Kapitän's Paddling on Animal Planet Adventure Blog

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Kapitän von Klepper

Kapitän's Paddling on Animal Planet Adventure Blog

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

Christov_Tenn wrote:I really will start smashing things if I don't get some kayak time tomorrow.
Likewise I've been itching to get out and paddle for well over a month now, but it seems that whenever the conditions in my neighbourhood at Cattle Point Pass look favourable, I'm too busy to put a boat together, etc. Feeling a little left out, I finally looked at the tide chart and Googled the weather. According to what I was seeing, today would be a fine day to paddle. I announced my intentions here, (nothing like telling people you're going to do something to motivate yourself!) built up my single in the garage last night, etc.

Well, it was right before I was planning to head out I noticed I had glanced at the wrong tide chart the night before. It's Sun the 10th not the 17th, :oops: dogh!!! Anyway, I'd been daydreaming all through church in the morning about going paddling, so I took another glance at the chart and figured 6 inch per hour of flood at my target paddle time wouldn't be too challenging.

About this time you may be wondering what the big deal is. Well, this pass can look roughly like the Colorado River in flood if you have a major tidal change (1 - 3 ft per hour) in either direction. Combine that with an opposing wind and it can look like all Hades is breaking loose. :shock: Anyway the tide was in flood, meaning it was coming in, so if I were to find myself swept along in a rip, I'd be closer to Friday Harbour, not Victoria, -where I wouldn't have my Passport and would probably have to call Alec to come vouch for me. :roll: :lol:

Anyway I set off, rather enjoying the fact that I now only live a hundred yards from the beach. Kayak in tow, trudging along I heard some neighbour comment, "Look honey, some guy is dragging a kayak down the street!" :D

At the end of Driftwood Lane there is a large driftwood levee (go figure!) where a public beach access path goes through. I managed to get my cart through most of it till the very last. I had to schlep that bit, making a mental note to come down sometime with a wheel barrow to widen the path a bit. I can't say my community spirit doesn't have ulterior motives!

The water didn't seem too bad, -I was wearing my short wetsuit under my sailing foul weather gear; so no ankle gaskets. The air temp was around 46 and spitting rain, just like Dave said it was down the coast a bit.

I started straight for Goose Island (Centre map), noticing part way, there was a herd of 20 to 30 seals on the spit of beach and in the water. I slowed and stroked just enough to keep myself from being swept in the current. Suddenly the seals started going into the water and the entire group was swimming my way! Somewhere in the back of my mind I was becoming somewhat alarmed, wondering if they planned to dog pile me. As they got within 15 to 20 yards of me, they would plop underwater and come up to observe me from the other side.

I kept paddling and came around the south end of the island where there was a large rock with a flock of cormorants. They weren't as curious as the seals, and flew off as I rounded their rock. I was getting a little busy myself with sudden open water turbulence, so I didn't linger.

Once around I looked up at the Island from the east side and notice a very wet bald eagle just sitting on a rocky ridge. He didn't seem to mind me at all and just continued staring. -Was he too wet to fly?

Imagine my astonishment when a little further I saw an entire flock of Canada Geese! :o This island can't be much more than 80 yards long!

I decided at this point, despite a steady drizzle, paddling across the pass to Lopez Island wouldn't be such a bad outing. I aimed for a prominent bald rock on the shoreline and made rather good time. As I neared, I noticed an inlet just to the north of the bald rock. The water was somewhat calmer there and I thought it might make a good respite from the current I had fought going across. Sure enough it was a lot calmer, but I noticed my bald rock was an island and had a narrow channel on the other side.

There was a really serious current jetting through here and it was some quick reflexive river kayaking skills that kept me pointing into the current and not sweeping sideways as I eddied into it.

I paddled around this now island bald rock, not spotting much more than some wet gulls that were hunkered down and couldn't be bothered to move. By this time the rain was coming down a bit harder and it was time to head back to San Juan Is.

I made for the light house and Cattle Point National Historic Park interpretive beach and then drifted with the current back to my launching point. I was greeted again by my herd of seals just before I landed.

Not such a bad outing. I saw more wildlife in one brief paddle than I've seen in hours of paddling anytime in the past. As I began writing this, glancing out my window to Goose Island, 3 deer crossed my yard. This is Animal Planet!

Things I learned (Taking a que from Christov_Tenn):
1. Check the date on the tide chart before going out. :oops:
2. River handling skills are quite useful in tidal areas.
3. Honing up on some sculling and bracing strokes wouldn't hurt a bit around some of those turbulent rips.
4. The name of my bald rock island is Dead Man's Island, -Ouuuuuuh! :shock: Kind of sounds like something out of Treasure Island or Peter Pan, doesn't it? :?

