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I set off this morning to meet some of the people from Kayak Yak Yak, a local blog about sea kayaking in the area. I've been reading their posts since about mid august and living vicariously while I was saving for a kayak of my own. Today I had the pleasure of meeting Bernie, Paula and Alison and we went for a nice, relaxed paddle around Esquimalt harbour. Thanks for the warm welcome, guys!



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I arrived at the beach a tad early and didn't see anyone around, so I watched the estuary for a bit and then just headed to the beach to find out where to meet. I saw kayaks coming through the trees at the bend in the road, so I drove over to meet the owners on the northmost part of the beach. I met Bernie and Paula first and had a photo op and then Alison drove up shortly after. I think we were all mutually excited to see one another. And The wind was low and the water looked inviting so we geared up and launched into the shallow sandbar. Once we were all safely on the water, we headed through the shallows towards the harbour.



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As we came around the lighthouse at the mouth of the bay, the clouds began to gather. We worked our way past some of the military properties and into more of the private mooring areas further north. I was stunned by some of the condition of the privately moored boats, though. They made for fantastic photos, but I don't know how much longer some of them will be seaworthy. It'll be interesting to return periodically to check them out again.



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In the northwest corner of the bay is a smaller waterway marked by an overhead car bridge. We paddled up the extremely shallow body of water to see how far we could make it before grounding out on the silty sand. The scenery began to change from an active marine environment full of concrete and sand bars to a decidedly more rocky and rustic wilderness interrupted by few signs of life. Got me wondering what kind of wildlife lived here - I could only hear distant birds. It ended up being navigable all the way until the falls at the end. Bernie charged into the current coming down the right hand bank until it became impassable with rocks. You could hear his boat bouncing off the rocks on his way back to where we were holding - looked like fun, but I valued my hull a bit too much to try it.



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I had a look around for birds in the binoculars and didn't see anything but tree mosses and the clouds going by. I slid down the current and landed on a sandbar a few meters away in order to dry off the camera housing a bit, but I ended up just smearing more water on it. Everyone else came down after sharing some snacks and we headed back out to sea. The tide had been on the ebb this morning, so the going was getting very shallow. eventually it was clear we were all aground on pretty dirty sand/soil. Every stroke lifted black muck all over the boat. So Bernie backed up and went exploring for a path through it and I quickly followed having little desire to portage. We found a nice deep pocket of water and rode it all the way back to the harbour.



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I think we all went into autopilot mode for a kilometer or so, taking pics, chatting and enjoying the surroundings. We were just paddling at an idle back the way we came and suddenly two military powerboats came roaring into the harbour and woke us all up . Suddenly we had more vigor and we began paddling a bit faster. We cruised to the outer edge of the harbour and saw two large flotillas to the south east and southwest. They had magically appeared when we turned our backs. We rounded the lighthouse again and went for the home stretch. but first there was a fun little tidal race to play in as if this wasn't already a great trip.



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This was the first time I'd been in surf in a kayak and man what a hoot! It was just little baby waves. They were totally nonthreatening, because the water depth would have let you do a roll just by hitting the sand below the boat with your fist. I rode the first set and thought: it's time to do that again. I looked back and everyone else was charging back into the waves. I took a few runs through the waves yelling "woo hoo" and such, and then suddenly I was in some kind of weird reflection and my boat cut through the first wave and turned sharply for the next - very nearly stabbing a seagull in the skull. As I rode the last wave in, I was beached hard on the shallow sandbar. I got out and dragged the boat away from the waves. Once everyone was ashore, we put the boats back on the cars and headed off to Timmy's for lunch.



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The boat was still just as dialed in as yesterday and I'm really happy to see that I can keep up with everyone even if at a leisurely pace. For 18 feet, it performed admirably in the narrower sections of the trip. It attacked the waves and even getting little breakers broadside wasn't alarming. That paddle is made of magic. I still don't feel like a paddled 10 or 11k today, and yesterday's fun on Thetis didn't even enter into it. Thanks again to all the members of Kayak yak yak for putting together some great reading and local knowledge. I hope to go to some more of their get-togethers in the near future.


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