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The magazine of self-propelled coastal exploration
Volume 20, Issue 2
FREE at select outlets or by subscription
After paddling and cycling around the world – what’s next?
Join us as we explore the Great Bear Rainforest, Gwaii Haanas and other incredible BC destinations
this month's features:
10 Endless Horizons
An interview with Colin Angus BC’s Great Bear Rainforest BC’s undiscovered kayak destination A journey into Gwaii Haanas
by James Dorsey
10 6 News 32, 57 Tours and Services 38 Kayak-friendly Accommodation 24 46 Kayak previews 52 Skillset by Alex Matthews 54 Planning and Safety by Michael Pardy 28 55 Instruction directory 56 Paddle Meals
by Hilary Masson by John Kimantas
18 Where Bears Still Rule
24 Coasting Through Kitimat 29 The land of totems 34 Broken Waters
BC’s Broken Group Islands
by Caitlan Birdsall
41 Watch Out While Watching Whales 42 Paddling With A Purpose
Battling invasive species by kayak
by Rachel Benbrook
the First Word
by John Kimantas
WaveLength Are we as eco-minded as we think?
Summer 2010 Editor John Kimantas Copy Editing Darrell Bellaart
Volume 20, Number 2 PM No. 41687515
Writing not otherwise credited is by Wavelength.
Cover Photo: It was a tough day at work for Wavelength Magazine as the office was closed for a photo shoot of the Broken Group Islands. Kayaker Carey Lockwood tests the waters in a sea arch on the outside of Effingham Island. Photo by John Kimantas.
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I suspect kayakers tend to consider themselves up there with the most ecologically minded individuals of the day. It’s a natural fit, of course, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect our altruism. After all, we benefit from a clean and undeveloped coast, so it’s to our personal advantage to align ourselves with anything that benefits a better coast. As a case in point, when we lobby to protect an area, it’s usually to make it parkland for public use, as in our use, not to keep it off-limits – meaning our eco-mindedness often only goes so far as it benefits us personally, and we, consciously or otherwise, veil self-interest under the guise of environmentalism. A cynical outlook, huh? Well, I’m not sure it’s out of whack. We generally consider ourselves at one with the environment, with our disturbance to Mother Nature limited to the swish of a paddle on the water. That’s the poetic outlook, and one I personally embrace as a kayaker. And yet we are traveling in a vehicle (that being the kayaks) made of some of the most poisonous epoxies, resins and plastic chemicals ever devised. So, for the environmentally-minded people who disagree with me: did you research the construction type of your kayak prior to purchase to ensure that the chemicals used are not harmful toxins as a byproduct of the construction? Be honest. Probably not. Also, have you asked how your kayak will have to be disposed when it reaches its end of days? Do you know if is it completely recyclable? It may not be. Some rotomolded kayaks are not, for instance, and will end up as 50-pound blobs of plastic in a landfill. We also think nothing of raising our carbon footprint with long drives to launch locations. The problem, of course, is we don’t have much choice – if you want to paddle from somewhere remote, you have to drive to get there. Such is the nature of our North American reliance on automobiles. So what steps do we take to make these drives as green as possible? I suspect for most of us, the answer is nothing. In fact, we add to our carbon footprint on these kayaking trips as we get lower mileage when we add a kayak to the roof of our car. We could take a bus, then rent a kayak. But that’s more costly and less convenient – another example that we’re only as green as it suits us to be. I won’t pretend to be any better than the average among us. I tend to hope, maybe naively, that our excesses of today will be countered by solutions that will evolve in time until it all balances. I hope the imbalance we’ve devised as the conveniences of our generation will disappear in due course until the environmental choice is the only choice because in time nothing else will make sense. What we have to do now is steer the world in the right direction, and until harmony with Mother Nature is achieved we do have to question our choices. Wavelength’s Clean Up the Coast is an easy target for this type of sentiment. I don’t expect thousands to comb the coastline. But I do hope a kayaker may stop to pick up a plastic bottle instead of ignoring it. Combine with that a recognition of the vast amount of plastic on the beach, coupled with an exasperation that so much plastic is allowed to pollute our coast, and maybe eventually enough of us will force the change to make non-biodegradable plastics a thing of the past. At least that’s my hope. I hope it’s yours as well. - John Kimantas
The Wavelength Magazine was closed this weekday: kayaking in the Broken Group Islands instead. Heaven! SUMMER 2010
Great Island Race heats up with new entry
The goal is simple: paddle as fast as you can around Vancouver Island, and beat Sean Morley’s time of 17 days, 4 hours and 49 minutes to take the title. But suddenly it’s not quite so clear-cut as a new mode of transport is being used to vie for the crown. Long-distance adventurer Colin Angus will be attempting the race this summer in a rowboat. He leaves in approximately mid-June – about the same time that Joe O’Blenis will be tackling the same record, but in a more traditional kayak. Joe is planning a launch from Comox; Colin from Port Hardy. Wavelength will be following both attempts in detail online on our ‘Great Island Race’ page. Find it under the ‘Community’ tab at wavelengthmagazine.com. Meanwhile, another unusual marine record attempt will be starting from Vancouver Island in June. Greg Kolodziejzyk will attempt to become the first person in history to navigate from
photos courtesy Colin Angus
Colin Angus in Romania; inset: a look at his rowboats.
Tofino to Hawaii under his own power. His plan – to pedal a custom-made enclosed pedal boat 3,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. His attempt is expected to take
between 40 to 80 days. Greg has already set the 24-hour water distance record by covering 152.33 miles (245.16 km) in 24 hours. Visit pedaltheocean.com.
Kayakers take steps to Clean up the Coast
The advantage of a spring cleanup on Vancouver Island: a chance to see the wildflowers in bloom. The Victoria Sea Kayakers Network annual cleanup of Discovery Island took place in late April amid a display of sanicles and camas (though no chocolate lilies were sighted this year). The network’s tradition of the spring cleanup dates back to 1992 when the group “adopted” the island as part of the B.C. Parks Branch’s now defunct marine host program. No surprise, the main haul was mainly styrofoam, with the usual runners, shoes, tennis balls and plastic water bottles. Hauls in previous years have found a broken guitar, a plastic sword, car wheels, dolls, brooms and even an unexploded military ordinance. Those participating in the Victoria Sea Kayakers Network are now eligible for the draw in Wavelength’s Clean Up the Coast contest, created to reward participants of new and existing group cleanup programs
Marvin Eng, a participant in the Victoria Sea Kayakers Network’s cleanup of Discovery Island tows back some styrofoam.
photo by David Spittlehouse
as well as individual efforts, in an attempt to link kayaking with environmental responsibility. Picking up what we see on a beach and carrying it out is just one small part of a mindset where kayakers can be custodians of the marine environment. The prizes so far include several sets of paddles, clothing, eyewear, kayak accessories, upgrades and paddling gear. For details on how to get involved, to register your group and to look over the prizes being offered, please see page 40. Meanwhile, the Great Canadian
Shoreline Cleanup is looking for site coordinators and cleanup participants. That program started in 1994 when a handful of Vancouver Aquarium employees decided to participate in the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. In 2009, nearly 57,000 Canadians registered to cleanup 1,568 sites across Canada. Over 160,900 kg of litter was removed 2,500 km of shoreline. The cleanup takes place Sept. 18–26, 2010. For more information or to register please visit shorelinecleanup.ca
by Jeanette Rogers Ninjas in kayaks? And is that a stick they’re paddling with? Just what are those people doing out there dressed like that? There are plenty of curious onlookers when the South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayak Symposium (SSTIKS) occurs at Twanoh State Park each year. What the spectators are actually seeing is a family-friendly kayaking event celebrating traditional kayaking. Many of the kayaks seen at SSTIKS are skin-on-frame (SoF) kayaks, or qajaqs if you use the traditional spelling. The paddlers often use traditional gear, including a tuilik (a full body spray skirt that can give the appearance of a weeble in a kayak) and a paddle made of wood, referred to as a ‘stick.’ The three-day SSTIKS event, taking place June 18-20, is a perfect opportunity to try these interesting kayaks and learn more about the vibrant traditional culture. Some who enjoy the culture talk passionately about multiple ways to roll a kayak. While SSTIKS is conducive to learning one or more of the 40 types of Greenland rolls, this event is more than just rolling a kayak. Over the course of three days, through handson and demonstration opportunities, participants will learn both on and off the water. A group of experienced instructors teach about basic and advanced kayaking strokes, rescues, building paddles and kayaks, and even harpoon throwing and constructing outfits from neoprene.
SSTIKS diehards worth a second glance
Sticks in use at SSTIKS.
Elisabeth Doornink photo / courtesy SSTIKS
The event isn’t just for the adults. A kids track is specifically designed to get young kids started kayaking. Watching this program, you’ll see that the kids are having a delightfully chaotic time with the variety of games, including barge building and kayak polo, which expose them to core kayaking skills in a fun way. SSTIKS, a Qajaq USA event with no corporate sponsors, is about a community of paddlers. This follows from the Qajaq USA mission to “study and promote the traditions and techniques of Greenland kayaking while seeking to further the appreciation and development of Greenland-style kayaking in the United States.” Learn more about SSTIKS at www.qajaqpnw.org. By participating in this family-friendly event you’ll leave Twanoh State Park with many new skills as well as multiple new friends who are passionate about traditional kayaking.
by Stephanie Meinke
First marine trail stages may open in 2011
The BC Marine Trails Network Association is closing in on its vision of linking the British Columbia coast by an official network of routes and campsites. After much work and consultation with representatives of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, two large trail sections with appropriate potential landing and camping sites have been identified and proposed to government. The average distance between the most essential primary sites of these trail sections is about nine nautical miles (17 km). Carefully chosen alternative sites to give paddlers further options and additional safety margins are also included in the proposals. Many of the sites are located on Crown (public) land and most are already familiar to paddlers. Ministry officials are now consulting with other government agencies and other stakeholders, a process which will move each of these sites towards its classification as a Marine Trails designated recreation site. The BCMTNA and its ministry partners are hoping the work on these sections will be finalized by spring 2011, and plans are even beginning for grand opening events. The BCMTNA is comprised of representatives from nine of the largest paddling clubs in British Columbia. It has been working earnestly but quietly over the last two years to carry on a vision originally proposed in the mid 1990s – to create a marine trails network along the entire coastline of British Columbia. The BCMTNA is dedicated to preserving access to the British Columbia coast, from its protected, easy waters to the more challenging waters of the open coast, for recreational paddlers and small boat users of all ability levels. Over the last two years the provincial government through representatives in the Ministry of Tourism has worked diligently with the BCMTNA towards establishing a BC Marine Trails Network. However, political priorities are always subject to change. Only visible public support of a marine trails network can ensure that this work continues. For this reason, and also as preparation for the possible ‘2011 Opening Events,’ the BCMTNA is creating a more visible presence for itself. It will have an information booth at each of the four upcoming BC Paddlefest events this year, and BCMTNA members will be there to pass out information and answer questions. BCMTNA representatives can also be reached through any of the following paddling clubs: Campbell River Paddlers, Comox Valley Paddlers Club, Cowichan Kayak & Canoe Club, Nanaimo Paddlers, Pacific International Kayak Association, Recreation Canoeing Association of BC, Sea Kayak Association of BC, South Island Sea Kayak Association and the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club. For more information, please visit www.bcmarinetrails.org.
Stephanie Meinke is president of the BC Marine Trails Network Association.
olin Angus completed the first human-powered circumnavigation of the world in 2006 when he cycled into Vancouver after 43,000 kilometres (26,600 miles) of travel. During the course of two years he rowed across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, trekked and cycled through 16 countries, endured winter in Siberia and searing heat in the tropics. His exploits earned both him and his partner Julie the title of 2006 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. In 2008 the pair continued their penchant for self-propelled travel with a seven-month, 7,000 km (4,300 mile) journey from the northern tip of Scotland to the heart of Syria using rowboats and bicycles. Colin’s next trip is quite a departure: speed over distance, an attempt to set the
Adventurer Colin Angus reflects on his self-propelled travels around the globe – and his plans for future conquests
fastest time for circumnavigating Vancouver Island – but again, in a rowboat rather than a kayak, which has been used exclusively in past record attempts. Wavelength editor John Kimantas talked with Colin about his adventures and plans for the future. Wl: I seem to recall the last time we talked on the phone you phoned me from a satellite phone in Chukotka. I was working in a newspaper at the time and you had been escorted across land by a converted tank, and the tank driver had got drunk and ran into a house. You were ready to leave them behind. And this was after abandoning the open water due to storms to cross by land and being arrested when you first arrived on Russian soil. Thinking back at that period of time, was it fun? Colin: Well, these things become much more fun in hindsight. When you’re thinking back it’s definitely a different world. At the time it’s exciting, we’re seeing all these new places but we are certainly coming across all these formidable challenges which on a day-to-day basic can make it a little bit disconcerting. That whole section going through Chukotka and Eastern Siberia just stands out in my mind as being one of the most unique times in my life. Wl: Tell me a little bit about what made it unique. Colin: Well, it’s just so different from what we’re used to in our coddled western world. Here, even if you’re living in a cold area in northern Alberta or whatnot, everything’s still pretty straightforward. You’ve got all your conveniences and a nice warm home. There we were pretty
Colin and Julie Angus row together to complete their trans-Atlantic journey at Costa Rica, a trip followed by cycling back to Vancouver. The selfpropelled round-the-world journey inspired National Geographic to name the couple Adventurers of the Year.
