Camping Paddle Recon

Sunday, May 16, 12021 HE

I am one step closer to my spring/summer goal of SUP touring and camping. With the better weather upon us, I am yearning to go explore and camp on my paddleboard. Or at least I think I am. I’ve never done it before. Though I have done a canoe trip through the Bowron Lakes many years ago with Annie, which we both loved. And I have kayak camped up Indian Arm to Indian River a couple of times. And now while I am recalling these past trips I just remembered doing a canoe camping trip leaving from Pitt Lake to get to Widgeon Lake for some backcountry camping. So, I am pretty sure I am going to love SUP touring/camping too.

I still have a few key items to get which I have ordered. A solar charger power bank, a water filtration system, and a portable desalinator. Oh yeah, and camp/expedition food. Except for the food, none of these items are essential so I am ready to go. I just need to lock down my dates and a concrete plan (location, launch point, paddle party, etc.) for the inaugural trip!

For water, at present, I could pack it in or use the water purification system I currently have. But I thought the Grayl Geopress would be an added convenience, with a more on-demand type feel. Though this assumes that there is a nonsaline body of water available. Hence my research into desalination and my discovery of the Quench Sea portable desalinator. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, desalination is a relatively difficult task. Especially for a portable unit due to the extremely high demands of pressure to enable a pressure filtration system. And this is despite the majority of the world’s water being saline, approximately 97.5%. The only other portable desalination system that I came across was the Katadyn Survivor 06, which I thought was prohibitively expensive. Though, I guess that may ultimately depend on whether or not I receive my Quench Sea desalinator. It was not actually a purchase as I could only find it available on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. Essentially, I pledged support to the development of the product and as an in-kind gratuity, Hydro Wind Energy is going to send me a unit. Despite the production delays, I am hopeful that I will receive a unit at some point, and if not I just hope that my pledge can help with the advancement of affordable portable desalination systems for places that do not have access to clean water as we do here in British Columbia. Chalk one point up for my win on the ovarian birth lottery. The unit would be such a great addition to my SUP camping kit as I plan to be doing many ocean adventures in the time to come.

And as for the power pack, again this would be an added convenience. I don’t need to be on any electronic devices while away but it would be nice from a communications standpoint to have a backup on my cellphone charge. Though I could always conserve battery by using flight mode or turning it off when not in use. It would also be useful for a backup power supply for a camera.

Two other safety pieces that I will look into getting are a handheld marine VHF radio. I completed my marine radio operators course recently with the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons so now I just need to get a radio. For my first trip, I don’t anticipate being too far off the grid but it is better to be safe. My cellphone provider is Telus and this is their reported coverage map. Of note, is that the coverage map does not include the Ramillies Channel Marine Recreation Site on Gambier Island which is where my first tentative overnighter will be (option 1 assisted and option 2 unassisted). I don’t trust the Telus map to be very accurate but my question is whether coverage is overestimated or underestimated, with the former being my concern.

The other piece, which could either be complementary or alternative, would be a satellite communication device for the similar rationale as a cellphone. However, satellite communication works in more remote areas where cellphone coverage may be absent. you just need a clear line of sight to the eye in the sky. For more details here is a great article by REI about these types of devices.

In any case, my plan for this morning was to trial packing and loading all my necessary kit as well as test out my board for a paddle fully loaded. And in that regard, it was a success. I managed to get all my kit in order and stay high side of my board. The conditions were pretty calm but there was a bit of chop for moments. I would like to get out on a more windy day with a loaded board as I have read and seen that that can be challenging.

It was a glorious morning. I was a little too late to catch the sunrise from the water but below is the sunrise from the parking lot at Locarno Beach. I was impressed by how many other people were out and about for sunrise, including paddleboarders, fishermen, swimmers, and sun watchers.

The sunrise before I am ready on the water.

It took a bit of organising but I managed to get all my gear loaded and secured to my board. I ended up using two 20 litre rolldown dry bags and one 30 litre duffle style dry bag. Since I wanted to mock up a real trip to get a feel for how the board would handle and see how I would pack all my gear I brought a spare three-piece paddle and pump. I taped the paddle together with electrician’s tape. I picked that tip up from this SUP Boarder video. They have an excellent four-part series on SUP touring. For the pump, I sealed off the intakes/outputs on both the hose and pump with duct tape. I wasn’t sure if this was necessary but better safe than sorry. Since I didn’t have my Grayl Geopress yet I brought a Nalgene water bottle. And then I brought a clog-style water shoe that I tucked underneath the dry bags at the front of my board. I used carabiners to secure all the bags to the bungees cords on the board, just in case I tipped over.

Since my two rolldown dry bags do not have handles I used an old duffle bag strap to connect the bags so I could wear them over the top of my shoulder like a satchel. I think I took some inspiration from this clip of the SUPBoarder touring series. I used one of the carabiners to connect the two bags so that they wouldn’t be swaying to and fro on my walk down to the beach. This time around I just carried my board in one hand and my duffle bag in the other. But the duffle bag does convert into a backpack which is a great feature for a longer portage. In the SUPBoarder video series, they emphasize that it is best if you can portage easily.

