COAST&KAYAK Magazine The magazine of Pacific coast adventures and recreation
Volume 24, Issue 1
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From Norway with love Images from the portfolio of Frode and Wivian Wiggen
Touched by whales
The Island Maze Join us on a journey through Hakai on the central BC coast
A day in the office at San Ignacio Lagoon www.coastandkayak.com COAST&KAYAK Magazine 1
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Inside This issue’s cover
by Frode and Wivian Wiggen Sometimes the best photos are the ones where the end result is a surprise. This is one of them. While eating lunch, Norwegian couple Frode and Wivian Wiggen came up with an idea of doing a balance brace photo of both of them with the photo taken from above – not easy to do when both subjects are in the water. So they mounted a GoPro on the end of an outheld paddle, and this was the result. It is one of a selection of photographs Coast&Kayak presents showing the trips and skills of this couple out of their home island Senja, the second largest in Norway. The portfolio presentation begins page 8.
The Island Maze: Hakai
Regular Coast&Kayak contributor Neil Schulman heads to the central British Columbia coast and shares his perspective of the advantages and difficulties involved in kayaking the remote region called the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy.
Desert Tan Camo
Kayaking changed forever in the Broken Group Islands first with the closure of the main launch site in Toquaht Bay, then with the construction of the only launch and access road in BC designed specifically for kayakers and car-toppers. It’s all part of a huge transformation for the host Toquaht Nation.
There’s nothing as scary – and potentially dangerous – as paddling when a hole suddenly opens in front of you showing a submerged rock while a large breaking wave prepares to pound it. They’re called boomers, and here’s how to manage them. First Word�����������������������������������������������������������������������4 News����������������������������������������������������������������������������������6 Plan your BC adventure destination������������21 Plan your warm water adventure����������40-41 BC Marine Trails update�������������������������������������� 33 Plan your Gulf Islands adventure������������������ 35
Plan your West Coast adventure������������������� 39 Wildlife/Ecology������������������������������������������������������40 Desolation Sound/Discovery Islands��������� 45 Skillset���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 48 Good Reads: Books/DVDs��������������������������������� 50 Gear��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 52 spring 2014
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The First Word
Emasculation by kayaking Spring 2014
Volume 24, Number 1 PM No. 41687515
Find Us: Online: www.coastandkayak.com Back issues: Turn the carousel on our back issues page, click on the issue you want to read. Contact Us: General queries: email@example.com Editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: email@example.com coast&kayak Magazine is an independent magazine available free at hundreds of print distribution sites (paddling shops, outdoor stores, paddling clubs, marinas, events, etc.), and globally on the web. Paid subscriptions are available for those who prefer home delivery. Articles, photos, events, news are all welcome.
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Many kayakers who prefer SLR cameras over point-and-clicks will understand the dilemma of how to care for them while on the water. I find their creative potential vastly superior to anything in a small waterproof chassis, so an SLR is an essential part of my gear. That isn’t to say waterproof cameras don’t have their place. They do, and for me it’s usually in my life vest pocket where I can grab it quickly. Much greater care is necessary with the SLR, though. I managed entire summers on the water with SLRs thanks to a wonderful waterproof camera case made by the Canadian company Seratus. They also made great PFDs. Their camera case was a regular leather-style one with a waterproof bag over top. This worked until the zipper corroded after years of use, and I would have bought another except that a very large Canadian cooperative bought Seratus, then shut it down stating their products couldn’t compete with cheaper offshore manufacturers. This was not only treason, it left a massive hole in my gear locker. For years I bounced between products until I finally hit on another solution, a soft case with a waterproof zipper just the right size for my camera and maybe an extra lens. Perfect for the cockpit floor. This use might have continued if it wasn’t for another cheap offshore piece of merchandise, this time a waterproof camera case for SLRs. Previously I had only seen these gizmos available for thousands of dollars, and here it was for barely hundreds. So I bought it and my bright orange camera case was no longer needed for the camera. Luckily I found other uses for it, since it stashed everything else I might want that can’t get wet, such as my cell phone, lunch, snacks, wallet... Better yet it had a shoulder strap and a side handle so I could grab all my valuables and easily take them with me if I left the boat for a hike somewhere. So as often as not I carted it around on land. Then the inevitable occurred. One day my partner Leanne pointed over to the orange former camera case and said, “Don’t forget your purse.” I was about to splutter something in indignation, but I stopped short because she was absolutely right. My little bright orange camera case was now for all intents a man-purse. I suppose this is the risk of taking part in a form of recreation that requires wearing a skirt and where finesse and style are more useful than strength. But so be it. I’ve never aimed to be a man’s man. But with kayaking for a hobby, it’s apparently not something about to happen anytime soon. - John Kimantas firstname.lastname@example.org
PO Box 24, Stn A Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, V9R 5K4 Ph: 1-866-984-6437 • Fax: 1-866-654-1937 Email: email@example.com Website: www.coastandkayak.com 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).
Ken Bueckert strikes up a manly “I love the smell of neoprene in the morning” pose in his kayak gear, but he’s not fooling anyone. He’s still wearing a skirt.
© 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 www.coastandkayak.com
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Changes for Discovery Coast Long a vital link for communities along the central British Columbia coast, the Discovery Coast ferry service has also played a small but vital role for kayakers. It is the only BC Ferries service that offers wet launches by kayak. The result was a walk-on, paddle-off transportation service to regions of the central BC coast otherwise nearly impossible to reach. That link is now in jeopardy as BC Ferries has proposed cancelling the summer service aboard the Queen of Chilliwack as part of a cost-reduction plan. Instead, the winter service will change to year-round, connecting Port Hardy, Bells Bella, Klemtu and Prince Rupert while the smaller 16-car vessel the Nimpkish will act as a connector between Shearwater, Bella Bella, Ocean Falls and Bella Coola. For the remote communities that rely on the ferry it will mean fewer visits, but for kayakers it will almost certainly mean an end to drop-offs at popular locations throughout the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy. See page 16 for a feature on kayaking that region.
Neil Schulman photo
A group launches from the Queen of Chilliwack, an opportunity that may now be at an end. See Neil Schulman’s feature on page 16 for more about this service.
The year of the water taxis In contrast to BC Ferries, private operators are starting or expanding water taxi services aimed at kayakers throughout the BC coast. New for 2014 is Mayne Interisland Sea
Tours, a new recreational business using a 26’ Commander Sportfish based out of Mayne Island in the Gulf Islands off southeast Vancouver Island. The service is offering accommodation and charter packages for Mayne, Saturna, Pender, Galiano and Saltspring islands. Based out of Campbell River, Discovery Launch Water Taxi is targeting kayakers with capabilities for up to 12 passengers, gear and kayaks. Destinations include the Discovery Islands such as Quadra and Cortes, Desolation Sound. The service has a fleet of four boats. Another newcomer is Sea Wolf Adventures based out of Telegraph Harbour. Owner Mike Willie is giving unique Kwakwaka‘wakw insight into his service to the Broughton Archipelago and Johnstone Strait, including an option for cultural tours. Meanwhile on the west coast, Tahtsa Dive Charters out of Tahsis has added a landing craft, the MV Shorebird, for loading and unloading on remote beaches. The Shorebird features room for six kayaks for trips to Nootka Island, Nuchatlitz and Yuquot.
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News A eulogy for Sea Kayaker Magazine The last issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine was sent out this spring, ending a history of almost 30 years of publishing. “For our first two decades the changes generally worked in our favor, but over this past decade, the tide slowly turned,” the Sea Kayaker website states. “We recently recognized that we’ve been paddling against an overwhelming current and it’s time to come ashore.” Sea Kayaker was founded by John Dowd, who also wrote the groundbreaking guide Sea Kayaking: A Manual for Long Distance Touring. The closure marks a turbulent time for the paddlesports publishing industry, which since 2008 includes the closing of Paddle Canada’s Kanawa Magazine, American Canoe Association’s Paddler Magazine and now California Paddler Magazine, which has cancelled its print schedule indefinitely. Coast&Kayak Magazine, meanwhile, is expanding with three new publications this year: Adventure BC Magazine, the Kayak and Paddlesports Gear Guide and the Adventure Tour Guide. You can read them free online at www.coastandkayak.com.
doesn’t track well (he’s a bit lopsided). Yoshi will accompany the MV Rainy Day on this year’s cruise of the south BC coast. This will allow us to continue to publish all our products from remote locations and also explore by kayak. If you see us out there, drop by to say hi to the crew as well as Yoshi. He’ll be the small black and white dude who barks. Yoshi sets up his office on the back deck of the MV Rainy Day, joining Coast&Kayak’s staff as the new skipper aboard our floating office.
Coast&Kayak welcomes new skipper It was inevitable that a magazine operating from a boat would require a skipper, a role now being filled by a little dog named Yoshi. Yoshi is a fox terrier cross with a troubled past. He was left for dead after being hit by a car in Los Angeles, then rescued by a Good Samaritan who paid to have his smashed pelvis rebuilt. After months of recovery he was picked up by a rescue society and shipped to Victoria, BC, where the chance of an adoption was higher. From there he joined the Coast&Kayak crew. He is adapting to his new life well and loves to run although he
The Henry Brothers make it Actually, they were at the northern tip of the Bahamas at press time, but will almost certainly have touched down by now in Florida to end their 6,500 km route from Belem, Brazil through 26 countries en route to the U.S. Their trip involved several tough 100+ km crossings, but a few not-too-tough-totake sections as well. On last check-in they were getting two complimentary nights at a high-end Bahamian resort and enjoying the 30-plus restaurants. Russell and Graham Henry are the sons of Brian Henry, owner of Ocean River Sports and one of the founders of the Current Design kayak line. Apparently an off-shoot of their trip is a reality TV show. Visit www.henrykayak.com.
Always on top. spring 2014
Senja scenics C
oast&Kayak Magazine has been able to make some remarkable friends around the world, two of whom are Frode and Wivian Wiggen, a married couple who live on Senja, the second largest island in Norway. Both have a passion for Greenland kayaking and photography. It’s not terribly technical – just a Canon D20 and a GoPro – but the results are an array of wonderful offbeat images showing a full spectrum of
seasons, landscapes and skills on the water. You can follow more of the couple’s work at www.senjaroller.blogspot.com. “We started to post some of our photos on our own Facebook profile, and since a lot of people seemed to enjoy them we decided to do something so others could see them as well. We made a photoblog,” Frode says.
“Paddling in April is awesome. There is still snow on the mountaintops, and we are relaxing at one of our favourite places in Bergsfjorden. If you are lucky, you can see curious seals while eating lunch. ”
spring2014 2014 spring
“The purpose of the blog is to give inspiration to other paddlers to bring their camera on their trips. We want to show people all over the world how beautiful it is at Senja. And we want to show all the people who live on Senja how beautiful the island is if you paddle a kayak. It’s a
by Frode and Vivian Wiggen strange thing, but people who live in the area are not so good at exploring what is outside their door.” The pair has a passion for Greenland rolling, and practice whenever they can – including winter. “Every year we decide that we will not
paddle in the winter and freeze, but the nature changes so much on the island that we can’t sit still. We have to be on the sea and explore,” he says. “This cannot be measured with money. To experience this means so much more than having an expensive car or a huge
luxury house. This experience we will remember the rest of our life. We are very lucky that we can to do this together, as a couple.” The following is a sample of images from their collection – just a few snaps from among their huge collection.
spring spring2014 2014
COAST&KAYAK Magazine Magazine COAST&KAYAK
World Destinations Portfolio
â€œAt Senja there is a lot of spectacular mountains. Some of them go straight up from the sea. It is awesome to sit in a kayak and look up, but you should also try it the other way. If there is one mountain you should visit, it is this one! Segla is 639 metres over sea level. Once you reach the top, the view is breathtaking.â€?
