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Nanaimo to Polkinghorn Island | Aug 19
It's 7 PM and we are in the Polkinghorn Islands. We were dropped off by James Willson and his water taxi "Rainbow Chaser" about an hour ago, on a rocky islet on the leeward side of the main Polkinghorn Island. From our drop off spot we had only a short five-minute paddle over to Polkinghorn Island where we are making camp tonight.
We are about one and a half hours into our week-long kayak trip and already were wondering if we're going to survive this trip. It is a trip that seems ill fated!!
We arrived in Port McNeil for our 4pm meet up with the water taxi. We unloaded our gear from the car and carried it down onto the wharf. James Willson, of Silver King Water Taxi, arrived and taxied us across Queen Charlotte Straight, crashing through the swell and over the waves. When we reached Polkinghorn Island, her nosed the boat up to an rocky islet where we unloaded. We hauled our bags around the runner boards of the boat, across the bow and onto the rock, making numerous trips until all our gear was off. Last to come off the boat were the kayaks and then we stood and watched as he pulled away and out of sight.
Left alone on the rocks, we turned to our kayaks to load up for the short paddle to camp. Rachel pulled off her hat cover and groaned. There were no neoprene gasket covers under the hard shell covers. Nothing to really make a water seal on the storage holds. Not a good start to our week long trip!
We loaded our gear in, somewhat haphazardly into the bulkheads and then ventured out. It was only 5 minutes before we were pulling up onto the beach in a small cove on Polkinghorn Island. Scott climbed out of his kayak and ventured up on to the beach small area. There was nothing that looked definitely about the tide line so he stepped into a small clearing in the salal and came out into a grassy clearing which would be our camp for the night.
We unloaded all our gear and pulled the kayaks up onto the headland. We put up the tent and then went to change out of our shorts and wet shoes. Oh no! Rachel had somehow missed packing her socks and Scott had not packed his fleece. Wow! How unprepared are we!? How did this get by us? I'll tell you how - because we were rushed. We only got home from Oregon on Friday afternoon and then we had to get our rental trailer ready for a change of tenants the next day. When that was taken care of, we did our packing on Saturday night before Rachel left for Williams Lake on Sunday morning, not to return to Nanaimo again until late Monday evening. We then finished our packing that evening (or thought we did) and went to bed. We got up at 6:30 in the morning, loaded up the car, tied the kayaks on top, dropped the dog off at the dog sitters (forgetting to take his bed for him) and then hit the road for Port McNeil.
As we were driving up the Island Highway, Rachel got out her GoPro which she had just bought an Oregon, so that she can familiarize yourself with it. As she was playing with it and going through the box and accessories, she realized that somehow the WiFi remote had been separated from the rest of the gear and left behind. Another thing left behind! As we pulled through Campbell River we stopped in at Walmart, London Drugs and Target to buy another one, but they didn’t have any.
Further up the highway, Rachel pulled out the maps and guidebook to read up on where we were going to be paddling. Before we go on a trip like this, we take these resources to Staples and we copy the sections that are applicable to where we're going to be traveling so that we don’t have to carry more than we need, and so that the originals remain in good condition. Well, Rachel began flipping through the 50 pages of guidebook to find the section on the Polkinghorn Island area, but the copies seemed to end right at that part. The guidebook seems to be organized in an non-intuitive way, jumping all around, but we were sure that we had photocopied the whole two chapters that cover the Johnstone Straight and Broughton Islands but we were apparently short of some. Scott didn’t seem to be too rattled by this, but Rachel was a little concerned.
Now that we are here, Scott is making us dinner. He lit up the stove but it isn't burning well. The flame is orange instead of blue, and the jet is not putting out much. Sure enough, he is able to fix it, but there are a few cuss words flying around and it is one more thing that's going wrong.
While Scott is working on the stove Rachel has sat down to do the journal. Out comes the phone and the Bluetooth keyboard, but the keyboard has never been paired with this phone before and for some reason the two aren’t finding each other. We've lost count now. Is that ill fate number 8? I think so: 1)dog bed, 2) WiFi GoPro remote, 3) map description, 4) kayak hatch covers, 5) socks, 6) fleece, 7) stove, 8) keyboard.
While Scott has gone off to take find his rain jacket (so he can layer up) Rachel has dug out the low tech pen and paper. Pray for us. Hopefully will make it back to Telegraph Cove alive in 6 days time.
I may have made this sound rather doom and gloom, and when we initially arrived, Rachel was certainly feeling that way. She was so anxious about the trip that she was nearly in tears. But, now that we are both on our second cup of wine, the food smells good, Rachel has on a pair of Scott’s socks, Scott is layered up with his rain jacket, and the wind has died down and we have devised a plan for dealing with the hatch covers. Things don’t seem quite so bad. We are sitting her looking out at the view toward Vincent and Percy Island, with a section of the mainland behind, and we marvel at the beauty that surrounds us. It is nearing dusk and we are now looking forward to a great week of paddling.
