Sunday, April 13, 2014

Escaping To Portland Island

After our paddle to Discovery Island last weekend, Robyn and I started putting a plan together to do a little kayak camping this past weekend. With record breaking summer like conditions here on the south coast our only dilemma was deciding where to go and when. Our original plan was to head out after work on Friday but by mid week the marine forecast didn't look good for wind. It seemed like we wouldn't be going anywhere as the predicted winds came up on Friday afternoon. Stand down!

Saturday morning we woke up and behold sunshine ..... and an updated marine forecast of 10-15 NE winds. Could we???  We decided to test our camping readiness by loading our kayak camping gear into the truck and headed to the grocery store for supplies. Our destination of choice was going to be Portland Island for an overnight if the conditions were favorable.

We headed to Swartz Bay in hopes of securing a parking spot at the Government dock but luck wasn't on our side so it was back to Roberts Bay (Ardwell Beach) that we have launched from many times. So what if it added an additional 1/2 hr to the paddle... we were in no hurry to get where we were going. This was also a personal test to see if I could handle paddling in wind, current and with a loaded kayak. 

Camping gear secured and getting ready for Portland Island

We headed for Coal Island going through John Passage to Fir Cone Point to assess the BC Ferry traffic. It was perfect timing on our part as there were no departing or arriving ships which allowed us to transit Colburne Passage at our own pace riding a gentle flood in the direction to Portland Island.

Robyn paddles through Shute Passage towards Portland Island

Once we passed Pym Island the sea state was only a little choppy due to the wind against current but the transit across Shute Passage would be short. We headed for the familiar white shell beach on Portland Island called Shell Beach and then made our way north along the coast to Arbutus Point. We had hopes of camping there but to our amazement the entire camping area was overrun by boy scouts and even a few raccoons!. There was also a work crew there who were busy refurbishing the composting outhouse. Arbutus Point would not be our home for the night so it was back to Shell Beach.

Arriving at Shell Beach we found the whole camping area to ourselves. Having never camped at this site before we were amazed how beautiful it was and in retrospect we think we had the best campsite on the whole island.

The Shell Beach campground... all ours this day.

Waterfront camping with an amazing view.... all ours!

One thing for sure about Portland Island is that there is always BC Ferry traffic .... everywhere! Sometimes the larger Spirit class, sometimes the smaller Gulf Island ships and sometimes all at once!

The fleet coming and going from Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal

We were excited about testing a couple of new "gear head" items on this overnight trip that "ups" the comfort zone.  For the past couple of years we have used relatively cheap blow up air mattresses and every time we have come home complaining of how uncomfortable they were. So for this season we decided to purchase a couple of Exped Synmat 7's and holy cow what a huge difference in comfort.

I also used an Exped Air Pillow for the first time and experienced no more pillow fights with myself. Another great feature of both of these products is that they take far less space in the kayak and weigh considerably less. Bonus!!

Robyn with the Rogers 4G Mobile Hotspot
We also tested a Rogers 4G Mobile Hotspot that we received free ... yes free from Rogers as part of our personal cell plan. With 2GB of data we are able to hotspot our iPads instead of using our iPhones.

Yeah, I know ..... we were supposed to be camping with no connection to outside world but that's how we teased you with the pictures that we sent live from Shell Beach on Facebook.
How many of you just wished you were in that moment with us?? LOL

Why do we kayak camp? One of the reasons are the amazing sunsets that we are blessed with. The perfect way to end the day.

Sunday morning at our private resort :-) was simply amazing. Breakfast consisted of freshly baked cinnamon, raisin and sunflower seed bannock, scrambled eggs and coffee. A couple of SUP's arrived on the beach from Swartz Bay for a quick rest stop on their way to Saltspring Island.

Not much room for camping gear ... I'll stick to kayak camping.

And then it was our time to sadly start packing up to get ready to head home. We couldn't have picked a better overnight trip and the location was spectacular. Note to self .... must win lottery to do more kayaking!

How can you leave on a day like this?? We'll be back ;-)

Next weekend we are heading to Pedder Bay RV Resort with the P&H Delphin kayaks to do a little more training. I'm happy to report that all systems are go ....

2014 Paddle #6 & 7  Portland Island Camping
Distance: 10.30 nm (20.05 km)
YTD: 39.96 nm (74.98 km)

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