Monday, January 21, 2008

What a Difference a Boat Makes

While yesterday was supposed to be the long trip down Finlayson Arm, the weather declined to co-operate. Paula and I met Richard at the parking spaces beside the Brentwood Bay ferry terminal and took a look around.
The day was so promising.There was sunshine and sunshine and sunshine (okay, there hasn't been a lot of sunshine over the last two or three months so any little bit seems like a lot and is very welcome). But once you got a look out into the bay itself, you could see the downside of the day: wind.
Nonetheless, we decided to load up and see just what it would be like. The tide was high, so there wasn't a lot of room on the beach.
This little cove is terrifically protected, so while we could see wind-blown chop fifty metres away, there was no hint of it at the launch.
The two re-usable grocery bags are my new gear acquisition. I first tried them when I last went to discovery and had to carry all my gear down to the beach--I was loaded for a multi-day trip that day. These bags carry loads, weigh nothing, and either ball up or lie flat on the hull inside the hatch. And they make it possible to carry a stack of loose gear down to the beach easily.
We set off toward Tod Inlet rather than Finlayson Arm--that having been the backup paddle all along. Paula was feeling so confident in her Eliza that she charged out, setting a direct course to the mouth of the inlet, regardless of wind and wave.
Richard, having a little less experience, wasn't quite as confident heading out. So eventually we headed to the lee of the island at the south end of the bay and then made our way over to the mouth of the inlet. On the way over, we experienced some moderate swells taking us broadside on. Very quickly, everyone began handling them with aplomb and we pushed into Tod.
The inlet itself was much quieter, of course. But unlike most trips into the inlet, we weren't able to fish-watch at all--the light/water combination just wasn't conducive to it. We paddled about a third of the way down the inlet and then turned back because it was clear the wind was still rising.
By the time we got back out into Brentwood Bay, the swells had increased in size to the point where Paula couldn't see over some of them--making them 60-100 cm (2-3 feet) high. This time Richard lead the charge to the lee of the island, his Telkwa handling the waves beautifully while all he had to do was paddle (and maybe a bit of balancing :-) ). While Paula was having a bit of trouble making speed into the wind, she and the Eliza seem to have bonded into a serious paddling unit. By the time we came out of the lee of the island, Paula was back in front leading the charge into the wind and swell.
What a difference a boat makes. Paula's comfort level in the Eliza is so much higher than in her Old Town Adventure, it seems to fit her so much better, that she is much more comfortable in water that would have sent her back to shore just a year ago. And Richard in his Telkwa seems to have fallen into a perfect boat for himself. Yesterday he was quite confident in water that was pretty hairy for a new paddler. I mean, I might have chanced it in the Pamlico (okay, I would have done it in the Pam), but I really shouldn't have. And there he was, wary but unafraid, the boat giving him confidence as Paula's did for her.
So it was a short trip because of the wind and swell, but it was also an interesting and challenging trip because of the wind and swell, so when we met John and Louise at Tim's after coming off the water, the three of us were quite happy to have paddled.

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1 comment:

  1. Yeah.. what a great little trip that was.. I think I absorbed more about paddling in 4.34km than I have in my whole career up till now. Thanks for the empowerment everyone.. by the end of that, I was feeling like a proper salty dog. Returning my boat to it's rack in the beautiful sunshine today felt a bit like a betrayal. I wrote a little on my paddling journal too - there's also full GPS kml linked on there so you can have your nerdy way with it. Thanks again to Paula and Bernie for some great direction.

    -The nefarious Rich