Last Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. Not particularly warm, the temperature managed to crawl just a few degrees above zero. Still this was a far cry from the below zero temps and even nastier wind chills we had suffered from for much of the previous week. So it was a good time for a kayak trip at Cadboro Bay! (Note that I am wearing a red sweater... there will be a quiz later.)
Here's our gear lined up and ready to go. Paula had borrowed Alison's kayak. (Alison is kayaking in New Zealand for three weeks.) Normally, Bernie and Paula switch off with their kayak, but with Alison's kayak all of us could get in the water at the same time.
And away we go! Here's Dennis in his inflatable kayak...
...and Paula enjoying Alison's boat.
We paddled out of the bay and turned north along the coastline. That's Mt. Baker, an active volcano, ahead of us.
Three of us decided to cross over to Chatham Island. The womenfolk declined.
I had never been there myself, but both Bernie and Dennis had. There's some strong currents to watch out for, and the crossing of about 20-25 mins can be a little rough. You can see the bumpy water around Dennis in the picture below.
Chatham Island itself was beautiful. It's actually a series of small archipelagos, and it makes for a perfect place to explore inlets and rocky shores. We were exploring a small island called Strongtide Island. I was about to find out that it lives up to its name.
We found a little channel with a bit of a current in it. We decided to try our hand at running it. It wasn't a strong current, but this was our first try at something like this.
The first time I went through, there was no problem. The current was strong but not rough. I paddled against it, until it spun me around and sent me back from where I came.
But my paddle was in the water and the current caught it, and dragged it under my boat. And over I went. Potential energy and gravity worked their magic. I was upside down in the water.
As you can see, I survived. I made my wet exit, and grabbed onto the back of my kayak. Bernie was nearby and beside me almost instantly. As we organized ourselves to begin the process of getting me back in my boat, my feet suddenly touched ground, and I decided to walk my boat ashore at a small beach.
Out of the water but totally drenched, I took off my sweater. I was wearing my Farmer John wetsuit and that kept most of me warm, but my arms under my sweater were freezing. It was fortunate that I was wearing my wetsuit -- "goner" might be too drastic a term, but I would have been in a lot worse condition. Fortunately, Bernie had overdressed and had taken off his fleece jacket, and he lent it to me. (Quiz time - Question 1: What colour sweater was John wearing at the start of the paddle? Here's a hint: It's not the same colour as in the picture below.)
It was, in retrospect, a good thing. We were reminded that we are dealing with nature, and nature abhors cockiness. We had an emergency, and we all survived. There was no panic or hysteria. We kept our heads and did what we had to do. My kayak flipped and everything stayed attached and dry, including my digital camera.
Much to Bernie's chagrin, my glasses stayed on my head.
We re-assessed the safety equipment that we had with us. A dry bag with a towel and/or some dry clothes suddenly seemed like a much smarter idea then it did a few minutes earlier.
Bernie found the incident much too amusing (as you can see below.) However, as we left he decided to shoot the rapids again! (Okay it was only one rapid. "Whitewater" it was not.) He got caught, too, and damn near flipped. He filled up his kayak with water and he had to beach to drain it.
Bernie didn't have his skirt on. Bad Bernie.
(He didn't have any pants on either, but that's a whole other story.)
And so we headed back. We vowed never to publicly speak of the incident. ("What happens on Brokeback Island, stays on Brokeback Island," I said.)
It would be difficult to keep my adventure a secret, expecially since I arrived back wearing different clothes than what I had started with. The womenfolk cast us some wary glances.
But we said nothing. At least, I didn't say anything until I noticed Bernie explaining to Paula what had happened, even using hand signals and pantomime to illustrate my story. "Bernie!" I said. "What about Brokeback Island?"
"Meh," he shrugged. "We've been married twenty years. She would have got it out of me eventually."
We survived and adjourned for some warm drinks at a nearby coffee shop. Dennis took this picture to annoy his friends back in Toronto. Blizzard, anyone?
Now that's a hot chocolate! Sure helped get the taste of salt out of my mouth.
And remember kids, don't try this at home!
More pictures are here.