One well-adventured pair of pants

October 17, 2013 Comments (0) ONE Proj blog, Practical and How-To

Newbie’s Guide to Sea Kayaking (in Gwaii Haanas)

This list was compiled from conversations with Bryn Hammett; watching YouTube videos; and an hour in a zodiac with Bruce Kirby and Dave Quinn on our way into Gwaii Haanas. Talk about cramming. I’ll write a bit more about our fortuitous encounter with Bruce and Dave in my full post (Canada update #4).

Another sunny day in Haida Gwaii.


Here are the tips:

  • Bring a radio, and check the weather daily. Plan your trip around tides and winds.
  • Don’t paddle across large waves, the whitecaps will capsize you. Zigzag if you must, even ‘surfing’ the waves back after overshooting your destination.
  • Tides flood north, and ebb south, generally. And beware when coming around points, as the tides and wind can really concentrate there.
  • When wind is moving against tide current, prepare for gnarly waves.

We camped between some of  the largest cedars I’ve ever seen: Lyell Island is the most productive tree growing location in the world.

  • If carrying a loaded kayak, lift it under the hull, not by the handles, or it may crack.
  • If you capsize, the best way to eject is to try and ‘kiss the boat’.
  • If you capsize, don’t try to guide your water-filled kayak onto the beach, because a loaded kayak full of water will easily smash itself to bits on the rocks. Best to bail it out at sea and climb back in.
  • If you must land your full kayak on the beach from outside it, don’t get caught between it and the rocks, or you’ll be easily crushed.
  • Always eat your best food first. Then the next day, eat your best food again. Every day you’ll be happy because you’re always eating your best food.

these fish are the stars of Burnaby Narrows

  • If you find a New Zealand apple floating in the ocean, eat it. It may have even floated all the way across the Pacific. Seriously, this actually happened to me. Hey don’t laugh, if a motorcycle could make the journey.
  • Find the surprisingly light driftwood on the beach. It’s cedar, aged like a fine cheese for campfire perfection. To burn, simply split (to expose dry innards), shave (to create fire-starter), or use as found.

It may be windy, wet and cold; but at least we have fire!

  • It’s bad luck to paddle without beer. Cans fit marvellously in the narrow ends of the bow/stern. Dave, Bruce: Thanks for the beer!
  • Most importantly: You can actually teach yourself to sea-kayak just by watching YouTube and asking experienced people a few questions. Thanks heaps Bryn, Bruce, and Dave.

-Mike, sea-kayaking expert

Feeling a bit wild after 4 days alone

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