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PART 5 - Jun. 30th - Day 32 - Sea Kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation

Updated: Feb 4

Vancouver Island - West Coast - Beach

I retired my current set of undergarments which I had been using since I left Port Hardy. After so many days they were reeking horribly, even after spraying them generously of talcum powder. My two remaining sets need to last another week and a half. I’ve concluded that three undergarment sets for three weeks is not enough. Next time I will pack at least six.

On the water I struck up a conversation with another of my campmates. David is the only one in the group paddling with a Greenland paddle.

“How do you like the Greenland paddle? I have to say that I have tried it before and did not really like it all that much. Feels like you are pushing a stick through the water.” I said.

“Ah, but that is because you must be using it like a Euro blade. The Greenland paddle is different. Here, let's switch paddles for a little bit and let me see your stroke.”

He handed me his Greenland paddle and I tried a few strokes while he observed me.

“Yeah, I see.” He said like a doctor making a diagnosis. “What you’re doing is, you are moving the paddle like you are pulling yourself with a stick, that’s never going to work. It’s like spinning your pedals on a bicycle. Picture the paddle like a lever and pretend that you are going to swing yourself over a cliff with a long pole. The pole has to stay put, and you need to pivot around it. It’s the same with the Greenland paddle, it doesn’t move relative to the water, and you have to “swing” your body and the kayak forward.”

I pictured his instructions in my head, imagining that I was jamming the paddle into a crack in a rock and pivoting over a chasm. Somehow this mental image made the paddle feel different in my hand, and I sensed more resistance from the water through the entire movement of the stroke.

“Yes, yes! You are looking better now. I can see how your torso is more natural now. If you tilt the angle forwards a little the fluttering will stop. Also try to push more with the upper hand rather than pulling with the lower. That will improve your movement even more.”

“Thanks. Maybe I need to give it a second chance, sometime.”

“There’s a guy in Victoria who teaches a course called “Secrets of the Greenland Paddle,” kind of a corny name, I know, but once you master it, it’s tough to ever want to go back. I’m definitely not going back. The greenland paddle way kinder on the joints once you get older. If you observe, most old guys like me prefer the Greenland paddle. It’s how you get to stay in this sport into your seventies, and eighties.”

Near McDougal Island on the base of the Brooks Peninsula we ran into very thick beds of kelp. I observed that there are two very distinct types of kelp. One type is a seaweed with broad leaves and a textured pattern that reminded me of the folds on the human brain and has many tiny air sacs to sustain it, and allow it to grow from seabed like an underwater tree. I would have named it Brain Kelp, but it already goes by the name Giant Kelp because of its enormous size, and in the summer, when the days are long, it grows three feet in a day.

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​The other type looks very different and is called the Bull Kelp. It has a single long hollow stem that rises from the seafloor and terminates into a large round bulb about as big as an orange. Both the bulb and the stem are very tough as though they were made of PVC pipe, and they make a knocking sound when tapped. From the bulb are strewn the bull kelp’s leaves which flutter with the flow of the current are like long serpentines from a carnival parade. Paddling over a bed of bull kelp requires lots of effort; the leaves stick to your kayak like thousands of little hands, and the floating bulbs get in the way like logs.

“Those are the Kraken’s tentacles.” JF said.

“They enthrall you like the giant squid monster.” I joked.

“You know, you can use bull kelp to pee in your kayak.. You take the bulb, cut the leaves off and then cut off the top of the bulb. You then just stick your willy in the hollow stem and whizz in it like a beer dispenser topping off a pint. Works really well.”

“Is that what you’ve doing at the back of the pack?”

“Exactly, very convenient, when you’re on your own, and there’s no place to land.”

“You will have to demonstrate for us how it’s done.”

We camped on the northside of the Brooks Peninsula in a place called “The Crabapple.”, I did not see any crabs or apples there, so I don’t know where the name came from. There was a slight southeast wind building up some strength, and we would want to plan carefully when we would decide to round Cape Cook.

“It’s looking like we will spend tonight and tomorrow night here folks.” Said JF. “But no worries this is a good spot to sit and wait for the right conditions.”

JF took the afternoon to catch some fish. He brought back five ling cods which he breaded and deep fried. “No Tofu tonight. We will save it for when the fish aren’t biting.”

Sea Kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation


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