Goose Bumps

In the spirit of summer finally beginning on the west coast, I dug this little kayaking piece out of my archives. Probably no surprise that I’m no longer with Adventure Boy.

The last time I’d been camping I was eight; that was 35 years ago in my best friend’s back yard. Yet last summer, when my new boyfriend Barry wanted to take me to his favourite kayaking spot, I jumped in with both feet. We were going to Goose Island, a remote grouping between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the southern toe of Haida Gwaii.

“How romantic!” I shivered with excitement.

When we arrived in Bella Bella, we met our guide Frank. My sunny outlook didn’t cloud for a moment when he said, “Look, there’s a storm coming in. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to go all the way out to Goose.”

But my boy scout was determined, “I’ve been there in heavy weather before. The campsite is well sheltered.”

“And we’ve got a new tent,” I cooed. “Our starter home.”

We climbed into the Love Tub, an open aluminum fishing boat with two kayaks and 15 tons of baggage. It was drizzling a bit, but we were snug and dry in our rain gear.

“There’s no such thing as bad  weather,” Barry proclaimed, “just bad clothing.”

And we were off, bouncing merrily along, seated on the deck in white plastic lawn chairs, fully exposed to the elements. And then the engine started missing. Terrific, my first big adventure and we’re off to a bumpy start.

“Probably water in the fuel line,” Frank shouted. “I’ll flush it out.”

That worked, temporarily. But as soon as he pulled back full on the throttle, the engine cut out. We crept past a small island with a beautiful white sandy beach. Hmmm, great place for a shipwreck.

The clouds darkened and so did my mood. Frank continued to fiddle with the engine as we inched along at half throttle. The sea swelled and tossed us back and forth. I clung to the kayaks to keep myself from being bounced overboard in my stupid lawn chair. Great waves of anxiety crashed over me as the water rose up over the bow. I started to shiver uncontrollably. Oh yeah, this is romantic alright.

We were surrounded by water now, no sight of land. The sky was as dark and menacing as the sea. I’ve never felt so small. Still, we couldn’t really be in trouble, I rationalized. I turned stiffly to look at the guys; they were chatting up a storm at the stern. Ok, they don’t seem worried. Smack, a wave hit me head on, drowning out all rational thought. We’re dead. My eyes were frozen on the heaving water ahead, seeking land.

“There it is!” the guys cried cheerily, pointing out to sea. “Goose Island.”

All I saw was sea, waves, water. I couldn’t speak. I knew if I opened my mouth I would cry. Or worse, my stomach lurched as another wave hit. Even if we survive this trip, was our relationship sunk? I was no match for Adventure Boy.

“Got it! It’s an air lock in the fuel lines!” Frank shouted.

Ok, full juice, straight to Goose! No matter that the pleasant hour and a half crossing had turned into a grueling three hour tour, we were safe at last.

Unfortunately, the tide was out when we reached Goose. Frank threw us, along with our soggy baggage out on some rocks. Then he hightailed it out of there, racing the storm.

“Don’t leave me,” I called after him. “We’re going to die out here.”

Barry struggled with a bag. “Not of starvation mind you,” he quipped, “you packed enough food for a month.”

We were about 100 yards of slime, muck and water from the desolate beach. I was cold, weak and still shaking.

“The tides coming in, we’ve got to get this stuff above the tide line, fast,” Barry said. But I couldn’t walk, my spastic legs kept slipping on the rocks.

“Ahhhouch!” Barry slipped and whacked his tailbone.

“I’ll kill you if you die,” I sobbed. I wouldn’t last a day out here on my own.

“I’m ok,” he reassured me.

Laden with wet gear, we slogged on. Like a seasoned adventurer, I glanced over at the kayaks and wished I hadn’t. They were floating out to sea. I yelled to Barry but he was too far up the beach. Hypothermia ought to round the day out nicely.

And to think we have a whole week ahead of us, with gale force winds in the forecast. Oh yes, I’m sure that getting here was only half the fun. I jumped in with both feet.

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