Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Kayaking North Vancouver Island Straits Solo

DAY 16:  TO

I walked up at 6:00am and started the day with a breakfast of dinner leftovers followed by coffee from my thermos. Then I decided to check my emails before heading to the new area, quite possibly with no mobile connection. To my surprise, the phone was on, with almost no juice left. This was the second occurrence when the phone had switched on by itself. If the first time I had some doubts, this time I clearly remembered switching the phone off the night before. Despite all my efforts thereafter, the phone kept switching on and I could not keep up with charging it, as while staying on it was losing more power than my solar panel could provide. At the end, the phone had shut itself down and for the remaining days of my trip I was relying on my old backup mobile phone for sending and receiving SMS, and for a potential emergency.

After the breakfast, I had packed up my dry bags and placed them, along with the rest of my stuff, on two parallel logs close to the area where I was planning to load my kayak. Even with most of my food already consumed, the load still looked quite impressive.

When I left the island, the ocean was quiet: no wind and the gentle seas, quite opposite to what I experienced in the previous afternoon. I paddled in the direction of Spring Passage between Midsummer and Gilford Islands, moving from an islet to an islet along the way and frequently stopping to take photographs.

By the time I had reached Morning Islets, the sea started building up. More troubling, I had noticed that the tidal current was working against me, while according to the tidal charts it supposed to be a flood current flowing in my direction for another couple of hours. Go figure!

Closer to Spring Passage the current was even stronger and I was struggling to make a significant progress. My GPS was showing that my absolute speed was about 1.5 knots – almost half of my cruising speed in flat water. In addition, a combination of wind and current kept rotating my kayak requiring to frequently paddle on one side, canoe style. This was a tiring exercise and after a while I had decided to stop for rest and a quick lunch. I had soon found a small bay on Midsummer Island, got in and stopped there. I could feel no wind or current and was freely floating in calm waters. Some commotion on shore indicated a large animal moving through the thick undergrowth. Most likely, a bear – it was making too much noise for a deer. In fifteen minutes, I had finished my lunch of granola bars with water and felt rested enough to continue.

Maybe it was the rest or maybe the current had slowed down a bit, but I felt that I was making a much better progress. I soon rounded Midsummer Island and through a maze of islands and islets entered Knight Inlet.

I selected the SSE course targeting the passage between Maud and Pearl Islands, where I was planning to look for a campsite. Once in Knight Inlet, my kayak did not want to stay on its course preferring the SSW course. Once again, most likely a combination of wind and tidal current was working against me. The deck bags were an easy target for the wind, especially with my kayak turned sideways to it. Meanwhile, the waves were getting higher and, after a while, I had decided to stop fighting and let the kayak stay on its preferred course, as it was actually in my favor. The kayak wanted to head right across the inlet, minimizing the crossing time and also staying at an angle to the waves, versus broadside on the original course. Forty five minutes later I had finished crossing the inlet and was paddling in calm waters along Maud Island coast until I had reached the passage.

The passage was shown very shallow on the chart and indeed the rocks were sticking out here and there, however not a big deal for a kayak with its minimal draft, if paddling carefully. A few minutes later, I saw a little bay with a mud bottom and a clearing in the forest nearby.

I had checked the clearing – it was suitable for a camp. Soon the tent was up, almost hidden behind the logs.

I had to rush up with my dinner: the thunder had been rumbling for the past two hours and getting louder. I cooked a double portion planning to finish leftovers at breakfast; however I was so hungry after the tiring trip that I had eaten it all. The thunder had stopped and the rain did not materialize. The day had ended with a beautiful sunset.

The plan for the next day was to visit the abandoned First Nations village on Village Island and then head for Flower Island located in West Passage, next to Swanson Island.

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