2009-09-07 49 -123
4km out from Wreck Beach
Xore and Rhonda will be at the top of the stairs to Wreck Beach by 1PM. "beach trail 6" on the map.
Elbie is offering freshly home-made pie at her place (a block away from Trail 6) after the hash. Because kayaking has quite the effect on the appetite.
Robyn drove to UBC and found a parking spot immediately in front of the Wreck Beach access trail. She was very pleased with herself until Xore pointed out that it was a two minute parking zone. Xore helped her unload and then she pulled out in search of better parking. Just then, someone about five cars ahead put on his turn signal and pulled out of a parking space in the "No parking from 11 pm to 6 am" zone. Being certain that our geohash would be over by 11 pm, Robyn parked there, and went back to being pleased with herself.
 Rhonda & Xore
After departing North Vancouver and swinging by Xore's place to pick up his kayaking gear (but not Wump, who refused to come when he found out it was a water hash on the grounds that he was a desert creature and who ever heard of a camel having a bath, honestly!), we drove out to UBC, swinging all the way around on Marine drive. The beach trail 6 trail head was not only well signed but had extensive bike parking. Unfortunately, all the car parking was on the opposite side of the road. Rhonda turned the car around at the next intersection, decided to not park in the 3-minute zone, spotted a gap and then spotted the fire hydrant in the middle of that gap, then took the next parking spot another block down the road.
Xore insisted on carrying both kayaks on the grounds that it's easier to carry something heavy if it's at least balanced, so Rhonda carried all the rest of the awkward bits like pumps and paddles and changes of clothes. Back at the beach trail 6 area, Elbie waved.
Elbie departed last of the participants, leaving her nearby apartment around 12:50. Getting there first, she made herself with a book (Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut) until geohashers and kayak paddles were spotted in her peripheral vision.
 Down the Stairs to the Launching Area
As Elbie had an injury, she was not planning to paddle and thus did not have her kayak with her. She carried Robyn's paddle and life jacket while Robyn lugged her own kayak down the trail. Xore was a man and carried both his and Rhonda's kayaks. There have been considerable improvements on the trail: it's now good level stairs the whole way down instead of a gnarly slippery trail like it was years ago.
At the bottom of the stairs we all followed Elbie's directions to a launching spot behind the breakwater and assembled the kayaks. This was to be the maiden voyage of Xore's Sevylor, which he had travelled all the way to Kamloops to get, now that Canadian Tire no longer sells them.
All three kayaks were inflated in short order, and then partially deflated because we had all forgotten to install the plastic deck support, then re-inflated. Everybody prepared their kayaks and themselves for the trip; Rhonda and Xore in swim suits and Robyn initially topless, which she reconsidered due to the probability of chafing over an 8km round trip.
 Preparing for launch
As Rhonda was preparing to install the cargo hatch cover on her kayak, she heard a sound that every inflatable water craft operator hates to hear: a hiss. NOOOO! She stuck her head inside the cargo hatch and noted that it was definitely coming from the very point of the stern. She partially deflated each of the three air bladders in turn until one of them caused the hiss to stop: the starboard side bladder. Pulling only the end of the bladder out wasn't enough to find the leak, so Rhonda untied all six attachment points and pulled the entire air bladder out of the kayak, then inflated it to search for the hole. As expected, it was in one of the most inconvenient places possible: right beside a seam, which stood a bit over 1mm out from the wall of the bladder. Fortunately, like all decent inflatable items, the Sevylor comes with a patch kit. Rhonda patched the hole, butting the patch right up against the seam and applying a seemingly generous amount of patch glue. As usual, it wasn't enough glue and she had to squirt more under the corners of the patch to make them stay down. Fortunately this isn't superglue and comes off of skin easily.
A test inflation showed that the bladder wasn't hissing, so it was reinstalled, partially inflated to check for twists, all six attachment points tied, and fully inflated. When Rhonda put her head in the cargo hatch to check again, it was hissing again. NOOOOOOO!
"You two go on," Rhonda said to Robyn and Xore, who had been waiting patiently until this point. "If I get it fixed in the next half hour, I'll follow." Rhonda handed her GPS to Xore, who had forgotten his at home, and started untying all six attachment points again, while Sophie hopped into Xore's PFD pocket so she could go even if Rhonda wasn't. Elbie's hatscot went with Robyn, so it could go to the hashpoint as well.
Elbie helped carry the kayaks across the mucky low tide mud flats, leaving the barefooted kayakers to squelch the rest of the way dragging their kayaks when she ended up ankle deep in sucking mud that threatened to steal her boots.
Rhonda tried to resign herself to a transportation failure consolation prize, but continued to work on patching the air bladder because even if she didn't go kayaking today, she wasn't going to have a leaky kayak at the end of the day.
 Towards the Geohash
Xore and Robyn set out as the advance party towards the geohash. Around two breakwaters and out into the sea, still quite calm because winds were low and the airport breakwater was still sheltering us.
 The Wimp-Out
After about forty or fifty minutes the duo had reached the halfway point and Robyn decided that Wade shouldn't be kept waiting that long. She kept Xore in sight until Rhonda came on the scene and then paddled back, coming ashore on the main part of Wreck Beach, not the mucky part where we had launched from.
One of the great benefits of kayaking off a clothing optional beach is that no one cares how much of your wet and muddy clothing you remove when you reach shore. The disadvantage is of this particular beach is that you have to lug the wet, sandy kayak, back up the stairs. Now Robyn is too tired to do a proper write up. Even though an exceptionally chivalrous gentleman from Singapore helped her carry it up.
