Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Perpetual sunshine, paddling with sharks and octopuses...and a brand new "mothership".

Launching at Genoa Bay
One of the things we love about living here on Canada's "Pacific Island" is the fact that the sun shines every day - yes, 365 days of the year. Does that mean that there is no precipitation at all? Well, no. After all, our fields, forests, and vineyards are so green, lush and fertile throughout the year. You see, when it rains here, it only rains at night - when we are fast asleep. And the only place that it snows is high up in the mountains, and just on the actual ski runs. Folks brag about the "Mediterranean" climate on Vancouver Island but, as you will understand, it's way better than even that. It's like, well, Camelot.

Our fruit trees bear fruit twelve months of the year. Just the other day, we were in the garden picking some fresh pineapples, bananas, and kiwi. The mangoes and papaya are marvellous - fresh or in smoothies, delicious! Even the grass is green all year and never needs cutting as it only grows to the optimal height. Weeds? No such thing. No annoying mosquitoes either.

Of course, the sea kayaking is simply amazing too. We were out on Monday, making sure that the month got off to a good start. Launching at Genoa Bay, our route took us around Cowichan Bay, into Sansum Narrows, over to the shores of Saltspring and back to the Bay. The waters around the Island are always swimming pool-warm, even in the so-called winter months. We just wear the Goretex dry suits because they look really cool. There actually is no need for them here with the tropical-like ocean temperatures.

Did you know that real live pirates cruise our waters? Yes, one of their ships can be seen in the image below. They were in having mid-morning tea and scones at the marina café.

Pirate ship!
Pirates here are very friendly. When they approach you, they usually come bearing gifts. Today for example, we were hailed by the crew of another pirate ship and they showered us with valuable vouchers for our favourite coffee shop. I think we probably have sufficient for soy lattes and oat bars for the next six months! One very handsome and dashing pirate rowed over and handed Joan a lovely bouquet of fresh spring flowers. Joan appeared, most pleased. (I must confess, I am rarely that thoughtful.)

Is the weather always like this on April 1?
Of course, this is Canada's "Pacific Island"! :)
Our turquoise, tropical waters.
Marine life is equally friendly and approachable here too. Massive sharks frequent the waters and will often surface, right beside our kayaks. Although they look very much like Great White Sharks, I'm pretty sure they are not as they seem very mellow and relaxed, like most folks on Canada's "Pacific Island". They are about the same length as our kayaks but our 47 pounds of fibreglass are not to be compared to their 5000 pounds of muscle and flesh! And such teeth!

They love to nibble on any snacks that we have with us. I've discovered that the sharks here particularly enjoy almond butter and jam on bread. Some readers will remember that was exactly the gourmet sandwich I prepared for Joan for her pre-birthday celebration - roasted beurre d'amandes naturel, and sweet confiture de framboises.

Likewise, some of the largest and most impressive octopuses in the world inhabit the waters we routinely paddle on, hence the naming of nearby Octopus Point.

Here's lookin' at ya!
If you dangle your arm in the water, they love to come up under the kayak, reach out with their giant tentacles and give your hand an affectionate squeeze. Sometimes, they will wrap their "arms" around our kayaks and give them a squeeze - all in fun of course. We're always glad we went for the Kevlar option! Really, they are quite adorable creatures considering that everywhere else in the world, they would create a great deal of anxiety by their presence!

And, of course, the big news this month is that we now have an addition to our fleet of three kayaks, and she's a beauty - all 168 feet of her! We paddled over to do an initial water line inspection. Looked pretty good!

And that's just the front half!
We've named her Donnchadh, my Gaelic name, and one my father would use on occasion when I was young.

It was my idea to acquire a vessel large enough to carry our kayaks and provide simple accommodations on multi-day paddling trips - kind of a "mother" ship. Admittedly, she needs a little tender loving care - and a lot of paint. Joan volunteered to repaint the hull but I'm thinking that was when she thought the new boat was 16.8 feet long. I was sure I had typed 168 feet in my text message to her when I was making the deal. Even our kayaks are over 18 feet! Anyway, it's going to take a lot of paint and she's a little anxious about painting from a boatswain's chair using a rope descent system (like on the high rise buildings in the city). I assured her it would be perfectly safe and the end result will be a rather smashing looking vessel!

In the meantime, being the beginning of April, we were out there to paddle - it's always important to set the bar high on the first day of the month. Just for fun, I challenged Joan to a race back to Genoa Bay.

I was out in front for awhile.

Hmm, the wind began to gust and 
I appeared to be taking on some water.
Before long, however, Joan raced past me...

Joan, flying through the building waves!
...energized, I'm sure, by happy thoughts of cruises we would be taking together aboard the Donnchadh. I must say, she is such a good sport about all the exterior painting that has to be done first.

In no time, we were back at the launch site...

... and loading up the kayaks on the HMKTV roof racks.

Kayaks safely back on the HMKTV
(High Mobility Kayak Transport Vehicle)
Yes, this is some island - perfect weather all year round, fertile soils, warm seas, friendly sea creatures, and now countless opportunities to cruise and paddle to distant and exotic destinations in our new mothership.

As always, thanks for reading.


The above post was written on Monday, the first day of April. The paddling trip was real but most everything else, well... :)


  1. d,
    I've been telling you all along this island is the place to need to be dreaming about Scotland at all. Glad you finally have "seen the light" and realized what a wonderful home you have, complete with wonderful friends. ;)
    p.s. (think maybe you should be a gentleman and offer to help Joan paint the hull though)

  2. Thanks L. Yes, I've decided to help paint the hull, but only what I can reach from the deck. Just don't think the boatwain's chair is my thing. Joan is so much braver! Haha! D.

  3. Dear Duncan and Joan,
    Great blog! I always say I was cursed with a positive attitude. I believe I have found my match. Happy painting! Cool pictures!
    Blessings, from Jen, from Southern Alberta

  4. Haha! Thanks for that, Jen. I think I could possibly be accused of looking at life through "rose coloured glasses" but, hey, it beats being grumpy! Yeah, I really have to get Joan going on that paint job! :)) Always great to hear from you. Warmest wishes to you and Doug and family. Duncan.

  5. Hi Spartan
    Just read your masters blog today and thought he must have taken home too much whisky from Scotland.
    Then as the tale of great wonder overcame me I realised that he had got into the other "spirit" of an April Fool.
    Don't worry Spartan all Scotsmen have a tendancy to "blether".
    MG Mike

  6. Hi MG MIke,
    Do you really think I blether? Gosh, that may have occurred to others too? But it was April 1st! And, as you know, I really do prefer the dark ale. ;) I will pass your comment on to Spartan - well, most of it. Haha! Thanks Mike. Duncan.

  7. I'm beginning to think it's isn't the whisky but that it's the dark ale being consumed, and it must only affect Scots, as Joan seems quite fine! LOL...and yes D at times you actually do blether!

  8. I do? Oh...

    Well, I appreciate your honesty L. Haha! But there are no precipitating "elements". Must come by it naturally. I will definitely discuss this with cousin MG Mike in the near future. :) D.

  9. Hey Duncan and Joan,
    I watched Gator Boys on Animal Planet the other day. I thought of you both. I think you would like the show and I think you would be up for the challenge to help them out in Florida! It is more exciting than watchng bullriding!
    Happy painting!

  10. Hey Jen, I thought we were friends! Gator wrestling...bullriding...way too scary! But we appreciate your confidence in us. :) Duncan.