Youngest circumnavigation of Vancouver Island??

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by Maddie, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    Maddie and Dan

    Doug Taylor and I tested ourselves with a ten day trip on the west coast, paddling from Tofino to Hesquiat harbour and back, in 2007, prior to our 2008 circumnavigation. Well worth it. It was the first time I had really exposed myself to west coast conditions.

    We paddled in surf, wind and currents during the winter before the trip.

    Your goal is doable. The single most important thing is - GIVE YOURSELVES ENOUGH TIME. Mistakes are often made because people are in a hurry having underestimated the time the trip will take.

    Or they are too enthusiastic - witness our 1 day out of 42 when we made a poor decision; to launch when we should have stayed on the beach. But you do have to be able to cope with the consequences of your less good decisions (see the thread in Paddling Safety called "Swimming with a Kayak" for photographic evidence of our Bad Decision day).

    One of the questions you will have to deal with is, is this an expedition by father and daughter (with paternal decision making) or of two nearly equal kayakers who jointly decide on policy/strategy? I would have thought that even if it is the former, a series of "meetings" between the two of you to decide on exactly what the aim of the expedition is, and the manner of its execution, would be sensible. Doug and I actually drew up a written contract covering all the issues we thought we would face. And each of us had the complete power of veto over things like whether or not we would paddle on a particular day. I would not now go on a multiday trip without a contract - it isn't the bit of paper that matters, it is the process that results in the contract that is important.
     
  2. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    And we'll be doing similar this year.


    If we go (and we likely will), we will have roughly a few more than sixty days to do the trip. I'm estimating that we'll paddle an average of 30 kms per day -- that would take us about 40 days of paddling to do the trip leaving 20 plus days extra for dealing with weather and rest days. If we get held up anywhere and we find that we can't complete the journey in that time frame we will stop wherever we are and have the option of continuing to finish the trip the following year. I certainly don't think there would be any shame in such a decision if it's warranted. This is not going to be a race -- we want to enjoy the trip and take in as much of the scenery and our surroundings as we possibly can.


    I recall that thread and just took another look -- not much that I can say here except that I do hope that we'll be able to avoid such situations.


    Good points Jonathan, perhaps you could let me know more about the process that you used? It sounds like a good idea. I think it would be fair and realistic to say that I will mostly have the final say, but if Maddie at any time says to me that she doesn't feel comfortable (for whatever reason), we'll stay put until we both feel OK with proceeding.

    I've no desire to put my daughter or myself in a position of peril by neglecting safety and good judgement -- in the end, there's a lot of other places that we want to paddle and we want to be around after this trip to do them. We will be paddling with a very, very conservative mindset.

    We haven't committed to do this trip yet and there are a lot of considerations to make before we do -- actually, in the short time that we've been thinking about this trip I'm finding it a bit amazing just how many considerations there are. Once you start thinking about such a big trip, there certainly are a lot of details to deal with. We'll both be very busy over the next year and a half taking courses (paddling, first aid, communications, etc), training, and planning -- the journey of preparing for this trip will be an exciting one all of it's own.

    I really appreciate all the comments and concerns from everyone. Thanks, and please do continue to let us know your thoughts.

    *****
     
  3. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    Some of those pesky details

    Dan: you probably know all this stuff, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to throw out an initial list and get the experts to add to it.

    courses to take:
    -wilderness first aid
    -marine radio licence
    -rolling
    -surf

    skills to acquire:
    -bongo slide in surf
    -roll both sides
    -spotting boomers well in advance
    -following a bearing
    -field repair of boats
    -dis(re)assemble of white gas stove
    -replace drysuit gasket

    research:
    -put campsites & water locations on charts & into gps
    -research the tide levels
    -research the danger points
    -type pertinent guidebook info into computer & print it out.

