The alarm was set for 5:00am, but I switched it off to get a bit more
sleep and woke
up at 6:00am. Cooked oatmeal and coffee, packed up my dry bags and
departed by 10:00am. On my way, I photographed a colony of gulls on a
rock close to my camp.
It was quiet: no wind, smooth water, beautiful conditions to travel.
I took the passage between Insect and Baker Islands, with frequent
stops to photograph the area.
flew fast: I had realized that, if I wanted to get through Arrow
Passage before the tide turned at 1:00pm, I would have to skip on a
detailed exploration of Fox Group. So, I had only touched it and paddled
between the outer islands. I liked Fox Group: a pretty cluster of
islands, something to enjoy exploring next time.
was time to set my course for Arrow Passage. Unexpectedly, finding it
presented a challenge. I was in the place with several
passages around me. However, only one was visible, quite wide, too wide
to be Arrow Passage -- a long and narrow water way, as shown on the
chart. It was also a bit more south than I expected. After checking the
chart and the compass, I had selected the course to paddle for reaching
Arrow Passage and then got
underway. 30 minutes later, I had started having doubts. I had switched
on my GPS, but its chart was not of much help. It was telling me that I
was at the crossroad with several passages leading in various
-- this much I already knew. As I had learned over my trip, the GPS was
very good in giving precise direction when used on a kayak. Then it
struck me that, while selecting my course on
the chart, I used only a tiny portion of the compass rose (the rest was
folded away), and this was the true course rose, not the inner,
magnetic course rose. When I had adjusted my compass readings for the
magnetic declination of about 20 degree east, it was clear that the
passage I had ignored earlier was very likely Arrow Passage. I had
paddling direction and soon reached its entrance. Switched on my GPS to
confirm that I was in the right spot: indeed, this time I could clearly
on the chart.
the passage at 1:00pm. While in the passage, faced the head winds and
the chop, a bit unpleasant and slowing down, and a sign that the
situation out in the open was unsettled. It took me almost an hour to
reach Hudson Island, closer to the end of the passage. The wind was
picking up as I was getting closer to the open waters at the passage
end, and I could also see the build up of the waves ahead. I had
decided to take the inner route seeking shelter from the weather in
Spiller Passage, behind Hudson Island. I could see a maze of
islands in front of me; somewhere among them was Angular Island with
the intended campsite.
switching on the GPS, I had followed its chart to Angular Island,
staying on the windward side of the islands along the way. In 30
I had located the campsite. It was a pretty and interesting place on a
peninsula, almost an island at high tide, surrounded by bays on three
sides and connected to the rest of Angular Island by an isthmus, likely
overflown at leap tides.
It seemed that this place had been
popular among kayakers. One tent site had been prepared, with the
gravel leveled, ready for pitching the tent, another flat place was
available on a rocky outcrop nearby, and a third tent could be placed
next to the first one, if necessary. A large log was positioned for
sitting, with two fireplaces with wind barriers nearby. I had
placed my camping gear on the site, leaving pitching the tent for
later, and hung the solar panel out to charge the almost depleted
camera battery. Unfortunately, the panel was not charging, although the
sun was shining -- something was likely wrong with the panel. On a
positive side, I had switched on my mobile phone and got a connection!
While cooking a late lunch/early dinner of rice with the canned ham,
and the tea, I had sent an OK email, the first one since leaving the
Port Hardy area, and replied to the most urgent emails. With enough
rice left for the breakfast and the thermos filled with the morning
coffee, I was done with the most time consuming chores and was ready to
photograph the area.
While portaging my stuff from the shore to the
campsite, I had noticed a flock of small shore birds, likely Least
Sandpipers. They were so well camouflaged when feeding on the shore in
the tidal zone that several times I would have walked through them if
they did not take off at my approach, just meters away.
had taken a number of pictures with the telephoto lens, then napped for
an hour or so, in the open under the warming sun. By 6:00pm it was
getting cold, so
I pitched the tent and prepared the camp for the night.
I saw the flock again, now feeding in a different area. I had moved
very close, within 10-15 meters or so, sat down on a rock and started
taking pictures with the telephoto lens. I was quiet and within a short
period of time the birds had come very close, feeding all around me,
quite often so close, within a couple of meters, that I could not focus
the lens. When this was happening, I would sit silently
the precious moments, while blaming myself for not putting a shorter
focal length lens in the pocket when leaving the camp.
fog had moved in by 8:00pm and, after taking several pictures of the
fog, I had retired to the tent. It was time to empty my Compact Flash
cards, around 40GB, uploading the images into two portable hard drives.
I had several sets of rechargeable AA batteries, fully charged before
the trip. As I feared, after 20 days all of them save for one set had
been dead. With
the remaining set I had managed to power up my portable hard drives and
upload all pictures. Unless the solar panel started charging, and soon,
would be on a tight ration. Still, I had enough AA alkaline batteries
power my GPS and headlamp until the end of the trip, with some in
reserve. Plus, I had brought with me a hand cranker with a car adapter,
and I could use it to charge the camera batteries and the mobile phone
in a desperate situation. And the situation would have to be desperate
-- I had tried charging the batteries and while it
worked, I doubted I would have had enough patience and energy to crank
it for more than a few minutes.
Went to bed at close to 11:00pm.
My next destination was White Cliffs Islets, a group of small rocky
islets around 10 km south. According to the guidebook, the east islet,
the biggest one, had points of safe landing and flat areas suitable for