Published: 20 November 2012
Country: Canada       Author: Marc-Aurèle

Vancouver Island

It was starting to be the time to get to Canada to enjoy its landscape and outdoors before the winter could arrive. So, first stop, was for the Vancouver island, and a famous place called Tofino. My cousin, Samuel, was waiting for us to get there as he arrived early in the morning, and more importantly to go surfing. No I'm not kidding, even though it can sound pretty cold: surfing + canada + pacific; it's exactly the first activity we did there. Moreover it was super fun! Lory had her first surfing sessions, and really enjoyed it. She didn't want to get out of the water. One good reason is that Tofino is definitively a good spot to begin surfing, and also for advanced surfers if the swell is big. We all had a lot of fun, and were exhausted by the end of the evening. We stayed in the water until the sunset :-)

Guest what, after... Time to find some food for those empty and hungry people. Tacotofino was closed, hummmm, too late! The next stop, supermarket, closed as well. Hmmm... Finally we found food at the convenience store for a simple but big diner, that Samy and Nigel had to cook before they were closing the kitchen of the hostel (11pm). Which they just did in time! Diner at 11:30pm, a long day since our wakeup at 6am to catch the ferry!

The next morning we slept in a bit, since we had a proper bed since many days, and went back to the beach for more surfing. It was fun to go surfing with my cousin. I'm used to got snowboarding with him, and that was a nice change. And that day, we got to eat my cousin's best known tacos. And it's true, it was delicious after a long day surfing to have such a meal.

After surfing, Lory had seen before that Vancouver island was also famous for the possibility of seing orcas (killer whales) in its northern part. We jumped in the car and went off for more miles to rent a kayak in one of the last place still open, some food and headed to Naka creek to launch our double sea-kayak. We slept in the car at the launching site and were welcome with "Bear" - the dog ;-) A couple of canadian are living down there, Bonnie and Ed, year around... It's a good 30 minutes drive to their mailbox on the main road. I guess they must have a skidoo for the winter time to get "out". Anyway, after talking with Ed and giving some information regarding rescue and were we planned to paddle, we carried our heavy packed kayak to the water. Time was moving, but not us, and we hoped to paddle quite a bit that same day. Now what, hummm, the water is still very cold and there isn't any other kayak, neither many boats on the water. So rule #1: it's absolutely forbidden to fall in the water! Our spot device is on to track our progress, so let's go!

We crossed the Johnstone straight to get on the other side so that we would be already on the side where we could camp. After battling a bit against the wind, we set up the lunch camp onto a small rock, energy was needed for both of us! After paddling, and paddling, and more paddling, we started to see some "shapes" coming out on the surface! Waoup woup... what is it? Me: Orcas??? Lory: Hmmm I don't think, it looks pretty small. Me: but it's far away...?? The sun was starting to decline already enough to think more about a night camp, than the orcas, if we wised to have a cozy night somehow... on rocks! We found a good camp site mark on the map, which is a "must-have" map, just because of the camp sites which are scare. We had a couple of seals coming to check us out, wondering what the heck we were doing here that late maybe. Camp set up, kayak high enough on the rocks so that it should still be there in the morning, otherwise we're going to be stuck in the middle of the straight on a tiny island, with almost no boats passing by. But then you remember after diner, that you're still in Canada, a country known for theirs bears. Well don't forget to attach your food somehow high enough in a tree, because they can swim! And we just had some tuna.... As usual from my experience, we only found tree branches that didn't fit the how-you-should-hang-your-food bears guide.

In the morning we had the good surprise to see our food still hanging in one pice of bag in that tree, so let's enjoy a good breakfast! Eating, cleaning, packing and loading the kayak before paddling to maybe see orcas... Again I start to see some shapes coming out of the water and discuss the point with Lory, although it's far away I still seemed to be wrong. But we heard after that some strangeeee noises. We sought around us, but there was nothing. Some times later, ohhhhh ahhhhh we can see some water splashing out of a marine moving creature! There seems to be at least 2 orcas other there... there, pretty far away... Lory started like: of orcas!!! Look! Wouaww.... hmmmm, but an orca is big, right? And there's... not a single boat, neither kayak, neither anything in any viewable distance from us, only very cold water. Heuuhhh... what we do now? Me, of course: let's go and get closer to them. I started to paddle right away, all excited, but Lory was: beuuh beuh you're sure? We're alone? Do you think it's a good idea? They are way bigger than us, you know!... What would happen if? The thing is that the orcas breath a couple of times and then go deep for quite a long time. So by the time we started they were gone. Anyway we were heading in their direction. They came out again, and were still far from us, but going in our direction, against us. Let's keep that direction! Again we were seeking them and wondering where they could come out while we stopped paddling. And then, then, I heard a "big-splash" at the same time as I was looking at the first one coming out. I could only say one word: Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaa! (while breathing in - try it!). I guess Lory was more surprised by the sound out of my mouth than the orcas being at 400 meters form us. That became "marco the orca" ;-) Even though I had the camera between my legs in the kayak, I was just staring at them and enjoying their little come out and come in. Ops,they're gone now! Let's not move and see where they will come out next, as it shouldn't be far away from us "maybe"... camera in the hands. And later, again, but way further than I thought, they came out. We saw them again a few times, but always much further away from us each time. At least we had to see them alone, in the middle of the straight! Amazing! That was the dessert, served before lunch: the tide was going down, so the water was getting out of the straight but we had to go in the opposite direction. A good challenge for us for the next 6 hours until we found a camp for the night, just before we had to get out our headlamps. Still, we weren't so close of the launching site, so we woke up early in the morning and paddled for other an hour and a half until we arrived back to the car and could have a breakfast! Our kayak trip was over, we were both glad for being able to see orcas, and to have 3 clear blue sky days on the straight.

Now the smelly couple had to go a get a shower in Vancouver (the city)... our next stop.

  • Black Bell ferry
    Black Bell ferry
  • Tofino hostel
    Coffee time at Tofino hostel
  • Kayak is loaded and ready to go
    Kayak is loaded and ready to go
  • Still there!
    Still there!
  • Johnstone straight
    Johnstone straight
  • Camp site #1
    Camp site #1
  • Good morning!
    Good morning!
  • Orcas!