Around the Brooks, with help from the Uchuck

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by nootka, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    In late June 2016 I boarded the Uchuck III in Gold River for a ride to Kyuquot, where I was wet launched via their cargo winch/crane.
    I then paddled back to Gold River after a detour to the Brooks Peninsula.



    Trip report is at
    http://www.alyak.ca/TripReports/Brooks2016.html

    With thanks to
    Uncle Dave for proofreading
    Robyn B for sharing a wet launch photo
    Doug & Lila for sharing their campsite
    the BCMTN volunteers for beach cleanup

    If someone has already named those beaches, please let me know.

    cheers,
    Al
     
  2. paddlesores

    paddlesores Paddler

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    Al, nice to have met you on this trip. Great report. Thanks for the idea of the voice recorder for weather reports, will be picking one up shortly.
    May even take you up on the Surge offer if we can find the time this summer. Lila still talks about your Aleut paddle, if you ever think about selling it let her know first, pretty sure she wouldn't even ask how much. :)

    Doug
     
  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Great report Nootka. Superb job detailing those long days. 50 kilometers??!! You got an outboard strapped to the stern of that kayak?

    Loved the extensive use of Google Earth.
     
  4. Seasider

    Seasider Paddler

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    Good trip Al!
    Paddling around the Brooks is on most adventurous paddlers list. Five or six years ago I paddled from my campsite on Guilliams Island to Cape Cook with a rising wind forecast. I ended up camping at the Cape for two nights and became very familiar with the 300m rock and pebble beach while waiting for a gale to subside.
    This reminds me of winds there so I have a question for you: As you know, the VI north wind forecast is often 10 knots higher south of the Brooks . It would make sense that this would be the effect of the peninsula on winds but I don't know for sure. What are your findings on this?
     
  5. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    I ended up camping at the Cape for two nights and became very familiar with the 300m rock and pebble beach while waiting for a gale to subside.
    I'd sure like to see pics & details of that beach!

    As you know, the VI north wind forecast is often 10 knots higher south of the Brooks . It would make sense that this would be the effect of the peninsula on winds but I don't know for sure. What are your findings on this?
    I'm hardly an expert, but here's my 2 cents:
    -winds recorded are from the top of Solander, which should be higher than those at ocean level
    -since the wind is recorded (and reported) every hour at both Solander, and South Brooks, one can follow the trend. But the upload times differ, and possibly the times the vhf broadcast contains the new info differs. I found a wait of close to an hour between the Solander upload time and when the new number made it on air.
    -winds can easily increase in magnitude as they funnel into the gap between Cape Cook and Solander Is. You wouldn't think Solander would be much of an obstruction, but it must have some effect. Both directions this trip, I could sail between Cape Cook and the corner just south of it, but winds were lighter before and after.
    -this trip made me think that the phrase "south of the Brooks" actually means "near the South Brooks buoy". It, and Solander, are the two main data points for whatever wind model programs that generate the forecast.
    -the peninsula blocks both NW and SE winds, but they go over the top and down the valleys. I've hit strong outflow winds on all 3 sides of the peninsula.
    -on another trip, I was camped at Battle Bay and would have moved camp to the south Brooks, but the forecast was for high NW winds. I day tripped over to the islands immediately east of Paradise Beach and the winds were insignificant. If I was now travelling anywhere between Spring Island and Paradise Beach, I would travel close to shore and almost ignore any forecast of NW winds.
    -after looking at the vizaweb forecasts for a while (they are no longer publicly available), I consider the west coast N & S forecasts to be good guidelines, but only guidelines. If the wind is high anywhere in the forecast area, that is what you hear. The wind where you are might actually be zero.

    -I eagerly await the day I can get sailflow or similar forecasts, via satellite, anywhere I'm paddling.
     
  6. Seasider

    Seasider Paddler

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    When I return to the Baja this winter I plan on using a sat phone for forecasts. I will have someone from home send me a daily voicemail with reports from Sailflow and Buoyweather.
     
  7. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    I bet a lot of us would like you to share the tale of how you ended up on that beach.
     
