April 2023 Newsletter
- Upcoming SISKA Events
- Upcoming NonSISKA Events
- Community Events of Interest
- Cookery Clinic (Food for the Trips)
- President's Message
- Siska April General Meeting Agenda - April 26, 2023
- RAFT UP 2023 – SISKA and Comox Valley Paddlers
- SISKA Spring/SkillsTraining 2023 Is Happening Now!
- Pacific Wild Invites SISKA members for an April 30th paddle in Baynes Sound (Denman Island Area)
- Siska Volunteer Opportunities For 2023
- Don’t Lose Touch with SISKA - Your 2023 Membership Fees Are Due Now
- Off Water Clinic Committee
- Kayaking the Baja’s Isla Espiritu Santo
- You could spend a lifetime paddling here! Endless kayaking adventures await on southern Vancouver Island
- Camp Cookery
- Tips from the Trips
- Safety Item
- BC Marine Trails News
- To Buy or Sell
- SISKA's Kayak Skills Course Partners
Thanks to those members who contributed photos and materials. After enjoying a SISKA event or paddle, please consider sending a short (100-150 words) summary article; for more information, contact one of us, email@example.com . If you would like to start a regular column, please let us know!
Alan Campbell (SISKA president) and Tony Playfair (editor)
Upcoming SISKA Events
Saturday, April 01st, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Energizer Paddle - Amherst to Portland Island (NEW MEMBERS PADDLE) Paddle
Sunday, April 02nd, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Energizer Paddle - Oak Bay Marina to Discovery Island (NEW MEMBERS PADDLE) Paddle
Sunday, April 02nd, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Relaxed Paddle - Oak Bay Marina to Chain Group/Chatham Birding w. Daniel Donnecke Paddle
Tuesday, April 11th, 2023 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM - Cookery Clinic
Saturday, April 15th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Energizer Paddle - Moses Point to Russell Island Paddle
Sunday, April 16th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Relaxed Paddle - Island View Beach to James Island Circumnavigation NEW MBR Paddle
Sunday, April 16th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Energizer Paddle - Island View Beach to Darcy Island Paddle
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM - Monthly Meeting
Saturday, April 29th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Relaxed Paddle - Brentwood Bay Ferry Wharf to Mackenzie Bight Paddle
Sunday, April 30th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Energizer Paddle - Amherst to Rum Island Paddle
Sunday, May 07th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Relaxed Paddle - Oak Bay Marina to Intertidal Exploration (proposed) Paddle
Saturday, May 13th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM - Energizer Paddle - Spirit Bay to Whirl Bay (NEW MEMBERS PADDLE)
Saturday, May 20th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM - Relaxed Paddle - Amherst to Intertidal Exploration (proposed)
Saturday, May 20th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM - Energizer Paddle - Cedar to Valdez Island
Sunday, May 21st, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Relaxed Paddle - Oak Bay Marina to Intertidal Exploration (proposed) Paddle
Wednesday, May 24th, 2023 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM - Monthly Meeting
Thursday, May 25th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Light Paddle - VCKC Clubhouse to Portage Inlet Paddle
Saturday, May 27th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Energizer Paddle - Maple Bay Rowing Club to Genoa Bay Paddle
Sunday, May 28th, 2023 - 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM - Whiffin Spit to Cabin Point Paddle
Upcoming NonSISKA Events
Community Events of Interest
April 30th - Pacific Wild Invites SISKA members for an April 30th paddle in Baynes Sound (Denman Island Area, not Victoria!) - See article below.
These events are not formally supported by SISKA, but considered to be of interest to a significant number of our members.
Any member may request an event to be included in this section by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cookery Clinic (Food for the Trips)
by Kirstine Murdoch
Tuesday April 11 from 7-9 pm Location is James Bay. Specifics to be provided to participants a week before the workshop.
Join Lynn Baier (Camp Cookery columnist), Elizabeth Purdon and Debbie Leach who will share tips about what they bring on kayak trips. Learn how to plan, buy and dehydrate food; taste a few samples and check out their favourite camp kitchen gear.
Limit: 15 paddlers
There is no fee for this clinic.
by Alan Campbell
Sea Kayaking and SISKA Changed My Life
“Wow!! That’s incredibly beautiful! Wilderness so close to home!”
I took a few more deep breaths of the fresh marine air and tried to take it all in.
