Finally, I had departed. It was already the day light. The strait was quiet and covered with fog.
I had passed Telegraph Cove: it was still half-asleep, with very light boat traffic in the area.
I expected this to
be the longest paddling day yet: close
to fifteen nautical miles, around five hours. If everything went as
before the tide turn I was planning to reach the same place near Port
McNeill where I camped on my first night. The area along the way was
with virtually no camping options until after Port McNeill; it was a
day of commuting back to Port McNeill, not exploring and enjoying the
I kept paddling as close to the shore as I could;
however, I was still seriously concerned about the motorboats. I had
observed before that not all of them were noticing me. My path was taking me
through the areas with dense boat traffic, and I had to be extra careful.
As I paddled along, the traffic had picked up. Most of the time, it was
parallel to my heading and, as I was staying very close to the shore, I did not have
any problems. However, I had to pass around Nimpkish Bank with its dangerous shoals,
especially at this low and falling tide. This would take me close to and into the
busy traffic lanes of
The boating rules
state that a vessel propelled by paddles is a stand-on
vessel, while a motor-powered vessel has to give way. The same
state that the skipper is responsible for taking all reasonable actions
avoid a collision, and that was what I was doing all the time over my
I stayed on without taking evasive actions, I fear that on more than
occasion these motorboats would have run me over.
I had always thought that my bright green/yellow kayak
with large yellow deck bags was easy to spot. However, over this trip I had
learned that I should always assume that the motorboat operators would not notice
me. While some motorboats were changing their
course well in advance, others would continue heading on, and if I
did not stop or make a sharp change of course, a collision would likely have
followed. Maybe their operators did not know the rules thinking that they had
the right of way, maybe they relied on their radars, maybe they had assumed that if
they were moving at a high speed, so could I, or maybe they all had decided to step
out to the galley to brew a pot of tea, just when getting dangerously close to
my kayak -- I do not know. If any experienced motorboat operator could share with me the reasons, I would be grateful.
Sure enough, when I was approaching
As soon as I left the Nimpkish Bank shoals behind and saw
the depth increasing, I started heading close to the shore to get out of the
traffic zone. Sometime later, I had noticed the fog that was thickening quickly. The
A couple of hours later, very tired but still determined, I was getting close to the point of crossing the Port McNeill bay for reaching my campsite The fog was still thick. I could see the boats close by through the fog, moving at a reduced speed, some signaling with fog horns, most not. I was not so much concerned about them: I felt that with these boats moving so slow I could avoid the collision. I could also blow my whistle if necessary to alert about my presence in the fog. My major concern was the ferry. It had to move at high speed to keep the schedule. Although it was sounding the fog horn all the time, I doubted that I could get out of its way on time without spotting the ferry in advance and seeing where it was coming from. And I did not know its schedule.
While I was struggling over my options, I heard the ferry
crossing just in front of me, moving from Port McNeill to
From my previous observations, I knew that I would have about an hour before the ferry returned, enough to cross the bay. The fog had lightened a bit and I could see the opposite side of the bay, but just barely. I took the compass reading and also switched the GPS on activating the GOTO function. This was a very quick crossing: I paddled as fast as I could to minimize the time in the traffic zone. A couple of motorboats passed by, at slow speed and causing no trouble. When I had reached the opposite shore, I realized that the low tide had brought its own challenges: the rocks were sticking out all over, making moving along the kelp line difficult. Finally, more than five hours since the start, I had reached my campsite, dead tired but happy to be at the end of this long journey, and in one piece.
After unloading the kayak and pitching the tent I had cooked my lunch. After the lunch, I had finally taken this photo.
I had envisaged it some twenty days ago, at the beginning of my journey: the rusty chain that I had noticed lying on shore, in the tidal zone, resembling a snake. At that time, I had postponed taking the picture until later in the day, and by then the chain had been covered by the tide.
I had some hopes for seeing or at least hearing the orcas, but the fishing boat traffic in front of my site was very heavy all day.
The rest of the day was dedicated to washing myself with
the heated sea water, shaving and making other arrangements to look more
civilized. I then packed as much as I could and went to bed early, at 7:00pm: I
had to wake up at 2:00am to have enough time to reach Port McNeill, dry up and disassemble the kayak, and pack my
stuff for the 10:00am bus back to
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