Today started off with a whole lot of rain in short bursts. The weather has been highly changeable this weekend, so all we could do was put in and hope for the best out on the water. Man, am I ever glad we did. Immediately after we launched from Roberts bay, the rain let up and a serene hush took over everything: the seas, the landscape and the wind. My VHF radio crackling with unsquelched static was the only thing that broke the silence the first 500m or so out into the bay (more on that later).


So out we paddled to the small islands, known to us as the little group (islets), just beyond these islands. The two islands in the picture are Little shell and Ker Island. Little shell island has a broken down shack with all of the paint sloughing off of it in the northeast quadrant along with a number of weathered pilings. Ker island is lightly forested and looks pretty rugged ad the points. All of the islands we saw were windswept and had a large intertidal zone with rocky outcroppings extending out 10-30 feet off shore (we were at the middle of the tides today). The current was dead calm, running well under 1/2kt according to the GPS.


The group was a bit upset about the weather changing on us. I checked the radio and the forecast was the same as when I left earlier that morning: Winds NE 5-15 shifting to SW 10-20 later in the afternoon. I couldn't put their fears to rest about poor weather attacking us, so we called off circumnavigating coal and played a bit in the little group. They took me to a rocky outcropping they called the sphinx (photo above). After I squinted enough to see it, we headed a bit further south and crossed all the little passages with ease, giving wide berth to the seals resting on the rocks. The current was so slack even perceived disturbances in the water surface couldn't hurt a fly.


A small rain squall came across as we left the little group towards the lee of coal island. The clouds would periodically clear away, and we could see all the local mountains covered in snow. It was a bit chilly and snow was sticking at a few hundred feet. After our crossing to coal, the water was gorgeous and mirror like again. You could see rain drops hitting the ocean and making ripples of their own. We paddled down to killer whale point and decided to go and try Tsehum harbour, a large marina just adjacent to our launch. The second we passed killer whale point the emergency channel on my VHF lit up.


"Anacortes Ferry, Anacortes Ferry, Anacortes Ferry. Can you see a group of kayakers off your starboard bow?"

We looked towards Sidney and tried to get a fix on their position, but it was too far away to see anything as small as a kayaker. John noted the ferry was approaching westbound into Sidney just off one of the islands.

"Anacortes Ferry, Anacortes Ferry, Anacortes Ferry. Can you see a group of kayakers off your starboard bow?"

a pause.

"Vessel hailing Anacortes Ferry, This is Victoria Coast Guard, the captain is standing by on Victoria traffic services channel 11."

I quickly switched to channel 11, but heard no further communication between the kayakers and the ferry as the Ferry sped past the island and into port. I assume they were alright but had some wicked wake to deal with. It's fascinating listening to a situation like that - I was wondering how I'd handle being off the bow of a large vessel like a ferry.


Tsehum harbour was bustling with activity. Boats were coming in and out of the harbour often, so we stayed to the north in Bryden bay and stayed in the rocks where no other boats would dare to go. The wind started to blow a little making some cat's paws on the water. This day was so calm and so welcoming I could have stayed out for another few hours without a moments hesitation. I rounded kingfisher point and poked into the storage area of the harbour. People were busting aboard their boats and the only sounds were of busy cleaning or a tiny squeak of an spinning air exhaust. A few people in the group held back, so once we were finished sightseeing we paddled back and crossed the harbour entrance as a group.


Another rain squall was coming in. We saw a line of boats waiting to enter the harbour, so we quickly pulled up to a moored boat at the entrance so everyone could pass us and keep us in sight. Once the coast was clear, we just paddled around the point and back into Roberts Bay. I watched a Canadian flag on our way back in and the wind had shifted to east southeast, but it was still just a nice breeze. We passed a local out for a paddle on our way back in and she and the others got to talking about kayaks. I took some pictures and reluctantly headed to take-out. Man what a neat place - definitely going to have to spend some quality time out here.

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