Tara mulvany


Headwinds in The Inside Passage

Posted by Tara Mulvany on June 1, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Today I made it to Seward, a small community on the edge of the Johnstone Strait. In the past six days I've covered close to 250 km, which means that I've been averaging just over 40 km a day. Nothing to brag about, but trust me, I have fought for every kilometre. I've had six days of head winds, thankfully most of which died off late afternoon. Because of the afternoon lull, I have been paddling for 6 hours into the wind early morning to make use of favourable tides, then chilling on land until later in the day, then paddling again until after 9pm. Today I battled for 8 hours into a solid 20 knot headwind.. fun times.

For years, I have dreamt of this place - the Inside Passage as it's known. I imagined calm, glassy waters, mountains shrouded in mist, set amongst an untouched wilderness, with the occasional pod of migrating whales slipping by. So far, it's been far from that, it's been choppy and windy, without any mist or rain, and the only living thing I have seen is a bald eagle. The hills are covered with pine forests, but huge chunks have been cut down by logging companies. It seems far from untouched, but then again maybe I shouldn't compare it to the wilderness of Fiordland?

The passage really is a highway - tug boats pulling barges stacked with logs, cruise ships, fishing boats, and ferries have all chugged past me. But still, I have felt very much alone, and in fact today was the first time I have spoken to another person in six days. Last week when I left Nanaimo, Jaime paddled out with me and we camped on a tiny island not far from the start line. Under a twinkling sky, in front of a crackling fire, I commented about how I was going to be a loner for the next six weeks. "Don't worry, you won't be alone, there's plenty of bears, wolves and cougars out there." Damn it Jaime. But thankfully, camping alone in the Canadian wilderness has been pretty uneventful so far. My theory of denial has worked well.


By the looks of things, my battle with the westerlies is far from over, but it can only mean one thing right... Tail winds on the west coast? From here I will paddle through the Johnstone Strait to Port McNeill, where I will restock my food supplies. And just incase anyone's wondering, cheesy pasta is Canada is the biggest letdown ever. It's a weird orange colour, comes in a box instead of a packet, and has more the consistency of glue than a creamy sauce. Slightly disappointing, but it's still my secret weapon. People often ask me how I can afford to take so many long 'holidays'. If you want my honest advice, live like a hobo, and eat nothing but cheesy pasta, crackers and porridge, and you can paddle for a long time.


And my final wise words of the day.. come to Canada, paddle the Inside Passage. It doesn't take much skill, and anyone with an adventurous spirit, along with a bit of persistence can pull it off. It's a dreamland if you want to escape the monotony of everyday life. You can paddle a long way.

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Reply G.
5:13 PM on July 13, 2018 
Noooooo! Come back! You did it all wrong!!! The REAL inside passage is further north past Vancouver Island, Cape Caution to Southeast Alaska, and taking the little isolated corridors available routes along the mainland coast across from Vancouver Island. True, for small periods, Johnstone strait and other main channels are a necessity, but to do it all along the East side of Van Isle os a tragedy. It is like saying you saw a country on a roadtrip along a 4 lane justice is done there!!!
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1:12 AM on June 16, 2014 
A lot and I mean a lot of people I think would argue with you about the inside passage not requiring much skill. I have no opinion, only that I've read that it's difficult but I look forward to what others might have to say. Unfortunately a lot of the "kayak books" over here or I guess the ones where folks write about their journey's, well all they do is go on and on about weather, tides and plants. Your posts are refreshing!
Reply Eve
11:24 PM on June 1, 2014 
haha classic!!! The cheesy pasta is shit!!! they don't know a thing bout cheese its all orange, should have stocked up before you left nz. Hope you don't need your secret weapon too much!