Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Time to reflect

Hi Folks,

So I have spent a week getting to know my family again and have started wading through the paperwork and phone calls and other stuff that has stacked up since I have been away.
My Mum flew home yesterday and we shall all miss her, especially Shea Bella who got to spend quality time with her English Grammy and loves her very much. I couldn't have done the VI trip without your help Mum. Thank you so much!
My body is almost completely healed. A huge blood blister appeared on my left heal which explained why it hurt so much for the second half of the record attempt. Otherwise I am in good shape and already replacing the lost pounds and losing my six pack once again. Ah well!
Thanks to everyone that has sent messages of congratulations. They are all really appreciated and whilst I have tried to respond to them all, if I have missed you out please accept my apologies. If I can help anyone planning a similar style of trip feel free to get in touch either by email: or my cell: 415-816-8746.
I will be giving a first slide show presentation about my trip at California Canoe and Kayak's Sacramento store on Saturday November 8th. Contact the store for more details: 916 851 3600.
I have also conducted interviews for Wavelength magazine and Canoe Kayak magazine and will be writing an article for Sea Kayaker magazine as well.
I wanted to show you some photos from the trip as a taste of what you might see at one of my slide shows. The first is of my kayak after landing on the beautiful Catala Island, located in Esperanza Inlet on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, between Nootka Sound and Kyuquot Sound.

It was the most perfect day and I shared my campsite with a very tame deer and had my dinner listening to sea otters squeaking at each other in the Sound. Idyllic!

The second photo is of a close encounter with large male killer whale in Johnstone Strait, just east of Race Passage. That dorsal fin was about 6ft high! He was with a pod of about ten whales that were feeding in the powerful eddies created by the ebbing tide. They didn't seem to mind me at all and kept following me even when I paddled off, the youngsters exploding out of the water giving me quite a shock. I was paddling with them for about an hour. Truly one of the highlights of my kayaking career.

The final photo speaks for itself. I was overjoyed to finish. Not because I had beaten the record, just that I wanted to go home to see my family.

It will be quite a while before I do anything quite so long and hard again. But never say "Never"....

Monday, October 13, 2008

On my way home...

Hi Folks,

I am just back in Cali, at a Motel 6 in Yreka, catching up on some work and sleep before leaving in the early hours to make the final drive home.

So just a quick update: I finished the circumnavigation of Vancouver Island at 7.42pm on Saturday October 11th, in the dark and rain. I started at 2.53pm on Wednesday September 24th which by my sketchy math makes a total of 17days 4hours 49minutes.

It was one of the toughest challenges I have ever undertaken on several levels. Whilst the sea conditions I faced were much less challenging than during my UK and Ireland circumnavigation, and that was of course a much longer (6 month) trip, the fact that I was trying to break a record and that I desperately wanted to get home to be with my family meant that what seemed at times to be constant headwinds became incrediby frustrating. I pushed my body and mind as far as I ever want to go and will not rush to put myself in that position again. I found the pressure of breaking a speed record quite different to that of being 'first' to do something. It was definitely a different mindset and one that turned an amazing journey into something of a chore for a large part of the time.

That said of course it is very satisfying to have set out with a goal and to achieve it. I saw some incredible scenery, had some really close encounters with some amazing wildlife, and grew to love and respect our ocean and its coastline even more than I did before. I learnt a lot about myself now that I am a father and how this has changed my attitudes to record breaking and risk taking without me being aware of it until now.

I will download my camera and get some photos posted asap. Thank you so much for your support. Believe me, knowing that there were quite a few folk willing me on made all the difference when the doubts crept into my head, which they did several times.

By the way, I used a Valley Nordkapp (standard size, NOT the low volume) and it was awesome! My Kokatat gear performed superbly, as did my Optimus cooker, Mountain Hardware tent and Gaia dry bags. I used a Lettmann Nordic wing paddle in a medium blade size and 215cm in length. The same type of paddle that I used for my UK and Ireland trip and once again it was as smooth as silk and bomb proof.

After 700miles I had no blisters on my hands, just an aching back and two very sore heels which I bruised whilst bracing in big seas whilst being blown down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Time to get some sleep so that I will have the energy to play with Shea Bella tomorrow afternoon.

Good night!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

He Did It!!!

