Friday, August 15, 2014

Vancouver Island Circumnavigation Leg 1: San Juan Island to Pt. Hardy

Vancouver Island circumnavigation was a success! We made it around with no incidents to speak of and importantly everyone on the team still talks (and wants to get together and paddle soon). I am going to breakdown the photos and recap into the 3 legs of the trip. Today, San Juan Island to Pt. Hardy, followed by Pt. Hardy to Tofino, followed by Tofino back to San Juan Island. Here is a quick recap of the inside.

Rachael, Leslie and I spent 15 days making our way north on the inside of Vancouver Island. Headwinds and sun were a theme of this section of the trip. We paddled 12/15 days, 252 nautical miles for an average of just under 17 nm/day. A good warmup! We had a very windy day(15+ kts in our faces ) coming in to Nanaimo, and Leslie's wallet and passport were stolen (nothing like MORE logistics). The folks at the Port of Nanaimo and RCMP were very helpful and got us sorted out as best possible. 

Packing Practice

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome
Resting in the lee of a log boom outside Nanaimo
Rathtrevor Provincial Park
How do you cool off?
Looking back at the sea after crossing to Chrome Island Lighthouse
The crossing to Denman Island was a bit jobbly- winds from the SW gave us a nice stern quartering wind that gusted to above 25 kts and wind waves that quickly developed to 2 ft from a sea that had been flat not long before.
Buoys are Big!
Cape Mudge Light, Quadra Island
Reaching Cape Mudge was our first real accomplishment, meaning we had successfully exited the Strait of Georgia. We had to avoid many fishing boats that morning that were out during the short slack tide.
The approach to Seymour Narrows
I personally consumed 2.5 bottles of Sriracha on this trip (total), with just a bit of help from Gerry and Rachael. Breakfast of champions-Sriracha, cold quesadillas, and bean! I'm not joking-I had it the first two mornings after our return.
Seymour Narrows Crossing
We utilized Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) to check in via VHF for any large vessels transiting the area-very useful in fog when your visibility is less than 50 meters!
Turning the corner into Johnstone Strait
Johnstone Strait
Johnstone Strait started off beautifully-we turned the corner from foggy Seymour Narrows into blue sky and sun and we even saw our first humpback whale of the trip. The next day, however, came the wind.
Morning light in Race Passage
A lot of it. So much, that we turned back 1.5nm to the last viable campsite we had passed because going forward was not an option. And the wind continued to build and build to a full gale of 35 kts, with gusts to 42. That turned into a lazy food fest-a good day to be off the water. Watching fishing boats, tugs pulling huge barges, and cruise ships all zipping past made me feel awful small.
White Horses (near gale force winds)
Gale force winds in Johnstone Strait
Owl Pellet!

Stay tuned for Leg 2: Pt. Hardy to Tofino photos coming soon!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vancouver Island Photo Update

Velella velella. photo by Rachael Bates
Johnstone Strait without wind
Lowrie Bay Surf Session
Gerry at San Josef Bay
Catala Island
Estevan Point Lighthouse

Circumnavigation Update

We have made it to Tofino! 30 days in so far, and approximately one week left. We have had a string of days fighting unseasonal southeasterlies, aka headwinds, but we feel good about being able to push on through and finish strongly. Cape Scott was gorgeous, with calm winds and moderate seas, Brooks Peninsula had calm winds and above moderate seas with high pucker factor. Hesquiat Peninsula and Estevan Point was so calm that we passed within 2 meters of shore. Gerry spent yesterday repairing his boat, and I got to go surfing in Tofino! Not a bad way to spend my days off...

I forgot the camera so if I make it back to the internet cafe today I'll post a few photos. Cheers!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Vancouver Island Circumnavigation

One week from tomorrow I will be departing on a 5 week journey circumnavigating Vancouver Island. There will be up to four of us, with various team members only able to make one section or another. The trip is split into three legs, but we will be averaging 20-30 nautical miles per day.  I embedded a map on the blog to follow our progress via SPOT Messenger. I'll be taking photos and some video, but will not likely be able to do much uploading until after the trip. Along the way, I will be documenting Sea Star Wasting Syndrome for an ongoing research project at the University of California, Santa Cruz. See the research here or click here for a map. Big thanks to my sponsors, Werner Paddles and Spot Communications, as well as to the folks who support my in my endeavors, namely Snap Dragon Sprayskirts, Body Boat Blade, MSR, and Kayak Academy. These guys collectively make and sell the best kayaking equipment on the market and all of their gear has been field tested and proven to work. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

South Fork Stillaguamish River: Less Rocks, Fewer Swims!

As part of the Paddle Trails Canoe Club Spring Bash, a group of us ran the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River at 5.8ft. The only previous time I ran this was at 5.2ft which is something I don't think I'll be doing again-too bony and not enough water. With a very strong group we made our way downstream setting safety where needed, surfing when possible, and catching as many eddies as possible. I even convinced one of the more experienced fellows to give me tips whenever possible! My cross-deck strokes were too long, and indeed, once I shortened them, everything became that much easier. Big thanks to Dave Mainer for all the great tips.
Thinking face
Kris lining up for Wiley Creek drop
Wiley Creek hole
Wiley Creek Boof
Dave Mainer setting safety and judging me
Leslie took a great line...
...and styled it!
Bob boofing over a hole
Laughing at my line
Boogie water party
Don't spend too much time under this wall
Bridge Drop with scary wood rip rap
Inflatable OC-2=incredible
Wiley Creek from above
The lead-in to Wiley Creek
Cleanup at the bottom of Wiley Creek
Safety first!
Leslie nailing her line
Always searching for surf holes