Monday, May 17, 2010

Paddlefest -- and The Least Lonely Solo Paddle

Good times were had at Paddlefest this year! John already posted about Day One on Saturday. He and Louise gave Marlene a ride up to Ladysmith, and got recognized by a couple from Medicine Hat who read Kayakyak. Nice to meet fellow enthusiasts!
Glad to see Tracey at Paddlefest, too, on her way back from getting her kayak repaired in Comox. I think she left while a number of us were trying out some kayaks on the beach and Bernie was setting up the tent.

The couple from Medicine Hat recognized Bernie too, a couple hours later at a picnic bench. More good conversation! We ended up sharing a couple of bags of those tiny donuts with them and Marlene, John, and Louise, fresh-made donuts from a vendor's booth. Hint: ask the vendor to go easy on the sugar & cinnamon that she shakes into the bag. We were happy with 1/3 the usual amount.

Then it was time to do a workshop discussion on inflatable kayaks. John took this photo of me showing and discussing my Advanced Elements Dragonfly (the older version of their new Lagoon) and a couple of borrowed boats. Ocean River Sports kindly loaned me the Aeris Sport for the workshop, and it got poked & prodded and its design studied. The sales rep from Necky Kayaks and Alberni Outfitters also were kind enough to loan me the Advanced Elements AirFusion for the workshop. This is a sweet design, and very different from most inflatables! I'll post a review of this model in a couple days.

The ultimate thing to say about inflatable kayaks, is that there's no one perfect boat. Each paddler has her or his own goals, place, strength, and interests to consider. For me, portable and light is the most important feature, so I use a small kayak that is also slow and stable. For a fisherman, other choices would work better. Bernie's comments on kayak selection seemed to be more on target for the participants, new to inflatable kayaks.

After the workshop, Bernie and I walked up into town, and walked around. We decided to eat a pizza from a funky artsy place on Roberts Street, just half a block up and across the highway from the exit to Transfer Beach. Good choice! Good pizza made on the spot by friendly youths with good ingredients.

After dinner, we went to sleep. Yeah, yeah, old people. Hey, we'd been up since five am, hauled two big bags of inflatable kayaks and two knapsacks of camping gear onto the train and down to the beach, and been busy all day. But yes, apparently we are old because we slept for ten hours. Pleased to say that neither of us was zoolandered (can't turn left) by any crick in the neck.

We walked up the hill into town for breakfast with a nice couple from Nimbus Kayaks. Then back to get at our plans for the morning! Bernie set off on a four-hour hike, training for his big expedition in June. He went around some trails shown on a sign at Transfer Beach, and came back tired and sore with good photographs.
I set up my Dragonfly and launched it at Transfer Beach. The weather was good -- a high, bright overcast with almost no breeze. The plume from the Crofton mill was rising straight up. Over the next three hours, I did a very enjoyable figure eight in Ladysmith Harbour. First I went around Wood Island (the smaller, southern of the two under this name on the map in John Kimatas's BC Atlas Volume One), then around the Dunsmuir Islands.

At the little Wood Island I was careful to avoid log booms (floating rafts of logs) tied up around it and the bigger Wood Island. It's not that an accident with the logs is all that likely, it's just that when a log rolls on top of a kayaker, he or she is so very thoroughly drowned that it's all over but the inquest. It was great to see the sandstone galleries and lace rock all along this narrow little island. John took this photo last year at this spot.

At the northern tip of this little island is a sign advising that one is now at the 49th parallel of latitude. I clicked the OK button on my SPOT here. You can see the place on a Google map link here, and I recommend zooming in and clicking on the Satellite option to see the islands, which don't show on the street map.
A good spot to pause and think a while about the world, while staying carefully away from the log booms. And while pausing there, I met another white-haired woman kayaker. And Bev recognized me from the Kayakyak blog. aaAAaa! We chatted awhile and plan to meet to paddle together this summer. Then we went on our way, and as Bev had advised me, there were indeed eagles and raccoons to see on and around the Dunsmuir Islands.
These rocky little islands are connected at low tide, and the tide was indeed low that morning. The water is very shallow around Dunsmuir, and I was pleased to see eelgrass growing in the sandy bottom. Many small red crabs were walking sideways through the eelgrass, among a few clamshells and also the egg cases for Moon snails. On the flats exposed to the bright hazy day, from time to time a squirt of water would shoot up, so there must be big clams like geoducks in that sand. There were certainly shell beaches and middens all over that part of the harbour!
I had a blast paddling alone in Ladysmith Harbour, but then, this wasn't the first time I visited and we did explore the little islands of Wood and Dunsmuir pretty thoroughly last summer. I wouldn't recommend someone taking so little a boat as my Dragonfly here alone on their first outing on a windy day, but I've had the Dragonfly out in all kinds of weather and places over the last four years. There was barely any breeze and there was very little powerboat traffic to avoid when crossing from or to Transfer Beach. What with all the kayaks from Paddlefest, the herons I passed going and coming, the powerboats with their carefully genteel wakes, and an abundance of wildlife of many kinds, this was the least lonely solo paddle I've had in ages.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Paula; Great description of those Islands! Good to meet you enroute.....and would love to paddle sometime ( I am headed for a paddle on Okanagan Lake this long weekend but sometime after that. Enjoy any upcoming paddle times you have. Thanks again.... your 49th Parallel, fellow white haired kayaker (Bev)