Sunday, July 27, 2008


A cloudy and breezey Sunday morning greeted us beside the ferry dock at Brentwood Bay. We arrived an hour earlier than usual hoping for a long paddle south down Finlayson Arm and we were hoping that the early start would diminish our exposure to the afternoon winds that often materialize in the area. But of course, our weatherman's name is Murphy. The winds had come up unexpectedly overnight and were forecast to increase further in the afternoon. Still, we were keen to give it a shot, so we decided to venture out carefully and play it by ear.
Brentwood Bay Pano

It was a small crew today. Louise headed out in her Delta....
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...while Alison avoided the ferry in her Current Design boat.
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I was in my Delta and using my brand new Pentax Optio W60. It takes pretty good pictures, wouldn't you say?
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Brentwood Bay was fairly calm, but once we turned the point into Saanich Inlet, it got a little rougher. The winds were blowing from the south against the flooding tide creating some choppy waves. Plus, the wind was in our faces. Of course.
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We perservered and paddled past McKenzie Bight, and into Squally Reach.
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As we reached the entrance to Finalyson Arm, the wind seemed to die down. We weren't sure if the winds had actually died down or if we were being protected by the tall hills on the side of the inlet. We were hoping that the wind, if it was still blowing, would still be coming from the south and at our backs for the return trip. We passed a rock playing host to a flock of seals enjoying the day. One was splashing about in the water so we kept our distance.
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Alison spotted this eagle.
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A few minutes later, Alison also scared a seal who was sitting on a rock. He dove into the water with a loud splash. And a few minutes after that, Alison scared him again. After he dove into the water he began following us, but we stopped for moment as Alison tried to take some pictures for a panorama shot. The seal didn't realize this and he surfaced right beside Alison. He frantically splashed again as he dove under.
This rock found it all very amusing.
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We turned around and headed back. We soon realized that the wind had indeed died off, so now we had no help paddling against the tide. But we still made better time on the return trip.
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The water was reseaonably cooperative on the way back. It was quite a marathon paddle. Actually, we were out five that's two marathons!
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It ended as it began -- trying to avoid the ferry!
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Brentwood Bay

Trip length: 19.2 km
John's Pictures are here.
Download the Google Earth.kmz here.

Good Days and Less Good

One of the things I have to keep in mind about being on the water a couple of days a week is that these are not all going to be good days. So many of the days that I go out alone in my kayak are not "alone" times, for instance; not when I'm crossing Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay, that is. Summer means that there will be people on the beach and in the park and parking lot. It's not just the few who are overjoyed at summer weather, and know to go to the beach to celebrate it. It's not just the dedicated few who go to the beach in any kind of weather and enjoy whatever they get, whether they peel down and sunbathe or bundle up and watch stormy waves. In summer, there can be hundreds of people here for summer festival events; most of them bring cars and all of them add up to crowds. It's hard at times to remember this is a public park, not "my" beach.
I had a great paddle the other day, out in my Eliza at about 6:30 pm on Friday the 18th with Bernie in the Pamlico and Richard in his Telkwa. On the way to the Chains, a puffin surfaced just off my bow, with a fish in its beak. Awesome. Up close and personal. We paddled over to Mary Tod, and back to Gyro Park after sunset with the little Filzer mouse lights blinking on my and Bernie's PFDs.
So when I went out with Straitwatch in the zodiac on Friday the 25th, I came back in a philosophical mood. It's been months, really since I was last troubled with seasickness. So there's no point in being bothered that I ended up draped over one of the pontoons, hanging on to the gunn'l line for dear life, studying marine biology with my stomach turned inside out and my ass taking a minor in astronomy. Happens from time to time to anyone. Get over it.
Feeling gobsmacked until noon Sunday has me less philosophical. Turns out that for me, not only does a migraine = nausea on the water, but seasickness = migraine and resulting 30-hour hangover. Shall want to avoid that in the future. Time to pick up some more bismuth and Tums before going on the water tomorrow. I have a paddle set up with Heather for Monday... just a quick trip out to Flower Island to drop a fishing line into the water and guess who's coming to dinner.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Feet: 5 -- RCMP: 1

A floating foot update:
The RCMP have DNA matched one of the floating dismembered feet found last year off the BC coast to a man missing from BC's lower mainland since last year.
The police also use DNA testing to rule out all of the feet as belonging to two victims of a 2006 plane crash off Quadra Island.
Interesting, officals in Washington State have apparently only now remembered that a body washed up on Orcas Island sixteen months ago missing an arm, a hand and both feet. They will be working, er, arm in arm with Canadian officials to see if they can piece together this puzzle.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Harbour Patrol

