Solo On The Salish Sea - (long)


Feb 27, 2006
August 22, 2009
Thanks to Sheila P, my paddling pal in Powell River, I was able to shuttle my car to my take out at Lund, and actually put in on the Okeover Inlet side of the Malaspina peninsula, making this an "open gate" trip.

There was the usual first day "Where the heck does all this sh*t fit?" packing challenge, but I was on the water for 9:30AM.

I got a welcome boost from the ebb current out of the Inlet. At the entrance, there was a large patch of small standing waves, jogging up and down in place like rows of saw teeth.

Just before reaching Kinghorn Island, I was passed by what I'm sure my wife would consider an acceptable kayak mothership…

North of Kinghorn, the wind came up fair for sailing. On this reach, I'm pointed toward Teakerne Arm on West Redonda Island

Tragically, beyond Teakerne Arm, I was reduced to actually paddling again (the horror, the horror!) With the current against me the last several miles, it was a bit of a plug, but I reached the campsite on the northeast corner of South Rendezvous Island about 18:00 hours. Somewhere during the day, I'd pulled a muscle in my lower back, so portaging from the log-covered rocky beach to the tent site was a slow, gingerly-done process. On the plus side, I had this beautiful site all to myself.

A SAR helicopter circled the area purposefully in the evening. I later learned they were looking for a man lost in the Dent Rapids. ... story.html ... story.html

August 23, 2009
A day off paddling to let my back recover. It dawned pink and beautiful.

I rubbered up and went snorkelling. I found entire constellations of starfish and sea urchins. I also baffled the hell out of some shoreside birds that didn't know what to make of me as I puffed up out of the sea. Was I fish or fowl? Perhaps both?

With time on my hands, and since a fire ring already existed on my site, I fuelled up my little woodstove to make supper (it's enclosed, so it didn't violate the fire ban). Just a handful of pine cones and finger sized sticks cooked my meal.

The end of a perfect day in paradise.

August 24
I let the incoming tide do the heavy lifting of launching my loaded boat,

then headed out for Whitefish Passage.

Just below the passage, I spotted a black bear bathing on the shore. We saw each other at the same time; he was quicker on the draw in bolting than I was with my camera. But this seal was more blasé about paddling paparazzi.

Though I was still miles away from Surge Narrows, I could hear the roar of the tidal rapids in Beazley Passage. A literally awesome sound. I landed to refill my water bags just north of the Settlers Group Islands.

This is a fish weir, as used by First Nations before trawlers came along – the receding tide drains through the rocks, straining out the fish and leaving them high and dry for hand harvesting.

The sea is constantly swirly and whirly around here as it either mills about waiting to get through the bottleneck of Surge Narrows on an ebb tide, or runs wild after escaping the pinch point on a flood tide. This latitude is where the tides wrapping south and north around Vancouver Island meet, so the resulting currents are both impressive and complicated, especially at narrow junctions such as Surge Narrows.

The camping north of the Settlers Group looked bleak of aspect and brutal of access, so I opted to arc south around the Settlers Group to a group site on a point on Read Island. Shortly after I'd landed, I was joined by a guided group, who kindly offered me lunch – their fresh focaccia, chicken, fruit and Brie was much more appealing than the bagels and peanut butter in my food bag.

I awoke in the night to hear the rapids at Surge thundering across the miles.

August 25
I got up at 5:15AM to ensure I would be in position at Surge Narrows for the 8:58AM slack water changing to an ebb. I arced back up around the Settler's Group to go through Canoe Passage on the north side of Surge – reportedly the calmest of the three lanes. As I'd hoped, my timing was good, and the transit was a non-event. Such current as there was was in my favour.

IMGP1365 coming through the Narrows small.jpg

Rain set in as I made my way up the channel past Surge Narrows. But I was warm in my farmer john wetsuit and perfectly happy, looking like some sort of vari-coloured rubber duck in my orange and yellow kayak and orange cag. I landed at Elephant Bay to replenish my water, then paddled on down towards Francisco Island. I was contemplating with pleasure setting up my tarp at camp on Francisco Island and cooking up a hot reviving lunch. Just as I was about to turn out from the shore of Maurelle Island to Francisco, I was hailed from a shoreside cabin with an offer of coffee. I quickly reversed course, and was shortly enjoying not only coffee but pancakes with my host, "the only guy to row an open boat from Alaska to Vancouver and NOT write a book about it." He, his partner, and the friend who is staying with them were all curious about the sails on my boat, so when the sun came out, I gave them a dryland lesson on the beach.

I got to Francisco Island just after 13:00 hrs.

With the sun out, I postponed setting up camp in favour of going snorkelling while the light was good. I dropped my gear to claim a tent site (though I had the island to myself for the moment), then rubbered up and hit the water.

Acorn barnacles. The little "eyelashes" emerging from their tops are combs they use to filter food from the passing currents.

A hermit crab. These guys have no main body shell of their own. Instead, they wear hand-me-downs from other shelly creatures, upgrading as they outgrow them.

Sea cucumbers. They look like some weird adult toys.

nudibranch 2.jpg

A nudibranch, a sort of submarine slug. Despite this, nudibranchs aren’t gross –this species has a translucent, ethereal beauty, like a slug that lived a good life and got its angel’s wings.

