This year's WCP outing was OFF the HOOK. This weekend went by so fast I couldn't believe it. I left work a tad early to try and catch the last of the beneficial currents from Sidney to Pender. I got up to Sidney and my anticipation of a flat calm bathtub was simply not happening. the wind meter was registering 17 knot winds and the sea looked a bit too white for my liking. I met up with Mike Jackson at Amherst beach and let him know that I intended to take the ferry. He was totally set to paddle and met me at the island a little later.


As I got to sidney I was kicking myself in the butt sooooo hard. There was nary a wave anywhere in the protection of the gulf islands, but I was committed to take the ferry with the ticket on my dash indicating a 2 hour wait.. and I was still in my wetsuit :(. A pretty boring, but pretty, ferry ride later and I was putting in on North Pender, a 2km paddle to the campsite.


It was late as I rolled into camp and just off my bow was Mike Jackson's boat. He beat me to Pender! He told me that as soon as he passed dock island (only a few km off of Sidney), everything went calm and the paddling up to Pender was just fine. Ohhh well.. there's always next year. I set up camp in the dark and headed down to the beach to gab about everything with some of the folks I never get to see outside of fun kayak camping trips!


Next morning, I was collecting my thoughts after waking up late and people were already loading up their boats for the afternoon. I got changed, ate a bagel and jumped in the boat. The morning was just perfect for paddling, lightly overcast with beams of light on the hillsides. We were going to circumnavigate the south Island. I laughed to myself as I paddled thinking of how arduous his journey was last year in the driving sleet.


We arrived at the fixed bridge that connect the artificially distinct north and south islands that make up Pender. The low tide under the bridge exposed a huge abundance of sea stars, tube worms, river otters, jumping fish and all kinds of other sea life. Further along you could see clams, geoducks and oysters spitting big streams of water into the fresh morning air.


There were seven of us in a nice tight pack with a good pace. No one was getting left in the dust as we paddled around the east side of shore. The clouds were starting to break up a bit and sunlight was hitting some of the really ugly housing developments on the cliffs of east err south pender. The houses seriously look like commercial buildings.


As we were paddling along we had these strange birds in our sights. They were too busy eating tiny fish to even car about us. Hundreds of them wound their way along the coast and out to Saturna Island. They're called Bonaparte's Gulls and they really look like miniature seagulls except for a black head and a sharp pointed black beak. They also have an unusual squawking noise. It was pretty cool being in the middle of the feeding frenzy.

More on them here! :)


We found a nice, sandy lagoon on the south part of the island and pulled out for lunch. The group just got quieter and quieter as the sun and brisk air had us all chilling out. I cooked on the beach and walked down to see our little lagoon filling back up with water. You could actually watch the water creeping up the shallow channels in the sand. We left the quiet little beach and finally ended up back at camp to find it nearly deserted.


With a warm sun and no where to go, I had a seat on the beach and drifted off into some much needed shut eye. Eventually our friends drifted back from their outings and everyone was getting hungry. It was about that point that the sailing kayak showed up. Dude had his boat rigged with two spirit sails and modified laser sail so he could go upwind. Needles to say it was a hot topic when he got out of his boat.


It was dinner time, and the tradition seems to be a giant potluck on saturdy night. Last year I brought pepperoni sticks .. this year? pastrami, cheese and crackers. People made all kinds of food. brownies seem to be the first to some to mind. At one point the table was full of them. by the end, there were just crumbs.


The folks at West Coast Paddler rewarded their more active forum members with all kind of neat paddling gear and we all pretty much had a laugh at their expense. Here's Andreas modeling his new Seal Line backpack. A collection of John Kimantas book went to a very grateful Greg N. As the awards wrapped up, the night closed in and everyone didn't make it much past 11pm.


The next morning I was a total zombie. I guess not enough water and some strange sleep walking must have occurred. I had a pretty bad headache that the Advil wasn't touching at all. I basically dragged myself down to my boat and began drinking all the water left in my 5 gallon bag inside the stern hatch. Griping aside, it was another absolutely beautiful day and by about noon, I was feeling a lot better.


The beach cleared out again as everyone began to leave. One group was just moving camp to Portland Island, another was heading to Saturna and I was just taking it slow, trying to spend a few hours in the sunlight. I paddled over to my car with Dan, the owner of the WCP site, to get him a replacement wheel for his kayak cart. Somehow along the way he had a blowout. While at the car, I unloaded the boat, and headed back to the campsite to paddle around a bit more. I headed out to poet's cove and then returned to the van slowly.


Exhaustion was creeping up on me and by the time I got to the ferry dock I was bushed. I had arrived to early for food and there was this big bee in the bathroom, so I just nodded off in the car. When I came to, delicious burgery smells were wafting my way. I stumbled down to the burger stand and ordered every possible meat I could on it. I did not regret anything about this entire weekend.

Trip Distance: 30km

YTD: 144km

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