We knew that with just a flick of its tail, we’d be toast.
Danielle and I were on the last leg of our kayaking journey in The Broken Group Islands trying to make a dash from the Stopper Islands back to Toquart Bay and the safety of our RV when we became surrounded by three Humpback whales. We sat in our boats, back to the shore watching, when one came up right in front and rolled to show us its massive belly.
We had been coming to the Pacific Rim since 1983 and had explored a lot of the West Coast starting in Tofino and making our way to the lesser known Ucluelet peninsula. But its only been the last 5 years that we managed to work up the courage to kayak in the open Pacific waters. They can be rough and we had heard enough about the currents, swells and tides to be suitably terrified. But here we were living on the edge.
It was a natural progression I think. With our young kids we had camped all over the coast. We had hiked the Wild Pacific Trail, discovered Florencia Bay, Half Moon Bay, Reef Point and Lighthouse Trial. We had storm watched while staying in the newly built Terrace Beach Cabins and the Blackrock Resort. As time went on we branched out and four-wheeled our way to Virgin Falls, Kennedy Lake, viewed the breathtaking views from Mount Ozzard, found the most amazing campsite in the world, Mussel Beach, watched bears feeding at Thornton Creek Hatchery, and basically did all the wonderful, family holiday things. But we had never approached the water. Sure we went whale watching, the best place in the world to do it, but actually getting in a small, little kayak and heading off shore? We needed more training….. We took navigational courses, kayak rolling courses, marine radio courses, self rescue courses, the works. So, c’mon whales, show us your bellies. And they did.
We made it back to Toquart Bay, through the pods of whales, feeling enlightened, blessed and ready for more. Since then we have paddled all around Ucluelet, Amphrite Point, Ucuelet harbour with all the massive fishing and charter boats, Itattsoo Bay and the Broken Group, all from our little spot in Mussel Beach. We are constantly surrounded by all the nature that the west provides: whales, otters, bears, eagles, wolves, sea lions. We stop in at our local coffee shops, visit the Aquarium, do all the shopping we need in Ucluelet. We participate in Ukee Days in June and wonder what it would be like to participate in the Edge to Edge Marathon, also in June, from the comfort of our deck on the best shore in the world.
Since 1983, Ucluelet has grown to become a trendy, wild west coast, fishing town and it features what most of the world only sees in National Geographic specials. It truly is “Life on the Edge”.