We just got back from our first-ever sea kayaking adventure, spending 6 days exploring the Canadian southern Gulf Islands. We had a great time and are slowly getting our journal online. We thought we'd post what we have, as family and friends might like to read about the adventure, as it unfolded. Cheers! (Busily working away at spell-checking and such)
First-Ever Kayaking Trip: Canadian Southern Gulf Islands
Descriptive and entertaining entry about how lucky we are to have such a wonderfully diverse, rich and popular sea kayaking destination right in our own backyard. Till such time as I cobble all that together, just pop on in and read about our recent 6-day kayaking trip.
Though we're no strangers to camping, backpacking, cycle-touring and other outdoor adventure ... this was our first time traveling by sea kayak. We can laugh now at some of our mistakes, preconceptions and landlubbing ways, but make no mistake - we had a great time and we're hooked! There will be many more sea kayaking adventures in our future (and Alex's too, though she missed this one, away with her maternal grandparents and having her own summer adventure at Watch Lake).
Note: The text is a bit raw, at this point, as I've only run it through the spell-checker - still need to go through and finalize it. (Three cheers to Rachel for all her hard work writing the journal!! Yippee! Yippee! Yippee!)
- Intro Text | Pictures
- Day 0 Text | Pictures
- Day 1 Text | Pictures
- Day 2 Text | Pictures
- Day 3 Text | Pictures
- Day 4 Text | Pictures
- Day 5 Text | Pictures
- Day 6 Text | Pictures
- Slide Show
- Resources & Planning
On an unseasonably warm & sunny November day, Rachel & Scott paddled their new sea kayaks to DeCourcy Island, 6-kilometer offshore Vancouver Island. DeCourcy Island is home to Pirates Cove Marine Park and has a rich history, including buried treasure! (DeCourcy Island maps, photos and tales "Brother Twelve", Canada's notorious cult leader)
Blue Heron Park to Pirate's Cove Marine Park, on DeCourcy Island
After two years of living in Yellow Point, we finally bit the bullet and bought two ocean-touring kayaks. They are both used kayaks, obtained from a 2008 rental fleet sale at local outfitter (Alberni Outpost). They're both bomb-proof, made of tough, durable roto-molded plastic. We haven't acquired all the accompanying gear (we still need spray-skirts, for example), but were eager to plunk them in the water for a test paddle.
A week ago, the stars and planets aligned, so we took a 12-kilometer round-trip paddle from Yellow Point (putting in at Blue Heron Park), paddling 6 kilometers across the Stuart Channel, to explore Pirate's Cove Marine Park, on DeCourcy Island. Alex was in day-care and kindergarten for the day. Rachel was scheduled to attend a B.C. Nurses Union meeting, but it was canceled at the last minute. Even the weather cooperated; after four days of rain, the skies cleared and it was a sunny, unseasonably warm November day. Wow! We just had to get out of the house before the November rain and drizzle returned.
It took us a while to get organized, tossing Rachel's blue Necky "Elaho HV" Necky "Elaho HV" Kayak Rachel's Necky "Elaho HV" kayak. The "HV" means "High Volume". Necky added 3 inches to the length and width of the cockpit of a regular "Elaho", making entering and exiting easier. This roto-molded plastic touring kayak is made by Necky (in Washington State). It offers outstanding turn response, good leaning & solid edging. It's narrower than most touring boats, which lowers its initial stability, but increases handling and performance. (Necky no longer manufactures the Elaho line). The Elaho HV is 17-feet long, 22.5-inches wide, weighs 63 pounds and can carry 325 pounds. The metal rudder is standard. kayak and Scott's mango Current Designs "Storm" Current Designs "Storm" Kayak Scott's Current Designs "Storm" kayak. The "Storm" is a lively, rugged & affordable touring kayak. It's designed to handle tremendous abuse. Built by Current Designs, the Storm is a roto-molded polyethylene kayak. The model underwent a major design fine-tuning in 2004 and sports a new hatch system & rudder controls. The deck fittings are recessed and have full perimeter deck lines. It's a very stable and rugged performing touring kayak. The Storm is 17-feet long, 24-inches wide, weighs 63 pounds and can carry up to 400 pounds. Click the link for the Current Designs website & more about the Storm kayak. kayak onto the roof rack of the Honda Accord. We packed a lunch and drove three or four kilometers, from our house, along Yellow Point Road, to Blue Heron Park, where we dunked the boats in the water and began our paddle over to DeCourcy Island and Pirates Cove Marine Park.
To find out more about DeCourcy Island, our kayak trip and Pirates Cove Park (with maps) .... carry on ...