Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Joe's Still Go For Vancouver Island Circumnavigation Speed Record

Joe O'Blenis's quest to recapture the Vancouver Island Circumnavigation Speed Record continues to be on pace, despite the fact he lost a lot of time in Tofino yesterday. First, his Tofino food drop never materialized, so he had to do some shopping to stock up for the last leg. And 20 minutes after he paddled out of town, he realized that he had no skeg. Joe reported on his website that a "[s]mall thing (one tiny screw) failed. Result afterwards was a small piece protruding out from the hull that, when impacting something under the surface, sheared a second screw off, allowing the assemble to work free and come apart. Bad result but likely a very rare, isolated thing. No worries at all, the new kayak arrived hours later and I'll continue on in the morning with only a loss about 6 hours paddling today. Still time enough to make that up. :) "
He's hoping to complete his circumnavigation sometime on Saturday, but can still break the record of 17 days and change even if he arrives in Nanaimo as late as 1:00 pm local time on Sunday, September 5.

Monday, August 30, 2010


2010-08-30 Ladysmith pano
Readers may recall that a few months ago Louise won a free double kayak rental at the 2010 Vancouver Island Paddlefest from the fine folks at Sealegs Kayaking in Ladysmith. She finally collected her prize, and we took out a Delta 20T tandem for a few hours. (And no, it is not true the Latin for tandem kayak is divorcus boatus.)

The sun shone down out of a nearly clear blue sky, although the occasional breeze popped up to keep things interesting. We both found the Delta roomy and fairly maneuverable for a boat of it's size. Not the quickest tandem on the water, however, but we certainly covered more ground than if we had been in singles. We've not had a lot of experience in tandems, so it was a bit of a learning curve. Louise, in front, had to get over the fact that she really had little say in where the boat was going to go, while I had to get used to the fact that I was going to be taking a lot of pictures of the back of her head.
2010-08-30 Ladysmith_0003

This is a gorgeous place to paddle, especially along the islands along the north side of the bay with their very interesting rocky shores. The erosion patterns in the sandstone (I'm guessing) are stunning.
2010-08-30 Ladysmith_0007 copy
2010-08-30 Ladysmith_0037
The sandstone indents made a bed of sorts for this resting seagull.
2010-08-30 Ladysmith_0027

We covered a lot of the same ground that we covered the last time we were here, but with two paddlers, we covered it a lot faster. We paddled past Bute and Dunsmuir Islands and headed to the navigational light on Coffin Island, hoping that the name was not reflective of how this trip might conclude.
2010-08-30 Ladysmith_0015

Heading back in, we took our time and explored the shoreline's many nooks and crannies.
2010-08-30 Ladysmith_0011

What a beautiful place.
2010-08-30 Ladysmith_0020

Trip Length: 15.06 km
YTD: 194.33 km
More pictures are here.
2010-08-30 Ladysmith

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cadboro Bay Paddle

2010-08-29 Cadboro Bay 001
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Yeah, the wind was going to get heavier and come up from the south in the afternoon. Yeah, the currents out near Chatham Island were supposed to drop off as the morning wore on so we could go across. But it just didn't happen.

2010-08-29 Cadboro Bay 002
So as Louise, Richard and Paula and I put in at Cadboro Bay, the slight westerlies had already swung around and were coming harder from the south as forecast, but hours early. "Damn you," I shouted at Richard, "this is all your fault!" As he stared blankly back at me, I told him not to worry -- I have an issue with misplaced anger. Richard, for his part, is a pretty gung-ho-damn-the torpedoes-full-speed-ahead kind of paddler. Except when it comes to wind, which he really dislikes. Sometimes it makes him cry like a little girl. No, really. It's quite fetching, actually.

2010-08-29 Cadboro Bay 014 copy
So instead of paddling out to Chatham, we putzed around Cadboro Point...
2010-08-29 Cadboro Bay 019 copy
...then headed down past Willows Beach to Mary Tod Island.
We noticed an eerie near total absence of sea birds today. Clearly they knew something was up with the weather and had hunkered down somewhere.

From Willows Beach, we returned paddling through small chop with the wind at our backs. There's just not much more to say about today's paddle -- a fun but unexciting one!
2010-08-29 Cadboro Bay 023 copy

Trip Length: 10.28 km
YTD: 179.27 km
More pictures are here.
2010-08-29 Cadboro Bay

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sunglasses at Night

Gorge Sunset Pano
Last night was a beautiful slightly cloudy summer's evening, so Louis, Paula and I put in for a quick sunset paddle up The Gorge.
2010-08-27 The Gorge 012 copy
2010-08-27 The Gorge 017 copy
2010-08-27 The Gorge 039

If you're kayaking at night, always carry a light...
2010-08-27 The Gorge 059
...and a camera that shoots in the dark.
2010-08-27 The Gorge 034

