The Nodal Point – Half Way in Many Ways
July 12, 2019 – This morning I had a crew of five helping me launch. Jim, Maria, Alan, Sam, and Timothy were all at the ready to carry IKEA bags, paddles, pumps, and BABS down to the water below Jim and Maria’s house. The tide was coming in so it was an easy load, and Jim had put rubber stickers out to make it an even easier launch.
As I was loading the kayak, Sam announced that there were sea urchin on the rocks a few yards from BABS’ port side. I immediately lost all sense of time and place and made a beeline for Sam. Sure enough, there was at least one live softball-sized sea urchin. I picked it up, and held it. Jim came and helped me carry it over next to BABS. Then I slipped fully into a world of urchin ecstacy.After a moment of apology and gratitude, I grabbed my knife out of my PFD and split the urchin. Not having done this (or YouTubed it) before, I had no idea what to expect except for five “tongues” of roe (I prefer that to gonads) tucked somewhere into the shell. There was a blob of what I believe must have been guts floating in the center with little pieces of seawead in the mix that emptied out with a little tugging here and there revealing five lovely pockets of roe inside the shell. Oh joy!
I carefully scooped each one with my knife and dropped them onto my tongue piece by delectible piece. People have asked me to describe sea urchin and I can only say it tastes like the sea smells when it comes in over a very gentle breeze on an overcast day, and then passes all too quickly. It is light and soft and the most delicious food I have ever eaten. Never before have I tasted better uni. Of course, never before have I eaten it so fresh. Not surprisingly, not one of my ground crew wanted to share it with me. After all, uni is an acquired taste.
My plan was to follow the island down to its southern tip then cross over to Vancouver Island all the way to Kitty Coleman Provincial Park – a 25 mile paddle. However, after about three miles of really strong wide banks of eddies and dodging seven different boats coming to and going from the island, I decided to cross over to Vancouver Island at the industrial shoreline of Campbell River. In the end it was the right decision. The only time I had to dance around boat traffic was at one marina right after I crossed. I had two yachts coming straight at me at full speed and I panicked and tried paddling to the shore with a screaming flood tide. Before I could get to the shore they stopped full. Then one turned and went into the marina I hadn’t seen on the chart and couldn’t see in person. Then it was easy. I stopped at the edge of the opening and waited for everyone to come and go, then crossed. Then the only other vessel I had to wait for was the Quadra/Campbell River ferry as it went into Campbell River.
In total I counted 43 vessels between the main channel and Quadra I would have had to dodge had I stayed on that side. I also didn’t have to deal with the vast and powerful eddies having moved over to the the Vancouver Island side. Maybe not as pretty, but safer and less complicated.
A momentous and quick note about Middlenatch Island, the nodal point on the east side of Vancouver Island. Off to my portside for most of today’s paddle, at first the waters were calm and reflective and mesmerizing, then became a little ripply for a few miles, then again calm, whitish surreal water again for a couple of miles. Those calm stretches felt a lot like being in a great big beautiful bathub. Not only is this the middle point for the tide at this place, it is also the nodal point of my journey. I have traveled 626 miles, half of what I will do to get home. The timing is perfect. At this rate I will be home by September 1st.
I saw a total of three harbor porpoises and five harbor seals over the 20-mile paddle from Quadra to Miracle Bay Provincial Park where I am camping tonight. They had one space left, which I am sharing with a young German biologist who lives in Switzerland. Very interesting and lovely person.The distance from the beach to my campsite is .4 miles. After I hauled everything to it, I dropped down on my back on the bench of the picnic table to rest and stretch out my back. I looked over to the entrance into my campsite and two people were walking in. They looked familiar. They are my next door neighbors from five nights ago at the Naka Creek Campground Uncle Sid, Gaston and I stayed at. Fine folks and in this huge campground, how serendipitous we end up next door neighbors again. They generously fed me supper.
My plan is to wake up early enough to paddle south to either Union Bay or Buckley Bay. I have invites to camp from both places which are pretty close to one another. Setting an alarm to be on the water early. I hope the bay isn’t too deep for an early ebb launch.