Wednesday, May 30, 2007

19 and a half Days... could have been worse!

Well we're done, and what an awesome trip, a truely Adventurous Experience, and at times, some may say a horrendous experience!

Got back to the San Juans late last night, stopping to take numerous pics of the beautiful sunset, flat conditions, accompaned by the sounds of pods of harbour porpoise, around us as we completed the last 20 miles... acrobatic seals and so much bioluminesence.

After setting off in similar conditions, it was great to see our luck continued right up the finish... with a lengthy paddle against the tide! (Wouldn't have it any other way.)

More pics up in the next day or so, in the meantime - a few explanations of how the last few days worth of paddling got extended. There was a post about the skeg, but here is the issue! After our only day off the water at Cape Scott, and shorter 14hr days following after, we were feeling fully fit and got up to our target of 50 nautical miles per day for the 3 days till Tofino. It was next morning we noticed damage and a hole in the front of the kayak, and repaired it as best we may. Whatever caused this, also impacted the directional stability of the Mighty Triton, (which I would certainly not trade for any other double on the market!) Long days and plenty of exposure to sun and conditions had made us less sharp, and the following evening when moving the kayak with the skeg not fully up, we smashed it into a rock, and broke the mounting inside.

Next morning the kayak would only go in circles despite all manner of attempts. This was to be the first of 4 days when we would waste many potential paddling hours creating an auxilary skeg / rudder to give us some control in the particulary large conditions we were experiencing. This felt like dragging a drogue and certainly lessened our cheerfulness at times...

However, as the title goes, it could have been much worse!
At every turn of events, there would be an equally stunning positive experience to balence the adversity, blisters, jelly fish burns, physical challenge or horrendous experience.
When on one of our many paddles which extended to nightfall, a violent wind sudenly blew up, threatening to take us offshore, we fought to bring the boat into shore, and then into the shelter of the cliffs, pulses quicked a little, and then their was a Marmot sitting their, cleaning itself, and this brought everything back into perspective, life goes on regardless.
At Seymour Narrows, after being cheated of our Horrendous Experience with the whirlpools, 15 knots currents in our favour and general mayhem, we were floating slowly down current, and then next thing a pod of Pacific White-Sided Dolpins appeared, surfacing near the kayak, and continued with us all the way down the channel.
A hard day in bouncy conditions, grey and misty, then Grey Whales appear, feeding around the kayak, surfacing close by, very exciting!

The whole trip has been such a humbling experience.

Throughout the trip, luck has been right with, and I've no doubt its been due to all the well wishes of our friends at home and abroad. So many thanks guys for all your help, and for the many people who went our of their way to accomodate us, welcome us, and touch us with their kindness and generosity. We have been so fortunate to meet so many like minded peole who share our enthusiasm for the outdoors, environment around us and life in general!

Bob Kearney from CHTV caught up with us at Victoria, shot some footage and interviewed Jeff and myself, to be aired today. We talked about the experiences, setting a new record time round Vancouver Island by Kayak, and done in a tandem with a total stranger!

Jeff its been an absolute pleasure!
till next time...

Not Yet!

I just had a call from Toby Brown who waited out for them last night (... from late afternoon to 3.30am before giving up!). As of 9am this morning they were still not back on Orcas. We can only assume that they decided to camp out somewhere on the trip over from Victoria. Weather and conditions are good right now. Hopefully we'll have good news soon. -- Jon

Penultimate Map

They may have landed back at Orcas Island by now. Given the weather and tides a late night arrival is about the earliest finish time we could expect. No word yet. In the mean time, here is a map showing their last location this afternoon. -- Jon

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Finishing This Evening

Laurence just forwarded this text message he received from Jeff this afternoon.

"Arrived at Victoria at 2:30 pm. CH TV interview. Heading on to Orcas
Island with the remaining flood."

So it looks like they should be arriving back at Orcas Island early this evening. I would guess that they will come in at North Beach, which is where they launched. If anyone on Orcas reads this please let Toby Brown and Mike Dupas know so they can arrange the pick up. I have to rush off to teach right now so can't coordinate things until tonight (when it may be too late for a reception). Please take plenty of photos! Jeff Moag from Canoe & Kayak magazine needs some for an article he is doing on their trip. Thanks!

