Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mayne Island: part 3 of 3

The Japanese Gardens Paddle

View Japanese Gardens Paddle in a larger map

There was a lot of activity last night. Something going on. In the early evening we noticed a huge yacht parked in the cove next to our camp ground. I think a royal prince or something was there. I took a picture. See how that one guy is covering his face? He isn't saluting, that is the wrong hand. I feel like a paparazzi. I had better fuzz their faces.

Turns out the picture isn't good enough to need to fuzz the faces. But that guy in the white shirt is definitely royalty.

Then right after we saw that boat I heard this loud fan noise and I said “Hey, that sounds like a Hover Craft!” We looked through the trees and sure enough, A large red Royal Canadian Hover Craft. Could not tell if it was full of eels.

Then, after it got dark (which is really late in those latitudes) there was crashing and explosions and lights and we realized that it must be fireworks. We could even see a few through the leaves. There was some celebration going on over on the other island. Made it harder to sleep than the seal slapping. The seal slapping was going on down in the water at high tide. The seals would every now and then make a great whompus of splashing noise. To scare away rivals? To attract Orca? Who knows. But it kept many campers awake. All of those noises, however, are overshadowed by the hourly boom of the BC Ferry whistles as they make their turn down Active Pass. The whistles on those things create a sound that is like a great wind, you can hear it sweeping in and past you and then bouncing off of the distant hills and sweeping back past you again. The echo hitting you before the end of the long blast such that the entire bay seems engulfed with the sound. Luckily the Ferries stop running around 11:00pm and don't start up again until 6:00am

The Ferries at Night. Are Big and Bright. Deep in the Heart, of BC.

Last night, after a group dinner of hors d'oeuvres and left overs, we had a serious talk about the next day's paddles. Seems like the Canadian Weather person was predicting some not so good kayaking weather. High probability of rain, but even worse from our point of view, high winds. Winds at 25 mph (well perhaps 30 kph) and up. Wind can be a real killer when you are out paddling. If you are on an open body of water (like, say, the ocean, or a big bay) then the wind can come blasting across the water and push up a wicked swell. So you can quickly get high waves, high wind, flying spray, and a general scary situation. When you are paddling in a small boat, you can generally be pretty safe if you stear into the wind and waves, but if you want to go in a different direction, it can get very hard to stay upright. If you are going down wind, you start to be surfing on the waves. This means you can have your bow and stern on different waves or just have your central body picked up, in either case the boat will not want to track straight and you could broach to. (like that? Broach to? It means you will be sideways to the waves and perhaps rolled over). Hard to make rescues in the waves. And then you go where they want you to. Perhaps into the rocks. Perhaps out to sea. Perhaps New Jersey. None of these things are desirable.

Anyway, in the name of safety it was decided to cancel some of the more challenging trips and to instead schedule the shorter safer ones that were going to stay on the side of the island that would be protected from the expected Southeast killer wind. My partner and I elected to go on a little round the bay jaunt that was going to stop at a local historic landmark, the Japanese Gardens.

So that morning we struggled out of bed and loaded our boats on the action adventure mobile and headed over to the little public landing that is sort of next to the Mayne Island ferry port. OOPS takes great pride in their tradition of safety, as I have said before, and today we were being lead by a new trip leader. This was her first solo group leading (I think. My apologies if I am wrong. This is a work of fiction, you know) so she was extra careful and safety like. Which was fine with me. It was low tide when we started out, this meant a long slug through mud from the boat ramp to the wet stuff. But the launch was easy enough and we happily paddled out of the bay along the rocky, million dollar home encrusted shore. The coast here is high rock cliffs down to deep water. Many homes still manage to have docks and ramps up the cliffs to the houses. Many of the docks have these draw bridge things going down to the water such you can raise the ramps up to the dock. Not sure of the purpose of these draw bridges. Is it to protect the ramp from high waves in the event of a storm? Or to deny access to the house above from the water in the event of Pirates? I am betting the latter.

We paddled pretty slowly. We had all day and we wanted to spend some time looking in tide pools for critters and enjoying the many fascinating geological formations. Wind, Rain and Sea can do some cool carving on a mixture of hard and soft rock. For critters, we saw purple sea stars and a football Critin. For rocks, see the pictures.

