I've been jonesing for a trip out to the chain islets and today was my lucky day. Today a surprise guest came out - Bernie! His boat's almost done after a really sweet restoration process, so in the meantime he was paddling his Pamlico for fun and profit. I arrived to unusually calm winds and a cloudless sky. We put in and decided which adventure would find us. It was soon agreed, we'd go visit great chain island - a long low blue smudge on the empty horizon.


Bernie was sporting a new (to my eyes) Greenland paddle today, it was significantly lighter than others I've tried.. oh did I mention I tried it? Bernie handed me his GP stick as we left the bay. I proceeded to make an ass of myself by paddling it as high and hard as I could. According to the gps, all that ridiculous paddling got me nowhere fast. I really wasn't in a training mood at that point, but it's always neat to try out new gear. After blowing a few sculling strokes and botching up the Inuit style of it all, I handed it back to Bernie's capable hands.


It was just as I handed it back that we became alarmed about a rather large tug and its rather large cargo heading directly toward us. Bernie had the presence of mind to suggest it was actually taking Baynes channel. We had to quickly scoot out of its way and hang out near the light at fiddle reef. The tide book predicted little to no current running through the channel and it was mostly correct. Fiddle reef had few tidal features near it. The tug passed and I paddled hard into the wake to feel alive or something. I caught a sweet ebbing tide that took me quickly to the chains. I looked behind me and saw Bernie and Paula hanging out in an upwelling near a light just north of the islands. The current looked formidable, but it was weak as hell. I'm not sure what was going on, but this is an area known for lots of overfalls, so it was probably a few points of water pressure that made it look scary.


I paddled back to Bernie and Paula after snapping a few pics of the bird island. Turns out the green patches we saw a few stories back was a rather large shrubbery of some manner. I'm not sure how it grows in such nutrient starved environments, but it probably has something to do with doo doo. We regrouped and headed toward Harris island. The current was pushing us around a bit now, so the tide tables were correct if not a bit late. The sky was starting to turn golden and the group headed into oak bay marina for a looksee. Here's where we met the skipper of whale's way.


At first we missed him in the sunlight, but he came over and broke the ice while clinging to his boat's deck lines. We asked him about the boat and 40 minutes later we knew about the boat. I'll try to squeeze it into this parag


raph. So this boat's from Toronto and it came to BC the long way. He sailed east through the Suez canal paying off Muslim officials with Marlboros and a mud puddle scotch called "100 pipers" (from scotland). Sometimes they would finish a carton of cigarettes during their business visit and ask for one for the road. Keep in mind, this is 1998-1999. He then wanted to show his crew/family eastern Europe, so they took on the Danube river in winter. Great idea till it froze over and left them icebound until March, and once free they arrived in Belgrade just in time for NATO forces to arrive and bomb the hell out of the country. So they went to leave Belgrade after seeing approximately none of it and found themselves waiting on police to clear them to leave. At one point, a gestapo style secret police official in full regalia drops by to order his papers. They tell this particular official that they've already been cleared to leave to which he responds, "I'M IN THE GOVERNMENT, I KNOW EVERYTHING!" and storms away. a few bricks shit later, he comes back and orders them to be in another town 6 hours later. They concede that the boat is simply not fast enough to make it; it will take nearly 12 hours. He seems upset and says that will not do. they ask why. he responds, "BECAUSE THE AMERICANS HAVE ONLY AGREED TO STOP BOMBING THE RIVER FOR 6 HOURS!"


The man's lucky to be two things. Canadian and alive. Bernie was the first to notice we were seriously running out of light. We had to drag ourselves from story time and get back to shore. It was a gentle bit of kayaking back to the beach and I sat and gabbed with Paula and Bernie for a few more hours in their cool little beach house. We even went further away than I thought, so extra bonus.

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