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Today, Louise, Paula and I headed out to Esquimalt Lagoon to paddle under a glorious sunny summer sky. Our plan was to paddle around the Fort Rodd Hill lighthouse and into Esquimalt Harbour. There was an offshore breeze that was kicking up a little chop and a flood tide was running, so the Harbour water wasn't as calm as one might expect, but nothing we couldn't handle. Paula was in her inflatable Firefly....
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...while Louise headed out to sea in her Delta.
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We rounded the lighthouse and into the harbour.
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We played in the rocks a bit...
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...but Louise was trying to find a beach that she used to walk to. She found it right beside the site of the old Victoria Plywood mill. My dad worked here for 25 years, but now it's a subdivision and shopping mall. This is all that's left -- the steel rails where they brought in logs out of the log boom.
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Rental space is at such a premium in Victoria that people are now living in floating barrels.
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We puttered around the harbour and then headed back out towards the ocean. This navy boat drew alongside us to remind us that we should stay 100m away from naval facilities on the shoreline.
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He came up between us and the shore, and as he pulled away he kicked up a wake. We had to turn towards shore to ride it out. (Please ignore the secret military facilities on the shore in this photo. You did not see them. Neither did we. We were never there.)
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As we headed back, the Olympic Mountains made a great backdrop for the lighthouse.
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We entered into the Lagoon....
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...which turned out to be Heron heaven! I took about 50 pictures of them.
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Here's a situation they don't teach you in kayak courses.... how to avoid a dog.
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Esquimalt Paddle
Trip Length: 8.4 km
More of John's photos are here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Floating Foot Update

Not that we have a foot fetish or anything, but this is just such a strange story that we feel compelled to keep our readers up to date.
Today the RCMP announced that of the five feet found so far in British Columbia waters, four belonged to males and one to a female. All are right feet, except for one, which is, naturally, a left foot. Interestingly, through DNA testing it was determined that the left foot was a match for one of the right feet, so there's one complete set of feet.
It seems that we finally may be getting close to determining the final fate of the Professor, Mary Ann, Ginger, the Skipper...and the rest....

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Canadian Feet 5, Swedish Feet 1

Canada still has a big lead, but the Swedes are finally in the game.
Another severed foot was found on a beach, only this time in Sweden.
Authorities believe there is no connection between it and the five severed feet found off BC's coast over the last year. Some people are suggesting that BC authorities are dragging their heels in regards to this investigation.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Yak Grips

I fully admit that I have a tendancy to favour the stronger side of my body when I paddle. This results in my getting soaked on one side of my skirt and the gradual migration of my paddle so that it is longer on one side than the other.
During a gear search, I discovered Yak Grips and thought these would be perfect to fix my paddling problem.
So John ordered them for me at a cost of $20.00 and we tugged them onto my paddles.
I haven't been able to test them until this weekend's Witty's Lagoon paddle and I had a great paddle.
I only got my skirt wet from having to adjust the paddle drips and that was minor. The Yak Grips kept me aware of where my hands were and whenever I wanted to migrate to one side, I was able to quickly correct this.
I was even able to paddle without gloves, a nice addition now that it is summer and neoprene gloves can be rather hot to wear.
Well worth the $20.00

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Windy Witty's

The skies were cloudy, but the sun was trying to poke through, so we headed out for a paddle around Albert Head. Although there was a breeze blowing, a small group of us, just Louise, Richard and myself, put in to a flat sea. Louise and I were in the water first and as we waited for Richard, we slowly paddled along the coastline.
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Richard joined us a few moments later...
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...and we headed for more open water. We were hoping that the breeze would would lessen once we got offshore, but it wasn't the case. In fact, as we got to the first point, we saw a patch of breakers and swells ahead.
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We stuck close to shore and avoided the breakers, but we still had the swells to contend with. It was an interesting few minutes. Just as a swell caught me unexpectedly from behind, giving me a "moment", I heard Richard cackling gleefully, "Woo hoo!" It was almost as if Bernie was with us.
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Richard liked the shortcut between the rocks.
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We got past the swells, but then the wind was in our faces. Usually our paddles here are in good weather and calm seas, so it was a fun challenge to face less than ideal conditions.
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Eventually, we reached the rocks and islets outside of Witty's Lagoon and headed into them to get a little shelter from the wind. There were a lot of seals around today.
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[insert the theme from Jaws here.]
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The wind seemed to die off for the paddle back, and the sun broke through the clouds. It didn't last, though, as the wind slowly swung around until it was in our faces for the last part of the return trip.
Of course.
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When we started out, we saw this guy standing on some floating seaweed fishing for breakfast. We figure he stayed there during our entire paddle because as we returned, he was still standing on the seaweed fishing, only now he was fishing for lunch.
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Clearly, Richard had a good time. As did all of us.
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Albert Head Park to Wittys Lagoon
Trip Length: 9.7 km
John's Pictures are here.
Richard's blog report is here and his pictures are here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Canada Day

Well, during the last while I've been going out on my own, once with Heather and once with Bernie, since John's eye surgery is healing and Alison's been out of town. The time with Heather went well, as we found some places worth coming back with a fishing line. Gotta get a fishing licence too... The time with Bernie was interesting, as he harvested some bullwhip kelp and that afternoon turned it into sealed jars of pickles and relish. Far out!
Today was Canada Day, and a steady flow of people went by the Beach House all day, as people were bound and determined to Have A Nice Day. The weather co-operated, as it was merely hot instead of insanely hot. And about 3pm, Richard and I met at Cadboro Bay to see if the wind forecast was coming true.
It wasn't, not really. Some 50 metres offshore, there was very little wind. From half that distance offshore there was lots, but that was pretty much it. There were some nice low swells coming in from the south-east. Rich tried to talk me into going to the Chains to see why Great Chain had two big green smudges on it (grass?) but unlike him, I'd actually looked at the current chart book. We went over to Mary Tod Island, walked about for a while and I collected some rocks for my mother's cactus gardens. Then back, surfing on the swells and a couple of wakes from passing powerboats.
When an ordinary, short outing can be so warm and have just enough swells not to be calm, well, we live in paradise.