Sunday, July 30, 2006

Saanich Inlet Crossing

If we're in our kayaks, it must be Sunday! Our first cloudy day in a number of weeks greets us as we put in. We didn't have a specific plan, as we weren't sure about the weather. It had rained heavily overnight and the rain was still threatening. But there were some breaks in the clouds.

Bernie's paddle does not get off to a promising start as he got into his boat backwards.

We put in at the Brentwood Bay Ferry Terminal (point A). We decided to try our first crossing of Saanich Inlet to Bamberton, an old cement plant on the shore (north of point B). We had also talked about doing a day trip down Finlayson Arm one day, so we decided to head south down the Arm after we had crossed to see what this area was like.

And away we go! Bernie starts by playing in the ferry's wake.

He also wanted to make sure we were going the right way. (Note that he's still backwards in his kayak. Ha, just kidding! Gotcha!)

Louise sets the pace...
... and Paula keeps up.

Now we're out in the Saanich Inlet proper. Ahead of us is the cement plant. We knew that winds were going to be rising over the course of the day and we figured that we might be somewhat sheltered from them by the hills around the Inlet. That theory didn't work out though, as the winds came up and grew stronger during our crossing.

We stuck together and paddled on.

It took us about 30-35 minutes to get across the Inlet. We came in a little south of the cement works (point B).

We went south along the coast. The winds continued rising and it was a battle.

Louise doesn't seem to have noticed the seal to her right.

We saw a few other seal moms with their pups in this spot, but the water was rough and the pictures didn't turn out very well, alas. Below are a moms and her pup, one near the center and another on the left edge.

Mind you, the pictures of the eagles fared a little better. There's two in the tree ahead of Paula.

After taking the last picture of the eagle, he flew off. I had turned my kayak around to get the shot and was facing backwards to our direction of travel. I realized that I was surrounded by seals. They were popping up all over the place. I slowly started to paddle backwards and I discovered they were following me. I kept paddling backwards and they kept popping up quickly then ducking beneath the waves. There must have been at least a dozen of them. It was like "Whack-a-mole" except that they were seals and I didn't have a mallet. Eventually, they stopped following and I turned around and caught up to the group at point C, when we decided that the winds and the waves were getting a little much. We had to cross the Inlet at some point to return home...
IMGP1132 we turned and began our crossing.
Then the Wind Came Up...

It looks rough, and, well, it was. But with the wind and the waves at our back now, the paddling was pretty easy. But we still has to careful that we kept in line with waves so that they wouldn't broadside us.
Rough Crossing

How windy is it? Check out the flag behind Louise.
WIndy Paddle

We rounded point D back into Brentwood Bay, much less open than Saanich Inlet, and the waves and wind died right down. The rest of the paddle was calm and peaceful.

We went down into Tod Inlet...
...and put in at point E...
...for food! Paula and Bernie brought along some wrap fixings. It sure hit the spot.

After a little break, we continued down Tod Inlet...
...until we reached the end (point F).
Paddling Down Tod Inlet

As we came back, Bernie discovered a cave-like thing. Maybe it's a cave.

Finally, another great paddle comes to end.

My pictures are here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Elk Lake II: Return of the Bernie

A beautiful evening at Elk Lake. The heat wave of the last week has broken and temperatures have returned to their normal mid-20s range, and the days have been gloriously sunny and bright, but not overly hot. Perfect paddling weather.
We return to Elk Lake for another practice session in swallow water. But the beach area is filled with swimmers so we decide on a paddle instead. Still, the water was warm, the sky was clear, and the natives were friendly. Wait -- that's not a native... that's a Bernie!

And away we go! It was Paula, Louise, Bernie and myself today.

Paula gets an early lead.

The ducks kindly shared the lake with us.

Louise tries her hand at geese wrangling. It doesn't go well.

A perfect day for just letting the current carry you wherever it may...

Every time we've been out the last few weeks, I've found a heron. Today was no exception.

Karl and Stephanie joined us. They've developed an unerring ability to arrive a few minutes after the rest of us have put in and to go the wrong way to look for us.

Stephanie takes a shortcut.

As we approached shore, Bernie decided to try a roll.
Bernie Tries  a Roll 1
He's got the tipping over part down very well.
Bernie Tries  a Roll 2
Bernie tried his roll, but no luck.
Bernie Tries  a Roll 3
He tried to scramble in...
Bernie Tries  a Roll 5
...but no luck that way either. Maybe Bernie was tired from jet lag, but he couldn't get back in his boat in any way. "I'm a dead man," he said.
However, Stephanie got into Bernie's boat.

We were treated to a rare Karlfish sighting.

Our work here is done.

My pictures are here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Back to the Real World

Seven and a half hours and four airports later, I finally made it back to Victoria. An hour after making it back to the house, I was on the water and headed for the Chatham Islands. Ninety minutes later, I'd made the eight kilometre round trip and tired, happy, and wet, I collapsed onto the loveseat. Toronto was great, but man, is it ever good to be back home.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Inner Harbour/Lower Gorge

The First Rule of Kayaking: Always Wear a Hat.
The Second Rule of Kayaking: Always Wear a Hat That Fits.

We are in a heat wave here on the We(s)t Coast. This weekend, we are having record-breaking temperatures in the mid-30s. For some of you, that may not sound bad, but for this part of the world, we're cooking. This is our third scorching day, and we expect another tomorrow. But thank god George says that there is no such thing as climate change, and that's good enough for me! What do 99% of the world's scientists know, anyway?
Once again, it was Louise, Paula, Alison and myself. We put in early on the Inner Harbour, just south of the Johnston Street Bridge. The plan is to paddle under the bridge and up The Gorge waterway.

Even before we started, the animal sightings began as...
...Paula found a stegosaurus.

And away we go! Under the Johnson Street Bridge...
... and into The Gorge proper.

The harbour and The Gorge are working waterways, so one has to be aware of traffic, like this barge...
... or this dragon boat.

Look! A raccoon! No, really! I know it looks just like a brown smudge, but trust me -- it's a raccoon!

There's still some heavy industry along The Gorge...
...even though much of it is being redeveloped.

A harbour ferry beats us to the Galloping Goose bridge. We'll see him again.

Paula goes under the bridge...
... and heads with Louise towards this interesting vessel.
It's home made, with aluminum bars for the body, and PVC pipes for the pontoons. What a great idea! (If Bernie had been with us, we would have been stuck here for hours.)

We continued up The Gorge.

The heat was getting to us and Paula was looking around for the Ice Cream Boat. There was no sign of it, alas.

Hey, this goose isn't galloping!

We reach the end of the road: Tillicum Bridge. The last time we were here, we caught it at a slack tide and were able to go under. This time, no such luck. The tide had turned just as we had launched, so we knew we would not be going under the bridge today.

It's nasty whitewater, big rocks and strong currents. That doesn't mean that we weren't going to go play for a bit!

Paula hangs back, while...
...Alison takes over in the assisted-suicide department from Bernie.

Alison wasn't the only one to go play in the whitewater.

Am I hot or what? Yes. I am hot. Baking, in fact.

And we begin our way back.

Ducks off the port bow, sir!

There was only one way to end a great paddle on a hot day like cream!

My pictures are here.