Alex, that is your most impressive trip report yet! Amazing photos. Twice I’ve tried to get out to the Scott Islands with friends, only to by stymied by wind — your report on the currents confirms that we made the right decision not to go for it. But to paddle to Triangle and back….that is quite incredible.
Wow, what a trip. Thanks for this wonderful report.
Alex, I'm curious what kind of camera you use. It's obviously a higher quality DSLR, above the normal point-and-shoot that so many of us carry. How do stow it safely and have it ready to use to take such great shots, especially of the wildlife?
Andrew, this trip was only possible because I had such good luck with the wind. The difference between the fifteen-knot headwind on Friday (Helen to Lanz) versus the five-knot headwind on Sunday (Lanz to Triangle and back) was huge.
Besides luck, the other important factor was that I had budgeted five whole days for this trip, without attempting to squeeze in any additional destinations beyond the Scott Islands. Yes, I was tempted to visit Guise Bay and the cape, but I stayed focused on the islands, and that proved to be a wise choice. Without the rest day on Saturday, I would have been too tired and demoralized to make the attempt on Triangle.
According to John Kimantas's most recent guidebook, "Attempting to reach Triangle Island ... would be foolhardy for paddlers." I don't think things are quite that dire. In low wind and with good planning around the currents, it's a totally doable adventure. In ancient times, people didn't think twice about paddling to Triangle Island. The TKUS I mentioned in my trip report documents four shell middens and a house platform on Triangle. They must have been coming for centuries.
Paddlers still occasionally come even today. Mark Hipfner has been the director of the research station on Triangle Island since 2001. He told me he saw two other kayakers at Triangle Island three years ago. He even asked if I was one of those same guys!
AC, all photos in this trip report were taken with a Sony RX10 Mk. IV. It's a "superzoom" with a so-called "one-inch" sensor, the best balance I could find between high magnification (critical for wildlife) and large sensor size (critical for image quality). You can find them used on Ebay for under 1,000 USD. Make sure not to get the Mks. I or II, as they have far less magnification than the Mks. III or IV.
I gave up using a DSLR. Too big, too expensive, and too slow with the auto-focus. The RX10 has 12x magnification, equivalent to a decent pair of birding binoculars, and the same magnification you'd get with a 35mm DSLR sensor with a 600mm lens. Of course, a 600mm lens weighs eight and a half pounds (4 kg), won't fit into a drybag, and costs as much as a used car! There are times I miss the larger sensor size of a DSLR, but overall, I am very satisfied with the tradeoff and am not looking to upgrade from the RX10.
I carry my RX10 in a tough, rubbery, five-liter drybag, which sits on the floor of the cockpit on top of a large bilge sponge. In calm conditions, I can also stow the drybag under the emergency-release strap on my sprayskirt, where it is available for fast access. The camera has survived seaspray and rain, but a full-on soaking would probably destroy it—yet another advantage in carrying a camera that costs under 1,000.
That is one awesome trip. I did a trip round Cape Scott decades ago and was wondering if getting to Triangle was even possible in kayak. I've aged out of it being a possibility for me, but glad others are picking up the torch!
oh my! Your risk tolerance (and paddling skill!) is way higher than mine. Going around the north end of the island last year in benign weather had me stressed enough for years to come. Very cool trip, thanks for the report