Saturday, November 2, 2013

Surge Narrows Expeditions - Day #2

Saturday morning and up at 06:15 to prepare for a long day on the water. Being one of the first ones up I headed to the garage to fire up the generator as the lodge battery voltage was a little low. I noticed that it was raining pretty good and there was a bit of wind blowing as well. As it got lighter outside I could see the slight chop on the water but didn't think too much about it as we prepared our breakfast.

The plan was to be on the water at 09:30 and head north through Surge Narrows on the slack and paddle up to the Octopus Islands where we would explore a bit, have lunch and then head south in time for the slack at the narrows in the afternoon. This would be an all day outing so we had to pack a lunch and anything we would need on the trip. Our paddler leader for the day was John Van Wierenand and just before we set out there was a change in our destination due to the forecast of 45 knot winds that would hit the area later in the day.

Instead our destination would be Whiterock Passage where we would paddle up towards Calm Channel. The route would take us through the narrows at slack and into the wind shadow of Maurelle Island. Right on schedule the nine of us made our way up to the narrows and we could see the effects of the ebb against wind further up Okisollo Channel. Approximately about a mile away there were massive waves breaking in every direction so there was no way that we would even try and head to the Octopus Island group today.

Exploring some of the little island that are part of the Settler Group on the way to the waterfall.

We paddled to the little waterfall that we visited the day before and it was almost totally unrecognizable. The low tide had lowered the water level just below the falls and with the overnight rains the falls were no longer just a trickle but a raging torrent.









John and I got out of our kayaks and walked up to the falls for a closer look. Yesterday we could almost paddle right up to the falls but today the area was a sea of boulders. As I headed back to my kayak I spotted Robyn and Kevin playing in the current produced by the flow from the waterfall. Hooked on surfing I'm thinkin ;-)




No need for official signs this far from civilization
Leaving the falls we paddled towards Whiterock Passage to see if the winds were having any effects there. At the oyster leases of the Tatpo-oose First Nations we could see that the passage was nice and calm so we decided to continue on with our paddle through the narrow passage.








We paddled a couple of miles further up the passage with just a hint of wind and current head on. Here we got our first look at the fresh snow covered peaks in the distance.

Fresh snow on the peaks past Toba Mountain

Stopping for lunch south of Mayes Point in a small bay we could feel the cool air rushing down the slopes of the snowy peaks of the Downie Range in the distance towards us. Winter is just around the corner I'm thinking.



While at lunch Robyn did a little exploration of the area and found the remains of what looks to be a temporary fishing camp that is probably part of a First Nations band that harvests in the area. The beach served as the perfect rest stop as the passage is very rugged with high cliffs offering very few places to land.

Low tide provided a good landing zone for us on a bed of seaweed.

After lunch we started on our way back towards Whiterock Passage and were greeted by clearing skies and warm sunshine. Reaching the marker light in the passage John assessed the good visible conditions and decided that we would make a direct transit towards the lodge 3 miles in the distance. Along the way we would pass the shore of Goepel Island and continue out into open water on a direct line with the lodge.

About 1 mile from the marker light we noticed a wind swept rip current coming from our starboard side that was a bit of a challenge to paddle through. Working hard to make headway the group did make it to Goepel Island but along the way we had split into a couple smaller groups. John called the paddlers together to reconfirm that for the last open water transit we would all keep together. Once again from our vantage point the direct route looked to be the best option as there were no visible signs of adverse water conditions.  Our goal was to stay away from the south end of Beazley Passage which was flooding at between 50% & 90% of the maximum flow of 7.61 knots.

As we started to pass Beazley Passage about a 1/2 mile to my right I noticed how turbulent the water was and we were again starting to see the effects of the wind that was coming down from Surge Narrows. Robyn then commented that there were three paddlers coming our way and sure enough it was Dave, Susie and Will heading towards Beazley Passage to play in the currents. Dave mentioned that the wind ahead us was blowing pretty good as they had just paddle through it.

Our group stuck to the plan to stay together by paddling only at the speed of the slowest paddler. The winds from the starboard side sure did pick up considerably but we simply changed our ferry angle towards a point north of the lodge and completed the crossing. If you look at our track below you can see the effects of the wind and current at the 8 & 9 mile points as we slowly drifted off course even with adjusted ferry angles.

Back at the lodge Kevin wanted to try a seal launch and I was more than happy to push his kayak in for him.
He actually did a really good job staying upright as I sure didn't want to jump in to rescue him! LOL

video

John asked that all the paddlers in our group get together to have a debrief of the paddle and we talked about the importance of communicating as a group. This was really evident when experiencing some of the conditions we paddled in today and we all gained some knowledge from this. The picture below is from the top deck of the lodge looking back up towards Whiterock Passage. From this viewpoint there are no visual clues of the wind or currents but they were there when we looked through the telescope.

by Lindsay Elms;  This mountain has been called at different times either "Dogtooth" or "The Cowboy's Hat"
depending on your frame of mind at the time. This is, however, not its official name. This double summit
mountain was officially named Mount Doogie Dowler (2,076m) in May 1984


While waiting for Dave, Susie and Will to arrive back at the lodge a pod of porpoise were playing around the dock. And ... while Robyn and I had a nap :-) a couple of orca passed by the lodge in the distance towards Surge Narrows. That will make for a great whale of a story for our Sunday blog entry so if that doesn't bring you back nothing will. :-)

Porpoise playing near the dock

Dave's partner ;-) Alison put on a fantastic dinner of  lasagna and balsamic dressing salad and I dabbled into Dave’s bottle of 150 proof Navy Rum … WOW so smooth just on the rocks!! A surprise birthday cake made its way to the table as Sunday was Alison's birthday. Nice touch Jennifer!

After dinner the paddle plans for Sunday were announced with a group heading to the narrows to play and a group heading south around the islands on a sightseeing tour. Dave finished the evening off with a Leave No Trace interactive presentation which was excellent. Robyn and I both agreed that the after dinner presentations were the perfect way to finish off the evening. Bed time was just after 21:00 but some of the rest of the group held on for a few more hours. That's another story ;-)

On a personal note, in 2012 Robyn and I and paddled 80 times for distance of 715.85 kms and as of the end of todays paddle we reached the 724.65 km mark paddling only 68 times. Lots more time to paddle before the year is finished. 




2013 Paddle #68 Octopus Option
Distance:  10.04 nm ( 18.60 km)
YTD:  381.34 nm ( 724.65 km)

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