    knowledge:
    -where the lighthouse & buoys mentioned in WX reports are
    -WX transmission points & channels

    practice runs:
    -pack 3 weeks (or more) of food & gear into boats (make a diagram & laminate it)
    -filter 10L (minimum) of water at one campsite
    -catch & cook a rockfish
    -hang food in a challenging spot
    -paddle in the rain for a week
    -learn how to keep the tp dry in the rain
    -set up tent fly or tarp with minimal unpacking, then unpack gear into this shelter
    -can you keep the hatch contents dry while packing/unpacking in the rain?
    -do a food drop/pickup via post office
    -set a point by point route in the gps, then transfer bearings & distance to paper
    -practice paddling by compass & watch (1km = 10 minutes YMMV)
    -navigate by chart, compass, and gps in the fog (no wind means no waves)
    -calculate bearings while on the water (without getting the chart wet)
    -don't freak out if a well-behaved black bear gets within 50 meters
    -keep a weather log so you get a feel for forecast vs actual
    -get up at 4 am so you can be on the water at first light & in camp by noon
    -carry everything 100 yards to your boat (how many loads does it take?)
    -position your boat properly so a rising tide floats your boat just after you finish loading
    -on a rising tide, load the front of the boat first (end closest to water)
    -load your boat and then slide it (branches, foam, etc) down to a falling tide
    -practice moving slowly/deliberately ... you don't want to slip on a wet log and twist an ankle (or worse)

    partnership:
    -each person should listen to the morning weather report
    -each person should have charts & know where the next campsite is
    -each person should have a radio
    -each person should have a tide table/graph
     
  4. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    on the subject of cooking and stoves:

    lets call it a forty day trip as Dan mentioned. that's eighty big meals and lots of knibbles and snacks. you would save a tonne of money by makeing, dehydrating, and vacuum sealing your own meals.

    i would leave the white-gas stove (and alcohol) at home on a trip of anything over 5 days. some quite scientific research has been done by Roger Caffin at bushwalking.org (and others) that shows a marked increase in efficiency of canister stoves on longer trips. also, the breakdown factor is virtually elliminated with canister burners and if something does go wrong it's less trouble to fix.

    Daren........
     
  5. oldsailor

    oldsailor Paddler

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    That's a great list. I only have two minor quibbles:

    -following a bearing
    -calculate bearings while on the water (without getting the chart wet)

    These should have referred to a "course"; a "bearing" is what you measure between your vessel and another point. This, by no means, detracts from the depth of your list. Makes me want to take a nap just reading it.

    I would add to this the ability to determine position by taking bearings on a prominent headland, lighthouse, islet, etc.

    Craig

    4 o'clock comes twice, huh? Go figure. :D :D
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Nootka's list is amazing. I have never tried to detail all the skills I use on longer trips ... and have never thought of how many different critical skills are important. I realize, looking at his list, that most of the important stuff I just sort of gradually developed, so I was never daunted by the prospect of mastering all that. It just sort of happened.

    The one thing that I've done regularly is weeklong trips in the rain. After a day or so, you get into a zone and it all comes automatically, especially with a dry suit, and the rain just does not bother you any more. Reducing water in the boat on loading is desirable, but not critical, really, as long as you drybag clothing and sleeping rig.

    I would add: practice setting up a tarp in varied terrain. That monster MSR palace of Dan's might be a bit much to take for a 60 day trip. A smaller unit that can be set up several ways, with numerous grommets, including a three or four "skyhook" attachments mid-tarp, gives you a lot of options. 10 x 10 is the absolute minimum for two, I think. 12 x 12 is a lot more comfy.

    Dan and Maddie, are you going to take hammocks or two one-person tents?
     
  7. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    Nootka's list is amazing and I shall be printing it off to keep. An excellent summary of what one needs to be able to do, confidently, if one is to tackle long trips safely and (yes) comfortably.

    Thanks, Nootka
     
  8. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    We took a MSR 19' x 19' tarp for the "kitchen". I kept it strapped ahead of my feet in the cockpit. Absolute Godsend. There are wet days on the west coast, non?
     
  9. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Nootka, that is a very good list. Thanks for putting it together. You've pretty much nailed the lists that I've been compiling already and put it in one nice place to start from.

    The courses and skills are pretty much bang on with some exceptions -- we're fine with stoves, field repairs, and gasket replacement.

    The research and knowledge items are especially valid and there are a number of other items that I'll be adding on to it as well.

