Gone Fishin
Distance:  9.24 nm ( 17.11 km)
YTD:  287.80 nm ( 551.52 km)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Launching From The Dock In The Bay

Thursday evening we went on a "back to our roots" sort of paddle with fellow Geocachers Drew and Marie Fidoe from the Ocean River dock. It wasn't long ago (2 years) that we started our kayaking adventure from this very same dock and in the same type of Delta kayaks. Drew and Marie travel a fair bit in their Vanagon and recently while in the Gulf Islands "our" kayaking bug hit them after following our blog.

So after renting some kayaks they headed down to Ocean River a few weeks ago and the next thing we know they purchased a couple of the rental fleet Delta 15.5 Expeditions. Awesome!!! It gets better .... the gear shopping has started for them but since they don't take possession of their kayaks until September they used some of their rental time on Thursday night and we went on a little Gorge waterway exploration.

Drew and Marie looking pretty happy to be on the water.

As it turns out Drew and Marie know some of our kayak circle of friends already like Yves & Patti of Go Kayak as well as John Hebert of Kayak Yak. I think I also heard the term "I'm a gearhead" from Marie a few times and talk about moving fast ....they are now also members of SISKA too! HOOK, LINE and SINKER!!!! They are going to love kayaking!

Since neither Robyn and I have paddled up the Gorge waterway before from the Ocean River dock it was unexplored territory for us. There werealso quite a few dragon boats on the water preparing for this weekend's Dragon Boat Festival in the Victoria inner harbour.

We paddled up to the Tliicum Narrows and I just couldn't let the opportunity to run through it pass by. With the flood happening the water under the bridge didn't look too much of a challenge but as my kayak (going backwards) got closer it reminded me of the movie "Black Hole" being sucked into the vortex. The reason I let myself get closer backwards was that it was easy to test the current speed and paddle away before making the run to the other side.

I had to dig deep to get back through the Tillicum Narrows

After my assessment of the current speed, I made the run through to the other side and entered the back eddie to set up for the return trip. From that side the current looked a little bit gnarlier than I expected so I positioned myself to make the run right through the center. I wish I had taken Robyn's GPS with me to record my speed through the narrows cause I really had to work hard to make it back through. I estimated that the current was running at around 3.5 knots and sure enough checking my AyeTides app later I was right on with my estimate.

Once my fun time was over :-) , we headed back towards Ocean River and played under some of the gang planks along the way. Marie disappeared for a bit and when I found her she was working on her kayak sustainability skills. It wasn't long before we were all munching on Marie's patch of blackberries.... Yum!!

Marie finds a loaded blackberry patch only accessible by kayak.

Passing by Point Hope Shipyard, Marie spotted a river otter having dinner on the pilings. Most of the time a river otter will slip beneath the water if you try to get close but this little fellow just went about his business breaking apart some sort of crunchy sea creature.

We landed back (climbed back on) at the Ocean River dock and headed to the Moon Under Water pub for a paddle debrief at the suggestion of Marie and Drew. The perfect way to finish the evening off! Thanks for the paddle guys and welcome to our world ;-)

2013 Paddle #51 Ocean River Dock
Distance:  3.74 nm ( 6.92 km)
YTD:  278.56 nm ( 515.87 km)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

3 Different Ways Of Trying

Ever since we started kayaking I have had this passion of being able to sustain ourselves while on extended camping trips. Yesterday after a couple of stand down days due to my cranky back spasms we launched out of Deep Bay with the Chrome Island Lighthouse at the southern end of Denman Island (Boyle Point) as our destination. We also tried our luck at three different ways of catching seafood which included crabbing, oyster harvesting and fishing (hopefully for salmon). Diversification is the best course of action I say to survive. LOL 

Arriving at our put in location near the Deep Bay RV Park it was pretty evident that the tide was out ..... way out! The pros and cons about having to deal with this? Cons .... one hell of a walk (with wonky back) many times to get gear to water. Pros .... Nice sandy bar to load the kayaks on. Great opportunity to view marine life along rock gardens at Chrome Island and the oysters can easily be harvested. Should also be a shorter walk back to the truck at the end of the day.

Chrome Island Lighthouse in the distance at the put in location in Deep Bay

Ready to head out towards the lighthouse with the crab trap secured on deck, fishing rod and Scotty rod holder set up and a couple of mesh bags and gloves for oyster harvesting. The idea was to troll towards the lighthouse, drop the crab trap and get oysters before doing a little rock gardening exploration.

Not shortly after we launched another kayak came out from the RV park to join us on the paddle across Baynes Sound. The fellow's name was George McFarland and he was paddling a home built Tahe look-a-like and using a Greenland paddle that he also made.

