Friday, September 14, 2007
Slit Their Throats Sink Their Boats; part 1
Always in search of danger and seafood, I spent the better part of this summer teamed up with fellow dirtbag and raccoon, Max, in search of good times and baked goodies.. provided they weren't more than a casual walking distance from the water. (pictured are Max and his girlfriend Kate) Starting with a casual canoe trip up and down Denman Island raiding oyster farms, we worked our way up to the rigors of living in a beach hovel in the shadow of the East Islands scariest Rv park where the only salmon we cought was the one we bummed off a sympathetic fly fisherman. This is our story, yawn. I left the canoe in Maxs care, and hitchiked home thinking I would paddle up the coast from vancouver in my kayak solo, but when i got home Max called and said he had bought an old strip built kayak and was ready to go, so I threw my boat on the bike cart and walked it onto the ferry so we could start our trip from his moms place in sechelt. Here we are having a couple of roadkill bear steaks for breakfast before we get going, thats another story entirely, and its a good thing we had a hearty breakfast, because it turned out to be a long day, and the snacks were few.
Maxs Kayak, which is insanely heavy, and he hadnt taken for a test run, turned out to weathercock quite badly in the modest 3 to 4 foot chop we were running with up the straight, so with the help of a local boat handyman Max glued a skeg to the bottom right during the time of heaviest rainfall of the day. oh yeah, the weather sucked. despite the setbacks and only getting on the water at noon, we made it to halfmoon bay, and found a cool spot to camp among the cliffs. I guess it must have been a haul-out spot, because every once in a while a seal would get really close before seeing us and then freak out and swim away as quickly as his little flippers could take him. I call the seals "toothy sea slugs", and there's no shortage of them in the Straight of Georgia, infact they're considering a cull.
The next morning we climbed back into our wet wetsuits, and paddled pretty hard all day during rain and thunderstorms to get to the Agammemanon Channel where we were stalled by a moderate to strong outflow wind.
We couldn't find a spot to camp because the whole damn sunshine coast is lined with multi million dollar mansions, so we went ahead and camped on the water front yard of one of them. the neighbors seemed friendly enough, offered us to fill up our water and chatted about boats. The owner however was not friendly, but we only found that out in the morning when he called the police so it was ok. Actually he didn't even call the police, that would have been better though because no body likes to be yelled at over breakfast, this guy didn't even say good morning before giving us the whole private property talk at the top of his voice. We decided not to slit his throat just then, there were people around, but instead we just took our sweet ass time vacating the premisis. This was the house.
If you ever see this place from the water, go ahead and empty your holding tank there, just throw a rock through the window and pump it out into the living room. Anyway, we paddled around the outside of Nelson Island that day, and the weather was actually pretty nice. There are no houses on the west coast of Nelson, and it alternates between nice pebble beaches and rock bluffs. It blew up pretty hard in the evening though, so we had another night of camping in the rain.
Next day we paddled to Powell River, and met some really nice people on the way. Just when we were getting cold and fed up with the rain, Max paddled up to a guy and asked if the coffee was on. He turned out to be the right guy to ask, because he invited us in, made us coffee, (with a generous amount of baileys in it), and sent us off with a bottle of homebrew wine each. Then later we stopped at a little beach and an old lady came down to see us and say hi. She thought we were great, and had her husband bring us some kindling for a fire. Then she brought us a homemade blackberry desert, and we seriously considered moving in right there on the beach. Oh, that was another thing, we had to cook on fires the whole time because i forgot the fuel bottle for my stove in Alberta earlier in the summer on a bike trip, and Max ran out of fuel. In any case, we were cold and tired by the time we made it to powell river, but we were in good spirts, even though we had to stay at the campground, and the showers there were short and had lower pressure than a winter storm.
We spent most of the next day relaxing in Powell River, we had a couple of good feeds, and photocopied charts at the library. In the evening we took the ferry over to Cape Lazo on the Island. we loaded all our stuff into some shopping carts, and the ferry workers helped us carry our kayaks, smooth operation. We paddled north a little ways and camped for the night on the beach near some sympathetic homeowners. I was planning on meeting my friend Andre in Campbell River about a week later, so we took a much slower pace than before, and took about two days to paddle to Oyster River. On the way we stopped at a game farm and picked up some venison steaks and sausage, and banana bread from a bakery/general store, this was a treat.
When we got to Oyster River we set up camp on a beach in the estuary, and stayed for almost a week. We went snorkelling in the river with the spawning salmon, and got to see some pretty huge cutthroat trout swimming around as well. The pink salmon were jumping all the time right in front of our eyes, but aside from a few strikes, we didnt get any action. The Fly fishermen on the other hand were bagging their limit early in the mornings, and we got to know some of the regulars (all old guys from the rv park) I also had the pleasure of my first snake bite during this time, when I tried to apprehend an ornery garter snake. it was a dream come true. I've never felt so close to Steve Irwin (except that time I faced off in the water against a giant stingray in brazil armed with only a machete that was duller than my wits).
Then I got bitten by a Penguin the day after. Ok, so it wasn't a penguin, it was Uria Aalge, also known as the common murre, the closest thing to a penguin we have on our coast here. It came ashore during a thunderstorm looking rather confused, so I grabbed it and it bit me, then I grabbed it again, this time making sure to slide my hand up its neck, we checked him out and there was nothing wrong with him, so we let him go. then we tried to catch him again to eat him. he looked like this.
We also cought lots of these, which I don't care much for anymore after eating several this summer. Everyone calls em Dogfish, but really they're sharks, and we don't call it fishing, we call it "shark hunting".
Heres Maxs hunting machine. This was the day that Andre picked us up and we continued our adventure in the Johnstone straight.