Colin angus much exposed to the elements almost continuously and it’s much less developed in northeastern Siberia and it’s such a different culture. The people are warm and hospitable but it’s very bureaucratic and there’s virtually no infrastructure there. Once you’re going in between the towns there’s just a big open wilderness and it’s quite daunting the prospect of having to cross this wilderness. Distance-wise the area without roads it’s the same as going one side of Antarctica to the other and with colder temperatures because you have to go in the winter. You can’t go in the summer because it’s bogs and marshes. So it’s very, very frigid temperatures. The big difference is there are towns and villages periodically, so little oases that you can pull into and warm up and dry your gear. Wl: This was the area too where your relationship with Tim Harvey broke down. Was it the conditions as much as the people, do you figure? Was it just too much for two people to be doing so much together for so long? Colin: Well, I think it’s a little bit of everything. If you look historically at different expeditions out there it seems more than 50 percent of them do end up having some sort of rifts or splits. And I think this is just no different. I think I’ve been quite fortunate over the years. There’s the expedition down the Amazon and the Yenisey and the early sailing trips and the later expeditions with Julie and all of them have been quite harmonious in the way of team dynamics. For the number of expeditions it is bound that somewhere along the way you will be with somebody that there’s compatibility issues and this happened once and it was on the around the world trip. First and foremost it’s not the expedition. Obviously that will aggravate things. We didn’t know each other very well beforehand. We were sort of kayaking buddies and sort of knew each other casually and that, but we weren’t like close friends. So there were big voids in our understanding of each other’s personalities and I think once you’re doing an expedition you do get to know each other very well. Unfortunately there wasn’t that foundation that we were able to withstand the pressures and difficulties that come with an expedition. Wl: One of the great things I love about this whole story of your trip is that your fiancé was able to join you and complete that trip with you. It gives it the element of it being a love story as well. Tell me: how did you two meet? Colin: We actually met in a bus stop in Vancouver. We were both going to the Vancouver Sun Run. A friend of mine had called just the night before and said they had a small team and one of the guys had dropped out. He was sick and was wondering if I would fill in. I’m like okay, sure, so the following day I went to the bus stop to get a ride to the Sun Run starting point and there were a bunch of people there. The buses were completely full. There were 50,000 people going to the race so one after another was going by. So finally one of the guys there flagged down a taxi and a bunch of us piled in and we all started chatting. Well, we were chatting a little bit beforehand and talking more once we were in the taxi and that’s how it all began. Wl: How would it have been to complete that trip alone without Julie? Colin: I think it would have been very difficult. As with any team the workload becomes less, especially if everybody’s quite proficient with what they do, with everything from actually propelling yourself forward in the rowboat, that work is cut in half, but more importantly the logistical, the planning, the research, all that kind of stuff. Of course I was continuously on the road beforehand, so Julie was also able to do some of the research and work beforehand. u
London’s Parliament buildings provide the backdrop for a segment on the Thames during Colin and Julie’s ‘Rowed Trip’ from Scotland to Syria.
Also, in Portugal and getting the boat ready we had a very short timeline to get the boat seaworthy and ready for going out on the ocean because of the fact of the stormy season. Even more importantly the winds switch around off Portugal and if you don’t leave before the switch you’ll have that against you and you won’t make it anywhere. So you have to work very, very quickly and efficiently. Wl: Obviously your relationship survived that trip. Tell me, how difficult were the dynamics in that situation? Colin: Pretty good. It all comes down to knowing each other very well. Julie’s father was saying to her beforehand I don’t want you to do this row because you really shouldn’t be doing this with your fiancé. I think he was more worried about our relationship falling apart than the actual dangers the ocean had in store. He said you won’t be getting married if you try spending five months in a rowboat with a person you want to spend the rest of your life with. From that angle it was quite daunting, especially in light of what had happened earlier between Tim and myself. We felt we’ve got what it takes and also we talked a lot too about different strategies if
12 Wavelength Magazine
things aren’t going well. It’s all about keeping perspective and realizing your mindset can change if things are stressful and difficult and it’s not necessarily a real portrayal of how things are going. Having said that it worked out pretty well. There were always little debates here and there or minor arguments but certainly nothing major. Wl: What was the feeling when you stepped out of the boat in Costa Rica? Colin: As you can imagine, jubilation, but it was a very fatigued jubilation. The last few days we were hit by a pretty major storm above Columbia and that was a few days away from reaching shore. So we were just thrashed because we went through that and then as we emerged out of the storm the current switched around. It kind of hit North America and created a smaller current not shown in the pilot charts. We had a very strong current against us. When we were rowing individually we basically weren’t making any progress, so we were basically standing in the spot while we rowed on our own, then we would double up and make a little bit of progress, but obviously to double up it means we were each rowing 18 hours a day with six hours of crossover, and that six hours was the only time we were actually
moving forward. You get so exhausted all you want to do is take a break, and if you take a break for two hours with nobody at the helm you’ll probably lose a day’s work. It was just that strong of a current. We were so tired when we finally did struggle into shore and we were able to drop that anchor. Wl: Remind me again where you went from there. Did you cycle back to Vancouver? Colin: Yes, we cycled back to Vancouver so we had a couple of lightweight bikes and we basically went straight from Costa Rica to Vancouver. I think it took 64 days. So we were going pretty hard and all through Central America to Mexico then right through the spine basically of North America. We initially were going to go up the coast but at that time we were getting pretty tired and we were looking forward to getting home and it was just the prevailing winds would be in our favor and also a lot flatter through Texas and New Mexico and then Colorado and into Wyoming then over to BC. Wl: It’s funny after being away all that time and saying you’re looking forward to getting home, you really still had a home at that point?
All Seasons Auto-Racks
Colin: You can’t really help when you’ve been born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, the whole Pacific Northwest and Vancouver is in your heart and in your head is still home. So whether you’ve got a house waiting for you or not it’s your destination and where you plan to be. Wl: The trip you did that became the subject for The Rowed Trip – that seems quite more civilized in terms of certainly the area you were traveling. Colin: It certainly is more civilized. It’s a very different trip in its nature. At the same time I think a lot of people think of it as a stroll in the park. When you get into the nitty-gritty of it, it really is quite complex both logistically and in the amount of physical effort required. At the end of the day we traveled 7,000 kilometres with about 6,000 of that both boats and bicycle. We did the final leg on just our bikes to Syria from Istanbul because we realized we wouldn’t be able to ship our boats out of Syria. Just hauling that much gear – we each had our own boat, half the time we were on land, the other half we were in the water. In total I think it was 250 to 280 pounds – just to haul that almost the distance from one side of Canada to the other, through rivers, through canals, against currents, with currents, over roads and tracks and mountains, there’s a lot of physical effort. But it was a really magical way to explore the diversity of Europe, seeing all the architecture, and these different cultures, and getting to sample the food. You’re doing a lot of physical work, but it is within an environment where there is obviously fewer dangers to encounter. At the same time there is a lot of things you do have to watch out for. Wl: I would think the toughest thing would be just dealing with civilization and the limitations on being free to explore when you’re dealing with highways and waterways that are basically developed. Colin: It was easier than we expected. We had quite good maps and road atlases and that sort of thing so we never went on busy highways for the most part. We’d be on quiet waterways or on bicycle paths or farmers’ lanes. As far as camping and that we designed the boats so you could catamaran them together and put a tent on it if we were in areas too developed – not for actual traveling but just to create a platform camp in the more urban areas. But we were surprised at how easy it was to find a spot and camp. There was a few times when we had a u
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adventure Paddling lot of difficulty, you know, in a corner of a farmer’s field or in a forest. The nice thing about waterways even if it is quite developed usually you can always find some little green patches of scrub or parkland that you can just pull into and be quite discrete. Even if it’s a park. Oftentimes there’s an area where the trail wanders away from the shore so that would be where you could discretely set up your tent and camp. Wl: The rowboat you used in that trip – that was your own design, was it not? Colin: Yes. Wl: So this is what you’re developing into Angus Row Boats? Colin: Yeah, and the whole concept behind those was we wanted something that would be very easy to portage, being able to pull behind our bicycles, which is a very efficient way of portaging them. We were considering kayaks first of all, but of course when you’re in the water you can’t carry the bikes and trailers in the boat. And we thought of canoes, but a canoe is just not seaworthy enough for the open water we’d be facing plus if we had a canoe it would mean one person was towing a boat and the other person would have quite a light bike so it would be nice to distribute the weight a bit more evenly. So basically the concept as you can see they look kind of like kayaks with the advantage of being decked and having sealed compartments and being very seaworthy like a kayak, but because they are bigger you’ve got that rowing system which allows you to get a little more drive into the propulsion. Wl: So I gather that is a bit of your focus now, developing this rowboat company? Colin: Well, there’s a whole bunch of things. With the rowboat company, yeah, that is sort of a big focus. Actually I’m creating a couple more too... You see a lot of canoes out there and a lot of kayaks, which are wonderful craft, but at the same time there’s very few rowboats which have their own advantages for different purposes. You see a lot of sliding setup seats, you see racing and competitive boats. There are a few recreational boats available but they’re really not like kayaks where you pack in a week’s worth of gear and just go off camping... But for people who like the workout you get with rowing and who
14 Wavelength Magazine
like that sort of power or maybe rowed in college or whatnot would certainly like a way to get out there on the water and explore the islands, get out to the Gulf Islands or whatnot, and be in a rowboat. Wl: So explain to me your bid for the speed record in rowing around Vancouver Island. Colin: That’ll be commencing in probably mid-June. I’d like to have the full daylight and also looking at the weather it looks like July is one of the best months for the weather. So it’s starting mid-June and I’ll be using one of the boats we used on the last expedition, the expedition boats, and we’re packing that full of gear and hope for the best – hope for some good weather and no repetitive usage injuries and give it a go. Wl: Do you have any other major trips in store after that? Colin: The round Vancouver Island is sort of a bit of a warmup to train up for my next one, which is I’m going to be attempting to break the 24-hour speed record in a rowboat. As of yet nobody’s actually tried breaking that category so there’s not really much of a number to drive for, but I’ll just be giving it my best and seeing what I can come up with. Wl: That’ll be on the Yukon River I take it? Colin: No, it’ll be flat water. I’ll also be trying for the human-powered record of any sort. The fellow who currently holds that is from Calgary1, and that’s flat water again. It was initially held by a kayaker, then a sit-on-top kayaker. I think there were two sit-on-top kayakers that successively broke the record, and the sit-on-top kayaker held it for quite a while, then the guy from Calgary created a vessel that was pedal powered. It was a very sleek trimaran and he currently holds the record. It is 245 kilometres [152 miles] in 24 hours that he did – so just over 10 kilometres an hour he was able to maintain, which is pretty good. The disadvantage of a rowboat compared to his craft is, like kayaking, both hands are occupied the whole time so he was steadily able to eat and drink while he was on the go with his legs working away whereas it’s a u
An unusually civilized portage in Rothenburg, Bavaria while transiting the Altmuhl River causes many turned heads.
Greg Kolodziejzyk. See page 6 for details of his trip to pedal to Hawaii.
Julie Angus relaxes alongside a more traditional boat in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.
A campsite on the Rhine provides a view of Passau at the German/ Austrian border.
adventure Paddling bit harder doing that body maintenance for 24 hours. At the same time I’ll be making a different rowboat for that, sort of a faster, sleeker boat. That’ll be the next challenge, which will be about three weeks after completing the Vancouver Island trip. Wl: What stands out as your favorite memory and your least favorite memory of your various trips? Colin: I think some of my favorite memories are on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s pretty magical being out there. It’s such a different world from what you’re used to. Even though I had a lot of experience on the ocean in my younger years I spent sailing it’s very different when you’re traveling that slowly. You get a lot of wildlife collecting under the boat and you almost become one with them. You name these different fish2 and jump in the water and swim with them. And it’s just like being in a big aquarium and having this aquatic world around you. Worst memories I guess would be being back in the ocean again, but the anticipation of having a hurricane coming towards your boat – just that whole sort of buildup and suspense. We actually had two hurricanes on the Atlantic and the first was a complete anomaly. It formed in a part of the ocean where never before had there been a hurricane. We had advance warning that it was coming and unlike any other boat that could move away
Julie and Colin in Nicaragua on final leg back to Vancouver.
