Naramata to Penticton Downwind

Saturday, September 17, 12022 HE

I am in Naramata, British Columbia, for a wedding. If you are unfamiliar with the area, it is part of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and historically was known for its many orchards. Now it is famous as a premier wine-producing region in Canada. Naramata is a spectacular destination and highly recommended for winosoenophiles, paddlers, and vacationers, in my humble opinion.

In-between the weekend wedding festivities, I thought I would take advantage of being lakeside (lake-close?) to Okanagan Lake. I was staying at an Airbnb nearby the wedding venue and minutes from Naramata Centre Beach.


Okanagan Lake

Source: https://geonames.nrcan.gc.ca/search-place-names/unique/JBKHC

Friday night was a meet-and-greet/wine tasting at Little Engine Wines. The wind while on the patio was fairly fierce. But the view of the waves on the water left me wondering what the wind direction would be in the morning. The wedding was in the afternoon, so I hoped to get out on the water in the morning. The question was where to go?

I was up extremely early to the calls of owls and coyotes. Or at least that’s what I thought they were. I stayed in bed resting but never really returned to sleep. The forecast on Windy.com called for northwesterly winds, with a baseline speed of only several knots. But the gusts were up to 18 knots. From experience, I knew that Windy.com tends to underestimate the wind speed on lakes. So, some real-time assessment was warranted. From the balcony of my accommodation, I could see the water. Whitecaps were forming, and the waters were flowing. And fortuitously, a property closer to the water had a flag flying at half-mast, presumably for the mourning of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Twitch. Twitch. I’m trying to resist a rant here. Fuck it. Warning the following is a rant on the mindlessness of modern monarchy. Skip it if you’re a monarchist.


An absurdity in my mind arises from living in a constitutional monarchy in this day and age. I understand that the power of a constitutional monarchy resides in parliament. The monarch no longer “rules” the country, thus making the monarch more of a figurehead in my eyes. I’ll concede that the monarch serves a role in government and the collective national identity. The monarch is officially the head of state and the personal embodiment of the Crown. “The power to govern is vested in the Crown but is entrusted to the government to exercise on behalf and in the interest of the people. The Crown reminds the government of the day that the source of the power to govern rests elsewhere and that it is only given to them for a limited duration” (Heritage Canada). Holy symbolism Batman! And I do mean “holy”. My criticism is, do we still need this role, or could it be fulfilled by one less steeped in myth, lore, religiosity, and imperial conquest? I feel that the tradition is outdated. What role does the modern monarch fulfill that the Governor General and their Lieutenant Governors do not accomplish? These roles already serve as representatives of Their Majesty the Monarch. So why have the go-between? Rather than having the powers of the role reside in the monarch, why not have the powers reside in the governors? And heck, if you want to hold on to some symbolism, power can even remain in the Crown, as it does today in theory anyway. Just skip the step of having a monarch (though I think you can also do away with the Crown in my eyes). Besides bloating the bureaucratic budget, which seems counter to conservative concerns around capital expenditure, what’s the monarch’s role (see the caveat to this below, I just wanted to alliterate my near irate state)? Perhaps it is not fiscal conservatives who are the traditionalist looking to conserve royalism. The monarchy costs Canadians about $59 million annually, which translates to approximately $1.55 per Canadian. Hardly a large sum. But that cost wouldn’t change much without the monarchy, as it would be the same under solely the Governor and Lieutenant Generals. Canada does not directly pay the monarch, apart from funding official visits. Though if you’re British, I’d have my knickers in a knot over the inheritance tax exemptions afforded to the royal inheritance. And, on a separate note, but still related to tax and imperialism, a new one that just came to light for me is the tax burden that Britains have been paying since 11835 HE as government compensation to past slave owners for property loss when slavery was abolished (listen to ABC‘s Rear Vision podcast episode “The Commonwealth—relic of empire of or society of equals?” for the full details). At the risk of sounding facile, how the heck did the public end up on the hook to bankroll the property loss (i.e., human slaves!) of a bunch of aristocrats that just reaped the benefits of centuries of free labour? It was £20 million in 11835 HE dollars, which in today’s currency would be £17 billion! And it only came to light after the HM Treasury (her at the time) posted the tweet below congratulating the British public for their role in helping to end the slave trade. The response in the link is an apt assessment of my analysis of that asinine argument.

Source: https://taxjustice.net/2020/06/09/slavery-compensation-uk-questions/

That the public treasury, that is taxes, should be used for the public good is a given, in my opinion. Though not a universal belief. Perhaps less commonly conceived as a role of taxes and brought to my attention in a slightly different light in Helen Thompson‘s book, “Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century,” is the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. But not simply to create a level playing field. Thompson highlights the role tax redistribution plays in keeping the balance of democracy between aristocracy and ochlocracy. After summarizing Polybius‘ view of anacyclosis, that “after chaos there comes monarchy, kingship, tyranny, aristocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and the mob rule of ochlocracy before out of the chaos a single demagogue claims power and starts the cycle again” (183). So while I agree the abolishment of slavery was absolutely a good thing, paying for that process with the public’s pelf to placate a pack of privateering padrones is phucking preposterous.

