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COAST&KAYAK Magazine The magazine of Pacific coast adventures and recreation

Volume 23, Issue 2

SUMMER 2013 FREE at select outlets and online or by subscription

Clayoquot in focus The biosphere twenty years after the protests

PM 41687515

What lurks below A look at life underwater at Tahsis Narrows




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Inside This issue’s cover

by Sander Jain Born and raised in Bonn, Germany, Sander left his home country in 2008 at the age of 22 and followed his love of wild places and his urge to live a life close to nature by settling in the small town of Tofino on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island. There he started pursuing his dreams of working as a professional outdoor photographer and sea kayak guide. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, through nature conservation organizations and the ecotourism sector. His work has been among the ‘Editor’s Favourites’ in National Geographic’s 2012 photo contest. His photos and writing are featured in this issue’s photography portfolio.

Twenty years later

Touring Whitewater Recreational


Veteran kayaker and environmentalist Dan Lewis reflects 20 years later on an ill-fated kayak trip to make an important meeting about the Clayoquot Sound logging protests, a watershed event in Canadian environmentalism and the largest act of civil disobedience in the country’s history.

Where everything is one


This issue’s cover photographer, Sander Jain, offers his view of Clayoquot Sound’s UNESCO biosphere through both prose and lens.

Treasure hunt


Geocaching is generally thought of as a land-based activity, but not for kayaker David Barnes. He’s one of the few who have discovered an ideal way to add variety and a bit of mystery to a kayak outing. All you need is a GPS and a bit of ingenuity when it comes to actually finding a cache. First Word�����������������������������������������������������������������������4 News����������������������������������������������������������������������������������6 Upwelling 101������������������������������������������������������������19 Portfolio�������������������������������������������������������������������������16 Destinations: Nootka�������������������������������������������� 22 Planning and Safety���������������������������������������������� 26

Destinations: North Vancouver Island������� 28 Destinations: Barkley Sound���������������������������� 33 Destinations: Sunshine Coast������������������������� 34 Destinations: Desolation Sound�������������������� 36 Skillset���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 43 New Gear���������������������������������������������������������������������46 SUMMER 2013

Crystal-X Proudly Canadian



The First Word

Our double-sided place in the world Summer 2013 

Volume 23, Number 2 PM No. 41687515

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Wild Coast Publishing PO Box 24, Stn A Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, V9R 5K4 Ph: 1-866-984-6437 • Fax: 1-866-654-1937 Email: Website: Physical address: Aboard the Rainy Day, Somewhere on the Pacific Ocean The world’s only magazine published from aboard a boat (that we know of, anyway).

People familiar with Clayoquot Sound will recognize this scene. There is a beach popular among kayakers near a home occupied by a sea kayaking pioneer (sorry to be vague, but he’d rather not have it announced to the world exactly where he lives). He also happens to have a dog. This is the perfect type of dog for this lifestyle, or perhaps this lifestyle is perfect for this dog: he’s energetic enough to run the beach all day and social enough to enjoy the company of the stream of visitors who stop at the beach each summer. The dog’s time is occupied for most of the day doing what he apparently loves to do most: hunting. This particular style of hunting is a game. The dog will spend a great deal of time slowly inching towards a small flock of shorebirds at a shallow tidal pool; he will lie low, making almost invisible movements in its time-consuming approach, then when the time seems opportune he will dart forward to chase the birds. The birds, of course, are aware of the dog and are also faster. As far as I’ve seen the dog has never come close to catching one and may never get the chance. Apologies to the dog if he has in fact managed this feat, but clearly the birds have the upper hand. The most interesting aspect of this hunting show is that the birds are obviously willing participants. After a chase they could have flown to safety at a tidal pool at the next beach. But instead they returned to the same spot so it could start all over again. I can only assume the birds enjoyed this game as much as the dog. It would seem an odd concept to actually enjoy being hunted, but that’s the world these birds live in. The best way to become good at being in control of your world’s dangerous places is to practice in them, and the best way to practice is by playing games. No doubt there are shorebirds respected among their peers for being the fastest and most daring. Young shorebirds are probably inspired by their greatness. Humans are unique because we have always (even now) lived in the netherworld between being a hunter and hunted. Both aspects are part of our historic makeup. While we went after mastadons with spears, we watched our backs for leopards. So now we hunt deer with guns (well, some of us) and watch our backs for bears. Our hunting games are obvious in the traditions we carry on. Sports, for sure. Even fishing could be considered a throwback to our predatory heritage. But what about being the hunted? As part of our ancestral makeup, shouldn’t that also be part of our games? Well, consider the risk-taking we do as part of our so-called adrenaline rush sports and hobbies. We jump from planes, ski fast downhill and do all manner of activities essentially defying death. And we call that fun! We even do that with paddles. We seek out rushing water, tidal rapids and other dangers. Or some of us do. And why? Ask the birds. They know. - John Kimantas

The view from the Coast&Kayak Magazine office (the MV Rainy Day) from Mark Bay facing Nanaimo. We prefer a relaxed work environment here.

© 2013. 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






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News A Sterling recovery Sterling Kayaks is back to repairing and building kayaks once again after a fire gutted their Whatcom County facility in November. The new and larger home has helped Sterling expand its custom paint options. More staff also means more time to design for owner Sterling Donaldson. “This facility is such a work upgrade and our new employees are great. This difficult challenge has definitely been worth the effort, a challenge we could never have finished without help,” Sterling says. Some of that help included two former Current Design owners, Brian Henry of Ocean River Kayaks and Campbell Black of Blackline Marine, donating industrial-grade vacuum pumps, a 30-foot radiant heating array, fabric racks, gelcoat guns, a pressure pot system, fabric racks and assorted laminating tools and safety containers. The local surf ski club did a fundraiser and donated the proceeds and others have submitted paid orders with no constraints on delivery times. “In this long, expensive process we see that without the support given to us by the kayaking community and our friends, we would not have been able to start over,” Sterling says. u

Waters Dancing

Proving that outrageous toques are a thing of beauty, SKGABC spring guide exchange participants ham it up for the coveted Coast&Kayak Best Toque Award. And the Best Toque Award goes to... The Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC) spring guides exchange was held on Quadra Island this May. The 75 participants took part in numerous activities, including rescue and skill sessions, workshops and moving water training at Surge Narrows. For the last 20 years, the SKGABC has held spring and fall exchanges to promote the continuing education of professional sea kayak guides, foster a sense of community and promote safe practices across the industry. Possibly not the highlight, but worthy of note anyway, was the second annual Sheila Porteous Best Toque Award, sponsored by Coast&Kayak Magazine (that’s us!) at the

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Saturday evening gala dinner. Contestants vied for the prizes with performances involving song, acrobatics, jokes, skits and even one person in a skin-tight body suit. (We hope that’s not as bad as it sounds.) Winners were John Hermsen, Beth Haysom and Graham Vaughan. To understand why we dedicated the award to Sheila, read her inspirational Coast&Kayak column at u Expedition watch Two brothers will be leaving on the trip of a lifetime this month: a 6,500 km paddle from the mouth of the Amazon to Florida. The trip will take Russell Henry, 20, and Graham Henry, 21, through Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Martin, St. Maarten, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the American Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and finally the USA. First paddling out of the Amazon and then up the South American coast, the first leg will cover 2,600 km of South American coastline. Once in Trinidad, the second leg will cross

