Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Sea kayaking from Whaling Station Bay to Flora Island on Hornby Island

We spotted 4 Orcas on this trip
by Keith and Heather Nicol

      Saturday, September 5 dawned sunny with cloudy periods and the winds were light out of the northeast so it looked to be another good day to explore the coastline of Hornby Island by sea kayak. This time we wanted to check out the cliffs below Helliwell Provincial Park as well as Flora Island which lies off the south east corner of Hornby Island. We had hiked the 5 km trail at Helliwell Provincial Park the previous day and it is a spectacular walk with scenic views of the ocean and mountains from an open Garry Oak- grassy ecosystem. We put in at Whaling Station Bay (coordinates 10 U 0383832E 5487123N) and again we used kayak trolleys to get the kayaks down across the sandy beach to the water. You need watch the tides and try to time this for relatively high tides to avoid a longish carry.
Just off Flora Island paddling with Orcas
  After we left the beach we set off around Cape Gurney and set our sights for Flora Island which was about 2 km away. Suddenly between the mainland and Flora Island my brother Bruce shouted “Whales-2 orcas coming at us at 2:00”. We all stopped paddling to see the whales and sure enough they were going to be in the same channel that we were in in just a few minutes. One had a large dorsal fin and Mary Ellen pushed forward to get a better look. They must have passed within 10-20 meters of her kayak and then before we knew it they were gone. We carried on along the east side of Flora Island and before long Bruce again shouted” Two more whales 10:00”. These orcas were further from us and they seemed to be heading in the same direction as the first two. We didn’t get as good a view of these whales since they decided to dive deep a few minutes after we saw them. Like Norris Rocks the day before we also saw many seals basking on shoreline of Flora Island and the adjacent rocks. From there we paddled to St. John Point and along the cliffs below Helliwell Park before returning to Whaling Station Bay so that other people in our group could also go kayaking in this area.  Overall this route was about 9 km and we were gone for about 2 hours making this a fine morning or afternoon paddle. You could easily extend this trip by paddling into Tribune Bay.
Below the cliffs of Helliwell Provincial Park

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