A Swell Day

July 7, 2019 – I am paddling in calm blue water. I look behind me and the wind visibly picks up to 30+ knots and starts generating 12′ tall rolling waves, coming fast toward me. I start paddling hard. The first wave picks me up. I look down to roiling seas two stories below me. Then the wave shoves me hard forward straight down. I start to cry out (and cry) as I know I am about to die. Then my eyes open. I am laying on my side in my tent. I see Mr. Fuzzball passed out next to my feet at the other end of the tent. This is how my day began.

It was a sunny, windless morning. I launched at 10, having read the current chart for Central Johnstone Straight which had a one-knot or less ebb current at 11 followed by “little to no tangible current” until the next ebb which was predicted to be the same as earlier. I rode the eddies until noon and made a 4 mph pace the first two hours before the current switched. The third hour, after the current switched, I made a 4 mph pace. I paddled on for another half hour until just south of Port Neville when I came across a sweet sandy/cobble beach (with no barnacles!) and took out for a quick bite to eat, bathroom break, and chance to check the GPS. The GPS said I had eight more miles to Kelsey Bay.

Just after I got back on the water the wind kicked up a little. Not a lot. Enough it seemed to create 3′ swells in addition to the rolling waves already building. I made up a littl song to sing to ease my nerves, “I’m Just a Bobber in the Water with a Good Low Brace”. Clever, I know. It helped to keep things light because, in addition to the growing swells, there was such an abundance of boat traffic complete with varying wakes I could never assume any patterns would last in those waters. It may not be open sea but it is definitely the Pacific Ocean. It felt oceanic today. For seven miles. So glad I had the respite before I hit the bigger stuff.

I did make it successfully to Kelsey Bay, named after a dude and his family in the early 20th century, from Washington state, on their way to Alaska but never made it that far. Uncle and Gaston had already gotten us settled in at the little campground on a very small lake in Sayward (Kelsey Bay is part of the Village of Sayward). After some fish tacos from the restaurant at the marina, we finished getting camp set, perused charts/maps and planned out the next few days’ paddles/driving.

Highlights today were seeing a couple of harbour porpoises a few different times, making a total of eight, one harbour seal, and a pod of white-sided dolphins about 12 meters from my kayak. Also the thought that if I continue to paddle in today’s conditions almost every day for the next seven weeks, I may just get to the place where I lose my fear, always be aware, but not be afraid. I certainly got to that place pretty quickly today. It would/will be nice to start out in that place. Last, while this area is ocean with all of its sea critters and flora, it is otherwise so similar to the lower Columbia in its mesmerizing lighting, lushness, and winding waterways. On a sunny summer day like today, it was lovely.

Written by

kyleenaustin

I am passionate about outdoor exploration. In the recent years I have discovered how much more I can experience from a kayak. I am a professional musician and own a dairy where we produce raw milk, butter and cheeses. My son tells me I have "too much on my plate". He is correct, but I wouldn't live life any other way.

3 thoughts on “A Swell Day

  1. So beautiful, Kyleen. I’m with you in spirit…..but kinda glad I’m not paddling in 3’ swells and confused waves. Sleep well!

  2. Lee and I share the excitement every time we see “It’s All About the Water” appear in our emails! We love getting the daily entries now – and at the beginning of your trip with its challenges we nervously awaited updates to learn what had happened after your story had ended in a cliff hanger. You are awesomely brave!! Thank you for sharing your adventure with us through your beautiful writing. This morning I made an audible gasp at the end of first paragraph – when you woke up from the dream. Sending you love and admiration, Lee and Emily Winstrom

  3. Great post – you got my attention with the description of your dream, and I can picture you singing along as you navigated boat traffic and growing waves. I’m following your trip with great interest! Remember to wave when you see the Vancouver shoreline.

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