Well last weekend my wife, Eva and I drove to Vancouver Island to do some
relaxed sea kayaking. Yeah, right! After heading off on Saturday morning
into the half sun, half rain, we made our way out towards the main shipping
lane between Vancouver Island and the USA.
The trip is about 8 miles and passes 6 different Gulf Islands. Very
easy, and VERY safe. We spent the night on the furthest point out, Rum Island, the
closest Island to the US sea border. That was about 1/2 a mile from the
US. The next day the thick, dark FOG had rolled in. Oh oh! I had forgot
to bring my compass. In over 12 trips out to the sea in a sea kayak, I
have never forgot my compass. Always a first time.
Well after waiting as long as we could, (we had to catch the late afternoon
ferry home) Eva and I started to paddle along the edge of the Island,
towards the end where we hop to the next island from. The sea was calm, but currents
were again starting to pick up force. Now I take a L-o-n-g good look at
the marine map. It is still very dark with FOG, and we hear the fog horns
of the big ships getting close. We have 20 minutes of hard paddling with
the STRONG currents pushing out to sea. (the tide is going out now) The
current will be on our right hand side. I will try to keep to the right a
bit, so as to not get pushed to far left, and out to sea.
Now we have been paddling for 30 minutes, 10 minutes too long. Eva is
starting to tire of the hard and fast paddling. I am starting to worry
that we may have been swept out to sea. Now 40 minutes has gone by. OH
Oh! Where is the land .... any land! Still just FOG. Big trouble. I am
now getting scared. Maybe first time in years. I can taste salt dripping
from my forehead. Whether it is fear, or just the salt in the air, I am
Eva and I keep hearing the fog horns of the ships. They sound LOUD and
CLOSE. If we did miss the Island; and are out in the main shipping lane
between Vancouver Island and the Main land, WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE!
The VERY BIG ships here, will never see us. We will either get run over or
find ourselves swept into open SEA.
Now 42 minutes have passed, Eva is very tired now, and begs to stop
paddling. (42 minutes of steady going, has been taxing for me too) I
explain that it is impossible to stop. For every minute we rest, can mean
another mile further out into a dangerous place. But wait; Eva thinks she
sees land. I see nothing, only fog and cloud banks. The sea is playing
tricks with Eva's eyes. But Eva is sure she can even see trees now, high
above the sea. Yes, I see them now too. All right, Eva's eyes are better
than mine. We paddle up to the very nice looking Island. It does not
matter what Island, just that IT IS!
After a bit of a break, we start paddling around the Island I need to see how
it is shaped, so I can match it with an Island on my map. After 800 feet,
Eva notices a lighthouse we had seen once already. But where? Which
Island? After a little more looking, we start to realise it is the SAME
Island we had left almost 45 minutes ago. WHAT! We paddled for 42 minutes
away from the Island, yet some how came back to it. My mind was in limbo
for 25 minutes. How could this happen? Very strange indeed!
Now for the worst part, Eva and I now have to head BACK out into where we
had just come from. Great! Eva says "No Way!" Not yet! So we sit and
wait for the fog to break a bit. I was happy for the wait. By this time
the current is getting weaker, because slack tide will be here in 1 or 2
hours. So off we go again . . .
This time we make it to the first Island. Then to the second, third and
fourth. Now we head across a 4 mile straight toward Vancouver Island. The sun is just starting to come out. Yippee. What a great
Eva says 'NEXT time we bring 3 compasses!'
Ken and Eva Purcell
Stony Plain Near Edmonton Alberta Canada