-- Jon

ps. I was beginning to think they had started a second lap in the hope of better weather and a faster time ;)

Still No News

Several people have contacted me wondering where the boys have got to, and whether they have finished yet. They haven't called in since Saturday, so there's no way to know exactly where they are. They were hoping to get to Victoria yesterday (Monday) and Orcas today (Tuesday), but I am assuming they are delayed by weather. Its been very windy the last couple of days in the Strait of Juan de Fuca so they may not have been able to get on the water as much as they had hoped. Also, they would have to pass Race Rocks, an area with strong tidal currents that is notorious for its rough seas. These factors would likely cause some delay. The forecast is quite good now though, so I'm expecting some contact soon. -- Jon

Monday, May 28, 2007

Map for Saturday's location

Here is the map to go with the last post. This is current as of Saturday night. They are probably much closer to Victoria by now, but we haven't heard from them yet this evening. -- Jon (just back from canoeing).

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday, May 27

I received word from Jeff and Keirron last night (Saturday). The phone connection was not the best. I did discern something about flying sea otters, a pod of backpackers, and some Gray Whales hiking on the West Coast Trail. Then again maybe not. I did however get some particulars: Jeff said they spent the night in Carmana Bay which is ~ 15 miles north of Port Renfrew. Port Renfrew is only 55 miles north of Victoria. Their plan is to knock out as much mileage as possible today and arrive in Victoria on Monday. They seemed to have damaged the skeg of their Triton somehow. Jeff said they spent some considerable time and effort creating an outrigger to replace it. When Jeff gets back I will be sure to mention it would be good to actually learn how to paddle a tandem correctly (without a skeg) at some point before he leaves for his next adventure ;) . I was going to post a weather update but Jeff and Keirron managed to get a NOAA forecast. For those of you who do not sleep with your weather radio, they are forecasted to recieve some force 7 Nw/ W winds this afternoon. However this should ease to Nw/W force 5/4 later in the day and for tomorrow. With luck they should have some manageable following seas for at least part of today and tomorrow. One obstacle they will have to contend with is Race Rocks. Corrected slack before flood tomorrow at Race Rocks occurs at ~ 11:00. It is only 20 nm to Victoria from there. Best of luck to my skegless friends! Cheers, Dan

Friday, May 25, 2007


Howdy from Tofino! Arrived late last night, finished two medium pizzas and crashed the cheapest B&B in town. Luxury.

Today's weather forecast is quite good, with a little less wind than yesterday so we're anxious to hit the water. We'll be offloading that green glass fishing float today too, which should ease the boat control challenges we encountered yesterday... Photo pending.

Here are a few other photos from the Port Hardy to Tofino stretch. This bear was hunting purple spiny urchins along the rocky shore; as we drifted by downwind we watched him peel a couple off rocks, then hunker down and chow through them like they were hunks of bread. Some claws.

Thanks to Jon for the blog support, sat phone and late nights - Jon's off for a few days of whitewater canoeing (with Kirti, Kim and Karl - many thanks to Karl for lending me some critical gear, hope you don't miss it too much) and our friend Dan will make the last few blog entries.

Time to find the laundromat, lose some salt, then hit the water! See you in Victoria in a few days, hopefully back on Orcas by Monday.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nootka Island Already

Jeff and Keirron called in this evening at 10pm. They have had a couple of big days despite the SE winds today. Yesterday they rounded the Brooks Peninsula and even went out to Solander Island off the tip of the Peninsula to get some pictures. They reported that it was still pretty windy and rough even though the forecast was good. After a brief rest at the end of the Peninsula they pushed on to Kyuquot Sound where they camped for the night. Today they paddled south past Esperanza Inlet and Nootka Island. They are currently camping at the south end of Nootka Island. Tomorrow they will round Estevan Point, another crux point of the trip, and attempt to make it to Tofino by evening. They will be able to refuel in Tofino and perhaps even meet up with friends there. Their weather forecast for the next few days looks good - light winds, fog patches, seas around 1 meter - so hopefully they can cover some miles without too much resistance.

They have tasked me with trying to find out if a large green glass fishing float (basketball size) from Japan is valuable enough to warrant trying to get it back home. Does anyone out there know a rough value for something like this. As you can imagine, its a bit bulky and awkward to carry "on" a kayak. -- Jon

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pink Kayak Sighted at Cape Scott on Saturday

No word from the boys yet this evening, but I did receive this picture from Daniel and Shannon of Victoria who were on a backpacking trip out to Cape Scott last week and spotted the pink kayak. In their email they explain "That is Guise Bay in the background, looking southwest. Picture was taken on Saturday, around noon. The lighthouse keeper at Cape Scott said that the winds were blowing from the southwest at 35 knots. When we walked across the beach the rain was coming in sideways. The guys were set up in a little depression in the dunes, protected from the wind. We had seen them paddle in front of Nels Bight (with our binoculars) the previous evening, just before sunset. We said to each other "who is crazy enough to be paddling out here in this weather?" We were only able to know who it was from the "Vancouver Island Record Attempt" on the side of the kayak . . ."

I don't have confirmation, but I expect they had a long day today and rounded the Brooks Peninsula. The wind has died down and they should have had pretty good conditions - well, as good as you get around there. Tomorrow there is another low pressure system coming in and the weather looks unfavorable again. Specifically, the forecast is: "Gale warning issued.
Winds southwesterly 5 to 15 knots backing to southeast 15 to 25 overnight. Winds rising to southeast 25 to 30 Wednesday morning With southeast gales 35 developing near the headlands. Mainly cloudy with showers developing Wednesday morning. Seas near one metre building to one to 2 Wednesday morning. Outlook. Winds easing to light to moderate southeast then becoming light to moderate variable." After this system comes through they seem to have a good window of weather through to early next week, so they are expecting to be able to complete their circumnavigation by early next week.
However, its still a bit early to make predictions as they are only half way around at this stage. -- Jon

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Soaking Up The Sun At Lawn Point

The boys put on this morning, paddled across the mouth of Quatsino Sound and a little further down the coast. They saw a couple of grey whales, their first of the trip. By the time they had covered 10 miles the wind was so strong they were forced to land ... and thats saying something knowing Keirron! It was a NW wind, but 35+ knots and building a dangerous sea state. Because of the wind they have both switched to flat paddles instead of using their wing paddles. In the strong winds they were having trouble hanging on to the wing paddles which was causing fatigue and tendinitis. They were in camp at Lawn Point by 10am and have been able to enjoy a day of sunshine and spectacular views, despite the wind. They are really enjoying themselves! Apparently, Keirron has now sunburned the top of his legs to match his arms. On a short hike from camp they came across fresh wolf tracks and are hoping to spot some wolves before they leave. Perhaps someone should remind them they are on a record attempt (I keep encouraging them to just enjoy it ... maybe I'm a bad influence?).

The weather forecast is for the NW gales to ease off to 15 knots tonight, then light winds tomorrow before strong to gale force SE on Wednesday as another storm system comes in Wednesday and Thursday. So tomorrow is their window to get around the Brooks Peninsula. For those of you who are wondering why their milage has diminished so much these last few days, this is a very serious and demanding coastline subject to extreme weather and wind conditions. It is also a very remote location, and so its no place to take risks. In my opinion they have been doing extremely well to make any progress at all given the conditions. As they say "Mother Nature bats last". -- Jon

Monday, May 21, 2007

Moving South

Got a call from Keirron and Jeff this evening. Yesterday they spent nearly all day in the tent due to the weather. Today they paddled though. They are now at the mouth of Quatsino Sound. They managed to paddle down from Cape Scott today after the SE gales died out and before the NW gales built up. Looking at the lighthouse weather reports its already blowing NW 34 knots, so I think they got their miles in just in time. They said conditions were quite mellow when they were on the water.

If the winds die down by tomorrow morning they are going to push further south towards the Brooks Peninsula. They aim to camp on the north side ready for rounding it on Tuesday. However, the forecast is for winds northwest 30 to gales 40 knots easing to 20 to 30 Monday evening, so they may not get far. The Brooks Peninsula is the most challenging section of the entire trip. In fact it is widely regarded as one of the most severe spots for weather, sea state and extreme remoteness on the west coast of Canada. Luckily, the weather forecast on Tuesday looks better. They are in good spirits and are feeling well rested after the enforced layover day. -- Jon

Meet One Of The Locals

Pat Kervin just emailed me this picture he took today near Port Hardy. I hope the boys didn't meet any this big while they were sitting out the weather at Cape Scott! Last time I was at Cape Scott I actually did see a bear like this one. It walked right past my tent just before bedtime. I decided to move the tent to a different area!

