Posts Tagged kayaks

Madness Under a Midnight Sun

In a week the registration for the longest paddling marathon on the planet opens and I will be one of the first to sign up. Call it a bucket list item, a midlife crisis gone off course from fast cars and dating inappropriately aged women. Tell me I must be nuts to even think about entering the race. I would reply, a little of column A and a little of column B. In the past couple of years as I really began to put some serious thought about paddling the 715 km distance between Whitehorse and Dawson City also known as the Yukon River Quest (the Quest) some have questioned why do it at all.

Painted on the wall opposite Klondike Kate's cafe in Dawson City, Yukon Photo by Dave Barnes

Painted on the wall opposite Klondike Kate’s cafe in Dawson City, Yukon
Photo by Dave Barnes

“You could just paddle the river as a holiday adventure.” as an example of the most common response to my crazy scheme. I have to say to that, it will be a holiday. I love road trips and the last one I took to the Yukon is a long story for the telling later on down the road. But I was hooked by the place, and especially the people I met along the way. And it is an adventure. The whole point is not whether or not I manage to stagger to the finish line, or fail to make it even to the first rest stop. That is the meaning of adventuring. If there was no question of success, a guarantee of completion without hardship or personal trials then why bother. So the naysayers I challenge you to go with the flow and accept that I am rather bent and willing to subject myself to long hours in a kayak, wildlife at every turn in the river, a growing tiredness and the need to pee.

During which I will meet people and witness wilderness from the unique perspective of a kayak that I will never un-see for the rest of my life, and sensations I will never un-feel for the rest of my years. I will face demons and doubts along the way. I have great people backing me, morally and physically. My support crew is a good friend who has finished the race several times. I trust him without hesitation and that only leaves the paddling to me. And though I know I will not be as competitive as he, I know he will get me as far as my body and mind will take me. I made a random contact on the ferry the other evening with a fellow who knows the river well and lives in Whitehorse. My team grew by one more as his knowledge will get me a long way. I have a lady in my life who felt that kayaks were death traps but after an afternoon in a tandem kayak with me this past summer she began to see why I do what I do. Although she may quietly think I am bonkers but is coming for the ride nonetheless and will love me no matter how bad I smell by the end. I hope.

Now the hard part. Training time. Today I strapped on the runners and went for a gasping, wheezing run but know that I will find my pace again and get back into fighting form for a long haul. “You could just paddle the river as a holiday adventure.” will come into my head at some point along the long crazy river sometime around Canada Day next summer. I will face that one when I get there.

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Wet Coast Camping

Held in camp for a week in Clayoquot Sound in between heavy rains and high winds. At least we didn't run out of fresh water to drink. Photo by Dave Barnes

Held in camp for a week in Clayoquot Sound in between heavy rains and high winds. At least we didn’t run out of fresh water to drink.
Photo by Dave Barnes

The conversation went as follows, “If it is raining tomorrow, we go home. Agreed?”

It was only partly agreed upon to break camp the following morning if the weather that had dogged us with rain for nearly the entirety of our two-week paddling trip to Nookta and Nuchatlitz did not relent. Our foursome had been quarreling about intent and agenda and itinerary for much of the journey but now it was taking hold of our collective spirits. Was it time to call it a day?

Paddling on the west coast of Vancouver Island is a game of weather fronts and dealing with the forecasts of clear skies and sunshine that never come to pass. It is more a mental game than a physical one as on the stormy days one will, if one is smart stay put in came and make the best of things. The coldest winter paddle I did was in the summer on the coast and drowning was less likely in the kayak than it was in camp. It is called the ‘wet coast’ for good reason. If you plan a trip, plan to bring rain gear.

