Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Broken Islands Kayak Trip (Late June)

Map of the area and where we paddled
For Mom's birthday, I organized a trip for us to go kayaking in the Broken Islands for a few days. Unfortunately Angela was unavailable for the trip, much to her dismay. It started with a ferry ride over to Vancouver Island on the Friday evening, where we stayed in a motel in Port Alberni. The next morning we drove to Bamfield to meet our Water Taxi that would take us out to the Broken Group of Islands in Barkley Sound. The weather was amazing and the seas were calm as we crossed Imperial Eagle Channel which separates the Deer Group Islands from the Broken Group.
Lots of water for the trip! There was very little fresh water on the islands
The water taxi
The water taxi dropped us off around the corner from where we had planned to spend the next few nights on Turret Island. The boats are not allowed to drop kayakers off in site of the campsites which is nice. The water taxi company also rented us our kayaks, map, life jackets, paddles and emergency kayak supplies which saved us a lot of hassle!  
First day sunshine, but cold water!
 We took advantage of the good weather by venturing out into the outer islands and investigating Owens, Clarke and Benson Islands. We had a good guide book that gave us some detail about the history of each island which was very interesting! There was lots of life out in the islands - sea stars, seals, sea birds and deer! 
Calm waters made for easy paddling and wildlife watching
Amazing diversity on the rocks

We stopped on Benson Island to cook some dinner and check out some of the remains of the old structures. 
Dinner picnic on Benson Island
There used to be lots of native inhabitants in the Broken Group
Judging by the trees, it must get pretty stormy out here!
 The paddle back to the campsite was just as calm, so we just took our time taking in the sights.

Sunset from the Turret Island campsite
 We woke up to heavy cloud, fog and light drizzle, but set out on our objective of exploring the rest of the Outer Islands. Since the goal of the trip was to see whales, we figured that this would be our best bet. Crossing the channel to the Outer Islands was a bit rough, but once we were in the protected islands, the paddling was easy.
Approaching the lighthouse on Raymond Island
Suddenly we spotted a whale spouting! We quickly paddled towards it and followed the spouting between some islands. We never got very close but it was really exciting! I wanted to go and find the arch on Effingham Island that you can paddle through. It involved paddling around the unprotected part of the island and the swells were getting a bit crazy so we never got there. Apparently it is worth a visit. 
Chasing the spouting whale
 As a condolence we went to investigate the huge tide pool on Wouwer Island but the waves were pretty big there too. What we didn't realize until after was that there are resident sea lions that like to spend time around Wouwer. We had a few friends following the kayaks, coming so close that I thought they were going to flip us over. It turns out that they were just curious and liked to chase the boats.
Sea lion getting a good look
A soggy day
 Back at camp, we tried to dry everything out under our tiny tarp. Luckily there was enough tree cover to keep most of our stuff dry without the tarp. After dinner we fell asleep very quickly. It had been a big day.
Home under the tarp
 Monday was another grey day. Dad wasn't too keen on getting back into wet gear and another full day in the kayak with a sore back so he elected to stay at the campsite and read. Mom and I took the double kayak out to check out some of the inner islands. I liked the outer islands better because they were smaller and more interesting, but I would have like to have time to investigate Gibralter Island because apparently that is where all the whales are.
Picnic lunch on Keith Island
 Our last morning involved packing up and going for a short paddle along the edge of Turret Island to see the little bays that we hadn't explored yet. We met our Water Taxi back in the same bay as he had left us in and there was hot tea and cookies for the ride home! We arrived back in Bamfield smelly, damp and very happy about the amazing trip. I really wanted to get fish and chips, but we had a chance to make an earlier ferry than we were expecting, so we drove straight for Nanaimo and got some White Spot on the ferry instead.
The happy paddlers
Happy Birthday Mom! 

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