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News the Caribbean Ocean to Florida by island hopping. Four crossings are over 100 km. ​The pair are sons of Current Designs founder and Ocean River owner Brian Henry. u Oops, he’s back Those with a good memory may recall Coast&Kayak’s coverage of Wave Vidmar receiving an unusual First Nations blessing of his kayak in preparation for an extended ocean voyage. After months of unexplained delays, Wave did finally head out on his 3,100-mile unsupported kayak trip from California to Hawaii. Prepared for up to two months, the trip lasted just one day. Wave left Bodega Bay in California on Christmas Eve afternoon, and on Christmas Day he activated his rescue transponder and was taken back to shore by the Bodega Bay Coast Guard. Wave was unhurt. Yippee! We won an IPPY! Coast&Kayak Magazine released its first book last year, and we’re happy to report it picked up a silver medal for Best Regional Non-Fiction, Canada-West, in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs). The BC Coast Explorer is the first of a series of kayak and coastal travel guides

detailing the British Columbia coast. Volume 1 covers the west coast of Vancouver Island from Port Hardy to Barkley Sound. The second volume should be available in spring 2014. The book is available at major outdoor retailers across British Columbia, on BC Ferries and for those farther afield it can be bought online through our website. u Celebrating 10 years It’s not often that a pair of kindergarten friends, let alone two women, get to celebrate 10 years of running a business together in the paddlesports industry, but Nuuana Robinson and Danusia Larsen have managed just that. Back in 2003 they were looking for a kayak cover of a certain style and couldn’t find it, so they created one, and now offer a line of kayak and canoe covers, leashes and accessories that can be found in over 200 stores in the US, Canada and overseas. You can give the pair a 10th anniversary LIKE at u

the outer passage, but the outside coast? Almost never. That hasn’t stopped a group of members from the Nanaimo Paddlers club from creating an online resource for this least travelled of locations: West Coast Aristazabal, Price and Atholone Islands: a field guide for paddlers. It features background information plus photos and maps for the potential campsites that the group found in a survey of the area in 2012. It’s the second resource prepared in this manner. The other is Banks Island: a field guide for paddlers. Both are available for reading free on u aristazabal_price_and_athlone_islands

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n Aug. 22, 1993 I was holed up in a cabin on Flores Island with my partner Bonny Glambeck. The rain was pelting down and the forecast was calling for gale-force southeasters rising to storm-force winds. As we scouted the ocean conditions from the beach, it was obvious that given the choice we would not go. Unfortunately, we didn’t feel we had a choice. It was ‘Clayoquot Summer’ – three months of mass protests against the government’s plan to allow logging in two-thirds of Clayoquot Sound, and we were two of the key organizers. The local environment group had called for the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history, and it was happening. We had established a Peace Camp for people who wanted to express their opposition to the proposed logging. That summer saw more than 10,000 people come to the Peace Camp, of whom 856 chose to be arrested. There was a critical meeting planned for that afternoon, and we simply had to be there. We talked it over and decided to poke our noses out into the conditions to see if we could make progress into the



20 years later

A look back at the Clayoquot Sound logging protests and a kayaking trip that went astray steadily rising winds. It took an hour or so to empty the cabin and load our kayaks, and we pushed off. It was slow going, especially for Bonny, who was a relative novice at the time. The hood on my raincoat was making it hard to see over my shoulder, and no matter how slowly I paddled, Bonny inevitably lagged behind me. We were trying to round the first point to head out into the real wind and waves. There was a ragged swell rolling into the bay. It wasn’t huge, but we were bobbing up and down a couple of metres. SUMMER 2013

We began treadmilling – a dangerous situation wherein while paddling hard you are barely able to hold your ground against the conditions. I glanced over my shoulder to see how Bonny was faring – and she was gone. Nowhere to be seen! A scream made it to me from the shore, and there she was, perched in her kayak on the headland, six feet above sea level. “What should I do?” she yelled, her words barely audible in the howling winds. I’ve done my share of playing around with rocks and swell, in the spirit of the late Eric Soares and his whacked-

by Dan Lewis out buddies the Tsunami Rangers. The correct answer flashed through my brain – wait for the next wave to wash up over the rock, and the moment you are floating in a couple of inches of water, crank the boat up on edge and throw in the best sweep stroke of your lifetime. As the boat turns ninety degrees ride the backwash out, just like running a waterfall. Things like that can be done, but you have to be skilled and strong. It helps to be young and to believe you are invincible. I immediately realized my plan was not an option for Bonny. “Jump out of your boat and pull it up,” I yelled, and began sprinting towards shore. I found a ramp of sloping rock covered in seaweed. Perfect. I waited for a wave to unfold and crash up the rock slope and then followed the pillow of water in. I jumped out and held my kayak as tons of water sieved back down the slope into the maelstrom created by the next wave crashing in. After pulling my boat beyond reach of the waves I ran over to Bonny, who was trying not to cry. “Go ahead and cry,” I said, which she promptly did. But not for long, and she felt much better right away. We moved her kayak to safety and sat down to discuss our options. It was obvious that heading for Tofino was simply not going to happen, and we quickly agreed to retreat to the cabin to try again later. The tricky part would be getting off the rock, a manoeuvre known as the seal launch. I explained it all to Bonny, and when she was ready we carried her kayak over to the rock ramp. She got all sealed in, feet on foot pegs and paddle in hand, with a clear plan as to where to wait for me.

A big wave came crashing in, the foam washed right up under her kayak, I hurled her stern grab loop like a bowling ball and whoosh! she floated free like a rocket being launched. My turn. This is of course a bit trickier when you are launching yourself. I placed the kayak right at the top of the wash zone, jumped in and snapped my spraydeck on just in time for the next sploosh, and rode the water out gracefully. I kind of liked this stuff back then, in the days when I still felt invincible. We were blown back to the cabin within minutes, and soon were lounging about in comfort doing the sorts of things kayakers are supposed to do on such days: reading coastal lore and eating copious amounts of leftover food. What about that critical meeting? It turned out the Peace Camp was in turmoil. The cook shack and numerous tents had been flattened in the storm. The big meeting didn’t happen until the next day, and we were able to paddle out under sunny skies and moderate winds. This incident reinforced for me the words of Cecil Robinson, who taught the seamanship portion of Ecomarine’s earliest kayak courses 30 years ago: “You never have to go anywhere!” Twenty years after the 1993 protests, Clayoquot Sound is more threatened than ever. The wild salmon are being put at risk by 21 fish farms and mining proposals also pose a serious threat. Dan Lewis and Bonny Glambeck have founded Clayoquot Action to address these issues. Check out Left: An aerial view of Cow Bay on Flores Island where Dan and Bonny tried to leave on Aug. 22, 1993. This area’s old-growth forest is slated to be logged, so this viewscape will change radically soon. Above: scenes from the 1993 Peace Camp. SUMMER 2013




A kayaker nears Shark Creek Falls. This photo required a longer exposure time of over 1/10 second. In this type of situation it can be helpful to rest the camera either on the edge of your cockpit or on a paddle float or full drybag in your lap. (Photography advice for this portfolio presentation is offered by Sander Jain.)





by Sander Jain

Where everything is “Hishuk ish ts’awalk.”

Fog-shrouded mountain slopes, ancient forests roamed by cougars and wolves, wild salmon in rivers, and the Pacific Ocean. Around the small ecotourism and fishing town of Tofino on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, one experiences what the First Nations people, at home here for more than 10,000 years, summed up in just one holistic sentence. “Hishuk ish ts’awalk.” “Everything is one.”






here the TransCanada Highway comes to its western end and 20,000 grey whales pass each year on their annual migration, the Pacific Ocean and the ancient coastal temperate rainforest meet in a region covering over 350,000 hectares. This creates an extraordinary habitat of ocean, rugged coastline, forested mountains, deep river valleys, vast mudflats, inlets, steep fjords and mountainous terrain. This is the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Here the lush vegetation contains 500 to 2,000 tons of organic matter per hectare, or more biomass than a tropical rainforest. The rainfall rate of more than 2,000 mm per year on this narrow coastal strip, sheltered by background mountain ranges and blessed with a moderate climate, creates the ideal condition for a coastal temperate rainforest. The village of Tofino on the tip of the Esowista Peninsula is the gateway to this wilderness paradise. While the rugged open coast expands to the west, looking east from the slightly elevated town centre reveals Top left: a black bear during salmon run season. The chances for getting good close-up photos of bears under these conditions is increased as the animals are very much focused on catching their prey. Middle left: A bald eagle at his lookout. Although there is no doubt that often long focal lengths like 400mm are a requirement for getting satisfying wildlife images, it is good to keep in mind that in many cases it is not just a mere close-up of an animal that makes the most interesting wildlife shot but the portrayal of the animal in its ecological context. Below left: A pair of orcas traveling Browning Passage in Clayoquot Sound. If you have a lucky encounter, try to pick the right moment and use some backlight to make the whales’ spouts appear as magical clouds in the air.




