Miracle Beach to Buckley Bay
July 14, 2019 – I awoke at 4, got up at 4:05, donned my headlamp, made coffee, packed up the tent stuff, and brought everything down the quarter mile to the shore. It took me three hours instead of the two I’d planned for and I was on the water by 7. Making four half-mile round trips carrying 50 lbs of gear one way, then running back to the campsite for the next round was a cool morning workout, and I was rewarded everytime with a new view of the sunrise over the water.
There is something magical about sunrise paddles. It’s the start of a new day. Anything is possible, and you feel that sense in your bones. The tide prediction table for this area read high tide at 5 and low at 11. Getting on at 7 left me four hours of help to go the 25+ miles to Buckley Bay. Great blue herons, surf scoters and common loons saw me off into the bay. As I got farther out, I realized that the place in the channel where the current was really ripping was a couple of miles off the shoreline – at the place where all of the ferries, yachts, fishing boats, bulk carriers, and cruise ships were traveling.
So I got out as far from shore as I was comfortable swimming and just got into my 4 mph no-real-help-from-the-current paddling groove. I had help in a couple of stretches but, when I checked my progress on the GPS, I averaged 4 mph the first three hours. At this point I came around the stark bluffs off the gorgeous end of the point off Comox and saw a dozen or so harbor seals, some of which were playing in the water splashing around. They were as curious of me as I was them and we studied each other for a minute or so before they dived down only to resurface here and there like little seadogs dotting the water looking on at me.
Then I noticed the seals and I were in white calm water; the tide changed an hour earlier than predicted. I had 16 miles under my hull by the end of the fourth hour, and mercifully the incoming tide wasn’t too strong. I actually had more help paddling near the shore in the flood tide than I had had previously with the ebb.
It was time for a break so I pulled up to the Sandy Island Marine Parc full with dozens of great blue herons and all sorts of gulls, perfectly clear water showing all of the empty and rather large clam shells on the ocean floor. It was shallow enough I could get out without having to bank the kayak. As I waded in sea asparagus, I clipped my bow line onto the grab loop of my spray skirt and ate my satsuma and homemade trail mix. In the distance beyond the Denman Island Point I could see the houses of Buckley Bay, what I thought looked like about ten miles away.
When I pulled up to the house in Buckley Bay, the GPS read 27.6 miles in just under seven hours of paddling. There was Sam walking along the pebbled shoreline. He guided me to the house his grandfather had gotten permission for me to land and store BABS at during my time here. While this may have been the most miles I have paddled in a day thus far on this trip, I don’t feel wiped out. I mean I’m tired but not exhausted. What I am is once again sore in the armpits. In fact, the chafing is worse than ever. I could have paddled another ten or more miles if needed if it weren’t for the acute pain under the arms.
Alan, Sam, and neighbor Mike all helped me get the boat unloaded and up above the high tide line, and all the gear loaded into the back of Alan’s truck. Alan and Gillian’s house is basically just across the road from Mike’s house, but one can’t just drive across the road. So we drove around and back to their lovely two-story home and I unloaded only the things I need having yet another conventional bed with a bathroom (yes, spoiled once again). I took a nice hot shower and gently washed the underarms and put on more of the silver salve. The welts are pretty big and painful, but it doesn’t bother me much. I had such a lovely journey today. I will figure something out. I am near large cities with outfitter-type stores that ought to have something I can get that will help prevent this chafing. That’s the only downside. Everything else is working out quite well. Well, except I think I still have a very small leak in the hull somewhere in the cockpit area because there is more water in there than I think there should be after the day’s paddle. Not enough to be concerned about at this point but certainly something to watch.
After a short nap, Alan took me to the nearby pub for supper where they had some terrific local musicians playing. Gillian is house-sitting for some friends this evening and it may work out to get to spend some time with her tomorrow. She is also a ceramic artist and has some pieces created in a friend’s workshop she will be glazing and possibly firing tomorrow. Meanwhile I am in this lovely basement suite surrounded by amazing works of art, kilns, clay, and two rather attractive goldfish outside my bedroom. I will sleep in tomorrow as I have decided to take the day off from paddling and see about finding something to help me with this chafing issue before it turns into a serious problem.
After a lovely supper at the pub, Alan took us north to where the music fesival, Musicfest, was wrapping up its last night of festivities. Of course, one of the volunteers located at the musicians’ entrance was a former student of Alan’s and we hung out with her as we grooved to the last band of the Sunday night lineup. I don’t know who they were but they were great and I did some moderate dancing despite a growing sleepiness having been up for almost 20 hours or so and having paddled farther than a marathon with little to no help from the current.