Things I wonder about:
If Goose Island has flocks of geese on it, what does Dead Man's Island have on it? :?

-Andreas
Last edited by Kapitän von Klepper on Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Christov_Tenn

Post by Christov_Tenn »

It'd probably be a mistake to take a cue from me - I'm no expert and the stuff I "learn" is probably no-brainer to someone with more experience.

That's weird about the seals. I'd've been alarmed, too. I'm guessing their race-memory of having been hunted by guys in kayaks has faded somewhat.

PM me your address, and I'll try to get the wetsuit in the mail to you this week.

Chris

Oh yeah, meant to add that if the weather or tides are too contrary, a few hours in the local library or at the local historical society might be interesting and answer your questions about place names. It does sound kind of Peter Pan - is there a Skull-Head Island thereabouts?

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krudave
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Post by krudave »

That is common behavior for harbor seals (not sea lions). They are very curious ... plus they have learned that small vessels often distract salmon, making them easier pickings. Got followed by a lone seal for miles, up in BC, once.
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

Christov_Tenn wrote:- is there a Skull-Head Island thereabouts?
If you pan directly east (right), across Lopez Island to the middle of Lopez Channel there is a white dot, that's Fortress Island. Just east of that island is Skull Island.
If you ever get out here, we can take our pick of places to paddle.
I sailed up through Lopez Channel last June when I came out here. If you look just east of Decator Island (Just north of Skull Island), you'll see James Island. This is a State Park that offers great camping (and anchorage btw, Dave).

-Andreas

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krudave
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Post by krudave »

I know Lopez pretty well; James not at all. The San Juans are a bit crowded for me, but I have done some day-paddling up there; definitely on the radar for the mothership, however. Anchoring out avoids some of the crowding, especially in the shoulder seasons.

We are headed for the Gulf Islands, for sure, and also Barkley Sound, perhaps Clayoquot and Hesquiat as well, once we get our act together. We are completely new to power-boating, and will be exploring the envelope as we go.
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

krudave wrote:That is common behavior for harbor seals (not sea lions). They are very curious ... plus they have learned that small vessels often distract salmon, making them easier pickings. Got followed by a lone seal for miles, up in BC, once.
I wouldn't wonder they follow you for miles if they get this treatment from some people! :? There could be a real chance for dog piling if 20 or 30 showed up! :shock: If that happened I might need to get one of these to defend myself!

The guy that filmed the 1st one is a friend of mine from town. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Kvk or FKO.

-Andreas

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

I put a little "sweat equity" into the beach trail on the end of Driftwood Lane. I should now be able to take my kayak right down to the water. :)

-Andreas

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

Went out again this morning before work. The sweat equity paid off, and I've even seen other kayakers using the trail.

There was a decent slack this morning with a very slight flood toward 11:30 when I came back in. I went out as far as Whale Rocks which are off the coast of Lopez. There I saw a herd of rather grumpy sea lions. They are rather alarming in their size and the growling they make can be disconcerting. They seemed to be growling at each other until I got within 80 yards or so and then they combined their efforts in a chorus in my general direction. I got downwind of them and whew! :o They smelled like a cannery! While I was watching them, the flood current swept me in closer and the chorus became deafening and a bit more earnest. As I paddled hurriedly around the corner, I noticed with some alarm them splashing down, but it seems they were making for the other rock.
A little bit of traffic out there, a Coast Guard cutter, a porpoise ,a couple of fishing boats and another kayaker.

-Andreas

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Post by krudave »

Kap. those sound like Stellers, exceot they are not common. Californias usually do not make a lot of growling or roaring noise. More of a throat clearing sound for Californias.

Stellers are lighter in color and much larger. Also much less numerous. they prefer more remote locations.
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

Thanks, Much obliged! :D I would have thought they were walruses from their size and colour if they'd had tusks. They positively dwarfed my boat :shock: . You're right they, had a fawn colour and their growls were deep and guttural. I'll try to get pics next time I'm around there.

-Andreas

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

Went out again during the morning low slack. Tides have been a real rollercoaster with the Full Moon. BTW Did anyone get a good view of the Eclipse last night? Morning low was +5 (over 0) As I paddled past Goose Island I heard a slurping noise like from a submerged cave. I paddled in and found the top just at +5. Now I'm making a note to go out at -1 or -2 some time, just to see the extent of this cave.

Paddled out to Whale Rocks again and saw my Stellars again. Last time I thought they might be agressive, but now I've decided they are just really shy like Dave said. When they see a threat, they prefer to be in the water.

I also saw the eagle again. He was on Whale Rocks and appeared to be taking advantage of the gulls. He seems to be a jouvinile and might be in the middle of a molt. It seems spring has sprung. :)

Also saw a herd of porpoises, this time about 4 to 6. They seemed to be frolicking in the current, perhaps fishing. They have very short dorsal fins and noses. They didn't seem to mind me, however I never got closer than 20 or 30 yards.

I had harbour seals regularly coming up behind me while I paddled. They'd blow when they came up which ususally alerted me to their presence. When I'd look back they'd have that look on their faces that dogs often have when they're posturing partial submission. :?

The Harbour Seals differ from the Stellar Sea Lions in size and colour. The seals have gray/whitish coats and seem to be the size of a mid sized dog. The sea lions have faun coloured coats and seem to be the size of black bears.

Dave, any idea of what sort of bird would be black, slightly smaller than gulls and have longer orange beaks?

-Andreas

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Post by krudave »

Sounds like oystercatchers.
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

As described in another thread, the weather has been less than pristine here, so I haven't paddled much in the last while.
Wildlife has begun invading our home. We already have to keep the garbage in the garage for our trips to the dump, but the deer just leveled our flowers and parsley.
We also darent let the cats out for fear of aerial attack. (The cats are petite) Speaking of aerial attack, our bird feeder is a cycle of life bird feeder. The bird seed baits the finches for the eagles... :? Oh, and our bird feeder doesn't have a squirrel problem. :twisted: The eagles have eaglets which make high pitched peeping noises when they are being fed, which now seems all of the time.
Now maybe we should replace the bird seed with sardines to attract gulls for the eagles instead... :?

-Andreas

kayakamper

Post by kayakamper »

Kapitän von Klepper wrote:As described in another thread, the weather has been less than pristine here, so I haven't paddled much in the last while.
Wildlife has begun invading our home. We already have to keep the garbage in the garage for our trips to the dump, but the deer just leveled our flowers and parsley.
We also darent let the cats out for fear of aerial attack. (The cats are petite) Speaking of aerial attack, our bird feeder is a cycle of life bird feeder. The bird seed baits the finches for the eagles... :? Oh, and our bird feeder doesn't have a squirrel problem. :twisted: The eagles have eaglets which make high pitched peeping noises when they are being fed, which now seems all of the time.
Now maybe we should replace the bird seed with sardines to attract gulls for the eagles instead... :?

-Andreas
Besides pigeons, we here on the East Coast call those blasted gulls flying rats. Speaking of wildlife, Saturday, the day after the Tornado struck our fair city ( just blocks away from here by the way ), I spotted a rather large female Turkey in the back yard. I invited her to stay until November, but she declined and instead continued to wander off.

Tornados can wreak havock in many strange ways. :shock:

Chris

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

I've not been taking advantage of my paddling the way I should. Anyway, I went out today just before high tide. I must have caught the current just after maximum flood as it was some of the roughest I've ever paddled out there. :shock: Anyway I survived but it was roughly like being caught in the chop of 4 boats trying to buzz me all at once in opposite directions. I could never tell which way the next swell was going to hit me. When I started out I was trying to gauge for the leading edge of slack, but I must have gone out maybe an hour too soon. :roll: -The paddle back was pretty flat however. :lol:

I was originally aiming for Whale Rocks to get another distant view of my friends the stellar sea lions (no point in purposefully disturbing them, both impolite and against the law) but just on the other side of Goose Island, the chop started up. It was somewhat deceiving; at first it wasn't so bad, but then the further I paddled, the worse it got until I was getting down right uncomfortable. I altered course and made a b-line for Lopez and Deadmans Islands. I got between these and the current was flooding fairly a river, so to head out into the sound, I had paddle pretty hard. -But at least I was out of that hellacious chop.

In this little channel there were some harbour seals that were a real light dapple grey (sorry for the horsey speak). They were perched on some barely submerged rocks, giving them the appearance of laying on top of the water.

On the other side of Deadman's Island I kept to the shallows and paddled for Mummy Rocks (What's with these morbid names?) and then for Long Island which was my original goal.

At Long Island I got the impression that it was longer at low tide and became a series of archipelagos at high tide when all of the outlying rocks became their own islands. None of them seem to have names. Anyway there were quite a few Canada geese and a few of what I took to be pin tail ducks around in the water. Quite a few eagles as well.

I circumnavigated Long Island. On the way back west I came in between it and Lopez. There were signs every 20 yards or so "Keep Out" etc. so I didn't bother to land. I expected to see a house somewhere, but the beach shack I finally saw was barely big enough for a kids play house. I don't suppose they spend too awfully long there. :?

As described earlier the paddle back was in slack so much flatter. I made a straight line for Goose Island and home.

All told I paddled maybe 11 or 12 Klms and I am realising how much more paddle time I'm going to need if I really intend to keep up with the gang at the West Coast FK meeting, let alone paddle across.

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