There is evidently a plague wiping these guys out down in CA.

At the end of the next bay South we beached, hauled our boats up high, and then walked up the ramp to the grassy field that gave us access to the Japanese Gardens. These gardens were built in memory of the Japanese Canadian farmers that lived on Mayne Island at the onset of World War II.

It turns out that Canada has the same terrible past as the USA when it comes to their treatment of their citizens of Japanese decent during World War II. They had the same imprisonments in camps and the same seizure of property. To this day I can't understand how we could justify the legal seizure. One would think that even if we felt forced to imprison our own citizens until the end of the war that we at least would have felt compelled to give them their stuff back when it was all said and done. Or 100 years after it was all said and done. But apparently not. Apparently both in the USA and in Canada we didn't feel bad enough to give them back their homes and their farms. In Canada, however, they did feel bad enough to make a nice little garden in memory of the poor Canadians that lost their lands such that other Canadians might one day build million dollar summer homes. I don't know what else to say about this place. It has the same peace and geometric complexity/simplicity as any well done Japanese Garden. We walked quietly around for about an hour. Here are some pictures.

Kami Bell

OK, I made up the Kami Bell thing

But it sounded good, didn't it?

OK, I made up the bamboo thing

Super Heros

On the way home we stopped to play with the harbor seals and to do some bow rescue practice. I have been feeling a little damp lately after flipping over in my dry suit. I can't figure out if I have a real leak or just have some water coming in through my neck seal. My drysuit is from Kokatat. It is one of their less expensive models. It has lighter material than other models and the neck seal is just neoprene and not the much tighter and more water resistant rubber gasket. This means that the neck is much more comfortable than other drysuits but can let in more water. A trade-off. Don't flip over, or if you do, get your head above water as quick as you can.

When we got back to the boat launch the tide had come in quite a bit and we didn't have such a long slug through the mud. Just as well.

My partner and I had become a little tired of the camping. We had done the math and figured that in order to make the 7:00 am ferry, we would have to get up at like 5:00 and break camp and carry all of our stuff out. Or carry everything except the sleeping stuff out tonight. And what if the predicted rain shows up? Then we would be carrying stuff out through the mud. I didn't like that. So we called around and found a nice little cabin to rent over on the other side of the island (But that is a 10 minute drive !!). It was one of like 10 quaint little one room cabins in a little semi circle. The place is called the Blue Vista Resort and we stayed in the Hummingbird cabin. (do you know why hummingbirds hum? Because they can't remember the words !!). It had a bed and a shower and a little cooking unit. Was more than nice enough for our one night stay.

We had dinner with the group over there on that side of the island too. In a little restaurant looking out over the island chain that we didn't get to paddle to because of the weather. Oh yeah, the terrible wind and rain weather that never freaking happened. Thanks Canadian Weather Person. Nice to know that it is just as hard to predict the weather in Metric as it is in old English units.

The next morning we jumped up and drove out to the Ferry landing to wait in line for our Ferry. There was a whole bunch of action going on in the AM. People moving around. There were 2 ferries in at the same time for awhile. A small ferry came in to the smaller ferry ramp on the left and the guys lowered the draw bridge and cars started coming off. This was one of the ferries where the car deck is open to the sea. Sort of looks like what I would have called a “normal” ferry before this weekend started. Perhaps like something that may have plied back and forth across the Hudson in mid 20th century New York.

Anyway, the cars come off, drive up the hill toward us, and then just about every one of them takes this little turn-around loop and comes right back down and drives onto the larger ferry on the right (which I guess isn't our Ferry after all). Then the small ferry leaves. It gets out a few hundred yards, turns around, comes back and unloads cars from the other end. Not sure if that was a planned and standard manuvuer or not. Then both ferries leave. My partner and I joined up with a bunch of other OOPS people headed home and walked up to the little outdoor cafe to score some coffee. Then I hear a whistle and around the corner comes (what will turn out to be) our ferry. It chugs and opens its huge bow doors and in we all roll.

The trip back was different from the trip out in that we had sunshine.

And off we went. We did remember to return our borrowed Pillows.

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