Tara mulvany


Sea Otters & Strawberries

Posted by Tara Mulvany on June 19, 2014 at 2:25 PM

It's been more than two weeks since I last blogged. So much has happened since then, and so many miles have slipped by, leaving me a little lost as to where to start this post. Maybe I'll start from the Inside Passage - the inland waterway that made me fight to the end. Day after day I pushed into relentless headwinds. I thought 6 days of them was enough, but it ended up being 11 days before I rounded Cape Scott and swung my bow south. On my last night in the passage, I camped on top of a steep gravel beach. The sky was foggy and the air was damp, but my fire glowed and flickered, the only colour in my monochrome world. That night I read the description of this very beach in my guidebook, "expect numerous bears as this is a prime feeding area for them." Hmm. I went with my theory of denial, zipped up my tent, shut the book and closed my eyes.


A few hours later I was woken by a loud noise - the long, loud exhales of a pod of passing whales, only metres from my tent, breathing magic into the still night air. I lay and listened. Early the next morning I was stirred from my sleep again, this time by orca - still no bears. In the dim light, I sat, curled in my sleeping bag, peering out the tent door. They swam slowly past, their huge black dorsal fins slicing through the eerily calm water, spraying spumes of mist that melted into the foggy air. This is what I had been waiting for, the passage in its grey, foggy, orca filled glory.


Two days later I began my journey down the West Coast of the Island. I made raging bonfires on stony beaches - fires that were probably bigger than what was necessary, but it was so much fun I couldn't resist. One afternoon I pulled up to a beach on a tiny island and fell asleep on a bed of dried seaweed. The next morning while i was happily eating my porridge I looked up and spotted a wolf, about 10m away, quietly watching. He was not at all scary like I had imagined, but I yelled at it, threw rocks and chased him away. Note to self, Jaime is always right, camping on tiny island does not mean that there is nothing that can eat you.


I paddled with pods of huge whales, and squealed as 20 orca charged towards me, spraying mist into the sky. It was my lucky day - after having spent hundreds of days on the ocean, this was the first time I'd ever seem orca from my kayak. It was powerful, and just a little bit scary!On a stony beach I found two glass buoys, that had floated all the way across the north pacific from Japan. I have wanted to find one of these for years! They were hidden gems on a beach covered in rubbish - every single beach I pulled up on was littered with Japanese plastic junk. Centuries ago people left their mark on the planet with beautiful, stone structures and temples. But our mark? Plastic?! I couldn't help but wonder if an effort is being made to clean up the beaches of west Vancouver Island. I hope so.


Black bears roamed on deserted beaches, and I paddled with hundreds of sea otters, curiously watching me. They swam on their backs, rubbing their faces with their tiny paws... way too cute! I camped on the edge of the forest, surrounded by wildflowers, and on an island covered in strawberries. I was like a little kid in a candy shop - I ate so many that I couldn't eat anymore. It was so good in fact that I stayed a second night, just so I could continue the feast.  One afternoon I was paddling on the outer coast and was hit by a huge front, a wall of wind blowing a solid 35-40 knots. I surfed downwind, weaving all over the show with my rudderless boat. Working hard, I flew towards the safety of an inlet, being soaked by the breaking swell with each wave from behind. Once inside, it was so windy that I flew 8 km in 25 minutes, and I was barely even paddling, mainly just fighting to keep myself pointed downwind.. Good times.


I didn't shower for 18 days, but it was all good, I considered my odor my bear repellant. I sneakily camped in a small bay tucked behind hot springs cove. These tiny pools are visited by hords of tourists each day, but that night, I was alone, watching the sun set from under a hot waterfall. It doesn't get much better than that! Yesterday i arrived in Tofino, and have splashed out and spent a night at a backpackers. I think I've earned it! last night I read a quote scribbled on the wall. I think it sums up things perfectly, here it is.."The most dangerous risk of all: the risk of spending your life not doing what you want, on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later." Randy Lomiser

From here I have about 400 km left to paddle to complete the loop. It feels like a long way.. This island is much bigger than I thought!


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Reply Jill
6:34 PM on July 17, 2014 
Sounds truly like a kayak tourers paradise, i love it there. It's so wild! That being said, throwing rocks and chasing away a visiting wolf? You have a lot to learn in Canada... :) A wolf wont bother you, neither a black bear for the most part. Wolves are really special, intelligent animals, and deserve our respect. They have no reason to attack a lone kayaker with vast quantities of inedible cheesy pasta, hah.
Reply Lyn Hancock
8:53 PM on July 2, 2014 
Tara, this is Lyn Hancock, we are stranded on Saturna Island, can not get back home to welcome you until 2am tonight ie early morning Thursday. But Daniel left door open for you so go into house, find bed and we can connect Thursday lame
Reply Melz Grant
7:53 AM on June 29, 2014 
Tara your amazing, love reading your stories in your blog. What an amazing trip, can't wait to read more & see photos. Not far till the end now. Congrats for the journey so far, keep up the great work & hopefully you get a great day for your last day.
Reply Jacinta broemeling
1:21 PM on June 28, 2014 
Tara your blog is fantastic, so beautiful to read. My son Shamus leaves from salt Spring island today to circumnavigate Vancouver island as well. The last few lines of your blog give me so much reassurance about his trip.Safe travels for you both. I have paddled from Tofino to Hot Spring Cove and the trip memories have stayed with me for 30 + years. What magic.Congratulations on what you have accomplished thus far and both you and my son will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Reply josh b
3:58 AM on June 21, 2014 
You deserve those magical ocean experiences, holy Toledo! I am glad to hear Vancouver island has met or exceeded your expectations. Hard to measure up to akaroa but technically its the same body of water. Plus its way better than a mine in west Australia! Hope you enjoy Barkley sound and the outer group, safe paddles...
Reply Deesta
7:08 PM on June 19, 2014 
Inspiring! What a journey! You've given a real sense of what it is to be out, alone, in the wilderness.