COAST&KAYAK Magazine The magazine of coastal adventure and recreation
Volume 22, Issue 1
FREE at select outlets and online or by subscription
The best of BC
Wondering where to kayak? We showcase seven top British Columbia destinations
Living with whales
James Dorsey reflects on the encounter that started it all
The qayaq quotient
We examine the sub-culture that is Greenland kayaking â€“ the punk rockers of paddlesports? Join us online: www.coastandkayak.com
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Inside Dancing with Dinosaurs
James Dorsey reflects on how a chance kayaking trip turned into a lifelong passion for whales.
BC Trip Planner Spring 2012
Find out where to go and what to do this year. Featured are: • Kyuquot and Spring Island • 14 • Haida Gwaii / SGang Gwaay • 20 • Broken Group Islands • 22 • Nuchatlitz / Nootka Sound • 23 • Gabriola Island / North Gulf Islands • 24
• Desolation Sound / Discovery Islands • 25 • South Gulf Islands • 26 • Yukon Territories • 28 • Other destinations • 30 • Exotic / tropical destinations • 31
The Qayaq Way
Gerhardt Lepp looks at why he became one of the punk rockers of the kayaking world. First Word����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������4 News���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������6 BC Marine Trail Update by Stephanie Meinke�����������������������������30 Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC by Sheila Porteous��������������32 Skillset by Alex Matthews�����������������������������������������������������������������������38 When the Tide Is Out by Hilary Masson����������������������������������������40 New Gear��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������44 Events���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������45 Books�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������46
The First Word
Connecting by finding your niche Spring 2012
Volume 22, Number 1 PM No. 41687515 Cover Photo: After logging thousands of miles along the BC coast, we decided that Spring Island defines perfection – and to prove it we present an eight-page spread on this gem in the Mission Group off Kyuquot Sound.
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I expect of all the varieties of kayaking out there, my particular style and niche is probably the most rare. I’d categorize myself as a trekker. I relish long-distance, multiday excursions covering as much area as possible. I suspect the most popular category is the rose-smeller, or those who stop to smell the roses in the intertidal sense of the phrase: daytrippers who use kayaks to explore bays and nooks and crannies and the rich intertidal life, for which kayaks are supremely well suited. No great energy need be expended nor miles logged nor any particular skills used, which makes it so accessible. These kayakers get all the benefits with very little in the way of investment or effort. And thus the popularity. Some of those kayakers will probably graduate into other more defined styles of kayaking as they get better and seek out other ambitions. I see my trekking as an outgrowth of rosesmelling, as many miles may be involved, but still kayaking over a long distance is slow enough and usually close enough to shore to allow careful investigation – just over a far greater and more varied environment. It also allows you to smell roses in the most glorious, wild and secluded locations, some of which few people will ever get to visit amid a landscape and environment worlds away from where you started. Trekking isn’t for everyone. I’ve alienated friends and family by setting out on trips that were too ambitious and too demanding for their own interest. Woe to the person who followed me as I said enthusiastically, “Let’s paddle to that island over there!” There are the other niches in kayaking, the obvious being surf or whitewater. An emerging niche is the Greenland kayaker who follows the tradition set out generations ago by way of kayaks (qayaqs), paddles (pautiks) and skills (upside-down then back up again). We’re exploring that phenomenon a bit in this issue courtesy of Gerhardt Lepp’s insights into his attraction to that niche. I appreciate his comparison to Greenland kayakers being the punk rockers of kayaking. Me, I have no particular need to develop an arsenal of 23 types of Greenland rolls. In fact, to be a trekker you don’t need any particular skills in terms of performance. I like to think trekking specializes in trip planning, navigation and weather awareness in order to be comfortably self-reliant. The last bit is the true appeal of trekking. After spending days in the wilderness with nothing more at your disposal than your own strength and abilities a sixth sense kicks in. To me it’s developing a wonderful connectedness to nature – no longer being an observer, but becoming as much a part of the environment as the birds and sea life around you. That sense of belonging is an integral part of my enjoyment of kayaking, and it is what keeps drawing me back to the water. What draws you? The adrenaline of surf? The satisfaction of learning a new roll? The social milieu? Or simply the enjoyment of an hour on the water? It doesn’t matter – it’s all part of the wide appeal of kayaking. Enjoy the diverse options you have. There is no wrong way to take part. - John Kimantas email@example.com
PO Box 24, Stn A Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, V9R 5K4 Ph: 1-866-984-6437 • Fax: 1-866-654-1937 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.coastandkayak.com © 2012. 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 Coast&Kayak maps. Coast&Kayak 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.coastandkayak.com
A full moon paddle to Whitesand Cove on Flores Island.
photo submitted courtesy Michael Powers
PASSINGS u Eric Soares Kayaker, author, active blogger and one of the founders of the Tsunami Rangers, Eric Soares passed away Feb. 1 in hospital while awaiting surgery to correct injuries from a bad skiing fall at Lake Tahoe. Eric Soares was an ardent pioneer kayaker, exploring the rough coastal waters of northern California and southern Oregon as early as 1983. He and Jim Kakuk founded the Tsunami Rangers in 1985 as a social group leading the way in surf, cave and rock garden kayaking. Eric was also a contributor to Coast&Kayak Magazine, writing the Summer 2009 cover article The Tao of Kayaking. He was author of Confessions of a Wave Warrior, a look back at the history and antics of the Rangers. His blog entries can still be read at the Tsunami Rangers website. u www.tsunamirangers.com NEW RACE u Paddle the Edge If the Round Bowen Challenge and Alert Bay 360 has caught your interest for the mix of
social and racing skills, add Paddle the Edge to the agenda. The new race will be held June 11 in Ucluelet Harbour, the day after the Edge to Edge Marathon from Ucluelet to Tofino. The Paddle the Edge will be a threehour race in sheltered waters designed for intermediate to expert paddlers. For more event listings visit coastandkayak.com. u email@example.com CANCELLED u Paddlefest Add Vancouver Island Paddlefest to the list of kayak events cancelled on the West Coast in the past few years. The Vancouver Island Paddlefest announced a one-year hiatus to develop a strategic plan and to refine their mandate after successive years of declining attendance. The society will be talking to volunteers and partners to develop a new mandate. u www.paddlefest.bc.ca LOGGING u Flores Island Logging company Iisaak Forest Resources is seeking helicopter log-drop zones in preparation for heli-logging operations on Flores Island in Clayoquot Sound. The company has already received permits for some heli-drop zones and a road-building permit for reaching the pristine island forest. Meanwhile, environmental groups are hoping for alternatives including additional time to develop protection strategies including conservation financing. Groups working behind the scene include Friends of Clayoquot Sound and the Sierra Club of BC. Clayoquot Sound was named a
United Nations Biosphere Reserve in 2000, but key areas remain unprotected. If logged, the Flores Island forest will leave just 20 of Vancouver Island’s 282 major rainforest watersheds unlogged. Six other unlogged watersheds have no protected status; five of those are in Clayoquot Sound and include Flores Island. u www.focs.ca u www.sierraclub.bc.ca FOLDING KAYAKS u BorealDesign Quebec company BorealDesign has filed for bankruptcy. Manufacturer of 25 models of kayaks as well as the Beluga line of paddlesports gear and the Maelstrom brand of kayaks, the company based out of St.Augustine-de-Desmaures left 45 out of work. u www.borealdesign.com PLASTIC KAYAKS u A recycled kind A group of young adults is planning a plastic kayak marathon – but not in a rotomolded plastic boat. Rather, they’ll be creating a kayak constructed entirely from used plastic bottles, then kayaking it 42 kilometres from Tenerife in the Canary Islands to Spain’s La Gomera Island as part of a fundraiser. u theplasticmarathon.wordpress.com EXPEDITIONS u Tragedy, success A trip to paddle from Argentina to the Falkland Islands ended in tragedy as Alejandro Daniel Carranza, 49, died after covering 800 km along the west coast of Tierra del Fuego. Kayaking partner Juan Pablo Dacyszyn, 36, made it to safety by swimming to Isla de los Estados off the southern tip of Argentina.
