We launched our 50 year old Chestnut canoe, 'Takatu'* in Fulford Harbour on Saturday and paddled around for a few hours. Those are the facts, but they doesn't tell the whole story. This wood and canvas canoe has been our life companion and has had many adventures, mostly as we paddled and camped our way through the Gulf islands of BC. The familiar stroke of our paddles, the surge and lift of the canoe and sounds of wind and waves was so evocative of a once younger couple of kids just starting out on their life's adventure together.
The weather forecast was not promising, North-west winds gusting to 50 km., so we selected a local launching site that should provide a sheltered lee and were soon running out the harbour along the southern shore before a gusty breeze. “Look”, says Heather, holding up her paddle as a sail, “see how fast we are sailing”! Oh, oh, I could see that the wind would soon force us into the beach at that rate and so we angled back across the bay seeking more shelter along the northern shore. Further out in the bay the gusts were powerful and kicking up a chop and it took some extra effort to keep the bow from blowing off down wind and carrying up with it out of the bay. Soon though we were skimming past the beacon and the Skeleton Islets, disturbing an eagle busy eating a large fish and nodding to some oyster catchers nesting on the rocks and then we were in the shelter of Indian Point at last. We gently nosed our way among the low tide seaweed, rolled up our pants, stepped out and pulled our canoe ashore. How good we felt, still filled with the adrenaline of our windy trip across the bay.
After a snack and stretching our legs we began a hard slog against the wind back up the northern shore, gaining shelter from every little bay and point of land. Whenever a gust arrived however we had to paddle directly into it or be blown onto the rocks. Dig the paddle in, lean into it, keep up a fast pace - we made good progress especially in the gaps between the gusts, and the closer we came to the ferry dock at the head of the bay the easier conditions became. We pulled ashore for lunch on a beautiful shell beach and sat and admired our canoe, red against the green seaweedy low tide beach. From there it was just a few more minutes back to the dock and the carry up to the car. A very satisfactory first paddle of the summer.
* We named our canoe 'Takutu' after a river in the Rupununi district of Guyana where we once lived and worked with CUSO.