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WaveLength Explore coastlines,

explore the world of kayaking


Volume 20, Issue 4

Winter 2010

FREE at select outlets and online or by subscription

Tricked out kayaks We add gear galore to create the world’s most tricked out kayaks ever

Hitting the water

PM 41687515

We take you surf kayaking and standup paddleboarding

There’s more online in our first-ever multimedia edition





This month’s features: 8

Scavenging on the Edge

Cleaning up the Coast on Haida Gwaii

Regular items: 6 News


20 Tours and Services

10 Paddling with a Shamrock

22 Paddle Meals by Hilary Masson

Images from Ireland

14 Kayaking with Cannibals

The Solomon Islands by Dave Cauldwell

35 Kayak-friendly Accommodation


24 Our Most Tricked Out Kayak Ever

40 Planning and Safety by Michael Pardy

New Gear

32 Surf Games

Surf Kayaking by Neil Schulman

36 Surf Kayaking 101


44 Fishing Angles

Everything you need to know to start

by Dan Armitage

45 Rainforest Chronicles by Dan Lewis

38 Up for the Challenge

42 Skillset by Alex Matthews

Standup paddleboarding




The First Word

by John Kimantas

WaveLength Green dots: a sign of the future MAGAZINE

Winter 2010 

Volume 20, Number 4 PM No. 41687515

Editor John Kimantas Advertising Sales Brent Daniel Copy Editing Darrell Bellaart Cover Photo: We took everything from sails to electric bilge pumps to the beach at Pipers Lagoon in our hometown of Nanaimo to trick out a pair of kayaks (one was not enough for all our gear). Join us for this major pimping-out project on page 24. WAVELENGTH is an independent magazine available free at hundreds of print distribution sites (paddling shops, outdoor stores, paddling clubs, marinas, events, etc.), and globally on the web. Also available by paid subscription. Articles, photos, events, news are all welcome. Find back issues, articles, events, writers guidelines and advertising information online at wavelengthmagazine.com


$20 for 1 year – 4 issues $35 for 2 years – 8 issues While Wavelength Magazine is made available free, subscriptions ensure the magazine is delivered to your home and that you will never miss an issue. To subscribe, visit www.wavelengthmagazine.com/Subscribe.html or call 1-866-984-6437.

Advertising rates and submission guidelines available at www.wavelengthmagazine.com

ISSUE AD DEADLINE DISTRIBUTION Spring 2011 Feb. 4 March 1 Summer 2011 April 15 May 16 Fall 2011 July 1 Aug. 1 Winter 2011 Oct. 1 Nov. 1 A product of:

Wild Coast Publishing

I remember a paddling trip in winter 1999 with then-Wavelength Magazine publisher Alan Wilson. I told him by coincidence how I had recently downloaded and read a copy of Wavelength Magazine online. At the time it was one of the few magazines available on the ’net. Good on Alan for the foresight. It’s no surprise that the presence of magazines online has since exploded. The standard now is a page-flip format mimicking the page turning of print magazines (I suppose to make readers feel more comfortable with the transition to electronic media). Most magazines are using a service provider to create these electronic copies. And most simply offer a digital version of the same content in print. So it’s cute, but limited. I had to think: in print, kayaks will just sit there. But online, those kayaks could actually be paddling. So why aren’t they? Since we couldn’t make the kayaks paddle with any of the existing service providers, I decided to develop our own version in-house. This is the first issue to show the results. And yes, the kayaks can now paddle away. In fact, they do on this very page in the online version. Watch for these three buttons in the online version: Click on the “T” button and a central text box will appear allowing you to read the text on the pages you are viewing without having to follow the various columns and dips and doodles of the magazine page. If it’s still too small, hit the zoom feature. This should make the text large enough to accommodate the most short-sighted among us. Click on the “T” again to turn off the text and return to the regular page view. When you see this multimedia button, things get really interesting. Click on it, and watch for additional content not available in the print version. For instance, click on the button on this page in the online version and the kayak pictured below will meld seamlessly from this inert picture to a high-definition video of the paddler (Leanne) paddling away. And if reading a magazine with kayaks actually paddling doesn’t at least make you go “hmmm, that’s interesting,” then no problem. Just keep reading the print version, which we have no intention of abandoning. For me the key is adding content to make both the print and online products work together. For instance, it’s one thing to read about surf kayaking. But in the online version, you can see a video detailing the skill involved. A great extra. Another exciting thing is the potential for advertisers. For instance, check out the videos tied into the Blue Water Kayak Works ad on page 23. This is our first ad specifically designed to incorporate multimedia into a print ad campaign. If you check the results online, look for details of our major 2011 promotion (teased here on page 46, with more details online). We’ll be giving those who visit us online a chance to win gear every month plus a grand prize of a new kayak. Okay, it’s bribery to get you online, but with a new kayak hanging in the balance, it’s the best kind of bribery. So happy surf kayaking the internet!  - John Kimantas

#6 10 Commercial St. Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, V9R 5G2 Ph: 1-866-984-6437 • Fax: 1-866-654-1937 Email: kayak@wavelengthmagazine.com Website: www.wavelengthmagazine.com © 2010. Copyright is retained on all material (text, photos and graphics) in this magazine. No reproduction is allowed of any material in any form, print or electronic, for any purpose, except with the permission of Wild Coast Publishing. Some elements in maps in this magazine are reproduced with the permission of Natural Resources Canada 2010, courtesy of the Atlas of Canada. Also, our thanks to Geobase for some elements that may appear on Wavelength maps. Wavelength Magazine is dedicated to making self-propelled coastal exploration fun and accessible. Safety and travel information is provided to augment pre-existing safety and knowledge. A safety course and proper equipment are advised before any exploration on water. See a list of paddling instruction locations at www.wavelengthmagazine.com



Another perfect evening, Vancouver Island style. Click the green button online to join us on this outing.






Joe O sets new record for rounding Vancouver Island



Joe O’Blenis at Jemmy Jones Island near Victoria as he closes in on the finish line.

photo courtesy Michael Jackson

There’s a new time to beat in the Great Island Race. Joe O’Blenis pulled into Nanaimo’s Brechin boat ramp the evening of Saturday, Sept. 4, just 16 days, 12 hours and 14 minutes after starting out – a time fast enough to unseat Sean Morley’s 2008 record of 17 days, 4 hours and 49 minutes for the fastest circumnavigation of Vancouver Island by paddle. To put that into perspective, that’s covering the 1,150-km trip with an average of 70 kilometers of paddling per day. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, with several days spent battling headwinds of 30-plus knot winds, and one collision with a rock near Tofino that knocked the skeg completely out from his Nigel Foster Greenland Pro. That incident forced him to wait for much of the day in Tofino while his second boat, a Tahe Wind 585, was shipped from its storage at Wavelength Central in Nanaimo. The Tahe managed to stay in one piece for the dramatic conclusion, a 90-km day

of paddling from Victoria to Nanaimo that happened to coincide with a kayaking corn roast on nearby Newcastle Island hosted by Atlantis Kayaks – allowing a welcoming flotilla of kayaks at the finish line. Apt was a greeting there by Colin Angus, complete with celebratory beer. Colin had also planned an attempt at the Great Island Race title this year in a rowboat, but had to postpone it due to back issues. He’s still


planning to retry next year. For Joe, the trip – his second recordsetting venture around the island – was another chance to appreciate Vancouver Island’s beauty. “Just doing the trip is worthwhile, even if you’re just rushing by and everything’s a blur,” he said. You can read more information about Joe’s circumnavigation at joeoblenis.com.


Virginia Harris doesn’t have to go far to find debris clogging the beaches. All it takes is a walk with her three dogs near her home in Halfmoon Bay near Desolation Sound to find loads of trash. Kayak trips can be just as filthy. “When I do get out on the water I end up coming back with a pile on the bow of my kayak consisting of plastic bags and other floating debris,” she wrote when entering Wavelength Magazine’s Clean Up the Coast contest. “We have a pristine beach here in a provincial park called Sargeant Bay. I walk there often. I usually end up finding a fair bit of garbage and I can’t help myself and start picking it up, filling bag after bag.” She laid out one morning’s find on a tarp, then snapped a picture. “I brought it home and laid it all out on a tarp (also found on the beach). As you can see there is an enormous amount of plastic. We have plastic fish farm feed bags, feminine product plastic applicators, Christmas light bulbs, balloons, Copenhagen tobacco tins,

Virginia Harris

How dirty is our coastline? Plenty dirty, readers find

The results of one morning’s haul from Sargeant Bay near Powell River, BC. Virginia Harris won an under-deck bag from Atlantis Kayaks for her entry in Wavelength’s Clean Up the Coast contest.

styrofoam (bits everywhere) you name it, it’s there on the beach.” Virginia was one of the participants in Wavelength Magazine’s Clean Up the Coast contest, which recognized participants in cleanup efforts from paddling clubs on Vancouver Island to Suwanee River cleanup participants in Florida. The contest was held to recognize continuing efforts to clean our coast, plus to inspire people to pick up instead of


passing by. Prizes in the contest included items from Klepper in Canada, Kokatat, North Water Paddlesports Equipment, Atlantis Kayaks, Seaward Kayaks, Solo Rescue Assist, Peregrine Kayaks, SeaSpecs, Kayak Kaboose, Peregrine Kayaks and Terracentric Coastal Adventures. Not all participants stopped at simply collecting trash. Brad Atchinson has spent the last 42 years decommissioning hundreds of campsites, including their fire rings and scorched and scarred rocks. “I am a NOLS graduate (1970s) and have been a proponent of minimum impact camping techniques, long before the Leave No Trace movement took root. In all likelihood, being a biologist and an environmentalist since the 1960s provide context for these cleanup efforts.” Brad won a Kokatat Outercore Top for his efforts. Also winning was the Marine Sciences 10 class from St. Michael’s University School in Victoria, BC, for their beach cleanup efforts. They earned a model Aerius II from Klepper in Canada.