Around the campfire after an adventurous exploring of the cracks, crevasses and what presumed to be called caves on Catala Island we discussed our options. That evening it was warm, dry and pleasant. It had been lovely all that day after the monsoon that had occurred the previous three days finally moved on to drench someone else, someplace else. Our group had regrouped after a brief trial separation to accommodate two differing agendas and when reunited enjoyed a perfect afternoon crossing from the Nuchatlitz group of islands to Catala on emerald-green seas and rolling deep but manageable swells. The skies had cleared as had the mood within our group dynamic. The marine forecast given by Environment Canada was dire. Arguably it was not nasty at all where we were but that was not to last. It was decided that we would break up once more into two groups if the weather deteriorated in the overnight hours. There was talk of hunting for fresh drinking water at a falls nearby as our supplies, rainfall or not it was running low. Two of us would head for home saying it was a good trip, but not worth spending another day in the rain foraging for drinking water off tarps, while the others remained to take their chances for another day or so.

We retired slowly to our tents and knowing that I might be off early got a head start at packing my gear so all that would be left me was my tent and sleeping bag, and of course the stove would have to cool before being packed. I was not going anywhere without at least a cup or two of coffee in the rain if need be. I was ready and good thing too as around 6 am I peaked my head out of the tent to wet my face in a light shower. My friend who would was the impetus for leaving that day was already in his rain gear and shuffling about his tent pulling pegs. We were going! Within an hour we were sliding out kayaks down the shingle beach of pebbles to the water pecked by small ringlets caused by small rain drops. Hardly the downpour of days before, but enough. We waved good byes and set out.

Did we wimp out at the end of a good trip, regardless of crummy weather? Perhaps, but then again we did not endure the storm that would come the day after that hounded our companions all the way up the inlet with hard sideways falling rain, winds and seas to match. Hindsight being what it is, I say that we made a good call to bail early. Perhaps we had run our limit on endurance when it came to being wet hours and hours on end. Still, as my friend slept through the rain storms earlier in the trip and I sat tending a smoky campfire all the while attempting to dry wet driftwood I can’t say it was all that bad. Certainly the warm drizzle that met me in my t-shirt and shorts while enjoying a beer at the back of Rosa Island was not unwelcome. It was a calm day four days before we would leave Catala for good. It was misty in the distance and the barking of sea lions somewhere out there kept me company. The rain on my shoulders and watering down my brew did not change that fact that I was out there in the first place. Rain or shine I was doing something that not many people get to feel and experience. A rainy day spent on the back of some small island that no one knows about. Listening to sea lions and the gurgle of swells rushing up a cleft in the rocks below my pare feet. That my friends is camping on the wet coast at its absolute finest.

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Kayak Renovations…

Summer it seems is showing the signs that the last act of the play is about to start and a season of heavy kayaking has come and gone for me without much time on the water. This was a summer of working, not playing. That said, I pulled my wooden kayak off the seas for a well-deserved renovation and care. The new job slowed the process and though I had the enthusiasm, the body was pooped and my days off spent catching up on rest and other more important things.

Alas, October is now scratching at the door like a wet cat and my kayak sits partly done. sigh. Today I realized that my gelcoating efforts should be beefed up as sanding her belly smooth revealed more wood than smoothness when removing the orange rind dimples I really should have been more generous with the gel coat… Another few coats to be added and a few more evening, and weekend sessions wet sanding to get the pro finish I really want. My newbie efforts at refinishing are showing but a bit more elbow grease is okay with me. She deserves it after so many years of keeping me safe and joyful.

So my summer project becomes a fall project. The kayak rebirth in the new year, her tenth year on the water with a shine and a new look.

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Kayaking under a Perfect Sunrise

Luck and weather play a part in kayaking on the BC coast.

My trip to Desolation Sound began on a hot August day on glass-flat waters at the terminus of Georgia Strait, but little did I know the forecast planned an unscheduled change to stormy overnight. I had originally planned to paddle the loop around the edges of both West and East Redonda Islands that mark the centerpiece of the Sound, stopping along the way to revel in the quiet wilderness and maybe a day trip up Toba Inlet. East Redonda is the highest point of land off-shore of the mainland excluding Vancouver Islands with the most volume for surface area. It towers a whopping 5,200 ft and looks like a child’s drawing of a mountain.