Pat mentioned that you tend to see a lot of black bears by the highway this time of year. They come out to eat grass! Today he saw this large male, a female with two cubs, then another female with three cubs all in quick succession. Jeff and Keirron mentioned they had seen a lot of bears from their kayak these last few days too. -- Jon

Sunday, May 20, 2007

No Call Tonight

No word from the boys today. Most likely this is because they are still in the same spot at Cape Scott. The forecast for today was ugly and it doesn't get much better tomorrow. Seas are 3-4 meters, with SE gales 35 knots, which is directly into the bay they are camped in and is a headwind for the next section of their journey. The forecast for tomorrow is SE gales easing then rising to NW gales 30-40 knots by tomorrow evening. If I were to hazard a guess I would say that they may get only a small window tomorrow where they can get on the water and maybe get down to Sea Otter Cove. Beyond that is a very long section of no landing zone (in a large swell), so it will be difficult for them to go far tomorrow. The outlook for the following days is strong to gale force northwesterlies, then another storm system coming in Wednesday. Welcome to the "wild" west coast! -- Jon

ps. Click on the following links for the current weather conditions and the long term pressure forecast.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rounded The Cape

A quick call in by satellite phone this evening (5/18) at 10.30pm. They have reached and rounded Cape Scott. Despite arriving late, they decided to round the cape and make camp at the bay on the South East side. The winds started to build quickly near the end of their paddle today and they experienced some rough seas around the cape (surprise, surprise!). But at least they can rest better tonight knowing that they have passed one of the crux points of the trip before the bad weather hit.

The highlight of the day was sighting some black bears at close range. They spent a long time watching and photographing a large male bear chasing a female and cubs up a tree! They hope to have some good video footage of this.

They are safely in camp now watching the weather build. The forecast is for gale force SE winds tonight (35-45 knots) with seas building to 3-4 meters by tomorrow. Given that they are now on a south facing beach it may be difficult to get off in the morning! But given the forecast of strong SE and S winds tomorrow (to 35 knots) and a very long section of coast south east of them with no landing zones, hopefully they will take the opportunity to have a rest day and wait for better weather. If swells remain large even after the wind has dropped, they have the option of doing a 1/4 mile portage back across to the north facing beach to launch and round Cape Scott a second time! -- Jon

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pictures From Port Hardy

Pat Kervin of Odyssey Kayaking sent in these pictures of the boys departing from Port Hardy yesterday afternoon. By the way, if anyone happens to talk to Keirron or Jeff before I do, they need to call Christian Knight of Paddler Magazine. Apparently, it is urgent. I have his number. -- Jon

Leaving Civilization

Keirron and Jeff are back on the water again. They left Port Hardy this afternoon and paddled out of Port Hardy Bay and part way up Goletas Channel. They are in camp preparing for a long day tomorrow. They have turned over a new leaf, determined to get to bed early so they can get up and on the water early! Given the short day there is not much to report, other than the fact that they enjoyed their stay in Port Hardy and have stocked up ready for the long wilderness journey ahead. The weather forecast is for SE winds tomorrow which should help them on the final push to the northern most point on the Island. The forecast for the weekend, Saturday in particular, looks ugly though, so they may have problems getting around Cape Scott undelayed. Well, they did say they were getting sick of all the sunshine! -- Jon

Thursday, May 17, 2007

From Port Hardy - Week in Review

Thanks for the updates and sorting out our notes Jon - you're making us look good!

So ... with weather like that in those pictures, why aren't the boys rounding the Brooks Pen right now? Fair question. Most of you distance paddlers and adventure racers know how it goes.

