Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Front-view mirror innovator Robert Bells is lucky enough to row in British Columbia, which he is understandably smug about. The video shows him rowing on Buntzen Lake, and if you can drag your eyes away from the spectacular mountain scenery for a moment you will observe a copy-book example of the noble art of feathering going on in the foreground.
Robert writes:
Hi Chris,

Buntzen Lake, a reservoir for hydro power generation, is the small lake that I use for my rowing and conditioning. . The scenery is very pretty, and I wanted to share the joy of it, perhaps even avoiding "smugness," in the hope of interesting other folk in appreciating our lovely natural environment.
The "Salish Sea" is a designation, hopefully soon to be official, that respects the territories of the Coast Salish First Nations People. It encompasses a portion of the Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and the Mainland (the area south of Campbell River, the coast of SE Vancouver Island, the islands of the passage, and the fjords of the mainland); the Straits of Juan de Fuca out toward Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, and Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, USA; the San Juan Island group; and the waters and Islands of Puget Sound, past Seattle down to Olympia WA. And it includes the tidal and navigable waters of the rivers draining into the ocean, which then include some of the gigantic coastal lakes, like Pitt Lake, Harrison Lake, and the waters of the Fraser River to about 160 kilometers inland. The drainage basin area is much larger area, vast, from Mount Waddington south to Mount Ranier.
A lot of these areas can be at times very treacherous for unpowered craft, the tides can create races through the mouths of many of the narrow fjords and arms. There is a famous reversing 3m tidal fall at Skookumchuck Narrows, where Sechelt Arm meets Jarvis Inlet. It is a favourite with kayakers. If anyone wants to attempt to row it, I would suggest watching from shore for at least a few days, keeping an eagle-eye on the tide tables and their watch, and making firm friends of the local kayakers, gaining their assistance and expertise. And then doing it at the easiest time. Even off Vancouver, certain tidal conditions can create currents, off Spanish Banks or near the mouths of the Fraser, that run at about 6 knots.
In addition, there are many large inland lakes, like the Nahatlach, the Anderson Lake, Lillooet Lakes, most which have road access and places to put in, but have to be treated with respect as well, as they are large enough to generate serious weather.
Of course, BC has many large recreational lakes that are not associated with the Salish Sea, the interior Okanagan Lake, stretching 135 kilometers, and the sprawling Shushwap Lake area east of Kamloops.
Most famous may be the Bowron Lakes Circuit, 116 km of lakes, waterways and portages, which has been completed with a light rowing boat, a Pygmy Wineglass Wherry, but usually the 6 to 10 days of rough tenting and paddling is done by canoe. This latter is very popular with Europeans.
I am hoping that I over the next few years, I can produce some amateur photo and video essays of some of the near attractions, the Fraser River from Fort Langley down to New Westminster, and the protected (?) waters of Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, and the rugged beauty of Howe Sound up to Squamish.
Robert Bells


O Docker said...

We spent a month in the San Juans with our 15-foot sailing dinghy about 20 years ago. A small boat may be the best way to see those islands, allowing access to many places you couldn't otherwise reach. The tiny Yellow Island, near Friday Harbor, named for its wildflowers, is a fine example.

But, let the tidebook be your guide! Tidal ranges are often 10 feet, and 5-knot currents are common.

Anonymous said...

Robert it is indeed a totally fantastic part of the world and one I am lucky enough to have visited several times-I have friends residing at Larsen's Landing in Okeover Arm, just off Desolation Sound. You guys are totally spoilt in that part of the world-magnificent fjords, fantastic lakes both on the mainland and the islands, wonderful passages and the most mind blowing scenery and wildlife-and some of the greatest fishing in the northern hemisphere. I can't think of anywhere better to mess around in a boat- suggest the smug competition is now over and done with after this entry.