Port McNeil south along Vancouver Island

The sunshine and good times have followed us south and we have been fortunate to share the rays with many great people and places.  The group of 12 has slowly dwindled down,  Colin and Lia left us the other day to hitchhike the final leg.

Lucas and Lucy plan to leave tomorrow to catch a ride north to Port Hardy to surf some waves (on boards this time) and then head back home.  Our new friend Murray took off this morning to Vancouver as he has to get back to school at the end of the month.  It is strange to see our group reduced to only 5 for the last week of paddling, everyone will be greatly missed!

Before the trip, our good friend Tommy Meiners told us that we had to stop and visit the small island town of Sointula.  He couldn’t really describe why, but he was adamant.   Upon arriving in the town, it was immediately apparent what he was talking about.  There was a buzz around the town, an interesting Finnish Utopian History, and a myriad of interesting characters.  Time here was spent visiting with a master painter and adventurer by the name of Stewart Marshall, a world famous salmon and whale biologist named Alex Morton, and many others who radiate a passion for life.  Two days in this place was not enough, we will certainly be back to further explore in the future.

Paddling on, we pulled into Port Neville to catch some sleep, and met up with Chet who was one of the few residents who still call the Port home.  He invited us to set up our tents on his soft grass lawn, and we enjoyed the sunset while exchanging adventure stories from the sea.

Kayak reflecting the last sun of the day

That night we celebrated Lia’s birthday, the last birthday for the trip.  Max was kind enough to whip up a delicious dessert.  It was butter pecan cake, with a layer of peanut butter in the middle, topped with pudding and coconut flakes, speckled with huckleberries for show and flavor.  Happy birthday Lia!

The Cake had little hope to survive the night

We headed out into Johnstone Strait the next day as the fog had began to burn off.  Wind was at our backs, and we made use of it.  Sails were set and we began to fly.  The fog enveloped everything in our sight.

Barge floats through the Fog

Sailing South through the Fog

Due to the geography of Vancouver Island and the surrounding lands vast amounts of water has to flood and ebb into the narrow channels of Johnstone Strait and the adjacent passages, this means huge currents. We took this fact to heart and began paddling with the tides and currents did we experience. Colin clocked us at 8 mphs without paddling and a max of 13 mphs while paddling.  We couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves more and the days were filled with similes, laughs, and disbelief (at our speeds).

The straits drained us into Seymour Narrows, a precarious section of channel separating the Northern part of Vancouver Island from the Strait of Georgia.  Currents during max flow in this region can reach upwards of 12 knots.  Whirlpools and flow that seems to defy logic in this section have been the cause for many boat accidents.  In 1958 a large rock in the middle of the Narrows deemed “Ripple Rock” was blown to pieces in one of histories largest non-nuclear explosions.  We decided to avert the thrill of running through with the flood and opted to paddle during slack tide.  We were certainly happy with our decision, as a large pod of killer whales had the same idea.  An unbelievable show ensued, with each whale seemingly trying to outperform the previous.

A Pod of Killer Whales surfaces in Seymour Narrows

We have set the date for our arrival in Ladysmith, the end of the kayak leg, to be September 1st. Here we will celebrate with Seaward Kayaks and get ready to start pedaling.  It has flown by, hard to believe how far we have come and how much we have experienced.  Next step is to work the legs back into shape as we transition to bicycles.  Thanks for checking in!

Enbrige Northern Gateway Proposal

We have had the opportunity to become very familiar with the great debate about an impending pipeline project.  The project aims to transport Tar Sands Oil from interior Canada to the BC Coast and then Super Tankers would transport oil through a portion of the Inside Passage and then across the Pacific to China.  I urge anyone who reads this to educate themselves on the project and it’s potential risks.  This is not far from Juneau, Alaska should be involved in the debate!

Here are a few links with basic information and issues with the project.

Enbridge Northern Gateway Proposal

The Dogwood Initiative

Raincoast Conservation Foundation

More Information, and articles and videos to come!

 

Journey on the BC Coast

Image

Dave and Lia stocking up on water

We paddled south from Prince Rupert unsure of what the BC coast had to offer.  We stopped at a small dock on the south end of town to reload with water and journey on.  We stopped along the way to see the sights and play.  Will decided to try some acrobatics off of a tree to cool down on yet another hot sunny day.

Will Goes for a Flip

We made our way through Grenville Channel, until stopping for a couple of Days in Hartley Bay.  We were greeted by incredibly hospitable folks and had an opportunity to learn a ton about the community there.

Docked up in Hartley Bay

We spent our time meeting the locals, hiking around, and picking berries.  Every night at 10 O’clock however, all of the children played a version of hide and seek called “Man Hunt” and we were more than willing to play.  Chasing the kids through town made us feel how little we have been using our legs this trip!

Will and Chris Playing with the Kids in Hartley Bay

The people treated us to halibut, hering eggs, crab, sockeye, hooligan oil, and all kinds of delicious treats.  We were not to too surprised when we were also treated with a beautiful sunset.

Hartley Bay Sunset

Paddling continued south as we stopped in Bella Bella to resupply.  The great views continued to come.  We ran into a fellow kayaker named John from Seattle, and he gave us the idea to check out the outer coast.

Lucas and the Sky

We decided to take him up on his advice and ventured out to see what all the fuss was about.  We were sure glad we listened to him, as it seemed we had stumbled into the tropics!  White sand beaches, beautiful sunsets, and spectacular views kept us busy for a few days.

Elyse Likes the Sand

Paddling in Paradise

It was tough to leave, but we finally decided to push off and we made our way back to the inside passage.  We were fortunate to check out Addenbroke Light House.  The people there were awesome to visit and they lifted our boats right out of the water for us!  They gave us a hot shower and shared some delicious salmon, they had a beautiful spot!

Craning a Boat at the Light House

Shortly after leaving, Will and Mallory left us to snag a ride back home with friends on their boat.  It was sad to say goodbye, but we will never forget the great moments that we all shared together.  Too bad for them, they missed a red sand beach a couple of days later!

Andrew is Excited for Red Sand

Max, Colin and Dave get a little Muddy

The following day we got going with first light and made it around Cape Caution with beautiful weather.  The swells were mellow and it was an enjoyable roller coaster ride.

Majestic Swells

We were fortunate to meet a new pal Murray the next day and he has joined our crew for the time being.  He is rowing from Vancouver to Bella Bella and back in order to raise awareness of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Check out his trip.

Murray Joins Us!

Fish and Berries in the Sand

After having a potlatch style feast, we shared a foggy day on the water as we made our way to Vancouver Island.

Thick Fog Paddle

Paddle into Camp

Things are going great thus far, hard to imagine that we are now on the island that we will be finishing our journey on.  Lucky for us, it is quite a large island!  We are in Port Mcneil currently, and will pushing off soon.  Thanks for checking out the blog!