PEIcrossing 2002

Paddle #9, I had to do it - Aug.10, 2002

On Saturday August 10th I drove to Pictou harbour, launched my kayak, the same one I used in Mahone Bay, and paddled across to PEI. Fourteen Plus miles out into the ocean.

I would like to recount what I did, what was right and what I did incorrect in case somebody else might plan to do this crossing.

Saturday was forecasted to be a somewhat overcast day with light winds. I had picked this day as I did not want the sun baking me on a three hour plus paddle, The down side of this was that I could not See my destination until I was a good way out on the water. When you sit in a kayak your line of vision is based on an elevation of less than three feet. If there is any kind of a sea on than this elevation will drop to less than two feet at times or increase up to four feet at other times.

In order to get around this I was using a compass. At least that was the plan, however, a compass in a small boat swings quite violently. the best you can do is to average the error and use a theoratical course. I timed my departure for just after the ferry 12:27. Petty close to high tide. As I paddled out of the harbour I thought that I would not need to follow channel markers because kayaks draw such little water, so I headed for the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour. It got so shallow here that my paddle scraped the bottom several times. It is about a mile across the harbour to the light, just as I approached the light I met another paddler who was paddling in from PEI. He had a kevlar kayak, carbon fiber paddle, spray skirt and wet suit. His command of English was not that good, but he did mention that I would be paddling against the current and into the wind, so it would be a little bit harder. He understated the facts.

The first part of the trip was a lot of fun. the cloud cover kept it cool and comfortable. There was little wind so was able to move right along. I was using my hollow shaft paddle so it was very light. This was fun, every thing was right with the world. I had estimated three hours for the crossing. At 90 minutes I met the two ferries midway across. I was very pleased as it seem to indicate that I was on schedule and on course. Then things changed.

First the sun came out and it started to heat up. Then I started to see wildlife. Lots of seals, a school of porposies (sp) went by and a group of terns flew along beside me diving at little things in the water. Then the wind picked up and I started to notice that the waves were getting bigger. This was compounded by the fact that there appeared to be a cross current. According to my calculations this current should have been helping me, but instead it was pushing me way off course.

Within 2 miles of the coast the current became very strong. I had to paddle very quickly without break for over an hour to beat it, but I did. The crossing took 3 hours 56 minutes, not that I was counting. The captain of the ferry stated that they had been watching me (I guess it could get to be boring doing the same route every day). They had radioed back and forward as to my progress and even slowed down as they passed such that their wake would not swamp me. They estimated that I would have ended up four miles down the coast given the current, so they were very surprised when I paddled into harbour.

Now I wanted to paddle to PEI. I wanted the challenge of navigating to a small island 14 miles of the coast in a kayak I had designed and built. This was important to me. The less costly way would have been to take the ferry across to the island, the trip over is free, and to paddle back. Then I would have had the tide and wind with me. It would have been hard to miss the mainland so the concept of navigation would have been removed.

It was a wonderful feeling when I made it. A great feeling of accomplishment. Next big paddle for me will be to paddle into a foreign country in my kayak. I will tell you more about this as the planning evolves.

The Kayak Guy