Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Kayaking North Vancouver Island Straits Solo


There were some pounding splashes during the night: most likely, a sea lion was hunting. By the time when the morning sun had lighted the area, the cove surface was as calm as a mirror.


The kayaking group was up by 7:00am. By 8:30am they had finished the breakfast and packed the kayaks. Fifteen minutes later they were gone.

Meanwhile, I had decided to stay for a day. I rested after two days of travel, dried up my clothes that I had washed the day before and charged various batteries with the solar panel. I also photographed the tidal creatures in the cove at low tide.

Then I went fishing along the shore. After catching one rockfish, I had to change my location and still hooked a second one. I had to release it, as the fishing regulations for that place and time allowed retaining only one rockfish a day. Unfortunately, statistically the survival rate for caught and released rockfish is not particularly good. They often suffer from positive buoyancy due to overexpansion of gases in their swim bladders while pulled out, and cannot return to the depths for some time. This makes them vulnerable to various predators. The released rockfish was splashing on the surface in front of me, being pulled away by the tidal current. To avoid catching more rockfish I had decided to leave this fishing area and also started drifting with the current while continuing fishing. The rockfish kept splashing a few boat lengths in front of me, with the distance gradually increasing. There was nothing I could do to help this fish, but a thought had crossed my mind that its commotion might attract a predator. While I was thinking if I should put my fishing rod away and get the camera ready, I heard a powerful flapping of wings behind me. Then two bald eagles had almost simultaneously descended on the fish. One was a split second faster and grabbed it first, right in front of me, and then flew to one of the trees on the shore. Everything had happened in a matter of a few seconds: too fast to get the camera out of the dry bag. However, it had taught me a valuable lesson: the camera should be ready as soon as a first thought about using it had crossed the mind.

I returned to my camp and took several self-portraits activating the camera with a wireless remote control. 

It was time for late lunch, cleaning the fish and getting ready for the next day departure. This was the first time when I had noticed that my smartphone did not want to take the full charge from the solar panel. I had been using the phone to check emails whenever I got a signal. Even more important, I was emailing my coordinates to the emergency contacts: my friends who were following my progress, ready to contact the authorities and provide my last location if I did not complete my trip on time. Finally, I needed the phone in case of an emergency, so keeping it charged was a matter of safety, but also of convenience.

However, my camera batteries were recharging with no issues – so at least I could continue taking pictures.

My preparations for the next day were nearly complete. I did not have enough dedicated water containers to store all the water needed till the end of my trip, so I pressed a transparent dry bag into service filling it in at a small creek near the camp. I had also refilled all water bottles emptied over previous days. With careful use, this should have been enough to last the remaining ten days. I dined on the smoked fish, my last for a while, as for a number of days I would be travelling in the no-fishing area, and was ready for bed. My next destination was Mound Island in Broughton Archipelago, some ten nautical miles away. I had to wake up early to catch the morning tide. However, I could not fall asleep for a while: the sea lion kept splashing in the cove again.

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