Solo Okisollo

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The front and rear hatches of my kayak are loaded with camping gear, water and food; I set out from the boat launch shortly after sunrise. The familiar waters of Surge Narrows is at full ebb this morning and I am whisked through one of my favourite paddling spots. If this speed could be sustained, I should find my destination in no time.

Rounding the next point, a stiff northwest wind quickly killed any momentum I thought I had from the tide. It was strong enough to make me think, “Do I carry on with this little exploration?” I could just as easily set up camp on Peck Island and play in the current here at Surge Narrows but that really wasn’t the point of this weekend.

The southern entrance to the Okisollo Channel is a quarter mile gap between Quadra and Maurelle Islands. I surmised that the strength of my headwind might be from the Venturi effect of this narrow body of water. I paddled further, centred between these land masses, with the thought of avoiding the any wind pressure effects that might be found closer to either shoreline. I may have guessed correctly as the further north I paddled, wider the channel became and the less headwind I experienced.

The stories of a surf spot on the northeast of corner of Quadra is what has me paddling on. The wave there is rumoured to be big and green, lasting for hours on end during a flood tide with speeds between 7 and 9 knots. Those stories also tell of massive kayak swallowing whirlpools that appear behind the wave. This afternoon’s flood is projected to be running at 7.6 knots.

The whirlpools? Time will tell and I have about two more hours of paddling to get there.

I arrive at Cooper Point just as the tide turns from slack to a flood. The place has a familiar feel to it as I did research it pretty well the week before. The wave will need some time to form so I find a spot on the rock for a bit of lunch and to set up my camera.

The current is running now at 90% of its max. From the shore, the wave strangely does not look all that impressive. I walk the shoreline to get a different perspective; was this really it? I make a mental note of the eddy lines above the wave, they would be my guides to line up the kayak before dropping in. I watch how the second and third waves randomly collapse on themselves; I will try to avoid that.

Crossing the eddy line, I look back for a target. Holy ****! From the seat of my kayak, that thing is way bigger than what it appears to be from shore!

Getting on the front wave to surf it is more technical than it looks. It wanted to flush me off to the outside regardless of the tactic used. Although the peak to peak distance of the following wave is short, it is steep enough to catch before it breaks over the stern of the kayak. For my first time here, I spent the most amount of my time playing in the secondary waves.

What I learned about this place is that tide height as measured at near by Owen Bay plays a very significant role in the playability of the Okisollo Wave. Another observation that I noted is that, although the current speed is generally referenced using the

Current Tables for “Hole In The Wall (#5100)”, the turn to flood times were closer to “Beazley Passage (#5200)”.

On this day, the wave flattened out about 45 minutes after max. That meant around 2 hours of a surfable wave, at least in a boat like my Delphin.

And what about those whirlpools? There was potential for them to form but I didn’t experience anything that made me pause and question why I paddled out here alone.

Tomorrow, I am meeting friends south of here at the wave that forms at Surge Narrows. I am excited to tell them about this mini-adventure but for now, it is time to find a secluded island, set up camp and enjoy a delicious dinner.

more photos from this day