Another paddle done!
2010-08-27 The Gorge 035

Trip Length: 6.90 km
YTD: 168.99 km
More pictures are here.
2010-08-27 The Gorge

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Odds 'n' Sods

What a difference a week makes. Last week we paddled out to Portland Island on a flat calm day with a record high temperature. Today it's quite a bit cooler, quite a bit cloudier and quite a bit windier. So we've decided not to paddle today. Besides we've got a few things to do around the house. Ah, the joys of home ownership.
But that isn't to say that we have no kayak news to report. Joe O'Blenis's Vancouver Island Circumnavigation Speed Record attempt continues. According to the map on his SPOT page, he's gone from Nanaimo to Sayward, about seven inches. But that seven inches on my computer screen roughly represents at least 250 km of paddling in the real world, almost a quarter of the distance. Not bad as he enters his fourth day of paddling. It's going to be close, but if the weather holds and he can keep up this pace, he's got a shot of breaking the record of 17 days and change.
And finally, we have this video just for Bernie. And he'll know why:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Joe Is Go for VI Circumnavigation Attempt

As noted over at Wavelength Magazine, Joe O'Blenis launched his kayak out of Nanaimo this morning in his attempt to recapture the Vancouver Island Circumnavigation speed record. Sean Morley currently holds the record of 17 days and change. In 2007, Joe set the previous record of 23 days. To reclaim the record, Joe must complete the 1,150 km trip by the early afternoon of September 5, averaging about 70 km a day.
You can follow Joe's progress on his SPOT page, on Wavelength Magazine's Vancouver Island Circumnavigation page, or on Joe's own page.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Failed Launch Video

I like this one. After it goes wrong, he doesn't think to use his paddle to push himself up:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Portland Island

Sunny. Very warm. Slight breeze. Totally flat calm. Gentle currents that ran with us instead of against us. Ferries that were exactly where we wanted them to be when we needed them to be (probably because we weren't actually trying to catch one). You could not ask for a better day. Well, I suppose you could ask, but that would be greedy.
2010-08-15 Portland Island 024 copy

Louise, Tracy, Paula and myself got together yesterday to kayak from Sidney to Portland Island. And not even the latest heat wave was going to stop us!
We meandered up the various channels and islands towards our first crossing at Coal Island...
2010-08-15 Portland Island 025 copy
2010-08-15 Portland Island 028
...spotting this heron along the way.
2010-08-15 Portland Island 002 copy

From Coal Island, we crossed to Pym and into the open waters of the Gulf Islands, after making sure there were no ferries about. There's a lot of pleasure boat traffic in this area, so kayakers must keep their eyes peeled for small craft as well as massive ferries.
2010-08-15 Portland Island 042 copy
From Pym, we crossed to Portland and put in for a break at Shell Beach.
2010-08-15 Portland Island 004

The mystery of Louise's recent bouts of nausea of the water may have been solved. She recently purchased some new contact lenses, and we grew suspicious that they were contributing to her motion sickness. Today she wore an old pair of glasses and she didn't suffer from any symptoms. Mind you, it was an utterly flat calm, but we're hopeful we may have found the cause of her problem. We left Portland for the return paddle...
2010-08-15 Portland Island 013 copy
..ever mindful that we are out playing in the big traffic.
2010-08-15 Portland Island 015
2010-08-15 Portland Island 053 copy

Two swans welcomed us back to the sheltered waters near our pull-out.
2010-08-15 Portland Island 019 copy

Did we have a good time? I'd say yes!
2010-08-15 Portland Island 012 copy

Trip Length: 14.55 km
YTD: 162.39 km
More pictures are here.
2010-08-15 Portland Island

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dances With Wakes

A good trip out to Portland Island and back today.

Today was a great day for weather. Barely a breeze to cool us just a little. It might have been even nicer to be out on a day ten degrees cooler than thirty-something Celsius, but we weren't complaining! We just drank water and tried to sweat productively.

John took this photo last week at Mill Bay, but it works for today as well. That's me, trying to channel my inner Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue model.
Don't like it? Well, the next time you're wearing a wetsuit and PFD, you can try to hold up your... never mind.
Back to today's paddle. It was also a great day for the tides and currents. We set out from Roberts Bay near Sidney with plenty of beach, but the tide was only half out so we didn't get muddy feet and boats. Past Goudge Island and Coal Island, we crossed to Pym Island and made the big leap to the Princess Margaret Marine Park on Portland Island, now part of the Gulf Islands Marine Park.
By the time we reached Portland, there was plenty of shell beach. This was my first trip to Portland, and Tracey, Louise, and John were kind enough to hang out within earshot so I'd keep an even keel during the crossing. Even the ferries co-operated and were exactly where we needed them to be at exactly the right time.

In fact, the only thing worth complaining about at all was the number of motor vessels who wanted to cross our path... or zoom along right towards us! There were a few paddles waved overhead to get the attention of the motor boat operators. The resulting wakes gave a good name for this particular kayak outing: Dances With Wakes. I find it odd how the boat motors are so LOUD, with the sound bouncing around between the islands. The blue exhaust doesn't disperse quickly, either.