News Meanwhile, in her solo trip around South America, Freya Hoffmeister successfully transited the same shoreline, then circumnavigated Cape Horn before turning up the east coast into the Strait of Magellan and Chile’s Patagonia region. u qajaqunderground.com MARINE PARK GUIDE u Fundraiser BC Parks has found out the hard way it’s not in the bookselling business, and after finding itself with some surplus copies of the BC Marine Parks Guide, the Official Guide to BC’s Coastal Marine Parks, it has decided to make them available to the BC Marine Parks Forever Society. In turn, the BC Marine Parks Forever Society is making the books available by donation. All proceeds will go towards the development and enhancement of the BC marine park system (not to be confused with the BC Marine Trails system). The full-colour guide book provides park-by-park descriptions with maps and photography. The books will be available at chandlers and yacht clubs in BC for a minimum $10 donation.
The society has played a financial role in the purchase of Musket Island, Jedediah Island, Waves Coke, Alison Harbour as well as additions to Octopus Island Marine Park and Squitty Bay Marine Park. u www.marineparksforever.ca WATER TRAILS u Cape Breton Coastal water trail research is continuing this year in Cape Breton along the Atlantic coast. The Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia project provides paddlers with launch site locations
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and other touring information. The coastal section most recently completed is from the Canso Causeway past Sydney to Big Bras d’Or. This will connect with water trail work done in 2009 around the Bras d’Or Lakes. The new section is now online. PROTECTION u Sansum Point The Land Conservancy is closer to its goal of raising $1.85 million for the 52ha property at Sansum Point off Sansum Narrows near Duncan, BC, after an anonymous $100,000 donation in memory of UBC professor Cortlandt Mackenzie and his late wife Jean. The donation follows a fundraising campaign started last year to secure the property, and just $380,000 remains to be raised. Sansum Point is a landmark when navigating Sansum Narrows adjacent to Saltspring Island, and is rich in Garry oak, arbutus and its defining moss and lichencovered rocks. The Cowichan Valley Regional District took ownership in September 2011, turning it into parkland. u blog.conservancy.bc.ca
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ew people know at an early age which direction their life will take, and I was no different. I was middle aged when I first entered the cockpit of a kayak and had no idea at the time I was also paddling into a world of awe and wonder that would connect me to whales in a way few have ever known. It began on a cold and gray morning, typical of a British Columbia summer as we put in from Port Hardy on the northeastern flank of Vancouver Island. Neither my wife nor I had ever been in a kayak before and we knew absolutely nothing about whales. It was our 25th wedding anniversary and our original plan had been to repeat our vows inside Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, but somehow during the protracted process of paperwork and red tape I managed to enrage the vicar of Paris who summarily fired me as a possible candidate to be re-wed inside “his” cathedral, probably making me unique in the history of weddings. So on we went to Plan B, based on a postcard received out of the blue from an outfitter that showed a man in a kayak paddling next to a killer whale. To me it seemed the most exotic adventure possible for a wedding anniversary, but my wife looked at it as sheer lunacy. The card sat on her desk, unread for two weeks before her adventurous side took over and she said it might be worth looking into. Those words, to my male mind, meant book the trip, and we soon found ourselves winging northward swathed head to toe in the latest outdoor fashions, part of a guided group of novice paddlers about to spend our first week ever in true wilderness. We had exactly one hour of instruction within the peaceful confines of a local marina about how to enter and exit a kayak,
how to paddle forward, backwards, and most importantly what to do if we flipped our boat. (Blow a whistle and yell like crazy!) It did not add to our confidence that our guide looked like he had yet to shave and used words like “Dude” and “Awesome.” With all that experience under our belt we went forth into the great blue unknown. My wife and I were in a tandem fibreglass kayak, Irene in the front, and me in the rear. With the wind making me unable to hear her comments, or she mine, I understood immediately the guide’s remark as to why they referred to tandem kayaks as “divorce boats.” Within the first hour, our marine radio crackled through the fog and a scratchy voice informed us that a pod of orcas was headed our way. Our guide told us to raft up, and if we were fortunate, the whales just might pass close enough for us to get a good look. Then we saw the large black dorsal break the surface, better than a quarter mile away but coming at us like a submarine periscope, rising and falling. I did not know at the time that Orcinus orca, the so-called killer whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, could weigh as much as nine tons and can travel as fast at 50 km/h. I also did not know it was one of a handful of toothed whales that ate flesh. Before that moment we were enjoying a truly exotic and unique vacation in which the very thought of encountering a whale had been only an abstract possibility. Now, even without the knowledge that this was the top predator of the entire world bearing down on us at full tilt, we were truly terrified.
Dancing with 8
SPRING SPRING2012 2012
by James Michael Dorsey
A naturalist reflects on a chance encounter that changed his life.
dinosaurs SPRING SPRING2012 2012
Wildlife The whale was among our group in seconds, surfacing just ahead of our lead boat. For reasons I still do not remember and before terror replaced logic I took a quick photo with my old and trusty point and shoot camera (long before digital). It was like sitting on a railroad track waiting for a head-on collision. The orca dove under the first boat and surfaced directly in front of us, its giant black head the size of Montana, and its glistening dorsal towered over us like an enormous scythe. I remember seeing its tiny black eye riveted on me as it rolled at the very last second so its dorsal would clear our keel and it passed directly beneath us, close enough to touch. Watching that sleek black body and white saddle patch glide just under the surface is an image burned forever in my memory. I had never before been so close to a wild animal, not even in a zoo. For this to have occurred in the animal’s own habitat was, at the time, overwhelming. I sat there silently searching for words to describe what I was feeling and nothing could express it. Neither my wife nor I realized at the time how our lives had been changed. For the rest of the week we saw no large whales, only an occasional tiny minke, and even then mostly just the sound of their blows as they slid past our nightly campfires as low, silhouetted shadows skimming over the water just offshore. For both of us it was a week of revelation, seeing the unsurpassed beauty
The snapshot of the killer whale encounter that started it all for James Dorsey.
of British Columbia from the water, silently gliding over a crystal clear littoral full of sea stars, anemones and countless unidentifiable fish. It was like being in our own giant aquarium. We witnessed a pregnant deer swimming to a tiny rock island to have her foal away from prowling wolves; we were stunned to see a full grown moose emerge from the water, its antlers draped with watercress from feeding; and countless harbor seals poke their head up, huge black eyes taking a quick peek at us strange creatures before crash-diving in front of our bows. One day while rounding a rocky point we were faced with the rear of a black bear, loudly defecating a massive amount of berries it had consumed. It looked over its shoulder at our invasion, grunted loudly, and slowly waddled back into the forest as the stench of its breakfast wafted over our boats. We watched as eagles plucked fish from the water with their talons, sometimes dropping them in the process, and we even stole one for an evening’s
dinner, the fish stunned by its fall, lying inert on the surface as we paddled by. That initiated an hour of dive-bombing and name-calling by a very irate eagle who even after we floated the fish back to be picked up would not touch it after being handled by humans. We realized animals did not fear us because they simply were not used to seeing people in such a remote area, and to them a kayak was nothing more than one more log, a very frequent occurrence, floating past. Most importantly, it was the first week in my life that I heard no mechanical sounds and we both commented about how we felt our senses heightened, our hearing more attuned to nature’s tiniest intrusion, and our vision more focused on searching for natural wonders than the mundane scenes of everyday city life. For us, the path was clear. There was no going back. Almost a year to the day of our first orca encounter I was paddling those familiar waterways with a friend because
Our relationship with whales is long and complex
Before there was myth and legend, before the earth had yet to know man, there were whales. The earliest known reference to whales appears in the Bible in Genesis, 1:21. The reference is structured with a comma to differentiate between the creation of the oceans and the whale, mentioning before any other species, “And God created the great whales.” The term “great” has long been thought by Biblical scholars to mean the blue whale, the world’s largest creature, as the first animal to occupy the seas. However there also exists today skeletal proof of land mammals, archaeocetes, that were the forefathers of today’s modern whales – a link to their dinosaur past. 10
The ancient oral histories of the Inuit and Inupiaq people of the far north tell of remarkable ocean-going craft made from whale bones and covered with the skin of seals or walruses, thus linking man and whale since before recorded history. For uncounted millennia, man and whale have traversed the seas together, often trading places as victim or hunter, and in recent memory, as friends. The Icelandic sagas refer to giant sea monsters spouting fire from the top of their heads, while early sailors often referred to them as devil fish. It is the most complex relationship between human and animal the world has ever known, constantly evolving and surprising, and the catalyst for this symbiotic relationship has long been the kayak.
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A now-familiar image of a pod of killer whales moving through the water.
Irene was unable to join me when I witnessed a site so extraordinary that I have been called a liar at worst and storyteller at best, because I know of no one else who has ever experienced a similar event. The morning was a dull grey and drizzly, as only Alaskan summers can be, and the sky set the mood for what I was to witness. Fighting my way through bull kelp, I heard the first blow. A large bull led the way, cruising through the mist like an apparition, bearing a stillborn calf across his rostrum. The calf, still bright pink, was slumped across the snout like a limp rag, its head and flukes trailing under the surface. The bull moved slowly, not blowing, and five smaller whales followed in single order until they reached deep water in the centre of the channel. The bull stopped, holding his silent charge, while the other whales formed around him. The bull slowly lowered his head, and the stillborn
whale sank into the depths. The pain of their loss hung in the air, thicker than the fog. An old female, most likely the matriarch, lob-tailed the water twice, perhaps in silent goodbye, or maybe just a signal that they were finished, but as she did this, all six orcas came abreast and sounded in unison. They knew I was there and ignored me. That moment was a gift; a point of connection between two species who share the planet yet rarely meet. It was the silence of a kayak that allowed me to enter their world, and whenever I do, I feel the inferior one. From that moment it occurred to me that to an orca, a kayak is nothing more than an errant log floating on the surface and as long as I sat perfectly still they could not distinguish me from my boat. This knowledge allowed me unprecedented access to continue entering their world in ways most people will never get a chance. <
About the author
As a longtime contributor to Coast& Kayak Magazine, I have been given much latitude by each editor to write stories that combine my two great passions, whales and paddling. There are countless books in print about both whales and kayaking, but I have never found one that combines the two into stories of close personal encounters. I have been blessed with a life that has merged these two pursuits, and given a great opportunity by editor John
Kimantas to serialize what I hope will become a full length book that I am tentatively calling Dancing With Dinosaurs, a naturalistâ€™s 15-year odyssey of kayaking among whales. I am proud and humbled to have it premiere here in Coast&Kayak. â€“ James Dorsey SPRING 2012
Crystal-X Proudly Canadian
Destinations: British Columbia 2012
• Spring Island / Kyuquot • SGang Gwaay / Haida Gwaii • Nuchatlitz Provincial Park / Nootka Sound
Desolation Sound/ Discovery Islands
Kyuquot Sound Nootka Sound
North Gulf Islands
Barkley Sound/Broken Group Islands South Gulf Islands
BC trip planner
• Sidney Spit / Gulf Islands National Park • Drumbeg Park / Gabriola Island • Desolation Sound
Map and photos from BC Coast Explorer Vol. 1 / Wild Coast Publishing
Destinations: British Columbia 2012
Where are you going this summer? Let us help you find the way with a catalogue of hot spots, trip suggestions and travel tips.
One of the nicest views anywhere on the BC coast to take a moment to reflect on a sunny day is Spring Island in the Mission Group. This view meant a 6-metre clamber up an intertidal rock to a lookout point over Brooks Peninsula. Well worth the effort. SPRING 2012
Map and photos from BC Coast Explorer Vol. 1 / Wild Coast Publishing. Pre-order at coastandkayak.com
Destinations: Kyuquot Sound
Can there really be a perfect island? Of course not. But after a few years spent island-hopping around the British Columbia coast, one location stands out as the prettiest, most diverse and most appealing island, so much so that it was hard to narrow down the best photos to fit into this feature.
SPRING SPRING2012 2012
Destinations: Kyuquot Sound
Main photo: The viewscape north towards the Bunsby Islands. Top left: a small sea arch amid the ocean drama on the north beach. Lower left: one of the many sea stacks dotting the Spring Island shoreline.
Spring Island, The Mission Group Kyuquot Sound
SPRING SPRING2012 2012
Destinations: Kyuquot Sound
What makes a perfect island? Your own particular experiences and expectations, naturally, but there are several universal factors necessary to claim any single island as the “best.” For instance, the island must have ideal wilderness camping options, sandy beaches, breathtaking views and sheltered water for easy landings. It should have abundant diversity: great shoreline for strolls, old-growth forest for hikes, plus cliffs, reefs, sea stacks and, oh, maybe a smattering of sea caves. Throw in rock gardens for the adventurous, with serene channels for those seeking relaxation. Maybe whales and some cute little furry sea otters for fun. 16
Some interesting history wouldn’t hurt either, of course. Spring Island in the Mission Group off Kyuquot Sound offers all this and a bit more – such as rock scrambles to great lookouts, saltwater rock basins for soaking in comfort, and how about a paddle-through surf-landing sea arch? It may be the only one on the coast. This island may not be on everyone’s favorite list, especially for those who have been stuck here when an unseasonal storm rages through (or worse, stormfront upon stormfront). But chances are a lot of visitors have only scratched the surface of what Spring Island has to offer. For instance, if you SPRING SPRING2012 2012
missed the side trail that leads to the beach that leads to the north end of the island... well, you really don’t know Spring Island then. No doubt visitors can get lulled into comfort at the main campsite (pictured above) and don’t bother to look for treasures elsewhere. After all, there is a sense of having truly arrived when you get here: the perfect little cove as you paddle in, the sand, the choice of campsites, the spectacular vistas, the whole range of things to see and do just in this one small area. The biggest issue is whether to sit facing Kyuquot Sound or Brooks Peninsula. Dilemmas like these are just one more reason to visit here.
Destinations: Kyuquot Sound
Above: camping on the main beach facing toward Kyuquot Sound on Spring Islandâ€™s southern tip. Top right: one of the monster trees to be found on one of the many trails that crisscross the island. Bottom right: A wave washes back down the beach after breaking through a sea arch set on the shore on the north end of the island.
SPRING SPRING2012 2012
Destinations: Kyuquot Sound
SPRING SPRING2012 2012
Destinations: Kyuquot Sound Cape Scott
Left: A morning’s paddle along the south side of Spring Island, with Union Island, Rugged Point, Remarkable Cone, Eliza Dome and finally Nootka Island in the distance. Bottom left: cruising through the Mission Group with Spring Island and Mount Paxton in the background.
Kyuquot Sound Spring I.
If you go:
Nuchatlitz Provincial Park Nootka Island Nootka Sound
Access: Two launches in Kyuquot Sound offer the best access, with a five- to six-hour paddle to reach the Mission Group Islands. Both launches require a rough logging road drive. Fair Harbour is reached by driving through and past Zeballos. Artlish River is a bit more convoluted; take the same route to Zeballos but turn off the Zeballos Road at about 9.6 km, an intersection at the south end of Mukwilla Lake on the Atluck Main. Head generally south then west for another 31 km before reaching the launch. Services: The village of Kyuquot is tucked into the lee of Walters Island facing Vancouver Island. Here you’ll find a store, open only occasionally, and some accommodation options. Sea Otter Lodge (see below) specializes in catering to kayakers. On Spring Island, West Coast Expeditions hosts an upscale base camp for its tours, and can arrange a water taxi for self-directed visitors. See below for contact information.
Plan your trip: Kyuquot Connect • Experience • Refresh
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A passion for SGang Gwaay B
arb Wilson got her first glimpse of SGang Gwaay in 1974, long before thought was given to making it part of a national park reserve. At the time a television broadcaster thought it interesting that her two-year-old son was born a Haida hereditary chief. As part of documenting the Haida culture he decided to fly the two to the historic village site on the very southern end of Haida Gwaii. They landed in the cove outside the village and Barb Wilson. motored in. “It was amazing. It still catches my breath when I think of the impact of going into that little bay,” she recalls. “It was like going into another world. It was quite an eye-opening that this was still left of what my ancestors had built.” The magic of that experience has never faded. In fact, on occasions it has become truly magical. “I don’t know how you can explain it, but when you walk into the village you can feel a presence and yet you can’t see it with your eyes. You could say you see it with 20
your soul. You can feel it. It’s a place that has some specialness outside physical things that you can see,” she says. “A few years ago just as an example I was working with some young people clipping the tops of the poles removing the salal and everything. It was in the evening just before sundown in the middle of summer and I was holding the bottom of the ladder. “All of a sudden we could hear drums playing. I thought no, I’m imagining it. I said to the young man, ‘Can you..’ and he said, ‘hear the drums?’ So we both heard it. I’ve had other experiences like that, not quite so profound but very similar.” Barb has been the cultural liaison specialist with Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve since 1996, and other capacities prior to that since before the park reserve’s opening, so has logged years of caring for the SGang Gwaay poles as best as they are able. It’s an assignment that has its limitations, given the Haida belief to let the poles return to nature. “In 1995 the hereditary leaders were taken down there by myself and the Jason Shafton photo
Drue Kendrick photo
Destinations: Haida Gwaii
manager to look over the village site as it is today and ask if we could conserve the poles a little more deliberately, and they asked us not to use chemicals.” Care has always been an issue with the poles, with one intrusive project in 1957 involving removing many of the best samples to place in museums. The current strategy is to simply clip back growth and do minimal maintenance, though Barb hopes something is done to protect the UNESCO world heritage site. Repatriating the poles taken from SGang Gwaay isn’t a likely option. “I wouldn’t want the originals back on the land as I see the old ones fall apart and go back to the land and there’s a sadness I feel about that happening. At the same time I understand if we want the earth to be enriched something has to go back to rejuvenate it. “It’s a conundrum for me, because I understand the philosophy of things going back to the earth but I also am trained as a conservator, so it makes it difficult. It’s hard to know what to do and which values have more value.” The UNESCO designation is an incentive to do something, Barb says. “It makes you think we have something really valuable, and we need to look after it to make sure it’s there for future
Destinations: Haida Gwaii
Rebecca Cumming photo
generations, but with this kind of medium that’s not possible unless we repatriate or reproduce.” The latter may be possible as Parks Canada has commissioned one pole to be carved that will likely be placed in Skidegate. But there are no current plans for more pole replacements. For Barb, much of the power of the poles is the representation they present for the lasting Haida culture. As the Haida culture has survived diseases, social breakdowns through the likes of residential schools and cultural displacement including moving communities from traditional lands, the poles have survived weather, climate change and removal. “What I’m proud of probably more than anything is that it survived,” Barb says. With that remains their simple powerful presence. “I don’t know how to explain it except if you experience it you never forget. My first trip there is as vivid as my last trip there.” – Coast&Kayak Magazine / photos courtesy Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve
Plan your trip: Haida Gwaii Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site
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Destinations: Broken Group/Barkley Sound
Broken Group Islands: classic kayak cruising
The original West Coast kayaking destination, the Broken Group Islands first became popular after the designation as a key component of the Pacific Rim National Park in 1970 (later proclaimed the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in 2001). The new use of the term ‘reserve’ is an acknowledgement of outstanding rights or interests by First Nations, and is reflected in the closing of the Benson Island campsite in 2009. Benson Island is considered the birthplace of the Tseshaht, and was home to a major village site, even though the island was pre-empted as private property in 1893 by the namesake John W. Benson and site of a hotel till 1922. While the campsite is now closed, the seven others in the Broken Group remain open and Benson Island can still be visited during the day – a perfect spot to reflect upon the history of this unique archipelago.
If you go: Access: Most trips begin from Toquart Bay, with Ucluelet a nearby base with full services and options including day trips as well as a more open-water route to the Broken Group Islands. Ferry service with kayak launch is available via the MV Frances Barkley from Port Alberni.
Plan your trip: Broken Group/Barkley Sound We’ve got the maps! NEW ‘BC COAST EXPLORER’ MAP SERIES
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Destinations: Nootka Sound
trip planning advice:
Nuchatlitz Provincial Park in Nootka Sound is one of the fastest-growing kayaking destinations in British Columbia, offering an array of islands in a serene but magnificent setting on the edge of incredible destinations to explore, particularly Nuchatlitz Inlet. The most popular kayaking campsites are invariably in the island clusters on the park’s north side. Our advice: look to the south. On a run through these islands this past summer we found all campers either at Benson Point in Nuchatlitz Inlet, or in Nuchatlitz Provincial Park at Wy-ash or Rosa Island. Meanwhile, we found three islands on the park’s south side completely deserted. All had spectacular little beaches, unbeatable views and good high tide clearance for those pesky spring tides. Two are pictured here. Where else can you enjoy your own island in the peak of summer? They’re still around, even at relatively busy Nuchatlitz.
If you go: Access: Self-directed trips are best planned from Tahsis via Little Espinosa Inlet, while water taxis and other services are available from Tahsis or Zeballos. Plan for at least five hours of driving to either location from the ferry terminal in Nanaimo or seven hours from Victoria. Left: The location of three newly inventoried spots in Nuchatlitz Provincial Park near Ensanada Islet; far left: The campsite beach north of Ensanada Islet; above: the view from the westernmost of the three lower campsites looking north through Nuchatlitz.
Map and photos from BC Coast Explorer Vol. 1 / Wild Coast Publishing
The undiscovered side of Nuchatlitz
Plan your trip: Nootka Sound Paddle with sea otters! Kayak transport between Zeballos and Nootka Island, Nuchatlitz Park and Friendly Cove. Kayak rentals.
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Destinations: Gabriola and Gulf Islands North Great parks:
Drumbeg shows Gulf Islands shores at their best Gabriola Island, the most northerly of the Gulf Islands off southeast Vancouver Island, is blessed with three provincial parks, and of those Drumbeg Provincial Park probably best represents the Garry oak and coastal bluff vegetation that defines the Gulf
Islandsâ€™ ecology. The park protects only a kilometre of shoreline, but within it are Douglas-fir, arbutus and open grass meadows over sandstone shoreline. Itâ€™s a slice of Gabriola Island at its most natural in a setting overlooking the mainland BC mountains as
well as Gabriola Passage, a waterway with currents running as high as nine knots. Kayakers can either enjoy that or avoid it, with a launch possible from Drumbeg or nearby Silva Bay for explorations of the Flat Top Islands or other nearby attractions.
If you go: Gabriola is serviced by a frequent ferry, while a route by kayak or boat is possible through Gabriola Passage from Cedar on Vancouver Island. Launching is possible from Drumbeg or nearby Silva Bay. Camping is not allowed on Drumbeg, but an islet nearby makes overnight trips possible.
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Destinations: Desolation Sound/Discovery Islands trip planning advice:
Desolation 101: getting here is part of the fun If you go:
a trip two different ways. One is by arriving along the Sunshine Coast Highway via Powell River to Lund, adjacent to Desolation Sound Provincial Park – the quickest route to the actual sound. The other is via Vancouver Island to Campbell River, then by ferry to either Quadra or Cortes islands. Both routes have advantages and disadvantages, but either way you’ll be taking a ferry. Or rather, several ferries. To begin your trip from Lund, you’ll have to cross Jervis Inlet and Howe Sound. That means two ferry trips. The other route involves getting to
Vancouver Island, then either one ferry to Quadra Island and possibly another to Cortes if you launch from there. The bottom line is there’s no wrong way to plan a trip here. Just pick the route that sounds most interesting – and that could be the trickiest part!