A recent SISKA member, I had just arrived with the group at the Chatham Islands off Oak Bay, on a club-led paddle from Cadboro Bay one sunny Spring day in 2011. The sunshine glinted off the rippled water, stretching across the Strait to the snowcapped Olympic Mountains. The air was clear but even distant views revealed only nature’s handiwork, although we were but a short distance from urban Victoria.
Growing up in Southern Ontario, I had canoe camped through Algonquin Park and relished the wilderness experiences to be found there far away from big city life. So, when I moved to Victoria some years later, I was immediately drawn to sea kayaking along the coast of Vancouver Island and the BC Mainland. What? No portaging required? Fantastic! But I was understandably intimidated by this new-to-me sport. The Pacific Ocean, complicated geography, major weather fronts and winds, swift currents reversing with tide changes throughout the day – there was a lot to learn!
I had been fortunate to have some good paddling buddies who included me on their annual kayak camping expeditions, at first as bow paddler in one of their doubles and later in a single kayak that I would rent for the trip. I absolutely loved the amazing places we explored on these trips, but since my job and family life left no time for kayaking as regular recreation, I only paddled on these yearly adventures. Not surprisingly, my paddling skills didn’t improve much!
When I retired in 2010 I was determined to get more serious about sea kayaking and one of my friends soon introduced me to SISKA. I took full advantage of the skills clinics run by club instructors and went on as many day paddles as I could to gain experience. Meeting new paddling friends, gaining skills and knowledge that gave me greater confidence and learning about the local coastal paddling opportunities – these were game-changers for me.
I really had no idea that our several South Island coastlines were some of the most beautiful marine environments on the BC Coast. For years I had been a landlubber living right next to paddling nirvana! Occasional Up-Island and Mainland coastal paddling adventures were wonderful, but paddling weekly or more often close to home gave me the opportunity to become a much more capable sea kayaker, so I could dream bigger! Having this as a regular part of my life has brought many positive personal and social benefits that I hope to enjoy for many years to come.
Within a couple of years, inspired by the kayaking and leadership examples of more senior members, I became a club paddle leader myself and joined the SISKA Board. A decade later I take great pride in being part of our local sea kayaking community and working with so many fine people to make our paddling club one of the best anywhere!
If you have benefitted from your association with SISKA but haven’t yet begun to return the favour by giving back in some useful way that works for you, I highly recommend you consider doing so in the future. You will be amazed how much you will gain by becoming more involved, and the club will continue to be the great resource it has become for so many South Island paddlers.
Siska April General Meeting Agenda - April 26, 2023
by Fred Pishalski
Paddling The Great Bear Rainforest
by Nadja Steiner
The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the most amazing places to paddle. Nadja Steiner will present a summary of her 2022 summer trip from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy with her friends (mother and daughter) visiting from Germany. The proposed paddling time was reduced to 28 days which limited the time available for other activities such as photography. The talk will focus on images from that trip plus tidbits on planning, food, camping etc.
Nadja Steiner is a renewed outdoor fan and feels at home both in/on the ocean and in the mountains. She started sea kayaking about 30 years ago while she was studying oceanography in Kiel, Germany at the Baltic Sea. Through SISKA’s spring training, Nadja also started to do more formal sea kayak training (and unlearn many of her bad habits). Nadja has participated in several SISKA trips and courses and is consistently amazed about the expertise and level of activity among the members.
RAFT UP 2023 – SISKA and Comox Valley Paddlers
by Alan Campbell
If you're keen to day-paddle Up-Island with other friendly sea kayakers, check this out! Comox Valley Paddlers (CVP) and SISKA are planning back-to-back 3-day paddling exchange events as part of "Raft Up 2023", a new inter-club paddling event we are designing for our members!
Guests to each community would need to make their own arrangements for accommodation but some billets may be available.
Raft Up in Victoria: June 13, 14 and 15 in Victoria for CVP paddlers
Raft Up in Comox: July 11, 12 and 13 in Comox for SISKA paddlers
This idea originated with Helen Koziol, CVP President, and SISKA responded enthusiastically!
Members can participate in Raft Up, either as a guest paddler in the other community, or, if they are paddle leaders, leading/assisting for their own club's paddles.
Pretty cool concept, right?!
Our plans are still evolving, but I wanted to share current thinking...
We're planning to limit participation to 20 people so the on-water paddling activity can be broken into safe and manageable groups. Paddlers would pay $20 to register, but it will be fully refunded for those who do participate - the idea is to discourage some from registering but not participating, which can unfortunately deny others their chance to get involved. We'll keep a waitlist too.
