Day 1. Six paddlers launched from the end of Valdes Road on a fairly high tide, leaving the beach about 10:45 toward the Penn Islets. The weather was sunny with some overcast and the occasional rain squall, winds light. With a favourable current, we made excellent time, arriving at the campsite on North Penn Islet in just under 3 1/2 hours paddling time. A lovely classic cruiser was anchored in the nook south of the campsite, but very few other boats seen. The campsite is beautiful, with great views from the bluff, and some good forest sites also. Distance covered – 16.6 km in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Day 2. As the day was sunny with light winds forecast, we made a side trip to the entrance of Von Donop Inlet and stopped for a break at the campsite in Robertson Cove. While the location has several tent sites, and a trail to Robertson Lake, it seemed dark and is exposed to the west. Easy landing. We then paddled toward South Rendezvous Island, our planned stop for the night. Unlike other years, this large and very attractive site was empty. The summer has been disastrous for local outfitters, but it has meant that more camping options are available than usual. Easy access from the north, several tent sites, and a small creek. One or two tent sites also available on the tidal island in front of the main site. Hot afternoon. Distance covered 16.2 km in 4 hours and 10 minutes.
Day 3. We launched about 9:45 to be in good time for slack at Surge Narrows. Paddling up the west side of the Rendezvous Islands to the south tip of North Rendezvous, we crossed to Mayes Point at the entrance to White Rock Passage against a fairly lively adverse current. After a short stop on the south shore of the Passage (just before the campsite noted on the Marine Trails website), we paddled through the Settlers Group in good time. As the weather was very calm, we paddled a straight course up Okisollo Channel to the Octopus Islands to benefit from the favourable ebb tide. Several other parties of kayakers spotted, and the usual population of pleasure boats in the park. We camped on the shore of a very “clammy” cove on the south shore of Waiatt Bay. There is a good creek draining an unnamed lake. The grassy site is good for 2 and possibly 3 tents; others uncomfortably close to the high tide line. Another hot day. Distance covered 21 km in 5 hours 10 minutes.
Day 4. Heading home, we made a short stop at the ‘museum cabin’ on the more southerly of the private islands adjacent to the park. Many boaters (often for successive years) have left mementoes of their visits in the cabin. We then took a short swing through the islets and headed to Yeatman Bay for lunch and to wait for slack in Surge Narrows. We slipped easily through the rocks between Quadra and Peck Island on the last of the flood, and with increasing following winds and a fair current, landed in Open Bay less than half an hour after high tide, for an easy landing and a short carry. Distance covered 23.9 km in 5 hours and 23 minutes.
The weather throughout the trip was great and the first two campsites excellent. We didn’t see much wildlife apart from a few harbour porpoise, some seals, and sea birds, apart from one fledgling eagle that we hoped would be rescued by a parent as it looked very forlorn on its rock. Total trip distance – 77.7 kilometres for an average speed of 4.3 km per hour.
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