Clean Up the Coast Contest

by Liam McNeil

Scavenging on the edge Kayakers get the dirt on Haida Gwaii



photos by Liam

McNeil and Genevieve Burdett


FTER SUCCESSFULLY PADDLING the west coast of Vancouver Island in 2009, from Port Hardy to Tofino, Genevieve Burdett and I hatched the plan to paddle Haida Gwaii. Moresby Island, home of Gwaii Haanas National Park, attracted our interest due to its mystique and challenge. While the east coast attracts hundreds of paddlers every year (for good reason!), the extremely challenging conditions of the west coast of the island, coupled with the lack of accessible landing sites, keep the vast majority of visitors away. By planning during the winter months and getting some support from the MEC Expedition Fund, our dreams became a reality. Moresby Island, the long mountainous southern half of Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands), is a place of extremes. The rarely visited west coast is distinguished by steep cliffs, few landings and little hope of assistance. For days, no other boats passed the horizon, and even weather forecasts drifted in and out of reception as we passed the mouths of deep inlets. (By contrast, the east coast of Moresby is a paddler’s paradise, with hundreds of islands, bays, inlets and numerous cultural sights to visit.) The wind had whipped the water into whitecaps as we slipped our boats into the water to begin our journey. Skidegate Channel lay ahead of us, as did the west coast of Haida Gwaii. Over the next few weeks, as the shoreline waters of Moresby Island passed beneath our hulls, we witnessed the natural and cultural wonders of these remote islands, along with the reminders of our global society. Even though the rest of the world seemed so remote, it presented itself in the refuse washed upon the shores. To remove all the

Top: Genevieve Burdett scans Woodruff Bay for waste; above left: some of the hundreds of plastic bottles that dotted the remote shorelines of Haida Gwaii; above right: the holy grail of beach garbage – a Japanese glass fishing float found on Kunghit Island.

garbage found would have required dozens of boatloads. As a compromise, every night we collected a single piece of garbage to pack on our journey. We found very little local garbage. In fact, the amount of garbage washed up by ocean currents stood out starkly on the beaches. On one beach, we collected hundreds of plastic bottles bearing the writing of both North American and Asian societies. Plastic refuse was everywhere. Round fishing floats, random plastic bits and objects of distant origin dotted this rugged shoreline. Just prior to rounding Cape St. James, the extreme southern tip of Haida Gwaii, we found our most treasured piece of garbage, a glass fishing float. Heading north along the east coast of Moresby the nature of waste changed WINTER 2010

abruptly. The rate of foreign debris dropped, and in its place were signs of local life: sections of rope, beer cans and fishing floats from BC’s fisheries. At paddling campsites we found bread tags, zip-loc bags and even a broken kayak paddle. We returned with an eclectic collection of plastic toys, shoes, bottles, bags, broken kayak paddles and our treasured glass fishing float. While limited in our capacity to carry, we can all do our part to clean up our coast, and learn to reduce the amount of plastic products that litter our oceans. < Liam McNeil is executive director of the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia. SKGABC supported Wavelength Magazine’s Clean Up the Coast Contest by sponsoring a Werner Kaliste paddle as a prize. It was won by Nanaimo Paddlers kayaking club.




International destinations

story and images by John Kimantas


F THERE IS one place in the world worthy of naming a destination for a kayaking pilgrimage, my vote would be Skellig Michael. It’s not because it’s an ideal place to visit. Quite the contrary. It lies in the ocean nine nautical miles off the southwest coast of Ireland, one of the two huge and forbiddingly spectacular rock islands set in a stormy area prone to wind, current and swell. But travel to the island by paddling isn’t insurmountable. In fact, it has a long history of self-propelled visits dating back to the 7th century, when the island was first inhabited by monks. Their occupation lasted the next 600 years and survived the incredibly harsh conditions as well as several Viking raids. The




monk residents are responsible for the incredible vertiginous steps that crisscross the island, the six intact clocháns (stone beehive huts), oratories, grave slabs and a striking monolithic cross – all of which are remarkably well preserved even today. (Quite the legacy for a group of pioneering paddlers.) The spiritual impact of the island is profound. Part is the awe at the thought of the difficult life suffered by the monks in such a remote location. And the natural features are equally awe-inspiring: dramatic stone pillars reaching 218 meters, created during a great upheaval 200 million years ago. It takes 600 steps up cliffsides and alongside jagged stone pillars to reach the Hermitage and the monastery ruins, well preserved enough to earn it designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Equally spectacular but not as accessible, the smaller of the Skellig Islands, Little Skellig, is a dramatic assembly of peaks home to thousands of nesting seabirds, most notably Ireland’s largest gannet colony. It provides a surreal backdrop. Kayakers aren’t likely to attempt the crossing. Even the tour boats often have trouble getting here. Landing on the island’s one small concrete dock can be an adventure in swell, with high tide water rushing right over the dock, and the boat crew biding time between waves to retrieve or disgorge passengers.  u


Paddling with a shamrock Images from Ireland

Michael Skellig is rated by Wavelength as one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great coastal locations. The steep steps were carved by monks as early as the seventh century A.D. Far left: the final climb before reaching the monastery; left: Little Skellig; right: the ancient beehive huts of the monastery; above right: protruding rocks on the steep descent. WINTER 2010



photos this page courtesy Atlantic Sea Kayaking

International destinations

Not all Ireland is as harsh as the Skelligs, of course. But quick changes in the weather, strong winds and strong ocean currents are typical, which can make Ireland a challenging and sometimes impossible coast to paddle. Secluded bays, inlets and collections of nearby islands along much of the coast offer the protected and relatively serene waters that make the Irish coast an ideal place for a day paddle – especially if you can sneak out to some of the spectacular cliffs that typify the outer coast. For Jim Kennedy, operator of Atlantic Sea Kayaking and one of Ireland’s most veteran paddlers, the southwest coast of Ireland makes a great base for exploring. A trip from Castletownshend, for instance, a picturesque former naval base village near Cork, leads on a short journey to seven uninhabited islands, past upwards of 33 sea caves (Jim is always finding new ones) and wildlife that commonly involves dolphins, whales and a grey seal rookery. This is a perfect day-trip adventure, possibly ending at the little harbour town of Baltimore 16 kilometers away. Or from Baltimore, Roaringwater Bay offers a multitude of islands to explore, one of which is home to an old castle that sits enticingly across the harbour. The problem with kayaking in Ireland is the multitude of land features, meaning you don’t want to just kayak if you travel here. 12


Left: caves near Castletownshend; top: urban paddling in Cork; above: one of the south coast’s many wonderful sand beaches.

If you go: IRELAND Galway

Aran Is.

Dingle Peninsula


Dublin Kilkenny

Ring of Kerry Waterford Cork Castletownshend Baltimore Crookhaven

Ireland is dotted with thousands of years of history reflected in the many medieval castles, monasteries, ancient stone forts and portal tombs that date back 6,000 years or more. But adventurers always push the limits, with a circumnavigation of the island growing as a popular goal of experienced kayakers. The fastest time so far to complete the 1,200-mile journey is 33 days; reportedly the longest, by journalist Jasper Wynn, took three and a half months – probably a better way to enjoy Ireland: by taking your time, visiting communities and meeting people. WINTER 2010

Most tour operators don’t rent kayaks due to liability issues; instead, expect escorted tours offering a selection of mostly day trips. With a Europeanwide accreditation system for paddlers coming into effect, the restrictions may ease on rentals for qualified paddlers. Here are some options: Atlantic Sea Kayaking: Trips include the sheltered Killarney Lakes in a treed national park setting to picturesque Dingle Peninsula. Owner Jim Kennedy, a Level 5 instructor, also offers a unique paddle coaching program by video. www.atlanticseakayaking.com. Sea Kayaking West Cork: Options include overnight trips to Bere Island. www.seakayakingwestcork.com. Seapaddling.com: Day trips from Waterford. On land: Driving in Ireland is difficult as the roads are narrow with little clearance, making it a high-stress way to enjoy the island. We recommend cycling as the best way to view the rolling countryside, preferably by the small, rarely-traveled back roads. We traveled with West Ireland Cycling (www.westirelandcycling.com).

Ireland The spectacular Cliffs of Moher, capped by O’Brien’s Tower, built in 1835; left: one of the colorful bars in the Temple Bar district of Dublin; below left: a traffic jam, Aran Island style.

We discover: castles, pubs, cycling, not many kayaks Our kayaking adventures in Ireland were doomed before we arrived. We couldn’t find a multi-day kayaking itinerary in our pre-trip online research longer than overnight, and were advised by the experts like Jim Kennedy at Atlantic Sea Kayaking that day trips were probably preferable, or overnights at B&Bs lest you be weathered out. As it happened, strong wind was a dominant feature of our time in Ireland, which essentially sidelined hopes of kayaking for most of the last two weeks. But infrastructure didn’t help. Kayak rental operations were rare, at least in terms of visibility at the multitude of coastal locations we visited. (It was very disappointing to pass by the Cliffs of Moher and find no kayaks in Doolin to explore this magnificent coast right next door). And even if you find an operator, Jim says renting isn’t really an option, given liability issues and the dangers associated with Ireland’s coast. Escorted tours are the norm, though that may relax a bit when the European Paddle Pass, a level system of accreditation, becomes standard. Our goal in Ireland was to mix various adventures: hiking, kayaking and cycling. Cycling took eight days of our trip, with an itinerary covering the Burrens in western Ireland and much of the spectacular coast in County Clare including the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. On the Aran Islands we found an old-style Irish

life coexisting with some terrific history, including Dun Aengus, a prehistoric fort that dominates the tallest cliffside and hilltop of Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Dotting the rest of Inishmore were traditional thatched cottages, various medieval ruins and the defining maze of drystone walls. The highlights of our trip? Too many to list them all, but Skellig Michael has to be at the top, with Inishmore not far behind. Dingle Peninsula would have been particularly scenic, but our only full day of rain doused the impact. We spent our last night in Kilkenny, my personal favorite of the trip – a town rich with medieval history evident along just about every streetscape. Then of course there are the pubs – the colorful assortment in the Temple Bar district of Dublin to the myriad that dot the countryside at every small Irish village. All are full of great character and charm, with a personal favorite of mine one in the little coastal village of Crookhaven. I had seen a picture prior to the trip, and enjoying a pint there was a very low-level dream come true. While not the most successful kayaking adventure ever, the best trips are often most enjoyable not because of the quality of the paddling, but of what you discover along the way, which hopefully includes a colorful mix of culture, history and countryside. Fortunately, Ireland abounds in all three. < WINTER 2010



Kayaking with cannibals I International destinations

DON’T LIKE the way Raba’s smiling at me. He looks mischievous, what with his red lips, orange betel nut– stained teeth and a twinkle in his eye. “Just stand there,” he says. I’m underneath a tree whose leaves are drooping under the midday sun. Next to me, propped up against the trunk, is a woman with a rock in her hand smashing nuts out of their shells. In front of us children play in the sea; one boy catches waves using an off-cut of polystyrene as a body-board. Shouting brings my gaze forward. A man races from one of the leafhouses that skirt the shore. His face and chest are covered in black paint, and he charges towards me with a club in his hand, stopping just short. ‘I want to kill this man!’ he shrieks. The

14 14


story and images by Dave Cauldwell

whites of his eyes are prominent against milk chocolate skin. One by one, four axe-wielding men appear from the jungle and take it in turns to lunge at me, pulling back only at the last moment. Skulls are crudely etched onto their shields. The spokesman shrieks again. “Who send this man to our village?” I pause. “Er, Wavelength”’ “We want to eat this man!” Clearly they don’t have subscriptions. Before axes cleave open my flesh, a man wearing a wig woven from coconut straw enters the fray. He carries a large bow and arrow and holds off the warriors. It’s the chief and thankfully he’s on my side. Holding a clam shell aloft, he barters with the warriors to spare my life. They demand


a bigger shell so the chief gives it to them (these things may look like a giant polo mints, but they’re actually currency around here). Eventually the men disband and I’m left with all limbs intact. “This is traditional welcome,” says Raba. “I’d hate to see them when they’re angry,” I reply. Although this performance was somewhat contrived, it was what awaited explorers who bravely charted Marovo Lagoon, the world’s largest saltwater lagoon, back in the early 1900s. This was when missionaries sailed into Solomon Islands’ waters, their sails billowing with religion, in an effort to spread Christianity and stop the “barbaric” practice of headhunting. Before the widespread acceptance of this religion, there’s no

Solomon Islands way the chief would have dug into his clam stash to save a white man; rather, he would’ve been carving into him with a large knife. Oddly enough, some of the missionaries actually wanted to end up as main courses, believing they would die as martyrs and thus gain a quicker passage to heaven. If the missionaries had looked at Marovo Lagoon, they might have realized heaven was already in sight. Its crystalline waters teem with sharks, manta rays and fluorescent fish. Rainbow-colored reefs form ethereal underwater worlds, while secluded white beaches make what’s above the surface just as magical. The main mode of transport here is kayak or canoe. And for most of my seven-day sojourn with Raba, I traveled by kayak to explore the mysterious backwaters of paradise, and to uncover the area’s grisly headhunting past.


Y JOURNEY began from an island shaped like a hammerhead shark arching its back. Uepi Island is a hub for adventure seekers and the best place in Marovo from which to embark on a guided kayaking expedition. And paddling is the best way to explore this vast aquatic playground. It’s not long before Raba has forged ahead. We’ve been dropped off in the Mbili Passage, a forty-five minute boat ride from Uepi. Once the passage ends, we’re u

Top: a traditional welcome to the Solomon Islands. Above: paddling in the mangroves of Bapita Passage. Background: taking a break.



15 15

International destinations paddling in open sea. Water undulates beneath my kayak and Raba disappears intermittently between troughs of swell. He takes three leisurely strokes to my ten, before resting to soak up the view. I’m just getting soaked, mistiming my strokes and not making much headway. Although there’s no real danger of capsizing, my stomach turns over. Raba gestures to an outcrop, pointing his paddle at a distant roof almost camouflaged by jungle. I can’t be sure whether this is the eco-lodge we’re staying at tonight, but it’s a long way off. When we finally reach the shore, a breeze caresses my face and ruffles the leaves of coconut palms. The eco-lodge at Ropiko is run by Barry, a sixty-eight-yearold English expat who’s married Jenna, a local girl thirty-five years his junior. White coral paths snake into the bush between papaya trees, and there’s the wreck of a Japanese war plane that was gunned down during WW2. It’s now a glorified plant-pot for Barry’s orchids. After an evening listening to Barry’s hilarious stories about things such as excrement-eating fish (stay away from the bright blue ones), we take a boat to the custom village of Mbiche for my traditional ‘welcome’. From here it’s a rugged 15-km walk back to Ropiko, and then a three-hour paddle to Kajoro where I’m meeting John Wayne – not the bowlegged gunslinger, but a descendent of a notorious headhunter, Kanijomo. This was a man who lived to kill until missionaries persuaded him to trade his axe for a bible. In what seems like a biblical moment, the heavy rain which has been tumbling all night and morning suddenly parts and I’m under the sun’s scorching spotlight. The wind has also changed direction and I’m paddling into it. Rounding a point, a rickety stilt house appears on the shore. Mangroves poke out of the water, crooked fingers which beckon the sun’s rays into the lagoon. Underneath a sheet of aquamarine they wriggle like golden eels before being swallowed into the murky depths. A man with sunshine in his eyes stands on the shore. John Wayne helps us haul our kayaks out of the water, and we sit on the veranda with buzzing mosquitoes 16


Choiseul Santa Isabel Upei Island Marovo Lagoon Kajoro Matikuri New Georgia Islands Papau New Guinea

Malaita Guadalcanal

Australia San Cristobal (Makira)

overlooking the lagoon. “The spirit always gains strength from chopping heads,” John tells me as rain pitter-patters on the roof. Although it’s only mid-afternoon it’s dark, the only light coming from a gold-tinged horizon. “Kanijomo could only sleep for an hour at night,” says John. “He was always thinking about killing.” He shows me a picture of his great, great grandfather that was taken in 1920. In it he wields an axe and wears clam shells like Mr. T wears bling. There’s a psychotic smirk on his face. Headhunting was actually a very spiritual


(and highly superstitious) practice. Skulls were gathered for their mana, or energy, stored inside them. It was this energy, headhunters believed, that warded off evil spirits and brought prosperity to the village. When Kanijomo and his band of warriors arrived in an enemy village one day, they were greeted with a banquet instead of a battle. Missionaries had already converted the villagers to Christianity, and in the face of religion Kanijomo realized his jugular-craving spirit was powerless. Although he was ready to hang up his axe, the headhunting spirits inside his head weren’t so keen.

Solomon Islands “At night they banged on the roof and doors of his house,” John tells me, “demanding that he cut more heads. They haunted him for two months before finally leaving.” Raba and I leave the next morning. The lagoon is a sheet of glass reflecting dappled clouds. Children in bright purple uniforms canoe to school and the water massages our kayaks as we drift to the sound of schoolchildren singing in assembly. As one song fades behind us, angelic voices from another school up ahead resume the chorus, their dulcet tones rippling across the lagoon like a siren’s serenade. I ask Raba if he likes music. “Boyzone,” he replies, chewing a betel nut. Before my brain has chance to override my vocal cords, I’m singing Love me for a Reason (the Cat Stevens version, obviously). Raba nods in approval, spitting out a jet of red saliva. His lips and tongue are blood red and he looks like he’s just bitten the head off a chicken. Behind us, John Wayne’s lodge fades into the haze of an approaching storm. The lagoon opens up and gets choppy, and the current comes at us from the side. Eventually the storm catches up and rain cascades, pinpricking the surface of the lagoon. In seconds I’m drenched, ample punishment for my woeful singing.


STOLE my wife,” says Morgan, a friendly local with bleached blonde hair who helps Raba and I beach our kayaks at Olovotu Point, a two-and-a-half hour

Top: Serenity and kayaks awaiting a perfect day’s paddle at Uepi Island; above: a more eerie image of chieftain skulls near Olovotu Point.

paddle from John Wayne’s. In Malaita, one of nine provinces in the Solomons, where Morgan met his wife, it’s custom for grooms to pay a bride price to the daughter’s family. “Some people pay SD$100,000 (roughly AU$16,667),” he says as we make our way to a sacred site where the skulls of three great warriors are kept. ‘Then they have to buy land, a boat and other things on top of that. My wife and I ran away. For two years her family didn’t know where she was. Eventually I wrote them a letter and they


came here. I paid them SD$3,000 (AU$500) and off they went.’ We stand before a mass grave cluttered with bones. Morgan reaches in and pulls out the bottom half of someone’s jawbone. Ten teeth remain, amazing considering they’re over seventy years old. “These are chief ’s skulls,” he says. In headhunting days these would have been displayed in special A-frame houses along the shore, a warning for passing tribes to stay away. The sky rumbles and within moments rain falls in a torrent. We run for shelter, sitting underneath a leaky roof. As Morgan bounces his one-year-old son on his lap, I find it hard to believe that his ancestors used to eat babies. On each headhunting raid, after slaughtering an entire village, warriors kidnapped babies or young boys, known as veala. They were imprisoned and fattened up. On the eve of the next headhunting mission, the veala was sacrificed and taken to a special stone where it was gutted alive. Before this happened, the unfortunate child was tossed from warrior to warrior to make the meat more tender for the chief.


E’RE IN THE KAYAKS again and a blanket of low-lying cloud lingers over tree-clad hills. “This area is being logged,” says Aerum, pointing just below the clouds. “Asian companies offer landowners big bundles of cash. They don’t think about the future and in the end u



International destinations they only end up with a small amount and ruined land.” Most of the money goes to the people who broker the deals. By now the lagoon is like a lacquered surface, and in the distance is a small island, Matikuri, on which sits an eco-lodge, the place where we’re staying tonight. This is a good location from which to access the Bapita Passage, a narrow system of waterways and a great place to kayak. Bapita immediately swallows you into its mangrove belly; the smell here is pungent: I imagine this is what it must have smelt like back in headhunting times, when freshly severed heads were left for a month or two to decompose. Once the skin was eaten away or peeling off, the brains were emptied and the skulls buried. On entering the passage, the water turns into a sheet of shimmering emerald. Stripy fish dart past my paddle as we approach an isolated village. Fishermen are out in numbers catching food for tomorrow’s Sabbath feast. A teenage girl sings in one of the huts and for a fleeting moment our eyes meet. They twinkle with longing, and as I paddle past she sings louder. Eventually her voice is lost to the mangroves, replaced by a strange birdcall that hoots like an owl before sounding like it’s coughing up phlegm. We pass underneath a logging bridge. The Australian navy bombed this part of Bapita to create a shortcut through the passage. This meant locals no longer had to haul their canoes over mudflats.



The passage opens out and cliffs of mauve, grey and gold curve over my head, along with overhanging trees. Beneath our kayaks is a sinkhole where divers can descend 28 meters before a horizontal cave traverses 20 meters horizontally. There the ceiling ends and the cave widens into a canyon which holds the remains of a battered American barge. Another good diving spot near Matikuri (roughly a two-hour paddle) is Hele Bar. Here, on the edge of a reef that plummets 40 meters, lies another wreck: that of a 35-meter Japanese tuna fishing boat, Taiyo, which ran aground on its maiden voyage. The captain was drunk and decided to take a shortcut instead of sailing around


Above: Heavy clouds give a welcome respite from the South Pacific sun. Inset: Raba and the author pose together.

the passage. A failed salvage operation has rendered the Taiyo completely vertical. Near this wreck is a small island, and by the time Aerum and I reach it my sunburned hands feel like they’re covered with hot embers. Aerum points vaguely to where the wreck should be, and I wade in with my snorkel. The path to the edge of the reef is convoluted: the water is shallow and if I try to swim over the needle coral I’ll end up scraping the skin off my stomach. Instead I follow a series of troughs until the reef ends and murky blue water stretches

Solomon Islands

For more information: • To embark on a Marovo adventure, log onto kayaksolomons.com. All kayak trips start from Uepi Island and the resort owners have excellent knowledge of the area and can organize varied itineraries. They can also arrange boat transfers (at an additional cost) between kayaking sites.

ominously in front of me. A big wave surges in and I’m thrown onto the coral. I cut my hand and blood spirals. Sharks swim around inside my head. Mildly panicked, I try to get away from the reef, but another wave pushes me into a piece of coral that resembles a giant brain. This time I cut my knees and feet. Sea urchin spikes are inches away from puncturing my stomach and giant clams look as if they’re mouthing ‘Go back’. I abort my mission and swim ashore before I make a wreck of myself. ‘You didn’t see it,’ says Aerum as I stumble ashore. ‘Never mind,’ he says, taking my snorkel off me. ‘There are some things you don’t need to see.’ That’s true, but the Marovo Lagoon isn’t one of them. < Dave is a Melbourne-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in a variety of travel magazines Down Under. He is currently writing a travel memoir about Australasian fringe dwellers, part of which will feature his Solomon sojourn.

Kayak Repair & Refit

Andrea Morrison Meet Blackline’s kayak specialist – eight years of manufacturing and repair experience.

One more great gift idea 2072 Henry Avenue West Sidney, BC. (250) 654-0052

Maps: always appreciated by the kayaker who has everything Find a great selection of BC maps online at Wavelength Magazine’s online store.

• Component Replacements • Keel Line Rebuilds • Gel Coat Refinishing • Structural Repairs

Vancouver Island South

wavelengthmagazine.com/orderonline WINTER 2010



Tours and Services Tours and Services: British Columbia

Online: Hold the cursor over a listing to see where tours are offered. Click on a listing to visit the website.

Kayak Desolation Sound Rent kayaks from waterfront locations in Lund or Okeover Inlet. Try the Famous Aquarium Kayak Tour or snorkel at Urchin Alley. All-inclusive multi-day trips into Desolation & Mountains. Phone: Toll free 1-866-617-4444 Web: www.bcseakayak.com Email: info@bcseakayak.com

Eco Adventures & Education since 1991 Eclectic itineraries in the Spectacular Gulf Islands

Kayaking Day Tours, Expeditions, Youth Camps & Guides Courses Two Kayak friendly accommodations on Salt Spring Island 1 888 529-2567 • 250 537 2553 • www.islandescapades.com

Paddle with sea otters Kayak transport between Zeballos and Nootka Island, Nuchatlitz Park and Friendly Cove. Kayak rentals. CEDARS INN rooms and restaurant in a historic Zeballos lodge. Good food, friendly service. Phone: 1-866-222-2235 Web: www. zeballosexpeditions.com Email: info@zeballosexpeditions.com

Sealegs Kayaking Adventures Wilderness Sea Kayaking Lund Kayak Tours & Rentals Kayak tours, lessons, rentals & marine delivery. Desolation Sound, Mitlenatch Island, Copeland Islands marine parks. Personalized service, stunning scenery, fascinating history, delicious organic lunches. Family / child friendly programs. Phone: 1.888.552.5558 OR 604.483.7900 Web: www.terracentricadventures.com Email: fun@terracentricadventures.com

Family sea kayaking tours with wilderness retreat camping comforts, spectacular kayaking options, diverse wildlife, cultural activities, and professional guides. Sharing the remote Kyuquot area, Northwest Vancouver Island since 1972! Phone: 1.800.665.3040 or 250.338.2511 Web: www.westcoastexpeditions.com Email: info@westcoastexpeditions.com

Sealegs’ Eco-Adventure Centre offers waterfront access at Transfer Beach Ladysmith. Guided wilderness tours, rentals, lessons and sales from our pro shop. Multi-day adventures, FREE lessons with tours and rentals. Phone: 250-245-4096 or 1-877-KAYAK BC (529-2522) Web: www.sealegskayaking.com Email: info@sealegskayaking.com

Odyssey Kayaking BC Ferries port; Gateway to Northern and Central BC Coast destinations. Sales, Rentals, Lessons, Trip planning, and Custom Tours. 8625 Shipley Street (across from the Post Office) Port Hardy. Phone: 250-949-7392 or cell 250-230-8318 Email: odyssey@island.net Web: www.odysseykayaking.com

Tours and Services: East Canada


Winter Guiding in Belize ‘10/’11 Island Expeditions is looking for professional guides to work winters in Belize. Sea kayak, river experience, marine biology or strong naturalist background. Minimum two seasons multi-day guiding experience. Email resume: tim@islandexpeditions.com or call 604-452-3212.




Tours and Services Tours and Services: British Columbia

Tours and Services: Alaska

Elements Women's Travel Adventure tours for women. Unique day and multi-day tours in the coastal waters of BC. Custom itineraries for women, all designed to 'get into your element'! Phone: 250-245-9580 Web: www.elementstravel.com Email: info@elementstravel.com

Kayak Transport Co. Gabriola Sea Kayaking Kayaking adventures in the Broken Group, Clayoquot Sound , Broughton Archipelago, Kyuquot Sound , Nootka Island and the Gulf Islands. Unforgettable paddling and great people since 1995. See you on the water! Phone: 250-247-0189 Web: www.kayaktoursbc.com

A Mothership Serving SE Alaska. Kayaking from the comforts of a mothership for a week. Paddling our boats and exploring fantastic scenery and wildlife. Eating fresh caught Alaskan seafood. How good does it get?! Email: staff@kayaktransport.com Web: www.kayaktransport.com Phone: (206) 719-0976

Tours and Services: Yukon

Kanoe People Ltd. Kayak Haida Gwaii Among the world's top paddling destinations, Gwaii Haanas is an awe-inspiring oasis of wilderness at the southern tip of Haida Gwaii. Enjoy memorable, safe and affordable multi-day kayak adventures. Web: www.gckayaking.com Email: paddle@gckayaking.com Phone: 250-559-4682


Explore Yukon's great rivers and lakes! Rentals, sales, guided tours and logistic services. Cabin rentals summer and winter on the scenic Lake Laberge. Outfitting on the Yukon for over 35 years. Web: www.kanoepeople.com Email: info@kanoepeople.com Phone: 867-668-4899

Tours and Services: Tropical



Paddle Meals

by Hilary Masson

Polynesian discovery

A sailboat trip to the South Pacific allowed Ryan Masson to discover what may well be the perfect beer bread recipe. The sacrifice involved is obvious.

For this issue, I have two different recipes that are excellent on their own, and go especially well together. Ryan, my older brother, spent over two months crewing on a 46’ sailboat last spring. He sailed from La Paz Mexico, near our winter kayak operations, across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia in the South Pacific. While on the boat one of the other crew members made this really easy beer bread. It uses the yeast in the beer to raise the dough; it requires no kneading and is fast to make. This summer we perfected the beer bread and discovered that whether anchored in the turquoise waters of Moorea or Tahiti, or kayaking the west coast of Vancouver Island or Baja, it’s a fun, quick, and easy bread. The second recipe is one that I make a lot, and can be adapted to whatever ingredients are available locally. The recipe is based on my Dad’s famous seafood chowder. Every year my parents host a New Year’s seafood party and this is one of the many local dishes served. My brother and I have adapted the recipe for when we’re paddling in Baja by incorporating local seafood and veggies there. 22



Beer bread made easy Mix: 1 ½ cups all purpose white flour 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1 can of beer Additions: ½ cup grated cheddar cheese Sprinkle of dill and basil Mix the flour and baking powder directly in your Outback / Dutch Oven pan (no need to dirty a mixing bowl), then stir in a can of beer. Sometimes to get the right consistency you may need an additional 50 ml of liquid. You can use water, or it’s a good excuse to open another can of beer. For this recipe, I added grated cheddar cheese and herbs to go with the seafood chowder. If you’re adding cheese or herbs, you can add them to the mix before putting in the beer. This easy beer bread requires no kneading or rising time; just mix and bake. In my Outback Oven it takes 35 to 45 minutes on “bake”, or about 40 minutes at 400 degrees in a conventional oven.

Beer Bread and Chowder

Coastal seafood chowder 1 onion 3 stalks of celery 3 carrots 2 parsnips 2 yams 3 potatoes 1 pound (or more) fresh local seafood. We use clams, oysters, cod 2 cloves garlic Dill, basil, salt or Miso to taste. 1 cup cream, milk, or sour cream Use a large soup pot. Chop and brown the onion in oil or butter. Add the veggies, chopped into small cubes. Add seasoning: In this recipe I used dill, basil and a tablespoon of Miso soup paste (instead of salt). Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until almost soft. Now you add your seafood. I have used local oysters and clams that I picked from my favorite spot here on Gabriola Island. I also added 350 grams of local cod that I cut into bite-sized cubes. At the very end add your cream, milk or sour cream. All work well. Usually I go with whatever needs to be used first on my kayak trip. You can really play around with this recipe. While working in Baja I use veggies with a more Mexican flair: onions, carrots, red and green peppers and finely diced jalapeno peppers. You can also add cans of diced tomatoes or corn, and even cream corn is a nice addition to this chowder. I have made it with a Thai theme using seasonings like cumin, thyme, turmeric and shrimp or prawns; and I always suggest going with whatever seafood is fresh and local. It doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter where in the world you are; making simple beer bread and seafood chowder is the perfect addition to any sailing or kayaking adventure. < Hilary Masson is a guide and part owner of Baja Kayak Adventures.




New Gear

Win some of these items Hydration Holster

Wavelength Magazine is offering online readers one prize per month in 2011, and a grand prize of a new kayak. Read online for details.

