Last Tuesday evening, I joined a group of adventurous kayakers from the Nanaimo Paddlers for a moonlight paddle out of Departure Bay.
Avid kayaker, Reale Emond, organized the adventure. The paddlers club uses a convenient online tool called Meet Up where members can post details about upcoming trips and invite others to join them. The trip was posted a week prior to the evening, and only two or three signed up. A few days later the numbers had swelled to about half a dozen. Suddenly the day before the event the list included seventeen members. Perhaps due to the forecasted clear skies, or was it just full moon fever.
We set out from Departure Bay Beach at 7 p.m., about 45 minutes before the full moon's rising. We lingered just long enough to see the 7:30 ferry depart before beginning our crossing. Paddling across the bay we had a little wind but nothing like the 10-15 knots predicted. We rounded Tyne Point on the northern tip of Newcastle and headed along the far side of the island. I confess I was a little excited and slightly nervous at the prospect of my first night-time paddle.
As we travelled along the shore of Newcastle, we had the amazing experience of seeing the sun setting to our right and the moon rising over Gabriola Island to our left. Ahead of us the mountains were the most perfect navy blue colour imaginable.
My fears gave way to a feeling of euphoria. We reached the gap between Newcastle and Protection Islands and decided to continue on to circumnavigate Protection as it was not yet dark enough to really experience the full moon.
We paddled past the lighthouse on Gallows Point and stopped at a small beach facing Nanaimo. We sat on logs watching the sun set and the moon rise as the lights of the city slowly twinkled on. There was much laughter, sharing of snacks and the inevitable talk of werewolves appearing.
As it grew dark we climbed back into our boats and slipped into the black water. By this time the wind had died down to a gentle breeze and the waters were calm. We decided to head between Newcastle and Protection Islands and retrace our route along the back side of Newcastle so that we could take full advantage of the views of the moon on the water.
We donned headlamps and, keeping a close formation, we paddled into the night. I can truly say it was one of the most memorable experiences in my time as a paddler. The night was still, the air was warm and we made good time hugging the coastline back to Departure Bay.
At Tyne Point we again waited for the outgoing ferry. The captain must have seen our headlamps as we lay nestled against the cliffs awaiting his departure. When he paralleled Jessie Island he shone his searchlight briefly in our direction as he continued on.
We then paddled under the moonlight across the Bay, enjoying a little wave action from the ferry wake en route. Back at the beach we were a tired but satisfied group. What a wonderful experience.
Jennifer Davidson writes about news in Departure Bay.
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