Island Hopping : Pacific Canada ’99 : Group Diary

In the summer of 1999, four fresh-faced young undergraduates embarked upon a sea kayaking expedition to Canada’s Gulf Islands. This is their story.

Day 1 (11th August) – Zoë: Leaving

Having queued to get to Gatwick, three of us – Rowan, Sam and I (Zoë) – boarded our plane without problems. Adrian is in Vancouver, whereabouts unknown, whilst at Gatwick we were privileged to be half blinded by the eclipse. All but a sliver of sun was covered and the light levels dropped, like just before a storm. More chaos was caused by people not boarding flights because they were too busy looking rather than boarding their planes. The flight was good, having unnerved the cabin stuff by our fiddling and choice of reading material.

Food: Good, Film: Average → Poor (2 films – don’t bother watching Tin Cup). Philadelphia Airport was very much like other airports except we were moved to the front of the queue as we were in transit, much to the annoyance of people queuing.

Plane on second flight was tiring, and you had to pay to watch the film. We didn’t!

Arrival in Seattle was smooth and customs etc. were no problem. A quick phone call to the Green Tortoise and we found ourselves on the 174 bus to downtown. On seeing our barrel, the driver asked us if it contained chemicals. Strictly speaking it did, but it did not seem to be the time to be bolshy. A fraught ½ hour in the bus with some ‘home boys’ saw us in downtown. Having tried to get off three stops early, the driver let us off at the right place and we followed our newfound friend to the hostel.

A large man in the hallway checked us in and briefed us on the rules. The hostel itself had a less than normal theme. There were turtles and tortoises everywhere and an ‘End of the World’ party was in progress. However, since we were coming to the end of a 32-hour day, we headed up to our room.

The room had a double bed, shared by Rowan and Sam, and a single, taken by Zoë. We crawled into sleeping bag liners and went to sleep, despite the best efforts of a budding bob Dylan on guitar on the balcony under our window.

Day 2 (12th August) – Sam: Seattle → Victoria

An early rise (7 a.m.) was followed by repacking before venturing downstairs to investigate the free breakfast. This turned out to be in English muffin and two quarters of an orange. This proved woefully inadequate, despite the six meals the previous day, and so we ventured out onto the streets of Seattle. Since it was only about 8:30 a.m., nothing was open except the Pike Place market. We breakfasted on McD’s on the way to the ferry terminal, which was also closed. A gentle walk back via the market and a closed North Face shop saw us back in our room by 9:30.

Lugging our mammoth amounts of luggage we checked out and proceeded at a slower pace back to the ferry terminal, and arrived at bang on 10, when they opened.

Tickets procured, we checked in our luggage and set off back into the now open Seattle. The world’s most luxurious Togshop and to the North Face shop provided an hour’s entertainment. Not quite as much as asking for a tea in “Tuffi’s coffee”. Sixteen different types and four different sizes were offered. They even had three different types of normal tea!

A return to the ferry at 12:30 saw us boarded by 12:45, and at 1 o’ clock the good ship Princess Magritte III set sail for Canada.

5½ quiet hours later we docked at Victoria, reclaimed our baggage and cleared customs. Waiting for us were Colin and Adrian, our missing member. With a bright yellow truck they were hard to miss. The half hour drive to Deep Cove was filled with conversation, mostly catching up with news.

On arrival at Colin and Marsha’s house we had a meal of spaghetti bolognese, our first non-fast food for 48 hours. We then whiled away the hours talking about the islands, sea kayaking and other miscellaneous stuff.

Day 3 (13th August) – Rowan

The day started at about 6:30 a.m., though it was meant to be later. In the TV room where Zoë and I were, the TV turned on half way through the star sign forecasts, while in the other room Adrian declared Sam a “time zone mal-adjusted freak”. Zoë and I went with Colin and Marsha to work and I drove back so that we could use the car for the rest of the day.

After breakfast we went into Sidney to buy food and a few remaining bits of kit. The woman in the bargain shop thought we were weird, but it was nothing compared to the look the cashier gave when we unloaded to food in Safeways. There were few things we couldn’t get in Sidney, so we went into Victoria and parked down by the marina. We then proceeded to the nearest outdoor shop where we bought the various bits of kit.

This done we strolled back to the car and drove back to Sidney to buy a little bit more food.

Day 4 (14th August) – Adrian: To Infinity… And beyond!

Hello everyone. Today we all got our first(ish) taste of sea kayaking. The verdict? Salty. Woken up by these jet-lagged weirdos early, we started getting our kit together. Rowan and Sam went off in the yellow truck with Colin to get the boats, while Zoë and I wondered how the hell we were ever going to fit all our kit to them. Seeing the boats did little to improve our optimism. Magically, we managed to squeeze everything into the boats, with the help of the trusty ‘boot of persuasion’. Moving the fully laden kayaks down to the shore, we realised just how heavy they were, and it took the combined efforts of Colin, Sam, Rowan and myself to get each one down.

Saying goodbye to Colin, Marsha and of course Strobe, we set off into the glorious sunshine, not needing cags on. We paddled off from Deep Cove at about 2 p.m. Paddling along in the supremely stable sea kayaks was fairly easy going, but spraydecks were needed as we left the shelter of the peninsula. Periodically a seal would poke its head above water few hundred yards away from the boats.

Having paddled about 8 nautical miles in three hours we found a fairly pleasant site to pitch camp. For dinner we had fajitas, and followed this with a quick dip in the sea. Quick because it was absolutely bloody freezing! All in all, today was a good start to the expedition.

Day 5 (15th August) – Zoë: Wet Day

Woke up to find it pouring with rain and all the kit left outside had got wet. We cooked as soggy meal of scrambled eggs in the porch of the tent and made our first attempt at dampa bread. To say it was solid would be a bit of an understatement. These things made granite look light and fluffy.

Thankfully it stopped raining briefly whilst we paddled up the boats and headed off towards Ganges. We decided not to make the crossing to Prevost as the visibility was low and we could get a hot meal in Ganges.

After what seemed like very little paddling along the rocky shoreline of Saltspring Island we came to a busy looking campsite which was the place we could have stopped at but we had barely started. The paddling that was against the tide but there were no problems and we made good speed. With the washes of passing motor cruisers adding to the entertainment, by this stage the rain had started again and was beginning to get tiring.

We stopped for ‘munchies’ of dried apricots in a small rocky bay but we did not hang around as it was cold. We ate lunch floating along, though after eating the dampa we were lucky we were still floating.

by the time we reached Ganges we were cold, wet and tired and looking forward to getting into our tents. However having inquired about campsites we were told the nearest one was back at the beginning of the paddle and the only hotel was $49/person/night. Zoë thought this was a good idea but the others didn’t so we started to paddle back.

The only place we could find to stay was on the rocky island that had the lighthouse on it. We landed and hence the boats since it was probably privately owned which meant carrying them (they are very heavy) over the rocks. Rowan fell and grated his leg: blood + water = mess. It was not as bad as it looked.

We cooked a simple meal of pasta & tomato and tinned pineapple. We had hot chocolates and marshmallows and ended up eating the packet of marshmallows but we deserved it. Rowan and Sam were asleep by eight o’clock. With all of us bundled in one tent we all slept soundly despite the float planes taking off over our heads. Pleased to be in the dry.

Day 6 (16th August) – Sam: Ganges

We woke in the morning to find it still raining. The consensus was that a cooked breakfast in Ganges was on the cards. The feeling of climbing into wet shorts and Hellys cannot be described by mere words. However, the camp was packed up quickly, if only to keep warm.

The short paddle back into Ganges was made more exciting by having to dodge the float planes, but we landed successfully on the government dock. We picked the boats out of the water and stacked them on the boardwalk.

by this time it had stopped raining so we changed into land clothes. The weather here is easy to forecast. Look south and you can see the next 8 hours of weather. From Ganges the weather looked much brighter.