(North Water)

Cargo cockpit cover

Outrigger rescue device

(Beluga Outdoor Gear)

Trayak bike trailer (Tony’s Trailers)

(Solo Rescue Assist)

Tech Pouch

(Advanced Elements)

Throw bags Pump sleeve (NWCAG)

Paddle cover (NWCAG)


(North Water)

Electric Bilge Pump

(Blue Water)

Yak Armour

(Blue Water)

Stick Holster

Turtleback Deck Bag

(North Water)

(Blue Water)

Reflective deck tape


About our tricked out kayaks No sooner did we announce this project than kayak manufacturers offered boats for the project. Imagine having to turn down a kayak to test! We ended up picking a Seaward Passat as a large (22’) double with the necessary deck space to accommodate the many items. It has a well-earned reputation as a heavy-duty and fast touring/expedition double, most notably being a perpetual winner of the Yukon 1000 race. 24 24


The second kayak for this exercise is the Delta 17, which we’re finding to be a good, light, easy-to-paddle day-use or weekend touring kayak made from forgiving thermoform. We picked it because it’s part of the Wavelength roster, meaning we could poke holes to accommodate gear without restriction – a sometimes necessary evil if you really want to trick out a kayak. WINTER WINTER 2010 2010

Rapidup Sail

(Advanced Elements)

Our Tricked-Out Kayaks

One of the great things about kayaking is the inherent simplicity. All you really need to get started is a kayak, a paddle and the basic safety gear. But like all hobbies, we can complicate things as much as we want. And nothing has the potential to complicate life as much as gear. It can improve our kayaking comfort, efficiency and convenience. But it can come at the cost of forsaking the simplicity that helps define kayaking. But this article isn’t about simplicity, so minimalists, put your

basic nature aside as we explore the world of kayak clutter. Just as car lovers can deck out hotrods, so can we kayakers deck out our kayaks. How far can we go? Well, our goal here was to create the ultimate tricked-out kayak. And in the end we actually needed two kayaks to accommodate all the items. So is our life better now? Sometimes. But not always. Everything has an upside and downside, so in our brief appraisal of the items that make up our tricked out kayak, we take a look at our impression of the pros and cons of each item.  u

Cargo cockpit cover (Beluga Outdoor Gear)

How we selected the items

Interior mounted cockpit bags (North Water)

Cargo Half-Skirt (Beluga Outdoor Gear)

Seat and Bilge Sponge (Skwoosh)

KayakSailor (Kuvia)

Under deck bag (North Water)

We didn’t. Instead we put out a cattle-call email to various gear manufacturers to take part, at no cost to them to participate, and this is the result. We tried not to exclude anyone, but a few items offered to us fell off the rails mainly due to deadline restrictions. We got swamped! Because of the complexity, the contributed kayak sails didn’t get a complete workout. Instead, we’re going to outline the four sails we were offered separately in a later issue. Also, we fully intend to improve our tricked out kayak over time, so if items are missing, we’ll fill in the gaps later. To nominate items for inclusion in a future “tricked out kayak beyond all belief,” email kayak@wavelengthmagazine.com

Sea Anchor


Check out our tricked-out kayak in video online WINTER WINTER 2010 2010


25 25

New Gear

For the cockpit

the actual packs can be detached). Requires removing sprayskirt to use.

Cargo cockpit cover Beluga Outdoor Works

Interior mounted cockpit bags North Water

These simple gear bags can increase storage space inside your cockpit. North Water offered two options for our tricked out kayak: the underdeck and interior mount styles, with the latter best positioned along the cockpit side next to the seat. Advantages: Potential great use of empty space, plus quick release tabs to remove the bags from the anchors. Quick, easy access. Disadvantages: Be sure you have the necessary cockpit space, for both comfort and safety. The bags aren’t waterproof. The anchor pads must be glued and become a permanent addition to your kayak (though



Seat cushion Skwoosh

If comfort of the posterior is a priority (and when isn’t it?), then the Skwoosh seat cushion will add necessary padding. This is a staff favorite field tested for many years. Advantages: It’s a no-brainer installation – just put it down. Comfortable, durable and well constructed. More stable than inflatable seat pads. Disadvantages: A slight (oh-so-slight) rise in your kayak’s centre of gravity. Could be lost in event of a wet exit. Versatility: Use it outside your cockpit at your camp on the beach or on rough logs.


When kayak camping, a cockpit cover can help keep out dew, rain, bugs and even raccoons. Since the cockpit makes a great place to stash gear, it only makes sense that the cockpit cover provide quick access to the gear. Enter Beluga with this offering that features a zipper to gain inner access, a mesh lining for gear storage and a strap to lift the whole package when needed. Advantages: Suspends gear to potentially keep it out of the ‘wet’ portion of the cockpit. Adds a layer of versatility to the otherwise static cockpit cover. Disadvantages: The mesh pocket is large so gear may still fall into the wet portion. Be sure to get right size for your cockpit.

Our Tricked-Out Kayaks

Electric bilge pump Blue Water Kayak Works

A specialty item, this system utilizes a highly efficient mini pump, battery and a magnetic switch to empty a kayak in about 50 seconds, with an hour’s battery life. That can be doubled by adding a second battery. Advantages: This allows the safety of emptying the cockpit with hands-free effort, allowing the paddler to concentrate on kayaking rather than bailing – a huge safety benefit. It also enables effort-free emptying of the cockpit during training so you can build skills instead of draining your energy by manually emptying the kayak. Disadvantages: The installation takes several hours, requires drilling a hole in the kayak and permanently placing the tubing,

electrical and battery and pump, which can be nitpicky. Elements can’t be removed (including the battery) when not in use without dismantling the system. The system adds three to four pounds to the weight of the kayak. Versatility: Blue Water is adding options for a solar panel and an adaptor for other uses such as a USB connection, adding the potential for a great electrical power source during remote long-distance trips, with additional benefit of the safety of an automatic pump.

underneath the half-skirt offers unsecured cargo space. A staff favorite for the design. Advantages: Get the freedom from the confinement of a sprayskirt while covering the area most prone to paddle drips. Protects from sun-burned upper legs. Extra cargo space is a bonus. Disadvantages: A fair-weather product, it won’t provide the safety features of a full sprayskirt. Cockpit could get waterlogged.

Bilge sponge


Cargo half-skirt

Beluga Outdoor Works

The half-skirt covers the front portion of the cockpit, providing some protection from sun and water. A layer of mesh


It’s not so much a sponge as it is a highly absorbent, soft material. Smaller than regular sponges, the small size is either a benefit or a drawback. A loop can be used to secure it to your kayak. u



New Gear

Foredeck luxuries

Tech pouch

Yak Armor

Blue Water Kayak Works

This new product is made of a highly scuff-proof plastic designed to protect your kayakâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finish. Cut the Yak Armor to size, then simply lay down flat to apply. Advantages: Easy to apply and replace. It is virtually indestructible and invisible. Disadvantages: Bends in the shape of your hull have to be accommodated. Artistry in trimming will help the look. . Yak Armour

Advanced Elements

Dry cases are standard these days, especially for anything electronic. New from Advanced Elements is a dry pouch with a twist: an extendable arm keeps the pouch upright at roughly a 45-degree angle. Clip it to existing deck lines for a better viewing angle. Advantages: Simple clip-on setup, aids visibility of electronic gear, potentially making viewing hands-free. Disadvantages: The extending arm bends rather than pivots on a hinge. Rigidity suffers and is best if item in the pouch is near the size of the pouch.

Turtleback deck bag North Water

This is an adaptation of the classic deck bag in miniature. It will fit a camera and snacks but not much more. Advantage: Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to clip into place and contains its own flotation. It is small enough that it is highly unlikely to impede your paddling technique or obstruct views of your compass, for instance. Disadvantages: Difficult to use with other items like the Tech Pouch.

Hydration Holster North Water

This removable holster is designed for quick installation by snapping onto existing deck lines. It keeps a water bottle within easy reach. Advantages: Protects deck from scratches that will occur if, for instance, your water bottle is secured to your deck under your bungy cords. It also allows onehand access to your water bottle. Plus the odds of losing your bottle diminish. Disadvantages: It pretty much precludes a deck bag or other foredeck use as it straps across the width of the foredeck. Versatility: Can be used around the waist when not paddling. 28



Sea Anchor

Sea-Lect Designs

This will be of most interest to the kayak fishermen among us, though other kayakers might find a suitable use. It is a heavy cast iron construction that is every bit a traditional anchor, with a handy foldup storage feature. Advantages: A truly well-made product that is high durable and likely to last a lifetime of use.

Our Tricked-Out Kayaks Disadvantages: Users should know the risk of entanglement, and place it only in a manner where a cutaway is possible should the anchor become caught. Versatility: Can be used to club bears.

strap. By protecting the paddle, when used as your spare paddle strapped to your deck it can project your hull and your paddle from scratches.

Paddle Leash

Natural West Coast Adventure Gear

Simple and efficient, it will link your paddle to your kayak, which is desirable should potentially all three of you (your kayak, your paddle and you) otherwise part ways. A tried and true design. Versatility: The paddle leash is underrated as a secure way to store other items. For instance, we use it to secure the stand for the waterproof housing on our video camera. Should the stand fail, the leash won’t.

Stick Holster

Blue Water Kayak Works

This simple pair of connected plastic tubes fastens to the bungy cord on the bow of your kayak. By sliding the ends of the shaft of your spare paddle you gain quick access to your spare paddles. Advantages: Bow storage of your spare paddle with quick access – perfect for paddlers with paddles for different conditions. Disadvantages: Unlike North Water’s Paddle Britches, the Stick Holster isn’t easily removed when not in use. Some may not like the look of the tubes when not in use.

Paddle care


Natural West Coast Adventure Gear


Paddle cover

A traditional paddle cover option, it covers both the blade and the shaft and connects the two ends with an adjustable

North Water

This versatile paddle float unfolds to fill a number of other possible uses. One


is a beaching pad to protect your kayak’s hull when landing on rocks or barnacles. It can protect your car in the same way when loading your kayak into a cradle. It is also billed for use as a sleeping pad and chair. Advantages: It combines multiple uses in one product that is otherwise a static and rarely used item (in comparison to a traditional foam paddle float). Useful as a pad or cushion in camp. Disadvantages: The padding is too firm for use as a single sleeping pad. Consider it extra padding under your tent instead. The seat isn’t firm for sitting upright. Versatility: You could dream up any other number of uses. For instance, use it as a mat for car repairs when you break down on the way to your launch site. Tow lines

Natural West Coast Adventure Gear and North Water

Two options were rigged to our trickedout kayaks. NWCAG offers a basic beltdeployed tow rope that is nicely compact. North Water offered its Sea Tec Tow Line, which deploys around the cockpit combing u



New Gear connect. Can be quickly dropped onto the deck when the need arises. Disadvantages: The design is downwind only. We found it difficult to refit into the stow bag. Care needs to be taken in the process, as the light frame can snap, rendering the sail useless. to transfer the stress of towing from the kayaker to the kayak. A quick-release tab ensures an easy jettison, if the need arises.