 views of seemingly endless layers of islands and mountains. The first time I laid eyes on this view I did not yet know this magnificent region was a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Tofino was a quick stop on a very compressed eight-day road trip through western Canada in 2006. I remember standing at the end of Fourth Street near the steep driveway down to the harbour on a cloudy afternoon in June, staring at the mystically fog-shrouded depths and being mesmerized by the atmosphere. I had come from Germany for a quick road trip through Alberta and British Columbia. The entire trip was a defining experience, as it was the first time in my life that I was in vast spaces of seemingly pristine nature – something that has long since disappeared in Europe. It was a revelation

by Sander Jain to move through regions characterized not by the predominance of human civilization but by the strong prevalence of the natural world. From that moment this remote region at the gloomy end of the highway on Vancouver Island’s west coast had cast a spell on me. A few years later, Tofino and Clayoquot Sound became my new home. I started work on a conservation photography project for a book about the west coast of Vancouver Island, and also guided sea kayak tours and did lots of outdoor excursions, and so I continued to delve deeper into the environment of Clayoquot Sound and became more and more acquainted with this region. Not only did I learn a lot about its ecology and history, I also came to realize that the first impression of seemingly

untouched wilderness is quite deceptive. Chainsaws and bulldozers threaten to destroy the ancient forests, with some trees as old as 2,000 years measuring 12 metres in circumference. Clayoquot Sound is the largest remaining area of productive ancient temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island, although logging has already destroyed between 75 and 80 percent of the original forest cover. Only 21 of 282 watersheds on Vancouver Island remain unlogged, with seven of those lacking permanent protection and five located in Clayoquot Sound. Temperate rainforests are among the rarest ecosystems on the globe and Clayoquot is the second largest area of remaining intact ancient temperate rainforest in North America; the Great Bear Rainforest

A black wolf patrols a Clayoquot mudflat. This photo was taken shortly before sunset while paddling around Meares Island. The moist air of the temperate rainforest environment mixed with the rose light of the early evening sun created a magical atmosphere and perfect photographic conditions. Just then a wolf stepped out from under the edge of the forest and onto the mudflat. I took this photo from a distance of 30 meters with a NIKON D300 and Sigma 120-400mm which I usually keep in a drybag under my sprayskirt, ready for shooting.





Some outdoor photos depend on mere luck and others are the result of a lot of planning. The best results are when it is a combination of both. This aerial shot from Clayoquot Sound was planned ahead by using the idea of capturing the relationship between humans and the greater natural context. This location boasts the impressive layers of mountains of Strathcona Provincial Park in the far background and forested islands in the middle. The kayakers at the entrance to Lemmen’s Inlet show as tiny tokens of humanity in this vast environment. While the location and angle were pinpointed with the help of a chart and the kayakers were directed to the right spot by using VHF radio, it was the particular light conditions in the evening of a day in May and the interplay of all the colours and elements of the landscape that created harmonious conditions for capturing the spiritual experience of outdoor adventurers.

of the central and northern British Columbia coast is the largest. Old and new cut blocks and logging roads scar many mountain slopes. It is disappointing to come to understand that most of the trees along the sides of the road on the long scenic drive across the island to Tofino are actually second- or third-growth forest. For the trained eye, the air of wilderness disappears and the region 14


doesn’t seem as infinitely vast anymore. But logging is not the only threatening force to Clayoquot Sound: The numbers of wild Pacific salmon that migrate from the ocean through the fjords and up the rivers for spawning are on an alarming decrease. Twenty one open-net Atlantic salmon fish farms bring parasites, infectious diseases, pollution, sewage and antibiotics to the waters of Clayoquot Sound. SUMMER 2013

Clayoquot has the highest density of fish farms on the west coast. On Catface Mountain, right in the heart of this region, only ten kilometres away from Tofino and even closer to First Nations communities, Imperial Metals, a mining corporation from Vancouver, plans to build an open-pit copper mine which would involve the removal of the top third of the mountain and the installment of toxic

by Sander Jain

Left: paddling up Shelter Inlet. Inset top left: a peaceful campsite scene in a break from kayak touring at Warn Bay near the mouth of Boulson River in Clayoquot Sound. Inset top right: a hiker marvels at a beautiful Sitka spruce in Sydney Valley in the lush wilderness of Clayoquot Sound. The grandeur of Clayoquot Sound’s nature is best captured when put into perspective by adding human dimensions to the composition of the photograph.




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containment lakes in an area that is highly tectonically active. The same corporation has additionally applied for a gold mine project in Clayoquot Sound. Three-quarters of the ancient forests of Clayoquot Sound are still threatened by logging. Just now, Iisaak Forest Resources, the main logging company in this region, is aiming for the ancient forests of Flores Island. Currently 96 percent intact, it is one of the three largest undeveloped islands off Vancouver Island and one of Clayoquot Sound’s true wilderness jewels (see page 8 for an aerial photo). Iisaak’s logging practices are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which generally means improved environmental, social and TM


Why Dig When You Can Glide? 16



economic standards for logging, but it does not prohibit logging of old growth forests. Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve demonstrates the continuing conflict between conservation efforts on the one hand and the profit-driven exploitation of the earth on the other. The destructive force of unsustainable resource extraction progresses step by step, and almost imperceptibly one of the rarest ecosystems on this planet is being eroded.

by Sander Jain

Since the year 2000, Clayoquot Sound’s global significance is being acknowledged by its UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. UNESCO intends to designate regions of our planet as models of how humans and nature should coexist. However, the title easily misleads. The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation does not grant a protected status and cannot save it from exploitation. The sound is promising, but the actuality is ultimately ineffective.


The world has to work towards a solution that holds what the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation suggests: Clayoquot Sound has to become a part of our biosphere in which humans and nature can sustainably coexist. One of the promising models that could provide such a solution is conservation funding that would help with developing sustainable economic alternatives to the industrial exploitation of natural resources.



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by Neil Schulman

Upwelling 101 Tired of that pesky northwesterly? Rejoice! It’s nature’s big party.


’m trapped on a beach in Clayoquot Sound. The wind is ripping out of the northwest, and the ocean is frothing white. No paddling today. But I shouldn’t complain. Those pesky northwesterlies are what makes the rich ocean life of the Pacific Northwest possible. In fact, when the wind doesn’t blow things go wrong, and quickly. So give thanks for an obscure phenomenon called the Ekman Transport Vector. When the northwest wind blows, you’d figure it would pile water up against the northwest coast. But that’s not what happens. Because of the Coriollis effect caused by the earth’s rotation, moving objects are displaced to the right in the northern hemisphere: if you stood on the North Pole and threw a ball at Vancouver, it would land somewhere way out in the Pacific. The same happens with the surface water moved by the wind. It is displaced 90 degrees to the right, essentially pushed away from the coast. This so-called transport vector is named for Swedish oceanographer Vagn Walfrid Ekman. When surface water is pushed away from the coast, it creates a hole. Water from the deep ocean rushes up to fill it. This is coastal upwelling, the driver of Pacific Northwest coastal ecology. The water that rushes up has been in the deep sea for about 50 years since it was drawn below the surface by “downwelling” off Asia. And in the deep sea, water develops several important characteristics. First, as kayakers have noticed, it’s cold. That means it can hold a lot of dissolved oxygen once it reaches the surface. There oxygen is added via photosynthesis and wave

action. Since this water has been deeper than light can penetrate, it’s also rich in carbon dioxide, a limiting factor in photosynthesis by plankton, the driver of the ocean food chain. This water has also been the beneficiary of something called “detrital rain” for its 50 years in the depths. Organic matter in the sea slowly falls downward. As it falls it decomposes, making deep water rich in nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium and silica – nutrients that are rare in surface waters. When this cold water, rich in vital gases and nutrients, hits phosynthetic depth, life explodes. With all the elements for photosynthesis suddenly in abundance, plankton blooms. Macroinvertebrates like krill and copepods thrive on plankton, and in turn everything from tiny herring to salmon and whales thrive on them. The richness of other nutrients in the water feeds intertidal creatures like barnacles and mussels. This drives life in tidepools. It’s a bonanza. Upwelling may account for only one percent of the ocean surface on the planet, but it accounts for 50 percent of the earth’s fisheries. Sometimes the upwelling even brings fish with it, like a longnose lancetfish I stumbled across on the Oregon Coast, a creature that usually lives a mile below sea level. And the longer and harder the wind blows, the greater the upwelling. Windier spots tend to have richer ecologies in summer. There’s a reason whales are always feeding off Brooks Peninsula during summer: there’s more wind, more upwelling and more food. SUMMER 2013




Top left: a longnose lancetfish, usually found only a mile below sea level. Above: anemones are filter feeders, so grow during upwellings when there are a lot of nutrients in the water. Bottom left: Starfish feed on mussels and other bivalves dependent on upwelling.