Initially, they just had four pilot fish called Ned, Ted, Fred and Oscar. “I think Ned was my favorite.”
we were a sitting duck and all we could do was just prepare for it, battening the hatches and packing everything inside and making sure it’s all secure. Up until that point we had always seen lights on the ocean whether it be fish boats or passing cargo ships. Suddenly I remember the night before the hurricane it was completely black, not another light on the sea. That’s because everything else was gone. You just feel really alone and as we’re sitting tracking, we’d get regular updates on the hurricane’s progress coming towards us. It was calm except this huge oily swell which was being produced in the hurricane and was just mountainous waves slowly moving past. It was quite a daunting feeling. Wl: How much of this traveling you have done is simply an addiction – something you feel compelled to do? Colin: I think it’s more you’d call it a lifestyle. My motivation for going out and doing these adventures started young. As
a young boy I read adventure books and stories about sailors and adventurers and always thought it was a magical way to go out and explore the world. My first trip I decided to do when I was 12 years old. I just wanted to get a sailboat and head off into the high seas. And seven years later, eight years later I ended up sailing away from Vancouver Island. That was my first real journey and it just continued from there. I have found it great that there are so many different ways you can get out and explore the world and visit these remote places that you’d never see otherwise. And that’s the great thing about human powered trips. In any expedition with a theme you have this idea I’m going to run this river from source to sea or I’m going to go around the world by human power. As you go and do that journey all these other scenarios unfold that you would never have imagined in a million years. These places you visit you could never have imagined going to in a million years, but you just do because they happen to be on the route of your journey. Oftentimes those scenarios or those places end up being the most enchanting. Maybe you’re on the side of a river somewhere waiting out a storm and some local people in a little hut above invite you for dinner and a whole new story unfolds.
< You can find out more about Colin’s new unfolding stories, books, DVDs and rowboats at www.angusadventures.com
photos by Luke Hyatt and Miray Campbell / Mothership Adventures
BEARS still RULE
Wavelength and Mothership Adventures take you deep into the heart of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest
great Bear Rainforest
leAse exCuse the invention. But better an invention, its fans would say, than a nameless place forgotten by those in a position to protect it. The name ‘Great Bear Rainforest’ was coined to serve a political purpose – by environmentalists in the 1990s to give an identity to a vast region of the British Columbia coast they were trying to protect. And why not invent? The region was otherwise known simply as the BC coast, that area extending north from Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border – approximately 64,000 square kilometres or 25,000 square miles of otherwise nameless forest, but remarkable as the largest intact tract of temperate rainforest remaining in the world. Four dominant things tend to unite this vast area of land: trees, water, mountains and bears. Take your pick of any of a thousand lesser but equally vital pieces of the puzzle (let’s not forget salmon), but among mammals certainly, nothing exemplifies this wilderness area quite like the bear. The most endearing symbol is the Kermode bear, also known as the spirit bear for its role in First Nations lore. Not an albino, it is simply a black bear with a regressive gene that gives it a white coat. Found as far afield as Minnesota, the numbers are highest on Princess Royal Island and nearby Gribbell Island, where as many as one in three are estimated to be Kermode bears (elsewhere the numbers are said to be less than one in ten). As well as the ubiquitous black bear, the region is also home to the grizzly, another symbol of BC’s wilderness. The Great Bear Rainforest is the last natural unprotected range for this endangered breed. The grizzlies once roamed between Mexico and Alaska, but an inability to coexist with humans means that as development spreads, the grizzlies must move out. Because grizzlies are territorial (with a range measured in hundreds of miles as it travels between seasonal food sources), as the size of the habitat decreases so do the number of grizzlies. The numbers have dropped to about one percent of their traditional population in the United States. Only a few U.S. enclaves remain, such as Yellowstone National Park. There has been some progress for Canada’s grizzlies. For instance, in 2006, the Great Bear Rainforest u
Khutze Inlet after a rain; top: a mother grizzly searches for salmon; above: a spirit bear in gitga’at territory. SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 19
The outer islands near Bella Bella offer a completely different scenery and paddling experience from the fjords.
Kynoch Inlet in Fiordlands Provincial Park near Klemtu is remarkable for the mountains crashing a kilometre or more into the inlet.
Agreement created conservancy areas of 4.4 million acres, about a half million of that within Kermode bear habitat, plus environmental monitoring of an additional 10 million acres now subject to sustainable development. But hunting continues. The David Suzuki Foundation recently issued a report that estimates an average of 253 bears a year are killed by hunters in BC – a number above the sustainable mortality rate for the grizzly in many areas of the province. As an additional slap against those who would see the grizzly
protected, much of the hunting takes place in provincial parks and protected areas – places that would normally be thought to be safe havens for wildlife, and particularly for “big game” animals. More environmental battles have yet to be won. The most contentious of current plans is to build a pipeline from Alberta’s oilsands to Kitimat (one of just a few ports on the north and central BC coast), then ship the crude oil through narrow, twisting channels of the coast and past Haida Gwaii to Asian destinations. u
great Bear Rainforest
a Kermode bear looks more imposing than usual thanks to a healthy coating of salmon blood. left: the great Bear Rainforest is just that – a rainforest, so don’t go with any illusions about the weather. the advantage of a good downpour, of course, is the myriad of waterfalls that will appear.
photo by Miray Campbell SUMMER 2010 SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 21
Basking in the glory of a sunny moment.
A black bear with a pink salmon – a happy color combination for the bear.
A resurgence of sea otters on the BC coast means more kelp beds and consequently a more vibrant marine ecology.
An early morning humpback whale sighting. 22 Wavelength Magazine
Proponents will tell you the journey will be entirely safe, with double-hulled vessels piloted to ensure no accidents could occur akin to the Exxon Valdes. But history isn’t nearly so accident-free. It was in this route, between Princess Royal and Gribbell islands that BC Ferries managed to lose its Queen of the North when it struck Gil Island and sank in 2006. Another focal point was the Petersfield, which limped into Kitimat for repairs while loaded with soda ash and lumber after hitting a rock in Douglas Channel – the route proposed by Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines for its VLCCs (very large crude carriers). The Gitga’at community at Hartley Bay, already concerned over leaking oil from the submerged Queen of the North, sounded the alarm over the Petersfield. “The ship currently docked at Kitimat looking like a prizefighter with a broken nose is an ugly reminder of the threat posed by proposed pipelines and tanker traffic to the territory of the Gitga’at First Nation,” read a statement issued by the band. The Gitga’at is one of about 150 groups fighting the Enbridge proposal, which could begin as early as 2012. Aiding their cause is a report released this spring by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation detailing the findings of a five-year study by a dozen Canadian, Scottish and U.S. scientists. The report concludes a spill could wipe out killer whale populations and spread
the damage to terrestrial species. But the debate on the Enbridge proposal is hardly clear-cut, as defeating the Kitimat link may simply divert tankers elsewhere, possibly Juan de Fuca Strait where environmental considerations are equally valid. Read the full Raincoast report at www.raincoast.org. For the Enbridge perspective, visit www.northerngateway.ca.
If you go:
The North and Central BC coast is a remote area and can be difficult to reach, with land access only from Bella Coola, Kitimat and Prince Rupert. BC Ferries offers kayak drop-offs on its Discovery Coast Passage route from Port Hardy to Bella Bella, Bella Coola and Klemtu. Water taxi service from Port Hardy is available to avoid paddling the difficult open-water transit of Cape Caution. Tours are available; Mothership Adventures, which provided the photos for this feature, departs for weekly tours from Bella Bella in late August and throughout September. Spirit Bear Adventures, operated by the Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation, offers trips departing from Klemtu for tours of spirit bear territory and traditional Kitasoo/ Xaixais territory. Visit www.spiritbear.com. To view Spirit Bears on Gribbell Island, contact top Gitga’at wildlife guide Marven Robinson from Hartley Bay at 250-624-1715 or email@example.com. Other tour operators are listed on pages 32 and 33.
The superb beaches of distinctive Campania Island. An aerial view of Gardner Canal.
photo by M. Margerison / courtesy District of Kitimat
photo by James Luce
Kitimat itimAt is without doubt completely off the kayaking community’s radar. In fact, in terms of reputation as a kayaking destination on the BC coast, it may be dead last. To those who have discovered it, though, the oversight is a blessing. Crowds vying for beach space? Not likely. At least, not yet. Kitimat is just one of three entry points by land from the British Columbia mainland to the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest, that expansive temperate rainforest that lies between Vancouver Island and Alaska. From here a kayaker can begin a multitude of possible routes through the various passages of the central and north BC coast. The dominant marine route is Douglas Channel – wide, mountainous and unfortunately prone to strong diurnal winds, making transit for
small craft questionable after the midmorning when the day’s winds typically start to blow. An early start to any day here will be well rewarded. Along the way there is much to see, with five adjacent waterways – Kildala Arm, Eagle Bay, Sue Channel, Gilltoyees Inlet and Foch Lagoon – all protected at least in part as new provincial parks, and all accessible only by water. Most significantly, Foch-Gilltoyees Protected Area encompasses an entire watershed, from an ecologically rich tidal lagoon to the alpine tundra of the adjacent Coast Mountain Range. It also includes everything in between – old-growth forests, waterfalls, tidal estuaries, cirque basins, and even receding glaciers. Together with Gitnadoiks River Park and Protected Area to the north, the parks form a protected corridor that runs to Skeena River near
Prince Rupert. To avoid the winds of Douglas Channel, instead turn south down Devastation Channel and you’ll find the pristine coastline and mountain ranges continue unbroken. By taking Verney Passage you can head to Gribbell Island, home to the highest concentration of Kermode bears on the BC coast. Or you can make an epic and rarely tackled journey down Gardner Canal, the longest inlet on BC’s coast at 114 km, to enter the Kitlope Heritage Conservancy. Only a few hardy souls make this journey every year by paddle, where the saltwater journey can be extended into Kitlope Lake and Tezwa River, a journey into one of the most remote wilderness areas of the BC coast. Just be forewarned: you are entering grizzly habitat. Along the way you can also stop at two hot springs, including Brim River Protected Area, an u
photo by James Luce
Kayaks at rest in Emsley Cove in Douglas Channel near Kitimat.
Taking a moment to appreciate the beauty in Devastation Channel, near Kitsaway Island.
photo by Michael Luce SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 25
Adapted from a map from The Wild Coast, Vol. 2 (Whitecap, 2006)
undeveloped gem. Other hot springs in the region create the unusual opportunity to hop from one to the next. There are three to explore in fairly close range: Bishop Bay, Weewanie and
Europa in Gardner Canal. A favorite haunt for boaters running the Inside Passage, the hot springs provide a rare and treasured opportunity to warm body and spirit. If your goal is the open ocean, Kitimat
uck Graham is a convenient gateway, with the Gitga’at community of Hartley Bay a midway stop. Hartley Bay gained international fame for rallying to assist passengers escaping the sinking BC Ferries vessel Queen of the North, which hit Gil Island and sank on March 22, 2006. Hartley Bay has some services, including a small store, and offers cultural and wildlife tours. If you pass Hartley Bay to reach the outer coast, a perfect base for coastal trips is Campania Island, home to some of the best white sand beaches on BC’s north coast – an unexpected seaside oasis in an area where beaches are normally scarce. (Wavelength editor John Kimantas in his slideshow and talk on the top 10 kayaking destinations in BC, rated Kitimat and Campania Island both in the top 10, making the trip from Kitimat to Campania a doubly impressive opportunity.) Weather, like anywhere on the north and central BC coast, is luck of the draw, but as wet as might be expected of any coastal rainforest. Plan for rain and cherish those sunny moments you are likely to encounter at some point during your visit. Kitimat, which is actually set back several kilometres from the head of Douglas Inlet, offers its own set of attractions, including a museum (www.kitimatmuseum.ca) and the recently renovated leisure pool for a hot tub or sauna to ease the pains at the
photo by Michael Luce
Kayaking McKay Reach, with Princess Royal Island in the background.