We popped into a local café and ate many waffles, topped with butter, maple syrup and fruit (not at the same time!). A morning wandering around art galleries and craft shops followed, along with some more food and hardware shopping. Since sponges only came in packs of ten with a bucket, the latter was a failure! Lunch in a burger restaurant revolved around huge burgers and ‘fries’.

We got back into paddling gear and set off in the boats at about 13:00. About 2 hours and 16 verses of the ‘Yogi bear’ song later we arrived at Prevost Island, a perfect wilderness campsite in the glorious sun. We were soon joined by two old kayakers who looked as if they should be called Bob and Jean.

A superb supper of corn on the cob, bangers and spicy mash, chocolate fudge cake and jelly beans was quickly demolished and then it was swim time. Zoë, Rowan and Adrian all entered by foot. I preferred to enter by boat and then to roll. The result was a success on the right but not on the left.

We all ran ashore, threw a few more logs on the fire and huddled around. A perfect afternoon was finished with hot chocolate and marshmallows around the fire.

Day 7 (17th August) – Rowan

Got up to a misty morning, only to find that the fire we had built up the night before in the hope that it would have glowing embers in the morning had gone out completely. For breakfast we had maple and brown sugar porridge which was actually quite nice. The mist quickly burned off into a list during the hot day as we paddled further north. For ‘munchies’ we had animal-shaped fruit sweets while holding onto a branch of the dead tree sticking out over the sea.

To get to the lunch spot we either had to paddle round a spit, or portage over the shoulder. We opted for the shoulder not reckoning on the mud-bank on the other side. Having covered ourselves in mud we made it to the other side where we had lunch and got some more water from a building site.

We headed north to Wallace Island, a National Park. The first campsite we went in to was full of motor- and sail boats, all with screaming kids, so we turned around and headed north to another campsite. Expecting the same sort of thing, we were delighted to find that it was only large enough for sea kayaks. We ended up sharing the site with two women and three punters plus their guide (her holiday job whilst at university). The park warden couldn’t believe that we were all british, and asked us to wish Charles well from her. After making dampa bread for the next day we went to bed.

Day 8 (18th August) – Adrian: Thetis Island

Anticipating a long paddle today we had the intention of an early start, but breakfast had other plans. Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix emerged from the front of my boat for the first time. Unfortunately the extreme heat of the MSR seemed to be too much for pancakes as Zoë’s none too successful dalliance with scrambled pancakes showed, and we resorted to our ACME Maple Imitation Flavored Syrup to rectify the situation. Luckily further attempts produced more pancake-like results and we ended up having a pretty good breakfast, even if it did delay our departure until 10 a.m.

However, flexing our beards, nothing could hold us back as we reach our lunchtime destination well ahead of schedule. being so hardcore, we decided to alter our route and head for the marina on Thetis Island, where the warden had informed us we could camp. Alas we were misled, and having lazily drifted into the marina harbour, we discovered that although the 1950s ice cream parlour was indeed present, there was no public campsite on the island. Cheering ourselves with our lunch of dampa bread, now greedily dunked in semi-molten chocolate spread, rapidly followed by enormous ice creams (the brownie sundae being a particular favourite), we once again tried to work out just where the hell to go. We rejected the initial plan of returning to Wallace Island in favour of paddling across to an island which the warden previously had recommended as a lunch spot.

After a fairly brief paddle under the beating sun to the island (whose name still eludes me, I shall ask Sam when he’s awake), we landed to find it perfectly suited to our purposes. The state breeze keeps the island fairly free of mosquitoes; it is small – about 300m end to end – and has no-one else on it, and yet has a nice cooking area and good, relatively rock-free pitch sites (excluding the enormous rock presently under Sam). A brief reconnoitre to the nearest house to ask for permission to camp proving fruitless (nobody home), we decided to set up camp on the island for a couple of nights. Tonight was Zoë’s grand chance to impress us with a stir fry and we weren’t let down.

Dessert was to consist of our “A bug’s Life” butterscotch mix with bugs – the discovery that said bugs were made of chocolate, and consequentially were moosh, meant they had to be replaced by our jelly beans. We attempted to use the last of our milk, which had been riding on the back of Rowan’s boat in the beating sun since leaving Ganges, to make hot chocolate, but after smelling it we quickly decided against it. The bad thing was, we had used some of it for the butterscotch, so we could be in trouble…

Day 9 (19th August) – Zoë: Chemainus

Woke up to find the weather was a little greyer than we had got used to. A breeze had picked up and we hoped that the weather was not changing. Our fears were ungrounded as it turned out to be another glorious day.

We paddled back to the marina very slowly and apathetically, and pulled up to the marina.

We left our island (Eden Island) without having breakfast so we bought breakfast at the ice cream parlour. I had fruit, Rowan had a herb bagel (and a pesto coffee) and Sam and Adrian had muffins, coffee, coffee and more coffee.

We walked to the ferry terminal in order to catch a ferry to Chemainus. However the ferry was working on ‘island time’ so was 40 minutes late. It wasn’t a problem as we were in no hurry. We just sat on the dock in the sun.

Chemainus is a strange town/village that was originally a logging town but the sawmill closed down. It is now known as ‘the little town that did’. Did what? We wanted to know. It was given a new lease of life as a tourist town as murals were painted all over it showing the town’s ‘heritage’. There are more gift/craft/antiques shops and twee pastel lacy houses than any of us could bear.

We had lunch in a small diner, visited a few shops, and Rowan checked his e-mail. but then we bolted to the park having been tackied out. We caught the ferry back, stopped for an ice-cream sundae and paddled back to Eden, where we were so full we couldn’t be bothered to cook dinner and just had granola bars and hot chocolate. Some tried flying his kite but there was not enough breeze to move a hair let alone a kite. When the mossies descended we moved into the large tent to play cards, watching the sunset through the mossie-net. Until it got dark.

Day 10 (20th August) – Sam: Descent from Paradise

A normal start at about 0700 saw us emerging from our sleeping bags to an already blisteringly hot day. breakfast of four different types of porridge (1 each) was completed quickly as was packing the boats. We were ready in record time, ironic since there was no hurry.

The tide was against us as we paddled past Mall, Denmark, Mowgli and the Secretary Islands under the hot sun.

Everyone was very quiet in the heat, lost in their own worlds. Except for Zoë, that is, who was singing every song she could think of. This ran from Simon & Garfunkel to the Spice Girls. Since she only knew two lines of each, we heard a lot of songs.

We stopped for ‘munchies’ at Panther Point on Wallace Is. It was called Panther after HMS Panther who sank there earlier this century. The ‘munchies’ themselves were fruit flavoured jelly shapes, extremely artificial and a bit odd. Add to this point the warden of Wallace appeared, failed to recognize us and directed us to the campsite we had stayed at 3 days ago. We thanked her and headed in the opposite direction.

The crossing between Wallace and Galliano was completed fine, despite the efforts of the motor boats, and we reached Retreat Island in one piece. Ten minutes up the coast we stopped for lunch.

Since the tide was at its peak against us we waited for ¾ hour, reading, sunbathing and scrambling in a little cove.

It was then another hour’s paddle south to Montague Harbour. On arrival, the beach was so busy that we had trouble finding somewhere to beach the boats. After 1½ fruitless searches for a campsite we were directed to the overflow camping and pitched amid hordes of screaming kids and hippies with didgeridoos.

Supper was pasta and tomato sauce followed by pancakes. Adrian went into overdrive on the pancakes, producing over 25 in about an hour.

We were all really tired so we weren’t long to bed.

