In 2005 I took my first kayak trip to British Columbia. On that trip we camped at Wolf Beach on Calvert Island. Just beyond the westernmost tip on the island the shoreline turns southeast, out of sight, exposed to the open Pacific. I was afraid of everything during that trip and while I wanted to know what was around that corner, I wasn’t about to go find out.
I started using “real” charts after that trip and the corner of Calvert was where I placed one of my first aspirational waypoints. I placed a few more along that shoreline to include “3-Mile Beach”, “Blackney Beach” and “Grief Bay”. Someday I would return.
In 2007 I did return to the coast but our route didn’t take us that far south. It was just as well because I wasn’t prepared for that level of commitment but I didn’t know it at the time.
In 2009 I paddled the Outside Passage from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy with friends. I had plans for incorporating those aspirational waypoints into that trip and had been talking the outer coast of Calvert up to them for 4 years. At that time, I was unable to find out any information about that stretch of coast. If anyone paddled there, they weren’t talking about it. I poured through every book and article I could find to no avail. I posted requests online and only one person provided any information at all and that was only for Grief Bay. Other folks who responded told me that it was a bad idea but they hadn’t done it or knew anyone who had. Google Earth only provides so much info but I was feeling confident and insisted that we do that stretch.
After 214 NM we were camped just inside that westernmost waypoint and up before dawn for an early start. Weather report was good with light winds in the morning rising to 15-20 knots in the afternoon. When I looked at the water, though, I was terrified. It looked really rough to me.
My partner Dave is a more skilled paddler than I am. He spent a lot of time training while I had spent a lot of time just paddling around. He was comfortable with the conditions and I was scared to death. We have always had an agreement that either one of us can veto a route for any reason or for no reason at all.
I played that card because I was afraid, hadn’t done the work and didn’t have the skills. Through my insistence I had talked Dave into the route, put us at this very spot on the planet and now was backing out because I wasn’t prepared. I felt horrible. I had failed. I spent the next three years training in uncomfortable conditions so that I wouldn’t disappoint Dave, myself or anybody else when and if I could return.
In 2012 I was on a solo trip from Klemtu to Port Hardy and camped at Wolf Beach. In the morning I rounded that first waypoint into conditions identical to those that had frightened me so thee years prior. For two days I paddled in utter isolation on moderate seas, greenwater up to my elbows and under brilliant blue skies.
It took me 7 years to turn those aspirational waypoints into reality.