Plan your trip: Desolation Sound/Discovery Islands Quadra Desolation Sound Lund Jervis Cortes Inlet Campbell River Howe Sound Powell River Nanaimo
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The view from the ferry crossing Howe Sound.
When heading to Desolation Sound, many visitors may not realize that when they are cruising any one of the dozens of other neighbouring destinations in the region, they’ve probably left Desolation Sound and instead are in the Discovery Islands. Quadra and Cortes are the two largest, most accessible and best serviced of the Discovery group. Desolation Sound is just to the south, so these islands make great access points for trips to the sound and other nearby attractions, also offering a full range of services in their rustic island charm. This creates the possibility of designing
Timing is everything when taking ferries. Plan your trip at bcferries.com. Reservations are recommended on the major routes (to Vancouver Island), especially on weekends or holidays. Smaller ferries like those to and from Quadra don’t take reservations, so avoid ferries such as early Mondays when commuters are likely to fill the limited number of spots for vehicles.
Destinations: South Gulf Islands Victoria kayakers have to be among the luckiest urban paddlers anywhere. Picture being able to launch from just about any waterfront park in the region and take your pick of any one of a dozen prime destinations all within a few hours’ paddle. Go for a picnic, stay overnight or to travel for a week or more. Sidney Spit is one of these exceptional destinations about an hour’s paddle from a launch in Sidney, just north of Victoria, or if you prefer a simpler trip, by walk-on Sidney ferry during season. The Sidney Tulista Spit mix of paddlers, hikers Park and boaters makes this an eclectic destination, not the most secluded but certainly exceptional for what it offers so near to an urban triangle James Sidney Island Island of millions of people. Even visitors from Seattle will find this a simple destination by taking the ferry from Anacortes to Sidney, then launching from Tulista Park immediately south of the Sidney ferry terminal. Sidney Spit, formerly a provincial park and now part of the Gulf Islands
Reflecting on a summer’s sunset next to the Sidney Spit lagoon.
Destinations: South Gulf Islands
Urban wilderness National Park Reserve, is most remarkable for the two long, sandy spits that extend several kilometres off the north end of the island, perfect for sunbathing, beach walking and sandcastles. These spits cap a tidal flat and salt marsh that is rich in seabird and marine life, particularly heron. To protect this area, access even by kayaks is prohibited within the lagoon. Kayakers can land at the sandy beach on the outskirts of the lagoon adjacent to the camping area, with options for large groups. Boaters can moor or use the dock. Once on the island look for the bricks, remnants of Sidney Tile and Brick company that operated here till 1915, and the bomb shelter, for use when explosives were manufactured at nearby James Island.
The main kayak beach looking towards the park dock, the anchorage and Sidney.
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Through Yukon History Do ghosts mingle with grizzlies along the shores of some of Yukon’s rivers and lakes? There’s only one way to find out—so let’s push off and explore! Your classic course for this adventure has to be the Yukon River. The longest river in the territory, it was also the main highway for the gold rush stampeders, carrying thousands from the foot of the Chilkoot Trail to the mecca of Dawson City between 1896 and 1903. Let’s start where they started, shall we? As you enter the waters from the scrappy beach of Lake Bennett, take a pause to appreciate your well-made canoe. The majority of gold rushers would have built their own boats for the 500-mile ride to Dawson. With the White Horse Rapids waiting for them just beyond the lake, it’s no wonder these rough-and-(un) ready craft were called floating
Travel information: Pack your sense of adventure—qualified guides supply everything else! coffins. Some say the tormented souls of the unlucky ones still haunt the woods along this stretch. Your experienced guide will ensure you get through without joining them! Now you pass on to Lake Laberge, the site of the cremation of Sam McGee in Robert W. Service’s famous poem. It’s a two to four day paddle to cross the whole lake, which gives plenty of time to enjoy a meal of the delicious lake trout that live in these waters. Keep a look out for moose, too. They say there are two for every person in the Yukon. 28
Here you are at the Th irty Mile— perhaps the most ghostly part of the trip. Pull over at Steamboat Island to hike past the remains of log cabins, Mounted Police detachments, old
Travel information: Daily flights land in Whitehorse from Vancouver, and there is regular service from Edmonton and Calgary. Average flight time: 2.5 hours. telegraph stations, and wood camps. Touch history when you come to old paddle wheelers that were either shipwrecked or hauled up and abandoned over 80 years ago. Your final “ghost town” stop is Fort Selkirk, which is also the halfway point to Dawson. Th is once-vibrant trading community has been partially restored and today is visited mainly by canoeists, like you. Qualified outfitters can lead you over the full stretch of the river. Or
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7 days from $2,040: Fall under the “Spell of the Yukon” on this exciting trip from Carmacks to Dawson including a stop at Fort Selkirk. Old woodyard sites and abandoned roadhouses, native fish camps and cabin relics are common along the shore—as are grizzly and black bears!
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7 days from $2,100: Enjoy the history and mystery of the Yukon River from the comfort of a covered boat. Camp by the river and listen for the “songs of the sourdoughs” as you make your way from Lake Laberge to the gold rush town of Dawson, once called The Paris of the North.
1 night from $150: Get a more comfortable taste of the last frontier in a cabin or lodge setting. By day you can canoe, kayak, or fish the pristine northern waters, then snuggle down for the night in a cozy bedroom loft that gives you a private viewing of this unspoiled world.
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~ Traditional, cozy, English-style accommodation. ~ Delectable breakfast, queen beds, shower ensuite. ~ Great paddling possibilities: we are one block from sea front where you can launch a kayak to paddle in Nanaimo Harbour. Easy paddle to Newcastle and Protection Islands to walk, swim or picnic. ~ Close to downtown Nanaimo ~ 10 minute walk to kayak rentals near Departure Bay.
Odyssey Kayaking BC Ferries port; Gateway to Northern and Central BC Coast destinations. Sales, Rentals, Lessons, Trip planning. 8625 Shipley Street (across from the Post Office) Port Hardy. Phone: 250-949-7392 or cell 250-230-8318 Email: email@example.com Web: www.odysseykayaking.com
4 bdrm cabin in the Nuchatlitz Provincial Park area of Nootka Island, BC.
Saturna Lodge 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
Perfect as a base for up to 8 people. Accessible by water only. Protected dock, minutes from the open Paciﬁc. Large open plan on the main ﬂoor with 4 bdrms above. 2 bdrms with queen beds. 2 with twin beds. Propane stove, fridge and hot water. Non-smoking. www.nuchatlitzisland.com 250-337-5180
An elegant yet casual inn with six individuallyappointed ocean- or garden-view rooms. Cozy common room and lovely grounds. Full breakfast included in rates. Visit our website for details. Web: www.saturna.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 250-539-2254 or 1-866-539-2254
BC Marine Trails update
It’s here, but what’s really changed?
lmost a year ago now, the BC Marine Trails Network Association (BCMTNA) invited paddlers and the public to join them at the Vancouver Island Paddlefest in Ladysmith to celebrate the grand opening of the BC Marine Trails Network. Paddlers demonstrated their support that day by launching from various locations and paddling together across Ladysmith Harbour in a flotilla 100 strong (coined the ‘great floatzilla’). They were greeted and welcomed to land by the chief of the Stz’uminus First Nation. It was an amazing day! So the question is, of course, what difference has the newly established BC Marine Trails Network made to people who tour the BC coastline by kayak or canoe? Visibly to the paddler on the water, very little yet. Some signs denoting BCMTN launch sites and campsites will be appearing this spring, with the first ones at marine parks and community campsites. Then there’s the not-yet-visible... Within the West Coast Vancouver Island North Marine Trails, upwards of 22 sites located on Crown land that were previously not secured are now going through the process (some completed) of becoming ‘BC Marine Trails Recreation Sites.’ Within the Gulf Islands Marine Trails Network, BC Parks is working to develop additional marine campsites. Municipalities and regional districts are adding BCMTN
One of the more remarkable BC Marine Trails designated spots is Topknot Point in the middle of nowhere south of Cape Scott.
