It’s my first time in a kayak and a first on the water of the Island’s west coast. We push off in our double kayaks from Toquart Bay. Two experienced river kayakers lead the way, from the power position in back of each kayak. The two novices, me included, sit in the front cockpits.

A couple of strokes out towards the Broken Islands and we are slipping through translucent green water. Even as we paddle farther, the deeper water remains clear, light dancing through shades of green and yellow like liquid peridot, assorted flora waving above the sandy bottom.

It is tricky getting used to a double-ended paddle. I concentrate on dipping the paddle into the water on one side without splashing and then turn my attention to the opposite blade for its turn, minding how the paddle finishes toward the stern with each stroke.

While I was keen to try kayaking, I didn’t expect to like it as much as canoeing. Canoes are open and allow you to move about and see from on high. Kayak paddlers sit deep in their cockpits, held in by a spray skirt, their elbows barely above the water line. And I can drive a loaded cargo canoe forward at a good clip on my own, in bad weather, with a powerful practiced j-stroke.

I listen to instructions from my partner in the rear cockpit, making the recommended adjustments in my strokes.

“Punch out the forward stroke. Let the rear stroke just happen.”

“Rotate from your waist. Use your upper body, not your arms.”

In no time my strokes fall into sync with my partner’s, paddles flashing in the air and descending into the water two by two. As we get farther from shore the deep water becomes opaque, giving privacy to the life beneath. The surface glints like diamonds in the sun. Forested shores mark near and far boundaries in hues of green and grey-green. The rising sun begins drying the moist morning air. Time slips away with the rhythm of our strokes, the undulating water, the fresh smell of salt air, and the sun on my face and arms.

By noon our navigator – the guy with the map – realizes he miscalculated the distance and we have overshot our destination. That would be okay if the paddling conditions remained calm, but the Broken Group is no inland lazy river. The wind and water here are boss.

As we change course, the wind comes up and drives the swells against us. Tiny white caps give way to larger waves. I lean in toward the bow, driving each side of my paddle into the water over and over, my upper body thrusting forward with each stroke. The bow rises and falls, sea spray splashing over the front deck, wave after wave approaching ahead. And yet, despite our efforts, the kayaks barely move forward.

Just as I begin to doubt my endurance, we round the shore of our destination. Our last intense stroke shoots us into a small bay and our kayaks come to rest in a refuge of placid water lapping lazily to shore. The wind falls to a whisper. I look back to the fast-moving waves from where we had just come, and it is as if the sea is waving, “Thanks for playing!”

I am in love with kayaking and I’ve discovered a new favourite playground.

(Photos by Dana, from other paddling trips. Sadly none from that first one).


Lorelie · August 31, 2022 at 7:01 am

What a great story! I felt like I was in the kayak with you!

    Dana · September 3, 2022 at 5:36 am

    Thanks, Lorelie. So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

Wendy · September 1, 2022 at 4:53 am

Exhilarating experience, your vivid description of your first time trip out, was captivating! Felt like I was on your trip too!

    Dana · September 3, 2022 at 5:35 am

    Thanks, Wendy. I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

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