Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nanaimo River to Jack Point

After a busy Christmas we headed to the Living Forest Campground in Nanaimo to bring in the New Year.  This is our annual "US" time that lets us recharge so to speak. A couple days ago the weather was stunning (and still is) so we geared up and launched in the Nanaimo River which is right at the campground and headed out towards Duke Point also known as Jack Point.

I found this little bit of information on the City of Nanaimo website. Jack Point is named after Jack Doholt (1819-1905) who was a resident on the point for 40 years (he supplied Nanaimo with milk and hay). Jack Point used to be an island at high tide, but is now connected to Duke Point and Biggs Park.

This is interesting because from our campsite we can see the lowest point in the peninsula where the tide would have flowed through.

Taking our trusty relaxing Delta 15.5 Expeditions out for a tour around the Nanaimo River Estuary.

The tide was high as we paddled across the shallow estuary over to Jack Point in search of crabs. Yes we attempted to catch craps again without any luck but we did however find a couple of really nice oyster beds and I was able to harvest a dozen really clean small ones which would be great for lunch back at camp.

Paddling across the estuary out towards Jack Point. There would be no water here on our return.

One of the things about Jack Point is some of the amazing sandstone galleries that can only be seen from the water. They are actually pretty amazing and we love visiting them every time we stay at Living Forest.

Paddling to the end of the point I dropped the crab trap (no luck) and we continued along until we could see the Queen of New Westminster as she was departing from the Duke Point BC Ferry Terminal. The bulk carrier Trade Vision arrived a couple of days ago and is anchored between the tip of Duke Point and Protection Island.

After only a couple hours we noticed the tide dropping pretty fast in the estuary so we headed back towards the Nanaimo River looking for the channel that would take us to the campground. If you look on our track, the route we took out was now high and dry.

Paddling in only a couple of feet of water (sometimes inches) we made our way towards the campground and located a channel that flows along the shoreline right to our put in. It's kind of like a puzzle trying to figure out which channel will let you through without having to portage over sand bars. :-)

Nobody home at the Purple Martin houses today

Back at camp we enjoyed the batch of oysters on the BBQ that we harvested. Simply let them steam open, remove the top shell, add Tabasco and Parmesan cheese and close the lid until they are golden brown. Yum!!

It is interesting to see how the gravel bars have moved since the Google Earth image on our track was taken. If you look at our 4nm point it looks like we paddled over a gravel bar but in fact we paddled around it. The bar has moved south and is now situated between the 4nm and 1nm points.

This will be our last post for 2015 but there is lots more Nuchatlitz trip blogging to do in January. So from Robyn and I we wish everyone and very HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the best in 2016!!

2015 Paddle #42 - Living Forest
Distance: 5.75 nm (10.65 km)
YTD: 256.15 nm (474.39 km) Needs editing once Nuchatlitz blogs are complete.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nuchatlitz 2015 - Part 1 The Voyage Out

In early September of this year myself, Robyn, Kari Challenger, Gary Jacek, Lynn Bair and Morley Eldridge headed out on a 10 day west coast trip to an area known as the Nuchatlitz. Located off the northwest tip of Nootka Island is it made up of a large number of small islands and miles and miles of coastline that is exposed to the Pacific Ocean.

During our trip planning early in the year Lynn suggested that we look into taking the MV Uchuck III. Originally built in Oregon as an American Yard Minesweeper in 1942, the MV Uchuck III has been totally refit to accommodate 100 passengers and up to 100 tons of freight (cargo) and is based in Gold River. This would save two days of paddling and also we would get to do something really cool ... allow us to enjoy a leisurely cruise and then get wet launched right at our destination. Robyn went to work booking the trip through Get West Adventure Cruises which operates the Uchuck primarily as a cargo service and offers paying passengers overnight cruises to Kyuquot and twice a year a 3 day 2 night Esperanza Adventure Cruise with an additional overnight in Tahsis.

