It’s not always a given

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The blue dotted line on the left shows how far we made it yesterday

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.

Photo taken by Paul Kendall (Kendall’s Clicks)
I paddled at the back of the group with radio contact to the boat ahead
Watching the ferry go by
Schools of jellyfish just under the water

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.

Having lugged our gear all the way back onto the ferry

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.

Before the paddle
After the paddle

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.

Big smiles as we set off with Jason who’s also paddling the Yukon behind me

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.

Morgan with our team Muk Muk banner

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.

12 thoughts on “It’s not always a given”

  1. Hello Muk Muk ,

    After a 6 week adventure of my own, in which I practiced “no internet”….I am home now and excited to catch up with you !
    I’ve got some reading to do.

    You seem in great spirits, so far. Even though crossing the staight did not go as expected, everyone lived to tell about it, and lessons were learned. I know the big day is quickly approaching and your anticipation must be at a feverish peak.

    On our way through Canada, we stopped in Whitehorse on May 29th. It was fun to look at the town and the river, knowing that exactly one month from then, you and all the others would be setting off to conquer the miles. Oops, kilometers
    I took lots of reconisince photos of the town and the river. And will forward a few for you to see. Just for the fun of it.

    I will admit, being there in person made me really wish I could participate in some way. Volunteering is out of the question for me since I just took a huge vacation. I thought of putting up some kind of encouraging banner (like the one above) but thought it would count as litter if I did not return to take it down. So I am so grateful your friend made something like that for you.

    I should have spelled out “Muk Muk” with rocks on the side of the road like so many people do. Oh well, next time.

    Keep up the strong spirit and your gallant efforts will pay off !!

    As always,
    Love from Alaska

    A good friend of mine, 12 year old Landonn, will be undergoing BRAIN SURGERY Wednesday June 15th. Prognosis for his recovery is good and we are all very hopeful this will eliviate his seziures. His family has started a Facebook page for folks to send well wishes and encouragong messages. His little sisiter is even putting a pin in a map for all the locations of the well wishers.

    Please check out “Luck for Landonn” and say hi if you feel so inclined. They even put a link to my song “Wish Kid #1” from what I understand.

    Till next time…

    1. Thanks Lyndella for your lovely message and words of encouragement and support. Sounds like you had an amazing adventure yourself and I look forward to hearing more about it! I’ll be thinking of brave Landonn on June 15th. When you hear stories like his, you remember who the real unsung heroes are!

  2. Whew….sounds like you had fun….and you made it pretty long distance….So good to have made so many dollars for such a great purpose!!!! Yes!!!

    I was so grateful to hear you have crew for your big Yukon trip….I am truly relieved….I guess I worried about that big river chewing you up and spitting you out like some huge ocean waves do!!!

    love that Jason had that big Muk Muk banner waiting for you…so dared sweet…..such wonderful friends…..

    Much care and love to you from your old friend in Cali, Suzanne

    1. Thanks Barbie!! It’s great to have support and amazing people along on the journey beside me! I’m very much looking forward to the adventure, and I’ll make sure the river doesn’t swallow me up. Just like the trail, it will guide me to the finish line. Mind, body, river! 🙂

  3. Hi Muk,

    You certainly have embarked on the aquatic adventures these days. I spent several years boating and have crossed the Straight of Georgia once and the Straight of Juan de Fuca several times. I always had the adrenaline rush and had to make the difficult decision to go or not when the weather was kind of bad, kind of good. Can’t even imagine how I would feel in a kayak!

    You made the right call, it’s always better to wonder IF we had gone we could have made it, rather than being out there and WISHING you were not. There’s no place to go except to endure it and it’s NOT fun.

    When it’s nice, there’s nothing better. You now have another adventure to go for later.

    Looking forward to reading and seeing your trek up north. Take care and be safe.


    1. Thank you Tim, great to hear from you! As always wise words and a great perspective. The group has commented recently that they’ve been getting more credit for turning back than completing the journey. It was a tough decision, but correct for all the reasons you mentioned above. I hope life is treating you well. It’s so nice to see your name pop up again!

    1. Oh Susan what a thoughtful piece!! I’m so honoured to have featured on your well read and constructed site! I love the name and your content! Thank you for your kind words and constant support in continuing to follow this journey. I’m so happy to see you’re documenting your own!!

  4. OMG that drawing to take with you!!! so sweet!!!!! 🙂 A challenge that isn’t a given, what a beautiful thought. Its about embarking on a destination you may or may not achieve..such a beautiful perception of this whole scenario….in the middle of it you don’t have the luxury of pulling to the side and waiting out the storm….i think thats such a growth moment that really fuels why people do such extreme novel ideas…even for me traveling is a form of being on my toes and resourceful in a way that day to day life doesn’t compare…its pretty easy to shelter from some storms in the middle of our comfort zones…i can totally see how that sort of burning the boat on the island mentality comes to mind….theres no waiting out the storm, you have to move through those fears….bravo, a lot to learn from this post! So proud of your journeys Rozanne! ❤

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