I’ve been getting fairly serious about kayaking lately. I first started paddling on Parker Island, since there were kayaks available to use, but didn’t really know what I was doing and mostly limited myself to the immediate area of Parker Island. Since moving to Mayne I’d been missing it, so after taking a friend’s boat out a couple of times and loving it I picked up a used Delta 15.5 in February. I’ve also taken a few courses to build my skills and feel comfortable paddling in more the more challenging conditions around Mayne Island.
The main allure of kayaking for me is that it extends my range, allowing me to reach places I hadn’t been able to before, which is a plus as hiking and camping opportunities on Mayne are limited. I’ve done overnighters to D’Arcy (from Sidney), Valdes (from North Galiano), and Tumbo/Cabbage (from Mayne), as well as various day trips. I regularly pop over to Sturdies Bay on Galiano to get take-out Indonesian food. I’m also increasingly enjoying paddling for its own sake and improving my skills.
My latest trip covered the south shore of Prevost, Active Pass, and the north shore of Mayne. I encountered perfect conditions, orcas, beautiful bays with pastoral meadows, the feeling of travelling back in time, and achieved by-far the longest distance I’ve ever covered in one day (29km, according to my GPS). Here’s a map of my route from my GPS track logs:
I started at 1 Village Bay on Mayne at around 6pm on Saturday. The plan was to cross over to Portlock Pt on Prevost, which always feels a bit treacherous on a Summer weekend due to the amount of ferry traffic through the channel. About halfway across, I saw a whale watching vessel rapidly approaching, so I looked around and lo-and-behold, there was another one hanging around Dinner Bay. Ok, must be something worth seeing there, so I sped back toward Mayne and kept a polite distance as I watched a 2 pod of orcas playing around the rocks off Dinner Pt. I was trying to take pictures as they headed north-west along the shore but gave up and decided to just enjoy the show instead. Just as I finished putting my camera away, I heard a loud snort to my left and saw two orcas coming up not more that 5 metres from me! This has to be every paddlers dream (maybe nightmare for some?).
Once the orcas were out of sight, I proceeded to the 3 Red Islets, a couple of islets with some nice shell beaches, where I camped for the night. It was high tide when I arrived and pulled onto a small beach that looked like a good landing site, but in the morning I discovered a major disadvantage: the beach is on a shelf, and at lower tide there was a five foot vertical dropoff to reach the water. I ended up carrying the kayak halfway around the islet to find a put in.
I hadn’t had a plan when I left on Saturday afternoon. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to take the kayak out since I was pretty tired and had some blisters on my fingers from stacking hay the last couple of days. I figured I’d just camp at the Red Islets, have a restful Sunday morning and maybe explore a bit of Prevost and then head back home, but in the morning I was feeling energetic decided I’d continue around Prevost. I paddled along the south shore, enjoying the many bays and coves with pastoral meadows at their heads. I had such a groove going that by lunchtime I’d hatched the idea of continuing through Active Pass.
I stopped for lunch at the 4 James Bay campground, consulted my current atlas and listened to the marine weather forecast, and decided the plan was a go. I wanted to hit Active Pass a little before slack tide when there would still be some flood current to help me through, but not enough to be dangerous. That gave me a couple of hours to kill, so I explored a bit of inland Prevost on foot. I’d seen a lake on my topo map that I wanted to check out, although I didn’t end up having enough time for a swim. Walking on the old tracks through the woods above the fields with cows made me think of what Punch’s valley on Mayne must have been like in the old days, and I’m so glad that most of Prevost still retains that character; it felt like going back in time.
Crossing over to Collinson Pt, I was “racing” a sailboat that was trying to run under sail power in almost no wind. I was beating it handily, when it decided to switch to the motor and soon passed me. This was my first time through Active Pass (although I’ve crossed it several times), and I had a lot of fun with all the eddies and playing on ferry wake. I stopped at 5 Sturdies Bay on Galiano and picked up some take-out Nasi and Bami Goreng at Max & Moritz, the amazing Indonesian/German lunch stand at the ferry terminal, to have for dinner with Alexis after I get home. Originally I’d intended to finish up at Oyster Bay on Mayne, but I was still feeling energetic, the current had switched to a favourable ebb, and it was still early in the afternoon, so I figured I’d just keep going until I felt like stopping. I followed the north shore of Mayne, rounded Edith Point, and finally stopped at 6 Spud Pt at around 6pm. From there it was just a few minutes to home.
I like to listen to audio books while paddling, and finished listening to Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake, the final book of the excellent Titus trilogy. It was written by a contemporary of JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis, who is less well-known but IMO a far superior writer, and who has a very different take on fantasy. I’ve heard it described as Tolkein meats Kafka, but that isn’t the half of it. I’ve also been listening to VALIS by Philip K. Dick, which is just… wow. Wow. I mean, what else can you say? Wow.