Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sea Kayaking in British Columbia - July 14th

Tuesday, July 14th
Everyone was on time for a hearty breakfast at 8:00. The kayaks were ready for us to slide into the water at 9:00, and we already felt like old pros as we donned spray skirts and life jackets and helped each other steady each kayak as we scrambled off the low dock into the boats. We got ourselves into formation with Dan at one end and Mike at the other for the paddle west across the Christie Passage to Balaklava Island’s southern end at Nolan Point. We skirted the very small sparsely forested Jerome Island, an old Indian burial ground, more accurately designated a place of the dead. It was the practice of the people who lived here originally to put their dead in cedar boxes on the ground or simply hang the bodies on tree branches and let the ravens take them away.
We strung out in a long line, paddles bobbing, dipping, and dripping as we made our way leisurely toward the northwest between Balaklava and the nearby Lucan Islands. In the Browning Passage vertical rock cliffs drop down deep underwater, and we paddled within a few feet, exclaiming at the sight of sea anemones and brilliantly colored sea stars clinging to the rock wall below us in the clear water. This spot in particular is a destination for scuba divers from all over the world for some of the best cold water diving available anywhere.
Several miles later as mid day approached we landed at a pebble beach called Bob’s Landing, although no one could tell us just who “Bob” was. Beyond the sloping rocky beach we could see two huge logs lying on the bank, bound together with thick strands of rusty steel cable. The cleared land behind was smooth and grassy, sloping gently away from the shore, leveling off, and then slanting down to an old sorting pond where lumbermen had floated their giant logs. Perhaps it was “Bob” who had supervised the building of a big boom rig here that could lift the logs in bundles into the small bay to be towed to some distant sawmill. The lumbering operation had been abandoned for a long time, and thick clusters of tall foxgloves hid the old logging road, showing their brilliant stacks of bell shaped flowers and nodding gently in the breeze.
On our return trip we rounded the southern end of Balaklava and skirted the eastern shore toward the north for awhile before “sandwiching” again for the crossing to Hurst. The tide had turned and was flowing with the strong breeze down Christie Passage. My GPS clocked us at 7+ kph as we made the crossing. We were drifting south about as fast as we were paddling east and our vector brought us to a point a bit beyond the entrance to the bay at God’s Pocket. As we paddled between the slopes of the island and the rock outcropping close to shore the buildings and dock were a welcome sight!
After a change of clothes and a few glasses of nice red wine provided by SKA, Steve got out his guitar. He strummed and sang while I tootled on my tin whistle for awhile on the sunlit deck before another sumptuous dinner.

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