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 Post subject: The Broken Islands
PostPosted: August 17th, 2005, 4:32 pm 
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Following is the adventures I had with SGgrant and company on the Broken Islands last week. Many thanks to Steve for the invitation as this trip... was indeed a special one.

The Broken Islands

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Last edited by Monster on September 26th, 2005, 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: August 17th, 2005, 8:16 pm 
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I added my version of events with pictures here:

http://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topic.a ... C_ID=12817

Without pictures:

I must say that when Andrew proposed going paddling solo, I had my doubts. But I needn't have worried, since he's such a skilled and powerful paddler that even with a slower hull design canoe than ours, the most we had to do was ease off the paddling sometimes. He also carries a huge amount of beer and was more than generous in making sure we helped lighten his ballast. Nova took quite a liking to him, and he handled her growing attention like a grandparent. Now she's asking when he's going to come visit.

Differences in trip style are always a risk on these sorts of outings. We quickly found both parties wanted to do the same things, and had the same tolerance for risk. Andrew was absolutely flexible on the trivial points where we differed, mainly his interest in sneak camping. On the days we ventured out into the Pacific around Benson and Howell Islands, we all expressed unease about the waves and a wish to get back inside protected waters at the same time. Except for Nova, who thought the swells were funny.

An amusing aspect of Andrew's "style" is that most other parties we met along the way assumed he was a guide hired by us. I wasn't sure it was better to be seen as affluent at the cost of presumed competence and confidence. One party expressed being impressed at the idea of "our guide" going off to catch and prepare fish for supper while we cruised elsewhere. And by the way, the fish were delicious.

A clarification on the map on Andrew's site is that it shows the routes of two different trips. The innermost loop is from a trip a couple of years ago.

Our Vargas Island trip immediately before this one required me for the first time to navigate on water using the gps. It was pretty simple, and I was surprised to find we were not the least intimidated by heading into fog. I think this is because of far too much time spent in whiteouts on glaciers. At least on water you're not going to fall into a hole or off a cornice or hit a wall because you can't see anything, and you can tell whether you're moving or standing still. Unlike on a glacier, there was always enough visibility that we figured anyone coming in a powerboat would see us in plenty of time.

The gps can be used to mark a point and use "goto" to keep track of your position relative to it. Even handier, there is a mode that will show a current readout of your speed, distance to go, and how much you should turn right or left to be on course. If you're doing this, it's important to double-check the accuracy of your entered waypoints, since it's easy and hazardous to get them wrong.

In summer, Toquart Bay campsite is a strange place of vast numbers of heavily motorized "campers". Fortunately the attendants keep the partiers and ATV'ers under control, but we still got to listen to the conversation and bodily functions of our neighbours all night before our trip started. In contrast, when I've been there at Thanksgiving, there have only been one or two RV'ers.

I have regarded taking canoes to the Broken Group as a bit intrepid, and had some previous experience doing this, both scary and easy. This time, as we approached the outer islands, we met a flotilla of Coleman canoes with families in them. So much for that image. We found that the farther out in the group we went, the higher the proportion of canoes relative to kayaks. Still a small minority, though. We visited the sea lion colony twice, and spent hours in their area. During that time, many whale watcher boats came and went, but not a single kayak.

I would estimate there were about 120 kayakers in the Broken Group while we were there. We mostly saw them at or near the campsites, and seldom saw any while we were paddling. So it wasn't like Deep Cove on a sunny Sunday, which is what we had feared going there in August.

It's hard to tell if the sealions are angry or curious. We stayed much farther away than the tourist boats, who approached within 20 feet, while the suggested limit is 100m. Some sealions came from quite some distance away to look at us while we were on a beach, so they approached us.

Seening the grey whales, a pod of 4 one day, and a single one on the last day, was an unexpected bonus. Due to lag time on digital cameras, it's impossible to get shots of them breaching. I have some video footage of them, but it's pretty unimpressive compared to "real" footage. I did get 110 video clips of less transient subject matter.

The only loss of the trip was Nova's umbrella. It blew out of the canoe near the Verbeke Reef, and was a sad ghostly pink shadow sinking into the depths by the time we stopped and backed up. It had never occurred to us to attach it to the canoe, or that it would sink immediately.

A fine variation on this trip was our exploration of the Pinkerton islands on the way back to Toquart. Outside the park, they offer a myriad of magical narrow passages that see little tidal flushing. So the water is still and dense with intertidal life. A worthy detour very seldom visited by paddlers.

