Point Grey: Paddle Troubles

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Trevor, Vital, and I set out for an early morning paddle. Perhaps it was a bit too early as when we arrived at the eastmost parking lot at Spanish Banks the gate was still closed (if you ever have wondered how Spanish Banks got its name it is not just as simple as the Spanish sighting it first). Thankfully the park ranger was not far behind so we were able to get into a lot without much delay.

We set up our kit and then we were off. The wind was westerly so we decide to paddle west out towards Point Grey so that we would have a tailwind for our return. The conditions were choppy but thankfully we were heading straight into the waves. But it did make for some almost nauseating paddling.

The conditions became a bit less choppy as we made it past the first bend at Acadia Beach. Or maybe we were just getting used to the conditions?

The next major sight is the East Tower (or more appropriately the eastern WWII Coast Artillery Search Light Post). An eerie reminder of the history of the Second Great War of our modern times.

Soon we could see the North Arm Jetty and set our sights on it as an endpoint. But as we ventured closer towards it the conditions began to get a bit more hectic. The winds were strong and mixed with the changing currents it was making for some challenging stand up paddleboarding.

I had joked earlier that I had already had my turn for a swim a few weeks before. It turned out to be a prescient remark.

We settled on getting close to Secret Beach before turning around. With the change in direction, the paddling became more challenging as we were dealing with crosswinds coming mainly from the south.

Trevor was on the narrowest board of all three of us and as he led the way home with myself and then Vital following I could see him teetering to and fro. After a few near falls that he rescued he eventually went over. As I approached him to make sure he was alright I heard a loud splash from behind. I turned back to see Vital off of his board as well. Thankfully I had paid my dues to the water gods early and managed to stay on board.

Trevor was back up and paddling but Vital seemed to be floundering in the water still, so I turned back to make sure he was okay. He held up a broken paddle, just a shaft with no blade. Fuck! I offered to tow him back with my leash but (thankfully) he declined. Fortunately, we were just offshore from Wreck Beach. Vital called out that he would paddle into shore and then we could drive around to pick him up.

As Trevor and I paddled off we looked back a few times (or at least tried to without falling) to make sure Vital was okay. He seemed to be faring fine.

In my inexperience of conditions, I assumed that it was going to be a choppy slog back to our launch point. But, to my surprise, it was a relatively easy return paddle. And going downwind with the chop turned out to be relatively smooth, especially after we rounded the point and had a pure tailwind.

Trevor zigzagged in and out of shore taking advantage of the swells. I opted for a more direct route only paddling offshore when I was too close to shore for comfort.

After getting back to our launch site I left to pick up Vital while Trevor packed us up. I picked Vital up near the Wreck Beach stairs. He had deflated his board and then used his inflatable PFD strap to cinch the board up for easier carrying up the stairs.

It was at this point that he explained why it took him so long to get out of the water. After his first fall, he had remounted his board but did not notice that his paddle was already broken. When he went to stabilize himself on his paddle there was nothing to stabilize on, other than the shaft in water. He went overboard a second time. It was at that point that he clued in that his blade was missing!

Thankfully, it occurred where it did and there was no significant harm (other than egos). We were able to have a good chuckle about it. And luckily Vital had an extra paddle at home. The carbon fiber on his three-piece paddle shaft connection had been fraying and he had contacted Blackfin as his board and paddle were still under warranty at the time. They sent him a brand new paddle no questions asked.

Our Route

Screenshot of Google Fit activity tracker. I forgot to turn it off after getting back to shore so it shows my drive to pick up Vital.
Addendum

Here are a few updates to the story. Unfortunately, we did not come away unscathed from the adventure. After a long board carry up the Wreck Beach stairs Vital exacerbated some historic discogenic back symptoms that have come and gone over the past years. This time around they have tended to stick around more than in the past.

And a little more on Blackfin’s warranty. My brother and I have the same board. My wife, Annie, got it for me on my birthday in 2019 after consulting with my brother. His research led him to the Blackfin Model XL for weight tolerance and stability. At the time he had two young children and a dog and he wanted to have the option of having as much of his family on boards as possible. The other part of his market research revealed that Blackfin was a high-quality board with a great warranty. It turned out to be great for him. And I have also needed to put my warranty to the test and had nothing but a positive experience with the customer and warranty service.

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