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.Christov_Tenn wrote:I really will start smashing things if I don't get some kayak time tomorrow.
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, 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. 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.
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!"
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! 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.
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! 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?