end of your kayaking trip. Downtown are restaurants, pubs, sporting stores, a spa, and stores for provisions. On the way in or out by road, be sure to linger at a key viewpoint of Douglas Channel. Because of the mountains, hiking is a major feature of the Kitimat area. Marked trails include Mount Elizabeth on the northeast of the valley as you come into town from the south; Mount Clague to the west, Robinson Ridge and Lake to the east, and from town Coho Flats and Fisherman’s Trail. From Minette Bay Lodge you can hike the Pine Creek Trail. <
If you go:
Kitimat is about 1,400 km (870 miles) north of Vancouver through a circuitous route that requires driving first to Prince George, deep in the interior of BC, then through Terrace to avoid the impassable fiords and surrounding mountains that indent the coast. Plan two days to complete the drive from Vancouver. From there launching and long-term parking is best from one of Kitimat’s two marinas: MK Bay and Moon Bay marinas. For tours, The Great Canadian Adventure Company offers tours of Foch-Gilltoyees and Kitlope. Visit www.adventures.ca. The Haisla community of Kitimaat offers expedition tours of Kitlope, the hot springs and traditional territories, as well as shorter canoe trips from Kitimat. Visit www.haislatourism.com. Kayakers may also want to stop in at Hartley Bay and enquire about the Kermode bear viewing tours. Visit www.gitgaat.net/tourism/ For information on the Kitimat area: www.tourismkitimat.ca/directory/category/ sights_attractions/, www.tourismkitimat.ca/directory/ recreation_adventure/category/hiking/ and www.tourismkitimat.ca/events/. New for Kitimat is SeaMasters Restaurant overlooking the ocean. For books on kayaking this region, see The Wild Coast, Vol. 2 (Whitecap 2006) or Kayak Routes of the Pacific Northwest (Greystone Books, 2004). Wavelength Magazine 27
n the southern tiP of a windswept archipelago sixty miles off the coast of mainland Canada lies the last disappearing remnants of a rich artistic heritage. For the intrepid paddler willing to challenge the swirling rips and eddies that stand watch over this isolated destination, the rewards are great, but it is not for the fainthearted. The unparalleled beauty of these islands sometimes clouds the reality that one is paddling through open oceans where a kayak can be sucked under like a toy in a bathtub. But for an ambitious sea kayaker, this is a dream destination – a perfect combination of challenge and reward. The early people called this land XaaydaG a Gwaay.aay or “Islands at the Boundary of the World.” It has since been shortened to Haida Gwaii, or “Land of the Haida.” Once officially the Queen Charlotte Islands, the name was changed to Haida Gwaii on Dec. 11, 2009. The land represents more than 3,600 island in all, with an oral history that can be traced back 7,000 years. The Haida have always been of the sea, and this land is a siren call for kayakers. Tucked into a sheltered cove on the East Side of Anthony Island, the once thriving village of SGang Gwaay (or Ninstints) is guarded by the greatest still-visible achievement of the Haida Nation. Twenty six massive totem poles, carved by masters, watch over the spirit of this land. I arrived on a tiny coastal seiner with four kayaks lashed to the roof of the wheelhouse. These are the most treacherous waters I have paddled, calm and welcoming one moment and the next a raging chorus line of massive waves fueled by unimpeded winds. But by hugging the coast we plan to not just avoid the open ocean but enjoy one of the most colorful and unpolluted littorals anywhere. Traveling by mothership affords us the local knowledge of our
Kayaking Woodruff Bay, east of Cape St. James.
A disappearing heritage marks Gwaii Haanas National Park
SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine
Haida skipper and his tidal maps to study in the evenings. We put in at Skidegate, the old Haida village named for its original chief, Skit-EiGet, and head south to play leapfrog among the countless specks of islands that form the eastern side of this archipelago. At this point the current is leisurely, allowing us
to study the landscape as we pass by and I am able to dally in small coves to watch predatory sea stars overwhelm smaller prey. Paddling here, one is blanketed with a sense of history thicker than the morning fog, realizing that these same waters were once churned by some of the most formidable warriors known on earth, once considered the Vikings of the North, sea raiders who gave no thought to crossing 60 miles of open ocean in a hand carved boats. To follow in their wake is to go back in time. I am awed not just by the natural wonders of the land but the overwhelming history that surrounds my boat. The earliest recorded information on these islands comes from Spanish explorer u
photos courtesy Keith & Barb Rowsell / Anvil Cove Charters
by James Dorsey
photo courtesy Keith & Barb Rowsell / Anvil Cove Charters
Approaching the remaining totems of SGang Gwaay by kayak.
Juan Perez, who discovered them in 1774. A decade later, Russian fur traders began to frequent them, and for the next century were the only non-native visitors. The islands got their current name from the flagship of Lord Howe, HMS Queen Charlotte. The ship’s namesake was the wife of King George III of England. The fur traders were the first kayakers to visit these islands, having mastered how to handle the early skin boats from the coastal tribes of Inuit and Inupiak people in what was then Russian Alaska. It was on these boats that the first sophisticated tools came over that would change the destiny of the islands. Before white contact, the Haida people had already raised carving to a high art form. The introduction of metal from the fur traders allowed them to fashion new and more efficient tools, increasing their skills tenfold. The Haida carved wood
on a monumental scale. House columns, commemorative totems, burial boxes and even ornamental bowls were all of the highest order, but their massive cedar canoes were known and feared along the entire coast as far as today’s southern Baja, where legends say they traveled to gather slaves. We encounter big rolling whitecaps the second day with a building surf that forces us off the water early. Retreating to the mothership we find a tiny cove and lay out anchors bow and stern as our skipper says it will really blow in the evening. We spend the night huddled around the shortwave listening to this massive storm sink an Alaska ferry while we reset our dragging anchors every two hours in a blinding rain. I keep my nose in a photo book of the massive totems and follow the story of a Haida chief named Tahayren, who later
took the white name Charles Edenshaw and went on to be acknowledged as one of the finest carvers to ever live. Upon his death, his carving tools were passed on to his nephew, Charles Gladston, who is the grandfather of Bill Reid. Reid, whose Haida name was Iljuwas Yalth Sgwansang, died only a few years ago. During his life he continued the great tradition of carving and started a resurgence in the artform among young Haida. Today the work of Reid and Edenshaw resides in the world’s finest museums as examples of the epitome of Haida carving. In the morning, we set out under cerulean skies. The tempest has past. By day three of our journey I am enthralled by all the eagles who seem as interested in me as I am of them. I hug the coast tightly, venturing into tiny passageways that become magical tunnels. Otters scamper out of the water directly ahead of my boat, chittering as they streak up a flat boulder. I pass directly under a massive eagle’s nest on a low, sweeping branch that reaches over the water. A glint of sunlight lasers off the back of a passing salmon and brings my attention to a forest of purple anemones under my keel, probably where that pack of otters was having breakfast a few moments ago. At the apex of Haida culture, close to 14,000 people occupied Haida Gwaii with almost 300 living in tiny Ninstints. The village name is a western mispronunciation of Nan Sdins, who was chief at the time of white contact. Today, Ninstints is officially called Sgang Gwaay LInagaay. Around 1860, small pox was introduced to the
gwaii haanas islands by white fur traders and soon only about 30 people were left alive. By 1911 the total native population of the islands stood at 589. Ninstints was totally abandoned around 1880. On day four, a squadron of eagles has laid claim to a tiny finger of rock pointing into the ocean, crisscrossing each other in front of my boat as they make dramatic plunges to grab young salmon. One young bird drops his prey, almost hitting my deck, and screeches angrily as he dive bombs my boat, blaming me for his loss. As we drift around the island’s southern terminus the surging ocean carries us into the tiny sheltered cove that forms a natural amphitheater for viewing the giant totems. Bobbing there, on the edge of the open pacific in the presence of this monumental art and history, was one of the most emotional moments I have ever had on a paddle trip. We glide ashore on the pure white sand as I imagine the sound of war canoe keels being dragged up to rest in front of ancient longhouses. The poles are bleached almost white from the sun and their storied faces are for the most part worn smooth by the relentless Pacific winds. Yet there is still much to be seen. Several mortuary and one memorial pole that once held wooden boxes with the remains of Haida men and women line the beach like soldiers on watch. The early people buried their dead by compacting their bodies into a tiny wooden box that was placed at the top of a burial totem in front of the family lodge. The carvings on the totem were their personal crests. At the height of Haida culture, their villages, which always sat on the shoreline, were all adorned with dozens of totems as well as large carved support poles for their long houses. Their canoes and paddles were carved and decorated, and they made functional clothing from the bark of cedar trees. These people spent their lives in and of nature and the art they created from it. A totem can commemorate a birth, death, a great feast or a war victory. Any great event in the life of a village or chief could be cause for a carving, but the exact meaning of all u
SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 31
photo by Ryan Duffy / courtesy Gwaii Haanas National Park
Discover BC these poles is now buried with their carvers. I can decipher a beaver, a thunderbird, a sea bear. But that is all. To walk among them is to feel the presence of the people who carved and lived beside them. While they stand, this village still lives. In 1981 Ninstints was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), guaranteeing its preservation for the immediate future. In 1995 the remaining poles were straightened, but the elders made it clear in the future the poles will stand or fall as they may, eventually returning to the earth to nourish the next generation of trees. Until that day they stand as silent sentinels, representing the epitome of a culture’s artistic heritage. Compared to most major paddling destinations, Haida Gwaii is quite isolated. One must remember that you are 60 miles out in the open ocean in an area known for its severe currents and weather that can change in an eye blink. But for those hardy and experienced kayakers seeking to pit themselves against nature, there is no more rewarding place to dip your paddle.
< James Dorsey’s website is www.jamesdorsey.com Tours and Services: BC
If you go:
Base courtesy Atlas of Canada 2010
Facilities in and around Gwaii Haanas are minimal. There are no roads, stores or maintained hiking trails. Beyond two water hoses for services you’re on your own. Tours by kayak and/or mothership are a carefree way to minimize hazards and hardship. Three regional tour operators are listed on the top of the next page. For self-guided tours, the closest boat launch is at Moresby Camp, a private industrial site on Moresby Island. Check with the Visitor Centres for travel protocol. Hazards such as Louise Narrows and Porter Head require careful navigation – the narrows for the currents (travel with the tide) and Porter Head for its winds. To get to Porter Head, the northern border of the park reserve, from Camp Moresby is about two days by kayak. A myriad of other hazards exist on the way to SGang Gwaay; plan for several weeks to make the journey and always have backup plans in the event of inclement weather. Once there visitors must go ashore from the northern bay and walk on the boardwalk to the Haida Gwaii Watchmen cabin to sign in. For more information, visit www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ bc/gwaiihaanas/
BC Ferries port; Gateway to Northern and Central BC Coast destinations. Sales, Rentals, Lessons, Trip planning, and Custom Tours. 8625 Shipley Street (across from the Post Office) Port Hardy. Phone: 250-902-0565 or toll-free 1-888-792-3366 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.odysseykayaking.com
Wilderness Sea Kayaking
Family sea kayaking tours with wilderness retreat camping comforts, spectacular kayaking options, diverse wildlife, cultural activities, and professional guides. Sharing the remote Kyuquot area, Northwest Vancouver Island since 1972! Phone: 1.800.665.3040 or 250.338.2511 Web: www.westcoastexpeditions.com Email: email@example.com
Tours and Services: BC
Kayak Haida Gwaii
Among the world's top paddling destinations, Gwaii Haanas is an awe-inspiring oasis of wilderness at the southern tip of Haida Gwaii. Enjoy memorable, safe and affordable multi-day kayak adventures. Web: www.gckayaking.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 250-559-4682
Lund Kayak Tours & Rentals
Kayak tours, lessons, rentals & marine delivery. Desolation Sound, Mitlenatch Island, Copeland Islands marine parks. Personalized service, stunning scenery, fascinating history, delicious organic lunches. Family / child friendly programs. Phone: 1.888.552.5558 OR 604.483.7900 Web: www.terracentricadventures.com Email: email@example.com
Paddle with sea otters
Kayak transport between Zeballos and Nootka Island, Nuchatlitz Park and Friendly Cove. Kayak rentals. CEDARS INN rooms and restaurant in a historic Zeballos lodge. Good food, friendly service. Phone: 1-866-222-2235 Web: www. zeballosexpeditions.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elements Women's Travel
Adventure tours for women. Unique day and multi-day tours in the coastal waters of BC. Custom itineraries for women, all designed to 'get into your element'! Phone: 250-245-9580 Web: www.elementstravel.com Email: email@example.com
Gabriola Sea Kayaking
Kayaking adventures in the Broken Group, Clayoquot Sound , Broughton Archipelago, Kyuquot Sound , Nootka Island and the Gulf Islands. Unforgettable paddling and great people since 1995. See you on the water! Phone: 250-247-0189 Web: www.kayaktoursbc.com
Kayak Desolation Sound
Rent kayaks from waterfront locations in Lund or Okeover Inlet. Try the Famous Aquarium Kayak Tour or snorkel at Urchin Alley. All-inclusive multi-day trips into Desolation & Mountains. Phone: Toll free 1-866-617-4444 Web: www.bcseakayak.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sealegs Kayaking Adventures
Sealegs’ Eco-Adventure Centre offers waterfront access at Transfer Beach Ladysmith. Guided wilderness tours, rentals, lessons and sales from our pro shop. Multi-day adventures, FREE lessons with tours and rentals. Phone: 250-245-4096 or 1-877-KAYAK BC (529-2522) Web: www.sealegskayaking.com Email: email@example.com
Tours and Services: East Canada
t Was just another day at the office for us at Wavelength Magazine (or so we’d like to think): a photography assignment to the outer limit of Barkley sound. the Wavelength Magazine office closed and, with the help of friend Carey lockwood, we headed out on the water on a sunny spring day. (We’re lucky in that we can do that here: consider us one of the privileged few that can paddle the Broken group Islands as a day trip, let alone call that a day’s work – an advantage of being located on vancouver Island.) so maybe the trip was a bit selfindulgent. It is, after all, no secret as the top kayaking destination on the British Columbia coast, popular long before the 1993 logging protests put Clayoquot sound on the map. the popularity shouldn’t be surprising, as the islands offer two completely different worlds side by side. the one is the idyllic and peaceful channels that twist and turn through the various island clusters. When in these waters be sure to look down. the strong winds and currents bring in ample nutrients, creating a strong marine ecology reflected in the plethora of sea life best viewed at low tide. On the other hand there are the outer shores: a wind and surf battered environment of rocks, shoals, kelp, reefs, caves, blowholes and other attractions. here you’ll most likely find the larger marine life: the humpback whales, sea lions and grey whales. Protected since 1970 as one component of the sprawling Pacific Rim national Park Reserve, the Broken group Islands is undergoing an evolution that reflects a long history of occupation, a time past when as many as 9,000 people called this area home. u
Exploring a sea arch on outer Effingham Island. 34 Wavelength Magazine SUMMER 2010
Broken group islands
Evening lighting at the Willis Island campsite.
