Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wolf Beach 2 Blackney Beach

Wolf Beach Campsite 

70 degrees, Clear, NW @ 15 - 20, W swell 2 meter with wind waves to 3 feet Seas Moderate 

Glenn Lewis had warned me about confusion that occurs when the ebb tries to turn south out of Hakai Passage at Surf Islets so I was choosing to launch on a rising tide.  That made for a pretty long to get the boat and four loads of gear down to the water's edge.

Morning at Wolf Beach 

The swell was immediately present but the predicted 15-20 knot wind was still in the 10 knot range. The sea state was a bit messy but made for enjoyable paddling. The shoreline disappeared into thickening fog so I was afforded occasional glimpses of Calvert's many lovely northern beaches only when I tucked into a bay.



Fog Develops 

What I was able to see was gorgeous but each point of land presented a new challenge. The current was flowing north along the shore, across the swell and counter to the wind so it made for interesting water. Each point created reflection and turbulence so chop above my head was the norm. Definitely active but fun. Dublin Point, in particular, really had its bitch on and gave me as much "fun" as I cared for while crawling on against the flood.

Once I gained Bolivar Beach I was past Dublin Point and its evil southern sister which allowed most of the wind and waves to be on my stern, improving my quality of life. The fog was lifting, also, presenting me with the sweeping beauty of Bolivar. What a magnificent beach. I paddled about 300 meters off shore which put me about 50 meters beyond the peaking surf break. The beach roared loudly and without reflected waves I had a little over 1 NM of smooth sailing.


During this trip I had heard several paddlers refer to Bolivar as "Three Mile Beach". Does anyone know where that name comes from? The beach isn't 3 miles long. Not even 1/2 that. Magnificent, yes. Three miles long, no.

The last 4 NM to Blackney Beach went fast and were a bit concerning. It had been about four hours since I had left Wolf Beach at the north end of Calvert Island intent on landing at Blackney. The north wind had risen past 15 knots and the seas were a solid 2 meter plus wind waves that combined to 9 feet opposing the northward flowing flood current. It was busy and getting kind of big. I was hoping that Blackney Island, the kelp and shoal would knock the swell down. If it didn't I might fixin' to hurt.

As I neared Blackney Beach I was dismayed to see how far off shore the island was, funneling the wind and swell rather than blocking it, allowing it full access to my desired landing site.  I was arriving right at high tide so all of the energy robbing kelp heads were submerged and the the current, running north over the shoal between Blackney and Calvert Islands, was standing the seas up on my approach.  The beach was lit up in an unfriendly fashion and pain looked like a possibility.  Down in the troughs I could see only the tops of Calvert's tallest trees but the crests offered a brief view of the beach.  At the top of a wave I spotted a 30-foot wide section of beach tucked in behind some rocks at the north end.  It was right where I hoped it would be.  I was moving fast and on final approach.  There would be no go-around.  I back paddled hard against a breaking wave that smacked against my back and shoulders, braced and then broke hard for the lee of the rocks.  Using the next wave to clear the rocks I glided in to tiny one foot waves.  High anxiety and then relief.

The exposed shore was small, without shade and blisteringly hot.  I quickly stripped off my drysuit and base layers and hung them to dry on some logs.  The evening high tide was going to come up very close to the forest so I looked for an upland clearing but found none.  Few people paddle here so there are no established tent clearings.  The thick forest barred any hopes of entry to higher ground so I settled for  the highest spot I could find on the beach and figured that I had a three inch buffer from the next high tide.  I set my alarm for 2:00 AM and felt that if it didn't go off or I had miscalculated or the wind and swell increased or the barometric dropped I would be wakened by the the movement of surrounding logs before things got too wet or I was crushed.  A decent option where others don't exist.


Walking the beach I found the prints of a large wolf.  Comparing his prints with the tide line it was clear that he had watched my approach and landing.  I had been too busy to look for wildlife but he had watched me and sensing my anxiety had figured that I wouldn't be good company.  He chose to leave the beach to me.  I wish he would have stuck around.


  


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