This is a good place to paddle when there's little or no wind. Today there was just a slight breeze and patchy clouds as I walked off the ferry, rolling the Dragonfly on its luggage roller behind me. The tide was way out (waaaaayy out). When I looked at the little path down three metres of bluff to the beach below the public dock, there was way more beach than I needed for launching. There was not only muddy shingle, but lots of gooey mud before the water line. Maybe in an hour or two the tide would come in enough that I'd be able to land here, but launching right now would just get me muddy to the knees. This photo is one Bernie took back in October, at a moment when the tide was optimal for launching or landing.
So I went off Morningside Road to find the path to the little shell beach the locals had told me about last time I was kayaking here. Yup, it's still there of course, about a klick or two hills along the road. If you get to a big stream under the road, you've gone a little too far. There's a clump of bushes pretty much hiding a trail made for hobbits. It was way easier to pull the Dragonfly in its bag along the narrow footpath than the bigger Expedition kayak. (You can click on this link to see the new model Dragonfly, called a Lagoon, or click on this link and scroll down to see the bigger models including the Expedition.) At the shore I lowered the wheeled bag down the two-metre rocky bluff to the shell beach. The band of shell fragments was completely exposed at this low tide, and rocky shingle, but not really any mud. Score!
This beach is a really nice place, out of sight of any houses, with a great view of much of Fulford Harbour south of the ferry dock. I got the kayak inflated and stuffed my waterproof dunk bag and water bottle into it, then fastened the big pump in the rolled-up kayak bag on the back deck. On the front deck went the folded luggage roller and all the safety gear. I can tuck some of the gear inside the Dragonfly, but I've found that if someone stops to talk with me they usually don't ask things like "Don't you have any safety gear?!" if they can see my pump and throw bag on deck. It's just easier that way.
As soon as I launched, I saw a great blue heron fishing about fifty feet away. I carefully tried not to splash and scare it. The breeze had another idea though, but luckily the heron just stared at me as the waves smacked against my boat. There was a little more breeze than I liked, especially with gear strapped onto the decks of the Dragonfly. Reluctantly, I gave up the idea of following the shoreline along the First Nations land as I had done back in the fall. I just went straight around the little headland to the ferry dock.
In the harbour itself there was plenty of shelter from the wind. I noodled the little kayak around between the BC Ferry dock and the shore where I'd never have gone if the ferry were still in dock. The public dock was even more sheltered. It was nice to see the big tarred pilings holding up the dock and its ramp, and the purple seastars that were clinging to the poles. The tide was out far enough to show white and brown sea anemones at the bases of some of the poles. I tried to take photos with my cell phone but haven't got the knack that Lila has for this simple phone camera.
It was good to spend a long, slow hour or more just noodling around the marinas. The tide was too far out to let me go across the flats to Drummond Park and the petroglyph, so I just looked at the stone church on this shore instead. A boat owner chatted with me a little about how practical kayaks are because they don't need to burn fuel. "Fifty dollars an hour to take my fishing boat out!" he admitted. And he added, "See you've got your safety gear right there." Then he told me low tide was a good time to see starfish and anemones along the rocks. I wandered off to look for them, and found two more small shell beaches, one only three or four metres from side to side between the rocks. There were several little jellyfish, too -- the clear moon jellies with tiny blue insides. When the ferry came in, I carefully stayed out of its way... they've got enough on their minds without hotdogging kayakers playing in their wake.
Eventually I wandered back to the shore by the public dock and was pleased to see most of the mud was now under the tide that had risen a bit. Took my time wading to shore, lifting the Dragonfly. Folded everything up, put the re-loaded bag bag on its luggage roller, and then looked thoughtfully at the three-metre bluff. It's an easy climb, and I should be able to do it with the Dragonfly. But just then, the boat owner who'd been chatting with me earlier came up the steep ramp of the public dock, and offered to help with my kayak in its bag. He carried it up the bluff for me, no problem. Nice person!
And now for the post-paddling portion of the pleasant day, there was the expensive snack at a tiny coffee shop... next time, I'll just eat the granola bar in my dunk bag instead. Bernie found me sitting in the sunshine, letting my sandals dry out. Karen came back from her errands in plenty of time for the ferry. A little bit of window-shopping in the pleasant stores of Fulford Harbour, and then onto the ferry and back to Victoria.
It's always a good thing riding the ferries, even on a rainy day. This breezy day was warm and dry, and well worth taking the opportunity for just getting out and about. I know we have adventures in our kayaks some days, and someday soon we'll head out from Fulford Harbour to nearby Russell Island or Portland Island, but for today this was a good quiet time on the water.