Moby Dick in a Ziploc (Excerpt)
The sky is a white screen of fog, like a TV with bad reception. Fishermen pass by with bags of gel-eyed salmon and empty beer cans. A boy carries a droopy handful of octopus, making his hands look as if they have melted down to his feet. Six people on a Port McNeill dock, vacant fish in a tank, wait to launch on a kayak tour of Vancouver Island’s Broughton Archipelago.
The water taxi materializes out of the fog. “There’s killer whales everywhere!” the captain sputters, to compensate for being four hours late. But all we see is one salmon breaching the sea, a solitary exclamation mark against a backdrop of vapour. By the time the water taxi pulls in at the Burdwood Group of islands, daylight is fading fast. We quickly unload. The taxi pulls away into the fog, leaving us to our impending adventure. We furiously stuff our gear into the kayaks, then launch into a strong current and crabbing wind. Broughton Island, our landfall, is a mound barely visible through clouds the colour of oyster flesh.
My kayak partner is a Romanian aviation engineer named Angela, who has biceps the size of Popeye’s. She digs into the waves with gusto, but with the wind against us, propelling our kayak feels like herding a 10-ton leviathan. In fact, there is another kind of leviathan in the area—a whopping big cold front that will spew torrential rain, blow cold air and cast its long, wet shadow for our entire trip. In the next five days we will fall asleep to rain and wake up to rain. We will eat in it, pack in it, unpack in it, paddle in it, and pee in it.
But we don’t know this yet. We’re just glad to reach this clam shell beach, trip over tree roots in the dark, and zip ourselves into a shallow sleep. […]
Source: Sea Kayaker Magazine, Vol. 20 No. 5, Nov-Dec 2003