Another tip is that if you get stranded in the Stoppers, there is a nice beach with two tent spots behind the island on the se side of the southern Stopper. Some kayakers were timing their movements with the tides, but we never bothered with this. The currents in the area are too slow relative to a canoe's typical speed to take into account. Paying attention to the wind and waves is far more important.

The campsites are all wonderful places. Hand Island is one of the best, but too close to the start for us to use. Between Clarke and Benson, Clarke is smaller with a flat grassy meadow and the best beaches, while Benson has room for about 200 tents and has better views out to sea. Dodd seems heavily used by commercial groups, Willis looked heavily used. Gilbert and Gibraltar were much quieter. We bypassed Turret, but it appeared a lot of people were staying there.

In all, we were out 5 days and 4 nights. The fog was patchy and tended to move off or burn off as the day went on. But each day was very different, and generally more fog meant less wind. We made a total of 4 crossings of "risky" Coaster Channel, all without any problems. This was in additon to the crossings between Toquart, the Stoppers, Lyall Point, and Hand Island.

This was one of the finest canoe trips we've done, and many thanks to Andrew for being much of what made it so.

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PostPosted: August 17th, 2005, 11:29 pm 
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Wow! Looks like a great trip all around and thanks for posting the reports. Fabulous as always!


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PostPosted: September 26th, 2005, 8:35 pm 
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I forgot to change the links to these trip reports here when I switched web hosting services last month, my apologies and both this one and the Desolation Sound reports are now working again.

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PostPosted: October 17th, 2005, 8:59 pm 
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I noticed Monster didn't add the links to a couple of 3-minute video sequences he made from video I shot during the trip. Here's a link that has links to the videos:

http://clubtread.com/sforum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=12863

Those with dial-up connections beware of 20Mb file sizes.

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PostPosted: October 17th, 2005, 11:30 pm 
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I remembered something worth mentioning about this trip with Monster.

On previous canoe trips, we've always had difficulty paddling alongside other canoes. It's always been the classic nuisance of the canoes either veering too far apart, or closing on each other so that evasive manoeuvering has to replace power strokes. Monster had also typically had this problem with other people.

Well, on this trip, we effortlessly paddled parallel to each other, about 10' apart. This was a pleasant new experience for all of us, and was conclusive proof that it wasn't us who couldn't paddle a straight line.

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 Post subject: Paddling parellel
PostPosted: October 21st, 2005, 10:27 am 
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Really enjoy the canoeing accounts. Couldn't help but respond to the paddling parellel part.

The reason the boats tend to veer when close together is that the wake that is generated by your boat traveling through the water travels diagonally away from your boat creating a hump of water that behaves like a wave or current. When the adjacent boat gets close it is picked up by that wave and ferried along the face of it in the direction your boat is pointing. Since the wake travels at an angle to the boat and the adjacent boat is traveling parellel to its neighbor, relative to the wake your boat is pointing at the boat next to it and will ferry into it. (Visually, think of an equal sign with a diagonal slash through it. Turn it 90 degrees. The equal sign represents the parellel boats, the slash the wake. Consider the line in the equal sign through which the slash passes lowermost the adjacent boat. Think of the slash as a wave or current and you will notice that the direction the adjacent boat is heading on the wake will head you right into the neighboring boat.)

To deal with this effect you can lean your boat towards the neighboring boat which will tend to offset the effect of the wake. You can also do occasional draws on the opposite side, or lean your boat away from the neighboring boat and draw on the inside to correct.

If you master staying on course on the neighboring wake, you will in effect be riding it, which actually increases your efficiency. Canoe racers work hard to master this technique because it allows them to conserve energy in long races and keep up with people slightly faster than them.

By staying about 10' away from your boat your friend was avoiding the effect of your wake.

Happy paddling.


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PostPosted: October 21st, 2005, 10:53 pm 
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Thanks for the impressive explanation. I've also heard there is a Bernouli effect between boats travelling in parallel that sucks them together.

The only thing I can add is that almost half the time we've tried to parallel other canoes in the past, the canoes have also veered apart. So that would point back to "pilot error". I'm wondering if the canoes would tend to separate or close depending on where they are relative to the bow waves, either behind or ahead of them, which would depend on the distance apart, speed and water depth.

I imagine other forces acting on the canoes, such as wind, would have a more powerful steering effect than the wakes. So you'd have to be countering those aspects anyway to maintain parallel courses.

Whatever it was, it was a real luxury.

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