  • Sleep - we both started this thing a little sleep deprived (and Keirron had the time change). Got into a pattern of paddling late to try to catch up, leading to a few late nights (and subsequent late mornings). We've reset the clocks for early morning starts down the west coast, as the dark is easier to launch in than land.
  • Exposure - time in the boat is wearing on us surprisingly early. While we're both in great shape, I've trained mostly on fresh water and the salt is having it's way with me. Keirron appears salt-water proof and powers all day, but 8+ hours in the boat and even his legs get sore.
  • Sun - doesn't help. While we're not dehydrated, we've burned a little every day. Plus it tends to set us both into photographing frenzies - lowering our avg speed. Sun will not be a problem much longer according to the forecasts...
  • Gear - "nothing new on race day." Both of us received sponsored gear which is extremely appreciated. However, neither of us had a ton of time with it before heading out. We've made adaptations over the last week, and are more comfortable with it now.

Everything's performing well and we look forward to seeing Cape Scott tomorrow, and beginning the southeast run.

Many thanks to Shawna and Leon of Body, Boat, Blade who took time from work and hosted us magnificently at the trip start. Couldn't have launched without you! (Really wish we could make it back before you both head for the Charlotts, but doesn't look likely.)

Many thanks also to Pat Kervin of Odessey Kayaking who hosted us with a last night. What a feast! His facility here in Port Hardy is equipped nicely to handle our salty, wet gear and selves.

Off to check and load the Triton, then get to Shushartie Bay tonight.


A Few Pictures From Week 1

Click on the image for a larger version.

Resupplying in Port Hardy!

I got an email tonight instead of a phone call! Thats got to be a good sign ... unless they are really just hiding around the corner! No, they also sent some photos (coming to the blog soon).

They are in Port Hardy, cleaning up and resupplying for the crux part of the trip around the North end of the island and down the exposed and largely uninhabited west coast. In Jeff's words, they are "imitating the walking dead" right now.

They've had some memorable experiences coming up the inside passage, including seeing Pacific whitesided dolphins just North of Seymour Narrows, and playing chicken with barges towing huge rafts of logs! Apparently, these often deviate from the shipping lanes. I hear it can be quite unnerving in darkness when you can hear and smell the logs, but can't see where they are!

The bioluminescence has been brilliant. Off Telegraph Cove they saw three streaks of bioluminescence cruise beneath their boat fast, and then heard a popping breath. The assumption was dolphins, but equally likely it could have been an orca, given the high concentration of orcas in that area.

The hoped-for Easterly winds never actually materialized today. They just got the good old Northwesterlies in the face as usual. A strong/gale wind blew up for a while so they took the opportunity to brew up and have a nice dinner. Then they proceeded to paddle again once the evening calmed. They claim all this night paddling is to avoid the wind, but a few readers have suggested that this is just a ruse and its really all due to the color of their boat!

They are considering leaving Port Hardy tomorrow (5/17) morning to do the last stretch up to the head of the Island before heading out in a Westerly direction along the exposed North coast of the Island. The forecast is for winds Northwesterly 5 to 15 knots easing to light overnight then rising to Westerly 10 to 15 Thursday afternoon. Its about time those Northwesterlies stopped, but unfortunately this is just in time for their west-bound leg towards Cape Scott!. The outlook for the following days is winds backing to light to moderate southeast then rising to Strong to gale force. This should be just as they round Cape Scott and start the long slog down the coast in a South Easterly direction! Ouch! As Keirron says, "we wouldn't want to do it the easy way, would we?"

-- Jon

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Nice Push Through Johnstone Strait

A quick update from Jeff at noon today (5/15). They picked up a tidal current table yesterday and passed through Seymour Narrows on slack late yesterday afternoon. They felt a bit cheated due to the fact that it was totally calm (earlier in the day it was running at 14.6 knots against them). They got a good push from the tide up into Johnstone Strait. They are currently in Johnstone Strait about 47 miles SE of Port McNeill. They plan to push on and try to reach Port McNeill later today. Forecasts are for following winds and tide. I'll post a map of their location later this evening.

