Winter has arrived here in Sea to Sky Country but I have been able to carry on paddleboarding in the varied conditions here in the Sound. When SUP is your lifestyle its hard to put the boards away for the winter. I am still trying to get out every second day but yes its cold and not ideal but its something i just need to do. Looking at all my facebook friends down south is a little tough but I love my Canadian roots and we do what we have to do up here as the weather helps to forge our character…..and our paddling.
Last week I had pretty big challenge on my hands. The weather brought a really strong arctic high pressure system and off on the coast a moderate low pressure system was creating incredible outflow winds which blew here in the Sound for days. These were really strong winds that shook the houses and blew down trees in Squamish. I have been so excited to get out to coast to surf that I was looking for any little wave to ride and something a little more exiting here. I had seen some very impressive outflow winds last winter and thought it would be a really good downwind challenge on the Bark Expedition. I had been monitoring the Pam Rocks hourly wind forecast and watching the winds build and build. They topped out at 93 km’s an hour and the Sound was pretty much whitewash with a good solid wind swell. I woke up and loaded up JBX and made my way down to Brittania Beach first, then Furry Creek and finally Porteau Cove. Brittania Beach did not have much on shore wind and chop as the strong arctic outflow blew right down the channel. Furry Creek had really strong winds and much more of a swell but it peaked when i hit Porteau. It was blowing 80kms and hour and was gusting faster. The swell was much bigger down here. I watched it for 45 minutes trying to make a decision as to where to go. A friend of mine Ian showed up with his race kayak and we surfed some of the waves that were coming into the beach. My fingers froze instantly as it was -10 with the windchill. I was in my 5/4 Xcel Wetsuit with gloves and booties. After the surf warmup i decided i was going to downwind from Brittania Beach to Porteau Cove. I thought about wearing the GoPro but I felt i had enough to deal with considering the conditions. I parked at Galileo Coffee shop and before i could get to the water my board blew right off my car. Thank goodness there was no major damage but as i tried to get into the water the wind blew the board off my shoulder again and into some logs. It was nuts……the most dangerous part of the whole paddle. I hopped onto my board and as i paddled away from Brittania i realized how incredibly strong the wind was. All i had to do was try to stand and the wind moved me forward very quickly. The wind was doing things out there that i had not see wind do before. There were a lot of little whirlwinds and williwaws. I made sure my leash was on tight and everything was ready to go. I concentrated really hard on not losing my paddle as i thought the wind was going to blow it right out of my hands, never to be seen again. The section between Brittania Beach and Furry Creek was really tough because there is a steep rock wall there with no takeouts and the rebound effect of wind and waves was really tough to deal with. As i made it into the bay at Furry Creek the swell pattern got a lot better and the 80+k winds had nothing to bounce off of. The best section was between Furry Creek and Porteau. The wind was literally blowing me into the waves so i did not have to paddle to hard to get into them. I thought for sure i was going to get blown off my board but i hunkered down and stayed super focused each second. The swell really jumped in this section as the water compressed over the submerged sill at Porteau. I managed to link up a couple of really big swells and felt that this is the type of training i need for Molokai minus the minus temperatures, wetsuits, and everything Canadian. There seemed to be a few shocked people at Porteau watching as a wave carried me under the pier as i had to duck as i went under. It was 50 minutes of concentrated paddling. Pretty exhilarating and intense. I had to think of adventure friends Denise and Richard who lost their lives close by a few years ago in a kayaking accident on a similar type of day. I work as i guide and make my living by making good decisions on the ocean. I felt this paddle was in my skill set and i took the necessary precautions and really thought things out before getting on the water. Jen was there to pick me up and bring me a nice warm cup of coffee.
This past week we finally got some snow in Squamish and i took the opportunity with Jen and Sea to head up to Alice Lake for the last paddle up there this year. The ice is closing in on the lake and the gates closed today. It was fun paddling in the snowstorm and getting a few more laps in with Seana accompanying me on a few lengths.
Tomorrow i will look at paddling down the Squamish River to get a good look at the Bald Eagles which winter here. A hundreds have show up and the river is at a pretty low rate with most of the precipitation being locked up now as snow.