The Royal Round Solo (Part The Second)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by kayakwriter, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    On July 29th, I launched early in the morning from the beach on Campania. Driftwood skids made getting out on a falling tide easier.


    The wind was strong from the south, creating big seas out on the open water, so I put up the sail and, as much as possible, dodged and weaved through the archipelago of islets on Campania’s west side.


    With my attention fully occupied with high speed “micro-navigation” – i.e. not sailing and surfing my fully loaded boat onto rocks or reefs, the GPS came in handy for “macro-navigation” – making sure I wasn’t heading down any dead ends between the islets. At one point, I did have to get out and walk my boat through one shallow bottleneck, but after making a scraped offering of gelcoat to the sea gods, I slipped into open channels once more.

    Having made my right hand turn through Otter Passage at the north end of Campania, I attempted to cross Squally Channel to Fin Island. The seas were peaky, but only occasionally spilling. For the first ten minutes, that is. Then the wind blew up and churned the channel into a sea of whitecaps. I turned north from my previous eastbound course and ran for the cover of the Cherry Islets. The following seas had me up to my elbows in green water at times, but the sail was once again a help, giving me at least an additional knot of speed for my escape, and helping me prevent broaching.

    It was with relief that I eddied out into the lee of the Cherry Islets. Thanks again to John K’s Wild Coast, I found a perfectly constructed one-tent shell ledge on the eastmost Islet.


    Safely ashore, looking back south towards Otter Channel. If the camera adds ten pounds to people, I'm sure it takes two feet off seas and swells. Those waves sure felt a lot bigger when I was out in them!


    I awoke at 5AM the next morning to the sound of wind howling through the trees. No crossing Squally Channel at the moment, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. (It’s quiet amazing how on a trip, I can get up and go when needed, and store up sleep when paddling’s not possible.) Once I did emerge, after 9AM, it was not raining, but it was windy enough to make it quite cold. I consoled myself with a couple of delightfully gooey toasted cheese and bacon sandwiches for brunch.


    Late that afternoon, as I emerged from a run to fill up my water bags at a stream in the lee of the Cherry Islets, I realized the wind had reduced from ridiculous to merely strong, and the channel was now mostly green water with the occasional white exclamation mark. I scrambled back to camp and packed as quickly as possible. Making 4+ knots paddle-sailing, I got across Squally Channel in a couple of exciting hours, and to my campsite at the northeast corner of Fin Island not long after that.
    (click below for video)
    http://s287.photobucket.com/albums/ll15 ... 300376.mp4


    What with my late landing the night before, I slept in until 6AM next day, and still got on the water for 9AM. I crossed to Gil Island. Coming down the east coast of Gil, I found vast fields of tube worms in the intertidal zone. Although they are animals, these ones look like blood red flowers – rather appropriate, for nearby, two crosses commemorate the two passengers never found when The Queen Of The North sank here a few years back. I’d sailed on that vessel several times over the years. It was quite weird to think of it as a wreck hundreds of feet below me on the sea floor.



    On a happier note, the weather was the best so far on the trip. Even in the light airs, I was able to sail back down towards Princess Royal Island by putting both sails up (the wind had obligingly shifted from southerly to northerly).


    Oddly, I couldn’t find the supposed campsites at the northeast corner of Princess Royal Island (I may have overshot them.) After farting around looking at ugly cobble beaches and tangled northern jungle that wouldn’t take tent or hammock, I glanced at my watch, saw it was only 17HRs, and thought “Screw it – it’s only a bit over 12 nautical miles to Butedale and we’re into the longest days of the year – I’ll go there.” Just after I’d set off, and rounded Kingcome Point, I ran into four northbound kayakers – the first folks I’d talked to in nine days.

    For the next four hours, I paddled like a machine down Frazer Reach. The weather was warm, the wind calm, the current not too badly against me, and I was in the zone, fit from days of paddling, so it was a magic run. I reached Butedale at 21HRs. As I stood there on the floating docks, drained and a bit dazed, I was hailed from one of the recreational fishing boats tied up, and offered a big bowl of fresh fish chowder and a lavishly buttered bun. What a warm welcome for a weary traveller.

    to be continued...
     

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  2. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Great documentary! Love the read.

    "The following seas had me up to my elbows in green water at times."
    Love this description. I’m gonna write this down and use it as my own some day.

    “If the camera adds ten pounds to people, I'm sure it takes two feet off seas and swells. Those waves sure felt a lot bigger when I was out in them!”
    Oh yeah. I am totally stealing this from you.

    “After farting around looking at ugly cobble beaches and tangled northern jungle that wouldn’t take tent or hammock, I glanced at my watch, saw it was only 17HRs, and thought “Screw it”
    A pretty typical day on the coast, yeah?
    “Tangled northern jungle that wouldn’t take a tent or hammock”.
    That's a brilliant description. When I use that one I’ll think of you and try to remember to give you the credit.

    Seriously, this is a fun read!

    Jon
     
  3. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    Imimitation is the sincerest form of plagurism. Or something. Seriously, glad you're enjoying the read. Third chapter is up now.
     
  4. SheilaP

    SheilaP Paddler

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    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Ah Phillip,

    How I do miss you. I love the luxury solo tour! Just say NO! to all those minimalists, eh?

    I would love to do a solo trip with you some year. :mrgreen:
     
  5. seaserge

    seaserge Paddler

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    Aug 27, 2010
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    Location:
    terrace bc
    kayakwriter, that tent shelf that you talk about on cherry island is the one i made a week or so earlier! It is so cool to read your trip and crossing of campania area,I had similar seas and weather! I did the trip solo also ,i will try to post some of my pics. I barely saw any humans except for motorboats at a distance.That would have been cool to meet out there. I live in terrace and i will be paddling the north coast this summer again let me know if you will do more trips this way again. salut, seaserge
     
  6. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    Well, a sincere, if belated, thank you to my benefactor! It was really heartening to find a pre-made platform after being blown off the water like that.

    I'd love to see them and read about your journey. It's always interesting to get someone else's take on an area. Changing weather and tides means everyone experiences it differently.

    Likewise. On the run down to Butedale, I ran into a group of northbound kayakers - the first folks I'd talked to in nine days. But I actually rather like the solitude on solo trips.

    I don't think I'll be doing any outer coast trips this year, but I'll keep you posted. And if you come south, drop me a line.