Week 1 of paddling North with Sanesh Iyer
*This likely won’t be a weekly blog series, but a lot has happened this week so I thought it was worth the update. For a live (ish) look at our progress, check out the tracker on the homepage of our website*
After nearly two years of planning, and a hectic month of assembling gear and food, we finally left Victoria in our Kayak at 11am on Sunday April 16th.
We paddled out to Discovery Island and arrived about an hour before a SE Gale settled over the strait. We hunkered down there the following day, then made a break for Portland Island - arriving again just ahead of a monumental SE wind storm. It was a rough night. The following day we paddled through calm seas (but many different weathers!) to Montague Harbour for thé night. We rose early on Thursday to make the jump to Wallace Island ahead of yet another SE windstorm which lasted through the after and into the evening. On Friday the weather broke and we were able to paddle for a lovely 20Nm day and end up on Newcastle Island. We also met a friend - Ken Legg - who’s paddling from Victoria to Skagway Alaska solo this spring/summer. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of him over the next few months. From Newcastle, we paddled to Gerald Island and the next morning took advantage of calm seas to cross the Georgia Strait to Lasqueti Island. We landed at ‘Chez Slater’ in Tucker Bay around 3:30 and made the trek up to the cabin from the low tide beach. Arriving at Lasqueti marks 100 Nautical Miles paddled and the end of week 1.
This weeks paddle was defined by two themes: weather windows and gear faff. Early season paddling is often defined by paddling through gaps (windows) between sections of bad weather. This week was no exception! We paddled when we could, and hunkered-down we couldn’t. The most recent extreme example of this was our day-5 paddle from Montague Harbour to Chivers Point - we left at 6:30 and arrived at 9am, had breakfast, then waited out a windy afternoon. Our daily distances ended up a bit lopsided (8, then 0, then 22, then 12 nautical miles, etc), but did offer some built-in rest which was welcome.
The gear faff came as a bit more of a surprise, but offered a good opportunity for introspection.
**for those who don’t know, faff (or faf, or pfaff) is a term which means ‘to have more tasks and objects than one can manage’. Put otherwise “f*cking around forever”**
Between Sanesh and myself, probably 50% of our equipment is new for this trip. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to use fancy state-of-the-art equipment for our expedition, however, there is always a bit of adjustment that comes from this transition. Our first week of expedition was dominated by managing the intricacies of our new equipment (and new processes such as tracking distance on GPS and blogging) and the faff that resulted.
In the process of focusing on producing a weekly update on day 2, I left my water bottle on a rocky bluff 1km away from our camp. By focusing on the attachment of cameras to our kayaks, we neglected to create an efficient strategy for getting the rest of our equipment inside the boats. By focusing on the inclusion of so much new gear, we didn’t check on its condition resulting in a bag with a broken buckle, a boat which needed sanding, and tarp without appropriately long ropes.
All of these issues were tackled one by one, but each took energy and time. As I’m writing this post, it’s finally starting to feel like we have a handle on our equipment and are able to be efficient with our systems. I also have enough ‘reserve’ mental capacity to recount the week without worrying that I’ve left tasks undone.
Overall, it’s been a whirlwind first week of expedition! We’re stoked to have gotten our systems organized over the week and have safely navigated the gaps in the weather.