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A September lap of Nootka

CPS

Paddler
Joined
Oct 27, 2020
Messages
447
Location
BC
I had booked some time off in September with the intention of paddling the Bowron lake circuit. Unfortunately my paddling partner's cat injured it's knee and with the cost of veterinary bills they were unable to make the trip.

I took that as an opportunity to head out for some coastal paddling. I don't get the chance to get out for extended trips as often as I'd like, so I was quite excited. I wasn't sure where I should go but as I pondered the maps I became increasingly intrigued by the idea of circumnavigating Nootka Island. It seemed like an ideal combination of remoteness, exposed coast, and relatively easy access.
Not wanting to undertake such a trip alone I asked my friend who is a fellow WCP forum member if she'd like to join. It didn't take much convincing to get her on board.

We met up at Cougar Creek Rec site on the evening of the 16th. There was no attendant on site but a few campers remained. We caught up and discussed the forecast and possible route. We opted to tackle the inside portion first, as it's more sheltered and less spectacular. So if it was grey we wouldn't feel like we were missing as much.

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The weather was calm and grey as we set off. It stayed calm as we made our way up Tahsis inlet.
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We were treated to a pair of humpback whales near the north end of Strange Island. I made a vain attempt at getting some video, but my phone camera insisted on autofocusing on the inside of the waterproof case. Oh well, I remember what it looked like.

As we made our way up the inlet the wind picked up and I got the chance to use my sail.

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We stopped briefly to check out the site and Santiago Creek. There are a few extremely rotten tables, but ample flat spaces for tents. It's not a terrible spot, and it was a decent spot to stop for lunch.

Later on we stopped to check out Haven Cove, which initially appeared promising on the BC Marine Trails map. The amount of brushing required to clear a spot in the dense salal would have been enormous, so we decided to paddle on.

We ended up paddling to Garden Point, which is a much nicer site.

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The next morning was glorious sun. After the previous day of paddling in rain we spent a good amount of time soaking up the sun before getting underway.

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We had discussed possibly paddling to Catala to check it out, but the swell was rather imposing, so I opted to save it for another time.

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We poked around for a while, considering various options on where we could camp. We expected our weather window would take a little while to arrive and so tentatively poked around the corner into some of the nastiest waves I've had the pleasure to witness. It was perhaps poor communication, but we ended up in a fairly commited situation, and so after bouncing through some rough stuff elected to make our way to Benson Point.

We both landed with grace and poise despite the dumping surf. Honest.

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We set up camp and enjoyed the fairly well built wind shelter. The next day had some strong wind so we opted to stay put. There are worse places to spend the day.

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The weather improved dramatically the following day, and we were eager to be off to round the corner and head along the outside.

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Our original thought was to round the point and stop at Third beach. The swell was sufficiently large that we had to stay a good distance away from shore. Somehow in the excitement we paddled past Third beach without seeing it. I suspect it was hiding behind a reef, and that I couldn't see it due to the breakers.

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In any case we carried on paddling a good distance out to sea, avoiding breakers and generally enjoying the bigness of the sea.
Eventually we got to Calvin beach, which we again didn't initially recognize due to the reef. From the angle we approached it didn't seem like landing would be possible until suddenly we could see the beach behind the reef and everything seemed very manageable.

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We were pleased to see a beach cleanup crew was present. Not wanting to intrude on their site, I engineered a rather convoluted hammock set-up amid the driftwood. It was a great afternoon to explore the beach and we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

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As we packed up the following morning we could hear the distant roar of ordinance. We had heard notice on the VHF that the navy would be doing just that, but I hadn't expected to hear it. Sound certainly carries.

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The seas were amazingly calm when compared to the previous few days, so when we got near some sea caves Gene had to pop in to check them out.

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The southern end of Nootka is a gorgeous spot, the rocks formed some very impressive formations.

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We poked around for quite a while. Perhaps it was reflecting on scenery or the sounds of military testing, but we were in quite a contemplative mood. Eventually we realized we had better scoot if we were to set up camp with a decent amount of daylight.

