2009-05-17 48 -123

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Sun 17 May 2009 in 48,-123:
48.7104108, -123.4668811

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Between Saanich Peninsula, and Salt Spring Island; west of Swartz Bay.


  • Elbie, with a bike trailer containing, amazingly enough, a kayak.

The Plan[edit]

  • 13:00 - ferry leaves Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay
  • 15:00 - arrive at the public boat launch on Lands End Road, at the northern tip of the Saanich Peninsula
  • hopefully 15:30 - get on the water
  • hopefully 16:30 - get to the hashpoint
  • 18:00 - start packing up kayak, head back to the ferry terminal
  • 19:00 - ferry leaves Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen


To the water[edit]

I wound up departing UBC around 9:30, and had a fairly nice ride down to Airport Station, in time for the 10:30 bus to Tsawwassen. This is where the plan became endangered. The buses -- necessary for getting through the George Massey Tunnel en route to Tsawwassen -- can only hold two bikes, and there were four cyclists at the bus stop by the time I got there. I wound up waiting not for the next bus, but the bus after it -- missing the 12:00 ferry, but still in time for the 13:00 ferry. All three of these buses were totally packed -- when planning this expedition, I had completely forgotten to account for the fact that it was during the Victoria Day long weekend.

On the ferry (Spirit of Vancouver Island), I stopped by the boutique to notice that one of the postcards they sold featured a view of Swartz Bay, taken from somewhere very close to the hashpoint. Naturally, I decided to hashcard MylSh, and got the card and appropriate postage, overpriced to the value of 5.99$.

The Spirit landed in Swartz Bay around 14:40, and I quickly rode off to Lands End Road. The BC Tourism website claims there is a boat launch on this road [1], so I kept an eye out for boat launch signs as I went down and up this rather hilly road. After biking about 6 km and seeing no signs, I started doubting the internet. I pulled over as soon as I saw a local resident, and asked her for directions. She informed me that the closest boat launches were in Sidney and Deep Cove -- neither particularly nearby the hashpoint. She advised me to cast off from the beach, and that there was an access, which is about 2 km east of the closest land to the hashpoint. The access, she told me, came beside a fire hydrant on the side of the road.

Since she didn't seem that confident about her advice, I continued west for another 6 km, hoping to find a closer beach access. After going about 4 km west of the hashpoint, I decided I was wasting my time and turned around to go find the beach access I'd been advised to go to. I turned around, and started looking for that fire hydrant. Turns out there's a fire hydrant about every 300 m on the road, which made things difficult. Eventually I found a road which turned off at an intersection with a fire hydrant, rode down a steep hill for about 200 m, and found a small forested trail, advertised only by a barely readable, decrepit old sign labeled "Public Beach Access." There is no way I would have found this on my own.

I biked down the forest trail until I reached some stairs leading to the beach. I locked my bike and trailer up there, changed into my wetsuit and kayaking shoes, and transferred my stuff into dry bags. I took my kayak and gear down to the beach, and inflated the kayak there. This was the third time I had set up the kayak, and only took me 10 minutes! I cast off at 16:00.

On the water[edit]

My initial plan was to paddle out until I got to the north coordinates, and then west to the west coordinates. Once I got about a kilometre out, I discovered the folly of this. While the wind was minor (forecast said 5 knots), there was a lot of yacht traffic going past me. I stubbornly continued this way, loudly cursing the waves, particularly the phenomena of constructive interference and superpositioning. I gave up after some rather scary waves, and decided to go west instead. Since the wind was going southwest, my attempt at going west was really more southwest.

I reached the western coordinates by around 16:25, and then started heading north. I got to the coordinates around 16:45, after plenty of course corrections from the waves. This far out, the waves were pretty big (about 60cm) for a novice kayaker like myself, so I didn't want to linger and take many photos. I started heading back to land pretty quickly, and then when I heard the horn of the ferry from Tsawwassen entering Swartz Bay, I started paddling even faster.

About a kilometre from land, and about 3 km from the beach, things were calmer; I stopped for a snack and admired the view. I could see the 17:00 ferry, the Coastal Celebration, depart Swartz Bay, and head north for several kilometres. I was about 5 km away; the waves from the ferry were about a metre tall by the time they got to me (eek).

I had a nice, leisurely trip back to the beach, happily singing aloud most of the songs from Doctor Horrible's Singalong Blog to keep myself entertained (my MP3 player didn't fit in my Pelican case case with my wallet, camera and cell phone, so I left it with my bike). I got back on land at 18:00, and then started deflating my kayak and packing up. I was soon back on Lands End Road, and made a quick stop on the way back to Swartz Bay to send the hashcard.

Getting home[edit]

I got to the ferry terminal at 18:30, and wound up something like 100th in line for passenger tickets. It was insane. They'd sold out of tickets for the 19:00 ferry well before I'd even gotten there, meaning I was stuck on the next -- and last -- ferry of the night, at 21:00. It was a long and boring wait around the ferry terminal, since the only book I'd brought with me was Virgina Woolf's To The Lighthouse, which I discovered is only really palatable with alcohol. (Clearly I should have packed some.)

The 21:00 ferry turned out to be the Spirit of Vancouver Island, and I wound up even sitting on the same seat as I'd done in the afternoon. There were about sixteen other cyclists aboard, so I was pretty pessimistic about my chances of getting on the bus to Richmond. However, as we arrived in Tsawwassen, I heard the magic words -- "So how do we get to the bus from here?"

It was then that I realised that I was the only experienced cyclist -- none of the other cyclists had any clue about the maze of fences and roads that one must undertake to get to the 620 stop. I quite comfortably and deftly beat them all to it once we unloaded -- they all took various wrong turns through the maze. Once there, I made myself comfortable, and exclaimed once the others came: "I have dibs!"

Seven other cyclists wound up at the stop with me, and I wound up first onto the 23:00 bus. There was soon a queue of hundreds of foot passengers -- the bus only could take a small fraction of us. This was the last bus of the evening and there was only one -- it looked like a riot was about to break out until the bus driver successfully convinced his supervisor to send two more. (I doubt even two buses could have held all the people in the queue that we left behind.)

I took two more buses from there, intending to bus all the way back to UBC. I wound up on the "41 UBC" bus, which the driver informed me was not actually going to UBC, but to Triumf. Okay with this, I stayed on the bus until its last stop -- on 41st and SW Marine Drive, about 5 km from Triumf. Huh? Anyway, from there, it was a nice and quiet ride home on Marine Drive; I got home around 1:00.



Elbie earned the Water geohash achievement
by reaching the (48, -123) geohash on 2009-05-17.
2009-05-17 48 -123 kayak1.jpg
Elbie earned the Lowest Geohash Achievement
by reaching a depth of -6m at the (48, -123) geohash on 2009-05-17.
2009-05-17 48 -123 lowElevation.jpg
Elbie earned the Buccaneer Geohash Achievement
by paddlin' the seven seas at the (48, -123) geohash on 2009-05-17.
2009-05-17 48 -123 pirate.jpg
Elbie earned the Calendar girl achievement
by taking compromising photographs for public consumption at the (48, -123) geohash on 2009-05-17.
2009-05-17 48 -123 calendarGirl.jpg
Elbie earned the Bicycle geohash achievement
by cycling to the (48, -123) geohash on 2009-05-17.
2009-05-17 48 -123 jadziaSwartzBay.jpg