Day 11 (21st August) – Rowan

Had a lie-in for a change, and a very relaxed start. Had porridge for breakfast after which most of us tried phoning home.

When we finally set off at about 11 a.m. we headed up against the tide and the wind. The crossing took a long time as we effectively had to ferry-glide all the way across, with some very big waves in between. For munchies we had seeds which proved to be very awkward – so we supplemented it with golden raisins. We then finished the short paddle to the same spot on Prevost that we had stayed on the third night of our paddle.

This time, just as we were finishing supper a boat came past and slowed down. As it happened 2 sea kayakers were going past at the time and we heard a woman on the boat asking them to tell us we weren’t allowed to camp there, after which she went off – the kayakers never turned up. We put the fire out quickly and a short time later she returned with someone else. On being told we weren’t allowed to stay Sam said that he thought it was a National Park and if she knew where else we could camp. Colin was right – it’s amazing what an English accent can get you. She then said that she supposed we could stay for the night so long as we left in the morning and didn’t light another fire.

The day ended with much reading. For supper we had a mix of rice and noodles followed by fruit and custard.

Day 12 (22nd August) – Adrian: Prevost → Saltspring

Having had our breakfast of oatmeal, we left our beachside campsite, making sure that the place was left as we found it. A fairly brief paddle across to Saltspring Island took us to Ganges. In Ganges we did our final restock for food and returned to Ingle’s for some good honest grub, followed by a greedy delve into the dessert menu. After the inevitable visit to the sweet shop we collected our supplies from Thrifty’s before paddling off under the beating sun.

Paddling out of Ganges Harbour along the coast of Saltspring we noticed a great deal of wildlife, notably an alleged spotting of a vulture (hmm…) by Zoë, and our encounter with a deer. The deer must have been suffering from exhaustion, due to either starvation or illness, and our efforts to get it back on its feet having failed, we left it to its fate. The paddle to Ruckle, the campsite we had passed in the rain on the second day of the trip, was a fairly relaxed one, and we took advantage of the much more favourable weather to take a view of our surroundings. We were able to see the Olympic Mountains and one mountain appeared to be following us behind the islands.

Arriving at Ruckle campsite we found what appeared to be an ideal campsite, having been informed by our friend the warden of Wallace Island that we could camp anywhere. We were in the middle of our dinner of Chinese rice and chicken when we were met by the warden of the park who told us to move to one of the official pitches in a none too courteous way. Fucker. After having shifted tents, boats, kit and cooking stuff we brooded over our bananas and custard, contemplating just how irritating park wardens could be.

Day 13 (23rd August) – Zoë: Wandering

We all woke up really late. Today was a non-paddling day and thankfully the hordes of campers from the night before seemed to be leaving.

We all spilt out of bed for breakfast except Rowan who is not really a morning person.

We dozed around eating granola cereal which was the same consistency and taste as sawdust. Then we went a-wandering.

We took a coastal path through the woods which touched the sea’s edge every so often. We were warned that the trail was a ‘rugged hike’ by the sign and it turned out to be just that. It had so many twists and turns and ups and downs that we would have completely lost our bearings if the sea had not been on one side of us.

The seashore was rocky and we came across a beach where people had piled up stones into interesting shapes. We added our contribution, welcoming the break from the sun, which was now unbearably hot.

We stopped for lunch in a cove for lunch and having decided our cheese would melt, we left it behind, so we ate plain dampa bread. It was bland, very bland. We mentally noted that we should bring jam next time and moved on, having ascertained much entertainment from our Star Wars-shaped snacks.

The rest of the day was enjoyable but uneventful. Except for Sam, who got stung by a wasp. This whole country seems to be plagued by insects, be it wasps, ants, mosquitoes or a million and one other biting stinging pests. They get everywhere.

Anyway the path took us up over a hill and back down the other side to a farm which is the oldest in b.C., The Ruckles Farm. It has now been converted to a minimal tourist attraction and was full of middle-aged American cyclists, in tight gaudy lycra and with bulging stomachs. We walked back past Grandma’s cove until we reached the campsite in time to make popcorn and have squash.

Supper was cheese and ham pasta which Rowan hated but the rest of us liked. Two boys came over asking if we had any beer for sale or any ’erb. They were later seen being thrown out of the park by the police but they kept coming back. One of the wardens came and told us we had no reason to be scared. It never occurred to us to be scared but we were reassured anyway.

Pudding was an extraordinary mix of lychee and maple syrup pancakes which seemed to work quite well. We have got so much pancake mix we could eat it for every meal from now on.

Sam and Adrian built a swing next to the campsite which luckily did not prove fatal

Day 14 (24th August) – Sam: Ruckle → beaumont

The temperature difference between inside and outside the tent was more noticeable than ever this morning. Grey skies did not bode well for the coming day. We rose and had artificially flavoured porridge, which was pleasantly warm. As we were packing up the boats, the temperature rose a little, enough to ward off the wearing of dry-cags. Having an English accent and being in a sea kayak means that the minute you arrive anywhere, you are the centre off attention. It’s like being with the circus. We had two people coming up to us this morning and asking us about ourselves and the boats.

Having carried the boats the 200 m from our pitch to the sea we were then faced with the challenge of manoeuvring them down into the 3 ft waves from over the rocks. A kind of assisted seal-launch approach was adopted which only filled Zoë’s boat up with water.

What followed was the longest (in time) crossing we were to do. The tide and wind were against us so ferry-gliding was essential, set at about 30° from the tide and wind. To add to the fun this was a supertanker and ferry channel and we had to dodge one of the former and two of the latter, each doing about 20 knots apiece.

It took 2½ hours to cover the 1.75 NM between beaver Point and Thieves bay (Moat Pt) and by the time we finished it we were knackered. We paddled into a little marina and stopped for lunch. Lunch, as usual, was two pieces of dampa bread with jam, two slices of processed cheese, and a granola bar. Not a lot but enough to keep us going.

After lunch we followed the coast of Pender Island south in a big swell (3–4 ft) enjoying the now hot sea and the waves. A fee small overfalls on headlands allowed us some more fun.

Rounding Wallace Point into bedwell Harbour, we rode with the tide up past the marina to beaumont Provincial Park and pulled our boats up on to the beach.

We had the campsite to ourselves and after a swim and a meal of pasta and tomato sauce and vanilla cheescake(ish) we went for a short walk around the peninsula and then to bed.

Day 15 (25th August) – Rowan: There And back… To See How Far It Is

Took and epic 4 hours to get up – mainly due to the fact that we were having pancakes for breakfast followed by making 12 dampa breads for lunch. We set off with the tide with us and shot through the canal between North and South Pender. We then crossed the channel to Saturna with a veritable gale behind us – making it a quick crossing if a bit hairy at times as the waves occasionally picked us up and sped us towards each other.

After munchies on the far side we paddled to Saturna Village to get some more money to pay for the camping – a very odd place, seemingly inbred and very anti-visitors. After lunch we went back down to the kayaks. As we were leaving an American motor-cruiser pulled in and proceeded to dock like he was parking a car, followed by tying it down with the lines at 90° to the boat – hopefully for them they weren’t staying for long and there weren’t any waves.

Following this we went out to Winter Cove – only to find a large sign saying “No Camping”. The guide hadn’t said that there wasn’t any camping, just didn’t include the camping symbol. So we had a couple of hours’ rest while the tide changed and the wind dropped before we returned back to beaumont. Luckily the wind had dropped so the crossing wasn’t nearly as hard as we had expected.

We ended up getting in at about 7:30 to find about 8 other people there having a party. before supper we jumped off a rock we had looked at the night before – the water didn’t seem quite as cold this way.

Supper was somewhat of a disaster – we had the corned beef mixed with the rest of the rice – but it ended up tasting like dogfood. The only saving grace was the tin of pineapple we had for pudding.

