Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back To Brentwood Bay

Many trips to Brentwood Bay this past six months. Brentwood Bay is located in Saanich Inlet, and is one of the most protected salt water paddles one can do--and is less than forty minutes from downtown Victoria. There are two kayak rental places on the Bay: Brentwood Bay Lodge, which hosts dives and offers both single and double kayaks, and Seahorse Kayaks across the street (no-one in our paddle group has ever rented from Seahorse, so I don't have a lot of info about them).
The only real concern in launching or paddling the Bay —other than the usual safety concerns, that is— is the Mill Bay ferry. The MB ferry provides a short-cut around the Malahat for vehicles, and is a very pretty ride.

The ferry doesn't generally kick up a big wake, but you don't want to become a speed-bump in its path either. But the public access beach is right next to the ferry dock on the Brentwood Bay side. Brentwood Bay offers access to Todd Inlet, Finlayson Arm, and Saanich Inlet (including Coles Bay—one of our previous trips launched from there). Todd Inlet is gorgeous; particularly if you are looking for water- and wild- life. Finlayson Arm down to Goldstream Park is really a day trip, but the upper reaches of the Arm are quite accessible on a two to four hour paddle. And north takes you around a number of bays and coves until finally you are north of Sidney and headed for Saltspring Island.
Today's trip finally took us around Senanus Island--part of First Nations territory . We've thought about crossing to the island before, come close on our trip south from Coles Bay, but today the excursion was directly across the bay to Senanus.
The water immediately around Senanus is quite rich in wildlife; on arrival we were greeted by a number of loud Canada geese, two turkey vultures, what appeared to be an eagle (BIG bird!), and many seagulls, crows, oystercatchers, and the like. But it was under the water that caught our interest.

Sea stars ranged from very small and red, through mid-sized and purple, and into large and orange. The orange stars were running close on 400-450 mm across, with anywhere from five to well, however many arms.

There were also a lot of crabs visible today. The little yellow one looking very spider-like with all his legs extended,and the red ones with their legs tucked in and looking much more conventional. There were also, once you spotted them, a number of small white jellyfish, nearly invisible except for the white edge around their lower fringe.

There was also a basking harbour seal—check John's pictures to see him. I gave the seal quite wide berth, but Louise managed to pass very close to him without disturbing him in the least.
Taking photos underwater from the kayak is a lot more difficult than you would think. The kayak drifts, you spot things and try to stop/change course/manoeuvre and you lose sight of whatever it was. I can't get my eye on the eyepiece, so it's hard to tell if I'm even shooting the picture I want. Quite frustrating. Later this summer I'll take along my snorkeling equipment and try shooting with all of me under water, rather than just my forearm and camera, and that should improve things tenfold. But right now, it's still all about staying warm and dry.

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