Surf Traversing Vancouver Island Part 1: The Board
Seeking adventure through solitude, Eli Andersen paddles his homemade surf board 350 miles down the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC. By Eli Andersen
50-day surfboard paddle along the west coast of Vancouver Island. I’ll put in at San Josef Bay then paddle 350 miles down to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. This trip is the third iteration of an idea that started four years ago, when I built a hollow wooden surfboard by hand and paddled the Oregon coast from Astoria to the Smith River in California.Since then I’ve continued to hone my craft by improving the design and function of my surfboards and by creating a larger network of friends and contacts throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The goal of these trips has always been to test my endurance as an athlete and a traveler and to find inaccessible and unknown places in the great wilderness of British Columbia. I’ve met a lot of amazing people who have aided me during my journeys by sharing their local knowledge, resources, and generosity.
This trip started with the month-long process of designing, milling, fabricating and fiberglassing a 16-foot open-ocean surfboard. The board is designed to carry five 15-liter drybags and me through the breakers, swells, whitecaps, and tides of the Pacific Ocean. I chose to build my board out of red cedar. This species of wood is the Provincial tree of British Columbia and is used in carvings, totems and construction throughout the culture.
Now that my board is complete and I’ve traveled from my home in Portland, Oregon to San Josef Bay, I’m almost ready to hit the water and start paddling. It’s taken me over six months of plotting and planning to get this trip together. It would not have been possible without the support of the people at Patagonia and The Clymb. I’m grateful for their aid and also for the assistance of everyone in my family and all of my friends in the United States and Canada.
Thanks for coming with me on this adventure! Stay tuned for more updates. It’s time to hit the water.
Watch! Eli Andersen shows what he packs for his epic surf traverse of Vancouver Island: