Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Kayaking North Vancouver Island Straits Solo


I woke up before 7:00am to avoid missing up on the action. After a quick breakfast, I had taken a position on shore with a clear view of the sea, with my camera ready. I had observed some marine wildlife several times, too far to take good photographs. I was also treated to a view of the shore with disk-shaped clouds.

Soon, fishing boats had congregated in the area, moving back and forth, some close to the shore, making further wildlife events unlikely. A lonely seal had passed very close to the shore, and that was it.

I had taken a break and cooked a lunch of mashed potatoes with luncheon meat. The day was mainly cloudy and misty, enhancing an interesting pattern of a repeated shoreline disappearing in the fog.

I had decided to explore the island, picked up my camera and went along its northern side. Suddenly, I saw some movement on the shore across the strait. It was a black bear, foraging in the tidal zone, a long distance away from me.

After photographing the bear, I had continued moving along the shore, but did not get far. The rocky outcrops had made the shore ahead impassable and I had to return.

I had settled again on shore for action. Nothing was happening for a while, so I had used the idle time to upload my pictures from compact flash cards to backup hard drives. Then, I had planed my next day checking the tides and writing down compass headings. My next stop was a campsite on Vancouver Island, near Blinkhorn Peninsula – a jump point for reaching Port McNeill, my final destination. To get there, I needed to round Hanson Island passing through Blackney Passage. As usual, timing was critical to take advantage of slack tides, as the passage was well known for five-knot tides combined with heavy boat traffic, including large cruise and container ships.

Another humpback whale had visited me that afternoon. By that time, I had learned to be alerted of their coming. Their breaths could be heard far distance away, if unobstructed by other noises. Even if I were away from the shore, I usually had enough time to grab the camera and run to water.

Overall, I was satisfied that staying on the island for another day had its rewards. It was the right decision, but the downside was that I only had two days left to complete my trip, and I had to paddle both days, rain or shine. I had consoled myself that, upon reaching Vancouver Island, I should be a short paddle away from Telegraph Cove where I could always get a taxi ride to Port McNeill, if necessary. Plus, even if I got stack somewhere and could not reach Vancouver Island on time on my own, there was always an option of calling a water taxi, albeit at a several hundred dollars price tag.

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