     Congrads to Sean!!!  He pulled into Port Hardy last last night @ 7p.m.  He broke the record by nearly 6 days, ( plus he had 1 layover day in Uculeut).  He paddled straight all day without stopping.  Solely eating power bars and drinking water.  You would have thought that he would have been exhausted, however just empowered.  
     His adrenaline rush carried him through out the night as he drove to the ferry terminal in Nainamo.  He survived eating a Subway sandwich and Rockstar drink arriving at 2:30a.m.  He caught the first ferry to Vancouver.
     He will make his way home now down the I-5.  Projected arrival into SF Bay on Tuesday.  He wanted to make some stops at dealers along the way and I absolutely said "No Way!"  Get home!  He was easily convinced but feels like he should pay visits to his dealers.
     I will be having a welcome home party for him next weekend with friends and neighbors.  I am sure he will be delighted.  I am teaching our daughter to say "Dada driving," now because that is what Sean will be doing for the next 2-3 days.  
     Cannot wait!  Thanks everyone for following his journey.  Hopefully, Sean has inspired others to take a journey and get out and explore.  I know he has with me.  I am off to Mexico next month with girlfriends on a surf trip.
     Gina and Shea Bella

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spoke with Sean last night

     Spoke with Sean last night and he is beside himself.  He has been having headwinds the whole time so far up the East Coast.  His wind direction has been total opposite of what he has needed from the West coast to the East.  I said to him, "Oh!  Are you done today?  It does not look like you went very far?  I thought you would have made it to Cualicum Beach?  He said, "thanks!  I paddled straight for 9 hours against a strong headwind."
     The night before last...  He thought his tent was going to be blown away while he was in it.  Amazing winds he said...  
     Physically, he is doing okay.  He is having normal back aches and pains.  Mostly, his left heel is killing him.  He says it is from bracing so much during the choppy seas of the "Graveyard of the Pacific."  It is really bruised and difficult to paddle and walk on.  
     On the brighter side, I shared with Sean all of the blog inputs, emails, and phone calls that I have received.  He also shared a cute story with me once he arrived in Victoria.  He had a man greet him by kayak.  "Are you Sean Morley?"  Sean replied, "yes."  The nice French-Canadian man and his daughter took him out for dinner and let him stay in their home on the beach.  Another cute story was the next morning a group of school kids ran down to the beach and cheered him on.  They are following his progress from school.  
     My conclusion is although the weather and conditions have been challenging and unfavorable...  the people and scenery he has seen has been remarkable.  I mean how many times does somebody meet and greet you in the water, take you out for dinner, and provide a nice warm bed for you???!!!***  Not in my lifetime.  And I have been on some pretty extreme kayak trips.  
     Counting down the days Sean.  Get home soon!
gina and shea bella

Monday, October 6, 2008

Around Victoria

Hi Folks,
     First of all...  I would like to thank all of you who have emailed me in support of the venture.  Believe it or not...  I have even gotten some atta' boys for holding down the fort and supporting Sean.  It has been hard!  Some days pass quicker than others!  I am just glad that 
Sean has gotten around Victoria safely and there is an end to this outrageous trip sooner than we might think.  
     As you know, Sean took a layover day in Uculeut when there were fierce winds and minimal visibility.  The next day, the winds dropped and he departed for Port Renfry.  I think the thought of turning around or aborting the trip were still in his mind, but he persisted and went with his instinct and (VHF radio) that stated better weather.
     With the wind at his back, he got to Victoria pretty quick.  I think he was a day early than had predicted.  Awaiting him in Victoria (I believe in a sea kayak) was a friend of a friend of his.  This kind man took him in for the night at his house.  Sean phoned me from the strange area code to let me know that he was okay.  He was charging his cell phone among other things...
It looks like (as of 10 mins ago.) he has made it South of Nainamo and camping out for the night.
     Again...  Thanks for your emails, phone calls, questions, and support.  They are immensely appreciated.  
     gina and shea bella

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Storm bound in Ucluelet

Hey Folks,

I have just read Gina's updates to my blog. She is such a trooper, looking after the house, the dogs and Shea Bella whilst I am out 'playing' and she even finds time to update my blog bless her! Of course my Mum is there helping too and I will forever be grateful to them both for this opportunity.

