Sunday, July 5, 2015

In The Right Place at the Right Time - Tillicum Narrows

On Saturday it was our pleasure to take Salt Spring Island paddler Lisa Stafford on a little tour of the Victoria Inner Harbor which included playing in the Tillicum Narrows. Lisa is in town for a couple of days while her son Lukas is being mentored by James Manke on how to build a skin on frame Greenland rolling kayak. Nice!!

The Tillicum Narrows at -10 knots. About a 4 foot difference in water height today under the bridge

We launched out of Songhees Road near the Delta Victoria Hotel and headed north to Tillicum Narrows where it was ebbing 10.2 knots. Although we could have just worn our wetsuits we optioned to put on our drysuits closer to our destination and then spend an hour or so playing in the rapids. Having been here a couple of weekends ago when it was running at about 7 knots, the feature was quite a bit different today.

Robyn with all her suds in the washing machine. LOL

Lisa's turn playing in Jamie Sharpe's Reflection. 

Lots of suds today
It was a boiling foaming madness with a rock exposed at the bottom of the trough in the center of the feature and a very fast section of rapids running along the north wall. Paddling out of the foamy back eddy on the south side we  played in the turbulence experiencing some unplanned capsizes and some that resulted just from pushing the envelope a bit too far while we tried some interesting ferrying without bracing. Yeah .... that didn't work so well for both Lisa and I. LOL


Too much fun ... let's rescue someone now!
It was good times at the rapids supporting one another just in case we might need a hand. BTW ... thanks Lisa for chasing me down  ;-)

Sometimes when you think all is good something happens that brings you back to reality and makes you think "what the heck"!!!! Well we got to experience that today as we noticed a paddler heading towards the narrows from the upstream side. Now we have seen this before and in those cases the paddler turns around and heads back before reaching the waterfall.

This time however this paddler kept coming and we all noticed that he didn't have a PFD or helmet on. Pardon my language but it was one of those WTF moments as he dropped over the waterfall into the trough and although it looked like he was going to make it he capsized right next to the rock right in the middle and then all we saw was his kayak hull and no sight of him.

By that time we were already moving towards him and I thought for a moment that this could possibly be an extraction or hand-of-God scenario as he was somehow trapped in the feature. Thankfully his head popped up out of the water as he managed to wet exit from the kayak. Lisa and I reached him as he was floating towards the back eddy on the north side. Having giving up on the PFD he decided he was going to swim to shore with his kayak and so we escorted him and his kayak into shallow water until he was able to stand up and haul his butt and kayak out of the water.

"Let me see .... if I wear this it might save my life next time I do something that stupid" LOL

It all happened so fast but it seemed like time stood still as the whole scenario played itself out. The first thing I asked him was where was his PFD which he reached down and picked up. At this point he decided that maybe it was a good time to wear it and even though it only took 3 attempts to get it on he finally did. He was pretty apologetic for what happened and noted that "maybe he used up one of his 9 lives today" and thanked us for assisting him. Robyn tracked down his other gear floating nearby and had a little wisdom discussion with him before he set off towards the inner harbor.

One of the new Sterlings Kayaks Progession's in stock

That was enough excitement for the day for us so we paddled down to the Ocean River Sports dock and got out of drysuits before heading into the store to check out the new Sterlings Kayaks Progression. We think Lisa just might have her eye on the lime green one that is begging for her to test paddle. LOL

Robyn and Lisa checking out the menu

We finished the afternoon off with lunch at Barb's Fish & Chips located at Fisherman's Wharf before heading back across the harbour to the put in location. OK, that was a pretty good tour of our wonderful waterway that makes up the inner harbour of Victoria. Rescuing a kayaker ...... priceless. Tip please!!!!

2015 Paddle #23 - Tillicum Narrows Rescue
Distance: 5.5 nm (10.18 km)
YTD: 189.40 nm (‪350.77 km)

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