Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Incredibly Big Bathtub

Sunday, November 4th was a bright morning. When Alison picked me up at Island View Beach at 8:30am, we could see a ring of clouds that boded well for a day of good weather. If we hadn't already set on our plan to paddle from Cadboro Bay around to Island View, this would have been a good day to go to Darcy Island! Probably wouldn't even have been any of the waves that jostled Bernie on his last trip there.
Alison and I left my dad's pickup truck at Island View and drove to Cadboro Bay. I walked from Gyro Park's parking lot all of the few hundred yards to the Beach House, and asked Bernie to carry my Eliza down to the water. After wriggling into my wetsuit, I carried my gear down to the beach, prompting smart-aleck comments about "Carrying it all in one load" from the man who a) carries kayaks solo and b) loads his yellow Chesapeake with four person-loads of camping gear.

The weather was great as we launched between 9am and 9:30, and stayed good all day even as clouds slowly blew in from the south. Alison and I had to hug the shore while leaving Cadboro Bay, to avoid the clouds of small sailboats. Going round Cadboro Point and Ten Mile Point, we were going with the mild current. We even saw our only standing waves of the trip, in a channel by the lighthouse: a series of waves only six inches high. Out in Baynes channel, the freight train was running between the lighthouse and Strongtide Island. Not a good time to make a crossing to Chatham, not till slack around noon. But where we were paddling was as glassy calm as inside Cadboro Bay. Small rollers surfed us northward, but they were only two or three inches high.

The point is longer than Alison figured, and she was surprised to see how far it was to Telegraph Cove. Passing heaps of mansions is always interesting, and rocky cliffs also. The helicopter kept by one fabulously wealthy household was nowhere in sight that day. After Telegraph Cove, we cut across the opening of Finnerty and Arbutus Coves, seeing an eagle on the rocks, then rounded Paul's Terrace with it's cluster of new houses, and rounded Gordon Head. At Gordon Rock we saw a seal, possibly the baby that had wanted Louise to take it home for a pet. He looked fine, Louise!
Margaret's Bay was a nice sheltered spot for a bit of lunch and a stretch. The sun was already behind the trees... that's something about this beach and Mount Douglas Park beach, always cool in the shade.

Launching again, Alison borrowed my paddle gloves, but warmed up quickly once we were out in the sun. The water was still glassy calm, so we cut across Cordova Bay, from Cormorant Point almost to the sand bluffs. I checked on the chart, and we were well over a mile off-shore, almost at Little Zero Rock and more than half-way to Zero Rock. The mild current was still assisting us.
Eventually we realized we weren't going to James Island, and changed our angle of approach so we'd come closer to shore near the sand bluffs. Going through the scanty kelp there, we saw that the current had turned and was now drifting against us. Well, we THOUGHT the water had gotten thicker! Still, we were in no rush and just kept paddling with a slower net speed than earlier.
It was a terrific day to be out in a kayak. As long as we were in the sun, we were plenty warm. And the air was cool enough to make wearing proper cool weather gear comfortable.

Just as the sand bluffs seemed to go on forever and Island View beach must have been retreating up to Sidney and so on, Alison said, "Something's sounding." She pointed over towards Darcy, and then I saw what she did.
Two dorsal fins. And two long, black backs.
Several times, these two travellers came up, blew out noisy breaths, and ducked under the water. You know how a seal sounds like a tenor, and a sea lion sounds like a baritone, when they whuff their breath at us? These were bass singers in the ocean choir. Big lungs.
We only saw black backs, no tell-tale white markings of an orca. So we're willing to concede that these may have been Dall's porpoises, closer to us than they looked. But we think they were two orcas. Maybe. I may have to re-assess harbour seals as sopranos in that ocean choir.

Funny how paddling after that was once again such a cheerful experience, even against a very mild current. We listened to a loon's wild calls, and Alison enjoyed the echoes off the sand bluffs, and eventually we got to Island View at 3pm.
So Alison had her 4 hour paddle, which she wants more frequently in training for our planned Red Deer River trip. And I got to see big porpoises at least, if not whales. All in all, a fabulous day.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry I missed this paddle -- it sounds wonderful! I drove by Willows Beach in the morning and it looked amazing out there! Dead flat.
    But them's the breaks!