Loaded and locked. It is not a firearm.

And then it was time to paddle!

Ready to go on a gorgeous morning.

Getting into the water is a bit different with a fully loaded board. I had set up my unloaded board close to the water’s edge before loading on all my kit. Then I just lifted the tail-end of the board so that I could easily push the nose of the board into the water. Fortunately the waves we already kissing the nose of my board so it wasn’t far to go. And the sandy beach helped too.

Into the surf.

At this point, I didn’t have a destination. I planned to get out on the water fully loaded and then figure things out from there. There was less wind and waves than what had been forecasted. But given that the wind was forecasted to be northeasterly I figured it would be easiest to head northeast and then come back with a tailwind. And it didn’t hurt to be paddling into the sunrise.

Looking northeast to the mountains and the sun.

I liked the way the light discs looked in the picture below.

Green spot, sun spot.

It was a spectacular morning to be out on the water. There is nothing like the feeling of the warm sun shining down on you in the morning. Or any time for that matter.

A morning sunrise over the top of the Vancouver cityscape.

I think my camera case took a shot of water which contributed to the aura of the sun in the picture below. Or maybe it is just the electromagnetic energy being capture. 😛

The aura of the Sun.

I have been meaning to take a shot of my camera setup on my board for a while now. But once I am on the water it tends to slip my mind. Since I wanted an image of the gear I took this photo which shows both. You can see the carabiners attached to the dry bags and the bungee cords as well as the water bottle. The spare paddle is just tucked in as are the water shoes. They both float, so I planned to retrieve them if I was to capsize and they were to come loose and become flotsam.

Safe and secure.

And below is the sea line view over the nose of the board.

The view from down low.

As I made my way out into the bay and looked towards Stanley Park I remembered that my friend, Peter, had paddle to Slhx̱í7lsh (Standing Man Rock) the day before. I decided to see if I could make the crossing from Locarno. I had paddled there before, but always leaving from Vanier Park.

Sun fun one.
Sun fun two.

Below is the view looking back west. I love the way the entire feel and mood of the photograph are different from the lighting. Blue sky and blue water versus a hazier indigo sky and darker waters in the images above.

Looking west.

You cannot see it in the photo below, but you could see Vancouver Island clear across the Strait of Georgia.

Looking west from a higher vantage point.

The water became very calm about mid-crossing. It was such a peaceful moment.

Beautifully calm waters.

Below is a picture of the Ferguson Point West Cardinal Light Buoy or QC buoy. The QC buoy is a little was offshore between Ferguson Point and Third Beach.

The Ferguson Point West Cardinal Light Buoy QC.
The Ferguson Point Buoy closer up.

After looking over my shoulder scanning for boat traffic I decided to square up my board and capture some cityscape, English Bay, and the entrance to False Creek.

Looking toward English Bay.

The image below is looking toward Slhx̱í7lsh (Standing Man) but he is obscured in the shadows. I say “he” because the First Nations legend tells the story of the rock being a tribute to a father.

Standing man in the shadows.

And here you can see the monument a little more clearly as I approach.

Standing man a little more clearly emerging from the shadows.

The photographic theme for this post is light orbs. There are many of them in the image below.

Light orbits.

The downside of relying on my board-mounted camera for photographs is that you are limited to the field of view captured. I guess then this post is giving you some inspiration to get out and see the real thing for yourself. It is always more spectacular in real life if you can be there.

Slhx̱í7lsh (Standing Man) from the water.

As I made the tour around Slhx̱í7lsh (Standing Man) a man on the shoreline called to me. At first, I missed what he said but when he repeated he explained that he had taken a great photo of me on the water as I approached. He asked for my Instagram contact so that he could share it with me. When I replied that I did not have Instagram he seemed genuinely perplexed momentarily. When he regained his senses he saluted me on my paddling efforts before continuing on his morning bike ride. With all of my kit, he must have thought I was on much more of an epic paddle than just a morning reconnaissance run. I realized after that I guess we could have exchanged emails. Perhaps Instagram is less personal which is why he didn’t suggest that. It left me equally perplexed. But maybe he doesn’t have an email address?

I paddled out through the small channel between the shoreline and Slhx̱í7lsh (Standing Man) observing his stature as I passed.

Between a standing man and a rock.

Now it was time to make it home. Hopefully, that northeasterly wind would still be blowing.

The road back home.

The wind was light so it was calm paddling back. I was hoping for a tailwind but was happy there was no headwind. The wind was forecasted to change direction later in the day.

One more look into English Bay.

English Bay.

And back at Locarno Beach.

Landing at Locarno.

All in all, it was a successful reconnaissance mission. I do still have some questions as to what paddling into or across wind would feel like on a loaded board. I guess time will tell.

Below is the PM Blackfin (i.e. Paddle Motor Blackfin) after its maiden cargo voyage.

The PM Blackfin after its maiden voyage.

In the end, I put a solid 10 kilometers which I was happy with. I was curious to note my average speed as that will help with trip planning for future tours.

Screenshot of Google Fit activity tracker statistics

And the route that I took tracked on Google Fit.

Screenshot of Google Fit activity tracker.

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