Rich intertidal life is visible at low tide.
The beach at a former native village site.
Meares Bluff on outer Effingham Island. SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 35
Gunkholing the convoluted shoreline on the outside of Effingham Island.
Discover a world of kayaking
That was before European contact, of course, when 23 diverse native groups held traditional territories within 21 main village sites. Together these groups comprise much of the sprawling Nuu-chah-nulth peoples. A key tribe was the Tseshaht, which for generations was centered out of Benson Island, with the native name ćišaa, while the territory extended as far as the Somass River at Port Alberni, once home to one of Vancouver Island’s largest salmon runs. A key change for the park in 2009 was
the closing of the Benson Island campsite. The closure coincided with the repatriation of bones removed during the 1970s by kayakers from a burial cave. That cave has since been sealed to ward off further disturbance, but the message remains – that we are visitors through traditional territory, much of it sacred, and that we should do so with a light step and an eye to preserving the few heritage sites that remain, be they stone fish weirs or middens. u
Broken group islands
If you go:
Excerpted from Wavelength’s Clayoquot Sound Recreation Map overview section. See below for details.
Because the Broken Group Islands are a popular destination, the best time of year to go is May-June or September-October when crowds are more scarce. The tradeoff is cooler and less predictable weather. The main launch is Toquart Bay, a recreation site where fees apply for parking. Another option is a boat trip on the MV Frances Barkley from Port Alberni down Alberni Inlet to Sechart Lodge near the Pinkerton Islands, where a launch and/or accommodation is possible. See the ad on the opposite page for more information. A launch from Ucluelet at the north entrance to Barkley Sound is possible, but due to the distance, the exposure on a large open water crossing and the possibility of fighting prevailing winds on the return journey, it is not recommended. Instead Ucluelet offers a myriad of day trip options and services. See the Spring 2010 Wavelength issue for details. The wind is a major factor in these islands, and can make crossings uncomfortable and even hazardous. Time your trips in the early morning before the day’s winds rise. Many of the island clusters have sheltered waters, but the channels between these clusters are prone to funneling winds and can mirror the exposure of open water. Swell is generally only a factor outside the islands, though, which hosts the most magnificent shoreline. Expect fog at any time, making GPS navigation a wise idea, if only as a backup. For tour options in this region, see the listings on page 32-33.
Exploring BC this summer?
Get the recreation maps that bring the BC coast to life.
New for 2010! Broughtons/Johnstone
North Coast Trail/North Vancouver Island
Desolation Sound/Discovery Islands
New for 2010! The Gulf Islands
Broken Group Islands/Barkley Sound At better kayaking/outdoor stores everywhere or order online: wavelengthmagazine.com/orderonline SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 37
We’ll help you get where you want to be.
the inner clusters of islands in the Broken group offer the most protected options and the best views of the vancouver Island mountains.
The closing of the Benson Island campground leaves seven within the park, all accessible by small boat or kayak only. The area can be busy during peak season, but we had the park pretty much to ourselves this picture-perfect early May day, only bumping into other kayakers
at the large Dodd Island campsite. Park permits aren’t collected until May 1; in one trip a bit earlier this year we avoided fees altogether. The downside was not nearly as pleasant weather. On this day it was fabulous, although the wind became brisk in the late afternoon and we encountered
choppy wind waves on the final leg, until at 5 p.m. it died as if a switch was tripped, and within moments the water became flat for a leisurely final paddle to our launch at Toquart Bay. It was a 50 km day – a good start to the summer season, and a < particularly fine day at the office.
Explore the BC coast by day, enjoy luxury by night at these resorts that specialize in catering to kayakers
Paddle in and paddle out
Deluxe beachfront house by the wharf. Two-bedroom luxury cottage, floor-to-ceiling windows, living room with gas fireplace, full kitchen, two bathrooms including jetted tub, wrap around deck, bbq. Phone: 250-285-2042 Web: www.capemudgeresort.bc.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
E-Den Bed & Breakfast
Escape to Lasqueti’s new B&B, nearby to Jedediah Island Marine Park. Features tandem kayak rentals, kitchenette and bathroom, wood fired hot tub, yoga studio, solar power, organic farm and orchard. Phone: 250-240-8246 Web: www.e-den.ca Email: email@example.com
Casa Blanca B&B, Gabriola, BC
Unforgettable wilderness encounters on the sheltered waters adjacent to Gabriola. Kayak-accessible Casa Blanca B&B is located on the south shoreline of Gabriola Island, the northernmost of the southern Gulf Islands. Glide silently and effortlessly among the local sea life in a pristine natural setting. Lounge in the sun, stroll on the sandy beach, kayak the coastal waters, and luxuriate at the end of the day in the hot tub. Choose from a two-bedroom suite or a room with a bath. There’s also a patio with gas barbeque, and guests are welcome to use the hot tub on the deck overlooking the ocean. Visit online at www.staygabriola.com.
On the road to a B&B Marine Trail
Wavelength Magazine is dedicated to promoting accommodation services with “kayak friendly” capabilities. Our eventual hope is a “B&B Marine Trail” where entire regions can be paddled using fixed roof accommodation. If you know of accommodation that would be ideal for inclusion on such a trail, or is simply “kayak friendly,” please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 39
What’s a pristine coast worth to you?
We’re encouraging kayakers, clubs and stores to raise the bar this year by ‘Cleaning up the Coast.’ In return for doing your part, we’ll do ours by recognizing your efforts with some great prizes.
Clean Up the Coast Contest
Find out more at www.wavelengthmagazine.com/clean
Free custom fade with the purchase of a new Seaward fibreglass kayak. Under-Deck Bags from Atlantis. C2 Touring Paddle Sunglass kit from Klepper In Canada.
Register to win:
Aquatic cargo carrier
Werner 230 Carbon Kalliste straight shaft paddle courtesy SKGABC
Kayak Model from Klepper In Canada.
Quick Tow, Peaked Deck Bag and ‘Four Play’ Extreme kayaking sunglasses.
Desolation Sound combination Zodiac and kayak tour.
Kokatat Outercore L/S for both men and women
Self-rescue equipment gear.
by Caitlin Birdsall
eA KAyAKing can be a veritable marine safari. Twittering bald eagles perched on shoreline snags, rotund harbour seals lolling on sunny rocks and brilliantly colored sea stars splayed along the ocean floor all await the paddling naturalist. Increasingly, paddlers are targeting areas known for one specific type of wildlife: cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). Whether it is the iconic killer whale, an enormous humpback whale or one of the smaller dolphins and porpoises, a kayaking experience with cetaceans can be the thrill of a lifetime. Like any obstacle in the water, the presence of kayaks can affect the normal behavior of the animals, disrupting their travel patterns, hunting abilities, resting bouts and socialization. With marine wildlife-based kayak trips becoming more prevalent in the Pacific Northwest on top of the large amount of motorized vessels, the issue of disturbance has become increasingly important for all marine users. So what is a concerned, conservationminded paddler to do? “Most paddlers are already interested in reducing their impact during a trip as much as possible; low-impact camping, using biodegradable products, packingin/packing-out are already part of their ethic. We want them to know that their low-impact efforts can easily extend to their behavior on the water around whales, dolphins and porpoises, as well,” says Alana Phillips of the BC Cetacean Sightings Network at the Vancouver Aquarium. “It is as easy as following the Be Whale Wise guidelines adapted for kayaks while enjoying your wildlife experience.” The Be Whale Wise program was
while watching the whales
initially created in 2007 to provide guidelines for motorized vessels around whales, dolphins and porpoises to help reduce the disturbance, noise and chance of collisions. The guidelines include: • Give whales a wide berth: do not approach or position your kayak closer than 100m/yards to any whale. • Keep clear of the whales’ path. If whales are approaching you, cautiously paddle out of the way. • Group up! If you are paddling with others, stay in a close group to pose only one obstacle, instead of many, to the animals. • Position yourself well offshore of the whales, or in a position tight inshore of the kelp line. Killer whales in particular frequently feed within 200 metres of shore. By moving well offshore of them or positioning tight to the shoreline, you present a minimal disturbance to their foraging. • If you are onshore, do not launch kayaks into passing groups of whales, dolphins or porpoises. Enjoy your view of the animals from land as they pass by. These guidelines are even more important when the cumulative effect of many vessels is considered. For example, in Johnstone Strait, a mecca for paddlers and boaters seeking experiences with the threatened northern resident killer whales, researchers have begun studying the number of vessels, including kayaks, using the area during the summer months in which the whales are also present. Cetus, a conservation and research organization that provides education on whale watching etiquette and collects data on whalevessel interactions through their program Straitwatch, has found that up to 100 kayaks can be found regularly in the most popular 20 kilometre section of the Strait. “An individual kayaker’s encounter may only last a minute, but for the whales, only a few tail strokes away they encounter someone else, making it an all-day issue for the whales,” says Doug Sandilands, coordinator of Cetus’ Straitwatch program. “One kayak may not have a profound effect on the animal, but it becomes significant when there are many kayaks, whale watching boats, sport fishermen and other boats all day, for many days.”
< Caitlin Birdsall is with the BC Cetacean Sightings Network of the Vancouver Aquarium. Wavelength Magazine 41
Learn more, do more:
• To learn more about BC’s cetaceans check out www.wildwhales.org • For the full Be Whale Wise guidelines, go to www.cetussociety.org • Paddlers who wish to go further in their stewardship of cetaceans in British Columbia can help researchers learn more about these animals by reporting their sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises to the BC Cetacean Sightings Network through the online reporting form at wildwhales.org, by email at email@example.com or by calling 1 866 I SAW ONE. • If you witness marine mammals being disturbed by vessels or kayaks, please alert DFO by calling 1-800-465-4336. • Support killer whale and other cetacean research by adopting a killer whale at www.killerwhale.org SUMMER 2010
Volunteer kayakers survey Puget Sound and British Columbia for invasive grasses
Paddling with a
There are four species of invasive Spartina found in Washington State. Spartina anglica, English cord-grass, is by far the most prevalent in Puget Sound, where it was introduced in the 1960s for dike stabilization. It aggressively displaces native vegetation, disrupts shorebird and foraging areas for juvenile salmon, and impacts shellfish habitat. Spartina grows in a variety of tide-influenced locations, such as mudflats, salt marshes and sand or cobble beaches. The seeds are known to be dispersed widely by the active currents of Puget Sound. Washington state has spent millions in the quest of eradication, and after over a decade of aggressive treatment all major Spartina infestations have been controlled. At this point, surveys are of critical importance to ensure that all potential seed sources for re-infestation are located and eliminated. This is where People For Puget Sound’s network of volunteer sea kayakers are helping. Volunteer kayakers have made a significant contribution to the statewide effort to eradicate this dangerous invasive weed from the beaches, bays and salt marshes of North Puget Sound. Trained citizen scientists participating in People For Puget Sound’s Spartina Survey Program have surveyed 319 kilometres of shoreline across four counties, and have identified
a volunteer scans the nooksack River Delta in Whatcom County, Wa, for Spartina.
