This was one of the first shots I took with a new (new to me) Aquatech water housing for my DSLR. As with most early morning starts on remote stretches of Vancouver Island, it was damp, cold, and grey. James grabbed his board and I wrestled with a board, fins, and my new underwater rig. From our camp, the hike is roughly 1km over slippery polished granite boulders covered with long strands of bull kelp, over giant logs, up a cliff, across a muddy path, and down another steep embankment. At low tide it is possible to skirt the cliff and muddy path section, along a sandstone shelf at the shoreline, but with a swell of this size and the tide being high, we decide to scale the faded yellow rope attached to a small alder atop the cliff. I had to make the trip twice with all my gear and was getting pretty warm by the end of the second trip wearing a5mm wetsuit. The path along the headland feels esoteric with giant ferns and impossibly tall spruce and cedar trees. On this coast, there is a word from the old logging days for the thick, brown, sticky mud found in every crack and crevice along this coast - shiggy. We had our share of shiggy and tried to stick to the roots and strategically placed logs, but our wetsuits emerged from the forest more brown than black.
The spot we are about to surf is remote from our already remote camp site, but as the population of surfers along this stretch of coast increases at an exponential rate, secrets like this are no longer secret. Canadians by nature like to share and have a very fragile conscience, so it is hard for a lot of people to keep a spot to themselves. Also, we are an adventurous bunch, and will search out rumours of fabled right hand points and reefs such as these. Hence, our early morning departure. Sets rolled in, groomed by a thick bed of bull kelp which plays hide and seek as the waves pass over the reef, tugging at their anchors. I decide to swim and snap a few photos before catching any waves myself and with my new toy, I was like a border collie at a baseball game, shooting everything from every angle. As the sun neared the horizon, a beautiful soft pink hue came across the low clouds and I managed to follow James as he paddled back out the catch another wave and snapped a few over/under shots of him. As luck would have it, he was the perfect distance from the camera as in my excitement, I forgot to switch my lens from manual to auto focus as planned, and my focal plane was very narrow due to the low light and camera settings I chose.
After watching James catch a few really nice waves, I had to ditch the camera and get some myself. We had a great session all to ourselves as the dropping tide exposed boulders and forced us deeper into the kelp garden. Sitting alone in the middle of a kelp forest can be a little unnerving, especially in the darkness of dusk and dawn. As the large heads resurface from under a wave with an eerie gurgling sound. It’s like sea monsters sneaking up on their unsuspecting victim from the depths, which kind of makes you feel like a 7 year old girl screeching as her foot grazes a blade of seaweed. Never the less, we surfed until we had our fill and another group of surfers emerged from the greenery of the headland.
- January 2013