Sunday, December 31, 2006

Made it to Chatham!

I've been looking out from Cadboro Bay to Chatham and Discovery islands for years. On a bright day, you can see trees silhouetted against the sky, where the low islands stand only a little way above the waterline. On the northern end, the arbutus and fir trees look like palm trees swaying in the almost constant wind.
These islands aren't very far off-shore. Lots of people boat over to them. Pretty much every day of the week, you can see a sailboat wander round them, or a couple of kayaks dart out when the water is calm. Bernie's been there -- even alone, in a 10 foot Pamlico -- and has been bugging me to get over there, it's beautiful, nice islands to visit.
But between Chatham and Ten Mile Point runs Baynes Channel, with currents of up to 5 knots. And between Discovery and the Chain islets runs another channel with similar currents.
Yup, Bernie, Dennis and John have crossed Baynes when the current ran like a river and Louise and I turned back to wait in Cadboro Bay. Other times, we would get to Jemmy Jones Island or only to Flower Island and the currents would make me turn back.
But today the slack tide lasted for hours. When we set out from Cadboro Bay, Bernie and I went right out to Jemmy Jones on waters as calm as a bathtub.
And this time when Bernie begged me to please make this be the day I paddled over to Chatham and Discovery, I had to agree that the water had never been so quiet, and for once this December there wasn't even any wind.
It took twenty minutes. It was easier than crossing Saanich Inlet to get to Bamberton, and easier than crossing currents near Sidney to get to the little islets we've been visiting a couple of times. We only stayed about twenty minutes, till a seal splashed behind us as a reminder that this wasn't a place to linger. The return took about half an hour, with a slight current pulling us a little to one side of Jemmy Jones before we came back to Flower and into Cadboro Bay. All told, we were on the water for about two hours.

And yes, the little islands that make up Chatham are beautiful. I will be back, with a camera, and after studying the currents charts to find another day with so long a slack tide... or maybe we'll camp overnight on the south half of Discovery, in the park.
So, the first time was easy -- everything was very gentle and I was already wet.

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