Sunday, May 17, 2015

Vancouver Island Adventure: Kayaking the Broken Group Islands II

This is the second of a few posts about a week-long trip kayaking/camping in the Broken Group Islands in Canada's Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  For the first post about this trip, click here. Read the third and last post here.

The adventure continues... 

Day 3, Dodd Island to Turret Island
We knew going in that the weather in May can be unstable and iffy here on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island.

Sure enough, after a sunny, calm Sunday to start our trip, Monday morning brings gray skies and rising wind. Forecasts advised that the bluebird weekend would be followed by rain and wind on Monday and Tuesday.

According to weather geek John, who brought a weather radio to check marine forecasts, the wind will increase this afternoon and rain will come too. (He also brought a data stick to check the temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure, which is dropping. Gotta love engineers.)

All packed and about to leave Dodd Island.
Our goal is to paddle out to Clarke Island, one of the outermost islands facing the open Pacific Ocean. Midmorning we shove off and pass through the protected waters between Dodd, Willis, and Turtle islands, tucked close together. 

Things get more lively while crossing Thiepval Channel over to Turret Island, with increasing wind and chop. 

And then the weather turns quickly, with heavy rain and wind blowing in as we paddle along Turret Island toward Coaster Channel. I longingly eye a protected inlet we pass and suggest sneaking in to wait out the sudden storm (that wasn't supposed to hit until afternoon), but the Three Guys don't hear me and continue with apparent ease through the rough seas.

"You're not moving forward," shouts Chris while I stroke as hard as I can, struggling to make any headway around the tip of Turret Island where two channels and an incoming squall are converging. Finally John clips a tow line to my kayak and helps me around, my pride thoroughly swallowed. I thank him later because it was a wise thing to do. (Guys definitely have an upper body strength advantage.)

Approaching Turret Island campsite landing as the downpour persists.

We're all soaking wet and tired (well, I am), so we abort crossing Coaster Channel to Clarke and instead opt to camp on Turret Island. 

Shortly after we land, the rain thankfully subsides for a few hours. Once again, we're the only ones out here and have the campsite to ourselves.

Looking towards Lovett Island and Vancouver Island beyond.
Day 4, Turret Island
All night it rained hard while we lay cozy in our tents, with tarps strung above for extra protection. Turret Island is actually my favorite campsite of the week, set about 30 feet above a lovely cove and surrounded by lush, mossy forest.

When we finally emerge from our tents Tuesday morning, smiles all around. Blue skies and sunshine!

Instead of packing up and heading over to Clarke to camp as we originally planned, we decide to layover on Turret and explore land and sea. After breakfast we gear up to retrace our path during yesterday's storm and then head out toward the open ocean.

C'est moi alongside Turret Island shoreline. Photo by John Green.

Paddling in the Broken Group really is exploring an enchanting marine wonderland.  We find sweet little coves and inlets where we just float, watch fish dart beneath our kayaks, and spot colorful sea stars and sea anemones clinging to rocks.

"Let's go through this opening and check out whether we can paddle around Lovett Island," says Chris. With the tide (and ocean swells) rising, we all shoot through a little gap between islands and venture toward the open Pacific on the outside of Lovett.

Alden has been saying he wants to paddle in ocean swells, and here we are. It's definitely swelling now.  As we get farther out, the swells get more impressive.

Soon I can't even see the guys directly in front of me when I drop on the backside of a big swell. John later estimates the swells were "only" about 1.5 meters (about 5 feet, just a couple inches shorter than me). It's exhilarating and a bit scary.
Not the big swells, but open ocean ahead to the right.

When I see humongous waves crashing and breaking just offshore of Lovett Island and know we have to paddle a ways farther out into the open ocean to get around them, I wimp out and protest.

Someone has to be the voice of excessive caution, right?

So it's back to Turret for a relaxing afternoon. I pull out my sketch pad and draw, take pictures, hang out damp gear to dry, and later with the guys watch the gorgeous sunset. Tonight Chris builds a beach fire, and we gather around the warm flames and embers on the beach.

A perfect end to a fun day.

Dusky glow
Read the third and final post here as we continue exploring the beautiful Broken Group Islands in relative solitude. In between blog posts, visit Pacific Northwest Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more photos. Thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons!

When You Go
For information about kayaking and camping in the Broken Group Islands, check out the Parks Canada Pacific Rim National Park Preserve website.  Go if you can before peak season (July-August) for more solitude and a true wilderness feel. Also, you have to bring your own water, as there is no potable water in the islands.


Lesley said...

Great adventure!

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