Thursday, May 21, 2015

Victoria paddlers find new paddle partner

There's a heartwarming story on CBC radio today, about a group of Victoria paddlers who found a message in a bottle while training in the Inner Harbour. The message said to please put the bottle back in the water -- "my last wish was to see the world." The bottle also contained dusty ashes and a photograph from a man's Celebration of Life. (The story is reminiscent of the National Film Board film Paddle to the Sea by legendary canoeist Bill Mason.)
The paddlers knew that currents in the harbour aren't likely to carry the bottle out right away, so they've resolved to bring the bottle with them when they leave on a paddling trip to Alaska. That seems like a good start to seeing the world!
Click here to read the story on CBC news, with quotes from Russell Henry and photos of the bottle and the paddling group. That page also has a link to the CBC Radio story, with an audio recording of All Points West show host Robyn Burns interviewing Russell Henry, and here you can find another news story with an embedded video.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Whale Smelling

Earlier today, Louise and I went out on our almost annual tradition of taking a whale watching tour. We were in a purpose-built whale catamaran from Five Star Whale Watching, but we weren't the only boat heading out to find some whales today, as some lucky people (like those below) were likely to get a slightly wetter experience.

We eventually crossed into American waters, and where's a better place to see an eagle?
_MG_2672 copy

And here's the whale!
_MG_2640 copy
A couple of minke whales appeared to be feeding, but they were very stealthy about it. They only popped up briefly a couple of times. We actually smelled them more than we saw them, and, oh boy, they smell. A brief whiff of rancid whale breath was all the captain needed to put the brakes on the boat so that we could check them out. (Yes, I know boats don't have actually have brakes. Please don't send emails.)

So we didn't see much in the way of whales. Nature does what nature will do, and not to our schedule. But we did see seals. Lots of seals.
_MG_2661 copy
_MG_2701 copy
_MG_2719 copy


Chalk Boat

Why yes, you can make a boat out of chalk. Or using chalk, anyway.

This is chalk art by artist David Zinn in Michigan, and you can see more on his website.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Paddle the Undiscovered Country

I suppose it's always a good idea to have your final kayak journey planned out well ahead of time....

Friday, May 15, 2015


These days, when thinking about the news of Freya Hoffmeister and her World Paddlers Award as well as Justine Curgenven's video Kayaking the Aleutians, I'm reminded of Jane Austen.
Yes, the novelist, who wrote Pride and Predjudice and Sense and Sensibility. No, really -- there's a connection between Austen and paddling. She was interested in small boats, after all, as you can see at this link. It was in her novel Persuasion, released in 1816 that she wrote:

"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives."

Accordingly, here's the video trailer for Kayaking the Aleutians, showing two women not in calm waters.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Emily Carr canoe painting

Found a colourful painting by Emily Carr and had to share it. Looks like the shoreline along Burrard Inlet, on the North Vancouver side. The canoes look like traditional First Nations boats to me, maybe Kwakwala/Kwaguelth.

This painting was done by Carr in 1912, and is the property of the Vancouver Art Gallery. It and a few other images by Carr are shown in an article in the Walrus magazine. There are other comments about Carr being affected by seeing and riding in First Nations canoes in an article about a show at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

PaddleFun Fest in Nanaimo May 16 & 17

Looks like the BC Marine Trails people are setting up to have a good time paddling in Nanaimo on May 16 and 17. They have sent out reminders of their PaddleFun Fest event, taking place at Departure Bay. Check out this link to see their website notice of the event, which looks like a lot of fun on the water and shore. You can also click here to go to the website for the proposed Nanaimo Boathouse, or click here to see the schedule and register.

Sorry that today's post has no new photographs. But hey, Departure Bay is a nice place to launch in Nanaimo. We've written about Departure Bay on the blog here, and there are some terrific photos that John took showing the bay and the area, so go read that page! Or you could click here to read our other posts mentioning Nanaimo in general, and those have photos.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Under Our Harbour

When we go kayaking in the Inner Harbour, (and you can see some of our posts here) the water's not like in the parks or ocean spaces we usually paddle. The harbour seems pretty dirty. I always wonder how many living things there are in the water. It's always nice to see a school of little fish go past our kayaks or the dock at Fisherman's Wharf. We usually see a seal or river otter, and sometimes a raccoon along the shore.
Now a local magazine, Hakai Magazine: Coastal Science and Societies, has taken a tour underwater and filmed a diver finding a surprising amount of sea life. It's only a few minutes long, and well worth viewing to answer the question of what could be swimming under my kayak in the harbour.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Thinking about paddling on a canal...

Every now and then, I think about what it would be like to paddle on a canal and see the land change around me. It would be great to go through towns, or a city, and the farmland or wild areas between towns. And the main vertical hazard to look out for would be the odd weir or a fallen tree. Wherever there's a waterfall or rapids, a canal would have a lock!
Though our home waters are ideal for paddling, we don't have a canal here. Unless the Gorge Waterway could count. Or maybe the Alberni canal up at Port Alberni, though we haven't paddled there.
Maybe next year I'll paddle the Rideau Canal. Who wouldn't want to paddle from Kingston to Ottawa? Apparently it's a nice route for relaxed paddling, camping, and in several places the towns have restaurants, pubs, hotels, hostels, or bed-and-breakfast options. And the locks are fascinating to see in action.
Parks Canada has a website where boat users can buy lockage and mooring permits for the canals in their parks system -- check it out here, and do a little planning for your own canal paddling day. Parks Canada even has some planning advice for visiting parks in various regions of the country.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Canoe Accident in Quebec

CBC news is reporting on a canoe accident in Quebec -- the story is at this link. It's a reminder to us paddlers as summer is beginning to wear our PFDs, and to look out for weather changes, even when paddling in familiar places.
As we learned last summer (click here for the story), any flotation device is a darned handy thing to have when someone needs rescue.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Cougar Sighting at Matheson Lake

Paddlers enjoying the warm weather should be careful at Matheson Lake in the Metchosin area near Sooke and Victoria. A cougar was spotted at Matheson Lake Regional Park last night by the Capital Regional District gate contractor. Conservation Officers have asked the CRD to  post “Cougar in Area” signs at Matheson Lake and along the Galloping Goose near km 32. The advisory shown below is posted on the CRD website, and shared with the volunteer naturalists, which is how Kayak Yak heard of the sighting.

Cougar Sighting at Matheson Lake/ Galloping Goose
Cougar sighted May 3 at Matheson Lake, near km 32 on the Galloping Goose trail. 
Please use caution and report sightings to RAPP 1 877 952 7277

As there have been no further reports of the cougar at Thetis Lake Regional Park, the CRD has been advised by the Conservation Officers to remove the advisory for Thetis Lake. 

Again, please use caution if hiking near Matheson Lake Regional Park. The Conservation Officers and Capital Regional Parks staff will be monitoring the situation over the next couple of weeks. I will pass on any other updates as we receive them. Thanks.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Freya Completes Circumnavigation of South America!

Freya Hoffmeister has officially completed her journey around South America by kayak. What a marvelous accomplishment! It took her four years, with pauses. Click here for a link to Canoe & Kayak's article on her triumphant return to Buenos Aires.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Stand Up Puddleboarding

The latest and greatest new paddlesport...Stand Up Puddleboarding. Yes, I said "puddle." If nothing else, the chances of drowning are extremely low. Check out the video embedded below:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How To Turn Your Kayak On A Dime...and Give Six Cents Change

Want to turn your kayak around in a hurry? In the clip embedded below, Leon Sommé of Boat Body Blade demonstrates a high speed 180-degree kayak turn called The Deep Diggity Dig. Check out the clip:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

1860 Victoria Inner Harbour

Here's another excellent historical image of boats in the Inner Harbour of Victoria BC, from the archives at the Royal British Columbia Museum. This painting dates back to 1860, featuring as its highlight the steam paddlewheeler HMS Beaver.

What I like best is seeing the variety of boats in the harbour, including steamers as well as sloops and yawls and brigantines. The little rowboat and First Nations canoe near the shore on the lower left are most appealing. It seems that these boat-users would put a sail on just about any vessel, no matter how small!

The person who made this painting in 1860 was standing on the Songhees peninsula, close to the place where we like to launch when we're paddling in the Inner Harbour. Here's a photo that John took on June 12, 2011 from just offshore. See how the land rises in both images? The church in the 1860 view was the first version of what is now Christ Church Cathedral, on Quadra Street at Rockland Ave.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thetis Lake Cougar

Just heard this news from the coordinator of volunteers in the Capital Regional District -- news which will be of interest for paddlers enjoying Thetis Lake:

Hello all,
I just wanted to make you aware of a cougar sighting at Thetis Lake Regional Park that we received notification about this afternoon. A cougar was spotted on Sunday, April 19 near the control dam on the Lower Thetis Lake Trail.  The incident was reported to the Conservation Officers and they have advised us that it was probably a young cougar looking for new territory and that it did not display any unusual or concerning behaviours.

As a precaution, we have placed the public advisory below on our website (yellow banner at the top of each page on our website) and have installed temporary “Cougar in Area” signs: 
Cougar Sighting at Thetis LakeBC Conservation Officers are advising visitors to Thetis Lake of a cougar sighting in the park. Exercise extreme caution, keep dogs leashed and travel in pairs. Please report sightings to RAPP 1-877-952-7277.
The Conservation Officers and Regional Parks staff will be monitoring the situation over the next couple of weeks. Please use caution if hiking in the park. I will pass on any other updates as we receive them. Thanks.
Colleen Long, Coordinator of Volunteers
Visitor Services and Community Development
CRD Regional Parks
490 Atkins Avenue
Victoria BC V9B 2Z8
T: 250.360.3329F:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

World Paddle Awards

Just found another website good for those times when ya gotta get yer kayaking fix in virtual fashion, rather than actually paddling. Check out the World Paddle Awards at -- this year Freya Hoffmeister is a finalist.