RAFT UP in Victoria ...the details so far...
Check out SISKA's plan for Raft Up June 13, 14 and 15 in Victoria: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GitZP9QA2P7tpOgGO8fLPfJBdnYj6Bke/view?usp=sharing
I'm happy to lead a Victoria area paddle each of these days but need other paddle leaders to lead/assist, so I will email SISKA paddle leaders for volunteers shortly. We hope to match CVP's hospitality and plan a potluck dinner for them while they are visiting - more on that soon. If you are interested in billetting a Comox paddler in your home, please let me know so I can pass the information along to CVP.
RAFT UP in Comox ...the details so far...
CVP's plan for Raft Up, July 11, 12 and 13 in the Comox area: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1exlNzbCmS4FEXbyIVxaEXU7kBEpLA_ja/view?usp=sharing
SISKA member and Board Director Debbie Leach has volunteered to be our lead contact with Comox Valley Paddlers for the July 11-13 Raft Up event in their community. Thanks Debbie! A number of CVP members have already offered to billet SISKA paddlers, so that information will be passed along when registration opens. The Vancouver Island Musicfest in Comox is on right after their Raft Up event, so some may want to stay for the weekend as well!
So, what's next with this?
In order to gauge members' interest while we refine and confirm plans, an email will next go to SISKA paddle leaders looking for on-water help, and another to all SISKA members asking for those interested to respond. If you have more ideas to help make this a success, please email me at email@example.com Or Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org Registration instructions will come later so stay tuned!
Happy Spring and Summer Paddling!
SISKA Spring/SkillsTraining 2023 Is Happening Now!
by Alan Campbell
Spring has sprung, so it’s high time to get your kayaking gear in order and refresh your paddling skills! SISKA is promoting a number of our excellent Island kayaking businesses who have agreed to provide discounts to our members. Check out the full list of discount offerings or click on 2023 Workshops under the Calendar tab on the website homepage. We’re delighted to feature the following companies and recommend you check out their individual websites for all their great workshops, courses, expeditions and more!
- BestCoast Outfitters https://bestcoastoutfitters.com
- Blue Dog Kayaking https://bluedogkayaking.com
- Crosscurrents Kayak https://crosscurrentskayak.ca
- Dancing with the Sea https://dancingwiththesea.net
- Go Kayak https://gokayak.ca
- Ocean River Sports https://oceanriver.com
- Pacifica Paddle Sports https://pacificapaddle.com
- SKILS https://skils.ca
Pacific Wild Invites SISKA members for an April 30th paddle in Baynes Sound (Denman Island Area)
by Fred Pishalski
I am writing to you to extend an invitation to you and the members of SISKA and SKABC to join Pacific Wild, other ENGOs across Vancouver Island and local citizens on April 30 for a paddle in Baynes Sound to raise awareness about Deep Water Recovery's shipbreaking operation. Please find a copy of our press release below:
Union Bay, B.C. Ship breaking is an extremely hazardous industry which takes apart old vessels for parts and recycling. If done improperly, dismantling these ships can lead to heavy metals, raw sewage and other dangerous pollutants ending up in the ocean. Deep Water Recovery Ltd., a ship breaking company currently operating in Union Bay, was found to be out of compliance four times in 2022, receiving three warnings for improper discharge of waste, and one advisory for improperly labeling containers. Despite the cultural, economic, and ecological importance of Union Bay and Baynes Sound - and their glaring violations - Deep Water Recovery lacks an environmental plan. Many concerned citizens, from near and far, will be paddling on April 30th to bring public awareness to this issue.
Since this ship breaking business began in 2020, three levels of government have either not been responsive to calls to halt this egregious operation or have not been successful to date. It is now time for concerned citizens to both educate and take action!
Environmental organizations across Vancouver Island have joined forces in efforts to draw attention to this issue. On April 30th paddlers and their boats are invited to join a flotilla at the Union Bay launch site. Assemble at 11 A.M. and be ready to launch by 12 noon.
NOTE: In the event of bad weather (heavy rain, high wind, and waves) the flotilla will be rescheduled for the following Sunday, May 7 at 12 noon.
This event is not sponsored by any one organization but there will be representatives from organizations and paddling groups managing both the flotilla and the shoreside display table, including the sharing of a ship-breaking cake!
More information about the event and the issue can be found at www.Baynes Sound website and www.CPOC website
Photos and Event Poster supplied upon request.
Three articles have been published by The Tyee to date the most recent: https://thetyee.ca/News/2023/02/20/BC-Slow-Action-Ship-Breaker-Case/
1.Baynes Sound is a local gem and is federally recognized as an ecologically and biologically significant area. This body of water stretching from Comox Harbour to the south end of Denman Island is sheltered water supporting an abundance of sea life and is an important harvesting area for local First Nations. Baynes Sound hosts one of the last robust herring spawns remaining in B.C. and 50% of the shellfish harvested in the province comes from Baynes Sound
2.Ship breaking, the cutting apart of old ships, is now happening on Baynes Sound in Union Bay. End of life ships are defined as hazardous waste. This industry has been designated one of the most hazardous and dangerous industries with high risk of hazardous materials entering the local environment.
3.Hong Kong or EU Conventions require ship breaking to be fully contained. Canada needs to ratify these conventions. Ship breaking in Baynes Sound is not contained; ships are dragged across the beach, leaving antifouling scrapings in the sand.
4.In B.C., a permit is required but there are sparse regulations. Although permission was granted to break one barge, six to eight barges have been processed in addition to several American-owned ships. It seems that there are regulatory gaps between federal, provincial, and local governments that have allowed this ship breaking to occur in this ecologically sensitive area.
At present the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) has an injunction filed with the B.C. Supreme Court to stop the ship breaking but has only bylaws to support its claims.
Sydney Dixon (she/her)
Siska Volunteer Opportunities For 2023
by Lynn Beak/Alan Campbell
SISKA is a volunteer-run organization. We have no paid staff and our many activities continue due to the shared enthusiasm and skills of our membership. Thank you!
SISKA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is happening on Wednesday April 26, 2023, and we want to share with you some interesting volunteer opportunities. Please consider how you can contribute to the wealth of skills training, kayak paddling, and fun that we have together.
Executive positions available - Our bylaws state that no one can serve more than four consecutive years in any one position on our Executive, unless the membership agrees to extend the term of office at a SISKA general meeting.
President - Our president, Alan Campbell, will be finishing his second 2-year term as president this year. Therefore we will be seeking candidates to run as president. The president is the chair of the Executive and is responsible for supervising the other directors in the execution of their duties.
Vice-president - Our vice-president, Lynn Beak, will also be completing her second 2-year term. Therefore this position will be open as well. The vice-president is the vice-chair of the Executive and is responsible for carrying out the duties of the president if the president is unable to act.
Treasurer - In addition our treasurer, Roger Botting, will be completing his extended 5th year as Treasurer. He had accepted a two-year extension from our membership at our 2022 AGM, but we are seeking someone to replace him this year. The treasurer is responsible for doing or making the necessary arrangements for: receiving and banking monies collected from the members or other sources; keeping accounting records in respect of SISKA’s financial transactions; preparing SISKA’s financial statements.
Member-at-large - We will also have at least one member-at-large position available. This is an excellent opportunity to work on projects and share in Executive decisions to advance SISKA’s mission and goals
How to Run For Office - Any SISKA member can run for one of these positions. You can be nominated or nominate yourself, up to and including at the AGM. Even if you cannot attend that night, you can run by having someone nominate you and indicating in advance (e.g. by email) that you are willing to stand.
Available Volunteer Coordinator Roles - Many hands make light work and stimulate great ideas, so please also think about volunteering to help or lead as another Off-Water Coordinator, joining Rod Stiebel on that team. We are also seeking an Instructor Coordinator to replace Ali Morham who is retiring from that role. These are great opportunities to participate as a volunteer. Please ask either of them or any of us about these volunteer opportunities. We’ll be happy to share our knowledge with you!
Finally, a gentle reminder to renew your SISKA membership for 2023 so that you can vote at the April AGM!
Don’t Lose Touch with SISKA - Your 2023 Membership Fees Are Due Now
by Alan Campbell
Our fiscal year in SISKA is the same as the calendar year, January 1st to December 31st, so membership fees for 2023 are due now.
Since club revenue depends mostly on our very reasonably-priced membership fees, we encourage you to renew your membership as soon as possible so we can be confident about our budget for the year.
At the SISKA website homepage, select Membership Information, and then follow the prompts for online registration for 2023 either as a new member or a renewal if you were a paid member in 2022.
