Kayaks and seals and jellyfish, oh my
So my stay-cation hasn’t all been sedentary, it included kayaks.
I live on a ridge of rock sticking out, most appropriately, from the Rockies. If you follow it uphill for about 15 minutes’ drive, you wind up on a ski-hill, in season, or a nice hiking area the rest of the year. Go downhill, and you wind up on the edges of what would be called a fjord if we weren’t in Canada; a long, deep inlet filled with sea-water – and seals, and jellyfish, and, most days, amateurs in kayaks, stand-up (or topple-in) paddle boarders, dinghies, and powerboats.
This week we numbered among the amateur kayakers – although I was rather stunned to find that our trip averaged in the ‘fast’ rating with the kayak rental place, I’d personally call myself an amateur – and made the acquaintance of a number of harbour seals, who mostly seem to find kayakers priceless entertainment (one showed up to our capsize course a few years back and spent the entire four hours twirling in the water to show us how it was done), and any number of jellyfish, one of which was the size of my head and gave me ample motivation to stay in my boat.
The morning started out looking sufficiently apocalyptic that we took along waterproofs, which proved to be a good thing (as in strict accordance with Murphy’s Law, the weather cleared up as soon as we’d packed them) and it also meant that attendance was low enough that a big smile and some shameless begging at the desk netted us a pair of fibreglass boats, instead of the plastic crap. Yes, I am a kayak snob. So sue me.
It was my first time in a skeg boat, which was fun – basically instead of a rudder on the back you can move with your feet to direct your kayak’s course, you have a fixed-direction fin you drop under your hull like a miniature keelboard. Worked perfectly well to help me keep my nose pointed where I wanted to go – the only downside (it wasn’t much of one) – if you can’t direct your kayak with your paddle, you are then screwed because you can’t use a skeg to change direction.
Happily I learnt to direct a boat with a paddle before I could write neatly (for the record, I still can’t write neatly), so I filed it under new and noteworthy and gave my partner, who grew up skiing, the benefit of the rudder. (This study proved that a PhD who can’t walk in a straight line also can’t paddle in a straight line.)
The trip included a visit to Lone Rock (don’t tap that to the extent they dropped a mini-lighthouse on top of it), Raccoon Island, which apparently is actually a breeding spot for Canada geese, a trip up Bedwell Bay, which should be renamed Jellyfish Haven, because it was full of them (and seals), and Jug Island before we headed back across to Cove Cliff and Deep Cove.
Bedwell Bay included a high point of the trip, which was a group of four or five seals trying very hard to start a new conspiracy theory about a Loch Ness monster – all swimming in a line, and humping themselves up at perfectly regular intervals to make a very good appearance of a sea serpent. If they hadn’t been following us and laughing all around the bay, we might have fallen for it. Unfortunately harbour seals in a harbour move much too fast for me to get my camera out of its waterproof bag and get a shot of them, because it was a solid effort and deserved the recognition.
We also came across one rather nice yacht at anchor in Bedwell Bay – most of the yachts in and around Vancouver are either rich men’s toys clearly designed to be crewed by minions while one impresses one’s rich friends, or, on the other end of the scale, dilapidated plastic wrecks that someone bought back when normal people could afford a dock in the area which have since spent a couple of decades tied to a buoy while their owners try to keep up with the mortgage. This one looked well-loved and was about the only one I’ve seen around recently I’ve give you a thank-you for if I needed to take a long trip somewhere.
All in all, it was a nice way to spend a morning, and even nicer to know that despite several consecutive months where my primary exercise has been chasing a mouse around a screen, I haven’t forgotten everything I ever knew about boats. Not, in all honesty, that I actually know much about kayaks; we’ve had a series of brief love affairs that could really be called one-paddle stands. It is, however, an experience I’m willing to repeat, which is more than most people can say of their blind dates.