Lasso Security



Outrigger rescue device Solo Rescue Assist

While paddle floats assist through buoyancy, this outrigger provides stability for wet re-entries through a cantilever and a water-filled counterbalance. Advantages: The weight of the water is very effective for providing stability during self-rescues. Disadvantages: Bulkier to store on a kayak than most paddle floats. Versatility: Can be augmented by a ladder. Two such outriggers would provide near-perfect stability for a kayak. Great potential for overnighting during expedition crossings.

This rates as a more complex design by far, with greater benefits. The design is rather ingenious, and effectively mimics a sailboat with features adapted for a kayak. We can’t wait to more thoroughly test this! Advantages: Can be used for upwind sailing. Careful thought to the design essentially transforms the kayak into a fullfledged sailboat complete with outriggers. Disadvantages: Holes in hull required to mount, plus a sailing skillset is required – or will need to be developed.

Advanced Elements

This simple, effective and highly portable design quickly clips to the bow of your kayak. Advantages: Quick, light and simple, especially as the sail uses carabiners to 30


This extra-heavy-duty locking cable is designed with two loops on either end. Wrap around the kayak on either side to take up the slack and secure around your car’s kayak rack or a post, then secure in the middle to reconnect two ends. Locks with keys or combination. Advantages: Sturdy, secure design with lots of latitude for use. Disadvantages: Weight of the locking portion means care is necessary when looping to avoid scratching your car. A sliding protective cover would help.

Transport Trayak

Tony’s Trailers


Kayak sails

We quickly decided that in terms of tricking out a kayak, a sail went one step further by transforming the use into a whole new skillset. We were offered four types of sails for this project, and present two styles to whet the appetite for this option. We are planning a followup article to examine sails and kayak sailing in more depth. RapidUp Sail

Disadvantages: It’s heavy. Versatility: Can be used to club bears. Kong Cable

Kayak Secure

Beluga Outdoor Gear

Operating akin to the famous Club for securing the steering wheel of cars, this heavy-duty extendable bar extends to clamp across the cockpit of your kayak, then locks into place. Advantages: While no guarantee by itself that someone won’t steal your kayak, in conjunction with a locking cable it adds an extra measure of security – plus provides a place to tether the cable. WINTER 2010

Leave the car at home. The Trayak offers a versatile, portable, lightweight yet strong design. A staff favorite. Advantages: It is surprisingly efficient for towing the kayak, requiring little additional pedalling effort. Good strong construction. Adaptable design includes possibility of a cargo container. Can be adopted for different lengths of kayaks. Turns on a dime. Plastic tires allow backing the trailer into the water to unload. A carbon-neutral product. Simple tightening fasteners. Quick to assemble. Well designed. Disadvantages: Hills, dogs and cars and all the usual impediments to cycling. <





story and imagesBy byAdam Neil Schulman Bolonsky

Surf games Trade in that ‘sofa’ for something to ride the waves – if you dare


RIMACING, I cram myself into Dave’s bright red, shiny fiberglass surf kayak, which is a bit too small for me. The fit’s tight, but tolerable. I push off into the soup and start to paddle out. Immediately I realize I’m in a different world. For starters, the boat doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Several strokes later, the stern is still bottoming out on the sand and I haven’t moved far off the beach. When I urge the boat forward, it fishtails, even more than my shortest whitewater kayak. I’m sitting up a few inches higher, which should give me some more power, but it also adds instability. And then come the waves. With my lack of forward speed, I get pushed backward quickly by the first small dumpers. I struggle to make it out of the soup zone, and then I try to catch a few short rides to warm up to the new craft. The short stern of the boat gets whipped in circles quickly, and the hull behaves very differently than I’m used to. A couple of short “rides” (or at least I like to think I was catching rides) and I’m upside down. Then I discover something else new: surf boats are very hard to roll. On the second attempt I swim, and as I empty the boat, Dave comes flying by in my river kayak, exclaiming, “This thing is like paddling a sofa!” Welcome to my first experience with the funky but high performance kayaks specifically designed



for the surf zone. It may be the wave of the future. Like everything in the kayaking world, surf kayaks have gotten increasingly specialized. We’ve now got whitewater boats specially designed for park-and-play, for running waterfalls, for downriver racing, and sea kayaks for expeditions, play and fishing. Surf boats are the logical next step, and they’re extremely good at it (assuming the kayakers know what they’re doing.) But there’s a lot to get used to. The difference between the surf kayak and my whitewater boat is obvious. Most dramatic is the bottom. The surf boat’s underside is dead flat, even more so than planing-hull whitewater boats. Like a surfboard, it’s got fins, which are often movable and interchangeable. The flat surface, like a surfboard, rockers up at the WINTER 2010

bow to allow the boat to fall down the wave without digging in and locking in position. And where my whitewater boat is boxshaped in cross-section, surf kayaks are very clearly wider at the bottom of the hull with very distinct rails. From there the boat narrows as you move above the waterline. The stern end is minimal, with very little boat aft of the cockpit, often in a variety of rounded shapes designed to loosen the stern to make easy turns possible. The sides of the boat are convex. This is to aid switching the sides of boat lean on the wave without catching edges. Most are fiberglass rather than plastic, and about the length of the shorter set of whitewater play boats, about 7’6” or so. Like anything specialized, surf kayaks are good at one thing at the expense of others. The obvious purpose is to surf waves. Not

Surf Kayaking Student and instructor wait for the right conditions for a launch into surf on the beach at Cape Kiwanda, Oregon.

just to ponderously ride a wave into the beach like sea kayakers, but to be able to turn, cut back, spin and even catch air. For this they trade speed, stability and ease of

rolling, which means a steep learning curve and a lot of paddling effort to get to the surf lineup. After a few runs and some pointers, I begin to get a better feel. I realize that while the flat hull doesn’t seem to be affected much by a knee lift and hip edge, an aggressive upper body lean – toward the sea, just like surfing any other kayak – is critical. Leaning back sinks the tiny stern and frees up the rockered bow, often whipping the boat around in circles. I throw my body further forward and get some better results. As I get tired, I go over a few times and rediscover the difficulty I have with rolling, so I take a few minutes to watch Dave, Chris, and Zach. I notice a few things. First of all, they fall down the face of the wave a lot faster and more aggressively, staying on the unbroken part of the wave. They’re using the pocket, where a sea kayak or even a whitewater boat quickly locks in too much at the bow and broaches. Almost all turns u




Options are made with onside lean, as opposed to leaning away from a stern rudder as sea kayakers do to avoid broaching. When they capsize, I don’t feel so bad. It often takes a several attempts to flip over the flat, finned bottom, often ending with a scull. If rolling a sea kayak is like rolling a log, rolling a surf boat looks more like flipping over a sheet of plywood. Surf kayakers also usually seek different conditions than sea kayaks, or even whitewater boats playing in the surf. The desirable condition is an offshore wind, which will steepen and shorten the incoming waves—exactly the opposite of what I’d look for if I wanted to surf in my “short” 16-foot sea kayak, which demands longer wavelengths. Using steeper waves also means a new type of etiquette. Since I’ve mostly surfed whitewater or sea kayaks, I found that I didn’t conflict much with board surfers, since we were looking for different waves and used different sections of the break. In surf boats, you’re using the exact same spots as board surfers. After all, you’re basically on a surfboard with a cockpit. You



Chris Bensch surfs a broken wave at Cape Kiwanda, Oregon.

still have a lot more maneuverability than they do – you have a paddle and an easier time getting into position. “It’s important to understand a few things,” says Chris. “First, when we’re waiting for a wave, we have a tendency


to paddle back and forth, since it’s more stable. This makes them nervous. “Second, they work hard to paddle out, and they can’t accelerate as quick, so they may be waiting out there for as long as 30 minutes for a wave. So wait your turn.” Lastly, never drop on someone who’s already on a wave, and stay clear when paddling out. When in doubt, turn and paddle toward the broken part of the wave. Folks riding the wave in will be surfing the shoulder in the other direction. By the end of the morning I’m exhausted and feel anything but competent. But new approaches are never easy, and this is no exception. I’m certainly envious of the moves my friends have been able to make, and the grace they show doing it. Then I get back into my whitewater boat to paddle back. It really does feel supremely stable, slow, and forgiving. Kind of like paddling a sofa. < Neil Schulman has been told that paddling a surf kayak is kind of like driving a racing car, but he’ll have to take your word for it. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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E-Den Bed & Breakfast Escape to Lasquetiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new B&B, nearby to Jedediah Island Marine Park. Features tandem kayak rentals, kitchenette and bathroom, wood fired hot tub, yoga studio, solar power, organic farm and orchard. Phone: 250-240-8246 Web: www.e-den.ca Email: kayak@e-den.ca





Surf kayaking 1.

by Christine Brice and Wavelength Magazine

Understand the difference in kayaks.

With a longer bow and a short, stubby stern, the surf kayak is an unstable beast that in some ways resembles a whitewater kayak but is designed solely for riding waves. That feature makes it very unwieldy for anything else but waves, meaning sea kayakers are going to need a whole new skillset to take up surf kayaking. There is no simply stepping inside and paddling away.


Make sure the boat fits like a glove. The first thing you want to do even before you get in the water is see if you fit in it. You’re looking for points of contact – as many points of contact as you can. Make sure your feet are set on the footpegs and your heals are flat on the bottom of the boat. The more points of contact you have the more control you have. So you want your knees and thighs to be jammed in there, and you want to be hitting at your hips and your butt. Proper fitting of your boat is very important to get the required performance from your surf kayak.



Know how to exit your kayak. One of the first things that is going to happen is you are going to catch an edge and you’re going to go upside down. Surf boats are difficult to roll but you don’t need to know how to roll to start. It’s just more exhausting if you need to get out and swim. As the bare minimum you need to know how to pull your sprayskirt off and wet exit just like you would for any other form of paddling.




Think safety.

Check to make sure there is nobody else around you. There’s an etiquette that board surfers follow that kayak surfers should follow as well. You want to make sure you’re not near anyone because if you have to bail out of this and your kayak is full of water it’s very heavy. It can hurt other people and it can break boards.


