Friday, April 18, 2014

Training Around Bentinck Island

Our plan was simple enough and the currents at Race Passage were perfect. The question when we woke up on Friday at the Pedder Bay RV Resort was would the marine forecast cooperate? An overnight front arrived from the southwest with strong winds and the gusts continued to roar in the morning through the bay out towards open water. The only good thing about waking up to a blustery morning was that the skies were clear and the sun was trying to warm the chill from the air.

Checking the 10:30 revised marine forecast there was hope for diminishing winds around lunchtime which fit perfectly with our need to take advantage of the slack at Race Passage. We wanted to accomplish a couple things on this paddle as we start thinking about preparing ourselves for a Paddle Canada Level 2 course in the fall. The past few paddles have been more relaxed using our Delta kayaks but now the time has come to take the P&H Delphin’s out and play in some tougher conditions.

Launching from the marina we explored the low tide conditions in the bay as we headed to our training area around Bentinck Island. Along the way we spotted a swimming bald eagle struggling to make it to shore. At first I thought that it was tangled up in something only to realize that it was dragging a halibut head in one talon as it hopped up onto the beach. Drifting past it was obvious that it wasn't about to leave the catch of the day no matter how close we approached.

The swimming bald eagle with its halibut head lunch

The resident Mute Swans were also exploring the shoreline along our route and they seemed to not care one bit as we paddled by. As usual a few seals followed us announcing their presence with a snort or big splash behind our kayaks. So far this year we have noticed that there seems to be more river otters present than in the past. Today was no exception as we spotted them everywhere foraging in the shallows of the low tide while keeping their distance from us. They really are nervous characters.

A river otter enjoying a Dungeness Crab

Rounding Edye Point the westerly winds were blowing pretty good through Eemdyck Passage as the turn from slack to flood was just starting with the bull kelp indicating the direction of the current. There would still be plenty of time to head on the outside of Bentinck Island to the other end of Eemdyck Passage to ride the flood current through some of the islets.

Heading around Bentinck Island towards Eemdyck Passage

Earlier in the week a large pod of transient orca were seen not far from our location in Beecher Bay and today there were orca sightseeing whaleboats nearby. Could this be our lucky day? Paddling through the choppy conditions with rollers we entered the western end of Eemdyck Passage and plotted a route through the exposed islets. However, we weren't alone in the passage as well over 50 seals spotted us and curiously came closer to see what we were up to. Seals in the water could only mean one thing … there wasn't any orca nearby and this was confirmed when the whale boats left the area.

Joanne, Robyn and Reale just at the entrance to Eemdyck Passage

Leaving Eemdyck Passage we spotted a couple of familiar faces heading our direction through the rock gardens. Reale and Joanne were out on a paddle from Weir’s Beach so we stopped to chat while our little group rode the gentle flood current. Wishing each other well we headed back into Pedder Bay hugging the rugged shoreline while squeezing through some (and not) small gaps between the islets noting “rock” when we found one. Just before reaching the DND dock we spotted a couple more whale boats heading into the east side of the bay looking for something so we decided to cross over to see what they were searching for. We figured that since they couldn't find orca they must have been showing their customers the William Head prison or looking for seals that frequent the rocks nearby.

Having some fun in the rock gardens

With the tide gently rising, otters were still busy making their rounds in search of tasty crustaceans and we witnessed one in particular around a crab trap float. For those of you who know about our amazing luck of crabbing we now have developed this theory. After placing our crab trap in what we think is a great area, along comes a river otter who has been keenly watching us from its shoreline den. It continues to monitor our trap for several hours and when it’s full of crab the otter finds a starfish, removes our crab from the trap and puts in the starfish. We come along and haul up our trap only to find a starfish inside. It all makes sense to us now … it’s not our fault!! :-)

Heading back to the marina we both had a really good sense of accomplishment of completing the goals for the paddle. It’s time to ramp up the training a bit more so tomorrow if the weather cooperates we might just do a little rescue training.

2014 Paddle #8  Bentinck Island
Distance: 7.03 nm (13.02 km)
YTD: 46.99 nm (88.00 km)

No comments:

Post a Comment