By Rachel Benbrook
long the beAChes and bays of North Puget Sound a special group of sea kayakers is navigating local waters to gather valuable data in a program helping to building connections between scientists and citizens. The end result is helping researchers tap into a vast and knowledgeable volunteer base. Consider it citizen science for kayakers: the Seattle-based non-profit environmental organization People For Puget Sound has been working with volunteer sea kayakers since 2007 by training paddlers to conduct shoreline surveys for non-native Spartina grasses. These invasive grasses have spread steadily all over the Pacific Northwest over the last half a century and have been found locally throughout Puget Sound and into British Columbia.
almost 450 square metres of Spartina, much of it previously unknown. Volunteers use GPS units to record where they surveyed and the location of any Spartina they find. Program staff then process and map the data and share it with state and local Spartina controllers. Approximately 95 percent of the Spartina located by volunteer kayakers has been successfully treated and is no longer a threat to the marine environment. u
Fighting invasive species
Who to contact
photos this page by Keeley O’Connell
Puget sound volunteers Contact: Rachel Benbrook, People For Puget Sound Web: www.pugetsound.org/soundspotlight/spartinakayak Email: Spartina@pugetsound.org Phone: (206)382-7007 British Columbia volunteers Contact: Claire de la Salle, Ducks Unlimited Canada Web: spartina.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (604)315-7449 Surveying the winding channels of Skagit Bay near La Conner, WA. in search of Spartina (shown below).
Since 2007, People For Puget Sound has trained over 75 volunteer kayakers who have contributed almost 800 hours of their time to attend trainings and get out on the water in search of Spartina. “I love kayaking and I love doing good work in the world,” says Mira Jean Steinbrecher, a survey volunteer since 2008. “Hunting the dreaded Spartina grass gives me the opportunity to do both at the same time. It’s also great to get out on the water with people I don’t know well, to make new connections, [and] to find fellow paddlers. It’s a kind of networking and fellowship that makes my world a bigger and a better place.” Spartina surveys also get paddlers out into waters they might not otherwise choose to explore. Shorelines are selected for survey at the beginning of the year based on input from state and local Spartina controllers, and volunteers are asked to paddle some of these priority shorelines in their area. Kathleen Murphy, a volunteer who has surveyed over 50 miles, appreciates how surveying gets you out on waters and along shores that are not your usual destination. “This kind of paddling, in marinas and along city shores, is unique and beautiful in its own way – an unexpected delight.” Others appreciate the pace and focus of surveying. “For those paddlers who like to savor the nooks and crannies of our waterways, this is a perfect activity,” says volunteer Jeanine Prichard. Volunteers are needed for 2010 to help with Spartina surveys in the Puget Sound
44 Wavelength Magazine SUMMER 2010
region and even in British Columbia, where all four invasive Spartina species are known to occur. Unfortunately there is little government funding to deal with eradication, so the BC Spartina Working Group, a consortium of regional conservation groups, has stepped in to fill the void. Little is known about the extent of the infestation in BC, and more surveys are desperately needed. Training sessions for interested sea kayakers will be scheduled by both the People For Puget Sound and the BC Spartina Working Group. It’s a chance to use time on the water to paddle with a purpose: to protect and restore the beautiful shorelines of Puget Sound and the B.C. Coast.
< Rachel Benbrook is the Spartina Survey Program Coordinator with People For Puget Sound. She has been recruiting and training volunteer kayakers to conduct surveys since 2008, and has personally paddled over 100 miles in search of Spartina grass. She lives on Guemes Island outside of Anacortes, WA.
Tahe Marine’s entrance into the North American market from Estonia has been sudden and dramatic, but probably thanks primarily to its uniquely traditional and eyecatching Greenland model. The surprise is Tahe actually has a line of more than 20 kayaks, available in mixtures of carbonfibre, fibreglass and thermoform for no end of options. Sure to become one of the better known models after this summer is the Tahe Wind 585, which is being used by Joe O’Blenis on his attempt to recapture his solo speed record for circumnavigating Vancouver Island. Wavelength Magazine had a chance to babysit Joe’s Wind 585 for several months before his arrival on the island, and so got to know the craft well. At 585 cm (19’2”) long and 21.3” wide it qualifies as a sleek and fast cruiser. With a skeg and the possibility of a rudder as well, it has great options for paddling styles (our tester was skeg only).
Tahe puts new Wind into touring kayaks
The Tahe Wind 585 in the Broken Group Islands.
This is a striking kayak, due to its high and angled deck and stylized artwork. Four hatches provide good storage capacity, thanks to the V-shaped hull and impressive tahe Marine Wind 585 specs
Length 19.2' Hull ShallowV Beam 21.3" Depth 13"
length. Its low deck and skeg housing does reduce volume in the rear hatch, a hazard of any skeg, but no doubt fans will forgive the tradeoff for speed and performance.
Total storage 145 litres Option Carbonfibre Weight 55 pounds Control Skeg+rudder
Cockpit 28”L x 15.7’"W Base model Fibreglass
Chine Design: Moderate Fishform
BoréalDesign adds a Vitäl new element
Maelströmkayak’s entry into the mainstream kayaking sphere this year comes thanks to BoréalDesign, which has partnered with Maelström to build and market the Quebec company’s two kayaks: the Vaåg 174 and Vitäl 166. As the smaller entry, the Vitäl offers (as one tester, Reale Edmond put it rather poetically), “the little Quebec boat with the turned up nose.” The Vitäl is certainly a diminutive option that at just 16’6” long and 21 inches wide will be best suited to the smaller kayakers among us. At 5’2”, Reale felt at home as “the little pixie of the sea.” Tall kayakers need not apply: on our tester the cockpit leg room was shortened thanks to the placement of the front bulkhead. The good news is the front bulkhead placement can be custom ordered, so there is some leeway. The Vitäl’s design is notable for the accentuated rocker, which translates into a playful performance. The bulkhead behind the seat is designed for efficient emptying of the cockpit during rescues, which is thoughtful, as it is likely Vitäl owners
46 Wavelength Magazine BC Marine Trail Network Association president Stephanie Meinke puts the Vitäl 166 through the paces.
will want to push the performance to the limit and flood it often. Construction is fibreglass. Features include a mini “glove box” hatch in front of the cockpit that some might love and others might question, as the four litre capacity is accessible by a hatch barely hand size. Think handy access Maelströmkayak vitäl 166 specs
Length 16’6” Beam 21" Depth 11.5"
to snacks and pocket cameras. A notable feature is the seat construction, with the backrest made of a block of thermoformed closed cell foam. It too is likely to have fans and detractors. Definitely not a craft for everyone, the Vitäl will no doubt earn its share of faithful fans.
Cockpit 31.5"L x 16"W
Total storage 184 litres Options Yes
Weight 53 pounds Control Rudder
Hull Chine Very ShallowV Soft
Base model Fibreglass
Venerable GTS gets a tweak
Arguably the quintessential West Coast cruiser, the Current Designs Solstice series has been tweaked for 2010 with a slight makeover for the GTS model, the smaller and sportier of the series. Fans can breath easy that it is more a refinement in comfort than a full rebuilding; the integrity of the Solstice lineup as a general purpose, all-level, all-around touring kayak remains intact. Gone from the Solstice series, however, is the GT High Volume, another West Coast touring icon (Wavelength’s fleet includes one battered old GTHV used for research for The Wild Coast book series. It just won’t sink, so likely will never be completely Solstice gtS specs
Length 17.7' Hull ShallowV Beam 22" Chine Soft Depth 13.25" Design: Fishform Cockpit 31"L x 16.5"W Base model Fibreglass Total storage 224 litres Option Kevlar Weight 54 pounds Control Rudder
A picture-perfect day to kayak to Kuper Island from Chemainus in BC’s Gulf Islands in the Solstice GTS.
retired). Having replaced the high volume is the GT Titan, updated with a re-tooled and more full deck, an oversized cockpit and a standard wide-base seat for larger paddlers. The GTS will appeal to smaller to mid-size paddlers looking for a more sleek design. At just 22 inches wide, as opposed to the GT’s 24.25 inches, the GTS’s narrowness has been addressed in the redesign by adding more leg room by slightly reshaping of the hull. In addition, the cockpit’s keyhole design has been enlarged slightly to make entry and exits easier. One aesthetic change: the rudder line track is now hidden. And one security
change: a metal snap has been added to the hatch straps, which was already quite secure. The GTS is available in fibreglass or Kevlar composite layups.
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Brit fans have new option with Spartan
What gained Brit boats like the Valley Nordkapp almost legendary status was put under the microscope when Atlantis turned its attention to this category in creating the new Spartan. No stone was left unturned for this new generation of Brit-style boat. Designer Robin Thacker has focussed on three key elements in the end result: the hull shape, the skeg design and the seat. The resulting tinkering should give the Spartan a distinctive appeal for Brit boat fans. For those who have experienced jammed or broken skeg cables, the Spartan’s skeg housing will be worth a serious look. The Spartan is unique in that the skeg cable is fully enclosed. That, a stiffer cable and a pivot point that pushes the skeg blade up rather than down should take care of the two major problems with skegs: jams and leaks. Both can be annoying, while leaks can be potentially fatal. The Spartan construction offers possibly the most worry-free skeg design to date. The seat is adjustable forward and back, allowing adjustment to the center of gravity for balance and also to accommodate kayakers from 5’1” to 6’4” in height (the extent of sizes to have tested it so far that Robin reports have felt comfortable). The seat’s slide range will also aid with rolling
Passing the Secretary Islands off Vancouver Island.
– cinching forward means a greater ability to lean back. The back band sits on six straps allowing an almost infinite range of possible placements, including raising or lowering the band. Its flexibility should also help with re-entries. A benefit of Altantis’s hand-built approach (Robin builds his boats alongside daughter Chelsea) is the number of atlantis Spartan specs
Length 17.5' Hull ShallowV Beam 21.5" Chine Rounded Depth 11.5"
customization options. Choose a third bulkhead for the day hatch, choose round or oval hatches and pick from a rainbow of color options to make the Spartan truly your own. Kayakers who want thoughtful extras in a high-end, hand-built fibreglass Brit boat will likely be delighted with the Spartan, an eye-catching addition to the Atlantis fleet.
Cockpit Total storage 31.25"L x 16.75"W 376 litres Option Bulkheads
Weight 53 pounds Control Skeg
Design: Base model Symmetric Fibreglass
A new player about to stir things up is Peregrine Kayaks of Jonesville, Michigan. If you fire up Google Earth to find Jonesville you’ll see it’s far removed from any ocean, but it is nicely located for the Great Lakes – a good compromise if you don’t have saltwater nearby; in fact, there may be no better place to sea kayak short of an actual sea than Lake Superior. Chances are most Peregrines sold to date don’t get to see much saltwater. The company is new enough that it currently only has a handful of retailers, mostly in the Michigan area, but expect that network to grow as Peregrine finds its wings. Its lead product is the Talon, a lightweight all-around touring kayak suitable for almost any ocean. Even those without salt. At 21” wide, the Talon is a fairly narrow entry, with a correspondingly low depth (just 12 inches). Coupled with a skeg it is likely to draw the attention of performance enthusiasts who still want the cargo space for touring. The Talon is equipped with two standard
Peregrine adds claws to Great Lakes options
hatches plus a rear day hatch – great for those who love the extra compartment. A nice touch is the number of straps on the deck in front of the cockpit – lots of options for securing gear in easy reach. Conversely, the rear deck has just the two main outer cords, with cross-cords dropped to provide access to the two rear hatches. The Talon joins a family currently composed of two other Peregrine models: the smaller Maverick (14’9”) and the nofrills Arrow, a racing/fitness machine built for speed. The company also offers a range of clothing, gear and paddles. You can win one of the paddles, the finely crafted carbon fibre C2, in Wavelength Magazine’s Clean Up the Coast contest. See pages 40-41 for details on how to win.
Solstice gtS specs
Length 17.2' Hull ShallowV Beam 21" Depth 12" Cockpit Total storage 31.25"L x 16.75"W 129 litres Base model Fibreglass Option Kevlar Weight 48 pounds Control Skeg
Chine Design: Mod-hard Greenland
Discover a world of kayaking
By Mitch Homma
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Mitch Homma takes an initial run in his Epsilon C200.
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Mitch Homma of Encinitas, CA, was the winner of Wavelength Magazine’s kayak draw, which included the winner’s choice of the Delta 16, Seaward Quantum, Current Designs Infinity and the three composite kayaks in the BorealDesign Epsilon family: the C100, C200 and C300. Mitch chose the Epsilon C200, and Wavelength Magazine asked him to send us his impressions for a mini guest review. When I unpacked my new Boreal Design Epsilon C200 Kayak, I was pleasantly surprised with the design. I noticed the quality parts and excellent rigging for short trips. The three hatches on the C200 are a nice feature, especially with the easily accessible round hatch behind the cockpit. I did notice the familiar Feathercraft rudder with bright yellow rope instead of the stainless steel cables. Instead of the standard black trim, this boat has a very nice, unique pattern which adds some character along with the onepiece color matching cockpit combing. This was my first time seeing a BorealDesign kayak and I was impressed. I took my new Epsilon C200 kayak out on a 70°F sunny Saturday morning. The weather forecast was for building wind and clouds so we headed for Newport Harbor in Orange County, California. I was looking forward to trying out the rudder in the wind; however, the water was absolutely flat – no wind at all.
At home in the Epsilon
The Epsilon C200 is a good looking boat on the water with its higher volume foredeck and wave-slicing nose design. At 5’ 7” and 190 lbs, I was very comfortable in the kayak. The thigh braces were in the right spot and did not feel confined in the cockpit at all. It is a very stable boat with excellent secondary stability. This is a comfortable boat with enough range for further developing paddling skills. Even with the soft chine hull design, the Epsilon is very easy to turn without the rudder. In fact, the rudder was not used the whole time out on the water, but it is there for those really windy days. I did not get to test out the maximum secondary stability, but was able to easily stay on the kayak’s edge and carve a sharp turn with the water at the cockpit combing. The Epsilon C200 is a very nice sporty, stable kayak. At 17 feet, the kayak is a good size for overnight and weekend trips. I did get the kayak up to 6.5 mph on a short sprint, so it is absolutely no slug on the water. I was only on the water for three hours, but was very comfortable in the seat. Adjustments were easily made on the water. With the higher volume foredeck, the cockpit had plenty of room for me and a small dry bag with my digital SLR camera in it. All kayakers would find this a fun boat that would handle a variety of different < conditions.
The ‘Face Up’ reentry reduces need for upper body strength in assisted rescues
By Alex Matthews
Positioned between the kayaks, the swimmer drapes an arm over his stern and the rescuer’s bow.
hen i Wrote about the assisted stirrup rescue in the Spring 2009 issue I focused on the trouble that some paddlers experience when trying to reenter a kayak from the water. That long and difficult climb back up into the boat can really challenge a swimmer who hasn’t much upper body strength. While a stirrup is a good option, it does require a dedicated piece of rescue gear (the stirrup itself) and takes longer because the stirrup must be set up before you can use it. Before you give in to the notion that you can’t make it from the water back into
While hanging onto the boats, the swimmer hooks his closest foot into the cockpit of his kayak.
your boat without the use of a stirrup, you should practice a few other reentries that shift emphasis away from upper body strength in favor of technique and a certain amount of suppleness. The face up reentry starts as so many
assisted rescues do: with the boats parallel to each other but facing in opposite directions, and the rescuer stabilizing the swimmer’s kayak by committing his weight onto its foredeck with an aggressive grip. Paddles can be
Photos by Rochelle Relyea
Face Up Reentry stowed out of the way under a bungie. The swimmer positions himself between the two kayaks at the stern of his boat. He now drapes an arm over the end of each kayak, and hooks one leg up into the cockpit of his boat. Next, he swings his second leg up and into the cockpit, arches his back and stretches his head back. This posture will lift his hips and allow him to wriggles back into his seat. Part of the swimmer’s job in this reentry is to help hold the boats together throughout this maneuver in order to aid in maintaining the raft configuration. Once back in his kayak the swimmer reattaches his spraydeck, and the rescuer maintains support until both are ready to proceed. The face up reentry doesn’t require nearly as much explosive upper body power as it does to lunge up from the water onto the stern deck. One drawback to this reentry, however, is the fact that the setup positions the swimmer in between the two kayaks – a potentially dangerous proposition in really rough conditions where the boats might collide together violently. Regardless of whether you are lifting the bow first in order to empty the capsized kayak, or pumping the boat out after reentry, it’s always good to have more than one option for conquering that “big climb” back up into the seat. It also pays to practice, so be sure to brush up on your reentry techniques, and to try a few new ones – you may even discover a new favorite!
< Adapted from “Sea Kayaking Rough Waters” by Alex Matthews available at www.helipress.com.
Arching his back and dropping his head to look up, the swimmer hooks his second foot into the boat and lifts his pelvis up onto the stern of his kayak.
He wriggles forward until he is seated over the cockpit, then drops back into his seat.
Planning and Safety AyAKs And CAnoes generally travel outside the normal pattern of marine vessel traffic. Their shallow draft, slow speed and low visibility to other water users generally restricts their travels to near-shore waters. Nevertheless, a familiarity with the rules of the road can help a paddler navigate through vessel traffic when circumstances require it. For Canada, the rules of the road are laid out in the Collision Regulations published by Transport Canada; in the United States, they are published by the Navigation Center of the United States Coast Guard. The basic rules can be summarized as follows: • Red Right Return • Yield to the Right • Might Makes Right The references to colors indicates the use of red and green lateral buoys. In the direction of the flood tide (i.e. returning to harbor), a vessel must keep the red lateral buoys on the right. This defines which side of the road a vessel should drive on, so to speak. Due to their shallow draft, kayakers can generally stay well clear of these designated corridors and thereby avoid many potential collisions. This rule is useful to kayakers in that it gives us some sense of where other boats are likely to travel. Yield to the Right If two vessels are approaching each other and there is a risk of collision, one vessel must yield. Furthermore, whenever you yield to another vessel you should do so by altering course to the right, just as you would when driving on the road. When travelling after dark, all larger, powered vessels are required to show, at minimum, a red port (left-hand side) light, a green starboard (right-hand side) light, and a white stern light. These running lights are a great aid in understanding the rules of the road and how the vessels are likely to behave. If you are crossing paths with another vessel and are approaching its starboard side, you will see a green light indicating that you have right-of-way and must hold your course. The other vessel will see your red (port) light, indicating that it must yield to you by altering its course to the right, which will allow that vessel to pass behind you. Let’s look at some specific
54 Wavelength Magazine
Actual collisions not exactly as illustrated.
By Michael Pardy
of avoiding a collision
In an environment where might makes right, paddlers face extra marine navigation risks
a collision, regardless of the standing rules of the road. “I had right of way” is not a defense in marine law – and is slim satisfaction if you are run down. navigation lights Most boats are required to show specific navigation lights when underway at night. The configuration of lights depends on the size and purpose of the vessel. Correctly identifying the pattern of lights enables the paddler to understand the direction of travel, size and purpose of other vessels. At night, paddlers are required to display an all-round white light visible 360° for two nautical miles. The dilemma for kayaks is there are no reasonable products on the market yet. Even if we display a light, because we are so close to the water, it is difficult for other boat operators to see it, particularly in high waves or near urban centers, with their many, bright background lights. Maintain your vigilance, and keep a very bright flashlight close at hand. Practically, paddlers either mount a white light on a short mast or wear a bright headlamp. It’s a good idea to also carry a second, bright flashlight. Regardless, remember the most important rule to avoiding a collision – if its bigger than you, stay out of the way! vessel traffic services (vts) All commercial vessels regularly communicate their position and movements
circumstances. head-on approach: Both vessels must yield to the right. overtaking: The overtaking vessel must yield to the vessel ahead, which should maintain its course. The overtaking vessel may sound its horn. Vessel passing from right to left: This vessel has right of way; you must yield. Vessel passing from left to right: You have right of way; the other vessel must yield. Vessels with limited manoeuvrability, such as sailboats and large ships in restricted channels, have right of way over more maneuverable craft, including canoes and kayaks. Might Makes Right Perhaps the most important rule, from the paddler’s point of view, is that smaller boats should get out of the way of bigger vessels, regardless of the collision regulations. Legally speaking, all operators of vessels must make every effort to avoid
avoiding a Collision with Vessel Traffic Services. Prudent paddlers will monitor the appropriate channels as you approach busy passages. If visibility and/or the movement of commercial vessels are not apparent, check in with VTS and file a float plan. VTS and commercial vessels do not want to hear from paddlers. It is our responsibility to stay out of their way, not the other way around. Contact VTS and commercial vessels only when absolutely necessary. Your local VTS frequencies are listed in a number of resources including Sailing Directions, Coastal Pilots, The Radio Aids to Marine Navigation, and on some charts. Crossings in Poor visibility In rain, fog and poor weather it is generally recommended that visibility must be at least three miles before attempting the crossing. Potential Collisions In the event of a potential collision, monitor the relative angle between the two vessels. If the relative angle remains constant, or you are uncertain about the course and angle of the other vessel, take evasive action. Below are some tips for avoiding a collision. • Keep the group together. • Minimize the profile of the group on the water. • Alter course to avoid the collision. • Pass behind oncoming vessel or wait for the vessel to pass. • Make large and clear movements so that your intentions are obvious to the other vessel. Communicate with oncoming vessel your intentions. • Wave paddles in the air. • As a last resort try to contact oncoming vessel such as on the VHF emergency channel (ch 16) or the appropriate VTS frequency. summary Paddlers are vulnerable on the water, especially when larger and more powerful vessels are operating in close proximity. It is incumbent on us to stay well away from these vessels and to make clear timely adjustments so there is no question as to our intentions. A working knowledge of basic collision regulations gives paddlers the ability to understand what other vessels are doing, and how best we can stay well clear. That said, there are many under-educated operators of larger vessels, especially among smaller power and sail vessels. Furthermore, locals know shortcuts. Never assume the movements of other vessels are predictable. Keep a watchful eye open and look after yourself and your buddies. Remember, the most important collision rule is Might Makes Right. If it is bigger than you, stay well away. n
Michael Pardy lives in Victoria where he runs SKILS Ltd. He can be reached at email@example.com. Instruction
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by Hilary Masson
Building a whale of an appetite
Addling in the Sea of Cortez provides a palette of wonderful sights, sounds, textures, smells and flavors. These senses rule my daily life while guiding kayak expeditions; they become the rhythm and tempo that shapes each day. This environment inspires me to explore with openness and to make spontaneous and intuitive decisions, especially when we paddle in the spring with an abundance of actively feeding marine life. Some mornings we wake to huge “boils” of sardines (or other bait fish), with blue-footed boobies, royal turns and pelicans diving into the water in a feeding frenzy. Sometimes while crossing open water to different islands we see blue whales, the largest whales in the world, feeding on krill. Occasionally, our group of paddlers clearly hears the explosive breathing of distant whales as we get an early start on calm seas. These wildlife experiences can shape our route as we make changes to accommodate whatever nature throws at us. One day this spring I was guiding a group around Danzante Island, planning to stay there two nights before heading down the Baja coast. Waking to calm seas, whales could be heard clearly from our campsite. After seeing them spouting in the channel, we finished our fresh fruit smoothie and packed up our boats in record time. It’s amazing how easy packing is when motivated to get out on the water with the whales! Once on the water, we paddled along Danzante and collectively decided to head across the channel to Carmen Island. This put us in the right
place at the right time as a mother and calf fin whale surfaced near our boats. We could almost smell their fishy breath, enriching our senses and prompting us to speculate about what the whales were feeding on. After such a classic Baja morning, we were keen to sample our locally smoked yellow-tail, a large tuna-like fish of the mackerel family. After setting up the beach kitchen, smoked yellow-tail wraps with pineapple salsa was promptly prepared. The group was pleased with the change in plans, having had a close encounter with whales and a scrumptious lunch.
With daily use of our SPOT GPS unit, providing our position to a pre-identified email list, we have occasionally enjoyed a surprise visit from our other guides. This was the case later in the day when our group got an unexpected visitor bearing fresh prawns and chilled refreshments, so yet another change to our meal plan was in order. Dinner turned into penne and prawn pasta with red pepper and chipotle cream sauce. This was a simple, quick and flavorful recipe to whip up on the beach. Spontaneity in meal planning allows for culinary experiments which invariably results in well-fed and happy paddlers.
photos courtesy Baja Kayak Adventures
Paddle Meals Penne and Prawns with Red Pepper Chipotle Cream sauce Bring six cups of fresh water with a pinch of salt to a rolling boil; add pasta and turn your camp stove down to a simmer. When “el dente,” remove from heat. To drain pasta on the beach make sure you have a tightly fitting lid and hot mitts. Every camp kitchen is complete with a good pair of leather gardening gloves which help when tipping pots over in the tide line to drain the pasta water. Ingredients: 450 grams Penne Pasta (to feed six paddlers) 600 grams medium sized prawns peeled and de-veined if necessary 500 grams sour cream 5 tablespoons chipotle sauce (add more if desired) 1 onion diced 6-8 cloves of garlic chopped 3 large red peppers diced Saute the onion, garlic, and red peppers in oil until the red peppers are nice and soft and breaking down to create the sauce. At this point add the prawns and quickly sauté as they don’t need much cooking. When this is done add the sour cream and chipotle sauce to the mixture and stir to create a light red creamy sauce. This is then added to the cooked penne pasta by folding it in to mix well and coat the inside and outside of the penne. Add salt and pepper to taste and this easy meal is complete. A great accompaniment is sliced veggies such as jicama (a crunchy mainstay that keeps well in kayaks), cucumber and carrots to make for a crunchy bite. As always, guacamole is a main staple for an appetizer, along with the sliced veggies and a generous squeeze of lime over top. Enjoy and happy paddling!
