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Kayak-Sailing in British Columbia

July 24th, 2010 by

Patti and I recently returned home from a trip to coastal British Columbia.
Let me just say that this is a beautiful part of the world, snow -capped mountain peaks, terrific wind and endless opportunities to paddle-sail. We brought our Necky Eskia and our new Pakboat XT-15 along for the ride. After crossing the border, we headed north toward Squamish, a town situated at the end of scenic Howe Sound.
It’s a windy place in the summer and a popular destination for windsurfers, kite- boarders and sailboat cruisers looking for excitement. We found it similar to our home town of Hood River in this respect.
The paddle-sailing in Howe sound was wonderful. Glacial runoff gives the water a blue-green tint. It kind of reminded me of the water color in the Florida Keys after a strong wind has stirred up the coral sediments. The tide and the wind were in the same direction causing us to paddle sail close hauled much of the time but the scenery is breath-taking and the broad reaches home were a blast. After a fun-filled day on the water, we spent the night camped in Porteau Cove Provincial Park.

The next day we packed up and headed down to Vancouver to meet with Mark Hall, the mastermind designer and positive energy source behind Delta kayaks.
Mark, who had met me at a trade show, was eager to put the Kayaksailor on one of his boats and get out on the water. He introduced us to beautiful Pitt lake where we rigged up a Delta 15.5 with a 1.4m2 sail for sea trials. The wind was light ,but strong enough for us to get a feel for the boat-sail combination. The 15.5 is a light weight, solid craft capable of handling big water and enough gear for a two week excursion, yet nimble enough to be playful. We were impressed with its finish, secure fit and confidence inspiring stability. All of these attributes suited the Kayaksailor beautifully.

The sails lit up like stained glass as we sailed into the evening, tacking and jibing around the lake, taking in the peaceful beauty of the place. A fun time was had by all. I have to say that hanging out with Mark and his family was a very special experience. Their hospitality, kind nature and love of life made us feel great.
In the morning, we drove up to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to catch a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Here is some advice, if you are ever thinking about taking one of these ferries in the summer months, make sure you make reservations. We learned this lesson the hard way and got stuck at the ferry dock all day, waiting for a slot to open. Although, I must say that we did meet some cool people while we were waiting. The ferry ride was a pleasant one and only took about an hour and a half to make the crossing.

We popped up our tent in a nice campground along the bank of the Chase River, just south of Nanaimo. Before too long the boats were sliding into the water. The mouth of the Chase is a pretty tidal estuary blanketed by marsh grasses and home to a variety of shore birds. Since the conditions were flat calm, we left our sails in the truck and paddled out into the bay. Here is a bit more advice, if you have a sail, take it with you! The Kayaksailor slogan could be like the American Express card’s “Don’t leave home without it”. When we got out into the middle of the bay, the wind started to build. As I’m sure you can imagine, it was just perfect for sailing. If our legs weren’t confined to our cockpits, we could have kicked ourselves. Oh well, lesson learned.

We worked our way out of the breeze and headed up the protected Chase. One of the highlights was seeing a traditional style native war canoe paddled by about eight or ten people. They must have been training for a race because this boat was going fast, and I mean fast! I had no idea boats like this could move at such a speed. They even made a tight 180 degree turn in front of us with two of the front paddlers using their blades as bow rudders. It was pretty cool to watch. I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo.
The next day we drove about twenty minutes south to the town of Ladysmith. Our intention was to visit with Bud Bell, owner operator of Sealegs Kayaking and take him sailing. He and his wife Sheryll run a top-notch kayak center and have a beautiful place right on the waterfront. Just as we arrived, he got swamped by a crowd of eager paddlers, so we weren’t able to take him for a sail. We did however, get a chance to show him the rig, pop it up and down a couple of times and go for a quick sail ourselves. The sail attracted quite a bit of attention, even a seal popped his head out of the water to take a look. It is a wonderful spot to paddle-sail and well worth the visit.

Unfortunately, we had to rush out of there to have enough time to catch the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington. This time we made reservations in advance! After a pleasant drive of about an hour to Victoria, we cleared customs and boarded the ferry. It was impressive the way the captain was able to pivot this large vessel around in the tight harbor unassisted. Victoria is a cool looking little city from the water and I wish we had more time to visit.

The wind was blowing around 20 knots when we cleared the harbor entrance. Some beautiful sailing vessels were heading in with shortened sail. In the distance we could see fog rolling in and within about twenty minutes we were in the thick of it. It’s crazy how fast a fog can move in. The Captain slowed our vessel down a bit and periodically blew the horn. Brrrrrrrrrh……………….Brrrrrrrrrh……. sounded the ship into the mist. I definitely wouldn’t want to be in a sailboat anywhere near this ferry with such limited visibility. It didn’t last long though, and before we knew it we were happily pulling into the port of Port Angeles.

Just outside of the ferry dock is a nice shop called Sound Bikes and Kayaks. We met owner Vicki Adams and her crew, then showed them our sail. They are super cool people and take excellent care of all their customers. During our brief but very pleasant visit, we tentatively set up a Kayaksailor demo day in September. I’m sure it will be a fun time. I will make a blog post with t he exact date as soon as we come up with one.

Thanks for viewing!


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