ie. the wind is blowing NW and we can’t leave until tomorrow. So photos got played with…
It took us twenty eight days to paddle from Quadra Island to Prince Rupert. Who knew, eh? Who knew that it could be done, would be done? Who knew that we’d arrive at halfway feeling ready for another round – which we are.
A few days here in town for food packing and friend visiting and then it’s off and away again. We have about the same distance to cover as has already been covered and it’s all new territory for all three of us from here north.
Obviously there will be a more thorough writeup of the trip when we finish, but for now here’s a few notes:
- The boats: are great. At the last minute a good friend from Quadra (Luke Roman) offered me the use of his Seaward Quest for the trip. This is the same boat that Graham paddles and is basically the ideal boat for a trip like this. It’s long, carries anything and punches through seas like no other. I enjoy it every day. Robin’s Legend is also doing well – she packs it like a champion and really digs into those sweep strokes in a crosswind when Graham and I just drop our rudders (she has a skeg).
- The sails: at the relative last minute we decided to buy a simple sail setup for our kayaks. You can see what they look like at www.windpaddle.com. They have been more than worth it. They are easy to set up an use and in a ten knot breeze increase our speed to about four knots. More wind and we go faster. Obviously too much wind and it gets sketchy and we had one dicey moment around a headland when the seas got short and steep and the wind picked up and it all got a bit chaotic. But we have learned and are pickier about our sailing moments. I would argue that their biggest advantage is noticed when we have a tailwind but are fighting current – the sails really give us the edge and allow us to continue to travel at a normal pace despite the current.
Plus, they look like squishy bouncing eyeballs when we’re sailing, which is always good for a few giggles.
- The food: is working out. We eat well, we eat a lot. It’s nice to have the chance here in Prince Rupert to make slight modifications, but for the most part we are following the same plan for the second half as we did for the first. A mix of cold and hot cereals for breakfast, snacks to keep us going for the day (this leg will include more nuts and jerky) and dinners to fill us up at night. Lots of cheese.
- Other gear: we always paddle in our drysuits and the wear is showing. By the end of the trip my drysuit, which was essentially brand new at the start, will be more or less finished. However, as big of a cost as it is, I wouldn’t paddle without it. Obviously safety is one consideration, but warmth and comfort are the more daily reasons. While we sometimes get chilled when it’s pouring rain/hail and blowing from behind (go figure), we’re never wet and the warm-up routine at the end of the day is fast and easy.
In other gear comments, Robin and I both bought thermi to have with us for the next leg after being jealous of Graham’s mid afternoon coffee sessions. This is bound to be a good thing.
- The route and the weather: One can’t really talk about one without considering the other. For the most part we have had exactly the weather we were expecting. Note, this does not mean the weather was good. I haven’t pulled the exact numbers together but in 28 days I think we had 7 days of NW winds (facewinds – blech), 2 days of more or less complete calm and the rest more or less wind from the south (with one day of plus 30 kt SE in which we did not paddle the morning). This has been good for progress. As for rain, let’s say that it rains most days at some point, with a few notable sunny exceptions.
For the first half of the trip we followed a somewhat less “traditional” route that took us along a couple of more exposed coastal sections and paddled us through some incredible island groups. For the second half we decided to do the inside route for weather, first aid (see below), and timing reasons (it’s faster). It has all been spectacular, and if we can say one thing about our route choices it is probably that we’ll have to come back. It would be easily possible to do this same trip three times and almost never paddle the same waters. Impressive.
Our average is about twenty miles a day (taken down a few miles but two full wind days right before Prince Rupert. Oh well.).
- Health and wellbeing: We’re a lot stronger now than when we started (“jacked” is the term most commonly employed) and the ache in the shoulders starts later and later into the day. This is good. In the not so good column goes my mysterious and undiagnosed hand/skin situation (commonly referred to as my “hand disease”). Photos have been texted to various medical family members and other interested parties and the conclusions are not super conclusive. Basically, three weeks ago (one week in) large blisters (1 inch squared ish was the largest) developed on the backs of my hands and fingers that then pop and become large open sores. It all seems to be healing up at the moment, but we haven’t been paddling for a few days now and I’m 50% sure they will be a recurring theme for the second half. Uncomfortable and a bit difficult to manage but not a show stopper.
Well, I think that’s all for now. Pictures (and video! Graham has a GoPro and we’ve got some great footage) to come at the end, and there are some goodies.
Happy June! and here’s to Alaska!
It has been about a month since I left the boat in Puerto Williams. Although spent in the comfort and luxury of my parents’ beautiful house in Victoria, BC, the in between time was not passed idly. Instead, there was a lot of food dehyrated, new gear bought and new charts photocopied and printed – in preparation for the new undertaking.
Tomorrow, two friends and I will set off in kayaks (I’ve downsized considerably from Silas Crosby). We’re northbound this time – another considerable change. We start from the beach in Heriot Bay and will finish somewhere much farther north in two months’ time. It’s a different sort of trip, to be sure.
While I won’t be able to do any blog updating while we’re underway, we will be updating our position via a SPOT gps unit, when possible.*
If you need some more armchair adventuring (never enough), you can follow along on our SPOT page.
We’ll be back in July!
*To make this VERY CLEAR: If we cease to check in…DO NOTHING. We have an extensive communication plan in place.
From the top of the hill the island shakes down over the surrounding sea
A quilt of smooth green and ribboning fences.
The old woman stops, hands on her hips, to watch us approach.
She smiles wide, rocks back onto the heels of her rubber boots.
She points to her piece of smooth green, her ribboning fences.
The people here, she tells us, work hard with their hands.
She smiles when I talk, rubber boots walking sure, heel to toe side by side.
I ask where she was born and she looks to the south.
The people here, she says, are like trees with roots that grow deep
but with seeds that are blown to parts far and away.
She asks where we’re going and we point to the south.
She quints at the sun: I once went away to the north with my mother.
Like seeds strewn across water from high and away
these islands scatter down over the surrounding sea.
Between a boat yet half made and the sea and its rising
the old woman stops, hands on her hips, to watch us walk on.