  8. Seasider

    Seasider Paddler

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    My trip plan included stopping at this beach so I didn't just end up there. I can see how my wording could indicate a lack of planning though.While I was researching the trip I found an image that showed the landing area on a calm day. I did a quick online search for it but could not find it.
    Anyway, I decided to stop at Guilliams Island for the night. I would describe this campsite as ok for a plastic boat(mine was fiberglass) with a rocky shelf to pull out on and a fairly steep lowering of the boat through a narrow ,but protected crack in the rocks.
    A nw gale had been forecast for the next day and when I listened to the updated forecast the next morning, winds were to reach gale force early in the afternoon. Wind was calm as I contemplated what to do. Should I stay another day, paddle back to another more interesting camp or carry on to the cape. By the time I made the decision to paddle to the cape, the wind had just started to add ripples to the water. I'm not a big believer in sudden wind changes so thought I would make it before it got too severe. I was confident in a reasonably safe landing and the added excitement of the forecast was appealing in a strange sort of way.
    As I paddled towards my destination,I kept my eye on the shore and made sure there was an emergency landing site every km or so. There were some pocket beaches that could be used to get off the water so I kept going. When I rounded the big rock wall that makes up Cape Cook, that was the point of no return and by this time the wind had also risen to fifteen knots and I was starting to slide down the 2m swells. A few minutes later and with a surge of adrenaline I veered to the left and into the flatter but frothy reef and threaded my way through to a spot that looked suitable.
    This was one of my earlier expeditions, so I didn't know what to expect if I ended up in the water, but was confident and hopeful that it wouldn't be a big deal this close to shore. Sure enough, as I got to within about 50m of shore there was a sudden surge as I was pushed over a bit of a reef and and I could feel my boat tipping. I had thought about what to do, so I was out of the cockpit before the boat tipped completely and sent me crashing into rock. I swam to the front, grabbed my throw line and started swimming for shore. With a great sense of relief and quite frankly, accomplishment, I easily made it to shore. The water was cold and the wind steadily rose so I kept wearing my 5mil wetsuit as I set up camp.
    Looking back, it was a bit reckless but I have always been that way. These days I am still considered a bit reckless by many, but a fair bit of thought goes into what I do. If you want to see people who are meticulous planners that are also extremely reckless, then watching a few wingsuit videos is always good entertainment :D
     
  9. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    Thanks!

    Good to know that a forced landing there might not be a disaster.


    Has anybody landed at any of these beaches?
     
  10. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    I thought that Dave Resler and I had landed at “C” for lunch in August 2013. Now that I revisit the satellite images and photos that I took there I realize that we had landed at “B” instead. Mike Sheehan and his crew (The Forever & Ever Boyz) told us about “C” which they called Cape Camp. They spent time camping there in past years. The photos he gave me of the cove and their descriptions indicates that getting in and out can be dependent on tides and conditions.

    Dave and I thought that we had landed at Cape Camp on a 4.3 foot tide with calm winds and seas. Instead we were at “B” which has a pretty boney approach with lots of rocks to dodge but other than that no big deal. With conditions at that tide level it would probably be a rough landing. The beach is nice gravel but as I recall the upper part slopes significantly so surge might be an issue with a high-ish tide level. If you know Mike check with him or some of the other guys.
     
  11. Seasider

    Seasider Paddler

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    Well, that trip about ties with one more for sketchy situations as far as kayaking goes for me. There must be others on this forum who have experiences to share. I am interested in what other people have experienced while pushing the envelope. Or even not pushing the envelope. Even if the most sketchy situation has been on the way to the beach-armed robbery, run off the road by logging truck or even swerved to miss a deer. And Al, you must have a few interesting experiences on the water. I would like to hear about them.
     
  12. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Sketchy situations ... sounds good. Start a thread, guys.
     
  13. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    Thanks Jon.

    I'm not sure which beach this one is, but it's not somewhere I'd want to attempt landing in a storm.
     
  14. Doug_Lloyd

    Doug_Lloyd Paddler

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    Guys,
    All those beaches are approachable in calm conditions. Sheehan and Blades probably landed all the outer perimeter ones at one time or another. At low tide with a bit of swell you might be asking for hull damage. I've landed a few of them at higher tide levels but it's more like Russian Roulette dodging breaking rocks now below the surface that are easy enough to read between sandy gravely underwater sections forefronting these beaches but controlling your fully laden kayak as the waves carry you invariably towards what often transpires into dubious line to the beach is severely gut-wrenching, even on milder days. It's gut-wrenching just to sit offshore and contemplate a possible route. I cracked my heavily reinforced Nordkapp hull rather nicely just in the lee of Cape Cooke once (tiny pocket beach). When the seas are really going off, Banks Reef is a thing of beauty. A no-mans land of exploding near-shore and off-shore breakers between bus and car sized rocks. Staying close to shore to avoid stronger winds is to run a gauntlet with truly white knuckles. But what other self-propelled craft other than a sea kayak could do that with such élan and competency? Sketchy? It's all relative.
     
  15. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Nicely said.
     
  16. Seasider

    Seasider Paddler

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    I agree that it's often best to wax poetically about the conditions from shore than to experience them directly.