Ekman’s vector also plays a role in intertidal reproduction. Most tidepool creatures, from crabs to sedentary anemones, have free-swimming larvae. They reproduce during the summer, when the Ekman vector takes larvae far from home, increasing dispersal and adding new genetic materials to gene pools up and down the coast. Upwelling also creates our summer fog, when warm air meets cold water from the deep. But this bonanza can only last so long. It’s a cacophony of marine life – for a while.


f the wind stops, the deepwater food conveyer shuts down. That’s when we see things like summer die-offs of common murres and other marine birds. Sometimes it’s a simple short spell in weather patterns. But more often it’s an oceanic temper-tantrum caused by a little boy known in Spanish as El Niño. El Niño is a natural weather oscillation. Every once in a while, high pressure in the Eastern Pacific near Indonesia decreases, which starts a global chain reaction. El Niño shuts off equatorial trade winds, causes high pressure in Australia, drought in Africa and India and rain in South America. On the West Coast of North America, it brings more winter storms as the Aleutian low expands southward. It also weakens the Pacific High, which 20


produces summer northwesterlies. The upwelling shuts off, pulling the rug out from under the whole summer food chain. Phytoplankton production drops drastically. Kelp forests and fisheries collapse, along with seabird and sea lion populations. But El Niño is the exception, not the rule. Recent summers have also had La Niña, the Little Girl. La Niña is a strengthened normal weather system: more wind, more upwelling, more of the good life in the northeast Pacific.


oo much of a good thing can be, well, too much. When northwest winds blow too hard for too long and we get long periods of sustained upwelling, the ocean can suddenly become oxygenpoor. Party too hard and there’s bound to be an ecological hangover. There is a naturally occurring, lowoxygen zone in the deepwater offshore Pacific, off the continental shelf. It’s there because deep water has no photosynthesis to produce oxygen. Decomposition from the “detrital rain” also consumes oxygen. Long periods of sustained upwelling can bring this low-oxygen water to the surface, ending upwelling’s beneficial effects. And by late summer, when the ecological party’s been going on for a few months already, the rich phytoplankton blooms start to die off, adding local decomposition to the oxygen-sucking problem.


Usually, variations in the summer weather break up this pattern. Imagine a two-week kayak trip on the B.C. coast. You can usually expect a pattern of sunny days interrupted at some point by southeast winds, a low-pressure system and a few days of rain. These southerlies reverse the Ekman vector and shove surface waters back toward the coast, which pushes the cold, dense, deeper water back down: this is downwelling. When downwelling punctuates the upwelling from time to time, the low-oxygen waters don’t accumulate. These storms aren’t great for camping or kayaking, but they’re how the ocean avoids a hangover.


oastal waters have been studied for over 50 years, allowing us to see that some changes have started recently. Northwest winds have become more intense over shorter periods, and the upwelling and explosions of marine life have followed this pattern. El Niños have become more intense but not more frequent. And most dramatically, the big deepwater low-oxygen zone has started coming ashore. In 2002 and again in 2006, this zone moved coastward of the continental shelf for the first time in record, resulting in die-offs of sea cucumbers and starfish. The mystery is why. The inner continental seafloor contains species susceptible to low oxygen levels that live

Upwelling 101 for decades, suggesting that this is a new condition. Warmer sea temperatures exacerbated the 2002 low-oxygen zone in Oregon. Culprits could be short-term weather oscillations, longer-term ocean warming or a combination of both, possibly complicated by some types of pollution. Studies of the ancient seafloor indicate there may have been expansions and contractions of the low-oxygen zone since the Pleistocene. Other studies and modeling point to greenhouse-induced climate change.


arbon emission-based climate change, when it combines with upwelling, may have a more sinister effect: ocean acidification. When our tailpipes and power plants produce carbon dioxide, much of it falls in the ocean. Seawater and carbon dioxide form carbonic acid, which makes the sea more acidic. Carbonic acid also dissolves shells. In the summers of 2007 and 2009, high levels of carbonic acid were noted in Washington and Oregon, along with corroded oyster shells and juveniles failing to produce

20 YEARS Archipelago Management Board

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site

shells. Carbonic acid could also weaken the carapaces of pteropods and copepods, which form the food base for herring, salmon, cod and mackerel. Upwelling makes understanding ocean acidification challenging. Because Pacific waters follow a conveyer belt where they’re downwelled and spend half a century in the deep ocean, there’s a long lag between cause and effect. Was the carbonic acid that showed up in 2007 and 2009 from carbon dioxide we burned during the mad spasm of World War II? We can’t say for certain. But this much is clear: if we burn a lot of carbon now, it will come back in the form of acidic waters upwelled sometime around 2063 or so. But lest we get too gloomy, upwelling is just the conveyer belt. It’s what we put on the belt that matters. So when you’re stuck on a beach in the sun, blasted by strong northwesterlies, remember that the fish, whales, sea anemones and sea lions are out there having a big party.

“Local outfitter providing guided multi-day kayak adventures in Gwaii Haanas since 2000. Leaders in inclusionary and educational kayak tours. Eight-day trips from CDN $1,655 phone: 250-637-1991




Neil Schulman lives in Portland Oregon, where he taught costal ecology. He thinks sea urchins taste great.

20 ANS Le conseil de gestion de l’archipel

Réserve de parc national, réserve d’aire marine nationale de conservation, et site du patrimoine haïda Gwaii Haanas

The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole Skidegate and Windy Bay (Hlk’yah GawGa) Summer 2013

Mât héraldique commémoratif de Gwaii Haanas Skidegate et Baie Windy (Hlk’yah GawGa) Été 2013 1-877-559-8818




Wild Coast Publishing photo


A calm and serene channel? Some impressions are only surface deep

Approaching Tahsis Narrows by kayak. Below: A sea otter and black bear are two of the more common creatures to be seen by kayakers at Tahsis Narrows.

Tahsis Narrows:


hen waterways connect through a narrow channel, the results are usually dramatic. Raging currents have made places like Skookumchuk, Nakwakto Rapids and Surge Narrows the classic British Columbia examples of tidal rips and turbulence. And so it should seem that list should include Tahsis Narrows, a winding channel as little as 160 metres wide. It connects both Esperanza and Tahsis inlets, the two major channels to the north and east of Nootka Island. Considering the amount of water that must funnel through these inlets each tide, strong currents in the narrows should be inevitable. But far from it. Tahsis Narrows is calm, earning a description of currents that are “weak” in Sailing Directions. This makes it a placid place to travel thanks mainly to the tidal split that sees most of an ebb current turn west through Esperanza Inlet and south through Tahsis Inlet. With nearby mountain ranges reaching over




a kilometre above, the effect is as impressive as it is claustrophobic. An added attraction for visitors is the rich array of wildlife that can be found here: sea otters, bears, seals and perhaps even the occasional sea elephant. But something far more vibrant is happening below the water. Substantial underwater currents off Mozino Point, the northeast entrance to the narrows, help create a marine ecology as rich as anywhere on the planet. John Rawlings, a staff writer with Advanced Diver Magazine and a diver since 1975, can vouch for the attraction, rating Mozino Point as among his favorite dive locations. Here a rock wall drops about 60 metres below sea level – well beyond the depth for casual divers, but not Rawlings, who has deep-water accreditation. The attraction at Mozino is colour, and it starts near the

Nootka Sound

surface with the red and pink strawberry anemones. The cloud sponges follow at about 20 metres. Named for their cloudlike shape, they are made of silica, and so are extremely delicate, but grow to a size John calls “monstrous” by the time you reach 35 metres. “If you touch them they break like fine China would. They are absolutely gorgeous surrounded by the blanket of strawberry anemones,” he says. At about that depth the smaller of the

