Paddle to Portland (Island)

Saturday, March 24, 2013

Last weekend, I completed the Paddle Canada Level 1 course with

Active Sea Kayaking. This weekend,

an overnight trip is a chance to practice a bit of what was taught.

My launch point is Tulista Park in Sidney, BC. From here, I plan to paddle north, between Goudge and Coal Islands and across to Portland Island. I have estimated an hour and a half for the trip.

This is also the first time that I will be packing my kayak for an overnight trip. This was talked about in the course last week. With everything tucked into the hatches, a quick float test let me know that I had better pack this boat again.

Finally, with a level kayak, I set off on a beautiful, windless evening. First lesson learned.

Following the Sidney shoreline was straight forward. I paddled north toward a gap between two islands; Goudge Island to my left and Coal Island to my right. I intended on following the east shore of Goudge. An ebb current is running this evening and I quickly learned that it was the sea’s intension that I paddle up the west side of Coal. Second lesson learned.

Once through this narrow section, my next obstacle presented itself; the BC Ferries, Coastal Celebration. I stopped at the north point of Coal, staying out of the ferry's path. I must admit, I was quite nervous about what type of wake would be coming from this massive boat. To my surprise, very little wake is stirred up by this vessel; German ingenuity it seems. Third lesson learned.

The Coastal Celebration on its way and no other vessels heading in or out of the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal. Portland is an easy island to spot as it is a part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and there are no buildings on it. I set out to make the 3km crossing to Portland. This would be the first time I crossed a body of water this wide.

The water was glassy smooth and the air still warm from the afternoon sun. I paddled and the island became closer but I was not there yet. I continued on, the island became closer still but I wasn't there yet. This phenomenon I was experiencing could be coined, “near shoring”. It happens when the shoreline you are looking at appears closer than really is. What helped me overcome this tonight was my wrist watch. Knowing that I had not paddled long enough to make it, I pressed on until I was actually at my destination. Fourth lesson learned.

I didn't feel that there was enough light for me to paddle around the entire island. I pulled into Princess Bay on the south shore of Portland. A harbour seal popped his head above the water to say hello.

The last lesson I learned before landed on the shore was just how tranquil and serene this place is.