Monday, October 14, 2013

Just An Ordinary Paddle

Our launch area at Pedder Bay. By not using the ramp there are no fees

Sunday morning Robyn and I decided to head out with the hopes of another encounter with the transient Orcas that we came across on Saturday or maybe a pod of the residents that frequent the area. The south coast has been "alive" with whale sightings recently and we have been blessed to have some very close encounters with these amazing mammals. We felt our chances were pretty good for another sighting so off we went from Pedder Bay following the eastern shoreline towards William Head.

The weather, wind, tide and current forecasts were perfect for an exploration day that could be modified as we paddled. Sun, no wind, gentle rising tide and most importantly in our case today we would be paddling into a slack tide around Race Rocks.

Calm conditions at William Head with Victoria in the background

Strange rock formation at William Head would make a great Earthcache for Gecko Cacher ;-) 

For some reason we kinda expected to see Orcas again (like Saturday) deep inside the bay and when it happen it didn't take long for that disappointment to set in. However as we made our way around William Head we decided to modify our paddle plan by heading towards Race Rocks which as it turns out presented us with some amazing encounters along the way.

A great picture of Robyn and the conditions we were paddling in heading to Race Rocks

About half way across Pedder Bay we noticed a single stationary sightseeing boat about a mile south of us and it wasn't long before we spotted whale tail flukes and very loud "blows". As I watched the aerial display of the whales I realized the scale of the tail flukes compared to the whale boat was way too big for Orcas. There was only one explanation .... grey or humpback whales. Sure enough as we got a little closer on our way to Race Rocks the tell tail (pun) sign of the blow, humped back and then the huge tail coming out of the water confirmed our thoughts. Very cool .... our first "big" whales. Note: Back at camp we found out that the whales were Greys from some fishing guides.

Thousands of seagull in the distance feeding on some sort of bait.

Continuing towards Race Rocks there were literally thousands of seagulls in a feeding frenzie just off our starboard side and then Robyn said to me "There's a couple of Dall's Porpoise right next to you". Sure enough dorsal and tail fins started to appear less than a couple meters away but they weren't Dall's at all but a school of Coho Salmon! Holy cow, where's my fishing gear when I needed it??  

Keeping and eye on what the currents were doing as we crossed Race Passage we headed towards a couple of the smaller islets on north side of the Ecological Reserve. As we were coming up on the turn towards the ebb flow we started to notice the water moving west very slowly towards the Pacific. Keeping caution on our side we decided that our stay at the Reserve would be short before heading back towards Bentinck Island.

The kelp bed made for a good resting place to take pictures of the lighthouse.

The barking of the Sea Lions at the lighthouse were very loud as we paddled into a kelp bed which allowed us to stay in place while taking pictures. The kelp bed was also a resting spot for a flock of Heermann's Gulls  which didn't mind the least that we were sharing their spot.

A Sea Lion behind my Delphin
It wasn't long before a couple of Sea Lions came by to see what we were up to and although they snorted and swam closer to us they didn't display any aggressive posturing. A few times they dove under our kayaks and we could see them at a depth of probably 15 feet looking up at us while they were inverted (belly towards the surface).

We thought about paddling around the kelp bed but there were a few too many Sea Lions in the water for our comfort. It might have been because of the number of sightseeing boats now at Race Rocks that they took to the water. The Sea Lions that habitat Race Rocks are huge mammals and their sheer size is a little unnerving when they approach us in our kayaks. Sometimes it is best to just let them be and leave the area.

This Sea Lion (center right ) seemed to like Robyn as it kept coming back to see what she was up to.

An ocean container  freighter in the distance and a couple of the sightseeing
boats that were watching the Grey whales that we saw earlier.

One last picture of the lighthouse and it was time to start heading back towards Pedder Bay. One of the planned items for this paddle was for Robyn to try her first rolls in the ocean. So we headed over to the east side of the bay to a little cove that we call "Hole In The Wall" as you can enter it through a little passage in the rocks nearby.

Entering the "Hole In The Wall" into the secluded little cove to work on some rolling skills.

The little beach inside the cove

While I stood waist deep in the water, Robyn completed several rolls for the first time in the ocean. She did a great job using both a Euro and Greenland paddle so now all it comes down to is more rolling in the ocean environment to get better at them. I do have to say that after spending about 10 minutes in the water with Robyn I was absolutely frozen from the waist down in my drysuit. It thought that maybe my suit was leaking but it was the just the fact that I had a single cotton layer on inside the suit. Next time we practice rolling in the ocean I'm going to have to layer up better. I can only imagine what it would be like to be in the water for that long without immersion gear.

After our little practice session it was time to head back to marina and relax in the warm sunshine around our campsite. This by far was an amazing weekend of kayaking in Pedder Bay and we think everything was just a bit out of the ordinary :-)

2013 Paddle #64 Ordinary Paddle
Distance:  8.09 nm ( 14.98 km)
YTD:  362.94 nm ( 690.58 km)

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