A cloudy but mild (for late October) morning greets us on the shore of Esquimalt Lagoon.
It's just Louise, Paula and myself. We're not planning to paddle the lagoon today, but we're launching from here to explore a spot that we've never paddled before, Esquimalt Harbour. We had the choice of launching in the lagoon and heading out of it, or just launching directly into the ocean. We decided on the ocean launch because there was a bit of a current coming into the lagoon, and why should we fight against it? On our return, we thought we might ride the current in.
But that's later. First we head out into the morning sun, er, cloud.
We noticed that there were some sandbars offshore creating some breaking waves. Nothing too big, but we thought we'd head out around them to be safe.
To get into the Harbour, first we had to swing around the historic Fort Rodd Hill lighthouse. It's part of a base built in the late 19th century to defend Victoria and is now a national historic site.
What's that on the rocks? Could that be...?
Yes, it is. Ol' eagle-eyes has done gone and spotted hisself an eagle.
Now we're in the Harbour proper. In the background is Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, one of the large naval bases here on the south end of Vancouver Island. There's also the Esquimalt shipyards here, and yes, that is a BC Ferry that's getting some repair work done on it. There's also some naval facilities on the other side of the harbour so we are in fact paddling between two naval bases. I took a lot of pictures today; I wonder how many were taken of us.
Anyway, we continued on. After we passed the base, we crossed over to the right side. Louise was looking for a park she sometimes walked in along here....
...but Paula suddenly saw something and pointed. "What's that swimming in the water?" she called.
We looked over and there was something swimming. Our first thought, of course, was that it was a duck or a seagull, but it was moving too fast. Our brains were trying were trying to match shapes we were familiar with to this totally unfamiliar shape. Dog? Cat? Ocelot? Hippopotamus? Finally, it became a recognizable shape. "Deer!" I shouted.
It was a deer, alright. A big buck with a big rack.
If you've ever wanted to see a big buck shake himself dry after a swim, here's your chance.
I'm no good for estimating the size of this guy, but he was big. And fast. If we had been racing in the water, him swimming and me in my kayak, I'd be hard-pressed to think that I might win.
Just when you start thinking that this kayaking business is getting ho-hum...oh yeah, more seals and eagles...like, I'm so booored of that scene....nature gives you another gift.
We carried on and found these old buildings on an island at the end of the harbour.
At first glance I thought that they might be old boat houses, but clearly they're not. But they have some sort of cranes in the top, presumably some sort of loading equipment.
[Addendum: Long-time reader Scott The Hoople believes that these building may be old munitions warehouses.]
We turned around at the top of the island and found some geese. They didn't seem at all frightened of us. As you can see, Paula paddled right by them. In fact, a lot of the waterfowl were pretty fearless today. Earlier, a seagull had come down and landed right beside me. He swam along with us for a while before he got bored and left. Later, as we neared the end of the paddle, a small bird like a kingfisher suddenly popped up out of the water right in front of Paula's pink kayak. He dove right away, otherwise Paula might have run it over. We both started laughing, although Paula was apologizing to it even though it was long gone. I was thinking that the bird would have quite a story to tell when it got home.
"Hey man! I almost got swallowed by a pink whale today!" it would say.
"What are you talking about?" its mother would say. "There's no such thing as a pink whale!"
"But I saw it! I did!"
"There's no such thing as a pink whale! You young birds and your crazy stories! You wait until your father gets home with some salmon fins! He'll spank you so hard that you'll wish you were back in the egg!!"
But I digress. Back to the geese.
They let me get close, too.
We found another old building on the island.
We headed back. We approached the lighthouse again as we headed to the open sea.
But once again, Paula spotted something on the causeway...
We swung around the lighthouse and Paula decided to run the current into the lagoon. She headed for the sandbars where the waves were breaking. She caught one, surfed it for a bit, then followed the current into the lagoon.
Louise and I watched her go. Louise was ahead of me and I called out and asked her if she was going to do the same thing. "I'm not sure," she shouted back. I saw that she was drifting into the area where the sandbars were. "Make up your mind quickly," I shouted back, "or the waves will make it for you." And no sooner had I finished than a wave came up and broke behind her, carrying her towards the shore.
She was heading in whether she wanted to or not!
But all's well that ends well. And we put into the beach after another fine paddle.
John's photos are here.