After March 31st our mailing lists will be adjusted so that only those with current paid-up memberships will receive notices about club events and activities.
Thanks for your continuing support for SISKA!
Off Water Clinic Committee
by Rod Stiebel
Coordinators: Without them there are NO clinics.
This is the second call via the Newsletter for any member to give back.
We are looking for an extra 1 or 2 persons to help as an Off Water Clinic Coordinator. The only skills needed are a bit of energy and dedication. It is an easy position, as it involves maybe an hour or so a month at most, 90% is in the winter months, nothing through the warmer paddling season. Simply, you coordinate with the clinic facilitator (instructor), the venue, booking the room etc. You also take care of participants reserving a spot for the clinics on-line, and in most cases, show up for the clinic to assist the facilitator on the day. If any are interested, you could just shadow one of the coordinators for one or two clinics this year, to get familiar with the process. You also get to go to the clinics for free, and learn, joining in the fun. Meetings are few and far between, and are usually just to set up for the next winter of clinics. Anyone interested please contact Rod Stiebel at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facilitators: Without them, there are also NO clinics.
We are looking for more facilitators for the next Off Water Clinics season. This winter, we will have done around 8 clinics in total. We are always looking for clinics that are of interest to our paddlers, so if you have any ideas, or would like to put your spin on some of the previously offered clinics, please contact Rod Stiebel at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss. It could be set up for next Fall/Winter, so lots of time to think of a clinic and prepare for the next season. We have had to cancel so far this year a total of 11 clinics, some due to no facilitator, and some due to only having one coordinator. That is more than we put on, sadly.
We wish to thank all the Facilitators that have donated their valuable time this year, but cannot guarantee they will be available to do the same next year, so if you feel up to it, lets chat!
I realize that 80% of these are done by way less than 20% of members, and we are experiencing some burn out. Without more folks stepping up, we will have another meagre Off Water Clinic season next year, or possibly none at all.
NOTE: As I am still getting to know the some of the “players”, I will be reaching out to personally contact potential Facilitators over the summer for next year.
Kayaking the Baja’s Isla Espiritu Santo
by Fred Pishalski / Gail Miller / Additional Assistance Beth Haysom
Ten SISKA kayakers (Tony Playfair, Heather Jones, Ian/Beth Haysom, Deb Leach, Lynn Baier, Morley Eldridge, Gene Gapsis, Gail Miller and Fred Pishalski) joined Baja Outdoor Activities (BOA) https://kayactivities.com for a company led paddle trip to Isla Espiritu Santo just off La Paz Mexico in the Sea of Cortez in late Feb 2023. BOA does most things well however; at the end of the trip we sent them comments on how they could improve their operations.
Most of us took the WestJet direct Vancouver to San Jose del Cabo International airport flight. Our final destination, La Paz is about 200kms north. Lynn and Morley flew down a week early and went to La Ventana which is a small village on the east cape of Baja and is a heaven for kitesurfing, windsurfing, wing foiling, etc. The rest of us flew down, a few days prior to the paddle in case of travel problems. We all landed at the Cabo airport and after a delay waiting for a missing bag, took a prebooked large van north to La Paz. Happily, a checked golf bag stashed with some of our light weight personal paddles also arrived, no problem.
In La Paz we stayed for a couple of nights at the hotel Posada Luna Sol which is also the headquarters of Mar Y Aventuras (Sea & Adventures) This was one of the first kayaking touring companies to operate on the Baja and they built the hotel to accommodate their clients. The hotel is in the classic Mexican hotel style and was a joy to stay in.
La Paz is not a tourist destination but the capital city of the state of Baja California Sur and an important regional commercial centre. The area has a population of about 300k. The downtown area like many coastal Mexican cities has a waterfront walk, the Malecon, that is filled with art. We switched over to the new fancy Marina Waterfront Hotel, that BOA had arranged for us, at the other end of the Malecon for our last night in town.
Espiritu Santo with its sister island Isla Partida are both rock formations created by a series of violent earthquakes and volcanic activity. As such, volcanic ash and lava make up the majority of their geologic composition. With fairly straight high ridges and low valleys, the islands resemble a horizontal rainbow with earthy tones. Espiritu has a land area of 31sq mi, and its highest elevation is 1,844 ft. By itself, Espiritu is the twelfth largest island in Mexico. Both islands have cacti of all sizes and shapes plus other dry vegetation.
UNESCO designated the Gulf of California Islands a World Heritage Site in 2005. In 2007 Espiritu Santo and Partida islands and the marine area around them were declared a Marine National Park. You cannot visit the islands today without a guide and most land areas off the beaches are off limits including all the caves. There was human presence of the island about 9,000 years ago. Fishing families that used to live on the island still have access rights to a few fishing shacks to overnight in when out in their boats.
The 9-day trip was co-operatively run meaning that there was no support boat following the group. We were resupplied though mid-way thru the outing. Everyone pitched in with all chores including meal prep, cleaning up and camp maintenance. We were on the water for 7 days. The trip started Feb 25th and we finished March 5th 2023.
The plan was to circumnavigate Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida but because of strong northerly winds, which are not uncommon this time of the year, we were not able to do so and stayed on the West side of the islands.
Our two guides for the trip were Chino Yuen Lay and Jose Antonio Zuniga. I cannot say enough good things about these two guys. Not only were they very good kayakers, great cooks, but were very competent professionals and easy to deal with. Rounding out the group were 3 folks from Portland Oregon who had only done some limited kayaking before, but made up for their lack of experience with youthful energy, enthusiasm and good humour.
We were ferried over on March 26th from the La Paz Marina to Playa Dispensa on Espiritu Santo which is the usual place to start paddling from. There were also a number of day trippers from La Paz on the beach along with a very up-scale kayak tour group with big fancy tents, real mattress, white table cloths, comfy chairs, etc. Following a briefing about safety, what was expected of us and lunch we loaded the boats and paddled up the coast a couple of hours to Playa Coralito and set up camp. This is a quiet beach with a few local fishermen who sometimes inhabit a small dwelling at the NW corner including their own sheltered slipway.
At this point, Antonio introduced us to Paco, our porta potty that would usually, but not always, be enclosed in a camouflage tent. As both Islands are a National Park with fragile eco-structure, absolutely nothing was to be left behind. Every time we moved camp, Paco came too and got emptied in the deeper ocean. Happily, that was a job the guides undertook.
I also want to talk about how cold it got at night. Some of the group brought their own sleeping bags, others like us did not. The bags provided by BOA were light weight and not sufficient to keep Gail and I warm at night even when adding extra clothes. After the first night we opened up and layered the bags which worked better. It may have been the luck of the draw, but others i.e. Ian and Beth, were cozy in their higher quality BOA bags. They just grumbled that the plastic bags given for sleeping bag water protection just shredded to useless ribbons.
The tents had mesh tops open to the cold unless you put up the fly which acted like a noisy, flapping sail in windy conditions. But we all appreciated the crafty anchoring technique: 4” square pieces of plywood buried in the sand kept the tents well-grounded in the wind. Some nights we feared that our tent poles might break in the strong winds, but none did.
In the morning on the 27th after a hearty breakfast, did I mention that our guides were good cooks, we packed up and paddled up the rest of the West side of the island in about 4 hours to Masterno Beach with its steep sided cliffs.
For the 15 of us there were 3 doubles and 11 singles. Most folks switched boats on a daily basis. During our first day in the boats Gail and I were both in single kayaks. Two of the less experienced paddlers from Portland stayed mostly in the double and were happy with that. On the 2nd day we ended up with the Seaward long/thin double which carried the entire kitchen and was by far the heaviest loaded boat. What we quickly discovered was that once that boat was brought up to speed, it did not require much energy to keep it there and was easy to paddle.
I have significant shoulder problems, with my right having a tsunami of issues. It has in the past, gone from a mild discomfort to completely disabled in a heartbeat. I cannot predict when this is going to happen so have been doing everything possible to lessen the chances of this reoccurring. This includes using very lightweight paddle, lightweight kayak, altering my paddle stroke and changing significantly what I do off the water using the shoulder, etc.
Once I realized that staying in the Seaward double offered the best chance of me not injuring my shoulder and finishing the trip, I made the request. Our group was accommodating and understanding, I was able to complete the paddle. I know that my request was self-serving but it also meant that had my shoulder become disabled, I would be placed in the bow of a double and someone would have had to paddle me around for the rest of the trip. I really did not want to be the cause of that to happen. I know that others also had physical issues and appreciated the special allowance made for me.
On the Feb 28th we broke camp and paddled past the narrows between Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida (Caleta Partida) to Isla Partida and Ensenada Grande Bay where we stayed for two nights.