signs and amenities such as toilets and overnight parking to launch sites. They are also looking at allowing camping within a number of regional district parks with marine accesses. Some of these will become BCMTN sites. Upcoming this spring there will be a few select commercial campsites, on-the-water B&Bs and resorts which will gain site status on the BCMTN map. These additions will fill in gaps where government sites are in short supply, and give paddlers not so happy about ‘roughing it’ more options. In general since the grand opening, the BC Marine Trails Network Association has become a stronger, more credible advocate for strategic and desirable camping opportunities for paddlers and small boat users along the BC coastline. It is involved in ongoing consultations with BC Parks regarding locations and new additions to camping opportunities within parks and
conservancies along the coastline of BC. Communities are working actively with us to develop further opportunities. It also continues to partner closely with Recreation Sites and Trails BC to develop further marine trails sections. This partnership is vital to the ongoing work, and the BCMTNA acknowledges and appreciates their continued support and contributions. Recently visible is the brand new BCMTN website. It is now online at www.bcmarinetrails.org. Paddlers can see for themselves (with latitude and longitude coordinates displayed) where all the BCMTN access points and tent sites on the two newly opened trails sections are located. The website contains other features too, including opportunities for paddlers to become BCMTN ‘supporters’ and to volunteer and participate in our developing stewardship programs. The BC Marine Trails Network is still in the beginning stages, but its developers, both the BCMTNA and its government partners, believe it is the way to preserve the rights of paddlers. Begun with First Nations peoples in their big canoes, we will all be able to continue to travel, explore and thoroughly enjoy this province’s magnificent marine environment. Keep tuned in! Stephanie Meinke is president of the BC Marine Trails Network Association.
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Sea Kayaks Guide Alliance of BC
Paid to paddle: the road to guiding
types, the diversity in the industry was obvious. Astoundingly, 50 percent of the guides in the industry are female and the age of active guides ranges from 19 to 69. My own stereotyped vision of a kayak guide had to be abandoned. During this developmental weekend I felt completely welcomed, and once again was reminded of my own particular abilities. No one pointed out that their skills were superior to mine; in reality, the sharing of expertise and knowledge in compassionate ways was the driving force of the weekend. Everyone was welcomed and encouraged to participate at their own comfort level. After such empowering experiences I decided to give up my day job and become a kayak guide, ‘just for the summer.’ As it turned out, introducing individuals to the world of kayaking was the most rewarding and fulfilling career choice in my life thus far. I got to do what I enjoyed doing and had ‘new friends’ every week with whom to share the joy of sea kayaking. Working with children, families and individuals on day trips and overnight journeys filled my heart that summer. Being a kayak guide meant that I was able to support a diverse range of people who wanted to try out the sport, or travel with the safety of a guide Photo Liam McNeil/SKGABC
Becoming a kayak guide at the age of 40-something is not what I had envisioned for myself. On the other hand, I failed miserably at having a desk job that required my participation in the competitive world of business. My parents and others often ask me when I am going to grow up and get a ‘real job.’ When questioned about my career choice, I simply smile and talk about my experience of working in the industry. For me, becoming a kayak guide was an accident. In order to develop my own paddling ability for a trip that I was completely unprepared for I took the Assistant Overnight Guide course with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC). The course combined everything that I wanted to know in a comprehensive and affordable package. I had no intention of becoming a guide and did not think I fit the role: I was short, chubby, uncoordinated and almost 40! During the training I was forced to acknowledge that my kayaking skills at the time were marginal at best. I struggled with boat control in minor currents, turned in circles without my rudder, failed at efficient self-rescues, and even dropped an entire meal on the ground that I was supposed to serve to the examiners. (Good thing I was hidden behind a bush and able to pick out the grass before anyone noticed.) I was completely surprised at the end of the week when I passed the course and was informed of all the strengths and unique characteristics that I could bring to the industry. Somewhat doubtful about my own kayaking and leadership ability, I went paddling with friends for the summer, took a few more courses and improved my skills. The next fall I decided to attend a SKGABC guides exchange. These weekend excursions are opportunities for networking and professional development that are held twice a year in a variety of locations along the BC coast. I showed up expecting to see a sea of wool toques on 25-year-old men. While I did see an abundance of outdoorsy
Participants line the shore during a skills seminar at a SKGABC skills exchange. Count the wool toques! (Hint: there are none.) SPRING 2012
in unfamiliar areas. Suddenly my life had direction and meaning that I had never achieved before. Some guides work seasonally, while others go back and forth between snow and sea. Some venture to other countries, to work year-round doing what they love. I am completing a master’s degree in the off seasons and hope to continue working with youth in outdoor settings for the rest of my life. It is a good thing my parents are beginning to understand that the smile on my face and warmth in my heart mean much more to me than excelling in a material world where I don’t really belong. Being a guide with SKGABC means that I am supported by a non-profit society that has over 600 active members. The SKGABC is a leader in promoting sea kayaking in British Columbia and in providing a variety of services to its members. With the intention of developing a sustainable and competitive sea kayaking industry, SKGABC promotes safety and standards that are generated from a unified voice of sea kayak professionals and operators. The alliance strives to ensure that there is a high-quality sea kayaking environment for the benefit of all, and provides a supportive community of professionals acting with integrity and seeking excellence. I encourage anyone who is curious to investigate SKGABC and see what training and/or career opportunities may be possible. Fortunately, SKGABC welcomes all individuals involved in sea kayaking to become members, whether they wear a wool toque or not. To find out more visit www.skgabc.com. Sheila Porteous is a Level Three kayak guide with SKGABC and a sea kayak instructor with Paddle Canada. As a person with a disability, she participates on several executive teams with the intention of maintaining diversity in the kayaking industry. She is also an active member of the South Island Sea Kayak Association & Nanaimo Paddlers. She spends her summers working as a kayak guide and, when off the water, Sheila can be found working on her Masters of Arts in Child and Youth Care.
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qayaq bank bailouts. And why wouldn’t he want to escape from that? I do. I had memories of James Michener’s stories about the Aleut kayakers in boats they called baidarkas. Baidarkas are skinon-frame kayaks made with a frame of red or yellow cedar or Sitka spruce. The frame was traditionally covered with the hides of several seals or a fat walrus if they could find one. The boats were long and narrow and round like a log. They were sized small enough for a single paddle or big enough for a whole family moving camp. The Aleut were masters of hunting walrus and
Photo Michael Jackson/ mhjpaddling.blogspot.com
recall the first time that Greenland kayaking made a blip on my radar screen. I was kayaking around Trial Island in the spring hoping for rough water when I saw a kayaker dressed in a black nylon bag paddling with a long skinny stick. I vaguely associated this with some northern Inuit traditions. My gut reaction was similar to seeing a punk rocker with an Iroquois haircut dyed purple and wearing too many nose rings. Greenland kayakers: punk rockers of the kayak world. The black bag was a tuilik, an anorak that extends to the cockpit and doubles as a sprayskirt. The hood seals around the face and allows an Inuit paddler to survive a capsize in frigid Arctic waters, if he can roll back up without a wet exit. The cockpits on Inuit kayaks are small and round, making it very difficult to re-enter the kayak from the water. Solitary cowboy re-entries are not an option. It’s a case of roll or die. I recall that the young kayaker I saw in the tuilik had a self-satisfied smirk as if he was enjoying some private joke. He was paddling alone to the beat of a different drum, living in his own world, taking a holiday from the world of plastic Barbie dolls and carpet bombings and self-serving
sea otters. Michener made the point that Aleut Inuit were superbly adapted to a cold marine environment. They could live out of their baidarkas for extended journeys, roll the boat if they were capsized by an ornery walrus and capture enough food from the ocean to feed their extended families. By any definition, they were marine mammals. Far away, the Greenland kayak took a different form to accomplish similar functions. The west Greenland kayak has fewer ribs. It has a keelson and two chine stringers to define its shape rather than the multi-chine approach of the Aleut baidarka.
way Each area of the Arctic developed a different style of kayak. Kayak builders in Greenland did not have nearly the choice of wood that the Alaska Aleuts did. Since there are no trees in Greenland, they had to work with whatever wood washed up on their shores. A lot of that wood came from the mighty MacKenzie River which floated trees from northern Canada to the Arctic Ocean where they were trapped in pack ice and driven across the Arctic by wind and current. I was amazed the first time that I saw a McKenzie Delta kayak. It had the upturned
gunwales of a Greenland kayak and the multiple chines of a baidarka from Alaska. The kayak builders in each village would pick up ideas from their journeys east and west and incorporate them into their next kayak design. A continuum of kayak styles developed across the Arctic from the Alaska Panhandle to the Mackenzie Delta to west and east Greenland. In 2010 the lure of Greenland skin-onframe kayak drew me south on a journey of discovery to SSTIKS, the South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayak Symposium on the Hood Canal in Washington State. I
spent a day making a paddle with Don Beale. A cedar two-by-four was marked and sawn and planed and sanded until it was transformed into a skinny stick that I paddled until its tips were worn and frayed. SSTIKS was a wonderful introduction to Greenland rolling. Learning the standard Greenland roll meant unlearning the sweep whitewater roll that I had been doing for three decades. I didn’t ‘get it’ until I watched Helen Wilson’s DVD, Simplifying the Greenland Roll. As I floundered about in Sooke Basin, I kept repeating her mantra, “eyebrows under water, lift the recovery side knee, slide onto the back deck.” As a woodworker I was fascinated by the idea that I could build my own kayak out of western red cedar. I signed up for a week-long course with Cape Falcon Kayaks on a farm in Oregon. We camped in the meadow by the big red barn while a pile of lumber came to life as gunwales and deck beams and ribs and stringers lashed together with artificial waxed nylon sinew. Brian Schultz taught the class how to keep the keel straight, saw tenons and compound angles and stretch ballistic nylon over the frame and sew it. u
The nylon skin was dyed and coated with polyurethane to make a skin that was tougher and more water resistant than seal skin. An initiation into the world of Greenland kayaking and rolling is not complete without spending a day with Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson from Kayakways. I spent a sunny summer day on the sands of Goose Spit in Comox doing drills with them. Turner suggested that I try one of their specialized skin-on-frame rolling kayaks and my world was literally turned upside down. I had to wriggle my way into the boat it fit so tightly. The masik is the raised and curved deck beam at the front of the combing. It was M-shaped...a protrusion on the bottom of the masik dipped down between my thighs and kept me centred in the qajaq. The low volume provided only 2 cm of freeboard for the back deck. The rocker of the hull provided stability and a low centre of gravity. Some pieces of the rolling puzzle came together that day under their expert guidance. With a rush of elation and a glow of accomplishment I did my first hand rolls. Like a kid with a new toy I kept rolling and rolling and rolling in amazement and delight. Turner is a woodworker, architect, expert Greenland roller, teacher and qajaq builder. He builds great rolling machines. Inspired by his work I set out to build my own rolling qayaq. My neighbours were
entertained as I set up my saw horses in the driveway and assembled gunwales and stringers and ribs. Two qajaqs later I have the rolling qayaq of my dreams. To complete this picture, I needed my own black bag or tuilik to wear in my qajaq. I called up Paulo, owner of Comfort Tuiliks, for help. He took my measurements and performed his own magic. Paulo came out for the maiden voyage of the new tuilik. He is meticulous about quality and helped me adjust the hood so that it would seal properly around my face and wrists. The tuilik was much more watertight than my qajaq. When I rolled upside down the water in the boat would drain into the tuilik, which dutifully retained all that water
close to my body. I now realize why most traditional qajaq rollers wear their tuilik over a drysuit, but this can also be solved by a pair of bib pants. I was out for a solo paddle one day with my pautik, and tuilik and qajaq when someone approached me and asked me about the black bag I was wearing. I explained that it was a traditional Inuit anorak designed for qayaqing. With a skeptical look he stated: “And I suppose it is made of traditional Inuit nylon.” Resisting the urge to spear him with my pautik, I replied “You have a point there. I made one of sealskin but my dog ate it.” I paddled away to the beat of a different drummer.
About the author The Pautik Group I started on Facebook has been an interesting exercise in developing community among traditional kayaking enthusiasts all over the world. I built a skin-onframe kayak and got advice on fitting the masik from Italy, Malta, Maine and California. The name pautik, the Inuit word for a kayak paddle, came from Kevin Floyd in Inuvik. A video of the Great Canadian Beer Roll was submitted and Norway responded with
the Norwegian Broom Roll. We have all enjoyed the amazing rolling animations and kayak graphics contributed by Eiichi from Japan. Soon we will be watching James teaching advanced Greenland rolls in Argentina. – Gerhardt Lepp
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“ WE ARE A PADDLING SHOP ” SPRING 2012
Going Greenland Photo by Dave Aharonian
reenland paddles obviously have a long history. But they haven’t been relegated to museum collections. On the contrary, both kayaks and paddles, drawing heavily from traditional Greenland designs, are enjoying greater popularity than ever. It was high time that I tried a Greenland stick, but if I was going to get a good introduction, I’d need a guide. Mike Jackson is a Greenland paddling enthusiast who recently took third place at the Kayak Academy’s Greenland Week Competition. He’s also the distributor for Northern Light Paddles (northernlightpaddles.com), a manufacturer of lovely carbon-fibre Greenland paddles. As a long-time “Euro” paddle user, a Greenland paddle initially felt pretty foreign to me. An intriguing characteristic of a Greenland stick is that it is symmetrical on all three axes. So therefore there is no right or left blade, no back or front and no feather
Is there a choice to be made among paddle styles or is there room for both? Alex Matthews begins the debate and casts off old habits
angle to contend with. Pick up a Greenland paddle any which way, in any orientation, and it is ready for use. The shaft, or “loom” in Greenland circles, is quite short, the idea being that your hands SPRING 2012
rest at the point where the blade and loom meet, so that a good portion of your hand is on the blade area itself. The Northern Light paddle has a nice “shoulder” at this junction that provides a comfortable grip and great blade angle feedback. But having described this one grip position, let me quickly add that another defining characteristic of the Greenland style is the use of “sliding strokes” and “extended paddle” positions, which have the kayaker shifting his grip all over the paddle. The reasoning is this: Why restrict the grip to one central fixed position when shifting the hands to one end of the paddle or the other provides a huge increase in leverage and support? A key element to the success of this strategy is the extreme narrowness of the blades, which are easy to grasp. The Greenland paddle excels at sculling, making it really easy and intuitive, with the blade showing little or no tendency to dive. The blade is so forgiving of blade angle on
Alex Matthews Personally, I found that picking up a Greenland paddle made me feel like a beginner again, which was humbling, but pretty cool too. I’m intrigued, and plan to paddle with both Euros and Greenland
paddles for a while – I’m bound to have fun, and I might even learn something. Alex Matthews is author of Sea Kayaking: Rough Waters.
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sweeps that I’m becoming quite convinced that it is likely easier to teach a beginner to roll with a Greenland paddle than with a Euro-style blade. So what are the downsides? Well, one of the usual criticisms is that the long and narrow blades lack power. And there is validity to this argument. With its long blade fully submerged, a Greenland paddle provides pretty good bite, but it cannot compete with the immediate powerful acceleration provided by a larger Euro blade. The real question, however, is: How much value is that potential acceleration to an average kayaker who isn’t racing? I’m most interested in a Greenland paddle for low-impact cruising. I’m already heavily biased toward a Euro blade; it’s what I grew up with, what I’m most comfortable with, and I won’t hesitate to reach for mine when heading out to paddle surf or tide races. I love their immediate bite and power. But my newbie Greenland stroke has my hands in a far lower position than with my Euro, and it feels easy on my aging body. I’m really curious to see how that will translate on longer trips and how my stroke will change and improve to better take advantage of this new and different tool. I’m also curious as to why there seems to be such a division between those who use Greenland paddles and those who don’t. Naysayers scoff but don’t try the paddles. Some proponents deride Euro blades. It seems to be an all-or-nothing proposition, and I don’t understand why.
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When the tide When the Tide is Out...
Nootka Rose, Rosa nutkana, common name: wild rose photo Dog Walking Girl / Wikimedia Commons
Used traditionally for centuries, everyone in the Pacific Northwest can benefit from this delightful wild rose. It is readily available growing in a range of habitats and is easy to identify with no need to worry about being poisoned by look-alikes. The hips are easy to harvest and are abundant when ripe in the fall, though available all winter with the advantage that they taste sweeter after frost has taken away their slightly bitter flavour. The fleshy hips are full of Vitamin C and are high in anti-oxidants. It’s said that one cup of harvested and de-seeded rose hips have as much Vitamin C as a dozen oranges. So on the Northwest coast, where citrus fruits aren’t native, and when fruits and berries are most lacking, rose hips are your antidote for scurvy – a perfect option for people who want to eat locally by staying within a 100mile diet.
SPRING SPRING2012 2012
the table is set, as the old saying goes. Coast&Kayak presents a new column that will put the landscape in an entirely new culinary light, starting with the Nootka rose.
Follow us in future issues as we scour the Pacific Northwest upland and intertidal zones for recipes you can create from scratch
Exploring the wilderness is one thing; living off it adds an entirely different layer of experience. Beach strolling will never be the same once you learn to recognize tasty morsels. SPRING SPRING2012 2012
When the Tide is Out... Identification: This shrub is easily identified because it grows in thickets and looks similar to a common rose. The shrub can grow to three metres in height, and it spreads by rhizomes creating a thicket of erect and arching stems. The new shoots are bright green, the ends of each stem can range from dark red to bright red, and the bottom of the mature stems can be dark brown to blackish. Every stem has pairs of large prickles or thorns occurring at each node. The leaves are easily recognized, bright green 1-7 cm long and elliptical with five to seven leaflets to a stock. The paired leaflets have toothed edges and you will find a few thorns on the underside of the base of each leaf. Showy and scented flowers appear early summer (May-June) and range from light to dark pink. The flowers can be 5-8 cm across, usually occur singly or a bloom of two to three. Each flower has five lobed petals, and numerous stamens and the ovaries enclosed in the urn-shaped hypanthium. The fleshy hypanthium (base of the petals) ripens into an orange or purplish-
Rose hip plums ready for picking.
red hip 1-2 cm long. The hips are present anywhere from mid-September throughout the winter. Distribution & Habitat: The Nootka rose is native to western North America, and can be found along the entire coast from California to Alaska, then east to the Cascade Mountains. There is another variety, hispida, that is found from the Cascades east to the Rockies, but while
paddling along the coast you will find the nutkana variety. Look for thickets of wild rose along maritime rock and southern cliff faces, as well as in forest meadows. It grows in most elevations from sea level to mid-way up mountains, and is very hardy, tolerating both shade and full sun as well as moist swamps and dry glacial till soils. Wild roses are common along fences, hedges and along rural pastures, the edge of woodlands, meadows and moist riparian zones. It flourishes in nitrogen-rich soils, and forms prolific thickets that can’t be crossed by large animals, but provide protection, food and habitat for many species of birds, insects and small wildlife. Deer will feed on the new spring shoots, mature leaves, flowers and of course the hips too. There are a few species of wasps that the Nootka rose hosts. The larvae of mourning cloak and grey hairstreak butterflies are commonly deposited into the stems, staying there until the larvae hatch. Ethnobotanical uses: Aboriginal people in the Pacific Northwest traditionally used this species as
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food, medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments, a source of cultural material and for ceremonial uses. In Bella Coola, Nancy J. Turner, a famous ethnobotanist, documented that the roots and sprouts were used in steam-baths. An infusion from the root was also used as an eyewash. Derivatives of this wild rose were used for multiple purposes. Natives in Western Washington used the stems for tea to ease labour pains, and tea from the leaves was used as a wash to strengthen newborn babies. The roots were also used in a decoction or tea to heal soar throats. The Makah used whole hips to make necklaces. In the Okanagan, a poultice of chewed leaves was applied to bee stings and mixed with ashes to eliminate swellings. Placed under and over food while pit cooking it added flavor and prevented burning. Branches were used by the shaman/ doctor to sweep a gravesite before the body was interred. A tea made from the branches served as protection from bad spirits and ghosts. Hunters also used the tea to get rid of human scent to prepare for hunting, or to soak fishing lines and nets to obtain good luck. First Nations in the North Thompson area placed leaves inside moccasins for athlete’s foot and for spiritual protection and good luck. Both the Coast Salish and Nuu-cha-nulth ate the hips during the autumn, and liked to mix the hips with oil before eating them. Tsimshian people mixed the hips with oolichan grease and sugar, which was eaten raw. They also used the rose flowers in a ‘flower dance’ costume. The Coast Salish used the roots with gooseberry and cedar roots to make reef nets for fishing. Young shoots, stems, flowers and hips were used to make a variety of teas. Other uses: During the Second World War there were no citrus fruits available in the north, so in winter people were encouraged to be resourceful and pick wild rose hips to increase their intake of vitamin C. Jams, jellies, syrups and tea were all popular uses. Harvesting and Preparation: Young shoots can be harvested to make a tea in the early spring, the leaves can be harvested to make tea in the spring
Boiling the rose hips to make jelly.
and summer, as can the rose petals when in bloom. The hips are ripened by midSeptember and stay on this shrub all winter, even though all the leaves have fallen off. The ideal time to harvest the hip is right after the first big frost of the fall, usually in October on the BC coast. To harvest the hip, break it off the stem at the base, then with your thumb pull off all petal remnants. Slice hip in half, scoop out seeds and silvery hairs (as these are bad for digestion). After rinsing with fresh water, dry on a cookie sheet in a warm place. The dried hips are great for a flavourful anti-oxidant tea loaded with Vitamin C. The process is labour intensive to remove all the seeds from each hip, but will last for a long time once dried. If you want to make a jam, it is recommended to extract all the seeds from the hips, so I prefer to make a jelly where the entire hip with seeds inside can be boiled
then strained, making a clear golden-orange jelly. Recipe: 4 quarts whole rose hips 2 quarts water 1 package of pectin 5 cups sugar 1/2 cup lemon juice and one teaspoon lemon zest Take the hips and water and simmer until soft, then mash and crush, and strain through cheese cloth or a mesh strainer. This should yield four cups of concentrated juice. Add lemon juice and pectin crystals and stir until the mixture comes to a full hard boil, then stir in sugar. Let boil for a few minutes until it thickens while stirring continually. Remove the jelly from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Sterilize jars, then add the jelly and seal. This is the best jelly recipe because you don’t have to take out the seeds, and it tastes so great! Caution: Seeds found inside hips are covered in silvery hairs and these are a mild stomach irritant affecting digestion, and in high doses could cause diarrhea. But all other parts of the plant are not considered toxic. Leaves, stems, flowers, and hips are all edible and very nutritious. Hilary Masson is with Baja Kayak Adventures and Silva Bay Kayaking.
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