2010-07-24 48 -123

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Sat 24 Jul 2010 in 48,-123:
48.6328885, -123.4948978

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The middle of the Saanich Inlet, but relatively accessible by kayak from Brentwood Bay.



  • Wenslayer: I plan to rent a kayak in Brentwood Bay, and paddle out to the location. I'll probably leave late morning.


Although I had intended to take my eldest (9 years old) daughter kayaking with me for this Geohash, she couldn't come due to a prior engagement. I then asked my 6 year-old daughter if she wanted to come along, but she declined. Turns out it was a good thing I didn't drag along one of my kids.

I had intended to leave in the morning, but errands pushed back my start time to about 3pm. I drove to Brentwood Bay and made my way to Pacifica Paddle Sports where I rented a kayak for a couple hours. I explained my intentions to the proprietor, so he set me up with one of their faster kayaks and a quill-bladed paddle.

We made our way down to the dock and hoisted the kayak into the water next to the dock. He helped me in, and explained how I should sit, where I should rest my feet and brace my thighs on the inside of the kayak. It's then I noticed how "roll-y" the kayak was: by keeping my head still above the center of the kayak, I could easily roll the kayak down to either side. Although the kayak itself was quite stable, I had to be very careful about how I distributed my weight.

2010-07-24 48 -123 Mill Bay Ferry1.jpg

I pushed off and oriented myself to keep my momentum in a straight line. I managed to snap a picture of the Mill Bay Ferry as it headed out, although you can see that it's mostly of the water. That's because as I stopped paddling to fish out my camera, I had to lean a little to orient myself and that's when the kayak started rolling to either side as my weight shifted and I overcompensated. I realized I had to figure out how to best place my weight and not fight the natural rolling of the kayak. As a result, I just focused on paddling and kept the camera stashed.

As I rounded the first corner, where Senanus Island came into view, I could see that there were a bunch of war canoes out racing in this first bay (I can't find the name of it). I cut across this bay directly to the other side to avoid the race course. I would have taken some pictures, but I was still focusing on paddling.

I reached the point where Senanus Drive ends, and that's when two black head-sized mounds broke the surface off ahead to my left. I quickly realized they were scuba divers, so I paddled over to them to say hello. They told me they were searching for a sunken boat, but couldn't find it as visibility was limited to about 30 feet. How exciting! As I was slowly drifting onwards, I bade them good day and continued on. I realized a picture of them would have been interesting. Doh!

Up ahead, I could see that the water was choppier (6 inch waves, as opposed to 1 inch ripples) as I entered Coles Bay. The wind picked up as well, coming from the north-east. This made things a lot more "interesting", as in no fooling around now, as I had to focus on orienting the kayak properly to slice into the waves, and power forward to combat the wind. The waves were breaking over the front of the hull, so I was getting plenty splashed. I bore down and got into a rhythm of full strokes, all the while aiming for the point across Coles Bay.

2010-07-24 48 -123 Ardmore Point rocks.jpg

In what seemed like a much longer time that it probably took, I made it across Coles Bay to the point (at the end of Ardmore Drive) where the water was calm and the wind died down. There were some interesting rocks and I snapped a photo, showing how shallow they were. This is when I realized I had forgotten to bring along some water and a snack, as I was quite thirsty and a little peckish. I suddenly remembered a verse from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

Okay, I wasn't THAT thirsty, but you get my drift. :-)

After a brief rest, I then took out my GPS to guide me to the Geohash point. The waters were smoother out here, and the wind was but a breeze. I started paddling out, but then I'd have to pause to check my GPS and ensure I was on track. After a few more attempts at this, I realized I wasn't going to be able to check often enough while still making progress. I then put the GPS under some bungy cords on the kayak hull in front of me so I could read the directional arrow and still paddle.

2010-07-24 48 -123 Geohash1.jpg
2010-07-24 48 -123 proof.jpg

The glare off the GPS unit made it hard to read the numbers, but all I was concerned at this point was being pointed in the right direction. As my GPS unit beeped at me to let me know I was within 10m of the Geohash point, the directional arrow started jumping around, and I thought I had overshot the point. I had to lean forward to read the numbers, and it appeared I was past it. I paddled some more before I realized the current was making me drift. I lost my mental picture of where I was in relation to the point, and had to back off about 30m before I could reorient myself and make another run for the Geohash point.

Making small paddle strokes while leaned over to read the GPS unit, I realized I was going to hit it, so I quickly fished out my camera and snapped a number of shots of the GPS unit as I drifted over the point. I couldn't tell from the camera LCD whether I had captured the GPS display properly, as the glare made it seem simply black. I figured the track log would prove me right (it does) if the picture didn't turn out (with a little image manipulation, I was able to salvage the display that showed I was 1m away from the Geohash point within 3m accuracy).

Having successfully reached the coordinates, I breathed a sigh of relief and took a few moments to snap some pictures looking north and south. I paddled slowed back towards the shore and that's when I realized how sore my arms were getting, yet I had to make it all the way back (just over 6km). I rested up again at the rocks off Ardmore point, and then headed south.

Paddling out into Coles Bay, I figured the wind I fought against earlier could help me now. As I tried to let myself drift, I found the wind was pushing the kayak to the side, pointing me about 45 degrees off to where I wanted to go. I tried to make a number of corrections, but in the end, I found it worked best if I simply kept paddling.

2010-07-24 48 -123 war canoe race.jpg
2010-07-24 48 -123 Senanus Island.jpg

Making it to the other side of Coles Bay, I kept close to shore, and decided to admire the impressive abodes along the waterfront as I paddled away. It helped keep my mind off my sore arms anyway, and I made it to the first bay where I saw the war canoe race earlier. They were still going on, so I half-paddled, half-drifted as I watched another race unfold, and snapped a picture of the closest canoe as it went by on my left. Snapping a picture of Senanus Island to my right, I then made it back to the entrance of Brentwood Bay.

Just as the Mill Bay Ferry was making its way out when I left, so it was doing so again as I returned. I snapped a picture as it passed Willis Point. As I neared an outcropping of rocks, I noticed a seal bobbing around. I tried to move in closer to perhaps get a nice shot, and as I slowly shadowed it around the rock outcropping, I only managed to snap a picture of the back of its head before I last saw it. The dock was in sight now, and I found some strength left to paddle briskly back.

I pulled up to the dock, and managed to get out without getting wet. I hauled the kayak up onto the deck, grabbed the gear and paddle, and made my way to the shop where I had rented it. I apologized for being late, but the proprietor simply said, "don't worry, we'll take it out of your hide next time <wink>".

2010-07-24 48 -123 Seahorses Cafe dock.jpg
2010-07-24 48 -123 snack.jpg

By now, I was really quite thirsty, my arms and shoulders were nagging me, I was caked with sea salt, and so I figured I'd treat myself to a little snack at the Seahorses Cafe next door before heading home. I washed up a bit and sat down overlooking the marina, and enjoyed an incredibly delicious glass of ice tea along with a Seahorses Salad (pictured).

Looking back on the expedition, I underestimated the level of effort required to reach the Geohash point by kayak; however, it was a new adventure for me, and I'm glad I made it!


Tracklog is available in kmz form.



Wenslayer earned the Water geohash achievement
by reaching the (48, -123) geohash on 2010-07-24 by kayak.
2010-07-24 48 -123 Geohash1.jpg