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Out came the sail and away I went towards Bligh Island. Along the way we were once again treated to a few blows of a humpback. There are some moments that you can almost feel the memory set in place, and this was one. Cruising along under sail, paddle dipping into the water and hearing that distinctive rush of air. Pure magic.

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Our final night was at Charlie's beach. It is a nice spot and shows signs of heavy use during the peak season. But as with all campsites, it's pretty awesome to have it to yourself.

The next day started calm and sunny, so we opted to forgo the drysuits and made our way back to the cars in t-shirts.

Overall this trip was excellent, and while I'm confident that my original plan of paddling the Bowron circuit would have been great, I'm profoundly grateful it fell through.
 
Bajo reef was nice to paddle past in lower swell with lots of sea lions hanging around.
We still have it a relatively wide berth.
 
I just got back from a showing of the Paddling Film Festival, world tour and had an interesting revelation.

One of the films shown was Beyond the Salish.

The description of the film is as follows:

Two kayakers take on a once-in-a-lifetime journey along the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island, paddling into relentless waves, unpredictable weather, and the uncharted depths of their fears. The duo finds themselves in a life-altering struggle against the elements. As their journey unfolds, a near-death experience forces them to confront the raw power of the open ocean, pushing the boundaries of their friendship, endurance and luck
.

Now in my initial write up I omitted that I saw two obviously unskilled paddlers launch shortly after I arrived on the 16th. I saw them struggle to launch and faff around with their drone. They were so painfully inexperienced that I was on the verge of interjecting myself into their experience and asking if they knew what they were doing.
Someone more polite may have been able to ask them about their planned trip. I knew I'd come across as a jerk and so opted not to. I figured maybe they were just cruising around in Nootka Sound. I did have a feeling of unease though.

Well apparently they were planning on paddling down the exposed outer coast for a much more significant distance. A few days in they capsized in gnarly water and were rescued, initially by a local, then transferred to a Coast Guard RIB, then eventually transported by the armed forces.

This film, which in my opinion doesn't do much to showcase the nuance of sea kayaking won the category in was submitted in.

I disliked it profoundly, but perhaps I was too personally invested in it.

All that being said, I guess I learned a lesson from it: Don't let trying to be a nice person get in the way of saving morons from themselves.
 
All that being said, I guess I learned a lesson from it: Don't let trying to be a nice person get in the way of saving morons from themselves.

Very interesting insight into your own feelings, motivations and inhibitions. It is human nature to want to try to help when you see others that are perhaps embarking on something that they are unready for and that could cause them grief. I read something recently that came to mind when I read your post. It relates to the use of the term "moron". It is quite understandable that you use that term after the fact. You now have hindsight about what you saw at launch time.

There are different levels of competence at play when we choose to do things. They go something like this:

Unconcious Incompetence - folk who are unaware of their own ignorance about something;
Concious Incompetence - folk who are aware of their own ignorance and are willing to learn;
Concious Competence - folks who are learning and developing skills but need to think about what they are doing or decisions related to doing the thing;
And finally
Unconcious Competence; When you know a subject or skill so well, that you don't need to think much to execute. Muscle memory in sports, playing an instrument, or decision making about sea conditions and route planning all fall into this category for highly experienced practitioners.

Where someone is unconciously incompetent about something, we can say they are ignorant about the subject. Those folk just might be open to an intervention by someone who sees that they need help or are screwing up. But then you have the willfully ignorant folk, who don't know what they are doing, but are also unwilling to learn or listen to someone competent who is trying to teach, correct, or help.

Willful ignorance can be classed as, or called stupidity. This was the bit I just read. As the old saying goes: "You can't fix stupid." Having said that, you also cannot usually determine someone's level of competence, or openness to discussion and advice until you try. Your instincts and motivations to intervene were spot on. It was your instinct not to interfere, to be a nice person as you say, that stopped you from making an approach. You would equally have been a ''nice person", perhaps even "a nicer person", to make the approach, enter into a discussion and offer help if they were open to it. If not: "You can't fix stupid.", but at least you would have tried.

For most of us, it is difficult to approach strangers and strike up a conversation relating to competence. That is our fear of strangers and confrontation at work. When I used to teach courses, I was often amazed by willfully ignorant folk who were taking the course, but were unwilling to learn, or admit their ignorance. But then there are all kinds of folk out there. I am happy to hear that you have decided to at least try to intervene in a similar situation in future. You are a nice person if you do so and it is just water off the deck if they reject good advice. My two bits worth on the subject.

Cheers, Rick
 
I see this in Rock Climbing at Smith Rocks. Some 190 lbs guy is being belayed by his 100 lbs girlfriend - who isn't anchored in herself. And because she only has the belay line and not a cell phone in her hand, she's bored and just looking round. If her guy came off the rock and she wasn't prepared, she'd be pulled off the ground and maybe, with her surprise, let go of the rope.

I hate those "Solo" climbing films because they often don't show the prep that went into it. With Nike's, "Just Do It" and Apple's, "You don't need a manual" ... Gary Larson had a cartoon series for that, "Trouble brew'n" - For example, one cartoon showed a Day Care opening next to a dingo farm (you may need a little Australian history for that one.)

To end on a good note, Once Steve and I were on Wallace when a couple paddled up (or were about to launch). We chatted a little and they told us about their about their plans. It was a recipe for disaster. They only had a few days and a critical timeline to catch transportation back home. But their proposed route put them against the current all the way, especially on the last day when timing was tight. Even though I have a "few" electronic devices with me, I also carry my laminated tide/current info on paper - two copies; one for me, one for Steve. So Steve showed them why their route could be problematic and suggested a different plan that worked better with the tides and currents and we gave them our second copy.

We didn't save a life but we might have saved a relationship.
 
I'm not a fan of busybodies at the beach. The advice columnist Dan Savage often remarks that there is only one qualification you need to give someone else your advice: that they asked you for it. I think Pascal got it right the first time: let the noobs be noobs.

And let me also add that this is a great trip report. It and others like it on this forum have inspired me to visit Nootka Sound, just as soon as I can clear the decks of all the other kayak trips I have scheduled first!

Alex
 
There are different levels of competence at play when we choose to do things. They go something like this:

Unconcious Incompetence - folk who are unaware of their own ignorance about something;
Concious Incompetence - folk who are aware of their own ignorance and are willing to learn;
Concious Competence - folks who are learning and developing skills but need to think about what they are doing or decisions related to doing the thing;
And finally
Unconcious Competence; When you know a subject or skill so well, that you don't need to think much to execute. Muscle memory in sports, playing an instrument, or decision making about sea conditions and route planning all fall into this category for highly experienced practitioners.
In the academy this is called the Dunning-Kruger Effect <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect> (though I might be overstepping my competence to make that conjecture)
 
It relates to the use of the term "moron". It is quite understandable that you use that term after the fact. You now have hindsight about what you saw at launch time.

Oh I was using the term before the fact as well, I guess it was foresight.

Still I'm conflicted. I certainly don't like when I'm offered unsolicited advice, and usually if I'm doing something stupid the offer of advice makes me redouble my commitment to idiocy.

I used to regularly point out little things like paddles being upside down, PFDs unzipped, and loose hatch covers. Generally the response has been dismissive, occasionally combative. So I have stopped pointing stuff out, for the most part.
 
There are different levels of competence at play when we choose to do things. They go something like this:

Unconcious Incompetence - folk who are unaware of their own ignorance about something;
Concious Incompetence - folk who are aware of their own ignorance and are willing to learn;
Concious Competence - folks who are learning and developing skills but need to think about what they are doing or decisions related to doing the thing;
And finally
Unconcious Competence; When you know a subject or skill so well, that you don't need to think much to execute. Muscle memory in sports, playing an instrument, or decision making about sea conditions and route planning all fall into this category for highly experienced practitioners.

Those get discussed in both the Level 2 Paddle Canada course and the online trip planning course I teach. I really try to avoid getting too smug about things, as looking back I can certainly see situations in sea kayaking I got through with good luck rather than good management. Many situations I would handle differently today - or avoid altogether.

Unconcious Incompetence - folk who are unaware of their own ignorance about something;

Or as I paraphrase it: "The first rule of Dunning-Kruger Club is ... you don't even know you're in Dunning-Kruger club!"
 
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The thing about CPS’s story that bothers me is the fact that the film was featured in the festival and won its category. In other words, these paddlers were rewarded for their ignorance with public accolades.

Cheers,
Andrew
 
It seems we are off on a tangent on a thread begun about a very well done and excellent trip report. But since CPS took the thread here, I guess it is okay to continue. We have all done stupid things and probably had near misses. Most of the members also have the training, experience and skills to cope with rough seas and to make good decisions while trip planning and during the trip. So what is different and problematic with behaviour of the folk we are now critiquing?

Well apparently they were planning on paddling down the exposed outer coast for a much more significant distance. A few days in they capsized in gnarly water and were rescued, initially by a local, then transferred to a Coast Guard RIB, then eventually transported by the armed forces.

This film, which in my opinion doesn't do much to showcase the nuance of sea kayaking won the category in was submitted in.

Besides the fact that the film we are discussing won it's category, what bothers me more is the fact that their rescue was apparently quite involved and required a lot of effort and resources funded by the public. The term extreme sport is getting a bit worn from overuse, but nevertheless, paddling down an exposed coast in a sea kayak, is in fact probably extreme to most rational folk. It is risky even for the best paddlers. Doing so without the requisite skills for the purpose of making a film is just plain stupid.

Yes, we pay to fund search and rescue and also have highly trained and competent volunteer rescue folk in British Columbia. But the fact that arguably incompetent paddlers would try to paddle the outside of Nootka Island with the apparent intent of making a film to distribute and then require rescue is insufferable. That is ignorance and and arrogance both.

Willful ignorance and arrogance are worse than stupidity in my book. Not certain exactly what CPS saw that made him consider an intervention. Neither am I certain if I would have intervened in his place. But I certainly think it appropriate that we discuss this type of behaviour on this public forum. We can't change or do anything about this incident now, but we can, as passionate paddlers, state our objections to the incident on this public forum for all to consider.

There is also a significant amount of new research regarding the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Here is a link to an article about the new ideas titled The Dunning-Kruger Effect Isn’t What You Think It Is for anyone interested.

Are there dumb people who do not realize they are dumb? Sure, but that was never what the Dunning-Kruger effect was about. Are there people who are very confident and arrogant in their ignorance? Absolutely, but here too, Dunning and Kruger did not measure confidence or arrogance back in 1999. There are other effects known to psychologists, like the overconfidence bias and the better-than-average bias.
McGill University, Office for Science and Society.

Good trip report CPS, worth going back to the top to re-read. But the discussion it has generated is also worth while. Going winter paddling in the San Juans this weekend. Will try to be safe, prepared and competent and will most certainly intend to get myself out, if I happen to get myself in.

Cheers, Rick
 
Yes, nice trip report. Now about the tangent. My advice about giving and receiving unsolicited advice depends on the attitude of those involved. If someone is truly an ass I'd let them be, but if someone is really just naive and obviously needs a few pointers I would offer them. I would be agreeable to receiving friendly advice and probably can say that I have been helped by some at times. I would probably strike up a conversation to get a read on the person's attitude and experience before offering advice. Also, if someone is doing something that might affect or endanger someone else then I would probably be more imposing. This is even more of a tangent, but one thing that really bugs me is rental companies that put the renters in the kayaks on land and push them off with no instruction about entering or exiting. This is a situation where I will and have offered advice, usually about 1 to 2 km from a rental location.
 
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