So I am here in the small town of Ucluelet storm bound with winds of 30-40 knots from the south east which once again is in exactly the wrong direction. I made the decision to stay put after listening to the weather forecast on my VHF radio issued by the Coast Guard. Thank goodness I did. I took a walk out to Amphrite Point Lighthouse and the sea conditions were horrendous. Horizontal rain, less than 1/2 mile visibility and a very rough sea. So it has given me the opportunity to catch up on my emails and the blog.

I want to thank Gina's Mum who is 'on the case', following my every move and watching my back, especially when the Spot Messenger website was down for a while. She now has a personal contact with the folk at Spot who will update her if the site requires any more maintenance in the future!

I also want to thank Rob Avery who has sorted out a delivery of a container of Valley Sea Kayaks for me whilst I am out 'playing'. It is reassuring to have him looking after business in the Pacific Northwest for me.

So how's it been? Well I am completely in awe of this island. I will be writing in detail about my adventure later but for now I just want to say that from the moment I said goodbye to Brian Coggan as we left the bay at Port Hardy, I didn't see a single human being for 6 days. I saw a couple of boats in the distance but that was it. The north west of the island is by far the most remote place I have been. Sure there was evidence of human activity and maybe it is just the time of year but it was quite an experience to not see anyone or be able to talk to anyone for such a long time. I did monitor my VHF radio for weather reports but even that was sketchy reception at times. What I did see were lots of bears (I shared my first beach with a Mum Bear and her cub - they didn't seem to mind!), whales, seals, porpoise, loads of sea otters and some very big and scary sea lions! Please tell me they don't bite because at times they were coming very close and roaring at me and I was paddling away as fast as I could! I was delighted by the sea otters which seem to be really pletiful north of Clayoquot Sound. I have spent much of my paddling hours 'writing' a children's story in my head for Shea Bella. I think I have a nice story line going and may publish it online if it is any good. It is about a baby sea otter called "Kelp" and his journey around Vancouver Island...

Anyway, the weather forecast is not great for the next two days at least and not great for the next 6 days. I am confident I can get to Bamfield across Barkley Sound from here but the problem is the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The wind gets channeled through the Straits and there are potentially few places to land if the swell is big. They are giving swell heights of 4-5 meters at the moment. I need to be able to make good mileage and I cannot do that if the wind is too strong.

So I have to wait for the wind to drop. It is forecast to do that tonight, but to pick up again from the SE tomorrow. Saturday sounds better but the wind is forecast to pick up again from the SE on Sunday and Monday. I had hoped for NW winds to blow me down the Straits but it seems that the northwest winds that are predominant in summer were switched off as soon as I set foot on the island! Of course I wonder if I my strategy was wrong. Maybe I should have started at Victoria and headed up the west coast. It's always easy in hindsight. And there is a good chance I would be up around Cape Scott right now and they have a hurricane wind warning in effect up there at the moment!

Anyway, I will try to be patient. I cannot afford to take any uncessary risks with this next section. They don't call it the 'Graveyard of the Pacific' for the fun of it and I do not want to be added to the long list of lives lost on this notorious section of coastline. I have just heard that Dan Henderson, who is trying a clockwise circumnavigation is holed up in Port Renfrew. I am sure he is having the same concerns as I am having. At least he will have a tail wind but that can be tough too if the wind is too strong.

Thanks for your interest and I will try to keep you posted or get my darling wife to let you know what I am doing or just keep checking the Spot page.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Arrived at Ucluelet

     I spoke to Sean this evening, and he has arrived at Ucluelet.  To be honest, he sounded exhausted.  He has been fighting headwinds pretty much his whole trip.  The water has been very choppy.  There has not been much swell or dangerous waves breaking over him.  Just constant chop and wind.
     With that said...  He went into town today to an internet cafe to look up the weather.  Tomorrow and the next are expected gale force winds in a Southeasterly direction.  This is not favorable.  He plans to get though the next big crossing by sneaking in between the small islands and sheltering himself from the wind.  
     With that said, I felt like telling him to abort the trip, but could not allow those words to escape.  When you love someone and feel like they are "unhappy," or could be physically drained...  You want to embrace them and be close bye.  
     I held back any words of ending the trip and later Sean thanked me for that.  He thanked me for my support and says that "this will carry him through the rest of his journey."
     Sean plans to paddle really hard the next two days through the gale force winds and making Victoria by Sunday.  We are nearly a third of the way done with his trip.  He is still on track of his route plan even though he has setbacks with the weather.
     Keep your head high Mr. Morley!!!