On a perfect day after a rolling session and lunch, Wivian takes a moment to relax and enjoy the silence. And what better to do that than lying on the kayak? There is a safety element, Frode tells us: you will wake up if you flip over. Good to know. 10
The balance brace is an excellent exercise to learn the end sequence to Greenland rolls. If you relax you can even do it without a paddle. Frode gave Wivian a challenge to read a newspaper while balance bracing, and it was obviously not a problem.
Calling all paddlers to a Sign Raising Event,
June 21, 2014:
We are celebrating the raising of the very first BC MARINE TRAILS sign..
..On Historic BC MARINE TRAILS’
MUSGRAVE POINT, Saltspring Island.
At www.bcmarinetrails.org, learn about this BC Marine Trail ‘Biffy’, built in 1995, which helped us secure this site!
Bring your boat and join the Flotilla!! Go to the BC MARINE TRAILS NETWORK ASSOCIATION website, wwwbcmarinetrails.org to find out the details and how you can become a part of this celebration!
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by Frode and Vivian Wiggen
A great viewpoint of the fjord Bergsbotn. Whales visit in December and January.
Above: â€œPaddling in South of Senja, we did a lunch break on a small island called Halvardsoya. We are proud to own two of these collector kayaks, Ivalu from Arrow. When we came to shore, Wivian at once saw that this was going to be a nice photo with the old building behind the narrow and shiny Ivalu.â€? Left: a self-portrait by the couple.
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Island Maze “T he captain is going to gun the engines,” the ferry deckhand told me. The thought made me extremely nervous. The ferry was drifting toward the rocks of Experiment Point while the deckhand had a very tenuous grip on my kayak, mostly via a knot on a very frayed piece of rope. When the captain revved the engines, the rope stretched beyond my reach and my anxiety mounted. As soon as he backed off the throttle, I leapt into my boat and paddled off. My wet kayak launch from BC Ferries on the Central Coast was uncertain and nerve-wracking, but definitely interesting – in much the same way as kayaking the Central Coast. As a paddling destination it is world-class, but uncertainty is the norm. The ‘Island Maze’ – the B.C. Coast from Calvert Island to the small communities of Bella Bella and Shearwater– is an array of islands, open coast, steep-walled channels and very little else, including information. In two weeks we uncovered an uncharted tidal rapid and currents that didn’t make sense in an area massive enough for another dozen trips of discovery. There are two main ways to get to the Central Coast, and both involve BC Ferries. The first option involves taking the Discovery Coast Ferry from Port Hardy to either Bella Bella or Shearwater, and then paddling from there. The second involves taking the same ferry and requesting a wet launch or possibly a wet return; the ferry will also pick you up from a predetermined spot on the sea.1 It works like this: the ferry stops, a ramp is lowered in the stern, and then as you’re about to jump in your kayak, the captain guns the engine. u 1 This ferry route is facing cancellation. See page 6 for details. 18
by Neil Schulman
Left: A sunbeam finds its way to the beach, a surprisingly good one for the area, on the inside of the northern and largest of the Serpent Group islands, a cluster set in Kildidt Sound. This whole area north of Calvert Island is part of the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy.
Risks, rewards and logistics all part of the recipe for Hakai spring 2014
Above: Driftwood frames a view of Hunter Channel, the route south from Bella Bella to Queens Sound.
Shearwater Stryker I. Bella Bella
n el Chan Dean
Denny I. Hunter Channel
McMullin Goose Group Group Hunter I. Superstition Point Serpent Group
ass iP a k Ha
Experiment Point Fish Egg Inlet
Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy Fitz Calvert I. Hugh Sound
Smith Sound Cape Caution Queen Charlotte Sound
Queen Charlotte Strait
Vancouver I. To Port Hardy
Fred Harsman and Karen Dalbey Launch from a campsite along Hunter Channel.
Hakai Five of us were dropped off near Calvert Island and explored the 100 nautical miles to Bella Bella over several days. Wet launches and landings are touchy. They’re booked in advance, but the captain makes the final decision based on weather, safety, fuel and his schedule. We had asked to be dropped off farther south, but the captain vetoed that. A Plan B is essential: if your launch is cancelled, you’ll end up paddling from the next ferry stop. If your pickup is cancelled, best have enough food to last until the next ferry, which in 2013 was twice a week. With logistics this complex, saving the time and money by driving to the west side of Vancouver Island for a holiday might seem more sensible. But Hakai has a lure: wildness. In two weeks, our tally was two motorboats, no buildings, one ferry and one coast guard cutter. The only other paddlers were in a group that launched at the same time as us. The lack of reliable information also gives the area an aura of mystery. We found a fantastic surf beach with emeraldgreen water and a clear route back to sea
that was even more perfect because we’d discovered it via exploration rather than referring to a guidebook. And there’s magic in 10:30 p.m. sunsets a long way from anywhere. The second reason to travel here is options. Uncertainty is balanced by the possibilities within the maze of islands. The crinkly shoreline provides islands to duck behind when the swell is big or you’re seeking shelter from wind – most of the time. At other times our 180-kilometre route involved substantial navigational hurdles: headlands, exposed crossings, tidal exchanges and wind funnels. Like the rest of the BC coast, wind, fog and sea state have to be respected. On sunny days, the wind will rise from the northwest as the day progresses. Our weather was fantastic: sunny and hot. That meant strong winds, often gale force by mid-afternoon. We quickly adopted an early schedule contingent on being ashore by 1 p.m. Fortunately, the hot weather kept the temperatures well away from the dew point. Had it been a little cooler, we’d have faced morning pea-soup u
Kayak launch Gateway to the world-famous Broken Group Islands Paddle the ancient waters of Barkley Sound, BC, where time and place stand still. The Secret Beach kayak launch is in the heart of Toquaht Nation traditional territory and is a short paddle away from the breathtaking Broken Group Islands. Camping available to extend your stay!
www.secretbeach.ca Adventure spring 2014
Wet launching from the Queen of Chilliwack involves dropping the car deck door. It’s a service that might be a thing of the past with the cancellation of the Discovery Coast ferry service; see page 6.
fog followed by rapidly rising winds and building seas. On a day when we planned to cross to the McMullin Group, we stopped at a stream for fresh water. Filtering took longer than expected. When we rounded a point, whitecaps were filling northern Queens Sound. The crossing was scrapped in favour of crawling up the side of Stryker Island to another campsite. Even that pushed our safety margin. In the strong headwinds, we couldn’t rest without losing ground. A capsize would have sent us and our kayaks into rocky cliffs. It was a slow and relentless grind, but we made it. Swell height, direction, and timing are critical to an outer coast trip. Even paddlers taking protected routes will have to navigate the open ocean at least three times between Calvert Island and Bella Bella: crossing Hakai Pass, open to both the sea and current exchange; crossing 22
Kildidt Sound; and rounding Superstition Point. The area’s true gems – the McMullin Group, the Goose Group, and the west coast of Calvert Island – require more exposed travel. We also wanted to spend as much time rock gardening and surfing on the outer coast as wind, swell and time allowed. Marine forecasts cover vast areas and extended forecasts are limited, so we listened religiously to reports from lighthouses and buoys to our northwest: Cape St. James, South Hecate, and South Moresby. Those seas would appear in our neighborhood soon enough. There are no current stations along the central BC coast. Instead paddlers must divine local conditions from the nearest stations in tide tables and from what hints charts might contain. In the complex geography, current behaviour was clearly odd, even to seasoned navigators. The area spring 2014
has a rotary current, where the current spins around the compass in different parts of the tidal cycle. Scattered through the Island Maze are tidal rapids like Gale Passage, Kinsmen Inlet and Kildidt Narrows. Even more interesting, there is little reliable information about when they’re navigable or even which way they flow. We visited one when it was predicted to be running at full ebb only to find it dead calm. This uncertainty was both fun and challenging. We skipped an alluring passage between two islands because we knew it contained two tidal rapids. Enticing as this looked, we didn’t want to end up stuck in a small lagoon for several hours. Instead it’s on the top of my to-do list for the next visit. The most fun was discovering uncharted tidal rapids. I found one by accident on an evening solo paddle. Where the chart indicated a featureless inlet, there was an uncharted small island with tidal rapids swirling around it. I imagined being stuck there for several hours within sight of my tent. But I worked my way out, and it became our play spot for the next morning. It’s exciting to find a blank spot on the map. It’s even more thrilling when it holds something so interesting. Camps within the Island Maze tend to fall into two categories: sandy beaches exposed
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A camp location on a deserted beach, Calvert Island.
to the ocean or small spots on interior inlets and channels. The outer islands hold massive beaches, with exposure to at least some surf. Camps along the steep interior inlets are generally along rocky pullouts or small beaches. The larger your group, the more limited your options. Expect to spend some time looking for sites.
Wildlife abounds. Our tired group ducked into a small cove for a breather from fighting headwinds only to have to yield right-of-way to a minke whale headed the other way. Sea otters thrive in the areas around the Goose, McMullin, McNaughton and Stryker island groups and use the same habitat as rock-
gardening sea kayakers. In July, the males were on the most exposed parts of the outer coast, while the females and pups rafted up behind the first line of reefs, creating a furry obstacle course. And that was the wildlife we saw. Wolf tracks covered every beach. At several camps they left us a very clear message, in the
ADVENTURES VILLAGE ISLAND While visiting our territories know that we are here to be your hosts, guides and entertainers
We share our ancestral ways to the modern world
Hakai a bad one. As well, judgment is required to assess your group’s abilities and know when it’s safe to go, when to take a more conservative route and when to stay ashore. Self-sufficiency is another factor. On a wilderness trip to Clayoquot Sound we could have been in Tofino in four hours’ paddling at the farthest point. In the island maze it was seven days. Expeditions require both physical and mental preparedness. Self-sufficiency, injury prevention, weather adaptability and staying calm and positive in varied conditions are necessary. The hassle of getting to the Central Coast makes it the most challenging and most rewarding trip I’ve done in British Columbia. Stare at the charts of this intricate coast long enough, and you’ll be drawn to the Island Maze like a moth to a flame.
Fred Harsman takes in a 10 p.m. sunset at Calvert Island.
form of a big pile of wolf scat in the middle of our kitchen. The most critical seamanship skills in an unpredictable place such as this are the ability to interpret a nautical
chart, weather and tide information, and predict currents and sea state. This will help you know whether landing on a particular beach on a northwest swell of 1.5 meters at 8 seconds is a good idea or
Neil Schulman has paddled the West Coast of British Columbia for the past ten years. He teaches kayaking, writes and photographs in Portland, Oregon. If you find a pair of sunglasses somewhere on the bottom of Queens Sound, they’re probably his.
Come and Explore! See the area’s first monumental pole raised in Gwaii Haanas in over 130 years.
Venez explorer! Admirez le mât héraldique géant qui a été hissé à Gwaii Haanas, le premier dans la région depuis plus de 130 ans.
