The Royal Round Solo (Part 1)

kayakwriter

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Solo ‘round Princess Royal Island (and beyond)
I’m way behind on trip report posting. So I thought if I broke them down into chunks, I might catch up...
Approaching Klemtu.JPG

I got to Klemtu at 15:00 hrs on June 20, 2010 via the ferry from Port Hardy. With the help of a couple of passing German tourists, I launched at the boulder “put-in” just by the ferry landing.
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The wind let me make a glorious sailing exit from Klemtu, then died about a mile after I got around the bend.
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Passing Boat Bluff lighthouse, northbound.
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My first campsite, on a broken shell beach in Myers Passage.
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The next morning, I transited Myers Narrows without incident, finding a petroglyph just beyond them.
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I landed on Milne Island, one of my favourite camping sites of the whole trip, that afternoon. This area is popular with tour groups, but I had it all to myself this night and the other two I spent here later.
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“Culturally modified” trees. The First Nations folk have taken strips of cedar bark to use in their traditional crafts, including the conical woven hats that preceded Gore-Tex sou’westers as must-have paddling headgear for the PWN.
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Next morning, I set off up Laredo Inlet, supposedly prime white bear watching territory. I didn’t see any bears, but I did have a pod of Orca come by.

Shortly after this, the vague aches and nausea I’d been feeling that morning but had attributed to age and easing back into long paddling days escalated to full-on vomiting. Hard to keep your paddling rhythm when it’s “stroke, puke to port, stroke, puke to starboard...” Landing spots are few and between around here, so it’s a good thing the headwind died, as I was paddling with the strength of a child. Also a good thing I was paddling in the sheltered inlet and not outside on the swells, as my sense of balance was severely screwed up. A roll would have been out of the question, and even a paddle-float re-entry would have been doubtful with my shaky arms and wobbly legs. Fortunately also the problem appeared to be bad food (dried potatoes or cooking oil from my breakfast) not bad water, since it was not attempting to break out at both ends, if you catch my drift. After what felt like hours, but was probably about an hour and a bit, I found a rough landing area and was able to pop a children’s Gravol. By this time, I’d puked up all the bad stuff, and the rain was washing very refreshingly over my face, so I reboarded and carried on into the Inlet. The wind even reversed, and let me paddle-sail for an hour or so.
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Pulling into Weld Cove, I spotted a boat I recognized. Back in 2001, I’d attempted to paddle from Prince Rupert to Klemtu. A few days out of PR, I’d been pinned down by a week of the worst weather in three decades, which chewed up all my safety days. I’d reluctantly made the decision to retreat to PR. A day later, I was picked up by this boat, The Grizzly Bear, and given a lift back. It was a bright spot in an otherwise discouraging trip, since I love sailboats, especially hand-built wooden beauties like this. Turned out the couple who were so kind to me had sold the boat about five years back, but the current owners are in touch with them, so they’ll pass on my best wishes.
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The camping options at Weld Cove were a choice between lumpy grass hummocks or lumpy, soggy, grass hummocks, so I carried on to the entrance of the Bay Of Plenty. Even here options were few. I finally had to pull up on a tiny “beach” and wait until midnight for the tide to turn and clear a small sloping rock shelf for my tent. Meanwhile, I had supper – my first food and drink since breakfast more than twelve hours earlier. And breakfast hadn’t really counted, since it had only been on loan. As I sat in my wetsuit in the rain, fending off bugs, I consoled myself with the thought it was a good thing my wife wasn’t with me on this trip. She’d have been paddling back to The Grizzly Bear and filing for divorce via VHF.
I did sleep well once I got belatedly to bed.
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That morning, I paddled into the Bay Of Plenty. It was like paddling into a painting – high peaks and gently swirling mist. No bears to be seen, but I did rewater with some wonderful HO2 from the river.
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The trip back down the inlet was long and against the wind. Though there were moments of beauty.
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Just after I exited the inlet, I got hammered by a severe headwind and rain squall. I was afraid I’d have to claw against it all the way back to Milne Island, but it only lasted about fifteen minutes. I landed just before dark, grateful for the fast set-up of the Hubba Hubba HP tent, and for the quick and easy freeze-dried supper that let me eat even when I had little energy or interest for cooking.
I declared the next day a rest and recovery day for the full crew of my kayak. Didn’t paddle. Just read, hung out, and prepared a pile of fuel for my woodstove.
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After my day off, I made the crossing over to Aristazabal Island. I even got to sail part of the way north along the island.

Thanks to J.K’s The Wild Coast, I found a snug campsite a few miles south of Baker Point.
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The following day featured strong winds from the north, rain, and highly variable visibility – not what I needed for the 13 nautical mile crossing to Campania Island. So I hung out under my tarp, read, and enjoyed the company of my woodstove.

July 27th gave me the weather window I needed for the long hop to Campania. I did get jumped by a rain squall at the half-way point, but its wind was in my favour, so I simply put up the sail and ran with it for 20-30 minutes.

https://flic.kr/p/8jMEvv
https://flic.kr/p/8k7MdR
I landed just before 5PM at one of the beautiful beaches halfway up Campania.

Cruise ships great and small: the view from the beach on Campania.
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I celebrated a great day with a supper of tinned beans (you gotta do the camping clichés sometimes) and fresh baked bannock.
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Sadly the following day was windy and rainy – too much so even for the fish, who were nowhere to be found when I went out in search of supper.

to be continued...
 
Last edited:

mbiraman

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Jun 6, 2010
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west kootenays
Nice report ,i look forward to more chapters. I have a question. What is the purpose of the white balls on the deck?
 

kayakwriter

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Feb 27, 2006
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mbiraman said:
What is the purpose of the white balls on the deck?
At higher sailing speeds, they break up the laminar airflow over the deck into turbulent, low-pressure zones that add lift and help the hull plane. Computer modeling suggests they give me an additional 0.00000004285% speed.

Nawwwwh. They're there to hold the deck bungies up so slipping folded sails and other accessories under them is easier from the cockpit.

Glad you're enjoying the postings - I'll try to get Chapter 2 up later this week.
 

chodups

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Nov 2, 2005
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I saw the photo of your camp at Weld Cove and the proximity of the water. Looked wet and close. I pulled up the tide charts for that time and saw a +16 tide at midnight. I figured that you must have mis-labled the photo. With a +16 how could your tent be set so close to the water level? Then I read the report and realized that you had stayed up past midnight before setting up camp. Interesting what passes as a good camp up that way.

I agree with you about Milne. It is comfortable and strategically located. Three tents fit comfortably in the forest above the beach. Did you know that there was a Kayak Bill bivi camp at nearby Hartnell Point?

I read a report once about a kayaker who startled a sleeping black bear at that sandy cove on the east side of the island. The bear charged off into the water and swam across to PRI.

I don't think that Dave will mind if I post a shot that he took from the Milne campsite in 2007.



Milne Sunset
by Dave Resler

Jon
http://3meterswell.blogspot.com/
 

chodups

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Nov 2, 2005
Messages
1,083
Bumping this ancient trip report a bit because I've just been in and fixed the photos and video links.
Glad you did this, Philip. I read the whole series about 5-6 months ago and I am going through it again for the 4th or 5th time. About the same number of reads for "The Golden Spruce" and "Little Big Man".
 
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