Our kayaks outside the office ready to be loaded onto the Uchuck by the crew
As it turns out the dates that we planned fell on the return portion of an Esperanza Adventure Cruise so after checking with our group Robyn booked the Uchuck for our trip. Our departure date was set for Thursday Sept. 10th and the ship would be leaving at 7:00am sharp. This meant that we had to travel to Gold River the day before and have our fully packed kayaks sitting on the dock ready to be loaded onto the Uchuck by 4:00pm

Gary relaxes on one of the wood sculptures near the hotel
Gold River is not a bustling tourist destination like it used to be long ago when salmon fishing was at it's peak and logging was the primary industry. The town has struggled to survive since its mill closed in 1998 but even so Gold River has attempted to capitalize on its idealistic setting among picturesque mountains, lakes, rivers and ocean. So after leaving our kayaks at the Uchuck dock we checked into the Gold River Chalet along with other obvious Uchuck passengers who would be boarding the next morning.

The answer .... "The Bay City Rollers"
We decided to have dinner within walking distance from the hotel and selected the Manila Gourmet Restaurant. Once again it seemed that all of the Uchuck passengers found the same establishment being so close to the hotel. After dinner we ended the night playing Trivial Pursuit in the common area and once again we were joined by the other Uchuck passengers who were clearly excited about going on an overnight cruise to Kyuquot. They didn't know that they were in for a treat the next day when our little group of kayakers would be hoisted over the side and left to fend for themselves for 10 days. LOL

6:45am and our trusty rides have been loaded and are ready for the voyage to the Nuchatlitz

We were up bright and early the next morning to ensure that we didn't miss our 7:00am departure of the Uchuck III. I was interested to see where the crew loaded our kayaks and to my surprise I found them racked along the walkway on the lower deck. Considering how heavy the fully loaded kayaks were I was amazed that they were stored in this location. I thought maybe they would be just loaded on top of the cargo hold but we would find out soon enough why they were strategically placed here.

Most of the passengers assembled on the top deck in anticipation of casting off from the dock at 7:00am sharp. The crew went about their business securing the ship while making us feel right at home.

The dining area, spotlessly clean  
I headed below deck before most of the passengers were aboard and checked out the dining and kitchen areas where Elaine was busy preparing breakfast for the crew and passengers.

I could write a whole blog about the history of the Uchuck III but the best thing to do is direct you to the Get West Adventures Cruises website. If you are ever thinking about visiting the Nuchatlitz consider contacting the folks at Get West Adventures. You won't regret it.

Elaine getting ready to open the kitchen for breakfast.
Once we were underway heading up Muchalat Inlet towards Thasis Inlet Elaine started taking breakfast orders. For $9.00 each we got a full breakfast which included beverages and an assortment of pastries and Elaine simply created a tab for the passengers as lunch would be served later around noon. Great food and service! Thanks Elaine!!

Steaming up Muchalat Inlet towards our first cargo stop. The weather wouldn't be any better to view the scenery.

Our first cargo stop was at one of the many fish farms in protected waters of the Nootka Sound inlets. Delivering cargo to the fish farms and logging operations while on route to and from Kyuquot keep many of these operations in business supplying fuel, fish food pellets and heavy equipment. Having the ability to transport passengers along this section of west coast keeps many of the isolated communities connected to the bigger cities.

A massive fish farm is our first stop before breakfast

Remember when I mentioned that I was surprised where our kayaks were placed on the ship? Well it was because the hold and front deck were loaded with items for delivery on the way to Kyuquot.

I'm pretty sure they had everything including the kitchen sink stuffed into every nook and cranny. In the picture on the left you can see 1000 lb bags of fish food, heavy duty logging equipment tires, a very large pallet of what looked liked aluminum siding and roofing materials destined for Kyuquot.

Down in the hold there was even a small forklift that was used to move cargo buried deep in the hull so that it could be hoisted out of the cargo bay.