Opposite page: A beach on the exposed outer coast of Calvert Island. Above: a beach log on Stryker Island. Right: Dave Dalbey rounds Superstition Point in Queens Sound, one of the more exposed locations to cross.
by Glenn Lewis
Outer route gets audit by kayakers
A large clam garden and fish weir on outer Banks Island south of Kingkown Inlet. The wall in the background appears to be man-made, connecting existing rocks at the entrance to the bay.
suitable for paddlers of ordinary ability. The flat terrain also means that the clouds coming from the west often pass overhead, saving the rain for the mountains and channels to the east. Thin soil means that commercial timber lives elsewhere, helping to keep the islands pristine. The outer coast has no permanent residents and no development beyond two floating fish camps and some evidence of historical First Nations use. Wolves live here and in the summer many birds including sandhill cranes share the shore. The waters teem with fish which in turn attract marine mammals of all sorts. Large
tidal changes, up to seven metres in a cycle, mean that in the lee of the islands one often finds large sand and mud flats which are productive food sources for many species of bird. The animals living in this area typically ignore humans. They show little fear of people and seem almost perplexed by our presence. A quick look at Google Earth shows that this area represents the only large unoccupied and essentially natural stretch of northern temperate rainforest shoreline in the world. Glenn and his crew have created online guides for the outer coast in three sections. Read them at http://issuu.com/glennlewis
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Adventure Tour Guide
Coast&Kayak Magazine presents a supplementary publication – new for 2014 – listing adventure tours by itinerary, dates and prices. It’s the best way to sit back and examine your options for adventure tour packages. Available in multiple online formats include apps for Apple and Android mobile devices.
Browse adventures from British Columbia to Baja. PM 41687515
Geoff Mumford photo
f the Northern Gateway Project goes ahead, and there’s every likelihood it will, the eastern shore of Hecate Strait may bear the brunt of a large oil spill. It’s a rarely visited stretch of coast, and a group of Nanaimo-area paddlers has taken on the task to survey the outer shores from the north end of Banks Island to the south end of Calvert Island in search of suitable landing and camping spots for kayaks. It was a three-year project that started in 2011. Much of the outer shore of the central and north BC coast is part of a geological formation called the Millbanke strandflat. It is typified by a shallow shoreline, which can create difficulties for larger boats. The result is place names such as the Wreck Islands, Grief Point, Calamity Bay and Terror Point. Between the South end of Price Island and the north tip of Banks Island, a little more than one hundred nautical miles, are more than 1,200 islands and islets and a greater number of reefs and rocks. None are parks or protected areas. While a forbidding area by some measures, kayakers can reduce the risk by staying close to shore in the lee of the islands or rocks. Nearby Haida Gwaii also blocks most of the open ocean swell. The descriptions “rugged” and “beautiful” apply to the landscape. Whether by good luck or good planning, camping and rest spots exist at distances
Also, watch for Coast&Kayak Magazine’s new sister publication, Adventure BC Magazine. It’s for those who love British Columbia and who love the outdoors. Chances are, that’s you!
The magazine of Pacific coast adventures and recreation
BC ADVEnTUrE TOUr gUiDE 2014
www.coastandkayak.com spring 2014
THE YUKON: A PADDLER’S PARADISE Six Out-Of-This-World River Trips You Simply Have to Experience
© Cabin Fever Adventures
The world’s best paddling trips are right here in the land of the midnight sun. Clean, clear, winding rivers flow through a land of unparalleled wilderness and stunning mountain beauty. Here are the top six sure-fire-fun trips that accommodate any skill-or-thrill level – plus all the trip info you’ll need to turn your dreams to reality.
Experts know the
© Martha Taylor
“Yukon is truly a paddler’s paradise.”
Tucked away in the northwest corner of Canada, wedged between Alaska and Northwest Territories, is a pie-sliceshaped land pulsing with paddleperfect wilderness rivers. Yukon is truly a paddler’s paradise. What makes this place so special is that we literally have it all. Trips to suit every skill level, every budget, every dream. Take your pick: fly-in or road access? Splashy whitewater or mellow meanderings? Lots of hiking options or mostly just great fishing (or both)? Far north above the tree line or deep in the thick of a coastal rainforest? A few days or nearly a month? Remote wilderness or closeto-the-road? You name it – we have it. One thing all trips have in common: they’re all set to a backdrop of incomparable mountain wilderness. With only 36,000 people in the
Yukon, mostly concentrated in the capital of Whitehorse, pristine, intact ecosystems are the norm. We’re one of the last places on the planet with 100,000-strong caribou herds, healthy wolf and moose numbers, plus thriving populations of animals that are nonexistent or threatened in other places – like eagles, peregrine falcons, Sandhill cranes, Dall sheep and wolverine. All our rivers, even those with road access, immerse you into this fantastical world. In this handy guide, we feature the six best trips that represent the full range of options. There are dozens more offered by our Yukon Wild adventure operators so go to yukonwild.com to see the full range. Start planning your dream trip now!
© Nahanni River Adventures
Old Crow Fairbanks
Dawson City Whitehorse
TRIP 1: THE TATSHENSHINI
A trip down “the Tat” will thrill you to no end. Rated by National Geographic as one of the “Top Ten Whitewater Rafting Trips in the World,” this unbelievable journey will take you through some of the most stunning wilderness and mountain scenery on the planet. Let your expert guide steady your raft down exhilarating whitewater, past grizzlies feeding on spawning salmon, under towering, snow-capped mountains. Watch glaciers calve into the water and hop onto an iceberg for a float. A hike up Goatherd Mountain will reward you with sights of elusive mountain goats and a view you’ll never forget. As you approach the Alaska coast, Mount Fairweather towers above you at 15,000 feet. “This river has it all, other than serious whitewater,” says California paddler Ken Jacobs. “It’s my favorite trip of all time, even more special than the Grand Canyon because of it’s wilderness.” Trip Type: Raft. Duration: 1 day to 2 weeks. When to Go: June and July is best for weather.
Edmonton Calgary Ottawa
FLIGHT TIMES Calgary »2.5/hrs Edmonton »2.0/hrs Kelowna »2.0/hrs Ottawa »6.5/hrs Vancouver »2.5/hrs Yellowknife »2.0/hrs
Skill Level: Beginner. Getting There: Guides will pick you up at your Whitehorse hotel in the morning and make the threehour scenic drive through Kluane National Park to the put-in spot. Getting Back: When your raft spills into the Pacific at Dry Bay, Alaska, your operator will have a scheduled chartered floatplane ready to fly you back to Whitehorse. Don’t forget: All-weather wardrobe. It can get chilly and wet near the coast. Who to Go With: Many experienced Yukon-based operators offer these trips. Go to yukonwild.com to choose which company best suits your needs and preferences.
THE YUKON IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK All aboard! Whitehorse now has direct flights from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Kelowna, Yellowknife and Ottawa with Air North, Air Canada and WestJet. If you are departing from another destination and require a connection, there are plenty of efficient route options available. You’ll be impressed by the prices and itineraries! Be sure to book a window seat: the views over the mountains will keep your nose pressed to the Plexiglas.
TRIP 2: THE WIND RIVER The Wind is the most accessible of all six Peel rivers as it offers the easiest paddling with all the stunning, wide-open mountain scenery typical of the region. The water is clear and clean, the wildlife abundant, the hiking opportunities endless. “We pulled over on a gravel bar to watch a standoff between a wolf and a straggling caribou,” says Rebecca Alderson, an Ottawa-based canoeist. “As I sat there and watched, I was breathless. It was like time stood still.” history of the area, including a visit to the site of the tragic “Lost Patrol.” Trip Type: Canoe or raft. Duration: 2-3 weeks. When to Go: June to August. Skill Level: Intermediate – you need to be comfortable canoeing Class II rapids.
Getting Back: The Wind ends where it joins the larger, silty Peel River. You will paddle one full day on the Peel until you reach Taco Bar, a large gravel bar where your floatplane can land to pick you up. Don’t Forget: Eye mask. You’re really far North now and the sun can make it hard to get some winks at night. Who to Go With: Many experienced Yukon-based operators offer these trips. Go to yukonwild.com to choose which company best suits your needs and preferences.
Beginner for rafting trips.
© Ruby Range Adventure
The river is fun to paddle, with only occasional Class I and II rapids, and is dotted with perfect gravel-bar campsites along its length. Pick any ridge – the river is mostly above the tree-line – and hike up as far as you wish: every step offers an even more jaw-dropping view across this extremely scenic, expansive landscape. Yukon Wild guides are experts at making your trip comfortable and safe – plus will share stories about the culture and
Getting There: Guides will pick you up in Whitehorse in the morning and shuttle you to the float plane base in Mayo, a four-hour drive north. From there, enjoy the spectacular 110-km flight into McCluskey Lake, at the top of the Wind River.
With exciting fun whitewater, rainbow-coloured mountains (due to unique mineralization) that drop close to the river’s edge and abundant and close-up wildlife, taking a trip down the Snake River transports you to a powerful, magical place far removed from civilization. With plentiful class II rapids to navigate plus a few class III sections you can choose to portage, the Snake demands increased attention and skill from the paddler – but also ups the fun factor. Hiking here is out-of-thisworld with endless ridges beckoning you from the river’s edge. Most groups take a day or multi-day trip up into the fantastical Mount McDonald area.
© Alastair Smith
In the heart of one of the largest unprotected wilderness areas left on the planet, the Snake truly offers up some life-altering wildlife sightings:
from caribou herd river crossings to Dall sheep licking salt on a cliff above your head. “The wildlife sightings on the Snake were incredible,” says Torontonian tripper Scott McCormack. “We were watching a Northern Dipper singing and fishing in a waterfall when someone pointed out a wolverine scurrying across the alpine tundra. And this, just the day after wolves howling near our tents waking us up in the middle of the night.” Trip Type: Canoe or Raft. Duration: 2-3 weeks.
When to Go: June to August Skill Level: Intermediate (can you paddle class II rapids?) for canoeing. Beginner for rafting trips. Getting There: Guides will pick you up at your Whitehorse hotel in the morning and shuttle you to the float plane base in Mayo, a four-hour drive north. From there, enjoy the spectacular flight into mountainrimmed Duo Lakes. Getting Back: Paddle a short distance on the Peel River to Taco Bar to meet your floatplane. Guides will shuttle you back to Whitehorse from the base in Mayo. Longer trips are offered that continue along the Peel River for another week, ending in the small village of Fort McPherson at the top of the Dempster Highway. Don’t forget: Binoculars. With such wide-open views and abundant wildlife, “field glasses” increase and enhance your sightings.
RIVERS OF THE PEEL WATERSHED The Peel Watershed is one of the largest pristine environments left in the world outside of park-protected areas. Mostly above the tree line and coursing through surreal, colourful mountains, the region has gained an international reputation for its amazing paddling trips. Here are two great options from that magical place.
© Martha Taylor
TRIP 3: THE SNAKE RIVER
The Yukon River is North America’s third longest river and until roads were built in the 40s, it was a travel corridor for First Nations, gold rush stampeders and early settlers. Along the way, your guides will share historical adventure stories and show you old cabins, boat wreckages, gold dredges and other storied relics along the river’s edge.
