Octopus Island Marine Park
I fell in love with SUP late in the Fall last year and rekindled the romance once the summer arrived this year! After extensive research I invested in a board specially designed for women - a Paiwen board http://www.paiwenboards.com/?a_aid=Steph
I have just returned from a mini expedition to Quadra Island http://www.quadraisland.ca/ with my family, here's what we got up to!
The adventure began at Granite Bay where we filled the canoe with food and camping gear, ditched the car and set sail! The water was relatively calm and the scenery was spectacular. After paddling for approximately an hour we reached the entrance to Small Inlet which was free of wind and the water was flat calm and gin clear, kelp, starfish, crab, urchins, and shoals of small fish were visible.
At the head of Small Inlet, we reached the beach which meant it was time to portage! After locating the entrance to the path we unloaded the canoe of food and camping gear and carried everything to the path entrance. We left the canoe there and the four of us, loaded with back packs, paddles, paddle board and food buckets, proceeded into the woods. The path through the forest was 1km long, thick with trees, some of which were crossing the path and had to be climbed over or crawled under. It was quite the workout so I was pleased when we broke out of the trees to the awesome sight of the ocean - Octopus Islands Marine Park. http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/octopus/
Lewis stayed with the gear, while Andrew, Alasdair & myself set off back through the trees to pick up the canoe. Lifting it over and in between the fallen trees was challenging but we succeeded!
After a rest and light refreshments, we re-loaded the canoe & set sail to explore the Octopus Islands, find a place to camp for the night, and locate a fresh water source for drinking. The scenery was stunning, clear ocean dotted with approximately 30 sailing boats moored in various secluded locations offering faint sounds of chatting, aromas of cooking with a hint of Frank Sinatra.....
The boys found water while I paddled around the nearby islets searching for a place to set up camp. I was delighted to find a tiny island with a space on top of a small hill for our two tents. It was tailor made just for us! I explored the island and noticed it must be a feeding station for some type of bird or animal, the piles of poo and cracked shells were a clue!
The tents were erected and a gourmet dinner of boil in the bag curry was wolfed down after our energetic day!
It was such a beautiful evening, we decided to embark on a sunset paddle, we meandered through the tiny islets where the water was shallow and clear, revealing the abundance of marine life below the surface. The people on the moored sailing boats and yachts gave us a wave and said hello.
An early start was required to allow us the time to paddle all the way down the coast to Heriot Bay http://heriotbayinn.com/marina.html so we got up at 5 am, ate a quick granola bar, packed up the tents and gear and started down the coast. The sun was not yet up and the ocean was flat calm, a feeling of eerie stillness was in the air, no one chatted, we were lost in our serene surroundings..........
After two hours of paddling the tranquility was shattered by Lewis shouting loud with expletives and demanding that we paddle to the shore immediately! I turned back and could see a look of terror in his eyes! He had glanced back and saw the rounded back of a humpback or grey whale only 10 meters behind, it must have dived and swam right underneath us! I must admit, a feeling of vulnerability came over me, even though I'm sure it knew we were there. It's 'footprint' was clearly visible in the water behind us......
In the distance I could hear loud rumbling and roaring, we had reached Surge Narrows where the tide rips in and out of Octopus Islands Marine Reserve at up to 12 knots! The ocean resembled a raging river - nothing like the calmness we had become accustomed to.
We had anticipated arriving here at roughly flat water but had made such good time on the earlier part of the journey that the tide was still ripping through the inlet. We docked on the rocks and scrambled along to take a look at the 50 meters of 'surge' that we needed to paddle through in order to proceed. I took one look and suggested waiting at the side until the water had subsided to calmness again but was outvoted by the thrill seeking men in my life! Lewis was 'deposited' on the shore to take pictures of the event!.....Before I had time to persuade them otherwise, Andrew and Alasdair set off at full speed into the running water as I watched in horror from the shore! Their faces full of excitement and joy!
They paddled furiously in a straight line as I watched from the shore. Thankfully they made it through in one piece, all our equipment still intact and dry!
That left me! I carried the SUP over the rocks to where Lewis had taken the pictures and put the board in after the rapids, but surrounded by swirling eddys and whirlpools in deep water. I was not feeling too confident in my newly discovered paddle boarding skills at that point!!!
I had hoped to slowly stick to the shore and work my way along out of the whirlpools but I was drawn into the centre by the current. On my knees I started paddling like a mad woman, the side of the board started going under and Lewis was screaming at me to move away from the shore and into the faster flowing water. I didn't ask questions, just did exactly what I was told. Once the board was facing the direction of the flow, I paddled fiercely out of the 'danger zone' and into the welcoming calm waters, sweat dripping from my brow! I decided I wasn't doing that again!
We regrouped with a giggle and continued with our journey, quietly and steadily, noticing a pod of Porpoises along the way. In the distance was the welcoming sight of the Discovery Islands Lodge, a beautiful hideaway retreat for water enthusiasts http://www.coastmountainexpeditions.com/content/group-gatherings-and-adventures?q=node/21. We tied along side the dock while Andrew went inside to see if they were serving breakfast! To our delight they were! After a chat with the hosts and our bellies full, we continued on.
The wind had picked up and the tide had turned so the next section of the journey was somewhat challenging, I was thankful at this point for my 6 years of practising yoga as the upper body/core work was relentless. Being the only female in the family, I have no choice but to keep up or I get left behind! My men do not wait for me! It was hard work for the next three hours. As we neared Heriot Bay, I spotted the Cortes ferry & was relieved that we were almost at our final destination, but from where I was, it looked extremely small! It seemed to take forever for the ferry to 'grow' indicating that I was getting closer to shore and to the beer that I had been thinking about for hours! After a battle with wind and tide to turn into Heriot Bay, http://heriotbayinn.com/ we made it! Safe and sound at last. Now for the beer ;)
As you can see from the pic below, I wore the same outfit for three days, I slept in it too! My Teeki capris were quick drying and comfy, the Karma Bra layered with the loose Hardtail top were the perfect combination, offering protection from the sun and breathability. They looked fab too! ;)
Here's a map of our journey :)