By now we had encountered some heavy seas which the guides and SISKA paddlers had no difficulty with. I was surprised however that BOA would take less experienced paddlers, as our Portland friends were, out in these types of conditions. When I asked about that, the guides said that it was not unusual to do so and was a great way for new paddlers to increase their skill set. A former guide, Beth said she would not have been allowed to take inexperienced paddlers out in similar conditions. But the guides also told her that they had been watching everyone carefully and judged the whole group to be seaworthy in the swells. They also kept everyone in a strict “crayons in the box” formation with a guide at each end. We thought they should have been equipped with radios as extra safety precaution, which we found out later they had but the batteries were dead.
The next morning, March 1st, we experienced “bouldering,” a strenuous hike up a narrow dry canyon including scrambling over large rocks in the hot sun, to a ridge/cliff that looked over the East side of the island. Great view. That afternoon, after the supply boat was unloaded, we took it North to Isla Los Islotes and went snorkeling with sea lions. This small island has more than 200 sea lions living there year-round. While snorkeling, the young pups will come up and grab your arm with their mouth but only gumming your wetsuit or shirt. I got some great underwater video footage of the spinning/whirling sea lion pups.
We had a group discussion that night about what route options were available the next day. In the morning that all changed because of now forecasted strong winds. We were informed that we would not be going around the Northern tip of Isla Partida and down the East side of Espiritu Santo but head back the way we came. So that was a long, bumpy paddle on March 2nd back to Playa Coralito. At the playa there was a fully-catered group of BOA paddlers who hadn’t left that beach because the conditions were too rough for them to paddle in.
The next day, the 3rd, we paddled into the very shallow bay of Playa San Gabriel and tied the boats together off shore with an anchor underwater in the sand. It’s the site of a large colony of frigate birds and it was dramatic to see hundreds of them swirling overhead. We hiked the desert floor then up on a ridge and got a great view of Playa Bonanza on the East side of the island. In the afternoon we paddled on to Playa Dispensa and set up camp.
In the morning on March 4th after another hearty breakfast we broke camp and packed up everything on the beach for the supply boat to pick up. We then paddled empty boats around the corner and into the mangrove waterways and followed a couple of narrow channels. I made a joke about keeping an eye out for alligators and was told by Antonio that yes, there were alligators there!
In the afternoon we basked on the beach waiting for our pickup boat, that arrived with cold beer and ice cream; such indulgent luxuries! Then we, along with our personal gear, were taken back to the Marina Waterfront Hotel in La Paz anticipating hot showers and clean sheets. That night we had a final group dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. The next day, 8 of us headed back to San Jose del Cabo to a small “off the wall loosely called” resort we had rented online and encountered a dysfunctional landlord, but that is another story for another time.
The landscape and scenery in the Baja is very different from what we are used to in our Westcoast temperate rainforest. The Baja is outstanding and beautiful in its own way and once you embrace its uniqueness, it’s a part of the paddling world not to be missed.
You could spend a lifetime paddling here! Endless kayaking adventures await on southern Vancouver Island
Recently Oak Bay News interviewed one of our members, BJ Porter, about our local paddling.
by Lynn Baier
Steak and Egg Scramble
Tips from the Trips
by Debbie Leach/Tim Frick
SEAL IT WITH Gasket Maker
Good for compressed neoprene seams as well as holes in neoprene. Apply a layer to areas that could wear such as palms of gloves. 2 coats may be necessary! Use latex gloves and coat the seams thoroughly with your finger or a similar tool. It's a little messy but works.
by Lynn Baier
Carry Medications on your PFD
This is my new Zipper pull. We all know that if you suspect a heart attack is in progress, chewing two aspirins can save a life. This little container can carry two aspirins plus a couple of pain killers as well. I’m not sure how rust proof it’s going to be, but there’s an o ring to make it waterproof, and it will always be handy.
BC Marine Trails News
To Buy or Sell
Wanted To Buy:
Do you have a (gently used) Thule Hullavator hanging around your garage or basement that is collecting dust? If you'd like to give it a new life, please reach out to SISKA member Diane Underhill at 778-997-6931 or email@example.com to arrange a viewing and a sale!
SISKA's Kayak Skills Course Partners
There are some fine discounts available from our kayak skills course partners for SISKA members who sign up for their skills training programs. Have a look HERE
Our partners are: