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by John Kimantas wind conditions is to take advantage of alternatives. One concept to consider is the option of a lee, or an area sheltered from wind. Sometimes this means simply staying near shore, but if you’re travelling through an archipelago you may find shelter by paddling the other side of an island. Choosing a new destination for that day is another way to avoid a troublesome headwind. Think of the Broken Group Islands, with seven campsites scattered in various locations. You can continue bullheaded towards that one campsite that lies directly in the path of the wind, or you can turn sideways and head along a more sheltered route to a backup option. If you have no choice but to head upwind, particularly up a channel or inlet, consider the possibility of a jetstream. This is where wind funnels along a portion of the channel. They are hard to gauge, as water-level sightlines are generally limited to about a kilometre in a kayak, whereas channels can easily run six to 10 kilometres wide. Often by staying near

shore you can see the jetstream in the form of whitecaps in the central channel. The thing to consider is they are not always central, and if you’re in a jetstream you might be able to avoid the worst of the wind by crossing the channel. There’s a risk here, as you may make a crossing through rough conditions for no benefit, but if you learn to recognize certain land features you can place yourself strategically to avoid funnels. For instance, rounded shorelines lend themselves to funneling, whereas sharp turns do not. By approaching a ‘sharp’ point on the lee you can often avoid several kilometres of strong winds, as the land formation creates a dead spot. If you are experiencing unruly water conditions, consider other factors beyond just wind. This is especially significant if you are suffering choppy waves and whitecaps beyond what you should be getting for the amount of breeze. One cause could be that the current is against the wind, which generally leads to chop. Another is broken shelving on the ocean

floor or steep shoreline that can create rebound waves or tumultuous water. A solution is to head to deeper water or to simply wait till the current turns. It is astounding what a difference waiting an hour or two can make to flatten out water conditions. So the wind may do what it wants to do when it wants to do it, but usually you can also still do what you want to do as well – maybe just not when you might want to. And the difference between a carefree run with the wind and a tiresome or even dangerous slog against it is often just the difference of a bit of anticipation, planning and, you guessed it, adapting. n John Kimantas is editor of Coast&Kayak Magazine and author of the BC Coast Explorer and The Wild Coast book series. His expertise has become long-distance paddling trips, and he wrote this article after completing a 450-km trip to Princess Louisa Inlet in eight days (see page 8), a distance largely attributable to taking advantage of winds (with some bullheadedness thrown in).

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Vancouver Island South WINTER 2012



Winter 2012 Coast&Kayak Magazine  

Explore Princess Louisa Inlet, frolic with cougars on D'Arcy Island, paddle the coast of Gwaii Haanas and try Greenland paddles in this issu...