All photos courtesy John Rawlings/Advanced Diver Magazine unless otherwise credited

A decorated warbonnet takes cover in a Gorgonian coral. Bottom left: Gorgonian coral fans. Bottom right: a cloud sponge.

deep-water Gorgonian corals begin to appear, a bright orange and pink fan-shaped coral that manages to thrive without the sunlight required by warm-water corals. At deeper levels the corals become an orange forest. These depths require a diving light, but with one John says the colours are “dumbfounding.” The fish species to be seen aren’t particularly rare at Mozino Point, but John says it’s the numbers – the entire food chain can be seen in just one small area. “It’s like each strata is a blanket of life,” he says. Tahsis Narrows is generally used as a channel for transit by fishing fleets, so is rarely a fishing destination on its own, but John says all it takes is one shrimp or crab trap to do incredible damage. “A shrimp or crab trap can crush sponges or corals that took decades to grow,” John says. “Seeing the damage from dropping an anchor or a pot is a really emotional thing, almost like cutting down a redwood.” SUMMER 2013

Given the isolation, Tahsis Narrows is not a priority for conservation efforts, with focus instead on places like the more heavily transited Gabriola Passage in the Gulf Islands. So the next time you paddle past, think about the hidden world that exists below. There’s more to this place than meets the eye. A selection of photos from the adventures of John Rawlings follow. Thanks to John and Tahtsa Dive Charters for making the photos available. See also




A colourful nudibranch. Opposite: a shy octopus and a China rockfish, two common inhabitants of rock shelves in the Pacific Northwest.

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Thank you!







ver the years I have crossed Blackfish Sound dozens of times. This broad body of water separating the Broughton Archipelago from Johnstone Strait is known as an area to watch resident humpback whales and orcas, to fish for salmon and to enjoy the abundant intertidal life. Having crossed this body of water in the rain, sun, wind, fog – often while dodging freighters and cruise ships – there is still one element over all the rest that stands out: the whirlpools. The area is renowned for the wildlife. Nourished by the massive movement of water from the open ocean, the nutrient-rich waters feed the myriad of inlets and channels off the northeast end of Vancouver Island. The tradeoff for this natural abundance is the amount of water which must pass through the area, creating powerful and sometimes hazardous currents. On day five of a six day trip, our group was preparing to cross Blackfish Sound to our final destination of Telegraph Cove. We were experiencing a massive tidal exchange of almost five metres that morning (imagine three people standing on each other's shoulders). As a result we knew the currents would be substantial. The reality for most individuals is paddling local waters with placid tidal currents gently moving back and forth. However, given the right volume of water combined with a narrow geographical constriction, ocean current can become a monster. Our planned route called for us to pass through either Blackney or Weynton Passage on either side of Hanson Island. A quick glance at a chart of the area revealed that both are subject to strong currents, eddy lines and turbulent water. We planned to cross Blackfish Sound, paddle along Hanson Island and travel through Weynton Passage at slack tide. Theoretically, the broad expanse of Blackfish Sound should dilute the effect of the current ebbing from Blackney Passage, making for easy paddling towards Hanson Island. The light winds made for beautiful paddling conditions. After an hour of paddling we had made good progress across Blackfish Sound. Closing within a few hundred meters of the Hanson


A kayaker tests her skill at Skookumchuck Rapids. Constricted waters and fast tidal exchanges can lead to all sorts of interesting situations. In Liam’s example, it was a whirlpool that taxed his group’s bravery.

Liam McNeil photo

Planning and Safety


Island shoreline, a line of whitecaps became visible. It was a highly defined eddy line stretching the entire length of the island. Eddy lines form when separate streams of water pass in opposing directions. The friction can create a narrow band of confused seas, standing waves and occasionally small whirlpools. The swiftly moving current ebbing from Blackney Passage down the middle of Blackfish Sound had interacted with the relatively stationary waters beside Hanson Island, and created this sharply defined eddy feature. While eddy lines can be challenging to cross, they tend to be very narrow. A short burst of strong, attentive paddling can bring a paddler safely to the other side. Thus the decision to paddle quickly across the eddy line was made. This eddy line was about one hundred metres across and as we entered the

by Liam McNeil

unexpected whirl waves, all the paddlers adjusted easily to the more challenging conditions. Just then I saw a small whirlpool about two feet wide open a few feet to the side of my boat. I opened my mouth to mention the anomaly when another two-metre vortex opened to my left – directly in front of another paddler. Her boat dropped almost a half metre into the middle of the depression. The kayak was now positioned with her bow pointing towards the clouds and the rudder swallowed by the center of the whirlpool. The current grabbed hold of her boat and began to spin her in a slow clockwise circle. Despite her efforts there was very little she could do to extricate herself from its grip. She instinctively braced on either side of her boat as the whirlpool attempted to suck her down. I reached for my throw bag when, as

An eddy line may be easy to cross. It’s what can develop that creates the risk

suddenly as it began, the whirlpool dissipated. As our group paddled with renewed urgency to exit the eddy line, another whirlpool, this time about six metres wide, opened nearby, causing our adrenaline to kick in to avoid the hazard. With relief we made it to safety along the shore of Hanson Island. In this situation the perception of danger was larger than reality. With open SUMMER 2013

water, fair weather and good equipment, the worst case scenario could have included a capsize, something our group was prepared to handle. Experience and training will make kayakers aware of many of the hazards faced while paddling. Boaters need to develop a healthy respect for the effect of tidal currents on sea state. It is important to remember that hazards can develop on any area of the coast. When the right combination of factors combine, even the most sheltered waters can become chaotic seas. Maintain a healthy respect for the sea, and stay safe out there! Liam McNeil is a Level 3 Guide with Class 4 Waters Endorsement, and executive director of SKGABC. When not paddling he can be found enjoying the rain in Tofino. COAST&KAYAK Magazine


Destinations: North Vancouver Island

Village Island revisited “Village Island came into view. “Then I saw it -- the home of the Mamalilikulla. “The tiny Indian village was tucked into the coastline, dwarfed by the land that contained it. Weatherbeaten houses made a haphazard row above the beach, each one facing the sea. The few that had once been painted had long since shed their colour in favour of a dull grey. Shacks stood dejectedly atop pilings on the beach, while to the left, on a knoll, was a building that, unlike the rest, faced the village. It had a newness about it, and over the entrance, it had a belfry topped by a wooden cross. I assumed this was the school. To the right, at the far end of the row of houses, I could see a large square building with a log frame. Beside it was a tall totem. Other totems stood along the path and between the houses.” – Excerpt from Totem Poles and Tea by Hughina Harold, Heritage House Publishing

Hughina Harold wrote that passage about her impressions as a young woman in 1935 being taken to a remote Kwakiutl village on Village Island to begin her teaching career, quite overwhelmed at the remoteness and sparse nature of the world she was entering.

Her book of those experiences, Totem Poles and Tea, provides some rare insight into the difficulties faced by the Village Island community, but conversely, it tells the story of the richness of the social life as the community struggled with integration into the modern Western world. This type of filter from the Western perspective weighs heavily on the history of Village Island. Even the village name, generally accepted as Mamalilikulla, is correctly Meem Quam Leese – ‘The village with the rocks and the islands out front.’ The population was estimated at 2,000 in 1836, but dwindled to about 90 by 1911. Its fame became infamy when in 1921 an illegal potlatch – a gift-giving ceremony –


All inclusive Sea kayak multi-day adventures with the aboriginal cultural component & catering to the Avid Kayaker with trip planning, tent platforms, cabins styled like traditional bighouse, private Indian Reserve island for booked campsites and the famous Village Island Cultural Tour!