WHILE YOU’RE UP HERE Extend your stay. Tack on another fun adventure to your paddling trip. The Yukon is packed with amazing stuff to do: » A guided excursion on worldclass mountain biking trails. » Hiking mountains big or small: the options are endless. » Boating the gorgeous Southern Lakes or fishing a mountain stream.
paddling, great history, culture and storytelling and tons of wildlife.” All trips offered by Yukon Wild operators end at Dawson City, home of the great Klondike Gold Rush. Trips start at either Whitehorse, Lake Laberge, Carmacks or Minto Landing, depending on how many days you want your trip to be. Day trips out of Whitehorse are also popular.
Duration: 1 to 20 days, but most trips take a week. When to Go: June to August. Skill Level: Beginner. Getting There: Most trips start in Whitehorse but your guides might shuttle everyone upriver if you choose a shorter trip. Getting Back: Your operator will transport you back to Whitehorse from Dawson City down the Klondike Highway. Don’t forget: Pierre Berton’s classic book Klondike.
» ATV and 4x4 tours in the alpine. » Trotting along a scenic trail by horseback. Go with the experts. Yukon Wild operators know the best spots, have the top gear and save you time and hassle. yukonwild.com
© Dan Barham
But it’s not just one long history lesson: The Yukon River offers rich wildlife sightings against a backdrop of rolling mountains and tall sandy cliffs. It’s also a flat, fast-moving river, making it appealing to beginners or those wishing to paddle it in a kayak. “Group trips on the Yukon are popular because there’s something to please everyone,” says guide Chris Pigden. “Beautiful scenery, perfect campsites, easy
Trip type: Canoe, kayak or raft.
© Cabin Fever Adventures
TRIP 4: THE YUKON RIVER
TRIP 5: THE BIG SALMON The Big Salmon is the perfect trip for beginners or paddlers new to wilderness tripping who want to play it safe – but with all the excitement, beauty and wilderness you’d expect. It’s also one of the most affordable wilderness canoe trips in the Yukon as there are no floatplanes involved. It starts as a cozy, winding, little river, traversing a series of large scenic lakes connected by fun, fast-flowing sections. With every bend, the river changes, from a quick section of fast water to clear views of the Pelly Mountains to sightings with moose or black bear. Day hikes are included in some tours and if you’re into fishing, be sure to bring a rod. The Big Salmon boasts excellent Arctic grayling and pike fishing
– salmon, too, if you time it with their spawning run. “If there’s an angler in the group, dinners on the Big Salmon almost always involve fish – even if it’s just for yummy appetizers,” says canoe-guide Kaelin Shea. Trip type: Canoe.
Getting There: Guides will shuttle you from Whitehorse to the put-in at Quiet Lake, just off the scenic South Canol Highway. Getting Back: After the Big Salmon merges with the mighty Yukon River, there’s a full-day paddle downstream before you arrive at the village of Carmacks. Hop on the shuttle van for the twohour drive back to Whitehorse. Don’t forget: Your fishing rod. Who to Go With: Many experienced Yukon-based operators offer these trips. Go to yukonwild.com to choose which company best suits your needs and preferences.
Duration: 10 to 18 days. When to Go: June to September. Skill Level: Beginner, but fun for all levels.
EXPERTS KNOW BEST Yukon Wild is a membershipbased organization of Yukon’s most experienced, fully licensed guides. Set your spirit free knowing your guide is committed to getting you the ultimate outdoor adventure in a safe and eco-friendly way. With quality equipment, detailed itineraries and insight necessary to access Canada’s treasure trove of backcountry adventures, you will be in good hands.
© Cabin Fever Adventures
TRIP 6: THE TESLIN RIVER
Duration: 7 to 9 days.
A wide, fast but gentle river, the Teslin offers beautiful scenery, excellent campsites and plentiful moose and wolf habitat. As one of the Yukon River’s largest tributaries, canoe trips start at the river’s upper reaches, at the end of Teslin Lake where the Alaska Highway crosses the river. Once a traditional route for Klondike gold-seekers, your guides will tell campfire stories of their misadventures and point out historical relics they left behind.
Skill Level: Beginner.
Don’t be mistaken: nature still reigns on the Teslin. You’ll be awed as it flows past tall sandy cliffs, gravel bars pock-marked with moose and wolf prints and many islands and sloughs favoured by moose. Keep your ears tuned for wolves howling. It’s a soundtrack to match the river’s haunting beauty.
“I loved the number of animal tracks we saw on the Teslin,” says Terry Creamer, a paddler from Yukon. “Every time we pulled over, we would go looking for tracks, and try to figure out what story they told.”
When to Go: June to August. Getting There: A short hour and a half drive from Whitehorse, your put-in is at historic Johnson’s Crossing on the Alaska Highway. Getting Back: Trips end at either Little Salmon Village or Carmacks on the Yukon River. Guides will shuttle you back to Whitehorse via the Klondike Highway. Don’t Forget: Your ID books for tracking or bird watching. Who to Go With: Many experienced Yukon-based operators offer these trips. Go to yukonwild.com to choose which company best suits your needs and preferences.
Trip Type: Canoe.
WINTER ADVENTURES IN THE YUKON
© Cabin Fever Adventures
A winter trip to the Yukon is just as incredible as a summer trip: simply replace the midnight sun with northern lights and away you go! From dog sledding trips to alpine snowmobiling to backcountry ski touring to cozying up in a remote cabin to watch the aurora borealis, we have your perfect winter getaway. Go to yukonwild.com to check out what our experienced operators have to offer.
Experts know the
World Destinations BC Marine Trails update
Wild Coast Publishing photo
by Stephanie Meinke
The southern approach to the Musgrave Point campsite. Bold Head and Cowichan Bay are to the left, Sansum Narrows is ahead and Saltspring Island to the right with Musgrave Point on the island’s outer extent. The campsite is on Saltspring Island opposite the unnamed islet.
ow many readers of Coast & Kayak Magazine remember attending the BC Marine Trails grand opening during the Vancouver Island Paddlefest in 2011? I remember the awesome sight of more than 100 paddlers converging on Transfer Beach with paddles held vertical and even a group ‘roll’ to salute Chief John Elliot of the Stz’uminus First Nation as he welcomed them all to his ancestral land. It was a symbolic display, yes, but it really meant something: the BC Marine Trails vision was becoming a reality. Imagine a network of marine trails crisscrossing the same way the ocean flows in and around every island, islet, bay and inlet. Along these trails will be access points, rest stops and campsites along the whole 27,000 kilometres of British Columbia’s coastline. So here we are, almost three years after the grand opening, still working on creating the BC Marine Trails Network. The progress since includes a fairly
extensive website (www.bcmarinetrails. org) where people can visualize the extent of the BC Marine Trails Network spring 2014
Association initiative and some of our accomplishments to date, particularly on the map page. The map presently displays about 170 sites that have been given status shown as ‘Approved BCMTNA’ sites. It also shows 220 more sites that are designated ‘Other,’ meaning sites located on some form of public land that are already publicly known, but which have not yet gained formal approval by stakeholders to be listed as an ‘approved’ BCMTNA site. The map also displays more than 170 access and launch sites. Hidden within the database, however, we have compiled many more sites that we cannot yet display on the map. These have been acquired from paddlers, people who have visited them, various guide books and by BCMTNA volunteers. The total list of BCMTNA inventory sites is just over 2,000. That includes 1,070 known sites on public lands along the BC coast where it is possible to land and camp. Many of these hidden sites will u COAST&KAYAK Magazine
World Destinations BC Marine Trails update gradually appear in the ‘Other’ category as we do preliminary suitability checks. After consultations with government, First Nations and other stakeholders, a good number of these will gain approved BCMTNA status. A major problem however, is that even though the BCMTNA accomplishments are visible on its website, the BC Marine Trails initiative and its potential contribution to BC are not yet well known. Despite this the BCMTNA can benefit visitors by maintaining public access to the coast, preserve recreational values such as paddling, camping and wildlife viewing, and promote leave-no-trace ethics. It also assists the encouragement of economic growth through tourism within coastal towns and First Nations communities. The BCMTNA needs to gain a higher profile than it presently has in order to increase support from government, communities, the public and potential users. With this in mind, even though the work of identifying new potential sites, ground-proofing and consultations with stakeholders will continue, we will be focusing significant energy this year to further develop established BCMTNA sites within the Gulf Islands Paddling Area, which includes all sites between Victoria and Nanaimo. By developing one paddling area to near completion, we will be able to use it to illustrate the benefits of the BC Marine Trails to users and stakeholders in other areas of the coast. We have chosen the Gulf Islands because this large paddling area is already very popular and accessible, and well on its way to
The approach to the Musgrave Point campsite from the north.
completion. Raising our profile here will spread awareness of the BC Marine Trails very effectively. First and foremost, we will be negotiating for more overnight parking at launch points and for further campsites on public land. We will also be adding more commercial options on the trails. Additionally, we are adding signs to BC Marine Trails sites. Many of us, justifiably, do not like to see signs cluttering up otherwise beautiful areas of natural wilderness, and so for the most part we plan on limiting BCMTNA signs to accesses and the more popular, busy sites. They will also be limited in size but still visible from the water. We are accelerating the consultations with the various land owners and managers to gain permission to install signs within the Gulf Islands Paddling Area this summer. Musgrave Point on Saltspring Island will be the location for the very first BC Marine Trails sign. It is on a portion of Crown land under the jurisdiction of Recreation Sites and Trails BC. The installation of this first sign will be marked with great fanfare as it is a symbolic and historical event for the
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BC Marine Trails: Musgrave Point is one of the few physical remnants from the efforts in the mid 1990s to establish a marine trail along the BC coast. At that time the original BC Marine Trail Association managed to get permission to locate a pit toilet on this spot. The precedent was set, and the toilet still stands twenty years later (in reasonably good shape, I might add, thanks to the diligence of the Saltspring Island Paddlers in maintaining it). So on June 21, 2014, paddlers and guests will converge on this little site. Amongst great pomp and ceremony, and lots of food and fun, we will install the first BC Marine Trails sign. The BC Marine Trails Network Association does not do the work alone. The partnership we have with Recreation Sites and Trails BC and assistance and cooperation of other government ministries, many First Nations, commercial supporters, sponsors and individual paddlers are all crucial to the continued growth of this initiative. We are thankful for the generous donations we have received from individuals and sponsors that help keep us going. Lastly, we are very grateful for the dedication of the association’s membership. The BCMTNA is comprised of 10 coastal paddling clubs whose members support our work through their BCMTNA membership fees, fundraising events and by supplying us with task force representatives and other volunteers. We cannot do this without them. Stephanie Meinke is president of the BC Marine Trails Network Association.
