Yesterday I had to do the first surf landing of the journey. It went just like an instructor would have demonstrated. I surfed in a three-foot green swell until just before the shore. When it was about to break, I made two back strokes to let go of the wave which crashed onto the steep sand, and I coasted gently to a stop with the foam pile.
The launching in the morning, however, was quite a bit tougher. The waves were dumping, and I opted to set up above the reach of the water. That meant I had to do the gorilla crawl down the sand and get picked up by a receding wave, but that hardly ever goes perfectly.
It took me two attempts. On the first try the rushing wave spun me sideways, and I had to get out and realign myself. One the second I was pulled down the beach straight as an arrow, but it happened together with a set of breakers wanting to push me back up the sand. The first wave I managed with two strong strokes to ride over before it broke, and the kayak bow thumbed loudly on the back side.
The second wave was a bit bigger, and it was set to break on top of me. I duck rolled under the foam pile which shook me with violence and carried me back some distance to the shore before releasing its grip. When I rolled back up, I was broadside to the next wave, which mercifully rolled gently underneath me, and gave me the breach needed to paddle out of the break zone where the sea was calm, and I had time to catch my breath.
The morning fog was even denser than yesterday and only began to dissipate once I reached the mouth of Port Renfrew Bay, where suddenly I caught the magnificent, if somewhat bittersweet, sight of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
“It’s almost over.” I thought.
The mist thinned quickly the closer I got to the back of the bay and soon the sun was bathing the landscape in a light so bright I had to squint my eyes even with sunglasses.
Along the north shore I passed by some rock features I recognized from my time here in the previous fall kayaking with Lee. There was a sea cave we had paddled into and a gap between two rocks which we could only paddle through on the crest of a wave. I felt the same strange sense from when I had paddled through the Surge Narrows almost a month ago. Everything you see in the journey is new and mysterious, and then suddenly you have a feeling of familiarity with the landscape, and you think, “Oh, I know this place. I know what’s around the next bend.”
I continued along the north shore of the bay until the mouth of the Gordon River where I knew there was a campsite with a boat landing, and some lovely colored barrel cottages I wanted to spend a night in. And fortunately, there was room.
Last time I was here in November the winds had been funneling large swells onto the beach. Today, interestingly, even though the offshore breeze was blowing from the same direction, the sea was flat and instead of waves, the wind was funneling a delicious smell of fried fish.
I followed my nose along the beach before crossing the bridge over the San Juan River past a small hamlet of houses and arrived at the Bridgman’s West Coast Eatery.
It must have been the only open restaurant in town as it was packed with a line spilling out the door and I waited an hour to get seated and could look through the menu.
“What is Caddy Lager? I asked the waiter.
“Oh, that is our local beer. Named for the cadborosaurus, the great sea serpent that lives in the Juan de Fuca Strait. Caddy is its nickname. ”
“Oh, so you folks have a version of the Loch Ness monster.”
“Except ours is real. People see it all the time. Though sometimes they say it’s a type of Basilosaurus or some kind of ancient whale. There’s not enough fish to sustain a sea monster in a freshwater lake in Scotland, but there’s plenty of prey in the ocean.”
Since I had never heard of Caddy Lagger, He offered me a free pint to try. After sipping the drink I concluded that the mythical cadborosaurus must definitely be real.
“Seems kind of like BudLight. ” I joked.
“I don’t think so. Canadian beer is less watery than the American varieties. BudLight’s flavor is closer to the sea snake’s pee.”
Sea Kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation