Thursday, August 30, 2007

Moonlight paddle on Sooke Basin

Note to self: the time to work out the night settings on one's camera is before one is in the middle of the water, trying to take a photograph of kayaks in the moonlight. Which on a night like Tuesday night, was something to see, if not photograph.

Courtesy of Saanich Recreation and Rush Adventures, I achieved another ambition: paddling by the moonlight. I signed up for a 3 hour moonlight paddle out of Cooper's Cove on Sooke Basin, on a night that couldn't have been more perfect. There were 8 kayaks in total, seven doubles and one single; three guides and 12 guests. We assembled, gradually, for around about 8:30 pm, several of our number having first eaten lunch at the adjacent restaurant and emerged hilarious. By the last light of the sun and by the light of our guides' headlights, we kitted up, were assigned our boats, first by colour and then by number, trooped down to the dock, and one by one, launched. The night was dark and glassy-still, and as we paddled slowly out of Cooper's Cove we could dip fingers and paddles into the water and see a wake of ghostly bioluminescence caused by dinoflagellates in the water. A hand trailed in the water would brush the bodies and tendrils of multiple unseen moon jellyfish (non-stinging); a torch shone in the water showed their dim clustered bodies. When we paddled clear of Cooper's Cove it was into moonlight that was like a headlight, almost painful to look at with dark-adapted eyes, and bright enough for me to make out the other seven boats without effort. To the left were the lights of East Sooke, and all around the edge of the darkned cove, scattered lights. We paddled across the basin to the Goodrich Islands, a former Native Canadian burial ground. The entire vista was shades of black with a patina of silver on damp and pale surfaces, and the occasional sharp reflection of moonlight from a wet, turning paddle. Kayaks to the moonward side were dark shadows against moonlit water, and kayaks to the other side were picked out in light grey against the darker water, and fading to a mere suggestion in the distance. We then paddled towards Roche cove, more or less, looking for dark water and more bioluminescence, but the moon was well up, although a thin layer of cirrus cloud had come up over it, giving it a halo; our guide predicted a change in weather, both from that, and the distinct and persistent contrails still visible in the moonlight. We started some ducks or geese from night's peace, an indistinct, pale fluttering. And then back around the shore, into Cooper's cove, gliding past the moored yachts, come in one by one and climb out of the kayaks onto to the dock, return gear, gather up stuff, say thank you to Steve, Glen and Galia [sic], and climb in the car to drive back the winding Sooke road in the pale moonlight.

Before we started and before the light went, I had a crack at a pan shot around the basin. Fixing exposure so it doesn't change from frame to frame is something else I need to learn how to do, but here it is -

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