It turns out that George is from Surrey and he stays at the Deep Bay RV Park for 5 months each year and paddles over to the the Ford Cove Marina on Hornby Island by himself for coffee on a regular basis. I think he was really surprised to see another Greenland paddle user (Robyn) and they had a little chat about each others "stick". He asked me why I wasn't a convert but I explained to him that since I was trying out trolling for the first time I wanted to use my euro paddle just in case a "biggie" tried to pull me over. LOL

Just before we reached the lighthouse we dropped the crab trap but this time we used cat food as the bait. We had heard of this many times and since we didn't have any fish heads with us we though why not. Oh yeah ... no nibbles on fishing rod on the way over either. George decided to continue on towards his destination which left us to find the old abandoned oyster lease bed that we harvested at last year. With the tide starting to flood the entrance through the man made breakwaters of the oyster farm which created a little waterfall which we rode into the little harbour like area. Once out of the kayak it wasn't hard to find 10 oysters that would be perfect for our dinner that night.

It was then rock garden exploration time as we paddled around the southern tip of Denman Island and a little way up the east side looking for those spiny sea urchins we saw last year. The whole tip of the island is littered with huge house size boulders with some completely under water and some high above the water line.

Under water photo of a group of Ochre Starfish taken by Robyn.

There were thousands of purple Ochre Starfish below the waterline with a few orange, pink and nearly white ones too. In the deeper water I did spot a few leather and bat starfish but the thing we came to see eluded us. There wasn't a single sea urchin to be found. Checking back on our visit last year I see that we were here in May and come to think of it there wasn't as many starfish then either. I wonder if the warmer water at this time of year and the amount of starfish made any difference? Another thing to research I guess.

Landing at Eagle Rock when there was beach for our lunch
We decided to have lunch on the exposed rocky shelf that connects Eagle Rock with Denman Island at low tide. We also had a few chuckles when three Boyle Point Provincial Park visitors decided to go over to Eagle Rock as the tide was rapidly coming in. They were only on the rock for about 15 minutes before coming back and they discovered the rocky shelf was now under water. LOL

After lunch we headed towards the lighthouse for a closer look. I took the opportunity to do a little more trolling and it wasn't long before my line was being pulled off the the reel. Sure enough the Scotty system that I rigged up worked like a charm as I brought up a rock cod. Only for the fact we were in a rock fish protected area it would have made a great curried rock fish dinner that night.

Feeling pretty confident now I set the line again and felt a very tiny "bump" on the rod. Checking the line I found to my surprise a smolt Chinook salmon that was almost as big as the spoon I was using!

Although not the results we were looking for at least it proved that we were on the right track and the fishing system worked.

Next up was to check the crab trap. I have to admit ... I wasn't too optimistic on this one with our past record so I didn't get our hopes up for fresh crab for dinner. Good thing too! I'm sure Kari will get a chuckle again about this. :-) LOL

Trying our luck again at trolling we paddled back across Baynes Sound towards our put in location and once again we didn't get a nibble. Sure enough the tide was in as we approached the beach which made the haul out to the truck less than 100 feet. So another successful day of paddling even though we didn't catch a crab (again), caught a couple of non keeper fish and brought home oysters.

2013 Paddle #50 Chrome Island
Distance:  6.39 nm ( 11.83 km)
YTD:  274.82 nm ( 508.95 km)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Snowbirds ...... Priceless!!

Dinghy Dock T-Shirt ..... $25, Dinner and drinks while sitting in the afternoon sun ....... $85, watching the world famous Snowbirds perform their routine right over the Dinghy Dock Pub ...... PRICELESS!!

No kidding it was an airshow demonstration that we will never forget as it's not often that you get front row seats right under the show center flight line.

Part of Robyn's planning for this vacation was to take in the Snowbirds demonstration by kayak and paddling to the floating Dinghy Dock Pub for dinner which is located just off Protection Island. With the Nanaimo Harbour closure in effect after 5:00 pm, we needed to make sure we were across to Protection Island with lots of time to spare. Launching out of the Living Forest Campground at 3:00 pm it allowed us a nice relaxed paddle to the pub. Even almost 3 hours prior to the show time the Harbour Patrol and RCMP were busy setting up the center-line markers that the Snowbirds would use to orientate themselves much like a runway would be for them.

The great thing about the Dinghy Dock Pub other than the great food is that they cater to kayaks and have a special dock that we can use. This way we can stay well away from some of the larger sailboats, yachts that frequent the bar too.

Our rides stowed away on the dock as we headed into the pub for dinner

Arriving at the pub just after 4:00 pm it wasn't very busy and we got choice seating outside along the front patio rail. As it got closer to show time the pub gradually filled up as harbour ferries brought boat load after boat load over to watch the show.

Right on schedule the Snowbirds arrived at show center and for the next 1/2 hour it was amazing to watch them from such a close proximity to the center line.


The show ended at around 6:30 pm and we headed to the kayaks to get ready for the paddle back to the campground. We were surprised to see that we were the only ones at the pub who came by kayak and had the whole dock to ourselves. The paddle through the log booms was real lazy like arriving back at the beach near 8:00 pm. After watching such an amazing demonstration I think we had big ear to ear smiles all the way back. 

Just as a note, below is our track from yesterday which is created using GPS Visualizer and selecting a Google Hybrid map. When the Google image was taken the log booms were in a different location so we didn't actually paddle over them like the track might suggest. 

2013 Paddle #49 Snowbirds
Distance:  5.86 nm ( 10.85 km)
YTD:  268.43 nm (497.12 km)