I try to make at least one kayaking trip to British Columbia every year. As much as I love our beautiful Washington waters, I must admit BC is the west coast’s kayaking mecca. I’d go there every day if I could. Unfortunately, I don’t have time these days to take the kind of week-long or month-long trips that are my preferred mode of travel. All of my recent trips have been two- or three-day affairs. The best kayaking spots in BC are at least half a day’s drive from Seattle, which is too far for such short trips. But what if, instead of merely kayaking in BC, I tried kayaking to BC? The straight-line distance to Discovery Island, BC from San Juan County Park—the best boat launch on San Juan Island—is only about 9 miles (15 km). With good weather and careful attention to currents, I could paddle across Haro Strait and get my trip to Canada without a long drive. 00 Route map. 01 Leaving Smallpox Bay. Wind is the big threat in Haro Strait, but I had perfect conditions. 02 Southern Gulf Islands. These, too, are an enticing destination but out of range of this trip. Haro Strait is the best place in the San Juans to see orcas, and the Orca Network has reported numerous sightings of J pod within the last couple of days. Regrettably, there were no orcas when I crossed the strait, but a pair of Dall’s porpoises made an excellent consolation prize. One surfaced just ten feet in front of my kayak, gave a kind of started gasp, and plunged back underwater with a splash. Perhaps he didn’t have his sonar on, or maybe he just wanted to play with me. The ebb tide helpfully pulled me south down Haro Strait at a steady three knots. I was careful to complete the crossing before getting pulled too far south, lest I get sucked out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 03 Cadboro Point. Hugging the shore here ensured the helpful currents didn’t help a little too much. 04 Marbled murrelets in Cadboro Bay. I was hoping for, but did not see, ancient murrelets, which sometimes flock with marbled murrelets in winter. My first stop was the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Cadboro Bay. The yacht club was several miles out of my way, but I must clear customs, and the yacht club had the nearest telephone reporting site. The yachties here were so proud of their club, their boats didn’t just claim “Victoria” as their port of registry; they claimed “RVYC Victoria!” Clearing customs was such a quick process the ebb tide was still running when I exited Cadboro Bay to cross to the Chatham and Discovery Islands. The current in the Baynes Channel narrows was absolutely tearing along, so fast I missed my intended target of Strongtide Island and was nearly carried beyond the Chathams altogether! Luckily, I managed to reach sheltered waters behind the westernmost cluster of islets, just before being swept out into Juan de Fuca Strait. From there, I was able to crawl my way back up the island chain using back eddies and the occasional frantic sprint against the current to regain Strongtide Island—a name that fits only too well. Once I entered the heart of the Chathams, the ebbing current’s southward flow was favorable to my plans. I cruised through a lovely watery maze with scarcely any effort. 05 Pigeon guillemot in Baynes Channel. A lot of alcids, mergansers, cormorants, and loons came to Baynes Channel to intercept fish being swept through. 06 Channel between Strongtide and Vantreight Islands. These little bays created eddies without which I couldn’t have navigated the Chatham Islands. 07 Harbor seals in Chatham Islands. The seals here must see a lot of kayakers, because they were singularly uninterested in me. 08 Greater yellowlegs in Chatham Islands. This is one of our most handsome shorebirds. 09 South side of Discovery Island. The currents here were markedly weaker than the north side of the island or in the Chathams. CONTINUED IN NEXT POST.