Surf Kayaking

Here’s what you need to know to get you started.

Will Brice goes through the paces. The camera on the bow of the kayak was used to create the video shown in the online version.


Start slow and easy. A beginner usually starts in the impact zone as it is known: the area where you see the white waves and the white wash. This is where surf kayaking is much more enjoyable for a beginner, because a surf kayak will surf the foam pile. You don’t have to get outside the surf line and you don’t have to get on a green wave to start.


Head straight into surf. The paddle to use is a whitewater paddle. Use a fairly short, deep stroke. As you first head out into a whitewater wave you want to hit the wave face on. Wait for it to break and make for the foam pile. That’s the easiest conditions for crossing. Place the paddle blade in the water and lift your body up to throw the boat up and over the foam.


Ride a wave. When you get to the spot you’re comfortable, start with some side surfs. Place your kayak parallel to the whitewater wave and feel how it pushes the boat along. You’re going to put your paddle blade in and lean into it. To start you want a little speed so paddle and lean a little bit forward. Once you feel yourself picked up by the wave, depending on where your comfort level is, you can back up a little bit and ride the wave in. In a surf boat you’re not going to be heading straight to shore. It’s going to try to curve along and you’re going to follow the wave so you want to be prepared to be able to lean into whichever way you turn so you can stay upright no matter which way you go.

See all of this explained in action. Click to view the first of Wavelength’s new video training series – plus awesome surfing. WINTER 2010





for the challenge

Bowron Lakes prove ideal for standup paddleboarding


VER SINCE Laura Demers saw the first boards come into the store where she works, she was fascinated by the concept. “I tried out some demo boards from the store and I was hooked,” she says. Standup paddling still takes a back seat to her love of whitewater kayaking, but it has definitely added another dimension to her paddling passion. “After spending some time on a standup board, along with some encouragement from my employer, Marlin at Western Canoeing and Kayaking, I decided to tackle the Bowron Lakes on a standup board. My boyfriend Dave and I decided September would be the best time to avoid the crowds.” Bowron Lakes is a 116-km circuit located in a provincial park northeast of Quesnel, BC, that starts and ends in the



Mackenzie Prince Rupert

Prince George

Bowron Lakes Provincial Park

Kamloops same place to create the perfect circuit. It is Vancouver a series or portages, lakes and rivers. The most frequent question Laura got was, “Where are you going to put all your gear?” Dave acted as the sherpa and carried most of the gear in a Tripper S Clipper canoe set up for solo canoeing. “I chose the Starboard Free Race because it’s a fast touring board and my WINTER 2010

paddle was a Werner Spanker that was really light,” she says. “Dave and I did time trials to make sure the two craft were of comparable speed and the board easily kept up to the canoe.” The gear for the trip weighed in at 180 pounds, with Laura stowing two 20-litre packs on her board. “We had originally planned on taking seven days to complete the circuit and thought even that might be pushing it for time and energy. In the end, it only took us six days. We paddled an average of 20 km a day, which took us about six to seven hours. As luck would have it, it rained four days out of seven and we had a headwind most of the time.” Her Kokatat drysuit helped to keep warm and comfortable the whole way. “By the second day, my abs were feeling the core workout. I was surprised that my

Standup paddleboards

legs never got tired,” she says. Setting up a paddle sail wasn’t an option because of the unfortunate wind direction. Plus any break from paddling meant drifting backwards. “People we met along the way called me crazy and snapped pictures like the paparazzi. The German tourists we met

had never seen nor heard of an SUP and they took pictures to verify their stories about the crazy Canadian when they got back home.” Her run of the “chute” on Isaac River caught everyone’s attention. “They were all expecting me to fall off, and I didn’t disappoint them. I made it past


the first couple of big waves and then came crashing to the water. I managed to rescue myself and hop back on the board for the rest of the river. Thank goodness for that helmet and board tether I brought. “The trip was a lot of fun, and yes, I stood up the whole way!”  <



Planning and Safety

Kayaking with flare P

ADDLERS carry a widening array of communication devices in case of an emergency. VHF radios, Spot, EPIRBs and satellite phones are all options when planning a trip. Flares are more commonplace, though, long considered a basic safety item for any maritime adventure. Flares are pyrotechnic emergency distress signals and can be harmful when inappropriately used. There is potential for serious injury, especially if they are accidentally discharged and strike the user or another bystander. They can also occasionally misfire or explode. Please read the instructions carefully before using. When not in use on the water, flares should be stored in a safe, dry location and be replaced every three to four years. There are four categories of flares: types A through D. Type A flares, or parachute rockets, are the most powerful pyrotechnic available to paddlers. When launched, these flares reach a height of over 300 meters and burn for at least 40 seconds. Because of their height, they can be seen over a long distance, especially on clear nights. Type B flares are also called multi-star flares. The most common Type B flares are the Very Pistol and the Skyblazer. The Very pistol was named after Edward Wilson Very



When all else fails, pyrotechnics can get you potentially life-saving attention (1847â&#x20AC;&#x201C;1910), an American naval officer who developed and popularized a single-shot pistol that is able to fire flares. Reaching a more limited height of 100 meters and burning for no more than 15 seconds, these flares are visible over a shorter range than Type A flares. Type A and B flares are less effective during bright sunshine, and next to useless in low clouds. In these conditions, Type C and D flares are more effective. Try to remember the last time you saw a car accident. You might have noticed police officers dispersing a few lit sticks


with powerful red flames around the scene of the accident. These flares ensure drivers are aware of the accident ahead. Hand-held marine flares look the same as accident flares, but are held in hand away from the eyes. They are designed for the marine environment and work well during the day as well as at night. In a pinch, they are also excellent for starting a fire in the rain. Smoke flares round out our flare types. Movies or documentaries about the Vietnam War show these types of devices. Soldiers throw canisters that produce a great deal of smoke to enable helicopters to pinpoint a position. The smoke signaling device works approximately the same, except the device can be thrown in the water or be held in your hand. The flares produce a dense, oily orange or red smoke visible during the day. Although they are awkward to carry, the dense smoke is certain to attract attention. So which flares should a paddler choose? Your final choice will depend to some extent on your paddling locale, but one Type A and three Type B flares are a practical combination. In an emergency, launch the parachute flare first to alert as many potential rescuers as possible. Once you notice a plane or boat moving in your direction, launch one of the Type B flares

Flares to help them pinpoint your location. As the rescuers approach, launch the last two flares. Aerial flares should be fired at an angle into the wind. This encourages the flare to gain altitude so it can be seen over the greatest distances. Calculate a firing angle of 1 degree for each knot of wind. For example, if the wind is blowing 20 knots, you should fire the flare against the wind with an angle of 20 degrees. If there is no wind at all, you should fire the flare directly over your head. With high wind velocity such as storm force winds, lower the angle to a maximum of 45 degrees. Flare manufacturers use a variety of firing systems. Review the instructions carefully before you need to use them. You need to be familiar with the operation of all flares in your possession, and ideally have attended a flare demonstration. Aerial flares are designed to extinguish in water. If a flare misfires, handle it with caution. The ignition might be delayed. Wait at least 30 seconds, and if it still hasn’t fired, place it in water until you can dispose of it properly.

Are flares obsolete? Considering electronic options such as GPS locator beacons and the question of whether flares will be seen, are they a worthwhile piece of safety equipment now? Join the discussion at www. wavelengthmagazine.com/forum

Here are some safety tips for using flares: • Launch an aerial flare at arm’s length away from your face. • Look away from the flare when you launch it. • Treat a flare as if it is a firearm: don’t point it towards anyone. Paddlers must also sort out how to store and carry flares on the water. Flares need to be kept dry but they must also be kept at hand in the event of an emergency. I recommend using a waterproof container such as a welding rod container or in a heavy duty vacuum sealed plastic bag. To facilitate opening the bag, seal a large nail in the bag with the flares. Flares are valid for four years from the


date of manufacture which is stamped on each flare. It is hard to find a place to dispose of outdated flares but try calling your local fire department or police station. Flares cannot be recycled and throwing flares in with household trash poses a danger. Remember that it is illegal to fire flares if you are not in distress. Only in rare instances, possibly at a training session organized by a training organization, would you be able to discharge a flare in a non-emergency situation and not break the law. One significant drawback to flares is that they communicate one way – you don’t know if anyone has seen them. Paddlers should also carry a two way communication device such as a radio or cell phone. Nevertheless, flares are a recognized and effective emergency signalling device. Used properly, they form an important part of most paddlers’ emergency communications plan. n Michael Pardy lives in Victoria where he runs SKILS Ltd. He can be reached at info@skils.ca.




By Alex Matthews

photos by Dave Aharonian





HE “HAND OF GOD” is a rather extravagantly named rescue that is very effective when aiding an unconscious or injured paddler who is unable to exit their capsized kayak. Because it’s quick and keeps the paddler in their boat (which reduces the stress and fatigue that swimming would impart), it’s also a terrific general-purpose rescue for instructors and guides coaching beginners in easy conditions. The concept is simple: the rescuer rolls

the capsized kayak, and its occupant, back upright. While this rescue does require a certain amount of brute strength, as with all skills, proper technique can go a long way to making it much easier. Start by closing the distance as fast as possible, maneuvering your kayak into position parallel to the capsized boat. Next, drape yourself across the overturned hull, securing a solid grip on the far side of the kayak’s cockpit coaming.



Do not be afraid to fully commit your weight onto the overturned boat – its flotation will easily support you, and this committed position puts you into a great stance to right the kayak. With your hand closest to the capsized boat securely gripping the far side of the coaming, place your other hand on the capsized hull’s chine opposite your gripping hand. By aggressively weighting the chine closest to you (pushing it down) while pulling with your far hand, it is



5 42




The Hand of God very easy to roll the capsized kayak halfway back upright. At this point, move both hands to the gripping position on the coaming and pull the kayak towards your own, closing the gap between the two boats. This effectively ‘locks out’ the capsized kayak’s position, holding it very securely on edge. Now shift hand positions, reaching your outer hand out to secure a grip on the paddler’s PFD, while the other hand retains its grasp on the coaming. A key step at this juncture is to move the boats apart again in order to create enough space for the angled kayak to roll fully upright. Complete the rotation of the capsized kayak by pulling down at the coaming and hauling the paddler upright over their stern deck. Once the kayak is righted, the rescuer must continue to provide full support in the case of an injured kayaker, as a compromised paddler may well capsize again if not effectively stabilized. Wrap an arm around the paddler, get a good grip on a deck line and lean into them. Signal for assistance and have a paddling partner tow both boats to shore. The hardest part of this rescue is completing the final rotation upright. Some kayaks are harder to rotate than others, and smaller rescuers will struggle to right heavy paddlers. But even if you find it hard to complete the full rotation to finished upright position, the Hand of God should still be in your repertoire because




in many instances that first half rotation is enough to make a huge difference. In calm conditions, when dealing with anything short of an unconscious paddler (which is thankfully very rare), simply rotating the kayak up onto its side is usually enough to allow a struggling paddler to bring their head to the surface and breathe. From this position, the rescuer can communicate

with the capsized paddler. Talk them through a wet exit, ask them to lie well back onto the stern deck to make rotation easier, or await assistance from another paddling partner. < Adapted from “Sea Kayaking Rough Waters” by Alex Matthews available at www.helipress.com.