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Phone: 250-287-2955 Email: 28



Destinations: North Vancouver Island

Help build some bighouses

Tom Sewid

was raided and its participants arrested. It became widely known as the ‘last potlatch.’ The community was eventually abandoned, leaving just the scattering of old homes, middens, toppled totems and beams of an ancient bighouse to inspire the imaginations of future visitors. Many kayakers may remember native elder Tom Sewid in years past dressed in traditional regalia offering “Gilakas’la,” “Welcome to my territory,” followed by a narrative tour of the island. This year Tom is returning to the island as part of a revitalization and tourism initiative for the historic village. Tom’s role will be manager for the Mamalilikulla Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em’ First Nations’ Adventures Village Island Project. Once again, narrative tours will be offered to visitors as well as a new Village Island Watchman program. All watchmen will have extensive local knowledge and can act as emergency contacts. A fee will be charged for both entry to the island and the narrative tour to help support the Watchman program. New also this year on Compton Island are cabins designed in the style of traditional bighouses, though with the added advantage of insulation and wood stoves. Tent platforms will also be available. The band will be hosting multiday sea kayak tours with a grizzly bear viewing option. The Orca Bay Aboriginal Cabin Resort will be available for year-round use. Visit or

The Mamalilikulla Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em’ First Nation is looking for some help in building five bighouse-styled cabins. The units will be located on Compton Island Indian Reserve at the edge of Blackfish Sound along with a cookhouse, a large smokehouse, showers and bathroom facilities. The final build will be tent platforms and sea kayak racks. First Nations designs will be painted across the fronts of each bighouse cabin as well as within. Even the cookhouse will have a traditional design painted across the front. “Knowing that we have more work than our crew can handle, we are inviting people to come out and enjoy our traditional territories while pitching in some effort to get our camp finished,” says project manager Tom Sewid. “All one has to do is find their way to Telegraph Cove and we will run over on

the speed boat and pick you up.” A small fleet of new Seaward Tyee single kayaks will be available for use. “Yes, we are offering you to paddle during time off work. We will feed you your three meals and transport you to and from Compton Island to Telegraph Cove.” Work will be painting, digging, minor construction, propane line hook ups, brushing, or whatever you feel like doing. For more information, visit, email or phone 250668-9359.

Plan your trip: North Vancouver Island


Your North Coast Trail connector! We can take you hiking, kayaking, and surfing. Come along on any of our tour or freight trips and see whales, sea otters, sea lions and all the North Island has to offer. 1.800.246.0093 |

Port Hardy, BC


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: Web:



Yukon Features a River for

Every Paddler

Travel information: An experience by itself, many river put-ins involve flying in on an iconic Twin Otter or Beaver floatplane. all culminating in a trip down the mighty Yukon River. Offering the tranquility of the Yukon wilderness without concerns over technical water allows a focus on the natural beauty above, around and below you. The Wind River is a worldclass paddling river and part of the massively pristine Peel River Watershed. Like its sister rivers, the Snake and Bonnet Plume, the Wind is worthy of being checked off the paddling ‘bucket list’. The first and most noticeable feature of the river is the crisp, clear, aquamarine colour of its water. It sustains animals like moose, grizzly and wolves, continues to inspire artists, and has been a 30


lifeline for the First Nations that call this home. This remote river accessed by float plane features outstanding wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities.

Travel information: Paddle and dine. Many of Yukon’s rivers offer remarkable fishing opportunities for Arctic Grayling, Lake Trout, Whitefish and Northern Pike.

For those that don’t leave home without a spray skirt, the Hess River delivers hair-raising technical whitewater in a backcountry wilderness setting. This remote river features the most consistent whitewater with at least one set of Class III+ rapids every day. This adrenaline filled adventure is tempered with the peaceful nature of massive glaciers, rolling alpine meadows, and the possibility of wolves howling in the distance. With so much to choose from, let Yukon Wild’s adventure experts get

Travel information: Many of the best river camping spots are on gravel bars. These are prime areas for wildlife viewing, watching the long setting sun and photography. you into the water on your own terms matching your expectations for a true wilderness paddling experience. SUMMER 2013

Photo: Ruby Range Adventures

Yukon’s landscape is dotted and lined with water. The continental divide, multiple watersheds, towering mountain peaks, and massive glaciers are but a few geological features that feed the diversity of water experiences in Yukon. Canoeists, rafters and kayakers should feel at home here. Whether it’s a meandering paddle along the Big Salmon, a glimpse of what pristine looks like on the Wind, or a ‘hang on to your hat’ whitewater adventure via the Hess, there is a river for everyone. The Big Salmon River is a perfect beginner level canoe trip that has enough depth and diversity for even the most discriminating paddlers. This adventure strings together a mixed bag of cozy little rivers, large navigable lakes, swift braided sections, and tight-turning oxbows

Packages include all meals and equipment , as well as transportation in and out.

BIG SALMON RIVER: 10 days from $1,975: The Big Salmon River is a classic beginner paddle. The paddle puts in at Quiet Lake along the historic Canol Trail and ends up in the small community of Carmacks along the famous Yukon River.

Experts know the


Discover Yukon’s wildest river spots with our adventure experts Yukon features over 70 wild rivers spread out over 483,450 square kilometers. Guided river experiences blend wildlife viewing, scenery, heritage, culture and adventure into one memorable trip. Regardless of level of experience, Yukon Wild adventure experts can build an itinerary that will exceed your paddling expectations. Find the right guide for you at



14 days from $5,750: The Wind River offers a complete wilderness experience with gin-clear water, gentle whitewater canoeing, scenic mountain hikes and alpine meadows surrounding glacier fed lakes. The trip culminates at the famed ‘Taco Bar’ suitable for landing a floatplane.

20 days from $5,655: Don’t be fooled by the tranquility and natural beauty of the Hess River surroundings. This remote river packs a big punch with consistent whitewater requiring Class III and technical know-how. Bragging rights permitted, as the Hess River is a place where few people go. *per person / taxes extra




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Destinations: Barkley Sound

Work begins on Toquaht launch alternative

With access to the Broken Group Islands thrown into disarray this summer with the closure of the Toquaht Bay launch site and campground, the Toquaht Band has forged ahead on alternative sites. A temporary launch has been created at an old mill site on the Macoah Reserve, about 10 km south of the Toquaht campground location. Parking will be available in the large open area above a beach suitable for launching. The Macoah reserve launch will be available until a permanent location is opened at Secret Beach, located midway between the Macoah reserve and the old campground and launch. Secret Beach will feature a full-service campground, launch and parking, and is anticipated to be open by July 1. It will feature showers, flush toilets, electrical power and other amenities not previously available at the Toquaht Bay campsite. Fees will apply at both locations: $20 for launching per person and $10 per night parking for vehicles. Toquaht band officials say the money will be used for

Closed site Toquaht Bay Macoah Reserve

Secret Beach Future launch site Temporary launch site

Hand Island Broken Group Islands the development of the campsite facilities, which are expected to cost millions. Meanwhile, the old campground remains closed and is expected to be so

for years rather than months as work begins on the cleanup. It was closed after tests found high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals, almost certainly from tailings of a mining operation at the site in the 1960s. A human health assessment and detailed site investigation are currently taking place. Toquaht officials have some hope that the launch site portion of the property may be found to have lower contamination levels and so may eventually be cleared for use. The Secret Beach location has a thumbs up from Majestic Ocean Kayaking owner Tracy Eeftink, who scouted out the location to consult with the Toquaht band on the site’s suitability for launching kayaks. To get to either the Macoah reserve or Secret Beach launch sites, follow the Toquaht Bay Road from Highway 4 and watch for the signs to the launch posted for visitors. Both locations will involve turning into the Macoah reserve property on the way to the old Toquaht campground. For updates, visit





Destinations: Sunshine Coast

The postage stamp park Narrows Inlet Salmon Inlet

Egmont y


9 Tzoonie Narrows

Kunechin Pt. 9 Thornhill Cr.

