Surf Traversing Vancouver Island Part 2: The Camp

One of the main components of a long paddle trip is sustaining health. I try to limit my daily mileage to 10-12 miles, which typically translates to four or five hours in the water. The rhythm I go with is to wake up and write in my journal, hang out around camp, rest, and then paddle through midday—weather permitting. If it’s a windy day often times the gusts will help push me in the right direction.

I end each day of paddling by fishing for rockfish near the place that I’ve decided to camp. After I catch a fish, I go to shore and clean it on the beach and filet it on driftwood. I prepare my meals using a butane compact stove with titanium cookware. Then I throw the carcass back into the ocean and fry the rest in coconut oil. After dinner, I make tea and try to drink lots of water, which I collect from creeks and either cook or run through a filter.

Belrose-8982 Belrose-8735 Eli with a squid found in a crab trap near Tofino BC.

My camp consists of a travel hammock, a rain tarp, and a bivvy sack to keep bugs away and as an extra measure to keep my down bag dry. Staying dry is critical to survival when traveling in maritime wilderness environments where it can rain for weeks at a time. Using a down bag is not the best choice for maritime environments, but it’s the smallest, lightest option and that’s important when traveling with limited space. I never camp on the beach unless I absolutely have to. Beaches subject you to the most wind and the most moisture. It’s too exposed for long-term camping. The woods are cleaner, calmer, and drier than any nice looking sandy beach.

Watch! Eli Andersen talks about his gear
and how he packs and hauls it on his board.

This particular trip is broken up into four 10-day legs, each consisting of about 100 miles of paddling. As I eat through my supplies, the board gets lighter and I’m able to pack it more efficiently. The more time I spend in the water, the more comfortable I become. I also find myself in a tighter mental zone, where the methods for comfortable survival feel more close at hand.

A lot of people think the danger of a trip like this is in the water; like the ocean is the surface of the moon. I feel safe in the ocean. It’s slipping on driftwood in my flip-flops and twisting my ankle, or having an animal eat my food supply that concern me. On land accidents can happen; in the water you have to really screw up to create a problem. Stay tuned for another update next week on The Clymb.