Yesterday our crossing of the Georgia Strait from Nanaimo to Vancouver didn’t exactly go as planned. We were up at 3am, on the water by five, and 20km in we began to experience a 15-knot headwind that the weather report told us would only get worse. The waves were big, whitecaps and dark skies were on the horizon, and the more experienced paddlers of the group said it would be a safer option to turn around and go back. And so we did.
I was at an advantage being low down in my stable kayak, watching the poor team on their boards being thrown into the water multiple times, having to clamber back out of the waves. We knew the weather would eventually calm, but out in the middle of the ocean you don’t have the luxury of pulling to the side to wait out the storm. If we battled into the wind for multiples hours I’m not sure everyone would have made it, so as a team we decided the only choice was to turn back.
I was racked with disappointment after the energy and hype that had led to us being out there. I couldn’t help but turn to look around on many occasions, wondering just ‘what if?’ or ‘was this the right decision’? But in the end, though I would have loved to say that I’d crossed the straight, being with the team on what turned out to be an epic adventure home may have been all the more memorable.
It was a tough 20km paddle back to shore despite the wind and waves were in our favour. The excitement and motivation was now gone, and we still had 20km ahead of us. Had we known we’d have to scale a rocky embankment with 10 boards and a kayak, lift them up and over security fences with all our gear, walk them over and onto the ferry, wait for 90 minutes and then sit in damp clothing for another 2 hours until we reached Vancouver, I think many would have opted for the paddle.
But as we stood around our own self-hosted potluck eating the remains of the food that had gone uneaten from the trip, like the pre-cooked sausages, Oreo cookies, brownies, gummy bears and pizza that I’d packed, two women came over to ask what we’d been doing. When we explained our story one of the women shook her head with disbelief and said will such sincerity, “It’s awesome to take on a challenge that isn’t a given.” That one comment put the entire experience into perspective, and seeing my disappointed team mates smiling at the after party made me realise that ticking that box of completion was not the most important outcome.
There was a host of representatives from PADS (Pacific Assistance Dogs Society) to greet us at the party, who were so incredibly grateful for the money we had raised. We reached over $5,000 as a group, and I want to thank everyone for donating so generously.
To top off the evening, my friend Morgan (who’s coming to the Yukon as my support crew), drove down to the party at Kits Yacht Club to pick up my boat and me. He met some other folks that are heading to the Yukon, and on the drive home pulled over to show me something he’d made for the trip.
When I saw the banner I almost burst into tears. He’d figured I’d need a cheer up, and all I can say is that if anything, yesterday’s experience has made me even more determined for the Yukon River Quest. In just over a week we’ll be on our way up north, driving to Whitehorse for the next big adventure!
Check out Kendall’s Clicks Facebook page for more pictures of the Salish Sea adventure.