Inlet helt Sec

As British Columbia moves towards an official paddle trail, Sechelt Inlet Marine Provincial Park could easily be looked at as the template for how to manage the hundreds of necessary campsites. The park offers a selection of postage stampsized destinations perfect for camping or picnics along the entire length of the inlet and its tributaries. The result is a supremely well designed location for paddling. Sechelt Inlet is set within a rugged mountainous section of terrain immediately north of the town of Sechelt along British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. It is unique for its orientation: the inlet ebbs north away from the coast as it joins Jervis Inlet well inland. That juncture is renowned among whitewater kayakers for its tidal rapid: Skookumchuck. As a result of that bottleneck, the rest of Sechelt Inlet gets significantly less tidal fluctuation than the nearby coast in Georgia Strait. A group could easily spend a week meandering from parcel to parcel, with six sites in all: Halfway Beach, Kunechin Point, Piper Point, Tzoonie Narrows, Thornhill and Skaiakos. Here’s the postage stamp-sized travel guide. How to get here: From Vancouver follow Highway 1 to Horseshoe Bay and take the BC Ferry across Howe Sound to Langdale, then continue north to Sechelt. Where to launch: Road access is limited to the north and south extents,


Halfway Pt. 9

Piper Pt. 9

9 Nine Mile Pt. 9 Oyster Beach 9 Tuwanek

y Sechelt

The view into Narrows Inlet.

with Sechelt on the south and Egmont to the north. Launching from Egmont means timing your trip for slack tide across Skookumchuck. In Sechelt, a municipal boat launch is located at the southern tip of the inlet at the end of Wharf Road. Marinas may also offer access, but inquire first. The most northerly potential launch from Sechelt is a private marina in Tuwanek. Considerations: Wind will be the biggest hazard, with winds generally higher in the afternoon. They can funnel down the side inlets, so plan morning transits to reduce the chance of being slowed or stopped by high winds. Water is not provided at the campsites so be prepared to be self-sufficient for the duration of your trip. Because of the isolated nature, it is not a good location

for viewing marine mammals beyond seals and otters. Camping: Wilderness campsites with pit toilets are provided at five sites for boat-oriented recreation in Sechelt Inlets Marine Park: Halfway Point, Kunechin Point, Piper Point, Tzoonie Narrows and Thornhill. Camping is also permitted at Skaiakos Point, but there are no facilities. Nine Mile Point and Tuwanek, formerly sites within Sechelt Inlets park, and a new site at Oyster Beach are now part of Mount Richardson Provincial Park, established in 1999. Camping with pit toilets is available at these sites. Distances: Nine Mile Point describes the length from Sechelt, and nearby Halfway Point sets the overall picture, with most distant locations not more than 30 km from the Sechelt launch.

Plan your trip: The Sunshine Coast

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Destinations: Desolation Sound/Discovery Islands

New Desolation campsites unveiled Tent pads at designated camping areas are a new element this year to Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park, along with historic Sliammon and Klahoos place names to match them. The changes were made to improve camping options but also to preserve cultural, archaeological and traditional use values, which was not always the case with previous casual camping locations spread throughout the park. Activity is also being directed away from Lancelot Inlet, Okeover Inlet and the most southerly end of Malaspina Inlet to avoid conflicts with mariculture, resolving a long-standing dispute with oyster farms over water quality issues caused by visitors. The new sites are actually within an amalgam of three provincial marine parks: Desolation Sound and Copeland Islands marine parks and Tux’wnech Okeover Arm Provincial Park. They are

located about 30 km to the northwest of Powell River in Desolation Sound and Malaspina Inlet. Okeover Arm is the smallest at just four hectares, and is used primarily as a day-use picnic area or a staging area for trips into the sound. The overall strategy is to encourage sea kayakers to explore the outer areas of Desolation Sound. For this reason the Lancelot and Okeover inlet areas contain no developed overnight camping facilities. Group size is also encouraged to be 12 people or less accompanied by ethical paddling and camping behaviour. Waste disposal is a key issue, including pet waste from visiting boaters near anchorages. Most noteworthy is the closing of the campsite at Cochrane Bay, previously a key waterfront campsite for the Sunshine Coast Trail, but one that was at odds with nearby mariculture operators. The

camping location at the head of Tenedos Bay remains open with a new site at Bold Head. A new site has also been created at Hare Point in Malaspina Inlet. Hiking within the park remains limited, with developed hiking trails at Grace Harbour, Unwin Lake and Cochrane Bay. In addition, undeveloped routes or local trails occur to a viewpoint at Bold Head in Tenedos Bay, between Unwin Lake and Melanie Cove, and along the shorelines in Laura and Melanie Coves (both off the map north of Unwin Lake). Hiking trail development will be restricted to the existing trails and routes and to two potential additions between Call Bight and Unwin Lake and between Call Bight and the existing Unwin Creek trail. At present trails are primarily used by boaters or kayakers due to lack of road access. The exception to this is the Sunshine Coast Trail which runs through the park near Cochrane Bay.

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Beyond Kayaking

“I placed this cache here because I thought that this little island should not be left out of the caching game. “So one day we loaded up the kayak and went for a spring paddle. We launched our boat from a small park called the Brickyard (which has two caches in it). From there it is less than a 15-minute paddle. “It was the first time I have been to this Island and I was very impressed. You can see where people have camped. (Looks like I will do the same.) There are also a lot of seabirds including nesting geese. So be careful. On the north side of the island there is a group of smaller islands that have a ton of seals basking in the sun. “You will need a nice day and some kind of boat to get this cache.”

Treasure hunt 38



Wild Coast Publishing photo

– Information on from cache creator ‘medicmark138’ for Southey Island off Nanoose, Vancouver Island


What’s to be found if you look around? Geocaching adds a whole new element to a day’s paddle


photo courtesy David Barnes

he Gulf Islands have long had an attraction for treasure seekers. Take, for instance, the notorious Brother XII, the founder of the Aquarian Foundation who fled De Courcy Island in the early 1930s in a tugboat with his partner, the whipwielding Madam Z, to avoid charges of fraud from his former disciples. An enduring element to that story is that Brother XII, otherwise born Edward Arthur Wilson, liked to store his money as coins in buried pottery jars. How could all those jars have been taken aboard his tugboat in a rushed escape? Some people believe they still lie buried somewhere on De Courcy Island. That particular myth may well have been exhausted by fruitless treasure hunts over the years, but ‘Madame Z’s Secret Stash’ can be found by just about anyone with a GPS – if you take the time to look. It’s hidden on the west side of the bay off Pirate’s Cove Marine Provincial Park between the island’s little library and the campground. It’s not a particularly valuable stash, just a tupperware container with a red lid secured in a ziploc bag. But there are treasures inside, along with some basic instructions: “Take a treasure, leave a treasure or beware the curse of Brother XII!” There’s also a log book to record your find for posterity. For David Barnes, kayaker, blogger and author of the cookbook The Hungry Paddler, a day spent treasure hunting is the

David Barnes takes a break from his kayak to stock a cache. Caches generally include a log book and treasures – with the idea being to take an item, leave an item.

perfect way to add an element of Indiana Jones-style intrigue to a day’s paddle. “On a day trip it’s quite pleasant to be searching for these things,” David says. “It’s a good way to get you out of the kayak to walk for a while.” It’s a hobby that wouldn’t be nearly as accessible without the internet to share cache information. The bible for that is, which provides the forum for people to find caches as well as SUMMER 2013

to create and promote their own treasure hordes. And the result is a surprisingly active community of cachers, with hundreds of caches spread out along the shores of the Gulf Islands – and everywhere else across the world (non geocachers encountered in the field are referred to as ‘muggles,’ a word that will be meaningful if you are a Harry Potter fan). You could even find two caches on Brooks Peninsula, one of the most remote and difficult-to-reach locations on Vancouver Island. Even if located somewhere closer to home, these caches are not always easy to find. David remembers one particularly tough cache he tried to find in Tofino. It turns out it was underneath the log he sat upon to consider where he had yet to search. Cache sizes vary, as does the difficulty in finding them. All this is recorded on the geocaching website so you have an idea of what you’re in for before you set out. The ‘leave a treasure’ principle means you have to prepare to some extent, and for those David keeps a collection of shells and trinkets, which are usually traded back and forth between caches. That means trinkets can travel quite widely, with the ultimate being a tag that can be tracked online (known as a trackable). David says it’s not usual for tags dropped at one cache to end up all over the world. Otherwise all that is needed is a handheld GPS, as coordinates are the main COAST&KAYAK Magazine


Beyond Kayaking

As a Saltspring Island resident, David Barnes has created a few geocaches himself. Part of the fun is tracking who visits your cache.

clue for the cache’s whereabouts. The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve has caught the geocaching bug as well, raising the bar for other parks with a geocaching program offered through the summer season. The park offers two geocaching challenges: the Gulf Islands Survivor Challenge and the Gulf Islands

National Park Reserve Top Ten. The Gulf Islands Survivor Challenge is a family-friendly, easier series of GPS treasure hunts that are spread throughout the park – at Prior Centennial Campground on Pender Island, McDonald Campground in Sidney, Winter Cove on Saturna Island and along the loop trail on Sidney Island. The park provides the location for the first cache, after which you can follow the directions and clues inside each cache to find your way to the next one. Each cache includes a story about the park and a challenge. Complete three out of the four island challenges and you can redeem your passport for a commemorative geocoin. The Top Ten route is for the more adventurous geocacher. You can choose the order to find them and so create your own route. This is an advanced series of caches where the park will provide you with the coordinates for each cache.

