Broken Group Islands
In Summer 2019, my friend, Monika, and I were determined to embark on an adventure at Broken Group Islands. The cluster of islands located southeast of Ucluelet, BC is well known as a sea kayaking destination for its seclusion, wildlife, and pristine waters. To the east, you have the mainland of Vancouver Island, and to the west is the Pacific Ocean.
In tow with us: nautical charts, compasses, 200 litres' worth of dry bags, our fresh water and food for five days, my camera, headlamps, a tent, and a list of destinations.
In total, we each paddled approximately 70 kilometres across four and a half days. We were ambitious and wanted to land at as many spots as possible. Yes, there were callouses, and I had no idea what tight finger muscles were until then. I had chapped lips and cheeks from the wind. Naturally, there was salt on our bodies, our bags, and everything in between.
Despite the discomfort, we loved the rhythm of making breakfast on the beach, packing up the kayaks, and exploring different islands each day. We would take lunch breaks at beaches in between and gather driftwood for that night's campfire (mostly done by Monika). Sometimes we would tackle riskier ocean chops. We'd arrive at a new island just in time to make a fire and dinner, before chowing down s'mores and going to bed to repeat it all again the next day.
We met others travelling their unique routes along the way, including some brave parents with three little ones. The campsite beaches weren't big so you got to know, or observe, your neighbours. We met a group of gentlemen who had built their own beautiful wooden kayaks. We met a mom and son from a fishing boat moored nearby, who ended up giving us a piece of salmon they had caught. They even provided us parchment and foil so we could just wrap it up and throw it into our fire. That's Vancouver Island hospitality for you.
And lastly, nature didn't disappoint us. We got to paddle with porpoises swimming and go night paddling surrounded by bioluminescence. We managed to find a secret spot inland with old-growth cedars that were estimated to be thousands of years old. We failed to find sea lions on their rocks, but we heard them barking from their caves afterwards. We heard wolves howling in the distance for one moment. Vultures circled above us on the last morning. Eagles frequently stood guard around. And much to Monika's amusement, she discovered my odd fear around bulb kelp.
Cheers to this special place in beautiful BC. Sometimes I still find myself in reverie about you.
Note: We had some help from others that made this trip a lot easier than without. Big thanks to BR for letting us stay in his Port Alberni home the night before and after the trip for the showers, and Clem for supplying us with tips, most of our dry bags, and the laminated map that was strapped onto my deck the entire time.