Vacation-Day 5.

Our fifth day saw us cross back over Johnstone Strait. Once again, we had perfect conditions and not a care in the world about the currents or wind. We camped near Kaikash Creek and had a great afternoon feeling fresh water and watching the wildlife. That night, the moon rose dramatically and we brushed our teeth in awe.

We loved it.

We loved it.

This was probably the most built up campsite that we visited. It has a metal fire pit and just down the trail, a composting toilet! It was quite a bit of luxury.

Fires matched the sunset.

Fires matched the sunset.

Another moon rising over Johnstone Strait.

Another moon rising over Johnstone Strait.

We spent a lot of time identifying birds.

Beautiful wildlife.

Beautiful wildlife.

Luxury camping.

Luxury camping.

Vacation Day 3 – Part 2.

Luckily, we stumbled upon the coolest campsite of our trip. It was a little hidden as you can see in the picture below. In fact, at high tide, you could paddle between the island and not see the fire pit or flat tent area.Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 5.32.42 PMWe were surrounded on 3 sides by water. This allowed us to sit and watch the wildlife.There were Stellar sea lions, harbor seals, birds galore, orcas, and humpbacks everywhere.

Wine while camping, yes please.

Wine while camping, yes please.

In the middle of the night we were woken up because the whales were so close. We could hear them breathing and talking to each other. The full moon made it easy to see them as they swam through Blackney Passage singing to each other.

Our view onto Blackney Passage.

Our view onto Blackney Passage.

We were alone with just as and the animals when we were startled by a small boat that came cruising by. It had a few people on it, but they were watching the big screen and didn’t see us or the whales.

My view is better than theirs.

My view is better than theirs.

Day Three – Crossing Johnstone Strait.

We woke up only slightly dejected, but ready for whatever the day threw at us. And then we experienced the fog. In the back of both of our minds, we still wanted to cross Johnstone Strait. But we had to do it safely. This fog prevented any crossing of the straight. It was so thick, that we put our headlamps on so that we could see each other. We had to hug the shore as we headed east. Johnstone Strait is known as the Alaska Marine Highway. Crossing it in heavy fog is dangerous in a small kayak.

Just another beautiful day.

Just another beautiful day.

The water was very calm and the animals were very quiet. It was a bit eerie. Even the fishing boats had come in overnight and anchored in a small bay near where we had camped. Bad weather was predicted so we were a little nervous that it might be getting worse than we had expected.

Safe place bay.

Safe place bay.

As the day wore on, the sun got brighter and the weather seemed to improve. There was still no wind, but we could see more trees. We could take off our headlamps and see each other. It was the first time we saw how beautiful the northern part of Vancouver Island really is.

Gorgeous countryside.

Gorgeous countryside.

We became more brave as the visibility improved. We had been pedaling for a couple miles and were feeling pretty good. We pulled into a cove, looked at our GPS, and made a decision to try and cross the strait. If it looked sketchy at any point, we would turn around. What happened? Nothing. We had the calmest water we had seen so far. The fog lifted and we chased it away!

Calm water.

Calm water.

As we crossed Johnstone Strait, the sun came out and we had blue skies following us. We were giddy as we approached our new destination, Hanson Island.

Lando and I crossing the strait.

Lando and I crossing the strait.

We landed at Hanson Island and pulled our kayaks onto the beach. We celebrated with lunch and sat on the rocks in the sunshine smiling from ear to ear. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, there was a loud “psssshhhhh” just offshore. We were standing on the rocks looking into the depths and a whale was passing within 15 yards of us. We watched it for a few breaths with our mouths open before Amanda was smart enough to yell, “get your camera!”

Just another whale.

Just another whale.

Goodbye.

Goodbye.

He cruised by as we remembered to finish our lunch. The winds started picking up and the currents began moving again. We were quickly reminded that the rain was supposed to appear the next day and we needed to find a campsite that we could hunker in if we couldn’t paddle/pedal.

Day Two.

We woke up ready to paddle. Well, actually to pedal. The kayaks that we borrowed are equipped with a virtually hands free propulsion system. See the video below.

This allowed us to fish, take pictures, and pet the dog, all while making forward progress. Speaking of the dog, of course we brought him. The other advantage to these kayaks is that they are sit on top kayaks instead of sit in kayaks. Sit on top configuration does not go as fast and is definitely not as stable as the sit in kayaks. However, we were able to bring all the gear we wanted and have a vacation with our dog.

Leaving Telegraph Cove in the late morning seemed fine. We got our tide and current chart and asked for someone to decipher it for us. There was a bit of concern that we did not have a VHF radio or marine charts. The winds were low and everything seemed doable. We got breakfast to go, loaded the boats, and pedaled out of the small marina.

Johnstone Strait

The calm after the storm.

We made it about half way across Johnstone Strait before the currents got the best of us. At first it was kind of funny watching the currents pushing us from left to right. Then the waves got bigger. Then there was a big whirlpool. After 30 minutes we weren’t moving. The waves were coming into the boats. We had no radio. Boats were intentionally avoiding the area. We might be in trouble. It took our remaining strength and composure to swallow our pride and turn around to head back the way we came.

Safety on shore.

Safety on shore.

Once we were safely back on shore, we found a beautiful campsite and set up our house for the afternoon. We were down, but not out. We looked at the map to try and figure out if we could camp on the side of Vancouver Island without crossing Johnstone Strait.

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