Portland Island is an absolute gem of a place, wonderful to visit quickly as we did, staying long enough for a drink, snack, and pee break. It will be even more wonderful to camp here sometime soon. This part of the Gulf Islands Marine Park is easy to get to and a good place for multi-day kayaking trips, like Bernie's trips that he's written about here and here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stormy Weather

We know that that weather on the water can change quickly, but how quick is quick?
Check out this video of a weather front roaring in over a beach in Finland in what looks like a scene out of an SF movie. It turns out that quick can be very quick:

Monday, August 09, 2010

Whale Hunting FAIL

2010-08-09 Caddy Bay
Tired of being regaled by the other kayakers in our merry band who've been out paddling and seen the grey whale that's hanging around the local waters (Richard even got a picture of it), Louise and I had a couple of hours to spare this morning to do a quick paddle to the whale's favourite spot around Flower Island at Ten Mile Point.

The whale was being either not cooperative, or not present. I'm going with not present as we didn't see a sign of it as we kayaked out under cloudy skies. In fact, we barely saw a sign of anything.
2010-08-09 Caddy Bay Whale Hunt 004

We thought the whale may have been hiding behind this heron, but no such luck.
2010-08-09 Caddy Bay Whale Hunt 007

Then we spied a family of otters running over a rocky islet. Were they running from a whale? Probably not.
2010-08-09 Caddy Bay Whale Hunt 015 copy

We turned a big lazy figure-8 around Flower Island and Jemmy Jones Island, but there was no sign of the grey whale. So we headed back to shore....
2010-08-09 Caddy Bay Whale Hunt 033

...and it was here that we finally saw a whale! No, not the grey, but a blue whale!
2010-08-09 Caddy Bay Whale Hunt 035
(Okay, you caught me. It's not really a blue whale. It's a blue salmon.)

Trip Length: 5.25 km
YTD: 147.84 km
More pictures are here.
2010-08-09 Caddy Bay Whale Hunt

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sea Lion Surprise!

2010-08-08 Mill Bay 030
We put in at Mill Bay this morning for a paddle down to Bamberton and back. Louise and I had never paddled this stretch before, while our paddling companions Richard, Tracy and Paula had. Tracy asked me if I'd ever been down this stretch, and after I answered in the negative she replied, "It's pretty boring!"
Well, it wasn't that bad, and if nothing else it's another few clicks to knock off our attempt at breaking the record for the Slowest Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

Richard squatted to take a picture -- at least, I hope that's all he was taking!
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 032

It didn't long to find where all the seal action was -- it was on the dock beside our put-in!
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 039 copy
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 036
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 044 copy

A rainstorm had blown through yesterday after weeks of clear skies. There were still some cloudy remnants but nothing that should have been of concern, although winds were forecast to pick up in the afternoon.
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 096
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 107 copy

We approached the dock for the Brentwood Bay-Mill Bay ferry. A little warning if you're kayaking in this area: the ferry approaches the Mill Bay dock from the south and passes very close to shore. Very close. So close you could spit onto the beach from the car deck. So be Ferry Aware when you're kayaking near the dock.
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 110
Sometimes, there's other things to look out for as well. Louise and Tracy got a little ahead of the rest of us as we approached the dock. They became distracted checking out the clouds because Richard had been keeping us updated with weather reports and fog was rolling into some nearby locations. They were passing very close to the dock and as they passed by I noticed a large brown float of some sort up on the end of the concrete pad of the dock. As they passed only a metre or two away, the "float" unfolded itself. Richard and I began shouting, "Look out! To your right! A sea lion!"
They still didn't notice. It was only when the sea lion went "Bort! Bort!" right beside them that they realized that they were in a spot that maybe they didn't want to be in. The sea lion could have very easily rolled off the dock and landed on them swamping both kayaks. They quickly scampered out of the way.
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 054

We pulled in at a beach for a moment...
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 056
...where Paula and Richard discussed paddle shaft lengths.
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 057
Paula likes to use a 230 or even a 240, while some of us feel she should be using something shorter. Different strokes for different folks. The debate continues.

We'd been wondering about the fog. Although we could look back and see that Salt Spring Island was totally socked in...
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 058
...and hear the radio reports describing Fulford Harbour down to visibility of about two metres, it was holding off in our area. Besides, we weren't doing any crossings, just sticking to shore, so we felt reasonably safe.
We pressed on to the old cement works at Bamberton...
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 081
...then turned around for home.
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 116 copy

As we approached the ferry dock again, we saw that the sea lion was still on his perch.
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 089
We're wondering if he is used to humans as the ferry had docked here once since we'd last seen him, but he apparently didn't move.

And then the wind came up a bit sooner than expected which made for an interesting paddle back to the take-out!
2010-08-08 Mill Bay 118

Trip Length: 15.94 km
YTD: 142.59 km
More pictures are here.
2010-08-08 Mill Bay