Today was one of those few special days where the current and wind all line up to produce perfectly flat water in normally noisy passages. We started out with the plan of going out to Chatham and discovery to give John and Louise's boats a try in the swell and current, but there wasn't much going on, so the plan evolved into going to the chains and then onward to Gonzales point, or "The Grand Tour."
I'm paddling with a shiny new Werner paddle. After being blown away by the feel of it at Paddlefest in May, I finally stashed enough away in my kayaking budget to buy it. It's a Werner Camano with a 230cm straight shaft. For my paddling style, it was the best on the beach out of about 20 I tested that afternoon. I walked into Ocean River and found it right on the shelf... no ordering necessary. My Aquabound AMT, also a great paddle, is now my backup instead of a $30 canadian tire shovel paddle.
We left from Cadboro Bay at our usual time and had a pretty swift paddle out of the bay and out to Jemmy Jones. The water off Jemmy Jones was laughably flat, so we went right out to Chatham where John started giggling. he remembered a time when ending up out here was nearly unthinkable in their 10 foot rec boats. The whole group now has totally suitable sea kayaks and we were out to the shores of Discovery in under 45 minutes. Suddenly, the air was ripe with the smell of fish heads, and it was this point where we decided to go to the Chains.
Seals kept popping up throughout the day, but the chain islands had a particularly massive density of them. John and I had a field day trying to get some photos. The rocks at the end of summer are covered in a thick layer of bird droppings, which Paula gave the name, "used fish." The water was still dead calm. We all left the chains and started toward shore. I felt trial island calling my name on our way across to oak bay - maybe another time I'll tackle that too - make it a really grand tour. I couldn't convince the group to follow me out to trial, so I hung with them and we found a patch of slightly wavier water near Gonzales point.
Here was a place where they could put those new Deltas to work. Everyone made it across the swells at the transition of Juan de Fuca and Haro and so we went right down to Gonzales point for a little looksee. As we got to the rocks at the point, the current really picked up. There were some short period, choppy waves due to a different wind pattern blowing through JDF. I immediately went out to play in them and found the rest of the group were out there too! This is really heartwarming, actually. It's nice to not be the only one enjoying the waves and I think the bigger boats have helped their confidence with slightly noisier conditions.
As we came back in from the point, we were all back awake. We had to fight the current back up the coast as we were getting to the midway point of the ebb, but the wind was at our backs. The Sunday afternoon boaters were catch a pretty good fair-weather wind. Tons of sailboats and tiny dinghies were skimming right near shore, so we had to make sure to stay close together. As the paddle came to a close, I really started to appreciate the new paddle. Not being sore in the shoulders after paddling is a welcome change. I'm going to try to make a weekday paddle this week and then the big gear up at Ocean River is next Saturday!
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