Saturday, May 02, 2009

"Sharks" in the narrows!

Ahh, the May evenings are longer and the water beckons. A regular circuit is from Maple Bay over to Saltspring Island, down to Burgoyne Bay, back across the Sansum Narrows to Octopus Point, along to Paddy Mile Stone (the familiar marker at the entrance to Maple Bay featured in the above image) and back across the Bay to the launch site by the Rowing Club. It always promises - a little “adventure”.

This evening, the clear water of Maple Bay had a soft and viscous appearance, barely a ripple with just a little residual swell from an earlier wind. Entering the channel, a light breeze came out of the southeast, its encounter with the ebbing tide creating some interesting standing waves that played against the bows of our small craft. Saltspring, of course, always has that “magical” feel and it’s so easy to imagine you are exploring the coastal nooks and crannies of some remote and unexplored island - eyes carefully attuned for any evidence of interesting flotsam, amongst the rugged rocks or wave-tossed above the tide line.

Passing under the impressive cliffs of the 589m viewpoint in the Mt. Maxwell Ecological Reserve, you imagine visitors far above enjoying the views of Vancouver Island, the neighbouring Gulf Islands and the coastal mountains of mainland of British Columbia. You are reminded yet again of the beauty of this vast country – and how so often our everyday worries distract from an appreciation of this extraordinary land.

Entering Burgoyne Bay, we sense the sun beginning its descent behind us, above Maple Mountain – time to cross back over and so we point our kayaks to Octopus Point with the warmth of the setting sun moving to our starboard side.

As we settle into a new cadence for the return crossing, there is a sudden movement in the water only metres ahead! My heart rate quickens! An ominous, dark grey, triangular dorsal fin rips through the water - followed by another and then another! They disappear…and then, as if choreographed, they break the surface together again! For just a moment, my imagination runs wild and I make-believe that midway across the narrows, we have found ourselves amidst fierce predators - sharks! Reaching for my marine radio, I must quickly alert others to the impending danger we face. For us, neither "fight nor flight" seems an option! The autonomic nervous system, prewired and prepared to respond to this immediate danger kicks in. Reflexes sharpen! Adrenaline flows! Imagination has blurred reality...for just a delicious moment.

I smile and whisper a “thank you” to the harbour porpoise for their rare appearance…and for making this familiar circuit, for just a few imaginary moments, an adventure of epic proportions!


  1. Somehow I can't imagine you ever going into panic mode! Such an that time you "thought" you saw a bird behind me!

  2. Duncan:

    I just cannot visualize you panicking or getting nervous on the water, plus the fact I do not think you will ever find "Sharks" in these here waters. Dolphins and whales, yes, but not sharks. Continue your explorations and have fun.


  3. You both have a lot of faith! Haha! Hey, and you never know when a Great White shark may wander into our waters!