Today I intended to go to Cadboro Bay for a quick paddle around the chains, but I'd missed the tide turn and didn't have enough time to go everywhere I wanted. I got everything ready and headed up the highway to Island view beach, which promised a tide turn of an hour later. I got to the beach and realized what a crappy launch point it actually is. With a giant berm in the way of the actual beach and a fairly long walk with a loaded boat, it was kind of beastly just getting to the water safely. The low tide also made for more walking a slippery conditions, so lesson here is don't carry a full boat and try to launch approaching high tide when possible


As I pushed off from the launch point I saw a whole bunch of potential trips. I could circumnavigate James or Sidney island, head north up to Sidney and the groups of islands I've paddled before, go down to Mount Doug or cross to D'Arcy Island. This was really a non-decision, even though a south course would have been wiser, I was going to D'arcy.


D'arcy Island has a fond place in my heart. In high school, our class had chartered a small boat to take us out to the nearest shoal and from there, we rowed into shore in a dinghy. The visit came with learning a sad bit of local history in the area. This island was used as a facility to imprison mostly Chinese lepers in the past. Almost no original written recounts of the treatment of the lepers or day-to-day life in exile exist. This wasn't exactly health management, this was mostly government endorsed sociopathy: Banish those with deteriorating health to an exposed island and allow their disease to kill them off. When our teacher offered to take us to the island to see the ruins of the camp and the "caretaker's" cabin, we were in for intense alienation. I sat on the island taking pictures and trying my best to capture the serene beauty of the place, while somewhere in the back of my mind, I tried to make that mix with what happened here nearly 100 years ago. D'arcy island is somewhat hallowed land to me. It has some of the finest scenery I've seen so far, and yet it has a dirty secret that's unresolved, undocumented and has, for the most part, disappeared into the natural environment. In fact one of the original goals of mine with kayaking was to one day make it back to D'arcy. I feel like I've graduated already.


I left the beach glancing over my shoulder for land marks in case I got nailed by current out in the strait. The weather consisted of: blazing hot sun. 28 degrees, 1014.5 rising pressure and undetectable winds. I'm glad I used lots of sunscreen earlier. There's no running from the sun on the water. I paddled up to the sheer cliffs on the south point of James Island and continued past into a really sweet beneficial current swirling due east between James and Sidney islands. I did relatively few strokes and quickly approached the south tip of Sidney island, lining up for a stop on D'arcy's northern shore.


There are a number of rocks around here and I didn't scrape my hull at the low tide, if I were to do it again, I'd stick to going back the same way I went in. There is a transition between the deep and shallow just to the west of my inbound path where a fairly strong whirlpool and large eddy line live. I ended up going backwards for a second which is not a heartwarming feeling. The rocks are covered in sea life and sea weeds below. As I approached the north shore of D'arcy, I had a good look at the beaches. They are all fairly large pebbles to big sharp rocks. - no signs of sand. I helped my kayak up onto the rocks hearing the fibreglass moan and crackle as I lifted it. She was a little more loaded than usual today.


I hopped up the beach and was greeted by two (to fifteen) bald eagles all making their distinctive chirp in the trees. One managed to swoop right down on the water and bring up a big meal of some thrashing animal - couldn't make out what it was, but it didn't want to be caught. The rocks on the shore here are covered in sea life and trees somehow manage to grow into them and the fine layer of moss and soil that cling there. I had a little water and a light snack and watched the water for noisiness. it would be a short stop on D'arcy this time round as the tide was due to turn on my way back in. The trip this far was nice and comfortable, despite leaving my gloves in the car.


Things were afoot on the water on the way back to the car. I got that funny hands-on-my-hull feeling of the beginning current flow and the I ended up in the power of whirlpool I spoke of earlier. I was lily dipping on the way out, trying to avoid hurting my hands, but this was no time to lily dip.. I was actually watching James get further away and so I just dug in all the way back to James. Being pulled out into Haro was not my plan today. It was a rather strange current, but looking at the charts it kind of makes sense. The water comes up along the coast and then is redirected by the spit of land just north of Island View. Another lesson learned. The best time to leave D'arcy is on an ebb tide, which accounts for the low tide rocks and the beam of current that shoots through Hughes passage.


Returning from James island was a piece of cake with only a few boats to look out for. The air was thick with 2 stroke smoke as a family left the shore in their powered dinghy. A heron was hunting supper on the shore, but was pretty unsuccessful, flying to his next spot a few times before scoring a small bite on an slightly offshore rock. I got back to shore and had to deal with the boat again. This time the situation was a little more annoying, because I was pretty tired. By the time I had the boat all loaded, I was on empty - completely exhausted from exposure and heavy lifting. I headed into town for some grub and just crashed at 7pm. What a Wuss. D'arcy island is definitely in my sights for an overnight camp out.

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