    The practice run stuff we really don't need practice with -- we do this stuff all the time and it's all quite second nature except for the "get up at 4 am" suggestion -- I'm usually going to bed at that time -- I already know that this is going to be essential but it's not going to be easy for me (at least for the first week or so). We'll also need to learn about fishing -- aside from crabbing, that's something that I don't do when we paddle.

    The partnership stuff we already do as well when we're on trips with the exception of duplicate tide tables (good suggestion) and both of us having radios -- another radio is already on our list and Maddie will be taking the VHF Radio course in Langley at the end of February. I'll most likely replace the battery in my radio before heading out as it will be nearly 3 years old by then.

    Dave, we have loads of experience camping in the rain and Maddie and I are both quite good at keeping stuff dry. We know how to take our tents down inside the fly and can reset them up in near dry condition again by packing the tent body and fly separately. We will take rain gear with us -- I'm not keen on walking around camp in my dry suit other than in the morning when packing boats -- seems like too much chance of accidentally damaging it -- and around camp, the dry suit is not nearly as comfortable as Goretex pants and jacket combos.

    Tarps are also no problem -- I'm pretty good at setting up wind and water shedding tarp configurations, and am quite fast at it too -- we set up a tarp pretty much year round unless it's really, really nice out (which as you know, doesn't happen much around here). We'll be taking 2 - 10' x 12' tarps.

    I've been considering what we'll do for tents -- currently, we both use two person tents, but I realize that it may not be easy to find spots big enough all the time. I'm considering taking a couple hammocks and 1 two person tent -- It's just really nice to have some space once in a while to spread out a bit, especially when you consider the length of time that we're going to be gone -- I can't imagine spending two months in a hammock or single person tent. A lot will depend upon what others who have made the trip tell us. If others haven't had a problem with 2 two person tents, that's probably what we'll do.

    Nootka, thanks again for the list -- it's a great help.

    *****
     
  10. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    We used a one person tent and a two person tent. Never had a problem finding enough space to fit, and 2 two person tents would have been fine.

    I really would consider a BIG tarp.
     
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Dan wrote: Dave, we have loads of experience camping in the rain and Maddie and I are both quite good at keeping stuff dry.

    Yeah, you guys get even more rain than we do -- we are pikers at ony 6-7 ft (ca. 180-200 cm) :wink: .

    I should have made that more clearly a personal statement: until I had done a few "must move every day unless it is unsafe" trips, when it was pretty wet, I just hung in camp and waited it out. But, in the Charlottes (seems like most of my trips ... arrgh! :twisted: ), and twice on the Columbia, conditions were just wet, and not threatening particularly, so I just grit my teeth and went about shifting camp and making miles when I only had a week to get somewhere. I finally realized I never really got horribly wet ... I was just perpetually moist. And, the inner tent got a bit wet, but dried out well enough when set up again. Ditto sleeping pads (I don't drybag those), fleece, etc. The camp rain gear gets wet and stays wet in a week-long rain, but as long as I have a more or less dry place to sleep, I'm good. [Once in the Charlottes, a rain fly seam at my feet began to leak -- that was miserable!]

    For some of those week-long wetnesses, I was using a farmer john/dry top combo, and every morning slipping into a slimey, smelly, dank, wet rubber suit got old. But, after a few minutes, it was all of that but cold.
     
  12. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    Have you decided how you are dealing with charts, Dan?
     
  13. oldsailor

    oldsailor Paddler

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    My paddling has never included anything remotely like an expedition. The Bowrons in 1972 was the closest I've ever come to anything like that so charts have never been much of a problem. But when we were sailing around years ago we used chart books like the Evergreen Cruising Atlas.

    These are spiral-bound books of charts reduced and re-positioned to fit in a size that could be easily handled on a small boat. Some of them are even printed on water-resistant paper.

    They cover everything from S. California to Alaska but there are some on sale at West Marine and other stores that cover BC waters. You can buy these chart books for about $50 in the USA. They would not be legal in Canada for large boats or ships but probably fine for kayaks and small boats; especially as backups for charts on GPS units. I have one that covers from Olympia to Queen Charlotte Sound which also includes numerous harbor charts and even aerial photos.

    I'm going to use them on the muthah-ship but you might consider them for paddling.

    Craig
     
  14. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Expedition?!? I don't look at this as an expedition, it's just a long trip. Or as JoeO so eloquently put it earlier in this thread "just a lap around the Island". :wink:

    In all seriousness, this isn't just another trip. It's a pretty big undertaking and I can tell you that once you start giving a trip like this some serious thought, there are a TON more things to consider than when planning for a two or three week trip.

    Nootka, I'm not sure what we'll be doing about charts yet. That's one of the many, many details that we still need to explore. I'll be taking my laptop with me with digital charts but of course, that's not going to be much good when we're on the water.

    Craig, the Evergreen Cruising Atlas looks well worth investigating -- thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out.

    Speaking of books, one of the things that we both like to do is read a lot (it's not unusual for us to read 2-3 books a week each when paddling). Taking enough books to keep us happy for the entire trip would take up way too much room in the boats -- so the solution for us, is the iPod Touch (we've already got two of them in our household). Currently I've got 16 books on mine and tons of room left that I could probably take 200 titles if I wanted.

    Please don't think it rude if I don't reply right away to some of your questions -- there are so many things to consider that we're going to have to sort through a lot before deciding just what we're going to bring along and how we're going to transport it. Some things will be waiting for us in drops along the way. Some things we will just have to do without. For every aspect of this trip there are a lot of other considerations we need to think through.

    Comoxpaddler, you don't think that two 10' x 12' tarps is enough? Maybe I'll pick up a third silnylon Guides Tarp (it's a good an excuse as any).

    For us, the camping stuff is not so much the issue as building our skills for the trip is. We'll be taking lessons and courses for the next year and a half and I think we'll be in good shape by the time we're ready to go. If I don't think we're capable of doing the trip by then, we won't go.

    One of the things that I also think is very important is that it's not imperitive that we complete this trip in one fell swoop -- if we want to stay and hang out somewhere for a week because we like a particular place, we have that option. We can always pick up and continue around the Island where we left off at a later date. Although I think we'll both like to complete the circumnavigation in one trip, there won't be that kind of pressure.

    I'm also setting out to pore over charts and tide and current tables for the next long while as well as speak to as many people as I can about specific areas along the route.

    *****
     
  15. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    Dan

    We found that a third tarp, for the kitchen area or for hiding under when hunkered down for a couple of weather days, was a necessary addition to the two tarps we used over our two tents. If you do not put tarps over your tents then you are taking enough if you take two.
     
  16. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Well, after considering all the advice in this thread (thanks very much to everyone), and heavily weighing my own concerns, and discussing the trip at great length with Maddie, we've decided that we're going to paddle the inside of the Island from Victoria to Port Hardy (by way of God's Pocket) in the summer of 2010. We'll pick up where we left off in Port Hardy and paddle the outside of the Island in the summer of 2011.

    This does a lot of things that are beneficial for us -- we'll have more experience for the outside, we'll not have to race around the island, and we'll have more opportunity to explore areas that we find enjoyable.

    If we were to paddle the Island in one summer we'd have roughly 65 days -- probably enough time taking into consideration bad weather and rest days but we'd still be paddling basically from peninsula to peninsula to do it in that time frame. Doing it over 2 summers, we'll have the option to make base camps for 2 or 3 days at a time if we want and even paddle up a few of the larger inlets to do more exploring. In a nutshell, the trip will be much more relaxed and we won't be nearly as pressed by a tight schedule.

    We're still considering routes but we'll most likely paddle up the east side of Vancouver Island to Denman Island (camp on Sandy Island) and then cross over to Lasqueti and Texada, poke our noses into Jervis Inlet and then continue up to the Discovery Islands and extensively explore that area as we make our way to the Broughton's, where we'd like to spend a minimum of three weeks before crossing over Queen Charlotte Strait to God's Pocket. We'll get picked up in Port Hardy at the end of the trip.

    I suspect that we'll get a few pictures along the way.

    *****