Adventures on the Blue


Man I've been waiting for this talk with massive amounts of anticipation. A few weeks back, tickets went on sale by the good folks at Siska for a talk by Shawna and Leon, two of the three members involved in a filmed expedition around (and through) The Queen Charlotte Islands. Held at the University of Victoria, the 280 person capacity hall was filled almost completely by so many familiar faces in the Kayaking community. To start off the night's lecture, we were first treated to an overview from a former Haida Gwaii Visitor center manager, Maureen Weddell.

Paula won a door prize

In a way, I'm really glad that her lecture went first, as it was a great primer to those not completely familiar with the geography of the archipelago. Maureen Weddell was in charge of the center during Shawna and Leon's paddle and was one of the many contacts they made on their trip. Her presentation was simple and clear: A large map sat projected behind her as she spoke mostly about what to know about the economy, people and places in the area. Her portion of the talk was fairly brief and really informative, especially concerning Skidegate, Masset and Queen Charlotte.

Shawna and leon take the stage

Following a brief door prize raffle, Shawna and Leon took to the stage and worked quickly to get their presentation started. It turns out that they took a month to do a figure 8 of Haida Gwaii and every bit of it except maybe the west coast swells has been added to my kayaking checklist at some point. They're super entertaining speakers, keeping the whole place laughing and ohhing and awing with their photographic fireworks. It sounds like they definitely did the trip properly, though - save for a few malfunctioning movie cameras.

The kayak that did the charlottes

Some of the highlights of the talk were the bit on Langara island's little fishing commerce ecosystem. The flashed a few photos of this mobile marine operation that would tow a floating hotel from Vancouver out to the northwest shore of Graham Island and quickly dispatch fishing charters and helicopters in all directions in the hunt for wild salmon shoals to fish. The nature of this operation was transient and kind of disturbing for the surrounding environment. On a cultural note, in addition to meeting famous contemporary Haida carvers and jewellers in Masset and beyond, there's another story of previous explorers of Haida Gwaii. On the south shore of Moresby island, there are a number of emergency pull outs with cabins to evade bad weather. They showed a number of photos of this area as well as some of the beaches, that just look out of this world! This talk was a perfect follow up for those who have watched the Haida Gwaii part of This is the Sea 4. I can't thank the Siska members enough enough for putting it on and letting this interesting bunch tell us a little about the area and how to plan.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments


Today's excursion reminds me why every time I visit portage inlet I just keep coming back for more with an even bigger grin on my face. With it's tributaries snaking all over Victoria and Esquimalt, there's so much to see, and all added together, it can make for a rather lengthy paddle. It's been nearly two months since my boat's hull was wet in local waters and nearly that long since I've met with my friends from kayakyak. I've been out and about doing all the things I love: scootering down to California, hiking the mountains in Banff, riding the MS bike tour, experiencing that odd smell in Manhattan, flyfishing in gold river as well as rewriting one of my side project sites. It's been an insane summer!


The whole gang was at the beach promptly at 9 and we all gazed out over a serene sea in the morning light - all of the colors of autumn mirrored on the surface. The tide was just finishing it's ebb to low tide and John and I launched to have a go at the Tillicum bridge while Paula and Louise got ready for paddling. We regrouped back at the kayak club beach and headed up to portage inlet caching a brief deer sighting in one of the vacant lots along the Gorge.


Portage inlet was shining with sunlight muted and yellowed slightly by a light fog. People were just waking up and milling about their yards along the waterfront. The eelgrass that was there earlier in the year is nearly all gone save for a few pieces that stuck to my paddle here and there. Over the last two days, there had been a fairly good rainfall which had left a lot of water for us to explore in the watershed that feeds into portage inlet. We started by paddling Colquitz creek.


We were able to get much further up the river than I had been last time I came out this way. these little creeks are amazing fun to explore by kayak! all the little hidden bridges and meandering waterways take you to unexpected places. Colquitz River was not navigable around Tillicum Mall - too many branches sticking out across the creek. We turned around and headed back to the inlet passing all the sunken docks and lower rent waterfront housing along the shore.


Back in Portage inlet, the group paddled straight down the center to the far shore to the west. We met a group of adult swans and their juvenile swanlings (no longer chicks and showing the beginnings of adult plumage). Craigflower creek was our next stop, another place that's very difficult to pass at low water. I kept noticing fish thrashing around while we were paddling in the creek, but it wasn't until we got under the highway's drainage tunnel that we realized that the salmon were migrating up the creek for spawning.


The others held back a bit but I decided to paddle a little closer to the falls and watch the fish. They were interesting looking salmon and the CRD website confirms this is a coho habitat, "Coho salmon regularly spawn in Craigflower Creek, sometimes as far upstream as Prior Lake." In these shallows, the fish's dorsal fins and back would clear the waterline. a few swam around the boat and then back upriver - I dared not move while they were around.


The paddle ended with a beautifully scenic and technical navigation back out to the inlet. The wind had picked up a little from the south and the current was coming in fast as expected. With little to say, the group paddled quietly back to the Kayak club clubhouse to take out. We headed up to John's place for some of Paula's handmade cinnamon rolls and coffee :) What a great way to kick off a Sunday!

Trip Distance: 16km

YTD: 264km

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Monday, October 19, 2009 Leave a Comment 1 comment


Heh.. so when is a sailboat a ship? Earlier in the day, we were pondering this very question. This boat has masts so large they dwarf most of the buildings on the Victoria skyline. I was more than dazzled, so I ran home from work and put in at the VCKC beach. The light was already beautiful and only a light wind rustled the trees.


I thought I'd try to beat the current today even though there was a fairly swift flood under Tillicum bridge. With some nice whirlpools and whitewater, I was ready to try to push through it. fortunately It appears a lot worse than it is and though I lost a little speed, I was on the other side in no time. I paddled down the gorge and ran into a whole fleet of students flocking the upper harbour.


I pulled through all crowd of people and a few rowboats and swiftly got down to the blue bridge, the giant boats' masts already clearly visible. There was a whole lot of traffic arriving when I decided to cross. Mini ferries, sports fishing boats and sea planes all just doing their thing. I pulled up alongside the huge sailboat and the name struck me pretty quick: Perini Navi - maker of one of the most ridiculous luxury sailing vessels I've seen - the Maltese Falcon (yours for a measly $100 million euros BTW).


This boat was named the Tamsen, a 170ft ketch (with a 160ft mast). It's got quite the sailplan - I don't even want to know the square footage. The lucky owners were out on deck with a can of polish cleaning up all the brightwork. this is a pretty unusual sight in the Inner Harbour. After picking up the slack in my jaw, I paddled back up to VCKC hut for take out. A fantastic sunset awaited me as I put the kayak on the roof.

Trip Distance: 8km

YTD: 248km

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Thursday, October 15, 2009 Leave a Comment 1 comment


Suddenly it's fall.. time to catch up my logs. I'll keep these guys brief as my memory of them is fleeting at best. :) On a balmy Day in July, I set out with Paula for a short paddle out to Cadboro point, one of our common spins. With no weather is sight for miles, we had a great day on glassy water and headed out to Baynes.


Baynes Channel was flowing a little bit, but nothign to fierce. We padled out to the point and really only saw a few birds.. I'll chalk this one up as exercise more than anything transcendent. Take away point: short paddle, beautiful day.

Trip Distance: 5km

YTD: 240km

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments
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