If you look carefully on the left, you'll see a well camouflaged fish just beyond the claws of this crab. He and his fellows follow crabs around, snatching up any scraps of food that drift away from the crab's kills, like courtiers living on leftovers from the king's table.

Once I was ashore, a trio of other kayakers arrived – they took the sites on the other side of my little peninsula. From there, we watched the water roil as the currents danced to the unseen moon. At times, it seemed as though the island itself was moving through the water, the swirls and eddies formed by its wake.

That evening, it rained. I put up my tarp for the first (and only) time on my trip, and cooked supper snug beneath its shelter.

August 26
The day dawned cool and misty,

but it burned off into bright sunshine by the late afternoon, when I left for my window of opportunity to get through Hole-In-The-Wall.

Instead of the gentle push I'd hoped for through Hole In The Wall, I found myself bucking counter currents most of the way. Just as I reached the northeast exit, I was overtaken by my breakfast hosts from yesterday, out sightseeing in their power boat. I handed them my camera to take a couple of non "paddler's POV shots."

As I turned south down after exiting Hole In The Wall, the current was at last with me. I pulled into a bay to top up water. It was full of "yellow submarines" – apparently old propane tanks re-purposed as floats for logging operations.

With my late afternoon start, it was 19:45 – half an hour to sunset – by the time I pulled into the camp at the southwest corner of South Rendezvous Island. I was grateful for my quick-erecting Hubba Hubba HP tent, and for my Trangia stove, which let me "fire and forget" while I did other camp chores. As a result, I was fed and in bed by 21:15.

August 27
My fiftieth birthday. A great way to be spending it, out in the wild I love. With southeast winds predicted for today, and northwest winds for tomorrow and the day after, I opt to take the day off, in the hope of avoiding headwinds, and perhaps even sailing part way with the northwesterlies.

The tour group that shared this site with me last night fed me several cups of really good coffee before they paddled off. Now in sole possession of this lovely site, I enjoyed a leisurely brunch of hash browns and omelette before heading off to snorkel again.

For ease of swimming, I left the camera on shore this time. I spotted a small Kelp Greenling and a large Ling Cod on the wall at the north end of the little bay the campsite is in. In many places, the water was blurry with a halocline, an area where fresher and saltier water mix, their differing densities bending the light to differing degrees and making it look as though mineral oil was being churned into the water.

With the sun still shining, I warmed up après-swim, washed and dried laundry and my wet suit, and used my solar panels to recharge my cellphone.

August 28
Up early, effortlessly so after yesterday's day off. I wanted to get within a day's easy travel of Lund today.
I rudely, though inadvertently, disturbed a raft of river otters as I entered the north end of Lewis Channel. Not so this heron.

I did get to sail some short runs down Lewis Channel, though hardly the whole glorious way.

I landed in the lovely Copeland Islands just after 16:00 hrs. The party who paddled in shortly afterwards offered me a cider – very pleasant.

Note the "kayak run" users have cleared through the rocks.

August 29
I deliberately dawdled through breakfast and packing the boat, in no hurry for the trip to end. I launched just before noon, paddled a couple of hundred feet to clear the headland of my little bay, then raised my sails. At first I sailed at only a stately pace – about two knots – but once clear of the southern end of the Copelands, I picked up to about three knots. The sun shone and sparkled on the beautiful blue sea. Rather than sail a straight course to Lund, I gybed back and forth, zig-zagging to make the pleasure of sailing last. Just after 13:00 hrs, I landed, having paddled about three hundred feet the whole day. A high note ending to an excellent trip.

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Aug 7, 2009
Victoria, BC Canada
Looked like a beautiful trip! Great way to spend your 50th! I have got 4 more years till that landmark and am now thinking of doing the same! Not sure where, but living on Vancouver Island I have lots of choices.


Aug 20, 2005
Kelowna, BC
Totally enjoyed this Philip...and Happy Birthday! Welcome to the absolutely great time in life!


Jun 6, 2007
Victoria, BC
Awesome pics Philip! I checked on your car when you were gone and was sad when it was no longer parked on the side of the road. You'll have to come back to Victoria soon and go paddling with ME! I was so jealous after dropping you off... :D


Jan 4, 2007
Lower Mainland, Gulf Islands
Good stuff Phil. You are one of the privileged. I like the idea over leaving Lund and going up the channels/islands and back. Lots of sea life and its dynamic with the currents. Excellent.


Mar 24, 2009
What a trip! It is so nice to see that I am not the only solo guy out there. Your photos are great and the sailing twist adds a new dimension to kayaking. Now that I am over 50, I find more time to get out on the H2O .

Thaks for sharing your trip with all of us.


Feb 27, 2006
lance_randy said:
Very cool. I like the idea of bringing a snorkeling rig. Do you have a spear?
Nope. But I am thinking of bringing a diver's mesh goodie bag on future trips, since I understand it's legal to hand harvest crabs (providing you have a salt water fishing license, which I do/will.)


Dec 4, 2012
Kalamazoo, Michigan
A very happy belated 50th birthday. :cool

I stumbled on this report via another link. It was fun to see that you are into snorkelling/underwater photography, and the pics made a nice addition to the post.

Great trip report. Thanks for sharing!