August 18 I visit Vancouver annually, as my mom lives there, and I use the opportunity to get out on English Bay. The Jericho Beach Ecomarine is just 4 blocks from her apartment, so my preferred arena is English Bay/Burrard Inlet. This year I had a detailed plan, which included launching at 10 am to take advantage of the ebb tide, heading west from Jericho Beach, going around the point to Wreck Beach, and possibly a bit farther down. What I did not realize was that the tides at this time were particularly low, which exposed a greater than usual expanse of beach at low tide. This was not obvious from Jericho Beach. I picked up my boat, a Boreal Designs Narwhal, from Ecomarine, and launched in 15 knot winds. I was heading into the wind going out, which, again, was planned, as I figured it would be easier to fight the wind going out than coming back. ;-) As I proceeded along, a good distance off shore, it became obvious that there was exposed beach much farther out than I had anticipated, so I veered farther out into the bay, making a beeline for the shipping channel marker. As I got closer, I saw that there was beach, then some shallows, then an exposed sandbar way out almost all the way to the shipping channel. I made the decision to see if I could get through the shallows. This worked for a while but then I bottomed out and I had no choice but to get out and pull the boat to the sandbar. On one side of the sandbar was shallow, calm water. On the other side was deep water, with surf. A nice guy came along with his dog and helped me carry the boat to the other side of the sandbar, and there I sat, ate a sandwich, and contemplated my options. I really was not ready to go back yet, so after my snack I launched into the surf and headed up around the outside of the sandbar towards the shipping channel. Then one of the huge boats moored out in the bay started blowing its horn and moving towards the channel. I decided that, even though I was not going to be in the boat’s way, he might THINK I was, and at any rate, if I went on around I would either have to return via the same route (which would likely seem a long way by that time!) or wait until high tide (many hours) to avoid doing so. So with reluctance, I turned around and headed back. Having the wind behind me was nice in a way, but as you all know, following seas are weird. I didn’t much like not being able to SEE the waves coming, but I gradually got used to feeling the very beginnings of the lift and using that to get ready for the push from behind. I made it back in no time, and went on down past Ecomarine a bit before turning back and turning in the boat. I’d been out about 2.5 hours, and decided that I definitely wanted MORE! So I signed up to go out again the next day. August 19 Again, I launched at low tide, around 10 am, but this time I headed towards the city, and then around Stanley Park. I had the same boat as the day before. I liked the boat a lot, other than a sticky rudder cord, which gave me a few bad moments when I could NOT get it up when doing a surf landing! The wind was again about 15 knots, and the wind waves were pretty high. There were sailboats EVERYWHERE, including a camp full of kids I had to negotiate around! Going over wasn’t too bad, despite the wind. I put in at a beach just short of Siwash Rock, had a snack, and then launched again. I got a lot of practice doing surf launches and landings on this trip! By now the wind had picked up and it was coming at such an angle that, were I to have headed straight across the bay to Jericho Park, the waves would have been hitting me broadside. As this seemed like a Bad Idea, I headed for a point quite a big west of Jericho, planning to double back once I got closer. This course put me right in amongst the Big Boats! Those boats are HUGE!! They all had their anchors down and were not moving, so I was not worried about going that way. I was out in the middle of the bay, father out and in more wind/waves than I had ever been when by myself, but while I was careful and cognizant that I needed to be cautious, I wasn’t a big afraid. I think that all the times I’ve gone out on area lakes this past year intentionally when it was windy have paid off. I feel pretty comfortable in strong wind and high waves, and know how to direct the boat to avoid getting into trouble. I felt really good about that, especially as it shows that my time here in TN has not been wasted. I AM improving and I am making good use of non-ocean time to prepare for when I CAN get on real water. It was a long way across the bay at the angle I chose, and I was fighting the wind. So it was just over 3 hours after launch when I returned to Ecomarine. I had a veggie dog at the concession booth and was visited by a friendly gull. What a great 2 days of paddling! Next year I think I’ll cross the inlet altogether!