Day 16 (26th August) – Adrian: Pender → Portland

After yesterday’s monumental morning faff, we were determined to leave promptly today, so we treated ourselves to the rest of the granola. Still full of corned beef, we headed off on the start of our paddle back to civilisation. but first we had to get more fuel for the stove, so we took our british Paddling Circus over to the marina’s petrol station, where our spectators were duly entertained, the guy at the petrol station finding our lack of showers exceptionally amusing. Setting of towards Princess Margaret Provincial Park on Portland Island, we encountered a number of whirlpools caused by the tidal currents flowing around the islands.

Having also passed a number of porpoises on the way, we reached Portland in time for lunch. We pitched our tents early and basically spent the afternoon chilling out, alone save only a group of bizarre yoga-type people who spent their day doing exercises and standing on their heads. Fortunately, they left later.

Today was a chance to finish our reading, and an opportunity to recover from yesterday’s long paddle. Dinner was pasta and ham followed by dried fruit and custard for dessert.

Day 17 (27th August) – Sam: Adrian Takes An Early Morning Swim

The last day of porridge today! No more ‘raisin and spice’, ‘apple and cinnamon’ or ‘peaches and cream’. Hoo-bloody-ra! Packing up the gear has become a well-established routine and is now far easier than when we started, as we now have 12 days’ less food. We can go from camp to boats in under half an hour.

Another well-established ritual is Adrian’s Launch. Starting some 10 yards back from the edge of the beach, he points his boat out to sea, grips the cockpit and begins to push. by the time he hits the water, he is doing a fair pace and just has time to leap on board and scramble into the cockpit. Today, all was going well until he got into chest-deep water where he fell off. All bar one person thought it was funny.

We paddled round the island till we reached its southern tip. Passing the inhabited Hood Island we set off across Shute Passage to the eastern tip of Coal Island. Doing so, we passed the opening of Swartz bay, the main Vancouver Is. ferry terminal, but this caused us no problems.

From Coal Island we passed through the Little Group, where we stopped for munchies of dried fruit. One of the Little Group had seals on it and the water was so clear we could see them swimming under the boats. From the Little Group we paddled straight for the Sidney Spit beacon, where over fifty yachts and motorboats were already moored or at anchor.

The campsite was in the lagoon on the southern end of the spit and was reached over a bizarre beach of bricks. We claimed our picnic table and hid in the shade of a pavilion for a few hours, reading.

About 16:00 Zoë began to issue unusual orders for things. Emergency candles, salt, pepper, and 4 large leaves were all duly gathered and she began preparation for the final banquet. We put on ties and laid the table. Candles, salt and pepper in shells, placenames on leaves, iced tea and other delights.

On the menu was Pringles + dip, grapefruit, pasta + tomato sauce with wieners, rice pudding and chocolate chips, mints, jelly beans and hot chocolate. We were stuffed.

After washing up we retired to bed and listened to ‘soft rock’ stations on the radio until we fell asleep.

Day 18 (28th August) – Zoë: Return To Civilisation

We woke up late and made a lame attempt to reduce the Canadian pancake mix mountain and failed. We duly set off late for our day’s short paddle and lugged our boats into the water with few regrets about leaving Sidney Spit.

We could see Sidney Spit waterfront and followed it along, avoiding porpoises and the more hazardous powerboats. The excitement today was provided by a very near miss with a car ferry, so near in fact that the ferry had to slow down for us. Well we weren’t going to slow down for them. Who does she think she is.

We did however make it to the marina where Colin worked despite the incompetence of the floating caravan shippers. Here we paddled past huge yachts and towering motor-cruisers in our seemingly tiny kayaks.

We hauled the boats out of the water and stood looking grubby and out of place on the waterfront. Colin and Marsha came to pick us up in their yellow pickup. The end of the wild part of the adventure. Our aims fulfilled, no-one hurt, no-one fell out badly. A good time was had by all.