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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Pacific Northwest & Alaska
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  #1  
Old 03-07-2010
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Nanaimo - Vancouver paddleboarding

A friend of a friend wants to paddleboard across the Strait of Georgia between Nanaimo and Vancouver. He wants to do it this month. His motivation is to showcase alternative (non-fossil-fuel-burning) modes of transportation.

He wants me to be a "safety boat" for him, which really means that I'll carry somebody to do some photography and somebody who'll look after his safety, somehow. I'm looking for some advice, mostly about the Nanaimo area, but also about general plans.

For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, a paddleboard is a sort of largish surfboard that you stand upright on, and propel with a long paddle. Popular in Hawaii.

Paddleboards like flat water, so we'll be looking for a day with light winds, but not too light since we both want me to be under sail. He understands that finding such a day in March is not very likely. Since he has the option of crossing in either direction, I'm wondering whether the preferable conditions are light NW winds and depart from Nanaimo, or light SE winds and depart from Vancouver, as we both prefer going downwind. Here "preferable" means both "safe" and "likely to occur".

We've discussed route plans and are going to take the northern route around Gabriola Island to avoid dealing with the Gulf Island passes. We'll probably leave from/arrive to Nanaimo Harbour. One of my concerns is about tide rips in that area... not fun for either of us.

So:
Which direction to cross?
Navigation concerns getting in and out of Nanaimo Harbour at this time of year?

I'm prepared for this trip to be aborted if the conditions don't present themselves. Hopefully they will, and I'll have an interesting story to tell and pictures to post.
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  #2  
Old 03-07-2010
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Really? To showcase alternative modes of transportation? Why not just say that he is doing it for a stunt? It doesn't seem like a real alternative at all. Only a madman would do it!
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Old 03-07-2010
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Eh, whatever! He wants to do it, I've got some free time on my hands, I like sailing, and it would make an interesting story. And you don't see too many photos of a guy standing on the water fifteen miles from land

I just wish he would consent to waiting until June (my original recommendation).
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Old 03-07-2010
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This time of year the SE winds don't really have a habit of being "light" so on that basis Nanaimo - Vancouver seems wiser.

However if his objective is to cross Georgia Strait, then he can do that in half the distance going from Silva Bay, Gabriola Is to Gibsons - both have ferry access and it's about a 15 mile crossing as opposed to more than 30. You'll also avoid the toilet bowl currents in English Bay. Another upside is that you'll cross the ferry lanes more quickly, rather than be essentially paralleling them, which means (esp at 30 mi distance) more dealings with Ferry traffic.

Not sure that this exercise has any true merit, but at least he's wise enough to arrange for support. However the best conditions for him will not likely be good sailing conditions for you.
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Old 03-07-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
This time of year the SE winds don't really have a habit of being "light" so on that basis Nanaimo - Vancouver seems wiser.

...

Not sure that this exercise has any true merit, but at least he's wise enough to arrange for support. However the best conditions for him will not likely be good sailing conditions for you.
Yup, this is my main concern.

Quote:
However if his objective is to cross Georgia Strait, then he can do that in half the distance going from Silva Bay, Gabriola Is to Gibsons - both have ferry access and it's about a 15 mile crossing as opposed to more than 30. You'll also avoid the toilet bowl currents in English Bay. Another upside is that you'll cross the ferry lanes more quickly, rather than be essentially paralleling them, which means (esp at 30 mi distance) more dealings with Ferry traffic.
Interesting... hadn't considered that. Coming to Vancouver is nice because it makes it easier for me to get to work the next day But I will look into it.
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Hey sounds like a great plan. The safety boat is key and makes the whole thing sound like fun.

I think I would load up the board on the boat and sail to the straight. If he is keen on the land to land thing drop him off and have him walk a shore. On the other side have him land and then come out to you.

As for the non-fossil fuel thing, nice idea and I'm sure he only used hand tools while carving his board from a tree he chopped down himself but it's been done, thousand of years ago, with something called a dugout.
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Old 03-07-2010
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Oh, the high speed ferry is going to LOVE him.

I'd be most concerned with the ferry schedule and whether there's any way it can impact him, they don't like speedbumps.

But if he thinks paddling if going to make any statement about alternative transportation....What kind of effective personal transportation also happens to require a safety escort?
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Old 03-07-2010
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Oh, the high speed ferry is going to LOVE him.

I'd be most concerned with the ferry schedule and whether there's any way it can impact him, they don't like speedbumps.
Well, ferries and shipping are a fact of life around here; a few miles from my marina is a large ferry terminal and shipping port. As usual the plan will be to cut across the lanes perpendicularly, at a time when the traffic is clear.

Quote:
But if he thinks paddling if going to make any statement about alternative transportation....What kind of effective personal transportation also happens to require a safety escort?
Hah, good point... similarly, what kind of effective personal transportation requires a wet/dry suit? In the end I suspect this is more about the challenge/adventure than anything, and I can respect that.
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Old 03-08-2010
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Faster is the local expert in the area so I would heed his advice. Will you be able to sail slowly enough to stay near him? The paddleboards I have seen do not like any kind of chop and if there is even a 5K wind you will have to do continuous 360 degree turns to keep with him. As you say, finding a calm enough day in March will be the challenge. Good luck, sounds fun.
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Old 03-08-2010
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Quote:
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Faster is the local expert in the area so I would heed his advice.
I really like his Silva Bay - Gibsons suggestion. I had originally considered Silva Bay - Vancouver, but I didn't know much about Silva Bay and wasn't sure how he would get there, so I dropped it in favor of the ease of accessing Nanaimo, and her many marinas.

Quote:
Will you be able to sail slowly enough to stay near him? The paddleboards I have seen do not like any kind of chop and if there is even a 5K wind you will have to do continuous 360 degree turns to keep with him. As you say, finding a calm enough day in March will be the challenge. Good luck, sounds fun.
Certainly this would be the first time that my goal was not to sail as fast as possible (there have been other cases where I was under sail and wanted to go slow, but there were only the barest zephyrs at the time so I didn't need to work at it).

Once we've figured out a safe time to go, it will be a good learning experience for me to practice "changing gears": trimming sail for slow running. I could reduce sail area, which is probably the simplest and certainly makes things easier on me. I could just luff at regular intervals, but it's not good for the sails. I could flatten the sails more than necessary, though on a beam reach that will probably cause excessive heeling. I could tow a drogue, but that's sort of inelegant. I could sail a zig-zag course, turning at twice the angle whose cosine is the ratio of our speeds, but that could take us too far away for filming. I could run the motor in reverse, which would just be hilarious
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