That the constitutional monarchy we live in is a reworking of an absolutist monarchy seems obvious. Where else would it come from? And that the absolute monarchies of yesteryear, particularly the parent monarchy of our present British monarchy, turned Commonwealth, stem from the “divine right of kings” decree, smacks of too much religious dogma to be palatable to me. Not to mention the imperial overtones that still resonate within the Commonwealth re-characterisation. A fun side fact that truly questions the Britishness of the British Monarchy is that the “House of Windsor” changed its name from the “House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha” in 1917 because it sounded too German at a time when anti-German sentiments were on the rise. In fact, many of the European monarchs around that time were of German stock, and this video explains why. Essentially pan-European German royalty is a result of the late unification of Germany. Though, I would contest the English are descendants of Germanic peoples, with the caveat that the national and ethnic labels we place on peoples are more social constructs than anything concrete. This abstraction only further highlights the absurdity of the whole royal line facade in my eyes.

Furthermore, the rise of royalty is a product of feudalism, a system of societal structure, that is social, economic, and political systems. Feudalism, was “the dominant social system in medieval Europe, in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord’s land and give him homage, labor, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection” (OED Online). Or another way to say it would be a warlord system based on hereditary ascension shrouded in the veil of religious divinity. Hardly the mark of democracy or meritocracy, the cultural/political myths we seem to be privy to at present. Or at least I am.

The hierarchy of feudalism.

But maybe it is less of a story problem and more of a practical problemChanging the constitution is not an easy task. And rightly so, if it were, it would be too easy to alter political power via policy changes. Given the current state of affairs on the global geopolitical stage, perhaps being a member of the Commonwealth is not such a bad thing. The narrative myth of neighbourly nations perhaps creates cohesion in times of conflict and conceivable chaos. The change toward Commonwealth partly resides in a worry from the aftermath of the great wars. For an interesting assessment of “What’s the future of the Commonwealth under King Charles III?” listen to this podcast by the BBC‘s The Inquiry. Relevant to my stance on the state of affairs is the discussion about nations that are republics that are part of the Commonwealth.

I am willing to acknowledge the role monarchy plays in the modern mythical narrative of nation-states. What is a nation without its national story to unify dissimilar groups of people? However, I believe we can move away from this myth to something more representative of our present societal ideals. Equality, equity, social mobility, and all that other liberal make you feel good political propaganda.

Regarding the national day of mourning, I think it is more foolhardy than the conditional monarch system itself. But, given our government structure, Canada was constrained to cordially convene a commemoration of the Crown (cough, Queen).

For the record, I have nothing against the Queen as a person. I think she fulfilled her role wonderfully. For an in-depth historical account of her reign listen to this episode, “231. Queen Elizabeth II – part 1” from The Rest is History podcast. The hosts are both British, so understand their bias. As they note, Elizabeth’s religiosity helped her to see her role as a higher calling and, thus, she was devout in her duty over the decades of her dynasty. It is the role and symbolism of a monarch that I find abhorrent. And as a caution, I think it is worth considering what a less dignified and stately monarch than Elizabeth II would have been like. It worked for this Queen’s reign, but imagine the potential problem of vesting power in one individual with a more ambitious or authoritarian agenda. Consider Napoleon, Hitler, Trump, or Putin as the monarch. Then the quiet and quaint role this queen played no longer looks so clear-sighted. It is a bit like the United Nations’ permanent member veto power. At the time of the UN’s inception, it seemed like a good idea to get the major powers to join or risk the collapse of the union altogether. But what happens to the security council when a veto member invades a sovereign state? In my mind, that should veto membership status. At present, nothing happens. Having a monarch is a good idea when they act in good faith or according to what you want. What happens when they don’t?

In any case, the narrative of nationhood was working in my favour as the Canadian flag at half-mast to mourn Her Majesty was a sure-fire indication of the wind direction and a solid estimate of its strength. Breath. Rant done.


Later, after my paddle, I would discover that the flag flapping in the wind was, in fact, from the Naramata fire station. But at present, I just saw a Canadian flag flapping southward, signalling northerly winds and somberness for the sovereign. With my monoculars, I could confirm the lake state with a bit better accuracy of the wave heights from my distant vantage point. Next, I confirmed with friends that if I launched from Naramata, they could pick me up in Penticton, so I could downwind one way. The logistics were that I had their vehicle from the night before and now would head to their accommodations at the Naramata Inn to drop off their vehicle and launch from nearby.

That led me to Wharf Park, just up the street from the inn, as a potential launch site. But the waves crashing down on the rocky shore had me reconsider the launch site.

Surveying the shore at Wharf Park.

I prefer launching into the wind when downwinding. It lets me feel out the water while seeing the oncoming waves before turning to ride them. Thus, I wanted to launch north of Robinson Point. But barefooting down the rocky shoreline at Wharf Park with wind and waves coming head-on didn’t seem like a safe start. Thankfully, yesterday, while waiting for our check-in times, we found a small sandy beach to enjoy a pint just southwest of Wharf Park. We moved down the shore to survey the start. It would work.

The wind was strong, which I wanted, but it was cool. The latter was less desirable. The question was, what kit to wear? I was riding my inflatable, so I was confident I wouldn’t fall in. But there are no guarantees. Should I wear a sweater and risk overheating if I stay dry? Or run the risk of getting it water logged if I went overboard? I had only brought my inflatable PFD, which would cost me a layer of insulation. I decided to dress light with the thought that the sun would come out, plus I would be working hard on the water. I wore a synthetic thermal long-sleeve, covered by a synthetic short-sleeve top, and my raincoat as a shell. The extra layer would provide some windshield should I fall in, as well as catch some wind to help propel me as it is looser fitting.

After pumping up, I was ready to rock!

I had brought my old Blackfin board as I’d recently patched a super slow leak. I’d already tested the leak overnight in dry conditions. Now I wanted to see how it would do wet. The launch was wavey. Below I am walking to the water and then sizing up the conditions before launching.

I was allowed to relive my launch as my friends recorded my departure. Experience and memory are peculiar phenomena. I knew that I was on my knees for a while. But I didn’t think it was that long until I watched the video below. All I could think was, come on, get up, you pansy while watching it. The conditions look so tame in hindsight. Oh well, ego check number one.

Launching like a champ 😂.

Eventually, I built up enough courage to embrace the namesake of the sport and stand up.

I paddled out until I felt like I had my footing and had created enough of an angle to clear the dock at the point. Then turned to start my downwind trek. But my geometry was wrong. I wasn’t going to clear the deck. I ferried across a few waves and considered heading directly upwind again to redirect. But instead just angled across the waves to clear the deck. On the other side, I entered the most fun section of water. The wind was strong, and I had enough of an angle to ride the waves without worrying about where they were taking me. Despite being on a slower and less agile board, I caught a few bumps and even strung a few together. The photo and video below are a sample of the conditions.

A little while later, the Sun was straining to break through the cloud cover.

With cloud cover to the east and clear skies to the west, the conditions were poised to warm up soon.

Plus, I was working to catch the wind waves. I open up my auxiliary axillary zippers. And shortly after that, I spotted a naiad. Or so I thought. Whatever it was, it disappeared after I dove (cough, fell) off my board in pursuit. That was ego check number two. After assuring my friends that I wouldn’t fall in, in these conditions on this board, I did. I quickly remounted, surprised by both the warmth of the lake and my dim-wittedness for letting my guard down. My rain jacket-wearing decision paid off as I warmed up quickly with the windshield insulation. Before long, I was warm again, and by the end of my paddle, I was sweating.

There was another great section of water just past the narrowing of Gartrell Point. But after that section, the winds seemed to settle until I neared the shore at Penticton. The image below looks south to Penticton from just north of the Bench 1775 Winery. I made contact with my friends to confirm a pick-up point. I recalled SUPing several summers ago with my kids at Marina Way Beach, so I suggested there as our rendezvous. In hindsight, I think that may have been when I borrowed my brother’s board which would have been the budding of my segue into SUP. Fun to close the loop on the experience.

Looking south to Penticton.

The photo below is looking north toward Naramata.

Looking north to Naramata.

Below is the view closer to town with Penticton Lakeside Resort in view.

The Lakeside Resort from the lake.

The photo below was an over-the-shoulder shot of the western shore of Okanagan Lake.

The southwestern shore of Okanagan Lake.

And the more direct view north.

Looking north.

There were a bit more waves as I approached the shore. The wind swell was running into shore. I found a vacant picnic table to dry my board while I waited for my friends. It was a glorious morning. Upon reflection, the beauty of this downwinder, was the tidiness of the waves. They were much cleaner, especially in contrast to my recent wavey downwind run. That adventure was a downwind run on the the first half of my tour through Átl’ḵa7tsem (Howe Sound). The water was much more chaotic, and a weighted board made the wobbles more wearisome.

Safe on shore.

Below are the map and statistics of my route recorded with Geo Tracker.

The video below is my route created on Relive from the Geo Tracker data. If the video below doesn’t work, here is a link to the video on Relive’s site.

2 thoughts on “Naramata to Penticton Downwind

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