Coin collectors have additional reason to complete a Gulf Islands National Park Reserve geocache challenge. Completed passports can be redeemed for a geocoin.

The Top Ten series is located on Sidney, Saturna and Pender Islands and could be comfortably completed in three days. All of the Top Ten locations are accessible by ferry, boat, bicycle and kayak. Find all 10 geocaches and redeem your passport for a Parks Canada geocoin. Thanks to David Barnes, author of The Hungry Kayaker. You can follow his adventures at

you’ve arrived well before you get there. Our paddlers are as distinct and different as our many kayaks. Together they become one, sharing a balance of agility, speed, poise and maneuverability. Find your perfect travel companion. Visit us on the world wide web, and discover a whole new world of exploring.

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08/01/12 10:17 AM


by Alex Matthews

When one brace won’t do Switching can overcome the limitations of a low brace


Start on a low brace.

The low brace: as06skill.html The high brace: on06skillset.html Other skills resources: skills.html

brace again in order to remain stable and keep contact with the water. A good flat water drill for practicing this transition is to start on a low brace, but end on a high one. Set up to perform a low brace: fall to the side and load the bracing blade, but do not right the kayak with it. Instead, leave your blade in the water, continuing to lean on it. As it begins to sink (and as you begin


to capsize), roll your hands up into a high brace position and finish the recovery by loading the blade, hip-snapping the boat upright, and as with any brace, being careful to bring your head up last. Transition into a low brace in at the end of your high brace once you are righted to feel how solid the low brace is once the kayak is on a less severe angle. Flat water bracing drills are always an imperfect substitute for real applied paddling experiences (for those, see the next page), but the above drill works well to establish the transition between the low and high braces. As always, be sure to practice on both sides. Alex Matthew is Coast&Kayak Magazine’s skills guru and author of Sea Kayaking: Rough Waters (Fox Chapel Publishing).


Load the non-power face of the blade.

Instead of righting the kayak, continue leaning on the blade, letting it sink. Continued page 45.




Drill photos by Rochelle Relyea


hen teaching bracing techniques, a common question from students is: “when should I use a low brace versus a high brace?” In sporty water, the answer is often to combine the two, transitioning smoothly from one to the other. For the purposes of this article, readers should have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of both techniques. If not, articles introducing the fundamentals of both braces can be read online – see the links in the box to the right. The low brace is really quick and instinctive, and it keeps your shoulders in a great protected position. It is also very powerful, so in most situations a low brace will be your primary defense against instability. The limiting factor of the low brace is the amount of lean that you can recover from while using it. As your kayak heels up onto an extreme edge and you lean out over the side of your kayak, at a certain point you’ll simply no longer be able to keep your paddle blade near the surface of the water while maintaining a low brace position (think ‘push-up’ position – the back side of the blade contacts the water, the elbow is in line over the wrist and the forearms is near vertical). By transitioning to a high brace at this point (think ‘chin up’ position), you will be able to continue to enjoy support and right your kayak. Once your kayak is back up on a more even keel, you may choose to use a low

Skillset photo sequence by Alex Matthews

What it looks like in the real world:







Victoria kayaker Ben Garrett surfs a wave in a powerful tidal rip.

As the foam pile rumbles towards him from behind, his approach is to use a low brace.

The wave is larger than expected, and as he is engulfed, he quickly switches to a high brace.

He rides the powerful foam pile on the high brace.

As the wave loses energy, he transitions to a low brace. 44


He rides out the pile, turning off the wave. Now he can laugh about it! SUMMER 2013

by Alex Matthews

4. As the blade sinks, flip the paddle up into a high brace position.

5. Loading the power face of the blade, hipsnap the kayak upright.

6. Once upright, drop back into a low brace paddle position.

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A focus on portability Imagine stepping off the airplane, taking a bus to the coast and setting off on a kayak – almost anywhere in the world. Or storing your kayak in your closet, instead of it taking up space in the garage – or worse yet, space in rented storage. Or perhaps take a kayak on a boat that could never otherwise be a mothership because it’s not suited for carrying rigid kayaks. And the last fantasy about portability that we have: backpacking with a kayak across tough terrain to paddle away on the other side. Say Squamish to Prince Louisa Inlet. Or Campbell River to Clayoquot Sound. The possibilities are endless. Here’s a glimpse at what’s new to help any or all these possibilities take place.

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These kayaks keep popping up, including the kayak on the cover of our Winter 2012 issue. Now with a new distributor in our own backyard, Western Canoeing and Kayaking, we thought it time to feature this innovative product from an upstart company based out of Airdrie, Alberta. The current lineup is just the one kayak: the T-1600. The concept goes back to the indigenous skin-on-frames of Greenland, but Trak turns it upscale with modern technology and materials. The result is a Greenland-style hard-chine V-hull with some quirky adaptations that will undoubtedly make it the must-try kayak at paddlefests. It starts with the frame: aerospace-grade anodized aluminum connected with shock cord and bow and stern plates. The profile ribs, coaming and other auxiliary parts are made of urethane. The shell is a puncture-proof and abrasion resistant polyurethane with welded seams. Added to all this are three self-contained hydraulic jacks in the cockpit. Pull the handle, put tension on the skin and make it a hard shell. Pump a bit and adjust the shape of the hull to adjust for wind and water conditions. Add rocker or remove it. Or use the levers to the sides of the cockpit to adjust the lateral positioning of the hull – that is, curve the stern of the kayak to take the place of a rudder and avoid weathercocking. Going on a trip? Store gear on an aluminum extrusion slide for quick and easy access to your gear without the need for hatches. At 56 pounds, it is comparable to a fibreglass kayak with assembly time rated for about 10 minutes (after all, there are only eight pieces). The question is whether people will find the functions a gimmick or a performance enhancement, but a test paddle will no doubt shed light on that aspect for you.  u

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Yes, you can take it with you Keep on top of what’s happening in paddlesports

Coast&Kayak Magazine is keeping readers informed with our epaddle newsletter. Sign up online for the latest in new gear, trip destinations, specials and events. There’s no cost and best of all your email address remains confidential – you get the deals but without solicitation hassles.  u

u Advanced Elements We previewed this new model from Advanced Elements in May to subscribers of our epaddle newsletter. Advanced Elements is a long-time producer of inflatables that has added a twist to the AdvancedFrame Convertible. This 15-foot kayak is made of puncture-reisistant material reinforced with aluminum ribs to help define the bow and stern and improve tracking. It is extremely easy to set up: just unfold, inflate and go. The beauty is the versatility. There are three possible seat locations with an optional single and/or double honeycomb rip-stop fabric deck kit to create an enclosed-deck kayak with an option for using a sprayskirt. It packs to 56 pounds, so while a bit much to take on a backpacking trip it would be ideal for airline baggage and a paddle anywhere from Baja to Thailand. u

u Innova Innova’s new Swing I utilizes a tubeless system for its rip-stop polyester fabric hulls. Airholding seams are vulcanized and permanently bonded. This allows a 3-psi pressure for stiffer performance. But here’s the reason we’re featuring it: it weighs in at 22 pounds, making it a candidate for a backpack trip. It may not be suitable for Class 4 water, but for a hike-in, paddle out scenario this could be the way to go.  u


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Summer 2013 Coast&Kayak Magazine  

Join us in a look at Clayoquot Sound, from the logging protests 20 years ago to what's transpired since. Plus a look under the sea for a cha...