After a couple tries on salt water in rather terrible kayaks and gear, I went up to Cowichan Lake with a few of my friends and had a great time on the water in some big ol' rec boats. We departed from a little kayak shop called Aquatica of the worlds nuttiest dock. The dock floated at about a 20 degree angle and moved freely in the water - it's no wonder it was still attached to shore. Getting in the boats was still quite a learning experience, but we managed to get in and settled. Heading up the river to Cowichan Lake was a light paddle into a bit of current and some surprisingly shallow water. Eventually we ended up at the weir - a dam that controls the flow down the river during the summer. None of us had any clue how to deal with the boat lock off to the side, so we paddled around a bit in front of the dam going "is this it? it's this as far as we can go?"


Luckily we had some help from some canoeists unpacking their gear on the shore. "Go pull the string!" Sure enough right in front of the big iron lock door, there was a string hanging down. We maneuvered under the string and pulled. We could hear a distant bell ring. The door wasn't opening. Then we read a sign above the door telling us to stay back a ways. as soon as we moved back, the giant door opened allowing a rush of water out underneath us. Can you believe they want to automate this?! I was feeling pretty glad it wasn't automated at that point or we would have probably gotten a bit wet.


We had a helpful voice up above help us navigate into the boat lock and talk to us about cowichan lake. She let us know about the weir and what it controls. She told us where to paddle to and then slowly operated the lift so we wouldn't get turned around with inrushes of current from the doors opening and closing. When the door opened to the other side it was clear that this was a huge lake. We paddled quickly to the main marina and stuck to the shore.


The weather wasn't really clearing, it was in a holding pattern of fog and tiny patches of blue sky. We got to the marina and asked for directions noting all the speed boats whizzing by and kicking up wake. The people on the dock chuckled together and said, "with these idiots?" visibly upset by the other boaters flying by, "I'd stay to the side and make sure they can see you. good luck." So we paddled down the lake and noticed the afternoon breeze picking up. We decided we had paddled far enough into the wind and decided to cross the lake hoping to get in the lee.


The crossing was done properly, we all went at the same time and stayed together. A boat in the distance saw us crossing and gave us plenty of berth. We got to the other side, and the wind was a bit lighter in the protection of the hill. We paddled a bit further down to see what we could. Eventually we started running out of time on our rentals, so we headed back in along the shore.


Before we left, Sarah thought she'd show us how she could keep her balance and stand up in her kayak. So we gathered round to watch her give it a go. She almost made it, too. :)

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