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Toquaht Transitions A lookout point with a fire pit at the new Secret Beach campsite.
s Rick Shafer leads a tour across the old Toquaht Bay Marina and Campground on a sunny January morning, the footsteps on gravel magnify the sense of abandonment. A sign posted over the information board explains it: “Public safety notice... CLOSED until further notice.” Normally a busy spot, the marina is now just a set of empty fingers. The prime waterfront RV campsites are deserted, as is Barkley Sound’s busiest boat launch. It’s a bleak contrast to the beautiful waterfront seascape that stretches into Barkley Sound towards the Broken Group Islands, one of Vancouver Island’s top tourism destinations. Even in January, the campground should host some RVers and boaters. Instead Shafer, Toquaht Nation’s economic development officer, and Toquaht councillor Noah Plonka are alone as they examine the old campground office, a trailer that is unlikely to be used 40
A kayak facility is just one part of the changes this year for Barkley Sound again. A nearby wooden shed holds more hope, but only if they can move it without damaging the roof. The campground was closed in March, spring 2014
2013 over concerns with high levels of arsenic, selenium and cobalt found in the soil – a surprise to few, as the beachfront was created in large part by dumped tailings from the Brynnor Mine that operated nearby until the late 1960s. It produced high grade iron ore in an area known for its unusually high but naturally occurring arsenic levels. The closure had a ripple effect across British Columbia. The boat launch was the key access point to the Broken Group Islands, particularly for kayakers who have few other options for reaching the popular archipelago within Pacific Rim National Park. But the closure was more immediately devastating for the Toquaht Nation community of Macoah, as it represented a primary economic enterprise as well as their sole marine access to the sound. “It was a real shock when that happened,” says Toquaht Nation Chief
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The old Toquaht Bay Marina and Campground sits deserted in early 2014, with a “CLOSED” sign proclaiming its fate.
Anne Mack. Previously a BC forest recreation site, it had been transferred to the Toquaht in 2011 as part of the Maa-nulth Treaty. The campground was a key component in a bid to add economic vitality to Macoah to bring people home. Out of a community membership of 149, just a handful – about 15 members – live in the community’s nine homes. The campground was the cornerstone of about 1,200 hectares of land fronting Toquaht Bay that was transferred to the Toquaht through the treaty process. It was also part of a vision brought forward by Anne Mack’s father and former Toquaht Chief Bert Mack, who died in 2012 after heading the community for 67 years. His wish was to bring the community back together in their traditional home. “Dad was really concerned with us having access to the water and also the best economic drive for the Toquaht, which would be close to the water,” Anne says. “That’s basically why we want to keep the area as pristine as we can. Where else can you go and get this view and enjoy yourself without having traffic and cities and things surrounding you? That’s my dream, to keep it as pristine as possible.” The closure had one fortunate sideeffect. The Toquaht already had plans approved to build a second campground nearby intended for long-term leaseholders. So they were able to fasttrack the construction of a replacement
campground, and today the finishing touches are being put on the first stage to open it this spring. In addition, a new kayak and cartoponly launch has been created with its own access road and staging area. Shafer said final touches may include a covered pavilion with a fireplace for kayakers to warm up after a wet trip and possibly even trolleys for moving kayaks around.
Toquaht Nation Chief Anne Mack stands on the access road to the new kayak and cartopper launch, a key part of the puzzle to the Toquaht Nation’s revitalization. spring 2014
Even without, it is already bar none the most developed kayak launch in British Columbia. Tonnes of boulders piled to create the access road are testimony to the work involved. “Kayakers have a great respect for land and environment, so that’s why we wanted to set them up for something nice to get to the islands,” Anne says. Development of the new site was funded through a shared-cost agreement between Toquaht Nation and the BC government. “As far as I know, this agreement is the first of its kind and will help us continue to promote local tourism and provide access to Barkley Sound for kayakers and local outfitters,” Anne says. “This is a good example of how treaties can enhance positive government-togovernment relationships.” It’s also, somewhat ironically perhaps, an example of how British Columbians will have more public access to the shores of Barkley Sound as a result of the treaty. That’s no mistake, as the Toquaht Nation is placing a key emphasis on tourism as it sets a new course through its post-treaty strategy. This has spurred a new age of optimism within the community, which broke off from the Nuu-chah-nulth Treaty Group and instead teamed up with four other Nuu-chah-nulth Nations to form the Maa-nulth Treaty Group. The Toquaht citizens voted in favour of the treaty in 2007, it was given royal assent in 2009 and implemented in 2011. By contrast, the Nuu-chah-nulth Treaty Group talks are stalled. Following the ratification, the Toquaht u COAST&KAYAK Magazine
Destinations spent the first years developing its laws. “That took a lot of energy out of us,” Anne says, “but we got them done and now we have our laws that we follow again and that govern us. We’re feeling good about that and things are starting to move.” In addition to the new campground the Toquaht are moving ahead with the development of about 100 waterside cabins. It’s a project possible only since the treaty, which removed the disabling reserve status to Toquaht land, allowing local control and development. As further local benefit, the Toquaht will build the cabins using wood from a community wood lot milled in the Macoah sawmill. Other developments include the possibility of a run-of-water hydro project at nearby Lucky Creek and the building of an administrative office and community centre. But the main need remains housing – something that was impossible prior to the treaty as Macoah’s residents lacked both electricity and water. Those are now in place.
A look at the expansive new campsite prior to landscaping. It opens this spring.
“When we did a health needs assessment back in 2008 we had a questionnaire asking if there were employment and possible housing, would you consider coming back, and I think more than 65 percent said they would
love to come back,” Anne says. “But we couldn’t build any more houses because we were on a diesel generator. So now we have the potential to expand.” The community hall will be a key part of that.
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“I know people really want to come home and that’s something we want to build, a longhouse or a place to gather as we don’t have a hall like other nations have for people to come home and gather. That was one of their big wishes in the health needs assessment – they wanted a place to come home to and visit. Now it’s possible to do that with hydro and the water facility treatment plant put in last year. We hadn’t been able to drink water since probably the community was built back in the 1980s,” she says. Even their wood lot is giving a sense of renewed energy to the Toquaht. “My great-grandfather said he cried when he saw all these trees getting mowed down and not a cent was going to his people. It’s just getting people home and the ability to be sustainable again as we had been. We had everything in our whole territory at one point.” As Anne leads a tour across gravel roadways cut to create the new campground, she gives full credit to the treaty for making this happen. “It’s a game-changer. None of this could have happened without the treaty.”
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awn breaks early over the flat desert of Southern Baja, casting long gray shadows of cactus on the ground that quickly recede like silent fingers sliding across the earth. Morning ground fog coats the landscape to hide the nocturnal hunters scurrying for their burrows before the baking heat of midday. In the distance the Sierra de Santa Clara Mountains lose their evening coating of purple as the sun burns them to their normal hazy brown. Like rolling balls of cotton, the fog hugs the base of these primeval mountains and only under the relentless rays of the sun will it finally morph into a surreal yellow haze coating the land. Looking southeast the majestic dome of the closest volcano, the largest of the trio known as the Three Virgins, raises its head above the morning cloud cover and the first osprey leaves its nest in a mangrove forest in search of breakfast. This impressionist landscape may seem barren, perhaps even hostile, but it is teeming with life. As the creatures of the night seek their dens, the lords of the realm, the gray whales, become active. At high tide Mexico’s San Ignacio Lagoon is no more than 30 metres deep in the main channels and as little as three metres in the shallows where the whales go to bottom feed. It is flushed twice a day by a rapid tidal flow. At low tide almost one quarter of the lagoon is left high and dry. This is when the coyotes scurry out onto the flats to dig for clams and scallops, their coats gleaming from a diet high in protein. If they are fortunate they
might find a metre-long eel that chose to hibernate at the high water line. At high tide the boats put in. No more than 16 are allowed at a time throughout the entire lagoon. This assures enough space between boats so the animals cannot be crowded. It is a rule rigidly enforced by a warden granted police powers. My panga is no more than three feet above the surface and so gives a whale’seye perspective of the vast expanse of the lagoon. In certain areas the lagoon is so wide you cannot see land on either side. In the morning the water is usually flat and calm like a mirrored lake. Whale blows pop up everywhere like thousands of lawn sprinklers, sometimes so many they create a rainbow prism as the mist floats over the water. In the mangroves away from the main whale channels I can spot kayakers paddling among throngs of seabirds where weary night herons sit motionless after a night’s hunt and countless egrets, cormorants, ibis, sandpipers and osprey dot the sky. I like to pick a spot and fix my gaze there as rostrums of all shapes and sizes poke slowly above the water, taking that first look around for the day. Vertical bodies begin to rise out of the water then gently slip back below as whales spyhop and occasionally breach. If the morning is calm I will lie flat on the panga floor with my ear to the fibreglass hull and listen to the distinct but barely audible whale talk going on below me. Gray whales do vocalize but not generally on a frequency humans can hear, but when so spring 2014
many are talking I definitely can hear some of what they are saying using the panga or kayak hull like a giant amplifier. Suddenly a baby whale surfaces inches away, lunging, ramming the boat and spinning in excitement. It’s a newborn’s first boat encounter. Newborns are called pickles because that is exactly what they look like, rounded at both ends with wrinkled skin, limp tail flukes and pectoral fins, seeming like rag dolls for the first few hours until they magically
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James Dorsey’s office is a 22-foot open boat, often surrounded by 40-tonne whales. When not working he can be found wandering through the backwater channels in a kayak. This is his day at work.
inflate with life and slowly begin to resemble a whale. They are completely smooth and will not attract their first barnacles for at least two weeks. Mothers are overly protective for the first month and usually will not allow them to approach a boat or vice versa, but as the
young whale rapidly grows, gaining up to 100 pounds a day, that wariness will quickly evaporate. Mother will never be far away even if she does not immediately show herself. She is rewarding junior for his good behavior with this visit and when she feels
he has had enough she will surface and make it clear that playtime is over. But before that happens, if she is at ease with the boat she has chosen she may allow the rapidly tiring baby to climb on her back or hold it up with a pectoral fin to continue making human contact. These mothers are proud of their offspring and love to show them off to visitors, so if the connection is going well they might stay for an hour or more. Sometimes while baby is keeping our attention, mother will slide directly below us to rub her barnacles on our keel. Babies will jet around the boat from one end to the other, sometimes deliberately spitting water at us as accurately as using a super soaker because everything on the water is there for their pleasure and we are just a large toy to them. They will roll on their backs like a dog or simply keep rolling over and over in all-out glee. Tiring quickly they will retreat with mother to a shallow spot to nurse. Baby will nurse for about seven to eight months and then be on its own, a solitary creature for the rest of its life except for brief bouts of mating. Being able to interact with a newborn wild animal is always an incredible gift, but having their mothers bring them to you, seeking human acceptance and touch, is an experience that cannot truly be put into words. Coast&Kayak Magazine is thrilled to be able to serialize portions of James Dorsey’s upcoming book Dancing With Dinosaurs, his insights into 15 years as a naturalist studying whales. Visit www.jamesdorsey.com
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45 08/01/12 10:17 AM
San Ignacio Lagoon
Scenes of family life at San Ignacio Lagoon, Mexico. Left: A baby gray and two females. Above and below: Baby grays and their mother.
t’s easy to fall in love with the Copeland Islands. There aren’t many archipelagos as suited to kayaks without requiring a long paddle to reach. And once here, the biggest decision is whether to enjoy the islands from the water by paddling around them or by relaxing and enjoying the views from the comfort of your campsite. Yes, de-stressing here comes as naturally as tents above a group of beached kayaks. ••• There are two key points of entry from mainland BC to Desolation Sound: Lund on the outer sound or the launch in Okeover Arm Provincial Park on the inner waters. Being on the outside, Lund has the distinct advantage of avoiding currents; you’ll get to know those well if you want to reach Desolation Sound through Malaspina Inlet. Plus there is the no-nonsense ease of reaching Copeland Islands Marine Provincial Park. It is
such a simple trip it might seem too easy in the planning stage, but there is value in being able to set up in an idyllic and pristine little archipelago not long after checking out of civilization. Copeland Islands form a long, narrow archipelago with the southern extent just three kilometres from the launch at Lund. From there it is only another three or four kilometres farther north to the park’s two official campsites. The campsite setup changed in 2013 when tent platforms and rustic facilities replaced the old camp-where-you-find-aspot system. It is a significant improvement. The platforms are beautifully placed, overlooking the water on the smaller islet campsite or dispersed over the water or in the forest on the larger island. The result is sunsets like this one: among the finest to be found anywhere in British Columbia. It’s not an idle boast – the sunsets are truly special here. It could be the smog from Vancouver distilled to just the right level of pollution to
Desolation, the Copeland way
Copeland Islands are a candidate for the ‘best sunset in BC’ category, assuming that such a category exists. Is it the proximity to Vancouver’s smog that creates scenes like these, or is it a more natural phenomenon? Either way it makes for a wonderful end to a day. 48
spring2014 2014 spring
Desolation Sound/Discovery Islands
get that perfect orange tinge, or it could be a completely natural occurrence that favours this area with an especially colourful end of day. Either way on a clear or lightly cloudy evening the view is stunning. The Copeland Islands were designated a provincial marine park in 1971, and are grouped as part of a management cluster of parks within the Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park management umbrella. Overall there are now 11 designated park campsites in the area that make for easy hops by kayak, with Copeland Islands making a good base for first and last days out thanks to the short distance from the launch at Lund. The islands are remarkably pristine given their short tenure as a park, and even contain old-growth forest, a fact hardly noticeable given the small stature of the trees. That effect is created by the dry climate, poor soil and winter winds. Animal residents are visitors such as deer, otters, eagles and a variety of bird species,
particularly western grebes, surf scoters, cormorants, marbled murrelet and even a few black oystercatchers. A complex marine habitat comes courtesy of the many reefs and the shallow ocean floor surrounding the islands, and so is home to clams, oysters, prawns, crabs and sea urchins for invertebrates and fish such as rockfish, herring and juvenile salmon. Marine mammals could include sea lions and Dall or harbour porpoises. New in 2014 is an honour system for campsite fees. And if your plans donâ€™t include camping, the Copeland Islands make a carefree and scenic day trip from Lund. You may even see humpback or killer whales if you venture to the outer islands. Excellent accommodation options along the Sunshine Coast add to the appeal of day trips. A whole range of prices and styles of resorts can be found in Powell River, Pender Harbour and Sechelt. u
Malaspina Inlet Copeland Islands Savary I. spring spring2014 2014
Desolation Sound Provincial Park Okeover Arm PP Lund To Powell River
COAST&KAYAK Magazine Magazine COAST&KAYAK
Desolation Sound/Discovery Islands
Routes alongside the Sunshine Coast, including spectacular locations in Howe Sound, make this a great region to explore through a series of day trips. To get here: Take Highway 101 north from Vancouver to Lund. This involves two ferries, one across Howe Sound and another across Jervis Inlet, so time your arrivals and departures accordingly to avoid waits. A second option is from Vancouver Island by ferry from Comox to Powell River. Where to launch: The community boat launch requires a small fee (about $3) and parking (probably $10 a day). Free parking on the edge of town exists but is scant. The launch has a busy commercial component. Use the more shallow ramp closest to shore for kayaks. Conditions: Wind can be a factor anywhere, so the open stretch before reaching Copeland Islands has the greatest exposure. Once past, you can catch the cover of the islands. If you get good weather conditions the wind will rise from the north or west in the afternoon after a calm morning. This would be ideal for a day trip: enjoy a calm paddle out then a boost home with the wind behind you. In sour weather it may be the opposite, with the wind from the south. Services: Desolation Sound is one of the key tourism destinations in BC, with full services in Powell River and Sechelt, and accommodation throughout. Limited services in Lund include a bakery, store, pub, water taxi, cafĂŠ and tours. Key services for the region are listed on these pages. Expanding your trip: Connect to other camping options in Desolation Sound, plus accommodation and services can be found on nearby Cortes and Quadra islands.
The new campsites on Copeland Islands take away the guesswork from where to stay. They create many beautiful camping locations in areas where it was impossible to camp before the tent pads were put in place. Above: a particularly scenic spot on the larger island campsite. Below: the common area with a bench and cooking table on the islet. The sunset on the previous page was photographed from this location.
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t’s spring in Oregon. The Pacific swell is too big and there’s no wind in the Columbia Gorge. What to do? Snowmelt and rain have filled the rivers. That means it’s time to run a river in sea kayaks. Sea kayakers frequently burn many hours and tanks of gas driving to Deception Pass near the Canadian border to play on eddy lines where the sea flows like a river. Fun as it is, it’s a waste of gas. You probably have a real river near you that offers just as much of a challenge. Why moving water? Some sea kayakers have a whitewater background, but many don’t. Rivers are another dynamic and scenic playground when the sea is too big or too far away. They’re also a superb learning environment for building your ability to maneuver, read water and improve your roll. It’s also ridiculously fun. Understanding Current There are many reasons for sea kayakers to embrace the swift flow of rivers. Current teaches paddlers to read water and handle their boat. Playing in rivers teaches edging boat control, maneuvering strokes, application of power, surfing and rolling in jumbly water. Current is a major factor in many sea kayaking environments like the San Juan Islands, the channels of British Columbia, San Francisco Bay, the Bay of Fundy and other premier sea kayak destinations around the world. Current skills open up a whole range of other playgrounds. You can also use the same water-reading skills to navigate larger seascapes. A New Kind of Dynamic Water When the rivers are full, we’ll often run down a stretch of class 1 or 2 whitewater, often right on the moving water or whitewater threshold. We’ll descend the river very slowly, catching every eddy we can, practicing ferries and peel-outs and surfing whatever waves we find. When we do want to make time, a 20-kilometre run can take only a few hours with a current. 52
River Skills Many sea kayak skills translate well to the river, but there are some new ones to learn. Again, that’s why it’s so much fun. Reading Water: The foundational skill is knowing where the water will take you, and where it will be calm or challenging. You’ll need to recognize eddies, clean vs. messy eddy lines, waves vs. recirculating holes, retentive vs. retaining holes, and deep water vs. barely-hidden rocks, as well spring 2014
as good surf waves. This is the stuff of whitewater classes. Formal training is the best way to learn followed by easy trips with experienced people who can coach you. Beware of simplified rules such as “follow the tongue.” There’s a greater art to reading water, and it only comes with instruction and practice. Catching and Leaving Eddies: The bread-and-butter skill of river running is catching eddies. Eddies are areas of calm
by Neil Schulman Annette Pearson looks for a wave to surf, Willamette Narrows, Oregon.
for sea kayakers water (often flowing upstream) that form behind obstacles such as rocks or bends in the river. Eddies are where you can stop, wait for the rest of the group, assess the next stretch of river or take a breather. The mark of an experienced paddler is the ability to move very slowly downstream from eddy to eddy, even using them to work their way back upriver. Entering and leaving eddies requires handling sharp changes in current speed
and direction. Playing in eddy lines quickly hones edging, bracing and maneuvering skills. There are four major skills to master. Catching an Eddy: Catching an eddy while moving downstream means moving sideways across the current, crossing the eddy line and managing the current differential as your boat suddenly spins upcurrent. The more eddies you catch, the more your edging will become instinctive. Peeling Out: Peeling out is re-entering spring 2014
the current to go downstream. This requires both getting the boat across the jerky current differential and turning a long sea kayak downstream. Unlike short and maneuverable whitewater kayaks, making a sea kayak turn quickly downstream takes some skilled use of edge, strokes and trim. Ferries: Ferrying across the current allows a paddler to move across the current between eddies without being COAST&KAYAK Magazine
Sean Dillon hones his edging skill.
Whitewater swept downstream. It’s an essential skill for crossing a river under control, slowing your momentum or leaving an eddy to surf a wave. Most ferries are done facing upriver, working across the current. S-Turns: A bit more advanced, S-turns combine elements of ferries and eddy turns. The paddler ferries across the current before turning the boat across the current to punch through strong eddy lines. Surfing: One surf wave can entertain kayakers for hours. Surfing is the art of sitting on a river wave at just the right spot, where the current is offset by the gravity of the boat falling down the upriver side of the wave. It’s a delicate equilibrium of boat angle, edge, lean, trim and paddle strokes. It’s also one of the more exhilarating things you can do in a kayak. Chaos-Proof Your Roll: Capsizes are inevitable when playing on eddy lines and surf waves. Take advantage of the chance to bombproof your roll. If you can roll in the confused water of converging currents or the disorienting boils of an eddy line, chances are you can roll most other places. Skill Building Games Here are some fun exercises that build your skills, and can provide hours of laughs: Eddy Experiments: Leaving an eddy, experiment with different speeds, angles, degrees of edge, backwards-forward trim, and the last stroke before leaving the eddy. Learn cause-and-effect and what works for various purposes. Minimalist Ferries: See how smoothly you can ferry from one eddy to another. Can you move across the current using only two strokes? One? None at all? This will fine-tune your control of angle, edge and speed. And when you can do it with minimal strokes then try it with your. Eyes Closed: Try eddy turns and ferries with your eyes closed. You’ll learn to feel the changes in the current, and respond automatically. Then try it…. Backwards: Try ferries, eddy turns, peel-outs, and S- turns backwards. Your edging will become more instinctive and you’ll develop powerful reverse paddling skills that are also essential in rock gardens and other paddling environments. Seek Out The Swirlies: We usually avoid the confused whirlpools and boils 56
that form along converging currents or strong eddy lines. If there are no hazards downstream, seek these out. See what they do to your boat and how you can react. Descend as slowly as possible: Pick a stretch of river with multiple eddies and see how slowly you can descend, catching every eddy possible. Leapfrog your paddling buddies, each catching a different eddy. See how small an eddy you can catch. Good Rivers For Sea Kayaks For current play in sea kayaks, we look for relatively broad rivers with meanders that create large eddies that can accommodate larger boats. Straight rivers spring 2014
tend to be steep and fast, and require whitewater boats and skills. Constrictions like islands often generate interesting water. We seek high water, which covers rocks and reduces potential for smashes and pins. Of course, at very high water, eddies wash out, creating a fast ride that can be dangerous if there’s no way to stop your downriver movement. Start with pool-and-drop rivers rather than continuous features: the pools offer places to rest, regroup and recover swimmers. We also seek places where we can run circuits: where eddies allow us to work our way back to the same feature and try it again.
by Neil Schulman
Karen Dalbey relaxes while crossing an eddyline.
Knowing Your River Rivers develop totally different personalities at different levels. Some become easier, others harder. Eddies, rapids, and surf waves appear and disappear. One of my favorite play spots is ideal when the gauge reads 58 feet. It’s dead flat at 55 feet, and a raging maelstrom at 64. Knowing how a river behaves requires multiple trips at different levels and talking to others who know that stretch well. Remember that sea kayaks require a different set of conditions than paddlers in whitewater kayakers seek. River discharges are measured in cubic feet per second (CFS) or vertical feet. CFS
is more accurate, since as a river increases in height, the channel widens. An increase from 2 to 4 feet can mean a more than doubling of CFS. Keep a paddler’s log that records the CFS with notes about the river features, so that you’ll know what to expect next time. Beware Wood The biggest hazards on a river are fallen trees, the cause of many river-running fatalities. They form strainers where the water is sucked down and unfortunate kayakers can be held underwater. Most but not all wood falls into the river on the outsides of bends, where the current erodes the bank. Don’t get upstream of a spring 2014
downed log, and move toward the inside of a bend when in doubt. Give wood a wide berth. Safety on the River River safety is fundamentally different from what many sea kayakers are used to. Here are some of the basics: Manage Group Size: Big groups won’t fit in eddies and will easily get spread out, making communication and hazard avoidance difficult. Manage Communication: Make sure everyone knows and uses paddle signals and keeps an eye on others. The lead paddler should take the easiest, safest line. Rescue protocol: Assisted recoveries, many sea kayaker’s default rescue, doesn’t work on the river. The first line of defense is the swimmer aggressively swimming to an eddy. Since eddy lines are a frequent cause of capsizes, there’s often one nearby. Other paddlers can help ferry a swimmer and bulldoze boats to shore. Throw Bags: Throw bags are an essential item for reeling in a swimmer quickly. Using one takes practice: rope, current, and a lack of knowledge can be a bad combination. Swimming: There are safe and unsafe ways to swim a rapid, and in different situation. Take a Class: Everyone who spends significant time on a river should take a Swiftwater Rescue Class. Beware the Bomber: Be on the lookout for paddlers that just bomb straight down the river. Usually it’s paddlers with less skill, barely in control and unable to eddy out. Experienced paddlers will be catching eddies and moving slower. This puts the person with the least ability to read water and avoid obstacles in the lead. This is a recipe for trouble on challenging water. Beware Addiction Be careful: rivers are habit-forming. You may find yourself, buying a whitewater boat and checking river levels instead of surf conditions at work. But with more crossover boats like the P&H Hammer, the boundary between sea and river kayaking is becoming like the soft, swirling water where two currents converge. Neil Schulman is an Aqualholic who writes, photographs, and paddles in Portland Oregon. COAST&KAYAK Magazine
Planning and Safety
e were leaving Kwakiutl point near the northern tip of Vancouver Island, one of the last barriers on the approach towards Brooks Peninsula. Protected by clusters of rocks and reefs, Kwakiutl Cove offers a sheltered respite from the open Pacific. However, the previous days of foul weather had left the ocean in a temperamental mood. Launching from the cove meant running a gauntlet of reefs breaking in an explosion of white foam on either side of us. Relative safety lay in deep water, and so we were keen to paddle directly from shore. Checking the chart I was able to quickly identify all the major obstacles. Except one. The chart listed a single rock directly in our path. Slightly deeper than the rest, the swell was passing over top of it without breaking, making it impossible to locate in the chaotic sea. I watched for signs but it continued to elude my view. It was quite possible that the rock was deep enough that no wave would break across it and therefore posed no danger to us. We weighed our options briefly. The safety of deep water was only a few hundred metres in front of us, where the
Boom open water would allow the turbulence to subside into manageable swell. We could cover this distance in a few short minutes, but the path would take us directly over where the chart indicated the submerged rock lay. Alternatively a route parallel to the headland would allow us to avoid the rock but meant a longer paddle in chaotic seas. Grasping our paddles we choose the latter. Traveling parallel to the shore left us contending with rebounding waves jostling our boats from all angles. Constant vigilance was required to avoid being caught off-guard by a wayward wave. Pointing our boats towards the open sea was a huge temptation. At that moment the ocean exploded. A gaping hole opened where the chart indicated the unseen rock lay, and a wave
Paddling in four-metre seas is hair-raising at the best of times; doing so while navigating your sea kayak through a rock garden where submerged rocks only occasionally show themselves will quickly eat away at your self-confidence.
reared up to monstrous proportions. The lip of the wave hit the exposed granite with a loud boom. An impact of such force would have been catastrophic to our kayaks. We had, thankfully, anticipated and avoided a ‘boomer.’ Boomers hold a slightly mythical quality within the world of kayaking. All too often they are referenced as if only occurring in specific locations and during specific conditions. The reality is boomers exist anywhere where there are rocks and waves. A ‘boomer’ (or ‘growler’) is an underwater obstacle upon which waves will occasionally break. As every wave is of slightly different heights an obstacle may remain hidden during smaller waves, but will be exposed by larger ones. This is particularly true in areas of open ocean
or bust swell where long intervals can elapse between larger sets of waves, and be complicated by the rising and lowering of the tides. A boomer may â€˜go off â€™ every seventh wave, or every seven hundredth. Potential boomers exist anywhere there is shallow water relative to the size of the waves. Even in calm waters an unexpectedly large wind wave or boat wake may produce small boomers along shorelines. Many paddlers, myself included, have damaged a kayak by hitting unexpected mini-boomers while paddling a shallow coastline. Before paddling in an area, examine nautical charts to look for potential hazards. During calm conditions many submerged rocks indicated on a chart are perfectly safe to paddle across; however, using depth soundings in conjunction with
tidal levels and sea state can give you an idea of areas which may be a problem. The best way to avoid boomers is to use your eyes. While paddling always watch the horizon for periodic breakers, as spotting the hazard from a distance may be your only warning prior to reaching the location. I often use lines of position relative to other known landmarks to avoid boomers. By noting that a boomer lies directly between two particular islets, or even by knowing a compass bearing relative to landmarks, you can determine the position of a submerged rock. If unsure of the potential safe route through an area simply stop and wait while watching the surface of the water for clues to what lies beneath. Modern GPS units loaded with nautical charts or waypoints can be invaluable for
identifying the exact location of boomers. As electronics are prone to malfunction or imprecision, gadgets should act as a complement but not a replacement for our eyes and navigation knowledge. If you find yourself in an impending collision with a boomer and unable to stop in time, your best bet may be to simply keep paddling. Ideally your forward momentum will propel you past the boomer, and at worst your paddle strokes will help stabilize the kayak in the wake of the impact. If the boomer causes your boat to strike the rock, paddle to safety immediately to assess your boat for damage. It is important to hold a healthy respect for boomers in all their forms. Learning to anticipate these hazards can provide confidence when paddling in dynamic areas. At their most extreme, boomers have deadly potential, but understanding their presence in protected waters may at least save your boat an unnecessary repair. Liam McNeil is a Level 3 Guide with Class 4 Waters Endorsement, and Executive Director with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance (SKGABC). When not paddling, he can be found enjoying the rains living in Tofino. liammcneil.com
Rocks such as this are probably going to be fairly obvious, but boomers are trickier because they remain unseen until an unusually large wave breaks over them. The result is one of the most dangerous situations a paddler can encounter.
The case for
Rough water will complicate any rescue. If you can’t get back into your kayak alone, the skills and coordination of two people will be necessary, so you will want to keep things simple. That makes the PPP a good fail-safe rescue.
n some cases, the simplest solution is the best. A case in point is the ‘Parallel Park and Pump’ assisted rescue. There is nothing sexy about it, no glitz or fancy moves, but the bareboned, stripped down nature is exactly what makes the PPP such a robust rescue technique, especially in the most challenging conditions. Performing the PPP is straightforward. The rescuer comes in parallel to the swimmer’s capsized kayak and then drapes himself across the boat’s upturned hull, fully committing his weight onto the overturned kayak and gripping the cockpit or perimeter lines on the far side of the boat. Paddles can be secured by being tucked under the rescuer’s arm or stowed under deck bungee cords. The swimmer must stay in contact with the boats at all times to avoid becoming separated. The rescuer flips the overturned kayak 60
It may not be the prettiest assisted rescue, but the PPP may be the best for rough water
back upright by pulling with his far hand and pressing down on the near side of the boat’s hull with his other hand. The rescuer then has a choice of a solid grip on the perimeter lines or coaming. Gripping the coaming increases the risk of getting kicked in the hands spring 2014
when the swimmer re-enters, but it is otherwise the most secure handhold. Either way the rescuer must hold the two kayaks together to form a stable raft. His weight continues to be heavily committed onto the swimmer’s kayak, with his armpit in contact with the deck of the boat. Once the two boats are stable the swimmer can re-enter. Maintaining contact with the raft, he moves to a point just behind his cockpit. With a good grip on the boat and a powerful kick of the legs the swimmer hauls himself up onto his kayak’s stern deck, staying chest-down and low to the deck. With his head toward the stern, he lifts his legs into the cockpit and then slides in while twisting into a sitting position. Staying low throughout maximizes stability. Once the swimmer is back aboard, the rescuer continues to provide stability. The kayak can now be pumped out. Or
by Alex Matthews 3 The rescuer leans heavily
1 As the rescuer, commit your
onto the righted kayak, securely gripping it while the swimmer re-enters.
weight onto the overturned kayak.
2 Once paddles are secured,
4 The sprayskirt is fitted back on to prevent
roll the kayak back upright while leaning toward the swimmer’s kayak.
more water entering, but one edge is pulled back to allow the bilge pump entry to the bottom of the cockpit.
in some situations it may be better to immediately paddle the flooded boat away from impending danger and then empty the cockpit of water when safe. While heavy and slow to respond, a kayak with a flooded cockpit can still generally be effectively maneuvered, at least over shorter distances, by a strong paddler. In many ‘play’ spots like tidal rips, the roughest water where capsizing is most likely to occur is very localized, so getting a swimmer back quickly into a flooded boat and then relocating a short distance to calmer conditions is a good strategy. In my
experience, any rescue in rough or windy conditions is difficult, but when you can’t confidently attempt other rescues, such as the excellent bow tip-out technique (see the Fall 2007 issue of Wavelength Magazine), the PPP remains one of the most effective. It may not be the prettiest rescue technique, but in truly challenging situations it is often best. Alex Matthew is Coast&Kayak Magazine’s skills guru and author of Sea Kayaking: Rough Waters (Fox Chapel Publishing).
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Spring bookshelf is high on adventure book it will still be useful to anyone who plans trips through these areas.
The Other Side of the Ice Sprague Theobold/Allan Kreda Skyhorse Publishing The Northwest Passage has a long history of adventure, probably best highlighted by the Franklin Expedition. So when 150 years later a family attempts to navigate it themselves, they find that the original challenges can’t all be overcome with technology and science. The tale is a thrilling look at what this journey involved, from the dream to the harsh reality.
Paddling the Pacific Northwest Wayne J. Lutz Powell River Books Wayne Lutz has spent his later life exploring the coast and various waterways and turning them into enough books to house a small library. His latest effort is his first involving kayaking, and chronicles trips through the Skagit River, Nooksack River and other Washington, Oregon and BC Rivers (well, one Oregon and one BC river). The topics are not high adventure, just slices of life, and although not a guide 62
Little Ships of Fools Charles Wilkins Greystone Publishing When someone plans to row the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Barbados aboard an experimental rowboat with no support vessel, no stored water, no sails and no motor, you’d expect the participants to be triathletes, veterans of other ocean crossings and of course a scrawny sexagenarian who had never seriously paddled before. The result is seven weeks of misadventure with troubles ranging from rationed food to sharks to a disintegrating boat as told by the self-proclaimed old fool.
Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume 3 Sunart Media Gordon Brown is one of the United Kingdom’s premier kayakers, and gives a new depth to sea kayaking skills in Volume 3 of his sea kayaking DVD series. This third installment covers emergency spring 2014
situations, navigation, rolling and first aid kits, with some stunning footage of rescue situations from both the water and coast guard perspectives with advise from rescue professionals. The navigation section is co-hosted by Franco Ferroro, so while you can tap into Brown’s expertise he’s made sure this DVD isn’t just about him but giving the best information possible on some essential topics.
Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands Rob Casey Mountaineer Books Now in its third edition, Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands includes 15 new trips and even some surfing areas. The regions covered include Canada’s Gulf Islands to the Nisqually River Delta, including the San Juan Islands and Hood Canal. Each trip description covers all the details paddlers need to plan and complete specific tours throughout the region. Other updates to this third edition include modern safety tips, a list of weather resources, cell phone use tips and mobile apps that utilize GPS and real-time navigational data. The Expedition 2: The Seed Buried Deep Jason Lewis BillyFish Books Coast&Kayak Magazine presented excerpts from Jason Lewis’s first of three books about his self-powered circumnavigation of the globe in the Fall 2012 issue, with a focus on several
Books/CDs tumultuous experiences on the water. The second book begins in a more earthly setting: awakening beside a busy Colorado highway, his lower limbs shattered by a hit-and-run driver. Not only was his trip across North America in jeopardy, so was his ability to walk again. But nine
months of rehabiltation saw him continue on his goal. And so Jason discovers the real value of his journey: “The real expedition was the seed buried deep in the heart of anyone who has ever dreamed of knowing what lies beyond their valley, and of embarking upon a grand adventure…”
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Need a Spot? Maybe. But given the limitations, probably not
pot went a long way toward revolutionizing adventure travel by combining satellite technology with accessibility, portability and just enough two-way communication to do something completely new. One aspect was the ability for an “I’m okay” message for those back home – a good peace-of-mind investment. But it went farther by taking the device’s fairly limited two-way communication capability and combining it with internet mapping technology to give the whole world a chance to pinpoint a user’s location. This has created potential for a realtime audience for adventures, such as record attempts for circumnavigating Vancouver Island, where Facebook, blog and forum audiences could track progress akin to a virtual audience. The recent release of Spot 3 offers some improvements, but the fundamental product remains the same, down to the bright orange body. Anything else is a tweak: just improvements such as longer battery life, faster signal acquisition and overall performance. For a third-generation product, this is a remarkably short short benchmark. It’s hard not to compare Spot to GoPro, an upstart company that changed adventure video much the way Spot changed adventure security. Starting with a basic interface much like Spot, GoPro’s latest version delves into WiFi, remote control and cell phone integration. It’s a muchneeded leap forward, as the controls were 64
Gearing up unduly basic, clumsy and imprecise. Spot suffers the same: clumsy and inexact control due to an overly simplistic interface. Added to that is a lack of verification. You just press a button and hope it does its job. Missing from the next generation is any social media add-ons, which is odd for a product that is essentially a social media tool, albeit with a safety core. The preset message is prehistoric: the ability to input some limited real-time text wouldn’t be just a leap forward, it would be an expected evolution. Clearly it’s a product with it’s fans, but the product also has its share of grumbling critics who are less than happy with the company’s website interface, its auto-renewal tactics and its works-mostof-the-time reliability. One element unchanged is the need for a subscription, an expensive proposition if you only have one or two remote excursions per year. And so the question has to be asked: is it going to be worth the ongoing price? Before locking into an expensive contract with Spot, consider some alternatives:
Cell phones: The obvious barrier exists that you have to be within cell phone range, but the reach of cell phones has improved in recent years so reception is possible even in places like the West Coast Trail and Desolation Sound Marine Park. Meanwhile, reception is still hit and miss in seemingly developed locations like the Gulf Islands. However, it’s worth asking if cell phones will work for the majority of your trips. All you need is one cell phone tower in one remote community and you can let your family know you’re well. PLB (Personal Locator Beacons), ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitters) or EPIRB (Emergency Position-
Indicating Radio Beacons): With less glamour, kayakers and backpackers might consider products like the ACR ResQLink Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon. It is small, waterproof, requires no subscription and when activated alerts a worldwide rescue network. It lacks the casual “I’m okay” feature of Spot, but there’s a latent safety aspect: if not activated, then no news is good news.
VHF radios: These are the standard for two-way marine communication, with new capabilities such as DSC combined with built-in GPS capability to aid rescues in the event of a distress signal. While “I’m okay” messages can’t be sent home, a VHF is far more versatile, particularly for message relays. If you need to get a message out, no doubt it can be done with a polite request to a passing boater. spring 2014
Other satellite messengers: Spot’s main competitor is Delorme inReach SE Satellite Communicator, which shares most of the same features including the need for a subscription though with the recent addition of a pay-as-you-use option. And therein lies the satellite messenger dilemma. It’s cool and would be nice to bring alone for peace of mind, especially for loved ones at home. But sometimes isn’t a post card all that’s needed? COAST&KAYAK Magazine
have this ill-advised recurring urge to try for a speed record around Vancouver Island. Not to break the time of Sean Morley or Joe O’Blenis – fat chance of that – but rather just to see how fast I could do it for myself. It’s a silly urge because I’m usually amongst the slower of the paddlers in any given group. So it would be a speed record attempt without the element of speed – hardly a good prospect. My one advantage, though, is that I can keep going. Slowly the miles will accumulate. My background does include spending two entire summers in a kayak. That taught me a few things, one being that the choice of kayak will make a huge difference in so many ways – and many of those can’t be predicted without experiencing them for several weeks on end, one-on-one with your boat. I have several critical needs that are mine and mine alone. For instance, a strong lower back brace on the seat is essential. Without proper lumbar support I’ll be in trouble by the day’s end. Also, I have hatch issues. I have had awful experiences with round rubber kayak hatches being near-impossible to open with cold wet hands, and neoprene covers being near-impossible to finesse around the coaming with tired fingers. Injure your hand by unnecessary stress and your ability to paddle will be compromised. So while there’s nothing wrong with a whole range of seats and hatches, intimate reliance for weeks on end will change your perspective about what works and what doesn’t. Slight aggravations barely worth bothering with on a short trip can become deal-breakers by sheer repetition. The upshot is your boat has to be perfect in some very basic ways. But
Coast&Kayak Magazine editor John Kimantas sets out in a Seaward Quest, a boat model that will soon be joining the Coast&Kayak fleet as the expedition leader. The Quest is one of numerous options out there for long-distance kayaking, each with its own advantages.
ultimate expedition kayak Searching for the
‘perfect’ is a flawed concept – there is no single perfect expedition kayak. Rather, there is a perfect expedition kayak out there for you: your paddling style, your body size and shape, your comfort level and your logistical needs. If you do find yourself searching for
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an expedition kayak, the defining features will be all the regular basics: length, width, height and so on. Budget should be less of a consideration, as a few hundred dollars over the next decade won’t mean much, but hauling around an extra 10 pounds to save the cost of a Kevlar or carbon
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by John Kimantas performance nature. A heavy rocker means better maneuverability, but at a cost to tracking. It is also a factor in whether you want to cut through or bump over waves. While exploring is a big part of most kayaking holidays, if you need to make the miles you might find a smoother, straighter course preferable. Cockpit space: Extra room inside the cockpit can make a huge difference to your comfort and storage capacity. This is particularly true behind the seat. A few inches of space can be sufficient for rain and cold gear, a water bag, lunch and other must-have items that otherwise won’t find a home within reach. A seat flush to the bulkhead eliminates this huge luxury. Initial comfort: So much of buying or renting a kayak comes down to initial comfort. The right kayak will fit like a glove as soon as you sit in it. But much of that initial comfort comes from having the right seat. Don’t despair if all other features of a kayak seem right except for that initial feeling of comfort. Seats can be replaced with an aftermarket purchase, thigh braces can be mounted and other elements changed, including rudder pedals, to make an otherwise ideal kayak the perfect kayak. Essential is the basic fit. Other elements can be adapted. Stability: Many intermediate kayakers will feel most at home in a kayak 24 inches wide. Most top expedition models are significantly more narrow. Good for speed, that can make them tippy and unstable. But before dismissing a model because it’s tippy, consider that you’ll become more stable in it with practice. Also, when loaded an unstable kayak will be substantially more steady. So don’t dismiss an otherwise ideal model based on initial u wobbles. You will grow into it.
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upgrade will eventually mean a lot. The first step is to decide the basics as you would for any kayak purchase. The boat should fit your style and size. Once you know your general requirements you can get into the details. Details may seem extraneous, but really that’s what will set similar kayak models apart, meaning one model could be passable for your needs and another perfect. Here’s my advice on some details to look for that can make or break your long-distance journey, in no particular order: More on hatch woes: This is pet peeve of mine after several bad experiences. So while not a big ticket item, don’t underestimate the value of an effective hatch. If a hatch leaks – and some styles and makes are prone to this – it will be a constant setback to find soaked bags and gear at the end of the day. If the hatch is too small or too round, stowing and retrieving gear will be an aggravation. Also, a simple hatch system will be hugely advantageous to anything that requires either finessing or outright brutality to close or open. Number of hatches: Do you need a day hatch in front of you or will that interfere with leg room and your use of the deck? Also, many kayaks offer a hatch behind the cockpit for “quick-grab” items. But will they be? Or should your safety gear be quickly accessible from behind you instead? So-called conveniences that seems like a good idea at the time can interfere with something far more necessary, such as the ability to stow large bags of gear because of the day hatch’s share of interior space. Rocker: This is the lengthwise curvature and will determine your boat’s
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Gearing up The following are some picks for expedition-grade kayaks offering a range of styles and options. It is by no means complete;
see the 2014 Coast&Kayak Gear Guide and the online version of this magazine for more options.
▲ BorealDesign Baffin C3 The Baffin C3 is a tourer with a Greenland touch and so is a tad shorter than other options (17’6”) and with a width of 23”. It is a skeg kayak with storage sufficient for several weeks. Available in fibreglass, Kevlar or carbon, the weight drops to 47 points with the carbon option.
▲ Zegul Velocity This is a design sure to fascinate a niche style of kayaker looking for speed, particularly in a following sea given the surf characteristics and the flat hull bottom. It is joined by Zegul’s Searocket, a new model with a similar 21¼” width.
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▲ Valley Nordkapp A tried and true model, the Nordkapp is a 1970s design created for expedition use but equally at home as a sport kayak. It’s one of a number of Valley models like the Etain, Avocet and Gemini that qualify as Brit boat tourers.
▲ Seaward Quest At 19’ and just 22” wide, the Quest typifies the long, sleek expedition tourer with oodles of storage capacity, a low back for ease of rolling (above average for this class) and an optional third day hatch in the Quest X3.
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▲ Tahe Wind 585 Another big, narrow tourer (19’2” and 21.25” wide), it is designed as a straight and fast sea tourer for experienced paddlers. A key feature is four hatches and storage compartments.
▲ Nimbus Telkwa This is an option for tourers who want the length but also the width, as the Telkwa measures in at 18’7” long and a beamy 24.375” wide.
▲ Epix 18X The Epic 18X has the distinctive Epic hull with roots in the company’s surf ski designs. With woven carbon and Kevlar fabric, the 18X Ultra weighs in at just 36 pounds. 70
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Published on Mar 6, 2014
In this issue we explore Hakai on the central BC coast, present a porfolio of images from Senja, Norway, visit San Ignacio Lagoon in Mexico,...