Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will I flip over in my kayak?
A: Not likely. It CAN happen, but it is not very often that people (even first timers) flip. Kayaks are actually quite stable, and with a few little tips and tricks from your trusty guide…. you should be feeling quite comfortable and relaxed. Here is a little mantra for you to start practicing to prepare for your trip: "loose hips don’t sink ships". Get this basic concept down and you will be guaranteed to stay dry throughout your paddle.
Oh, and if you do tip over….? Not a big deal. That’s why you are with a guide ☺ They have plenty of practice assisting you quickly back into your boat. You will get a demonstration at the start of the tour during the pre-trip lesson that goes over all the steps to get back into the boat. It’s not that hard. Just think of it as a free kayak lesson!
Q: What should I wear?
A: You should wear comfortable outdoor clothing. Layers are good. If it is early spring, or fall and the weather is cooler wearing synthetic pants (ideally not cotton) and a synthetic long sleeve top would be good. Also bring along a fleece top, a warm hat and a rain jacket that can be tucked away in a dry bag if you don’t need to wear it. When it is hot and summery shorts are fine with a t-shirt, but also a good idea to bring along another upper layer just in case you get cool during the rest period. Some sun-sensitive folks like having a light long sleeve top to protect them from the rays. What ever season you are paddling in do bring along a hat and sunglasses. Oh yes, and don’t forget your water bottle! It is very important to stay hydrated while you are out there.
Q: Is it safe to bring my camera along?
A: Yes. We have waterproof dry bags that you can borrow while you are out on the tour. You can have your camera inside the bag and it can either go in front of you under the bungee cords on the deck, or inside your spray skirt tucked between your legs. When you pull your camera out to use it always make sure that you have the neck strap over your head just in case you drop it. Now this would be the time you don’t want to practice your kayak re-entry skills! You can always ask your guide to paddle over and help you out while you are taking any photos, or even ask them to snap a few for you. They are all skilled at getting everyone in the shot!
Q: Will we see whales?
A: Not impossible, and certainly sometimes we do…. But this is not generally the reason we are out there. The east side of Quadra Island, Heriot Bay where we mostly paddle isn’t part of the whale’s normal migratory path. We do in the summer sometimes get transient whales coming into our area checking out the water and looking for food, but it’s not normally the case. We DO however regularly see lots of other exciting marine life. We are lucky to have a healthy number of resident Pacific Harbour Seals sunning themselves on the rocks around our paddle routes, and sometimes when we are lucky encounter groups of Harbour Porpoise and Dall’s Porpoise as well as Pacific White-sided Dolphins playing in the water. The vibrant inter-tidal life is also very amazing to check out! This is the colourful world of sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, Nudibranchs, sails and limpits…. Oh my! Our variety of shore birds is stunning, not to mention the abundance of bald eagles and other magnificent two legged creatures. Bet you don’t even remember that you are looking for whales!
p.s. If it really is your dream of seeing them we can recommend some good whale-watching companies in Campbell River that get you out to where the whales are that day.
Q: What if it is raining?
A: Kayaking is a water sport ☺ B.C. also stands for “bring a coat”. We still get out in the rain (if we didn’t we wouldn’t get out there much)! This is a rainforest after all. Now this is within reason of course. We don’t really love the torrential down-pours on the tours and usually try to re-schedule with people if we can. But a little rain doesn’t stop us! Once you are in the kayak under your lifejacket and your spray-skirt you don’t notice the rain so much. The guides do bring along tarps for the lunch or rest stop so you have someplace dry to relax. Interesting side note: sometimes it is those trips that we do when the sky is not a perfect pure blue that we remember the most. It is memorable when you are sitting in your boat watching the rain drops bounce off the water and the misty clouds roll through the mountain valleys.
Q: What if it is windy?
A: Now this is serious. Wind and kayaking are not the best combination. If we feel it is too windy to go (and we have a pretty good idea of what this looks like) we will try to re-schedule the trip with people if possible. Sometimes depending on what direction the wind is blowing we are still able to get out on the trips and hug the shoreline, tucking in behind islands and bays to stay protected. We usually ask people if they are up for the adventure and understand completely if people would rather opt out and try for a different day. We listen to the forecast throughout the day and keep a good ear on the radio when the guides are out there on a breezy day with guests. If anyone gets stuck help is only a radio call away. We always make sure that it is a safe choice when we do decide to head out no matter what.
Q: How early should I get there before the tour?
A: Generally we tell people ten or fifteen minutes before the tour start time is plenty. There is just a little paperwork to fill out and the payment to take care of before your guide gets you set up with gear and you are heading down to the dock. We have two washrooms at our shop known as the “Yak Shack”, and one is a good size for changing into clothes if you need to. You are more than welcome to arrive earlier and enjoy sitting on the deck with a smoothy or latte and a magazine. It’s a nice view of Drew Harbour and you can browse the shop’s selection of t-shirts and various other little retail goodies
Q: What is the minimum age to come on a tour?
A: We have had parents bring their very young children with us on trips, and we love it. When this is the case we usually try to just have your group with your own guide. This way whatever pace you travel is up to you. We do have two double kayaks with kids seats in the center hatches for very young ones, age two or older. Two adults in the boat paddling with the young child in the center works well. By about age six or seven (depending on the size) kids should be fine up in the front of a double with a parent paddling at the back. Kids aged 12 and older like to sometimes try going in a single on their own and depending on the kid this can also be fine! There are lots of variations that work to get everyone on the water. As for the opposite end of the spectrum, well I think we have had some ninety year olds out on the water with us! Good for them ☺
Q: How long do we go for?
A: This depends on the tour. The shorter half-day paddles and sunset trips are three hours so this means that you are on the water and actually paddling for about two hours. There is some time on the dock at the start of the trip going over a pre-trip lesson and there is also a little rest stop in the middle of the tour to stretch your legs on shore and have a snack. The full day tour is six hours (10:00 – 4:00) which means that you are actually on the water paddling for about four, to five hours. This trip also has a pre-trip lesson on the dock and then we stop midday for a nice long lunch break. Generally people find the day not to be too strenuous even if it is their first time paddling.
Q: Can I rent a kayak and go paddling on my own?
A: Only if you have plenty of previous kayaking experience and are very comfortable with navigation and self-rescue skills. We will quiz you at the shop about this. You really don’t want to be out on the water without these skills on your own. The water around here is chilly, and being stuck beside your kayak in the water is no place to discover that it is not that easy to get back in if you have never tried it before! We don’t want you to be in a dangerous situation, and plus...you will get lots more out of the experience going with the guides to show you around the area and tell you lots of interesting info ☺