Kayaking back to Cortes Island, BC at 6am.Photo by Dave Barnes

Kayaking back to Cortes Island, BC at 6am.
Photo by Dave Barnes

Try as I might, the winds the following day made it tough to gain any progress towards Toba Inlet, and more and more unlikely that I would make it from Tenedos Bay (my first camp in a crowded bay reserved for motor boats) to Forbes Bay some distance up Humfray Channel, which incidentally is the deepest space of water on the coast sounding at 399 fathoms.

Two hours into the morning paddle to Forbes under dour skies and bounding into a grey/green sea with breaking rollers all the way up and around the corner beyond my sight, and I gave up the fight. The water was not nearly as tossed as it should be, however the constant insistent outflow down the channel made it hard to lift the paddle let alone gat any headway. Paddling into the wind was draining my energy. I had to make a decision that would change my trip entirely. I spun around and let the conditions shoot me back down the channel. Turning into Oekover Inlet around a bald bluff with recoiling waves and standing chop was a splashy affair but once into the lee of Malaspina Peninsula the inlet was night and day different from the hours I had already spent in the kayak. Now in calmer waters, the air was warmer without the constant wind, and I drifted more than paddled as the tide carried me along.

Paddling into the lands depicted by Grant Lawrence in his wonderful book Adventures in Solitude I passed homesteads and cabins along the shoreline and others obscured by overhanging rocky cliffs. Rounding into a small bay I discovered an island told to me by a fellow kayaker that morning as having an island with one camp spot hidden in the rocks. I paddled around this island and to my great joy found a slab of sandstone that at that tide level was the perfect boat ramp. I landed, camped and waited out three days of bad weather but napping, reading, writing and exploring coves.

By now the timeline for circumnavigation of the Redondas was gone. I spent the next few days on a leisurely exploration of the sound. Crossing to the Redondas and camping in a busy Roscoe Bay. Then it was back tracking around and into the strait once more to Teakearne Arm and a night by a waterfall. I had an enjoyable trip and returned to the hole in the wall camp location I used the year before on Kinghorn Island. It was a perfect last stop before heading home via Cortes Island. That night it grew rather wild as I sat in the shelter of my camp knowing opposite side of the small island facing down Georgia Strait was being hammered.It was a loud night of branches falling and the raccoon that snuck about the camp in search of goodies. He made more noise than the wind storm! I rolled out of my sleeping bag about 5am. Not that sleeping was easy with all the racket knowing that I had to get ready and on the water rather early to meet two ferries and a lunch meeting in Campbell River with the woman who would eventually become my wife. It was looking to be a big day!

I was packed, bleary-eyed and half caffeinated when I started paddling about quarter to seven. The storm had passed by but left a big chop in its wake. It would be a far cry better than the epic of the previous year when attempting a crossing from this same island into the more exposed launch site at Cortes Bay on a morning paddle in 4 foot spiking waves and winds. This morning wasn’t as much a technical rock and roll paddle, but bumpy until half way across Cortes when things flattened out somewhat. The sky was the big attraction on that trip. Vivid views of the coast mountains on a clear day then vast cloud formations the next as one system after the next attempted to send me home prematurely. In today’s image I give you a paddler’s POV at 7am midway between Kinghorn and Cortes Islands. It was trying to rain a little, humid and warm. The afternoon forecast was would be that big clear bit. I, of course continued to enjoy the deep black cloud all the way to Squirrel Cove on Cortes. The view was amazing and a morning paddle I will not soon forget.

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Spice it Up!

Spice up your camping food.

The four of us, myself and three good paddling friends landed on Rosa Island, the gem of Nuchatlitz Marine Park at about 10:30 at night. It was early July and we still displayed our Canada Day flags on the back-end of our kayaks though out there in the coast not many would see our lingering patriotic flare. Rosa greeted me for the second time in two years on that evening after the long drive and equal time spent paddling and we all were tired. None of us could meet the fatigue dealt with by one of our group suffering from the effects of kidney disease. He was knackered but unlike the rest of us who settled for setting up tents and boiling up pouches of boil-in-a-bag goop for dinner, he pulled out all the stops. Stove set up and a camping wok with sizzling bits of chicken under a shower of spices sprinkled from small containers that he brought in an old first aid kit bag. The aroma  was wild, spiced and appetizing while my indian rice and spinach lay on my plate looking pre-digested. Tic Tac Spice Rack

Since then we all stepped up to the plate and began cooking better camp meals, myself especially so much so I wrote a cookbook with some of my favorite camp cooking ideas. No more freeze-dried boil in the bag for this kayak camper!

Our kayaks now weigh in very heavy on those first few days of paddling tours, mainly due to the fresh ingredients that have pushed a bag or two of essentials to the kayak’s deck to make more room. For me, the key to a good meal is always seasoning. Not too much and never too little. The tough part is how to bring those precious dried herbs and spices? Moisture is the enemy and around here there is plenty of that. Kayaking and camping always go hand in hand with a bit of humidity or damp that can cake up your spices. My friend used old film canisters as he was the avid photographer of the group and this was in the pre-digital camera age. They worked well and were air and water tight. I have tried it all but while surfing the interweb the other night I stumbled in this. I guess I will be sucking on a few Tic Tacs this spring in time for the outdoor camp cooking season.

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Firestarters

Campfires are not always the easiest things.

I can count on one hand how many kayak camping trips I have done in the past half-dozen years when it was nice and sunny the entire time. I live in a place that has been given the nickname ‘Wet Coast’ for a reason. Even on a mid-summer trip to the west side of Vancouver Island I was met with no less than three intense frontal systems carrying a few hundred thousand gallons of rain. I remember the sun in between with fond memories. Keeping warm and doing some cooking on a campfire was key to not only the survival part of the camping trip, but also the moral.

Adding a packet of stuff that makes your campfire change colour. Photo by Dave Barnes

Adding a packet of stuff that makes your campfire change colour.
Photo by Dave Barnes

I bring with me a small supply of dry wood (if I can fit it into the kayak) knowing that what I find out there will be damp and hard to ignite. That is the first step, the second is being able to light that dry kindling and keep it going long enough to start a good bed of hot coals that will be the base of your campfire. Once you have that base, drying out wet found wood will be an ongoing, but easy task. Stacking it close to the fire, but not too close as I found out one afternoon. Leaving ample airflow around the wet wood and adding it to your fire as needed.

To get your fire started there are a few things you can try. One of my tried and true methods is using a small tea light candle. Placing it on the ground and stacking small bits of kindling around it in either a square house style or teepee style. Keep adding small bits until the fire is glowing. The advantage of the candle is that it can be relit if something goes wrong and if it tips over the waxy wood will burn well.

Another fire starter idea is to stuff used toilet paper tubes with lint saved from your dryer. It is a good fire starter but will not burn continuously. A third option is to make your own firestarters at home and bring them along. A waxed paper cup cut in half and filled with a mixture of candle wax and wood chips and lint will work. Even steel wool will act as a grand firestarter.

Experiment, and find out what works best for the way you do things out there, but always remember to be careful and responsible with your fire. Make sure you build a good fire pit and on a level area being mindful of overhanging branches and anything flammable nearby.

 

 

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Kayaking in Desolation Sound with Mr. Toad

At the tip of West Redonda Island. Photo by Dave Barnes

At the tip of West Redonda Island.
Photo by Dave Barnes

Just Messin’ Around with Boats

Whether you end up where you’re going, or end up somewhere else…Have you ever read The Wind in the Willows? I have and it is a book particularly adequate for the kayaker. The last time I took this off the shelf was two years ago while I was packing gear, food and assorted sundries for a 7-day solo effort around West and East Redonda Islands, two large islands which make up the bi-island core of Desolation Sound. The original plan was to head from Cortes Island, across Lewis Channel to West Redonda Island’s Refuge Cove, and then diagonally across the mouth of the sound to camp the night in the Curmes Island group. A cluster of rugged rocks some big enough to camp upon if you can find a place to land. From there I would launch my first leg of the circumnavigation of the fiord-like Homfray Channel to either Forbes or Atwood Bay.

The trip began well enough with the watching of the Cortes Island Ferry leaving as I rushed up to the terminal on Quadra Island. I watched it leaving as I pulled into the terminal. Nothing to do but wait. The attendant was apologetic but I have lived with ferries all my life and have long ago discovered the art of waiting for one missed boat. I eventually caught my boat, two hours behind schedule and the tide was not waiting!

I arrived at Squirrel Cove and got the low-down on where and how to launch my kayak and where to park my car for the week. This took some time. Squirrel Cove is a slow place and reminded me of home. Every island seems to run on its own clock, and as with my own island home the people don’t like to wear watches. ‘Island time’.

I moved the car to the boat ramp but the shoreline was far away and at low tide an oyster bed. It would have been a daunting task to move gear and boat on my own in the humidity of that afternoon but for my helper. I met him in the store where I paid both launch fee and parking fee. He was a tall, slender older figure of a man, Japanese and incredibly interested in my wooden kayak, A Pygmy Coho that I had named, Dragonfly. I think it was the boat that encouraged his assistance. In a matter of minutes the pile and the kayak were at the water’s edge. Adjacent to me were two antiquated hippies loading up a hand-carved kayak made from a single tree. It had a dark rustic Fred Flintstone appearance, but the couple assured me it was sea-worthy after apparently seeing my raised eyebrow. The two craft, side by side on the beach could not have looked farther apart in line and style. I was the faster however and left them in the sea spray at my stern as I began the crossing to Redonda Island.

At the beach in Squirrel Cove, Cortes Island.Photo by Dave Barnes

At the beach in Squirrel Cove, Cortes Island.
Photo by Dave Barnes

The fantasy life of home was falling behind me now, and the time in the kayak, always therapeutic. I say that life at home is fantasy because in very many ways the life out in the kayak, camping, roughing it and being lost in your own head for hours at a time, especially during long crossings comes with its own reality. Everything becomes more imperative out there, and you must be on your toes. It’s also a time to get into the mental laundry basket and think about things that the chaos and distractions of home leave little time for otherwise. In other words, one can sort out one’s own crap when out on the water.

By the time I swept by the rocks at the entrance of Refuge Cove and the sign telling me that I was passing Hope Point, or was that the points beyond hope? By all accounts Lewis Channel where it met the mouth of the sound and the terminus of the Georgia Strait could get rather snotty. Hope and Refuge would be a welcoming sign on those days. My first half hour in the kayak was hot, humid and the only boat on the water near me was the silent white sloop in full glorious sail. As always, I wondered if he could see me and if he would tack left or right next. He was still far to my right when I snuck into the passage between the Martin Islets and West Redonda.

Now I had to keep my eyes and ears alert for speedboats that raced through the pass regularly and without slowing down! Desolation Sound is for boaters with motors. This is the turf belonging to the three-martini crowd who have a heavy hand on the throttle at all times. We the humble quiet and tiny kayakers are the trespassers here. The sound is an echo chamber as well. Long after a motor craft has gone from sight the, THUM THUM THUM THUM THUM rumbles on. This is a sound that eventually becomes so commonplace that your senses barely register and it disappears. On those first days however, it is rude.

I crossed with little fanfare just after leaving the Martins. I kept a general bead on Mink Island. The Curmes Islets lay just at the eastern tip of Mink. My game, the one to distract my brain from the distance required before me was to catch up to the kayaking foursome ahead. I was gaining even as I thought about doing it. I love that. The woodie is fast, even fully loaded she is 15 lbs lighter than any other kayak and she loves to fly. My soup-spoon paddle blades, also of wood don’t hurt the momentum. Soon I was upon them. A wave, a hello and then I was ahead of them and beating my paddle to the rhythm of my own. I wanted to stay on the Curmes as I had done the previous year. The island I had picked was a breeze to land on at higher tides. It was a matter of sliding onto a stone shelf, tying off to some rock and unloading the kayak at my leisure while the tide gently lowered her to the shelf. Not an hour after I had arrived the previous trip, I was invaded by a group of women, all bickering (a story for another blog entry perhaps). On this trip I was out of luck. Each island I passed was occupied to overflowing and some with, well, not all naked is good naked. I moved on.

