Day 2 - Saturday - June 9 - Prevost Harbor to James Bay
The weather was gloomy but the wind calm as I woke up for my second day of paddling. After having a quick breakfast and breaking camp, I launched at 8am. As soon as I attached my spray skirt, it started to rain. Ahead lay the four miles of open water in Boundary Pass and the Canadian border. Since slack tide today was at 7:30am, I knew it was possible to make it across the four miles to South Pender Island before any serious current picked up. Boundary Pass is notorious for its fast tidal currents and heavy shipping traffic so it had been a major source of concern for me. Leaving early for the long crossing turned out to be a good idea as the weather later in the day got very windy and would have made the crossing dangerous. The light drizzle and lack of wind made the crossing go smoothly and by 9:30am I was tying up to the customs dock in Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island.
Entering Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island.
The Canadian customs station was unmanned. Instead of live personnel, there were three phones with direct links to customs agents. After asking me a few questions, an agent gave me permission to enter Canada. While standing in the rain talking to the customs agent, I started to get cold. I spotted a coffee shop nearby so I went over and got some coffee and a muffin. The combination of a hot drink and a warm room soon had me feeling better and ready to face the open water again. While there, I chatted with some friendly Canadians who were amazed that I had just paddled across Boundary Pass in a kayak.
A BC ferry enters Otter Bay on North Pender Island.
I left Bedwell Harbor at 10:30am and after rounding Wallace Point headed up the southwest coast of North Pender Island. The current was flooding south through Swanson Channel for the first two hours so I hugged the shore to stay out of the main flow. By 12:30pm, the current had turned and was no longer a problem, but now the wind and rain had picked up and created uncomfortable paddling conditions as squalls moved through. My original route plan was to go through Captain Passage along the west coast of Prevost Island. This would have required an open water crossing of 2.5 miles from North Pender to Prevost Islands. After considering the weather conditions, I opted instead to follow the west coast of North Pender Island. If conditions deteriorated, three large bays would offer me some protection.
A stormy day on Swanson Channel.
I stopped for a few minutes in the northernmost bay of Port Washington to consider the conditions that lay ahead in the crossing over to Prevost Island. The distance was about a mile and a half and a southerly wind was creating whitecaps that would be hitting me from the left rear. I decided to go for it and headed out for Portlock Point on Prevost Island. I was carrying a waterproof digital camera that could take short videos so I turned it on to try and capture the scene for friends back home that have no idea how it looks to be in a kayak in rough water. Unfortunately, it was just the first time that the camera was to malfunction on this trip so the crossing would go undocumented. After a determined thirty-minute paddle, I reached Prevost Island and could finally take a break out of the wind in relatively calm water.
The coast of Prevost Island was different from all the other shorelines I had passed in these first two days in that there were no homes visible from the water. Every other island had conspicuous homes indicating private property along their entire shorelines.
Approaching the beach at James Bay.
I rounded Peile Point on the North West tip of Prevost Island and headed into James Bay and a Cascadia Marine Trail (CMT) campsite. After landing in the rain at 3pm, I set up camp on a grassy meadow where a flock of Canadian geese had left plenty of proof of their recent feeding activity. The area has no improvements other than an outhouse but the landing site was good and the tall grass made for a comfortable campsite. Although there is no fresh water available at James Bay, I was able to collect a couple of gallons by strategically placing cooking pots to catch water running off my rain tarp.
After a stormy day of paddling the sky begins to clear at James Bay.
After dinner, I made a call home on my cell phone and was amazed when it actually went through. Today I covered eighteen miles in six hours.