Updated: Jun 13
A thick fog rolled in during the night, and the view of the sea in the morning was a white out. From my tent I could hear the waves breaking on shore, but not see them. The tide was more than halfway out and, in another hour, or two it would be slack tide; the time when I hoped to be rounding the Cape.
My campsite neighbors were already up and warming up an oatmeal breakfast. I ate my morning five-minute breakfast meal of canned tuna, Chef Boyardee and a few scoops of Nutella. After packing my gear, I asked if anyone could give me a hand carrying the kayak to the water’s edge. The person who volunteered was the individual who’d given me the unappreciative look the day before.
We carried the kayak in silence, and after putting it down by the water he felt that he had to make his feelings known. “So, I have to ask this; out of the whole fucking beach, why the fuck did you have to camp right next to us?”
“I told you already. I paddled from the water, I saw the tents, and concluded that was the campsite, so that’s where I went.”
“You Americans are just so brash! Can’t you see I’m here with my family? How dare you just bust in and feel like you own the place.”
I took a moment to think how to answer. My mind had been focusing on the Cape. How rough would the waves be, would there be wind and current, would the standing waves be as big as when I sighted them from the lighthouse. I was not looking for an argument at that time and was also frustrated with my headlamp that was having moisture problems and would turn on or off on its own.
And now I was also irritated with this man’s overinflated opinion of himself, and his disrespect. I thought to say that he was a rare type, a Canadian douche bag, or that I hadn’t realized he was from the House of Windsor and I was transiting through Crownland. Instead, I spoke a dagger of truth that hit him hard in the gut.
“You know, it’s obvious you’re not like the rest of your family. I know it, you know it, they know it. It’s not a secret. It’s the first thing everybody notices about you when they meet you..”
What feelings were stirred inside him I do not know, but he did not speak another word to me again.
I pushed off the beach into the dense fog, the shoreline and the Cape headland were barely visible. Paradoxically, the closer to the Cape I got the less of it I could see as more fog rolled in with the swell. The fog became disorienting, and even with the compass to keep me going in the right direction, there was no way to know if I had paddled west far enough to clear the Cape.
Then suddenly, the sea changed from smooth rolling swells to a confused washing machine with waves coming at me from all directions.
“This must be the point the lighthouse keeper spoke about, where the tide loops around the headland. If I go on a bit more, I will have the Cape cleared.” I thought.
When the sea flattened again, I turned and paddled due south. I could still barely see any land, and the only way to tell I was far enough from the breaker zone was by the loudness of the waves crashing on the rocks.
Fortunately, the breakers did not sound like they were very close, and I was, however, more worried about another warning the lighthouse keeper had given me.
“Be careful with ships during the fog. The gap between the Cape and the Scott islands isn’t very big. Don’t go too far down the middle of the strait or you can get caught either from the front, or worse, from the back. You definitely won’t see the ship until it’s right on you”
My mind was reminded of that warning, when suddenly I saw a large dark smudge in the fog rapidly approaching me. It wasn’t a ship, however, but a large rock in the middle of the ocean, and it was I who was without realizing being carried by the current and the north wind in my sail at nearly seven miles per hour towards it. I made a hard turn east and averted the rock. When I looked at the GPS to check my location, I was aghast that the Cape was miles behind me already, and I was nearly at the mouth of the Hansen Lagoon. The rock I nearly blundered into also had a name, Strange Rock.
“Strange Indeed,” I thought. Certainly, I would not have been the first ship it scuttled.
South of the Strange Rock the fog finally began clearing and at the entrance to St Josef Bay I got a glimpse of the landscape I was in. Tall green mountains appeared briefly through the veil before disappearing like ghosts. Eventually the fog dissipated enough that the base of the cliffs became visible, and I could see that the crashing waves sounds which had worried me were not as big as they roared. much to my relief. This was an incredibly calm day on the Cape, at least in the morning.
When I landed on the beach in St Josef Bay, I took a moment to appreciate the completion of this milestone in the journey. “Few people have paddled around Cape Scott, and fewer still have done it alone.” I thought.
Still, I felt as if I had cheated. It had been too calm, too easy. Anyone could have done it in these conditions. The feeling of achievement was just not there.
“Oh, come on, don’t be so humble, you’re not that good. Give yourself the credit.” Said a voice in my head.
“You picked the day with the right weather, you picked the time with the right tide,, and you paddled it. What more do you want? Who do you have something to prove to?”
“Me.” I told the voice.
“You paddled it, and you were lucky. That is enough. Be happy with being lucky.”
Sea Kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation