The pictures certainly justify the title of this post! I continue to be amazed at the powerful but yet graceful acrobatic abilities of the Pacific White Sided Dolphin. A true joy and spectacle to see and photograph.
During this particular encounter, a school of about 50 seemed at first to be rather lethargic. But we waited and that changed!
My friend, Steve Best and two of his friends explored Gwaii Haanas by kayak between June 25th and July 5th, 2019. Check out Steve’s video here.
It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve returned from exploring Kyuquot Sound, Bunsby Islands, Cuttle Islands, Acous Peninsula and South Brooks Peninsula. What an amazing place!
I wasn’t sure how to collect my thoughts and my experience but a few things stand out to me now.
There seemed to be a vast sense of emptiness, it was so quiet and calm. I know this is typical in a very remote wilderness environment but this was different. It was as if no one had ever been there before, like it wasn’t even real and truly didn’t even exist. I’m not sure what it means, or why I think this, maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all and this is just my own sense of contemplation. Maybe I need it to be this way. As I think back, it seems like it was a transition to a clean slate, removal of clutter, a new beginning of sorts.
There’s powerful and mysterious forces at work, especially on the Brooks, things we will never understand. Whatever the reasoning, I’m grateful for places like this that actually do exist and that can cleanse the mind and soul.
The Cuttle Islands are strategically located about half way between the Bunsby Islands and South Brooks Peninsula. Typically this is a relatively calm area, ideal for paddlers to seek refuge between crossings. Please note that this area is within an ecological reserve. More information can be found here. The various requirements for ecological reserves seem to be informally relaxed creating a conundrum for people visiting the area. Permission is required though by local First Nations to visit and valuable information is available about culturally sensitive areas by locals in the village of Kyuquot. I have even heard snippets after I visited about how some do not want people to land in this area. This needs further verification and if so, should be respected.
The area is truly stunning and one of the most inspiring areas I have ever encountered. Ask for permission before visiting, tread lightly and if granted permission, keep your stay short in duration.
On the morning of September 2nd, our paddling group set out for the Southside of Brooks Peninsula from North Cuttle Island. There was 5 of us, including me. The conditions in Checleset Bay were incredibly calm and we made quick work of it but also took our time to enjoy the serene surroundings. Upon arriving at Paradise beach, a camp belonging to other paddlers was noticed. None of us wanted neighbours. Our group huddled out on the water and the consensus was to instead camp on a nearby pocket beach, just Southeast of Surfers beach. Having previously camped on Paradise beach, I was excited about the idea of a new location.
Mistake #1 – Do not decide to land in proximity to a place called Surfers beach.
I was slightly ahead of our group. Considering that the decision was made, I saw no real reason why I shouldn’t just land. The crashing surf on the beach appeared reasonable. I braced and rode a wave going in, executing the maneuver perfectly and felt rather proud of myself for doing so. The crashing surf did seem a little bit more noteworthy once I stood on the beach and pulled my kayak up on the dry sand. But, I did it so I figured the others could too.
Mistake #2 – Failing to reassess and gain group consensus before proceeding.
The fact of the matter was, the other four paddlers did not feel it would be a good place to land and certainly not a good place to launch from. They beckoned for me to come back out on the water and regroup. So, with 4 others watching, feeling a bit rushed and disappointed with myself for making mistake #2 it was nonetheless my chance to show my stuff and get off the beach. I thought this would be relatively simple and given my success with the landing, perhaps I was a little bit overconfident.
Mistake #3 – Failing to take the time to assess conditions properly.
I placed my kayak on the waters edge, a little bit too far in and too close to the breaking water in attempt to position it so that I could get in and paddle away. Along came a big crashing wave on the steep beach pushing my kayak sideways and filling it with ocean water. So much for that!
Mistake #4 – Improper positioning of kayak.
I was sure all of this was great entertainment for my fellow paddlers and I knew this was going to require a bit more mental effort. So, I licked my wounds and got to work. Instead of using my bailer, I sat on top of my boat and used my water bottle to slowly empty my cockpit 750ml at a time. I used this opportunity to study the breaking water on the beach and develop a strategy in my mind.
Once I felt enough water was out of my cockpit, I repositioned the kayak a couple more times until I gained enough floatation to paddle out, not wasting any time to get ahead of the shallow crashing surf. We used the bailer to get the rest of the water out of my cockpit and proceeded back over to Paradise beach and called it a day. Having neighbours on a camping beach I decided wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Many thanks to both Steve Best and Dan Douglas for their support during this ordeal.
(Photo by Jen Douglas)
One of my images will also be sold at auction, 100% of proceeds will be going to support SKABC! Find out more here.
Both male and female Humpback Whales vocalize, but only males produce the long, loud, complex song for which the species is famous. Each song consists of several sounds in a low register varying in amplitude and frequency and typically lasting from 10 to 20 minutes. Individuals may sing continuously for more than 24 hours. Cetaceans have no vocal cords, instead, they produce sound via a larynx like structure found in the throat, the mechanism of which has not as of yet been clearly identified. Whales do not have to exhale to produce sound.
There’s being in the right place at the right time. Then there’s really being in the right place at the right time!
Two Orca, thought to possibly be T075C1 and T075C2 recently visited Comox Harbour, on July 31st, almost a year to the date that T073B visited. Ella Smiley took a great picture, check it out here.
I caught up with the pair on the 4th just off Whaletown on Cortes Island with Nick Templeman and Yukon – #chiefwhalespotter from Campbell River Whale & Bear Excursions.
Happy BC Day everyone!
I am honoured to be a contributing photographer in Susan Conrad’s new book – Wildly Inside. One dollar from every book sale will go towards supporting Pacific Wild, an organization that Susan and I both support. Congratulations on your new book Susan and may your passion and adventurous spirit always stay strong.
“Wildly Inside” is the perfect companion volume to Susan Conrad’s adventure memoir “Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage.” Whether you’re a sea kayaking pro, or don’t know the difference between a bow and a stern, this beautifully laid out photo essay will entice you to grab a boat and paddle and head out to explore the west coast of North America. For those of us who have spent entire summers paddling the channels and shorelines of the Inside Passage, this volume presents some beautifully captured images of familiar landmarks that have made this waterway so famous. For those unfamiliar with this magical realm, be ready to experience through the eyes of a world class paddler, some of the most beautiful coastal wilderness scenes anywhere on Earth.
-Denis Dwyer- Expedition Sea Kayaker and author of several guidebooks on kayaking the Inside Passage.