Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Kayaking North Vancouver Island Straits Solo




DAY 22: DEPARTURE TO
VICTORIA

After waking up at 2:00am, having cold breakfast and hot coffee from the thermos, I packed up the kayak and headed off, still in dark. The night was clear – no fog. For my safety and as required by the boating rules, I had attached a round white navigation light to the dry bag at the stern.

I also had my headlamp on to see where I was going, and between these two lights, I was confident that I would be visible from any angle. After paddling along the kelp field and reaching the Port McNeill bay entrance, I had stopped at the kelp field border to switch my GPS on, as I needed to follow its directions to the Port McNeill boat launch. Just before stopping, I had looked around and saw two boats: one heading along the opposite shore and the other one in my direction, still very far away. Some time had passed until I had the GPS on. When I raised my head again, I saw to my surprise the red and green motorboat navigation lights, very close and heading straight at me. Thinking that maybe its operator did not see my stern or head light I quickly turned broadside, hoping that this would make them more visible, but to no avail: the motorboat kept heading at me, now 20m away, but fortunately at a slow speed. Only my quick paddling saved me from an unpleasant end of my trip. To this day, I still do not understand how the boat operator could not see my lights and why he was getting so dangerously close to the kelp field, filled with rocks. This encounter had again highlighted my previous observation: always assume that the motorboat operators will not notice my kayak on water, day or night, lighted up or not.

I had crossed the bay with no more adventures. Although I had encountered some boats, they all were a safe distance away. Soon I saw the masts of the sailboats at the marina and knew I was getting close. When I had finally reached the municipal boat launch, it was still at dawn, just before the sunrise.


After arriving to the municipal boat launch, I had observed cars with boat trailers coming and launching the boats, one after another. I had disassembled the kayak quickly and laid the parts down to dry up.

However, the light drizzle had made this exercise pointless. I had packed everything up by 7:45 in the morning and spend the next hour portaging my bags to the bus station. After paying the extra luggage fees, I had asked for the directions to the closest shower – it was just across the road. Unfortunately, it was occupied and after waiting for a while, I had decided to skip on it and changed to the clean clothes in the information centre washroom. Then I grabbed a cup of coffee and a muffin from a nearby shop: my first civilized breakfast in three weeks, and it was fantastic! It was time to pull out my backup mobile phone and send SMS messages to my emergency contacts telling them that the trip had successfully ended. The mobile phone battery was almost dead: although I had charged it the day before, and the phone was showing full charge, it all disappeared in a matter of minutes. I had to switch it off, to keep the remaining juice for an emergency.  

The bus had arrived with a minimal delay and soon I was repeating my bus route, only in the opposite direction. It was a late afternoon when I had finally reached my home. And this was the end of my journey.


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