Friday, January 29, 2016

Rocking Port Renfrew

All winter I've been wanting to go back to Port Renfrew and do some rock gardening and since Kari was in town on vacation I sent out an email to a few friends throughout the week before. The plan was simple, meet up at the Pacheedaht Campground located near the Gordon River and to be on the water by 10:00am. The rest was up to each person to have fun in their own way.

The forecast was just about perfect for last Sunday with a mix of cloud but mostly sun, around 8 degrees C, 5-10 kt cross-off winds, surf waves of just over 1 meter and not much swell energy coming from offshore. High tide was just after lunch which has its pros and cons in terms of playing in the rocks or surfing a bit at beachfront. Every day at Port Renfrew is always different so you take what it gives you to play with. That's one of the things that brings you back here and of course it's a beautiful place to paddle.

Make it a baker's dozen with Morley taking the group picture before launching.

The great thing about Port Renfrew is that there are lots of on-line resources to plan a paddle and commit to it before making the 2 hour drive from Victoria or Nanaimo. Using a combination of forecasting tools from Environment Canada Marine Weather, Sailflow and the popular Port Renfrew Surf Forecast, paddling at Port Renfrew has a lot to offer for all levels of sea kayakers.

Today was a prime example as there wasn't much swell energy but just enough for those who wanted to venture deep into the rocks or through the many sea arches. For those who simply wanted to have a relaxing paddle along the shoreline while watching those in the "soup" this was also possible.

Rocks and sea arches are a great play zone to work on developing kayak maneuvering skills 

While the sightseers broke off and headed further up towards Thrasher Rock a small group of 6 of us took on almost every rock feature or sea arch on the way out. Some of the arches we just a little "iffy" due to a combination wave energy and head clearance but we managed to get through those on the way back as the tide started to drop.

One sea arch in particular only had a couple of feet of head clearance when the water receded out but when a set of swells arrived the arch was completely engulfed by wall of water. It was all timing and a little bit of luck but our small adventurous group of 6 each made it through.

Sea stacks and stunning views

The beauty of the area is magical and on this late January day with the warm sun shining on the NW side of the Port Renfrew inlet it seemed more like a late March or April paddle.

I took the time to look around when I wasn't playing in the features as there were many bald and juvenile eagles, mink, seals and other water fowl to look at.

The higher tide made finding a suitable spot to stop for lunch a little harder but we did spot this location just beyond the Thrasher Cove site. This location also gave the group an opportunity to practice our surf landings and launches. :-)

Beach lunch is always good !! Just pull up a log or rock and refuel the body for the paddle back.

After lunch we went back to playing in the rocks or anything that was generating some sort of action. Personally for me I think this might have been my best "play day" since I started kayaking. It was nice to hear comments from kayakers that I look up like Gerhardt, Walter, Yves and Patty of Go Kayak as they noticed my progression of skills in handling the tougher situations. :) Thanks guys!!

I think that's Gerhardt in the middle of a surge. He sure knows how to handle a Greenland paddle in the rocks!

Of course just the simple task of getting out of my kayak back at the beach bust that "pat myself on the back" bubble. LOL

"Help me! I've fallen and can't get up!" LOL 

Kari all fogged up after her roll 
It's was Kari's first time paddling at Port Renfrew and yes she swam in the rocks and managed to get back into her kayak with a little help from some friends. That's why you go to Port Renfrew with friends of all skill levels. ;-)

She even rolled back at the beach in the cold river water and as a proud coach I had to do likewise. Holy head freeze Batman!!!

2016 Paddle #3 - Port Renfrew
Distance: 8.00 nm (14.81 km)
YTD: 24.25 nm (44.91 km)

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