< Hilary Masson is a guide and part owner of Baja Kayak Adventures. Tours and Services: Tropical
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Fishing angles KnoW it’s been a “creekin’ day” at my son’s summer day camp when I arrive to pick him up and the eightyear-old is soaked to the knees and wearing an ear-to-ear smile and splatters of mud. He’ll be clutching a battered cottage cheese carton containing a prize catch that could be anything from a crayfish or frog to a hellgrammite or a minnow, which we take home and place in a small aquarium we set up for temporary observation of the aquatic critters he brings home. “Creekin’” is when the kids are allowed to wade and play in a shallow creek that flows through the summer camp’s grounds – under close observation by their teachers – and is a favorite activity among his classmates. Anyone who has spent a hot summer day knee-deep in a creek trying to nab crayfish, grab a frog or net a minnow can relate. And if you like to catch fish while paddling during the dog days of summer, creekin’ is also a great way to catch the best – and freshest – bait to use when fishing from a kayak. There are ways and baits to collect without getting your feet wet to boot. Here are few of my favorites: Catching Baitfish In fresh or saltwater, the easiest way to get fresh minnows – other than buying them at the local bait shop – is to catch them in a trap made for the purpose. Minnow traps are made of wire mesh and are cylindrical in shape, with inverted funnel-shaped openings at each end. To set the trap, you place some bait inside, drop the trap in into the water and tie it off to the dock or shore. If you’re in a productive area and use an enticing bait (a can of cat food punched with multiple holes makes a good attractant; so do tightly squeezed bread balls), you may see minnows arriving almost immediately; otherwise, leave the trap out for a few hours or overnight and you can expect to have fresh bait flipping around the mesh when you check it. If you prefer a more active approach – or need bait sooner than later – you can use any number of nets made for catching minnows and baitfish. A cast net is a round hoop of fine mesh edged with weights that you toss over areas where small fish are concentrated. The net is drawn tight
58 Wavelength Magazine
by Dan Armitage
gathering live bait such as fresh ‘garden hackle’ can be half the fun of a kayak fishing trip.
around the catch by a line pulled through the center of the circle. Cast nets take some practice before you can expect to throw them so the netting opens properly on a consistent basis, but once you get the knack of throwing one you’ll enjoy catching the bait almost as much as reeling in the fish they catch. Umbrella nets are fun and effective to use, especially in clear, shallow water where you can watch the minnows gather, although you can fish them “blind” for suspended fish too. Similar to an inverted umbrella, the mesh net is round or square in shape, from three to six feet in diameter, and held taut and open with wire supports. Each corner has a line that is connected to a single main cord that is used to quickly lift the net to capture baitfish that are swimming over it. I like to place the net on the shallow bottom next to a dock and sink
bread balls over it to attract minnows. Once I see baitfish feeding over the center of the mesh, I lift it and add the contents to my bait bucket. Crayfish, Crabs and other Critters Freshwater crayfish and saltwater crabs hide under rocks during the daylight hours, and venture out to feed at night. If you’re quick and willing to get wet, you can catch “crawdads” by hand one at a time by lifting rocks and grabbing the crustaceans around the body just behind the pincers. As long as you target the smaller ones, the errant pinch you’re sure to get when you hold them in the wrong place won’t hurt too much... Crabs and crayfish also can be caught in minnow traps or traps designed for catching them, which are set right on the bottom and left overnight. On a hot summer day, the most active and enjoyable way to net a few crawdads,
Check the local regulations
Most states and provinces have regulations regarding the size of the nets and mesh that may be used to catch bait, what species may be caught and used for bait, as well as laws requiring identification on bait traps. Check with your local fisheries agency to learn more. crabs or baitfish is to use a seine net. A rectangle of mesh with weights along the bottom, floats across the top, and poles of wood, fiberglass or metal along each end, seines are used in current and count on the flow to wash bait into the netting and hold it there until the netter can grab it. The most productive bait-catching method when using a seine calls for holding it in the current with the lower edge of the net close to the bottom and the top edge near or above the surface. A lone netter can walk upstream with a narrow, one-person seine suspended across the current and hope to catch critters that swim Live baitfish netted this nice past or try to flee and get caught redfish catch. Sometimes the against the mesh, but having only way to get fresh bait is to a buddy or two to help makes catch it yourself. seining more fun and effective, when using a one-person or a broader seine, that may stretch ten feet wide or more. With someone walking directly upstream of the net and turning over rocks, kicking up the gravel and generally disturbing the bottom, you’ll rout out the finned and clawed residents – any of which should make a great bait. Catching ‘hoppers and Crickets Crickets and grasshoppers make great summer baits for freshwater species when fish are familiar with feeding on the insects that hop, drop or get blown into the water. You can catch grasshoppers all day long with a butterfly net, prowling fields where you see them winging away from your approach and then spotting where they land. Crickets can be caught at night with an old wool blanket sprayed with sugar water or sprinkled with cracker crumbs and left in a grassy field overnight. The crickets come for food and shelter and their legs get ensnare in the blanket’s fibers. You can also use a whole loaf of bread to catch crickets; cut the loaf in two and dig out the soft, doughy contents, leaving two shells of mostly crust. Cut a thumb-sized hole in each end and put the two halves back together loaf-like, securing them in place with a large rubber band. Leave the loaf trap overnight in a field or area known to harbor crickets and by morning the inside should contain several prime summer fishing baits. Be aware that catching your own live bait can be addictive. Don’t be surprised if you spend so much time – and have so much fun – collecting critters that you forget to go fishing!
< Dan Armitage is a boating, fishing and travel writer based in the Midwest.
Photo courtesy of MBKFA
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SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 59
Reflections sure sign of spring here on the West Coast is the annual herring spawn. For the marine ecosystem, it’s a large part of the lifeblood of the food chain. It can also be an economic bounty for humans. This year it took just days for Vancouver Island’s seine fishing and gill net fishing fleets to scoop up the combined 8,400-tonne quota, mostly from the 60 kilometres between Nanaimo and Courtenay. If taking that amount of fish from a keystone species sounds invasive, the herring had an odd way of showing it. Several days after the fishery closed an amazing transformation took place along the Vancouver Island coast. Blink and you might have missed it. Be fortunate enough to see it, though, and the event is spellbinding. Each female can lay as many as 20,000 eggs, which then are fertilized by the males. If you are lucky, and if the herring are numerous enough, you’ll catch the local waters transformed into a thick, milky white, while all around nature feasts on the results of this bounty. It was entirely luck this March that brought us onto this scene while gentle waves lapped the shoreline. The location was Jack Point at the end of a peninsula jutting out from between the Nanaimo River estuary and Northumberland Channel, the waterway that divides Vancouver Island and Gabriola Island. It’s a deceiving area, from a wilderness perspective. On the one side of the peninsula is an industrial area dominated by the Harmac Pulp Mill, Canadian Oxidental Petroleum and other developments, including the Duke Point ferry terminal designed primarily for truck traffic between the BC mainland and central Vancouver Island. Intuition would indicate it’s not a place you’d want to linger, let alone stop to smell the wildflowers. But much of the Duke Point peninsula has been protected by way of two little-known City of Nanaimo parks. A trail links Biggs Point Park and Jack Point Park at the tip of the peninsula (making the two parks essentially indistinguishable). The trail follows the oceanfront along the edge of the Nanaimo River Estuary, which can be an expansive mudflat if the tide is low or a vast bay if the tide is high. The trail meanders past successive ridge lines traversed by wooden stairwells, taking a visitor through arbutus stands, gnarled Gary oak and tall Douglas fir. Small coves break up the sandstone shoreline, which overlooks a deceivingly quiet estuary. The estuary is quite different from the adjacent open ocean. This is an area of clambeds and oysters and crabs and eelgrass, where small fish travel in large schools, attracting an array of hunters: grebes, for instance, and a wide array of ducks. On this day a group of harlequins is at work, paddling near the shore and disappearing every few moments for another hunt. If they get too close to where I’m watching they’ll dart off by flapping wings that slap on the water while using their webbed feet to essentially run on the water – a display entirely lacking in grace and probably efficiency as well. So it’s no surprise they usually just paddle away with brightly colored
60 Wavelength Magazine SUMMER 2010
By John Kimantas
Good timing offers a glimpse of nature at its most robust
feet working double time when they feel the need to distance themselves from me. But after few minutes they seem to figure out I’m no threat, and their drifting brings them ever closing for a fascinating look at their hunting strategy. The water is clear enough I can follow their dives, with their shimmering bodies darting along the estuary floor. A different seasonal story emerges on the land on this side of the park. On the sandstone slopes nature is putting on a show as the seasonal wildflowers begin to emerge. They bloom for a short period each spring. These hardy plants are unique to this climate and type of seafront slopes where they have adapted to the winter winds, scant soil, seaspray and summer droughts. Such meadows used to stretch along much of the shore of southeast Vancouver Island, along with
One magical day in March
Jack Point is the end of the trail. left: a harlequin makes a graceless retreat. Inset far left: wildflowers bloom on the slopes under a gnarled old garry oak. nanaimo is in the background. Inset left: a sea lion relaxes in no doubt a well-fed state.
the Garry oak forests, but their natural habitat turned out to be ideal places to build homes, and so the wildflower shows become ever more rare each year. Meanwhile, the Garry oak remained in their winter slumber, looking ancient and gnarled and long past their ability to bloom again, though of course each summer they do. The trail is a great place to stretch the legs after work, if the day is too cool or windy for a comfortable paddle. Our first hint that something was amiss this particular day in early March was the sound of birds. It was a cacophony, led mainly by the gulls. As we reached Jack Point at the end of the peninsula, we could see the traffic in Northumberland Channel was heavy. But not with barges – this day it was sea lions. Several dozen were busy patrolling the area in small groups, snorting and orping as they scavenged.
Smaller seals popped up amongst them, while all around gulls filled air with rambunctious chatter. That’s when we noticed the water, and suddenly it all made sense. It was an almost translucent blue, but white at the same time. The herring had just spawned. Keeping watch over it all in the trees was a dozen or so bald eagles. We walked down to the rocks at Jack Point and looked down at the seaweed. The herring roe was stuck on everything. It must have been near the end of a long day for those feeding on the bounty. The birds seemed sated, and though noisy everything had the air of after-dinner chatter. The sea lions still patrolled back and forth, either for pleasure or more food. A few had obviously called u
SUMMER 2010 Wavelength Magazine 61
Reproduced from Wavelength Magazine’s Gulf Islands Recreation Map.
If you go:
it a day already. A raft of them floated just off the point, snoozing peacefully, flippers in the air to conserve energy (as the flippers contain less insulating fat). It was a fleeting party. The next day it was over. The water was a normal blue and all the participants – eagles, gulls, sea lions and seals alike – had moved on. Only the ducks continued their games in the estuary.
I often wonder, sometimes aloud, if we’re looking after nature properly: I wonder if we’re not taking too much, like 8,400 tonnes of herring each spring. Or if we’re giving back too much of the wrong thing – pollution and contaminants and garbage. But on this one day it all seemed to be working. I was glad I stumbled upon it. <
Biggs and Jack Point Parks is off the beaten path, which is part of the charm. To get here, from the Duke Point Highway take the Maughan Road turnoff about 4 kilometres from the ferry terminal, then turn right at Jackson Road and follow it to the end. You’ll find a parking lot and an underpass to take you back under the Duke Point Highway to the waterfront to start the trail. Of course, the area is great paddling as well. All the usual Nanaimo launches apply (such as the Brechin boat ramp next to the Departure Bay ferry terminal), but nothing is particularly close by. While Northumberland Channel is industrial, the Harmac log boom can attract hundreds of sea lions in the winter – definitely a sight to see, if you keep your distance. Another option is canoeing the lower few kilometres of the Nanaimo River to the estuary. For a visual reference, the new Wavelength Magazine Gulf Islands Recreation Map includes details of this area.
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