In the course of a long ocean pad­dling expe­di­tion many ele­ments will for­ev­er be out of my con­trol.  An adventure’s unique char­ac­ter unfolds with the ten­sion between the pur­suit of the goal and the spon­ta­neous oppor­tu­ni­ties that dis­play the real­i­ty of a place.

Image by Herb Belrose

The bot­tom line is that the weath­er and the ocean call the shots. After a big cross­ing from Noot­ka Island to Este­van Point on the Hes­quiat Penin­su­la under mel­low and cloudy con­di­tions, I pulled in to the small cove by the light­house near a colony of sea lions on the rocks. I set up a camp in the trees behind a short totem head­ed by a for­lorn, rat­tle-clutch­ing human form. The calm­ness was soon bro­ken by a front of south­east wind and rain. I had hoped to push on and catch up with friends in Tofi­no but was stuck in the cove for two days.

Image by Herb Belrose

I sat under a tree in the rain and watched a pod of grey whales swim and breathe in the lit­tle cove. I met a black bear on the beach as I walked to the creek to get water and inad­ver­tent­ly flushed him into the for­est toward my camp. I hur­ried my task and caught up with him. Since he was set on avoid­ing me it was easy to send him on his way out of my camp.

Image by Herb Belrose

Lat­er in the after­noon, I was in my ham­mock under a tarp when an eagle came careen­ing through the trees and land­ed 20 feet in front of me. It had a ling cod head in its talons. I couldn’t tell if it was aware of me or not, but it stood there a minute and then stashed the cod head near a downed tree and flew away.

It was a good, qui­et cou­ple of days. Then the weath­er cleared. I cranked out an exhaust­ing 25-mile full-day pad­dle, pulled into the Tofi­no har­bor at sun­set, car­ried my board up onto the grass of a park and changed out of my soaked wet­suit and into dry clothes. I felt very for­tu­nate to be in the warmth and com­pa­ny of my friends in Tofino.

Thanks for fol­low­ing along. There’s only about 100 miles to go. Stay tuned for anoth­er update fol­lowed by a more in-depth recap of the whole trip. Talk to you again soon!

Watch! Eli pad­dles his board and talks about what it all means.

Read all of Eli’s updates!

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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.

Image by Herb Belrose

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.

Image by Herb Belrose

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.

Image by Herb Belrose

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.

Image by Herb Belrose

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

Read all of Eli’s updates!

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3