A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to do some paddling off Vancouver Island. The trip was a family visit and I had held little hope that I would have an opportunity to venture out in a kayak. As it turned out, on this visit we decided to take a trip to the Gulf Islands.
The Gulf Islands were a new experience for me, I had seen them on many occasions from the deck of the B.C Ferry traveling between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, through the Gulf Island channel known as Active Pass.
On this occasion, we boarded a ferry from Swartz Bay with a destination to Mayne Island. I noticed the roof racks of almost every vehicle showed off at least one or more kayaks. I jealously stared at them from the deck above, imagining the paddling they must be planning to do.
We reached Mayne Island and found our way to the cabin we had reserved. That night over dinner at a nearby restaurant, I inquired about the kayak rentals to our host and discovered there was a small kayak rental company not far from our cabin.
From a bay close to our cottage, I rented a kayak, was given a map, and told I could easily paddle to the next Island “Saturna” and back within a few hours. I could not have picked a better day for a West Coast paddle. The day was sunny, clear, no wind and calm waters. Perfect paddling conditions.
Small crops of rocks protruded above the low tide line, allowing seals to sun themselves. As I approached, the seals would silently slip back into the water. Moments later, I would see or hear a splash, as these animals curiously swam around me.
It was a wonderful, organic moment, drifting alone between land masses, looking up and seeing the mountains of the Vancouver mainland and looking down and catching seals swimming around me.
I am grateful I had that opportunity, I look forward to returning to the west coast and exploring it further. Storm watching in Toffino is high on my list.