 Rhonda's half-hour patch
On inspecting the starboard bladder and re-inflating it, Rhonda found that the patch had not made a very good seal with the seam, and air was hissing out through a small hole in the glue. After some consideration, she came up with an ingenious scheme: add a small patch to the sound fabric on the other side of the seam to raise the surface, then put a long patch over top of both smaller patches to cover that hole once and for all!
This meant two patch-drying waits, of course. After the second small patch was installed and Rhonda had refrained from fidgeting with it long enough for the corners to stay down when flexed, an extra-long strip that would attach to the two small patches as well as directly to the bladder on either end was cut. Lots and lots and lots of patch glue was smeared all over the place to an estimated extra half centimetre all around, then the patch was pressed into place and squished flat until it seemed to be staying on. Rhonda then attempted to refrain from fidgeting with this patch by picking glue off her fingers and chatting with Elbie.
A test inflation showed that it was holding, and this time the bladder was test-inflated closer to full pressure. On installation, it was still holding, so Rhonda got the rest of her stuff ready, sticking her head in the cargo hatch periodically to check that there was still no hissing. All kayak bags were stuffed with their owners' things and tucked between two rocks on the breakwater, above the high tide line. Elbie phoned Xore to let him and Robyn know that Rhonda would be following them, then Elbie helped Rhonda across the sucking mud to a launch.
 Water geohashing without a GPS
After Rhonda passed the point of the second breakwater, following Robyn and Xore's route - the only route - out from that section of the beach, she realized that 1) she had no GPS, 2) she was a full half hour behind the other two kayakers, and 3) kayakers are very small and low to the water.
Going by a memory of Robyn pointing toward the hashpoint while standing on the beach, Rhonda struck out into the open water of the Georgia Strait, heading in the general direction of the hash point, she hoped.
There were many tall white sailboats. There were some power yachts. There was even a whale watching tour boat, which passed in front of Rhonda's kayak, full of tourists staring at the lone kayaker so far from shore. Then Rhonda had to paddle through the boat's wake, which had some waves that came up to nearly shoulder height. Fortunately the Sevylor climbs waves well, so it was fun.
After about ten minutes of paddling "out" with a mountain on the horizon as a target and a memory to guide that choice, Rhonda's water level scan found what she hoped was a pair of kayakers. They were pretty close to the direction she had been aiming for, so she aimed for them instead and kept paddling. Besides, what kayaker would be crazy enough to go 4km off shore in the ocean? It had to be them!
After a while, the two probably-kayak-shaped smudges drifted farther apart, and then one of them appeared to be a bit bigger than the other. Then, finally, one kayak-shaped smudge got close enough that Rhonda could resolve colours, and she noted a red PFD and blue paddles. It was Robyn! Only, Robyn's PFD was only red on the front, so that meant that Robyn was paddling toward Rhonda.
They crossed paths and Robyn said she was giving up and heading in, but Xore was still going for the point. Onward! Rhonda kept paddling, keeping her eye on the single kayak-shaped smudge still ahead.
Eventually, the kayak-shaped smudge got close enough to resolve colours, and Rhonda noted a yellow PFD with black paddles. It was Xore! And, he was also heading toward her.
 At the hash point
When they crossed paths, Xore said the hash point was 250m out, and he was just coming back from it. Rhonda was not about to give up only 250m from the hash point! Rather than hand over the GPS, Xore opted to paddle an extra half kilometre and return to the hash point with Rhonda. Water hashes being notoriously hard to photograph, we drifted within about 6 or 7 metres of the point, and Xore took another picture of the GPS to add to the ones he had taken his first time through the point. Then we ate a granola bar each, and turned back toward shore.
Barely ten minutes into the return trip, a sailboat running on its motor passed close by and its skipper asked if we were ok. "No problem!" we said, and waved. "Have a good day!"
And then, we paddled. And paddled. Xore picked up some floating geotrash and stowed it to put in a proper trash receptacle later. We paddled some more.
Unlike other kayak hashes, the wind was at our backs and the tide was in our favour, but it was still over 4km back - still over an hour to go.
But, like other kayak hashes, it's impossible to wimp out on the way back. You have to get back to shore; there is no shorter route.
Once we turned the corner of the point of the outer breakwater, Rhonda said "almost there!" and was greatly cheered, until Xore pointed out that there was still nearly 2km to go. At least behind the breakwater the waves were smaller, excepting boat wakes.
At the launch point, we had a slightly longer paddle but a much shorter walk, as the tide had covered the sucking mud flats with enough water to kayak over, and we landed directly on the sandy part of the beach and pulled the kayaks up far enough to give us time to deflate and fold them before the rising tide set them afloat again.
 Pie at Elbie's!
Xore phoned Elbie to let her know we were back on the beach, then we packed our kayaks, all wet and sandy, into their bags. When the kayaks were packed and the tide was up to the area we had chosen for deflation, Elbie appeared and offered to help carry stuff back up. She took paddles and pumps, while Rhonda and Xore each carried their own kayak up the stairs, with occasional rest stops along the way.
Rhonda went to bring the car to the 3-minute parking zone so we didn't have to carry the kayaks an extra block, then Elbie pointed to a parking lot that was just visible and suggested parking there while we ate pie. Rhonda promptly got lost searching for the entrance to the parking lot, then phoned to ask for directions and found out she'd taken the turnoff on the wrong side of the lot. We walked over to Elbie's place, through a courtyard party of students moving in and not sad about being back to school yet.
And then there was delicious cranberry walnut pie, and multicoloured beans, and fried tofu, because Elbie knows all about how hungry kayaking makes you!
Elbie's full set of photos are available at: . Feel free to upload them to the wiki for ribbons, etc.
Water geohash for Xore and Rhonda