The tourists on board gathered in front of the wheelhouse to get a good view of the perfectly orchestrated dismantling of the cargo area. Watching the deckhands work it gave me a good feeling that our kayaks were handled very well the night before.

The only cargo being delivered at this fish farm looked to be fuel for the generator that you can see on the dock.

It wasn't long before the ship was back on course which meant ... breakfast time for everyone!!

Kari checking out the personals in the Nootka Sounder (LOL)
They'll let anyone on board the Uchuck even the odd stowaway that managed to sneak onto the ship.

No, I'm not talking about our logistics expert Kari (LOL), but a little mug known as the the PPS Travel Mug just happened to be one of the paying passengers on this leg of the journey. Funny how it seems to follow us around. :-)

After breakfast we had lots of time to explore the ship which included visiting the wheelhouse and talking to Captain Spencer. When first seeing the Uchuck at the dock earlier in the morning one would think that this time honoured vessel would be captained by a bearded, almost senior veteran of many years on the high seas. I think many on board were surprised to find that Captain Spencer was a young man looking fresh out of college who you might think was just a deckhand. One thing for sure, the crew including Spencer work together very well and made all the passengers feel at home.

Who "looks" to fit the stereotype of a captain of a ship? Morley on the left or Spencer holding the wheel?

Our next stop was at the Kendrick Camp log sort located at the head of Kendrick Inlet. Not only was it an active log sort but the dock also was home to a fishing lodge and probably the source of the several fishing boats that passed us on the way up Tahsis Inlet.

How to get logs into the water. Stack them in a cradle like the one at the right of the picture. Wrap the stack with a couple loops of cable and then push the whole stack down the ramp to the waiting log tugs.

The floating logging camp crew house on the left and the fishing lodge on the right. If memory serves me right heavy duty tires were offloaded at this location.

After the Kendrick Camp cargo stop the Uchuck made it's way up Tahsis Inlet, through Tahsis Narrows, Hecate Channel and into Esperanza Inlet. After breakfast was served earlier in the morning Elaine went to work getting lunch ready which consisted of chili and made-to-order sandwiches which we enjoyed on the top deck.

Heading up Tahsis Inlet. Tahsis can be seen in the distance but we would be making a left turn soon into Tahsis Narrows.

The middle of September and look at the weather the west coast is treating us to! One last cargo stop to swap out garbage dumpsters. It was nice to see that garbage is handled properly in these remote camp and fish farm operations.

Our drop location at Rosa Island was coming up soon so we went to work suiting up and getting our kayaks ready for wet launching. One by one, two crew members easily picked up our fully loaded kayaks and moved them to the covered cargo hold and placed them onto a specially rigged pallet.

Kari loaded and ready to be hoisted overboard. This is what we came for .... to heck with the paddling!! LOL

I think every one of the tourist passengers were watching us from the wheelhouse viewing area. We had many discussions with them on the way out from Gold River and they seemed amazed that we were going to be disappearing in our trusty rides for the next 10 days. I checked the time (2:15pm) we launched and began our adventure in the Nuchatlitz.

Kari going over the side

Here's a short video of Gary's ride

Lynn followed by Morley and Robyn

And finally I'm hoisted overboard while the tourists watch.

No sooner than I was clear of the Uchuck she continued on her way towards Kyuquot.

Our original plan was to head west towards Catala Island Marine Park about 2nm in the distance and set up our first base camp. However with the conditions being so perfect and the long range forecast in our favor we decided to paddle southeast to Benson Point about 8nm's away instead. 

Lynn checking her chart as we make the decision to head to Benson Point

And so our paddling adventure in the Nuchatlitz begins here but it will continue on another blog post coming shortly. If you have any questions about the MV Uchuck III or Get West Adventure Cruises please comment or email them to me at   

Our track from Gold River to Rosa Island on the Uchuck III

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Working Through The Hand Of God

A couple weeks back we headed out to the beach at Esquimalt Lagoon with Kari Challenger to work on a rescue that we all hope that we will never have to do for real. Kari is a paramedic in Vancouver and recently we have had many discussions about providing CPR while on the water and how to perform the Hand of God rescue. 

