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Part 2 May. 31st - Day 2 - Launch Day! - Sea kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation

Updated: Jan 30

Seattle - Pudget Sound - Rockpool Taran Kayak - Epic Wing Paddle

David was right. The front desk lady was extremely accommodating. She put the kayak in their ballroom and acted though my needs were nothing more complicated than a request for an extra bathing towel. I had all the space I could ever need to spread out my gear, and plan how I would pack it all in.

I slept without stress for most of the afternoon and night, and only woke up at 4:00am the next day when my bowels told me to get out of bed. . My biological clock was still running three hours ahead.

The first day of any expedition is best used to get the rhythm of things that will need to become routine. My first task was to set up the new GPS. I called Inreach at 5:00am (8am on the east coast), and had the operator run through the activation and syncing process. To my delight there were no issues, and I felt relieved to do this now rather than the day before.

The next task was to arrange all the gear. I had been so busy with work, back home that I had taken on faith that things would work themselves out.

If there is a saint that looks after kayakers, he must have been watching over me. Everything fit inside just right, and there was even a little bit of room to spare. I put the kayak on the dolly, packed all the gear, and was just about ready to start wheeling things when I noticed that my GPS charging cable was still attached to the computer in the hotel lobby.

“That could have been a terrible headache.” I thought.

I quickly packed it with all the other items and gave one last run down of my bedroom and the lobby, to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

I pulled the kayak behind me through the hotel front door and turned down the small road that led to the waterfront boat parking lot, and headed for the boat ramp.

I thought about all the challenges that lay ahead and for the first time had a strange feeling. Barely a weekend had gone by, but my mind felt rested from the daily grind of work as though considerably more time had already passed. I’ve experienced this time dilation effect before. The last time it happened was at the beginning of the Puerto Rico journey. Suddenly, when daily life is no longer on autopilot, your mind becomes present in the moment and aware of every aspect of what you’re doing. Eventually it wears out after a few days, once you are in a new routine, but in the moment things are changing, it feels like drinking a caffeinated drink for the first time.

“Let’s get on the water and paddle and see.” I told myself. “And then when tomorrow comes, it comes. I’ll think about tomorrow when it becomes today.”

I stowed the gear into the kayak hatches (and somehow not quite the same way I had done back in the hotel), put on the dry suit, eased the back of the kayak into the turbid water of the marina, and took the first of what would be at least a hundred thousand more paddle strokes.

“Oh darn, I have two right-handed gloves,” I noticed as I dressed them on. I must have put both the left hands in the back hatch by accident, well they would be staying there for today, I was not getting out to do a relaunch.

After a few minutes, I had to stop paddling.

“The life jacket is too tight.” I moaned out loud. Obviously, I hadn’t adjusted it to account for the extra bulk of the dry suit. I reached behind my back and released the tension on one of the straps, for a moment of instant gratification.

Finally, I felt comfortable enough to get in a paddle rhythm. The water was flat like a mirror, and I was gliding like a sharp knife slicing butter. As I paddled along, I noticed a few seals swimming in the water. I had never seen seals in the wild before.

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They stopped what they were doing and looked towards me with only their heads poking above the water. Their dark black eyes focused on me like the periscope of a submarine.

Their curiosity did not last long, however, and once satisfied that I wasn’t something that would produce any food, they dove into the murky water and were not seen again. I learned from my guidebook that they are Harbor Seals, because they are most often seen around harbors, but I would venture to rename them as Burrito Seals or Chipotle Seals. Their sink color and dapple spots very much resembles a tortilla, and their body shape is puffy and cylindrical like a Mexican wrap. And for an orca, I am sure they must have a fair amount of juicy meat like a burrito filled with pulled pork. Perhaps that was the reason they dove away so quickly when I approached; I must have given them a famished wolf kind of stare, that said, “If you come a little closer, I’ll show you that the orcas aren’t the only things that will eat you.”

I paddled a total of seventeen miles.. The headwind picked up considerably soon after my meeting with the seals, every mile after the encounter was earned with considerable effort, but also very satisfying. I slept better in my tent this first night than any other night in the past month when all I did was work in front of a computer screen all day.

Sea kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation


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