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|Caitlin’s organising a sea kayaking trip around Howe Sound. What a good idea, I thought. And indeed it was. A small group of us set off from Gibsons, headed around Keats Island to camp on Gambier Island. The weather was reasonable, the company excellent and some invaluable lessons were learnt along the way. Here’s a few in case you ever embark on such an outing…
How to pack light
No need. This isn’t hiking, or skiing or any of those other silly activities where actually you have to carry things. You can shove whatever the hell you like in a kayak. Unless you’re Julien who, when trying to decide whether to prioritise spare clothes for himself or beers for the group, took the public spirited option. Apparently a wet suit makes for a perfectly adequate set of pyjamas.
How to look the part
How to rent a kayak for Long John Silver
How to surprise a seal
This requires a significant amount of skill and experience and is not without it’s dangers. We left this to Caitlin. To my untrained eye, the key element appeared to be selecting the right precise location. You need to spend many hours observing seal behaviour to be able to predict exactly where one is likely to emerge. Then position your self in exactly the right spot. Not too close that it will bang its head on the boat, but just close enough. Wait for the selected seal to emerge. And then watch as the seal spots you, panics and performs a superb backflip to escape. Ideally you should then act as if you’re almost as surprised as the seal.
How to back out
How to get a free ride
How to identify a sea badger
A weasel? A beaver? A ferret? A pine martin? A sea otter? A selection of other animals that I have only heard of in American cartoons. Perhaps we are not the best of zoologists. I reckon it was a sea badger.
How to take a hike
You know, I thought VOCers were, as a rule, pretty good at multi-activities. I was proved quite wrong when we attempted to hike up the Gambier Mount. On any other trip I’m sure it would have occurred to someone that the use of a map might help us find the right trail out of the campsite. After a 30 minute march uphill (it was uphill – it had to be the right way. hills go up) we emerged onto a logging road (cue “summit” photo). Which went down. It didn’t take too long to work out that a logging road leading down to the sea would probably not take up to the top of the hill. But we had successfully found the trail from the campsite to the logging road. How useful.
How to dream of bears
Now it’s always a bit of a risk agreeing to share a tent with a boy… if you’ve not got ear plugs with you. (I think that’s fair – it’s not that girls are all entirely silent when asleep – but the most vocal of sleepers do seem to be male) It’s not that you snore, Phil. I would describe it more as a growl. A very occasional and rather loud growl. I came to consciousness thinking “but they said there were no bears on the island – how could there be one in my tent – FUCK THERE’S A BEAR IN THE TENT – oh no there isn’t – it’s just Phil”.
How to kayak down wind on the way there AND on the way back