An epic sea kayaking adventure down the west coast of Canada.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Trip Log Part 3: Central Coast

Day 14 – Roar Islet to Islet 48
Date: July 9
Distance: 12 nautical miles
Duration:    hours
Actual conditions:

We woke up to a nice sunrise and the howling of wolves.  It sounded like quite a lot of them and quite close. We left our Islet before high tide.  We crossed Seaforth Channel and stopped at the cabin at the entrance to Gale Passage just to check it out.  We then went through Gale Passage around high slack.  The tidal rapids were still flowing but were easy to negotiate with a section of strong currents and some small waves going into the central lagoon area. We played in the eddies and surfed a couple of small waves before going into the lagoon.  In the lagoon it was totally silent with no wind or waves. The reflections on the water were stunning.  We didn’t hear any animal or bird sounds either.  We paddled over giant kelp and then paddled against the current coming out - it was still flowing in gently to fill the central lagoon, but we could paddle up the current without problems. I think we timed it about perfectly.  We saw several sea otters just before camp and a baby as well.  It swam behind us staying on the surface of the water and it cried out once.  We had fog in the morning.  This is the first day in a long while that we actually had proper sunshine when we got to camp.  We pulled up on a little beach that connects two little islands at the south end of Stryker, referred to as Islet 48 in the Wild Coast book.  There are beautifully rocky islands with sculpted trees on top.  This may be one of Kayaker Bill’s camps.  We saw 13 bald eagles today.  There were several very vocal ravens at camp.  At high tide the two islands are separated by water.  We pitched our tent on one and tied our boats and hung our food on the other, because it was easier that way and the high was in the middle of the night.

Surfing small standing waves in Gale Passage

Reflections in the central lagoon in Gale Passage

Slender/northern kelp crabs

Shortly after arriving at Islet 48

Big cat tracks across the beach

Fog burning off at Islet 48

Fog burning off at Islet 48

From Islet 48 at low tide

Low tide at Islet 48


Pilgrims in the sunshine

Jonathan playing some tunes in the evening

Looking south from Islet 48

Kirti gets a well earned massage

A lovely evening at Islet 48

Day 15 –Islet 48 to the Serpent Group
Date: July 10
Distance: 25 nautical miles
Duration:  7 hours with one land stop for two minutes
Actual conditions: Good visibility, no wind, flat, mirror calm with no swell

At one point we couldn’t even see the horizon line.  The area we paddled through today is very healthy for sea otters.  They are abundant.  You could hear them pounding shells on rocks with a clack, clack, clack.  We had beautiful early morning light peaking through.  We ended up going inside of Spider Island because of a little swell and clapotis that was making Jenny feel sick.  We paddled to Triquet  and saw a raft of 43+ sea otters.  There were 2 kayaks on the beach at Triquet and we didn’t see the kayakers. There were boats moored off the other bays, so we pushed on to the Serpent Island Group.  These islands were steep granite monoliths rising from the ocean like fortresses being pounded by the waves.  Rocks along the shore were covered with barnacles and muscles.  We paddled to a white sandy beach and actually found hidden sand above high tide.  It was around a corner, protected midway through a passage to the other side.  There are pretty wildflowers here; columbine, Indian paintbrush, bluebells and purple flowers as well.  Hummingbirds buzzed to the columbine.   Its a magical spot.

On the water at first light

Beautiful calm conditions in the early morning

Sea and sky merge into one

Jenny in the kelp

Practicing for paddling tandem

Heading for the Serpent Group after leaving Triquet

Kirti arriving at the Serpent Group

White sand in the cove at camp

Kirti ready to haul boats

Happy camper

Drift wood at camp

Smooth pink scallop

Camp at low tide

Blue-eyed grass


Looking south from the Serpent Group

Jenny and Kirti in the kitchen

Camp at low tide

Day 16 – The Serpent Group to Fury Island
Date: July 11
Distance: 32 nautical miles
Duration:  8 1/2 hours with one land stop for lunch
Actual conditions: Good visibility, calm conditions with wind picking up in the evening

We entered Hakai passage and didn’t have the current with us as we had planned (and as the current tables had predicted - perhaps due to extreme fresh water run-off affecting the timing).  We crossed it and went to the North end of Hecate Island and then crossed Fitz Hugh Sound.  Ferries and cruise ships went by as we navigated down Fitz Hugh Sound.  We saw several motor boats and sailboats. We did have current with us most of the way down Fitz Hugh Sound.  We saw 29 Bald Eagles.  Our camp was on a beautiful shell beach at Fury Island in Penrose Island Marine Park.  A cove nearby had many boats anchored in it.  People zoomed around in dingies.

Early morning start from the Serpent Group

Leaving the Serpent Group at first light

Kirti heading toward Hakai Passage

Jon near the Breaker Group, Hakai Passage

Kirti near the Breaker Group, Hakai Passage

A lovely lunch spot in Fitz Hugh Sound

Our lunch spot in Fitz Hugh Sound

Arriving at camp

Intermediate staging point for the kayaks at camp

Shell beach at camp

Jenny with a small piece of drift wood

Sunset from camp

Day 17–Fury Island to Open Bight near Kelp Point
Date: July 12
Distance: 8 nautical miles
Actual conditions: Cloudy with a bank of fog moving around.

We saw a few humpback whales on our long crossing to Kelp Point.  We decided to camp at Open Bight rather than go further and rounding Cape Caution because our weather forecast said a storm was moving in and bringing 25 knot winds and swell to 3 meters by noon.   We landed on a nice sandy beach that had wolf tracks everywhere.  We built a platform and bench seat out of drift wood for the kitchen shelter and prepared to ride out the storm. It never materialized and we could easily have paddled on.  We finished the book “Born to Run”.  There were some interesting shells on this beach.  It rained in the evening and through the night.   We collected water streaming off the shelter to filter later.  Several fishing boats circled in our bay. One guy repeatedly hammered on the fish he had caught, screaming "Die! Die! Die!" at the top of his lungs. We started to think it might be hard for us to adapt to people again.

The tent ready for more rainy weather

Looking down the beach at Open Bight


The beach at Open Bight

Giant Pacific Chiton

One of Jenny's collections

Kitchen shelter and bench set up

Kirti by the kitchen

Looking north east from camp

Who drew these trees in the sand?

Jonathan sitting out the rain in the kitchen

Day 18–Open Bight near Kelp Point to Burnett Bay
Date: July 13
Distance: 21 nautical miles
Duration:  No land stops
Actual conditions: Slight wind against, dense fog, zero visibility

We set off early (5:00 am) and paddled hard to get around Cape Caution before the wind picked up.  We had to cross Smith Sound in dense fog.  Jonathan did a great job of navigating.  We saw several whales and the islands would appear and disappear as we paddled along.  We negotiated some reefs near Hoop Bay. The fog was very thick and the reflecting waves quite large as we struck out to round the Cape.   We paddled way out and around losing sight of all land and paddling on a compass bearing.  Finally we changed directions and came back in closer to shore after passing around the Cape.  We saw more whales and porpoises.  Some were 15 feet away from our boats.  We camped at a fantastic beach of golden sand and driftwood.  It seemed to go on forever.  We had to haul our boats and gear about 300 yards up the beach to the high tide area, having landed at low tide.  We camped at the North end in the woods near a small cabin that could sleep 3.  The cabin had a small stove.  I tried to start a fire but wasn’t successful due to the lack of dry wood.  It rained and rained and rained.  Everything was soaked. We went for a walk anyway and got soaked. Had we been further from Port Hardy it would have been a bad idea.  We hung our wet paddling attire in the cabin at night with the hope that it would dry just a little.  It didn't.

Half way through the boat carry at Burnett Bay

First of three staging points on the boat carry

Bearberry honeysuckle
Patterns in the sand

A big man or a small house

 A brief moment of sun on the beach at Burnett Bay

Waiting out the rain at Burnett Bay

Looking west

Jonathan using the satellite phone

Hanging out just before the deluge

Paint brush

The northern end of the bay

An unusual piece of drift wood

Walking Burnett Bay in the rain

We counted around 700 rings on this tree stump

Day 19– Burnett Bay to Port Hardy
Date: July 14
Distance: 33 nautical miles
Duration:  10 ½ hours with a ½ hour lunch stop
Actual conditions: 15 knot headwind, tidal race, dense fog becoming calm

We packed up in the rain and carried our gear and boats way down the beach because it was low tide.  We put on and paddled in the fog down the coast line.  We crossed Slingsby Channel where a tide race was running due to the 7-9 knot ebb coming out and interacting with the incoming swell.  You could see whitewater and big breaking waves farther up the channel.  It was tricky to cross because the currents were stronger than we could paddle against and it was quite rough out to sea. We eddy hopped up a bit before ferrying across through some dynamic water.  We saw several sets of porpoises.  The wind was against us about 15 knots in the beginning but it died down after 15 miles of struggling into it.  We decided to take advantage of the flood and low wind and cross over to Vancouver Island.  We paddled straight into dense fog to the Miller Group and then to the Deserters Group where we had lunch.  Then we crossed over to the Gordon Group which contains God’s Pocket.  Then we pushed on to Port Hardy.  Everyone was a bit tired and sore.  It was a hard day. We got a place to stay at a backpacker’s hostel and then began the process of unpacking, cleaning, sorting, drying and repacking.  

The three of us near the end of a cold, wet and hard day of paddling

Kirti and Jenny on the final push to Port Hardy with the fog finally clearing

Jenny crossing in calm conditions as the fog clears

Day 20 – Port Hardy
Date: July 15

This was a dry land day of busy activity preparing for the 2nd half of the trip. It rained all day, but it didn't matter. We went shopping, did our laundry, dried all our stuff, and rinsed and dried our paddling gear.

Laying out the stuff for the second half of the trip at the Backpackers Hostel

Using the facilities at Odyssey Kayaking to rinse gear before putting it in the drying room

1 comment:

  1. Loving your adventure a couple posts at a time to make it last. Great photography! Chris Overholtzer
    We keep thinking of AT hiker-friends who will love to see these photos and read about your trip. It's AMAZING! Paula Overholtzer