-- Jon

ps. Several people have asked about distances paddled. If you click on the map you will see a larger version with dots that indicate last known locations, with dates. At the bottom of the map there is a bar indicating 100 nautical miles. You can use this to get a fairly close approximation to the distances paddled each day. They are currently averaging around 35 nautical miles a day, nearly all against the wind, and some against the tide ... both factors somewhat self inflicted ;) By the time they get on the West coast they will finally get some SE winds, but by then they will be heading the opposite direction! Seriously, it does look like they could get some bad weather for a couple of days at least next weekend.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Getting There The Hard Way

I just got off the phone with Jeff and Keirron. They are in Oyster River, about 10 miles south of Campbell River (see map). They were in good spirits having taken off the water "early" tonight at 7.30 pm. This is the first night they haven't paddled at night in an attempt to escape the headwinds. Landing after midnight last night was reportedly a bit of an epic. Their SKUK Triton sea kayak demonstrated its durability by remaining intact and afloat after an hour of beating into rocks in an attempt to find a landing in rough conditions and darkness. Tonight they stopped early and even found an official camp ground with a hot shower!

They are both getting along well and report that they have finally clicked as a tandem team. Apparently, the night paddling really helped here. Since they couldn't see what they were doing they had to focus on feeling the timing. They are now moving along more efficiently.

These first long days (and nights) of paddling have resulted in an average of around 35 nautical miles per day. While this is quite an accomplishment, they report that progress has been slower and more tiring than they expected. In part this is due to the head wind, and in part due to a seemingly endless battle against the tide every day. They also reported that they do not have sufficient tidal current information with them, which is a bit daunting given that they are about to enter a region with much stronger tidal currents. Tomorrow, they should pass through Seymour Narrows - a channel known for exceptionally strong currents of up to 15 knots on spring tides!

The weather forecast looks good for the next few days. They are planning to paddle twice a day to take advantage of this and to hit the tidal flows going in their direction. Maybe they will even pick up a tidal current table so they can figure out when/where those are! (Ed: say no more). Hopefully, the remainder of the trip North will be smoother going and they will get a bit of a break before embarking on the west coast and the crux of the trip.

-- Jon

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Strong Headwinds

Got a brief text message from Jeff today (May 12) at 4.40 pm. They are in French Creek, which is between Qualicum Beach and Parksville on the east coast of Vancouver Island (see map). They have been paddling north along the Strait of Georgia, and as expected have been fighting a headwind which has slowed progress. Today they experienced strong NW winds, which were forecast to ease off later, so they planned to continue north towards Courteney later and hopefully reach Campbell River tomorrow (Ambitious schedule! They must still be feeling good!). The forecast is for winds northwest 20 to 25 knots easing to variable 5 to 15 Sunday morning, with an outlook of light to moderate variable winds, so they should see a significant improvement over what they have had. -- Jon

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Into Canada

A quick update from Jeff and Keirron at 5.26 pm Thursday May 10. Yesterday they paddled over to Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island in the Southern Gulf Islands. Bedwell Harbor is an official Customs Canada port of entry. Passing through customs at an official port of entry is a requirement for legally entering Canada. Now they are free to roam around the island. The weather forecast looks good and they plan to paddle north towards Nanaimo on Friday, with a brief stop off for a media interview with CH News along the way.

-- Jon

Friday, May 11, 2007

And They're Off !

Jeff and Keirron launched their record attempt at noon today (Thursday, May 10) from North Beach on Orcas Island. The forecasts show a nice window of fair weather over the next few days, dominated by a ridge of high pressure. This is the kind of weather pattern they were hoping for, but it also means predominantly NW winds which will likely slow progress on the first leg of the journey up the inside of the Island.

Stay tuned for more progress reports as Keirron and Jeff report in by satellite phone. -- Jon

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When does Pink become Purple?

Keirron Tastagh ( flew to Vancouver, BC, where he was met by Leon Somme (http://www.bodyboatblade).

The lads then proceeded to unwrap an unlikely package ... which turned out to be this pink SKUK Triton.

So ... is it pink or is it purple?

Keirron and Leon had some time to run down the charts:

And Keirron took the opportunity to check out some Specialized Expedition Kit - remember, don't try this at home...

In the middle of this, Jeff's ferry came in for their first inauspicious meeting. Here Keirron hooks Jeff up with some kit and a little of his enthusiasm...

Finally, we took the Triton out for a test drive:

We'll be updating this blog daily, though not all bivvies will be as wired as this one ... Check in, and feel free to post comments - we'll address them as we can. Cheers!

Jeff and Keirron