For those of you who might not know what the Hand of God is, it simply is rescuing an upside down kayaker who might be unconscious or simply is trapped inside the cockpit which I have seen happen a few times. Thankfully in both cases another paddler was close by and righted the paddler with the Hand of God rescue. Could you perform a Hand of God rescue if that happend?

Kari and I spent some time watching videos on the internet prior to attempting it for the first time and we talked through the steps that needed to happen for it to be successful. For our scenario we had Robyn close by for me to use a T-Rescue as an option instead of wet exiting my kayak if the Hand of God didn't work out. She also was able to video how Kari managed both attempts allowing for review later. Robyn and I video all of our training sessions when working on new techniques and even when refining some of the basics.

A few comments about what happened. On the first attempt Kari did a really good job in getting me upright in a continuous motion. On the second attempt you'll notice that my kayak gets caught on hers which prevented her from continuously rolling me. The difference was that on the second attempt her lower hand didn't stay on the cockpit combing pushing my kayak down and away from hers. She then had to resort to using a lot of muscle power to finish off the rescue. In both cases then end result was the same but the little technical things make so much difference.

At lot of you are probably heading to pool sessions over the winter. Why not try and figure out the Hand of God rescue?

2015 Paddle #41 - Rescue Training
Distance: 0 nm (0 km)
YTD: 256.15 nm (474.39 km) Needs editing once Nuchatlitz blogs are complete.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Port Renfrew Playtime!!

Yeah I know .... I haven't blogged in a few months (shamelessly holding my head low). So a quick update on our adventures.

Our September Nuchatlitz trip tracks
Since our last post in August (really??) we went on a multi day trip to the Nuchatlitz in September with four other paddlers which was so amazing in every aspect that I will blog the adventure for you now that the rainy winter season is upon us.

I managed to get out on to the ocean once with Kari Challenger who was with us on the Nuchatlitz trip for a day of rescue refreshers while on a paddle to Rum Island. More about rescues with Kari in a future blog post :-)

Since then Robyn and I have been in the pool a couple of times working on things like the other side or if you prefer the offside roll. ;-) Surprisingly I figured it out during our first pool night which is cool so now I can spend the rest of the winter pool sessions refining it.

Other than that we haven't been on the water at all as our other life stuff (volunteering and work) has taken up a lot of our time. Refocusing our energy we have decided to step back from a few volunteer obligations and focus ourselves to a couple causes that are dear to our hearts. This will leave us time to do what we love best .... go play on the water!!!

A couple of weeks ago we managed to join up with Patti and Yves of Go Kayak who were camped out at the Pacheedaht Campground in Port Renfrew for a day of rock gardening. Shortly after arriving fellow paddlers Gene, Reale, Michel and Gerhardt joined the group to do some rough water play paddling.

Launching at the mouth of the Gordon River
The campground is situated right at the mouth of the Gordon River which makes for easy launching of our kayaks especially on this day when the surf was a gnarly mess of 5 foot cresting waves pounding the beach. Great conditions for the mass of surfers present but there was no way a kayak could launch from the main beach without basically getting the crap beaten out of you.

Lots of moving water today :-)
Our group paddled out of the river and explored the many sea arches, slots and other rock formations on the north side of the inlet on our way out towards Thrasher Cove. With no wind we only had to contend with big sets of swells arriving in a cycle of every 7th or 8th wave which challenged us every time we went into a play zone.

A BIG 'boomer' at Hammond Rocks

The wave energy was pretty amazing and it was the most we have experienced at Port Renfrew creating some interesting timing issues as I found out quickly a few times when the "big ones" exploded around me (us) while in the middle of a feature. A little unnerving at first but only a few close calls of nearly capsizing with some colorful language got me pretty stoked quickly. Ya!! I loved every minute of it!!

Here's a little video of our fun and it's "G" rated with the music replacing the odd &$#@(&%!!!

2015 Paddle #40 - Port Renfrew Rocks!!
Distance: 8.50 nm (15.74 km)
YTD: 256.15 nm (474.39 km) Needs editing once Nuchatlitz blogs are complete.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Weekend To Kick Back by Robyn Byrne

Since we have some kayak camping trips coming up, Mark and I decided to take our RV out to the Pedder Bay RV Resort for some relaxation time this weekend. We headed out after work on Thursday and pulled into our favorite waterfront site, made some appies for dinner and were in bed early after a busy work week.

Mark caught a bullhead so we weren't technically "skunked"
Friday morning we walked the kayaks down to the launch with fishing gear aboard and paddled out to the mouth of the bay to catch ourselves a big salmon that apparently are "so thick you can walk on them"!  HA I say!  Not only did we not catch one, we didn't see any of the other 20 fish boats out there catch one either!  After an hour or so we had a leisurely paddle back along the shoreline and lounged around with a drink in hand the rest of the day. 

Saturday we decided to forego the fishing and did a hike around Matheson Lake from the RV park. It was pretty hot and in hindsight we should have brought the kayaks and got some rolling practice in. Oh well, next summer perhaps. Back at camp it was more lounging and a drink(s) to conclude our weekend of just relaxing.

Next up, SISKA camp out at Portland Island. 

2015 Paddle #31 - Pedder Bay Salmon Fishing (HA!)
Distance: 4.53 nm (8.39 km)
YTD: 256.15 nm (474.39 km)

God's Pocket - 7 Days plus 1 (Part 4)

Day 5 - Wednesday July 15, 2015

Drip, drip, drip ..... the first sound of the morning as we woke up to rain and climbing out of the tent our camp was surrounded by fog as well. We had planned on heading towards Loquillilla Cove for the day but the weather was telling us otherwise. Making breakfast we listened to the latest weather report on the VHF radio and there was good and bad coming. The good was that it was going to be clearing as a high pressure ridge was going to slide down from Haida Gwaii. The bad was that it was going to get windy on Friday and Saturday .... really windy to the tune of 20 - 40 knots from the NW late each day.

Just as we were finishing breakfast the rain stopped and the fog started to lift teasing us with blue sky and whispering clouds. Time to load up the kayaks and continue with our plans to head up Goletas Channel and follow the shoreline of Nigei Island to Loquillilla Cove. 

A change in the weather is coming as we set out on our quest for a small creek located at Loquillilla Cove.

Lately I have been thinking about Alaska and I remember saying to Robyn that it is just up there :-)

I paddled off shore to capture this image of our
kayaks dwarfed by the cliff face.
Unlike the shorelines that we have paddled on this trip thus far, the south end of Nigei Island is a perfect example of the geographic diversity at the northern end of Vancouver Island.

Massive cliffs with exposed sea caves greeted us at low tide as we headed west to our destination. We did a little bit of exploring on the way there but wanted to take advantage of the remaining ebb to carry us along. There would be plenty of time on the way back to explore but first we wanted to make sure that we reached Loquillilla Cove to find the water source to fill up our dromedary's and most importantly, my shower bag!

Just before entering Loquillilla Cove, Gary and Jane spotted a humpback whale that surfaced just behind Robyn and I and it kept our streak of daily humpback whale sightings intact.

Stan and Jane enjoying lunch while the others are exploring.
Loquillilla Cove is a wonderful place to visit and it would also make a great camping destination. Sheltered from the prevailing NW winds it has a very large crescent moon beach of fine pebbles with a small creek located at the NE corner.

As the group started lunch I decided to set my crab trap. So far on this trip I haven't had much success trying to catch the elusive crustaceans but I thought that maybe this cove might be the perfect location.

The view looking at Vancouver Island in the distance. A pretty location to visit if you are in the area.

"Gary .... there's the perfect place for a skinny dip" :-)
After lunch we went on the search for water and although the creek does babble into the cove we needed to hike into the forest a bit until we found some deeper pools that would make filling our water containers easier.

Gray and Jane had other plans like having a good wash with fresh water.

Cool, clear water ... water... water
Nice clean flowing water to fill my shower bag. It was going to be worth hauling the 20 liters back to camp and all I could think about was the nice warm shower that I would have the next day.

Arriving back on the beach our friends from Vancouver had just arrived from their trip to Vansittart Island. They too had listened to the weather report and decided to "bug out" rather than running the risk of being weathered in up there. Chris told us they saw breaching humpback whales as well as orca and lots of sea otters.  Robyn ... we have to go there next time!!

It was time for us to head back onto the water and just in time as the winds started to pick up considerably. But first I had to check on my crab trap. Once again ..... nothin!! Maybe they just don't exist in these clean natural conditions??

Up to this point on the trip we had been blessed with sightings of so many different species of wildlife but one in particular hadn't been spotted. I'm talking about the adorable sea otter that we have seen on the west coast of the island. Paddling back towards camp we noticed something ahead of us frolicking on the surface and it could only be one thing. Our first (and only) sea otter! 

'Whatcha doin out here all by yourself buddy?'

The increasing wind made the our paddle back to camp a little sloppy but thankfully it was coming from behind us and with the flood direction. The paddle up to Loquillilla Cove took 2 hours but the return trip only took 1.25 hours in comparison. My appreciation of how the water and wind interact with each other at the north end of the island increased on this trip. Although God's Pocket is only a stone's throw away from Port Hardy, using the currents and wind to your advantage is key to paddling in the area.

Just after arriving back at camp 3 ladies arrived and set up camp at the alternate kitchen location. Talking with them later they told us that they were from the Sunshine Coast (Gibson's) and were planning on doing a little touring much like we had done the past few days. Hmmm .... the forecast might have a say in that.

Lazing around camp the rest of the afternoon I set up my shower using our bear cache pulley system and couldn't wait for the next day when it was warm. It was a little cool especially with the wind starting to blow but it sure beat the salt water sponge baths that I had been relying on so far.

The little bonsai tree across from our camp. 

Chris and his group arrived back at Nolan Point and after a discussion with them they decided to head to Bell Island for the night. They were concerned with the wind forecast for the next couple of days and wanted to get closer to Port Hardy just in case.

The Vancouver group heads to Bell Island

A couple of nights ago I woke up to a lot of blowing and trashing in the water and now I put 2 and 2 together as a very large pod of orca made it's way past Jerome Island. What I had heard was orca in the middle of the night coming very close to our camp. I should have got up and checked it out huh?

This pod was made up of at least 20 individuals and they were heading towards Christie Passage following the eddy line where we have seen the humpback feeding the last few days. There was lots of tail slapping, spy hopping and I'm pretty sure we even spotted a very very young baby in the pod. Very cool!!!

A pretty amazing day. You can even call it a trifecta with humpback, sea otter and orca's being seen the same day!!!

2015 Paddle #27 - Loquillilla Cove Water Run
Distance: 11.90 nm (22.03 km)
YTD: 231.53 nm (‪428.79 km)

Day 6 - Thursday July 16, 2015

Our last day before heading back to civilization and since there wasn't a group paddle planned, Robyn and I decided to hike along the shoreline at low tide to the end of Nolan Point. The high pressure system was establishing itself on the north coast and it provided beautiful clear skies with a gentle breeze to start the day.

The view from Nolan Point, Jerome Island on the left, Lucan Islands at center and our campsite on the point on the right.

From the same location behind us looking east are the Noble Islets and Duncan Island with Vancouver Island on the right.

The east side of Nolan Point is a catch basin for driftwood and we soon discovered other man-made items that have made their way to the shores of BC.

There have been a lot of reports of debris from the 2011 Japan tsunami on the west coast of Vancouver Island and it only makes sense that some items will or have made their way to the east coast of the island.

We found the usual suspects of fishing floats, Crocs, a few plastic water bottles and then I came across this pallet that I believe has Japanese writing on it. Did it come from the tsunami? Who knows but with the massive debris field that is circulating in the Pacific Ocean I'm sure we will come across more and more items in the future.

On our way back to camp we spotted Gary and Jane heading out to explore the under water life at low tide.

And Stan and Paula were also exploring the shoreline taking in the spectacular views.

After lunch Robyn and I headed out to once again try to catch a salmon. It would have made the perfect final dinner for the group but we had no luck other than catching several rockfish that were only bite size and not worth keeping.

I made Robyn a hand-line for the trip and she managed to catch a few rock fish on it so we know the rig works well. I can't wait to see when she hooks a larger fish like a 5-10 pound salmon. That should be fun!

Robyn's first catch on her hand-line. Pan size and perfect for two but not a big enough meal for the group. This one went back.

Back at camp the predicted afternoon NW winds started to increase and we checked the updated weather report on the VHF radio. It looked like we would have a window of opportunity to "bug out" of camp early the next morning when the winds would be light so we made plans to be on the water just after 7:00 am. Keeping the humpback whale sighting string intact, we spotted one on the backside of Jerome Island as it was feeding along with sea gulls and many of the eagles that we have seen the last several days.

Gary and Jane made dinner consisting of spaghetti bolognese followed by apple crumble for dessert and then we went to work disassembling the kitchen and loading the kayaks of non essential items to assist us in expediting our departure in the morning.

The feeding frenzy for sea gulls, eagles and a humpback whale.

Day 7 - Friday July 17, 2015

Robyn and I were awake just before 6:00 am and I checked the forecast which was calling for 10-15 NW for the next few hours before rising to 25-30 early in the afternoon. It was time to get moving so after a quick breakfast we moved the partially loaded kayaks closer to the waterline using Gary's hauling straps.

Time to load up .... the wind is starting to pick up and there are white caps showing beyond Jerome Island

Fully loaded and ready to go we watched as the wind against current started to change the sea state considerably and as a group, we made the decision to stand down. We wouldn't be leaving today unless the winds miraculously dropped.

We watched the waves build while the kayaks were packed and ready to go. 

Once the decision was made that we wouldn't be leaving God's Pocket, we hauled the fully loaded kayaks back up the beach using Gary's straps. (Thank you Gary for bringing the straps!!!)  With the six of us, moving the kayaks was relatively easy and it saved the task of unpacking everything to get the kayaks up to the headland.

Packed and ready. Now we just have to hang around and wait.

Jane passed the time napping :-)

Hey! We have hammocks ... perfect napping devices.

Later in the day I spent some time trying to balance rocks in the 25-30 knot winds. Talk about a challenge! Many only lasted minutes but a few managed to hang around long enough to get a camera for some pictures.

It was pretty obvious from the afternoon weather report that we wouldn't be leaving today so we set up our tents and went to work on planning dinner. Robyn and I had brought a 3 day supply for 2 of dehydrated meals consisting of pulled pork, black beans and rice which meant that we could feed the group tonight.

Big winds in the afternoon meant we would need another plan for the next day.

After dinner the group decided that we would get up at 3:00 am the following day which would allow us to be on the water at first light (4:30 am) which also was the slack water time. The wind was predicted to be 5-15 from the NW so with the slack tide we might be able to arrive back in Port Hardy for breakfast at Captain Hardy's by 8:00 am! LOL

Day 7 +1 - Saturday July 18, 2015

3:00 am, dark and the wind is still blowing. I scrambled out of the tent with my headlamp and met Stan and Paula heading into camp. After a brief discussion it was pretty obvious that we weren't going anywhere fast so it was back to bed.

