What: A coastal row around Cormorant Island.
When: August 2, 2015
Who: Marla & Janice
Description: “The Alert Bay 360 is an eco-tourism based event which encourages a healthy lifestyle, and helps local businesses. This is an event which showcases not only Cormorant Island and those who live there, but also the culture and the many wonders found on Northern Vancouver Island, including the Broughton Archipelago. “(http://www.alertbay360.com/about.html)
Not only did the Alert Bay 360 represent an opportunity to row in a beautiful part of British Columbia, but there was also a “Big House Celebration” to follow. This celebration included a local seafood buffet dinner prepared by first nation chefs. Who could resist that?! In addition to the dinner there was to be a dance and song performance by the T’sasala Cultural Group.
We loaded up the double on to Marla’s car and noted that there seemed to be a lot more boat than car (see the image at the top of this page). Undeterred we headed off to the ferry to Vancouver Island.
We had an early start from Victoria to make sure we got the ferry to Cormorant Island. I think we used up more than our fair share of the ferry.
An overnight stay in the Alert Bay Cabins and then off early the next morning to get our boat to the launch area. We had help getting the boat off the car and then were very happy to have the large wheels so that we could wheel the boat down the street to the beach.
Turns out that 97 boats would compete but we were the only rowing shell. Most were kayaks – which was not surprising since the event is for kayaks. However there were all sorts of other boats too so that was fun. The website listed the prizes available for kayakers, so no point in us rowers doing anything but have fun and try to not hit anything.
We were worried about our long oars taking out a bunch of kayakers so we decided to get out front. There was a countdown, a horn and we were off!
We were keeping up with the leaders until we hit the bull kelp. Those wretched kayakers and surf skiers bounced over the kelp but we ground to a halt. Our much heavier boat and big fin did not like the bull kelp mats. We had to really power our way through (while pulling oars out from underneath the kelp) only to note that our fin was cutting the bull kelp in half. In any case, we just laughed and continued. It was a gorgeous day and we were out for a fun row. Well, until the next patch of bull kelp.
We finally finished our circumnavigation in 1 hour and 43 seconds. ARG! If we had only been 44 seconds faster we would have broken 1 hour. Oh well, there is always next year. We ended up being the 4th boat to finish, and the first all female crew to finish. The remaining 93 boats came in over the next hour or more.
All boat numbers were entered into a prize draw and we were amazed to have our number drawn! We won a beautiful paddle.
The seafood dinner in the Big House was that evening and was amazing. Also amazing was the song and dance performance by the T’sasala Cultural Group. Well worth the entire trip.
One more night in Alert Bay and then on the early morning ferry back to the Island. All in all a fantastic trip and well worth the long drive.