Kayak Academy (Seattle) Experience IS Necessary! Since 1991, the Kayak Academy has been providing the best sea kayak experience you can get. Count on us for all your paddling gear. Phone: 206.527.1825 or toll-free 866.306.1825 Web: www.kayakacademy.com Email: info@kayakacademy.com

Hooksum Outdoor School West Coast Outdoor Leadership Training. Quality skills training and Hesquiaht traditional knowledge for those pursuing a career or employment in the outdoors. Certification courses include: Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Levels I & II, Advanced Wilderness First Aid, Lifesaving, BOAT & ROC(M). Visiting Kayak & Hiking Groups: Base your Hesquiaht Harbour adventures from our Longhouse. Meals and overnight stays available in 2010. Phone: 250.670.1120 Web: www.hooksumschool.com Email: info@hooksumschool.com




Fishing lunacy Fishing Angles

Some anglers think that unless the sun and the moon are aligned, you may as well stow your tackle and go for a paddle rather than ‘waste’ time fishing…


F YOUR ANGLING EFFORTS weren’t as productive as you wished this season (and whose ever are?), perhaps it’s time to consider some outside factors that can influence your catch rate. One of those influences originates from far above, in the form of gravity from Earth’s closest celestial body: the moon. Well known for its gravitational effect on the ocean and large lakes, there is a strong body of evidence that shows the moon and its forces also affect the feeding habits of game and fish. The influences of the lunar phases on nature were documented by ancient societies and, to this day, publications like the Old Farmers Almanac, which has been published since 1792, have listed the best fishing days based on the phase of the moon. In fact, there are numerous charts, books, software programs and even entire websites devoted to the theory that the position of the moon (and the sun) can affect fishing success. All are based on the fact that the moon revolves around the Earth about every 29 days, while the Earth revolves around the sun. As it does so, the distance of the moon – and its gravitational pull – varies as it relates to Earth and its water bodies. The lunar period between the new moon and the full moon, when the gravitational effects are at their strongest, is generally regarded as the best time to catch a fish. The pull of the moon’s gravity at that time causes the water on earth to move more than at any other lunar phase, and that water movement is said to trigger fish movement and feeding activities. Taking the concept even further, an avid angler and author named John Alden Knight in 1936 developed a table of moon and sun phases to help fishermen schedule their efforts. In his Solunar Table, Alden noted that, based on the position of the orbs, there were major and minor movement and feeding periods created each day. He suggested that the best time to fish on a particular location on Earth was when the moon is directly overhead or directly underfoot, calling these “major periods.” “Minor periods,” according to Knight, occur just before the moon rises and the hours after it sets, and also result in good fishing. To his credit, Knight originally considered 33 factors that might have an influence on the activities of fish, whittling them down to the three most apparent, upon which he bases his popular Solunar Tables: the sun, the moon and the tides. Among his findings during 44



the research period, Knight discovered that some 90 percent of 200 record fish catches occurred around a new moon. Knight’s original findings, often combined with various other scientific information on the matter, form the basis for most recommendations in modern-day fishing tables found in periodicals and on the web. And going by the popularity of the tables among fishermen – commercial and recreational – there are a great number of anglers who consult the tables to learn when their efforts may be rewarded. For a fee, some web-based sources offer custom tables for particular geographic locations. The effects of the sun and the moon on fishing success is pure theory, of course, since nothing can be proved outright. But if you want to have as much going for you as possible on your next paddle fishing trip, you just might want to time your angling hours on the water with what many believe to be the peak time for the fish to be feeding below. As for me, any time I can find to go fishing from my kayak is more than worth the gamble. < Dan Armitage is a boating, fishing and travel writer based in the Midwest. He is a licensed (USCG Master) captain, hosts a syndicated radio show, and presents kayak fishing seminars at boat shows.

Rainforest Chronicles


E HAD BEEN sea kayaking in Clayoquot Sound for a week. The weather forecast had been warning daily of the potential for thunderstorms, but none had materialized. The final morning while packing to head home it began to rain quite hard – our group was stunned by the sheer volume of water falling from the sky. The intensity of the rain was picking up rapidly, and in less than five minutes the water running on the beach was already an inch deep. As we paddled away from shore I was nervous. The forecast had again warned of possible thundershowers, and you could feel it in the air. We were about to round a point and paddle down a rocky outer coast exposed to ocean swell, with few options for landing. We were passing the last sand beach when the forebodingly dark cloudscape over Foam Reef suddenly erupted in brilliant light. A streak of lightning issued forth, bridging the gap between sky and earth. I began to count seconds but got no further than one before the clap of thunder hit me. The lightning had struck a fifth of a mile away. In times of crisis it is important for a leader to remain calm. I was of course quite shaken, and personally would have bolted for the beach. But I could not precipitate a panic – must maintain equanimity! I calmly edged my boat and swung it around toward shore with sweep strokes, at a rate I figured the students could match. My plan was to announce that we were to proceed at once to shore in an orderly fashion. Way too late. Bonny, paddling at the rear of the group, said later “when that lightning struck, it was instantly everyone for

A drab tarp can become a lifesaver when lightning suddenly turns an outing into a panicked scramble for shoreline and safety themselves.” She had never seen a group so quickly turn their boats or sprint for shore. Once on the beach, we didn’t feel a whole lot safer. The sand beach was open, making us the tallest standing structures. Not good. But along the edge of the forest there were lots of trees, and we felt it best to stay away from the trees in lightning. To make matters worse, people were cooling off quickly in the windy deluge (ah! summer on the coast) and if we didn’t take action soon, we could easily become hypothermic despite our wetsuits and drysuits. There is a trick for such situations. I pulled out a drab nine-foot x 12-foot guide’s tarp. We fetched some bags of snacks, and set them on the ground. Standing around the tarp holding the edges, we centered it over the snacks. Then everyone took one step forward, and ducked under the tarp, pulling it over and behind themselves, and sitting down on its edge. Now at this point we were all squished into a tight space with the tarp down on our heads. It took a bit of jostling accompanied by much giggling to get settled in, but we were soon scarfing back handfuls of trail mix to provide the rich fuel needed to prevent hypothermia. In such a confined space the heat of ten people accumulates in no time, and soon WINTER 2010

we were quite comfy while the storm raged overhead. There was nothing we could do to escape the wrath of Zeus, but it felt good to hide from the sight of the Storm God and regroup. Half an hour passed, and it seemed the downpour had abated somewhat. Coming out from under the tarp, our first instinct was to dive right back under – it was cold out there! After a period of careful observation it seemed the worst was over and we proceeded cautiously toward Tofino, making it home without further incident. Should you ever find yourself close to a lightning storm, you are in extreme danger and need to take steps to ensure your safety. If there is no way to get to shore, stay 15-20 feet away from other boats, lean forward to reduce your profile, don’t touch metal objects and make sure you don’t have ropes trailing in the water. If you can make it to shore, avoid isolated tall trees, high ground or open spaces. Maintain a low crouching position with your feet together and hands over ears to minimize acoustic shock from the thunder. If someone is struck by lightning, they are safe to handle. Treat with CPR if needed and get medical help as they may have internal injuries. Eighty percent of lightning victims survive the shock. In thirty years of kayaking the coast this was only the second time I’ve had such a close and thus deeply humbling encounter with lightning. It’s not something we typically encounter, but it is good to be prepared.  < Dan Lewis operates Rainforest Kayak Adventures in Clayoquot Sound. WAVELENGTH MAGAZINE


New Books While light on color (all photos and maps are black and white), detailed and useful information compensates. Particularly helpful is the use of latitude and longitude coordinates at key points, a feature likely to be helpful on the more wild outer coasts for tracking features such as rivers. No doubt this new volume will be a feature in hatches or chart cases of kayakers and boaters alike venturing to Haida Gwaii.

Boat Camping Haida Gwaii A Small-Vessel Guide Second Edition Neil Frazer Harbour Publishing

Those who venture to remote Haida Gwaii off the British Columbia coast, whether by kayak or sailboat, are going to be hungry for information on where to go and how to get there. For years, Neil Frazer’s Boat Camping Haida Gwaii was the bible for self-directed visitors, particularly kayakers, as it was the only resource available. Worse yet, it went out of print, making copies treasured for those lucky enough to find one. For 2010 Boat Camping is back, and updated with all the necessary information: camping, navigation, heritage sites, maps and photos.

The Hungry Kayaker A common sense guide to cooking and camping By David Barnes Friesen Press

Food can often make a trip, especially a relaxed kayaking venture in a group setting, when cooking can take on a whole social as

well as culinary experience. There are numerous resources available for cooking these days – for instance, for backpackers as well as kayakers, or just quick, easy and portable recipes that can be adapted for the beach. David Barnes takes a look specifically at the kayaking set in his entry The Hungry Kayaker, offering not just recipes but trip advice from float plans to packing. In the end it’s a bit recipe book, a bit entry-level kayaking trip planning guide. But mostly it’s recipes, and they run the gamut from routine pancakes and gorp to more involved offerings such as zucchini risotto and curries. A dearth of photos and a lack of color help keep the offerings from jumping off the page. Instead it’s all a bit grey and uninviting. But the good news is anyone is likely to find a few recipes to tempt the taste buds. So should you be new kayaker starting out, or a veteran hoping to spice up your culinary repertoire, The Hungry Kayaker will be worth a look.

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Profile for Wild Coast Publishing

Wavelength Magazine Winter 2010  

Wavelength Magazine is a British Columbia based kayaking magazine

Wavelength Magazine Winter 2010  

Wavelength Magazine is a British Columbia based kayaking magazine

Profile for wildcoast