6:00 am and I woke up to .... very little wind!! I scrambled out of the tent with my VHF radio and binoculars and walked to the viewpoint at the end of our campsite. The wind forecast was now 10-15 NW increasing later this morning and from what I could see beyond the eddy line which was now showing the effects of winds against current, the water was showing only the occasional breaking wave.

The past couple of years Robyn and I have worked hard to develop not only our paddling skills but we have also developed what we think are pretty good leadership skills for situations like this. It was time to put them to work so we woke the rest of the group and explained to them that we had a window of opportunity to attempt crossing Goletas Channel back to Vancouver Island.

We could sense a little bit of apprehension but part of our plan was to first get on the water and then paddle out to the eddy line just beyond Jerome Island to get a better look. Launching just after 7:00 am the low marine cloud was obscuring our view of Vancouver Island but we could see enough of the shoreline 1.5 nm in the distance. The wind was estimated to about 5-10 NW and the sea state was averaging a 2-3 foot chop with occasional breaks from some of the larger sets. Plotting a course of 180 degrees our goal would be to paddle across the channel to small beach which on our charts indicated a possible water source. I estimated that if we were to paddle at a moderate pace we should be able to reach the other side of the channel in about 30 minutes.

Consulting with the rest of the group as to how they felt about attempting the crossing we received a "Go" so Robyn and I took positions on either side of the rest of the group and we headed out into the channel. Paddling along in close proximity the group did an amazing job and I noticed how silent everyone was which tends to naturally happen when the conditions become a bit of a concern.

Lumpy conditions but the group presses on across Goletas Channel

Time flew by quickly as I mentioned to the group that we were now more than half way across and I could see the eyes of a black bear on the beach ahead. Of course there wasn't a black bear on the beach and if there was we certainly wouldn't have been able to see it's eyes but it got the group talking making fun of the nonexistent bear on the beach.

The next thing we knew we were out of the main flow of the channel and we entered the small cove of the beach which also provided shelter from the wind. The crossing took only 35 minutes which meant we were paddling at a pretty good pace of about 3 knots in conditions that were a bit of a challenge. An awesome job done by everyone and I think we all felt a sense of relief now that we had reached Vancouver Island, and no, there's weren't any black bears to greet us!

Stan and Paula complete the crossing into calmer water.

Sure enough, the little beach had a water source which was a waterfall a bit further back in the forest.

Now that we had crossed Goletas Channel all we had to do is put in a few miles of paddling to reach Port Hardy. In the case of the condition's deteriorating we had a number of locations we could stop if need be and the first one was Songhees Creek 2.5 nm east of our location. Although the main current flow was ebbing to the west we experienced a back eddy flowing our direction so we essentially were being pulled along towards Port Hardy in wind with current conditions. Nice!!

Landing at Songhees Creek for a rest stop.

A large expansive area that has good camping opportunities if weathered in.

Landing at Songhees Creek we were greeted by a paddler from Bellingham who with his group were attempting to paddle around Cape Scott. They had launched out of Port Hardy the day before and had run into the high winds as they entered Goletas Channel. They had spent the night on Duval Island before heading to Songhees Creek battling the back eddy that we had arrived on.

After launching from Songhees Creek we hugged the shoreline and made our way to Duval Island before entering the confined waters of Port Hardy Bay just in time for the winds to increase from behind us. The water out beyond Duval Point gradually turned dark with breaking whitecaps just as predicted. It looks like our group made the right decision to leave when we had the opportunity.

Port Hardy in the distance, wind and current with us and nothing but beautiful sunshine to greet us.

It was a great 7 + 1 days of exploring God's Pocket with Stan & Paula Ball, Jane & Gary Jacek and of course my honey Robyn. Now it's time to start planning for our next adventure on the west coast in September.

Loaded up and ready for the long drive home. 

2015 Paddle #28 - The Journey Home
Distance: 10.66 nm (19.74 km)
YTD: 242.19 nm (‪448.53 km)