Thursday, September 20, 2007

So where was Bernie?

Spent last weekend testing out the new boat. 5 metres is supposed to be long enough for expeditioning, so how better to test out the proof of concept than a long trip? Okay, maybe not so long, but we'll get to that.

I had planned to set out back on tuesday the 11th, but fog got in the way. As it did wednesday. As it seemed ready to do thursday (but finally did not). So friday, once it became clear that the fog probably wouldn't re-develop, Paula and I set off to Island View Beach to check on conditions there. Clear! And looking to stay that way! Woohoo!

Straight ahead paddle to D'Arcy. The outflow current from Sidney Channel met the wind, creating some rather large-ish waves (say, 3/4ths of a metre or so), but the new boat (no, it still hasn't told me it's name) handled them well. Even when there was two sets of waves at 90° to each other, I found that 5 metres tended to deal quite handily with the action of the water. And the curve on the forward part of the kayak shed water very well--even when the bow plowed through a wave, the water would break off well before reaching the cockpit. Very nice indeed.
Not so nice, it turns out, was my attempt at hatch covers. There was enough leakage that they are up for a complete re-design.

D'Arcy was interesting. First off was the old caretaker's cabin on the western side of the island.

For much of the 20th century, D'Arcy was a leper colony--most specifically, a leper colony for immigrant workers diagnosed with the disease.
The campground on D'Arcy is located on the opposite side of the island--pretty much where the housing for the inhabitants was located. That's a very strange feeling, sleeping with the dead.

I was woken up the next morning by a deer bouncing through my campsite at 4:30 am. Eventually I got up and was on the water at about 8:00am, headed for the south end of Sidney Island.

I travelled up the outside/Haro Strait edge of Sidney, finally stopping at Sidney Spit. An hour later, I headed out towards the Little Group, stopping on Dock Island.
Dock has what I thought was a built inlet:

But I found several other of these straght-sided square inlets on Coal Island as well. I have no idea how they formed or why they took this shape.
Carried on up the side of Coal Island--I was getting kind of tired at this point, as all my paddling had been in opposition to the current, and I was pushing 135 kilos with every paddle stroke. So when I made the long(ish) jump across from Coal to Portland, I was looking forward to finding the campsite quickly.
And I did; the capsite in Portland was right at the tip of the island where I arrived. There was one small problem though; two dozen double kayaks that had been filled with teenagers. Tents had been set up everywhere and the kids were in highly excited high drama mode. Thankfully a passing group of kayakers mentioned that there was still room at the Arbutus Point campsite, another twenty minutes or so ahead. Well, twenty minutes at the rate my tired body was paddling.

Nice campground, and thankfully peopled only with adults. I wasn't the only one who needed the services of the sun. The day had been overcast and damp, with humidity at or above 100%, so nothing had dried in the least during the day. And with the amount of moisture I'd generated paddling, everything needed to be hung out to dry.

Everyone had a laundry line hung with all their paddling gear.
Portland Island also had toilet facilities. Now, normally I wouldn't mention them, except that this was different; a composting toilet (the first one installed, according to a sign) was tucked off in the bush.

Oh my, what a difference. No smell, no flies, and no nasty moisture build-up in the outhouse. The sooner these go into every park, the better!
I could barely wait for dark before crawling into my bivvy. But dark also brought out the monsters. Well, the growling, snapping, screeching raccoons, anyway. At least five of them, fighting and scavenging around the campsite, waking everyone. Nasty words were hurled (along with the occasional stick) but they did leave my site pretty much alone. Guess I was clean enough that they went looking elsewhere.
When I got up at 6:00am (yeah, really slept in!), I spotted the last of the raccoons headed up a tree for the day. By 8:00 am the rain had arrived, so I put off plans to head over to Cowichan bay, and instead headed back to Sidney for pick-up.

But before I left Portland Island, I was gifted with this sight over Saltspring:

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  1. Hey Bernie, nice pics and report. Now that you've blazed the trail, the rest of us chickens can follow!
    But you know you haven't posted any good pics of your new ride....

  2. Saw your shots on flickr the other day, and thought I'd check out your blog - It's like kayaking paradise on here! Launch points, herons, boat chit chat. I'll be back for sure. What great pics of D'arcy, and a cool trip report (with maps!). I went to D'arcy island many years ago on a chartered motor boat from the inner harbour, and we rowed into shore from just before the shallows. I've never forgotten that place, and I even have a 4x4 foot painting I made of one of the leper's implements left on the ground there. It was a chilling place and if you haven't already read them, pick up the books, "to all appearances a lady" and for non-fiction there's "a measure of value." I'm still a kayking newbie, but I'm dying to do this trip one day. Thanks for allowing me to live vicariously, sounds like it was a fun trip despite some of the conditions.

  3. Hard to sleep back here at the beach house when you were out and about in the islands! Every breath of wind seemed like the first gust of a storm. Next time you go camping and I stay home to write, I'm gonna sleep at my parents' place!