I had a back-up plan knowing that the Curmes were popular to kayakers, or aging nudists. I turned and headed for Tenedos Bay where I knew I could find camping for a night and there after a short hike was a lovely still lake. The arm protecting was a high cliff which tapered down to more manageable shoreline. I met a man and dog, seemingly abandoned by friends on a ledge only accessible by water. We chatted briefly under the buzz of the lone jet-skier who was carving donuts into the still bay. It would not be a quiet evening. The number of boats anchored in the bay gave it the appearance of a trailer park.

Tenedos Bay is out of the prevailing winds and the general humidity of August was more than apparent by the enriched aroma of the small rocky beach. Out on the fringes of Clayoquot Sound, Nootka Island and other exposed places I have dipped my paddle the air is crisp, new and has a snap to it. The air of Clayoquot is the white wine of air. It smells and feels like a kiss from Princess Diana might have felt like. On the inside, where I paddle the gulf islands and these areas protected by the wall of Vancouver Island, it is darker. The scent of the air rich, earthy and wildly organic.

In Tenedos Bay it was that and ever so pungent with fresh dog poop. Fresh, warm, and rather gigantic was the steaming mass that my unfortunate kayak landed in when I reached the shore. This was no boater poodle poop. I was questioning my idea of paddling alone as much of the excursion would be camping in bear country. I had little to fear here in the warm smelly Tenedos. No self-respecting predator would ever show up here, no matter how good the food smells from my cook-pots might be that night.

By morning, I awoke to the sounds of a float-plane coming in for a pick-up of the couple who had kayaked the lake, and offered an account of a scary night out with the bears, and who were well-off enough to afford private transportation for them and their kayaks back to civilization. The plane departed and the rumbling of propellers gave way to the sounds of a building wind storm. I was heart-fallen and knew my easy first real day out was going to be more challenging against the winds falling from the hillside deeper up the inlets. Atwood Bay was looking so far away now and Forbes as well. I packed my gear slowly and considered my options. I decided to go for it. After all that was why I was here, to paddle! I stopped and chatted with the only other kayakers in the campground. They were the four I had zipped by the afternoon before. Two older men both named Jerry and their wives, gobbling down pancakes to which I was offered to join. Jerry, not Jerry but the first Jerry told me of an island when I mentioned my misgivings on the weather conditions. South of Tenedos was the inlet of Okeover. It lead down the backside of Malaspina Peninsula and was usually sheltered. There he said they had camped once before and not seen a soul. There was only room for one tent and if it was already taken I would have to back-track an hour to the second-most commonly used camping location. It was described as, dank. I still had plans to go north but it was nice to know I had a plan B once again.

Rounding the rocky cliff with the path of the day before to my left now I pointed into the wind waves and the cold gusts that were the true opposite of the hair-dryer air of the previous afternoon. They were big and bashed over my bow but as I paddled beyond the boundary of the marine park into the wilds of Homfray the reality began to set in. It was hard work. Harder than I thought. There was not one moment of peace or any sign that the winds would relent. I mustered something inside that I keep hidden in reserves for times like these. I paddled onwards. Wind waves hammered me and if felt like the brakes were hit with each impact. The last of the small islands to my back and I worked steadily against the forces of nature, both tide and air had it in for me. I could see the bend in the inlet and the point I was aiming for was long beyond that bend, out if my sight. I paddled for an hour more before the winds at mid-day had accumulated more strength so I relented, retired and gave in. Facing fatigue long before I could find adequate landings to wait it all out I spun my bow southward and now the wind and tide were friendly. So fickle is the Mother Goddess.

