Paddling among giants
“Now this is living!” I yell to my father as another metre-high wave lifts our kayak and pushes it forward with ease.
The gusty wind roars in my ears. The salt water sprays my sun-drenched face. But I can’t stop laughing—a reaction I have whenever I’m barrelling down a roller coaster, gripped with fear, adrenaline and excitement all at the same time.
“I didn’t think we’d be surfing today,” replies my nervous father, concentrating on how to manoeuvre our tandem kayak through the turbulent waters in the Johnstone Strait—a narrow and major navigation channel separating Vancouver Island from the mainland.
Whitewater ocean kayaking isn’t what I had in mind when we signed up for a two-day overnight kayaking trip with North Island Kayak off the rugged north coast of Vancouver Island, but it was certainly setting the stage for one heck of an adventure.
I wound up on these choppy waters after a local resident told me the strait comes alive in late summer with humpback whales readying for their winter migration to Hawaii. The humpbacks migrate farther than any other mammal on Earth, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, travelling around 5,000 kilometres between their breeding and feeding grounds on a regular basis.
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