Don't post much here but this was my fun September paddle...
Moon Water Cool
They say there’s no water on the moon; it must thirst for living water. And on a clear full-moon night the surface of the Salish Sea scatters a fully golden radiance – no gibbous half-hearted light – searching from a 403,048 kilometres away. Hitting the water, parched from late summer heat, sweat dripping from my nose, I too looked for quenching upon the surface waters…
I’d meant to leave on the weekend but I just couldn’t shoehorn myself into my Nordkapp anymore; at 230 pounds, well, things were getting tight. Pulling out the Alderson Forager off the fence rack, the load-carrying, deeply-V’d stitch n’ glue of peerless build-quality, still needed a better seat – and a skeg-cable repair. Using an older Necky seat with an inflatable bladder under the molded seat cover, I sat high enough that the low-profile deck actually had merit. While the epoxy dried on the skeg-fin cable-hole, I mounted a Henderson foot pump in the front bulkhead recess. And tried to find all my gear.
Finally, Monday, September 12th 5:00 pm Yvonne’s dropped me off at Cherry Point. I passed Separation Point with the ebb building against a stiff breeze, grateful for the working skeg – my first trip of significance with a skeged kayak. The rips were building already between Grouse Hill and Sansum Point. With 30 years of hard-core paddling an opposing tide just means a nicer workout, though I hugged the Musgrave Point side along Saltspring Island using backeddies, stern wind waves, and strong strokes to thrust me through the narrow channel. Travelling unusually light for me, I’d forsaken my wetsuit, rather wearing quick-dry shorts and a poly tank top – and copious amounts of cold water thawing from days in the freezer, chewing on beef jerky to fuel the long night ahead. No immersion apparel meant no playing in the rip and careful navigation though not much phases me anymore, inured to most threats in those adjacent waters.
There was a bit of a push to clear Bold Bluff Pt. as the sun evaporated behind Vancouver Island, the setting sun igniting the ridgelines of Saltspring Island – Baynes Peak aglow for a short time with eventual dying embers. Deer stood proud at the point. I pulled the Pentax out of my new Aegir deck bag but the battery was dead. Crossing straight to Maxwell Point, I did veer shoreward a little to avoid some of the opposing tidal forces. Stopping near Erskine Point for relief, I donned my rain pants. My Seaseat would abet any capsize recovery with efficiency and elegance but there would be wind chill factors to think about, even considering my fattened state. Without the now-tight wetsuit I’d been dealing with the past summer, I moved quickly through the water without impeeding musculature, each paddle stroke a joy. I’d chosen to employ my Lendal carbon ergonomic paddle, it’s bent shaft helping somewhat to alleviate recent difficulties with carpal tunnel syndrome – a paddle that had sat dormant for 13 years.
Passing under the shadows of Mt. Erskine, heading straight for Dock Point, it had gotten rather dark. With the wind on my back neck, wearing my minimalist Mustang inflatable…I was so very cool. Yes, I was running cool. Finally. After guzzling more fresh, cool water, I placed a glow stick on the back strap of my headlamp and checked my high-output handheld flashlight, clipping it to the vest. Vesuvius Bay and the active ferry dock lay near to my path of travel. Suddenly, a searchlight beamed across Booth Bay, instantly disarming my sense of anything that powerful being man-made. Silly man, it was the full moon, neither waxing nor waning. I turned just in time to see a huge evergreen atop Erskine, perfectly silhouetted before the ascending globe rose higher into the dark night sky.
The glow from Crofton was annoying and ugly so I made a beeline for Parminter Point, spotlighlighting occasionally along the shoreline to foresee any shoals and preserve night vision. My headlamps red-LED setting illuminates the chart just enough to confirm my navigation points. Passing Idol Island, the sea surface became silky smooth. A phosphorescence glow emerged to port and starboard of the bow, disappearing lines of bow wake with each human stroke, surreal, otherworldly. I wished my sweetie could be here to share these moments in time, moments she may never get to experience depending on treatment outcomes. All we get are the moments though and they have been rich ones for us both for so many years…
As I passed Grappler Rock and Southerly Bay I wonder how happy the home owners are along the shoreline of this prime real-estate area. Failed relationships, failing health…what does bring happiness in life? Running steady and running cool. Un-phased, the cool night air was embraced. At Southerly Point I made a beeline for Jackscrew Island, to line me up for landing at Secretary Island across from Chivers Point on Wallace Island (places that in mid-summer can be hard to accommodate one’s tent but, not mid-September). The plan to commando-camp at Walker Hook much further south on Saltspring Island wasn’t looking good; the new seat was cutting some circulation and I didn’t want to cramp-up paddling into the flood and southerly night winds. Looking down Trincomali Channel, the full-moon reflection spanned the entire width it seemed, a molten surface ruffled by the forces acting upon it. It was time for prudence and time to crawl into shelter. 11:00 pm.
Tuesday’s trend was toward cooler temperatures with cloudy skies and it was a definite change of weather for southern Vancouver Island. Leaving by 10:30 am, I pushed against the remaining flood, passing the Pacific Grace near Panther Point on Wallace, then on toward Nose Point still under flood conditions, which seemed like a long run down, though I suprized a seal sleeping on the rocks, his little flippers twitching as he dreamed about big, bad Orcas. Putting in at a shell isthmus on Prevost Island it was time again for paddling pants and then a paddling jacket too. Southerly winds were funnelling up Captain Passage from Swanson Channel and I was maybe a little too cool. Too kewl for school? I knew it was time to lose some weight so things like cockpits and wetsuits might fit again.
After a stretch break near Bear Point on Saltspring at Ruckle Park, I left Beaver Point behind and landed at Arbutus Point on Portland Island at 5:00 pm. The shell midden point is a perennial favourite and there was again, no one there. Dinner was served up on my new Bruton Vapor AF All Fuel stove, the Dal Tadka lentil curry and Palak Paneer cottage cheese in spinach sauce dishes going down smooth. In my wet shorts and damp shirt, I needed something hot.
Wednesday morning proved a nice run with the ebb to Sidney for pickup by my honey despite her chemo week of sickness. I didn’t need to monitor Channel 11 as I shot past incoming ferry traffic and then on through Page Passage. Nick from Active Seakayaking was attending to a swarm of girls from a private school headed to Rum Island, launching from Lochside Drive, singles and doubles and blue paddling jackets everywhere. They all looked ready to paddle and with more southerlies on the way, hopefully in for some cool running.
"Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me."