I took Jerry’s good advice and returned along the watery path I had just battled against. This time with ease. It is a rare thing for a kayaker to get both tides and winds in his favour. Though my trip had just taken a detour I still had thoughts of retreating for the night on Jerry’s Island and then making another attempt for Atwood Bay in the morning should the weather improve. I rode wind waves and found shelter closer to shore until rounding into Okeover Inlet. Here it got rather big for some reason. Winds, who can figure them out. Once at my back and now seemingly changing direction causing water to get confused and angry at the mouth of the inlet. Not so bad after the much harder slogging of earlier in the day. Soon I was out of the bad section and into calm that was eerie to say the least. It was quiet…too quiet but I loved the change. Paddling was now effortless and my mind could wander away from waves and frustration to fanciful daydreaming about the little cabin on the shore part way up the inlet. I could live there I thought to myself. Think of the paddling!

Jerry’s Island was not in Okeover Inlet after all, it was in Lancelot Inlet so I kept an eye peeled along the shoreline for any cutlery embedded in the boulders…just in case. There was more confusion when turning to the head of the waterway. In a bay were not one, but two small islets. Which was Jerry’s? I paddled to the first one and it seemed a bit rocky so wandered across to the second one and circled it, then back to the first looking for any idea of where to land. Jerry’s wife was a lovely woman but hardly (and I dare say she would agree) athletic. If those two had landed here it would be an easier spot and therefore as obvious as the smooth ramp of sandstone bordered by large boulders on the second island. This had to be it. I came broadside to the ramp which at this point dropped at the edges. I got out and had a look around on wobbling bloodless legs. I had been in the boat for 6 hours give or take with no rest stops. Why I never stop when paddling alone is anyone’s guess. I like it in my boat.16-I-could-live-there___

The island was abrupt on all sides but this one. Just above the ramp was a flat shelf big enough for one tent, perhaps two in close quarters. I bit of a scramble up and down but manageable. With Dragonfly secured to a rock I unloaded her, set up camp and had her nestled on the rocks below my tent in no time flat. Then the real work of what remained of the afternoon began, pulling out my Therma-Rest and a cold ale for a much deserved kayaker nap. It was not long into that nap, and about half way down the can of beer when I watched another lone kayaker rounding the head of the bay. Half hoping for this all to myself I realized that was silly and unrealistic thinking. The previous year, at setting up camp I was invaded within an hour by newcomers. History was repeating now as I observed him landing at the first island, getting out, stretching and retrieving his chart from the deck of his kayak. He looked at it, then up in my general direction. I waved. He looked back at his chart with the realization he was second and I, for once, had won the best spot. I waved again and he waved back but instead of paddling over to me he wheeled around and headed back whence he came. The next best camping spot was not so grand as per Jerry’s description, but later when I did leave my island I found several people perched on rocks up Okeover. There was plenty to go round, you just had to be inventive.

My island remained mine and I had no more visitors except a pleasure boat that anchored in the bay the next day which, like this day was wild. Wilder still as now even Lancelot was green and white-capped. My floatplan was on the wobble so sent a text to my good friend Michael at home telling him of the situation at hand. The Redondas would have to wait, as would I for two more stormy days. I got some great paddling in with an unloaded kayak to the end of the inlet and some lovely coves. This was the country told in Grant Lawrence’s Adventures in Solitude. Riding green waves all the way to camp again and my easy landing spot. For the most part it was sane where I was. Sheltered from the brunt of things though my last night was so loud I could not sleep for the winds threatening to drop the trees upon my tent, or the heavy rains that followed. Much of my time until then was spent reading. tweaking my campsite and of course, napping. I had time.20-obvious-landing-site-on-a-slab-of-sandstone_-300x225

I left days later after that rain in a slight drizzle heated at 7am by humidity. A half hour later I was greeted with sunshine and one of the most gloriously smooth 5 hours on the water I have ever spent. Outside of the inlets I crossed to the Martins on my way to Roscoe Bay for a night. The skies were ever-changing and the next system was building to hit over-night. I would be off the water long before then in another ’boater bay’, a shock after my days of solitude. But in those bays with all the big boats and noise the same hymn was being sung. I took some ribbing back home when I mentioned the reading material I brought along on this trip. A kids book, maybe, but in those bays and on my island that hymn remained. A simple notion from a line inside The Wind in the Willows, that there is nothing, “half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.”

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