Qualicum Bay to Southey Island

July 18, 2019 – What is up with this waking up at 4 am? I stayed in bed until 5:15. I could hear water breaking on the shore and I was hesitant to look in case it was still like yesterday. Mercifully it wasn’t. I could pack and launch, with an acceptable amount of water in my hatches, in the small waves coming in. With the help of a friendly campground neighbor I was on the water by 7:45 for another sunrise paddle.

The water was pretty lumpy but basically lumpy in the same direction I was going. There were regular swells coming through from the side, either wakes of boats long since passed or, well, swells. Nothing big enough to make me want to get off the water. It would have taken something pretty big for that. Otherwise very little wind and sunny and wonderful.

After I got east of Qualicum Bay the boating traffic disappeared and I had the water practically all to myself. A great many large elegant houses dot the shoreline between Qualicum Bay and Nanoose Bay, as well as a harbor seal or two or six every so often. Because the last hour of my paddle happened after the flood tide began I started to have a lot of fishing boat traffic go by in every which way. Everyone appeared to see me, some even waved.

I arrived at Southey Island just after 3 pm. It is a tiny island just off the shore from Nanoose Bay. It is mostly rocky along the shore but has one gravel beach on its south side and nice campsites up above the high tide line. It has plants and trees I haven’t seen at any of my Alaska or BC camping beaches before – Madrone, Shore pine, Oregon white oak, poison oak, red goosefoot, glasswort (or sea asparagus, which I have seen at a couple of places I landed but didn’t camp there so it doesn’t count), chickweed, curly leaf dock, and nodding onion. At last! Foraging! But first, set up camp.

Just after I finished setting up camp, collecting a small bowl of the aforementioned plants, and setting the glasswort to soak in fresh water for an hour, it started to pour down rain. I huddled down in my tent and waited for it to pass, which it did barely long enough for me to sautee the foraged plants and cook my chicken soup into which I added the sautee. The sea asparagus gave it the perfect saltiness and texture. It and the other wild veggies made my soup the best I’ve had on this trip. Also, except for an irate river otter, white-tailed deer, some white-crowned sparrows, bald eagle, and three turkey vultures, I have the island all to myself. It’s just like the good old days, way back a month and a half ago. I am thoroughly appreciating feeling wild again.

Another milestone – I spent my last moments of this journey on Vancouver Island this morning. The next few nights will be spent on other islands as I make my way to Orcas where I’ll meet up with cousin Roger and my fabulous ground crew again for awhile. Then it’s on to Whidbey, then the southern end of the Straits of San Juan de Fuca. I’m definitely coming back to Vancouver Island some day. There is still a lot of it I’d like to see, especially the west side.

That reminds me, I have been debating whether or not to go the extra miles (at least 10 but I haven’t really added it up yet) and go by Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to check back in to the US or just go straight Orcas Island. So I called the Customs office on San Juan and asked about my options. The officer told me about an app, which I downloaded. By supper time last night I became an official “verified traveler” and once I cross the border on the water, providing I have a cell signal, I can push a button and I’m good to go straight on to Orcas. There are parts of modern technology I appreciate.

As I write this it is still pouring rain. The forecast says it will stop soon and tomorrow and the next day will be dry and somewhat windy. While I know the folks here really need the water I am glad the next couple of days will give me a chance to dry everything else out. I wish I had a little more time to explore this islan today. Tomorrow the plan is to leave around 9 am to get to Dodd Narrows at slack.

Another lovely sunrise launch. Thankfully calmer.
Entering the Gulf Islands, the islands in the Straight of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the BC mainland.
The area surrounding my campsite is full of nodding onions. They taste delicious.
Oregon white oak. They are all covered with acorns. It’s impressive how they manage to survive growing out of rocks, although you can see the brown from a dry season is taking its toll.
My partly foraged supper. Mmmm mmmmm good.

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.

2 thoughts on “Qualicum Bay to Southey Island

  1. “Nothing big enough to make me want to get off the water. It would have taken something pretty big for that. ” — Haha. You’re getting confident! Awesome. How many times have you had to rolled BABS?

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