Updated: Jun 13
I sat on the bench yesterday after sunset as I waited like the waitress said for everyone to leave. At that moment, thought came into my head.
“Why don’t I sleep in the marina bathroom instead of pitching the tent?”
The bathroom was clean, there was a shower (cold water, but a shower nonetheless) and enough room on the floor for me to lay out the mattress. This was a hobo’s dream. In addition, I would have less gear to pack up in the morning and be gone before anyone noticed anything. A no brainer, I thought.
I slept well at night. Perhaps a little too well. I lost track of time in the morning and was awakened by the sound of a car tire rolling over the gravel in the parking lot around 5:00 am. I jumped up and began to frantically pack up everything before someone decided to use the restroom only to find an exasperated, bearded, naked hobo when they flipped on the light switch.
When I was done packing, I cracked open the bathroom door and peeked outside to make sure no one could see me in the act of the crime. When I saw no one, I quickly got all my gear out the door and snuck out unseen. Complete success, I thought. Well almost complete. After a few minutes I went back to use the restroom.
“Eh, how’d you get the combination for the commercial bathroom?” said a man wearing commercial fishing bibs.
“Did Dan give it to you?”
“Yes! Dan gave it to me.” I answered without even thinking.
“Oh, God Damn Dead-Beat Dan. I’ll have a word with him when he’s in and crack the whip on his ass. I’ve told him not to give away the combination, word gets out, and then everyone all the way to Powell River finds out about it. We changed it just last week.
I was happy the man said he would be cracking the whip on “his ass”, rather than “her ass” as that meant Dan was probably not the waitress who was so kind to help me yesterday.
I hope that Dan, whoever he is, isn’t too dead-beat at his current job, or he may be looking for another one starting this afternoon. I put the boat on the water and got going before I had to answer any more questions.It was a rough crossing to get to Quadra island. I had originally intended to take a rest day at Lund, as the forecast showed the winds increasing substantially and a lot of rain coming in from the Pacific Ocean on the heels of a low-pressure system. But with the hotel closed, and not wanting to find out Dan’s fate. There was no choice but to go.
The winds on the channel stirred big waves and several were washing over my boat deck. Strangely, the wind and the waves weren’t exactly aligned. Although the waves were perpendicular to my direction, the wind was somewhere between a beam reach and a close haul which made it very difficult for me to hold my heading and I had to make stroke adjustments almost constantly.
After passing Hernando Island I turned north to catch a bit of shelter between Cortes and Marina islands before attempting the final crossing. On the way the rain intensified, and visibility became very poor, especially with my prescription goggles which kept fogging up and I had to stop to wipe them constantly. Looking through the haze I noticed a brown blob almost directly in front of me which I thought at first was a huge sea lion before I realized it was a giant boulder with the waves breaking over it. I leaned hard to the right and missed it, only to then find myself pointed right at another rock, to which I leaned immediately to the left to avoid that one as well. Those were close calls. I wonder how those two rocks ended up where they were, everywhere else the water was deep, and dark.
The last stretch was a seven-mile crossing from Marina Island to Heriot Bay on Quadra Island. I considered camping on the sand spit on the north of the island and attempting the crossing the next day when the weather would be much better, but the rain eased up a little and I sensed that this was my r window to make the crossing there and then. I pressed ahead.
About halfway the rain intensified once more and for a while the opposite shore was hidden in a veil of mist and the only thing to guide me in the right direction was the Cortes to Quadra ferry which I knew was headed to the same way. Once I was close enough to see the shoreline again, I noticed the ferry on its way back to Cortes Island was taking a more southerly route. It was deadheaded right for me.
“Really? You have the whole channel, and you want to come this way?” I quipped at the ferry.
I made a sharp tack downwind and jetted out of its way as fast as I could. At some point the bow wave from the ferry must have merged with the swell as I was hit sideways by a monster wave surfing sideways in a bongo slide. The wave vanished as quickly as it appeared.
After the ferry was gone, and I was close to land, I paddled past a skinny sandbank called Rebecca Spit that protected the main settlement of Heriot Bay; the waves abated and with the exception of the heavy rain coming down all around, there was a eerie sense of quiet in the air. The spit was thickly forested, and the shoreline littered with driftwood logs. I wondered how this feature got its name, and who the famous Rebecca might be, perhaps some protectress of mariners seeking to escape the rough seas. Unfortunately, I could not find any sources that shed light on the mystery.
I landed on a pebble beach directly in front of the only hotel in town, the Heriot Bay Inn, whose placard was visible from the kayak while I was navigating through the harbor. After getting all the gear and the kayak up above the high tide mark, I approached the hotel entrance, while still wearing my damp dry suit and water dripping off my wide brim hat from all the rain outside.
“Please tell me you have a room for tonight.” I whimpered to the front desk lady.
“Goodness me where did you arrive from? Were you swimming with your clothes or something? You’re soaking the carpet.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry. I just paddled in from Lund across the channel.”
“Have you? You must have been the only one out there. It’s a whiteout. You can barely see out the bay. Well, let’s see, yes, we do have one room left, but it is right above the pub, and tonight is karaoke night. You’ll have to pardon the noise; they stay kind of loud until about 2:00 am. The singing on most nights is… how to describe it… amateurish, but after everyone’s had a pint or two it doesn’t sound so bad, eh.”
“It will be just fine.”
“Ok then here is your key, and if you need to call the front desk my name is Rebecca. I am the one staffing the night shift tonight until 10:00 pm.”
“Oh, like the….”
“No, the spit is not named after me, and no I do not spit there either. Every tourist asks me that, and it drives me nuts.”
Sea kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation