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Treat Yourself to an #OceanKayak Vacation in Canada
Posted by Richard Phillips   •   Sunday, 2016-July-31

By Gary Ward

If you are an adventurer looking to pick your next vacation, consider taking an ocean kayak tour. There are some amazing destinations all over the world to get into an ocean kayak and see the marine life. If you are particularly looking for abundance and diversity of sea life, the temperate waters are incredible. The west coast of Canada fits this perfectly. During the summer months, the kayaking possibilities around Vancouver Island are immense, ranging from warm, calm waters to misty, Pacific swell.

The Gulf Islands are on the east side of Vancouver Island, protected from the weather and waves of the open Pacific Ocean. These islands are a paradise, so the residents tell. The communities are small and quaint, but leavened with an international flavor from the diversity of backgrounds of the residents. The southern Gulf Islands sit in a rain shadow stretching from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state to about mid-Vancouver Island. The drier climate allows the beautiful arbutus trees to grow in abundance and makes for some award winning vineyards. Touring by kayak among these islands means paddling by sandstone cliffs that look like they were foamed up from the earth and the bubbles popped, leaving an incredible landscape. The southern resident orcas also ply these waters, often swimming through the areas looking for the salmon. Kayaking here can be a close and intimate experience with a life that few live, but is dreamed about by many.

The west coast of Vancouver Island has some of the most abundant and diverse waters on the planet. A number of locations offer protected paddling, yet fully reveal the west coast, Pacific experience. The Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound are about 100 small islands, forming a roughly rectangular group. The eastern part of this group is near a large bay and several other small island groups. These groups are full of oysters, although mostly claimed by commercial interests. In the eastern half of the group, the summer waters are warm and calm. Because of the number of islands, the ability to paddle around for days and see many new things each day is possible. There is so much to explore in a small area. Moving beyond the middle of the group, the waters get a bit more movements and are more prone to wind waves as well as ocean swell. The outer island can be challenging for beginners, but also bring a wildness that is not found anywhere but just at the boundary of the open ocean. This is where the sea lions haul out and play, the whales swim by, and the surf crashes onto the beaches. Just inside these outer islands, a beginner can get the feeling of the wildness without committing to dynamism of the open ocean side. The diversity of sea life here explodes into a scene of color everywhere.

Another west coast destination that is more remote, but just as diverse, is around Nootka Sound. One of the most interesting area around the sound is at the northwestern tip of Nootka Island where the Nuchatlitz Inlet opens into the island. This area has a number of small island groups that offer protection from much of the ocean swell, but allows visitors to peek out into the open ocean. This area is prime habitat for the endangered sea otter. Rafts of hundreds, floating on their backs together among the kelp beds can be seen from the small islands. Whales pass by on their migrations. Eagles call their shrill cry overhead, and ravens cackle their mimicked calls of many strange sounds in the trees. The diverse history here connecting the First Nations peoples of the area and the explorers that came and took control has had world importance, affecting European history in big ways. For west coast adventures by kayak, this is one of the best.

Although there are many more possibilities around Vancouver Island and up the BC coast, These destinations are important because of their accessibility to beginners. A number of guiding companies offer guided tours of these areas, catering specifically to beginner kayakers, or those who have never kayaked before. So, if you are looking for a Canadian ocean kayak experience, look at one of these. You will get a new appreciation for the sea and our planet.

Gary Ward has been leading trips and teaching in wilderness areas for 20 years. Having traveled from desert to sea, he spends most of his time now in coastal areas, exploring the boundary between land and sea, land and sky, and sea and sky.

He can be found leading tours on the North and West Coast Trails, teaching, and writing for his business, Coastal Bliss Adventures.

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Kayak Fishing on a Budget
Posted by Richard Phillips   •   Sunday, 2016-July-17

By Dan Allard

So you want to get into kayak fishing- great! kayak fishing is a fun and unique way to fish, and is a great alternative for those not looking to invest in a powerboat. Maintenance costs are low and the initial investment is relatively inexpensive. So what do you need to get started, how much will it cost, and how can you keep costs down? Read on to learn how to start kayak fishing on a budget.

The first step isn't to buy a kayak; it's to try one out. Kayak fishing isn't for everyone- you'll get wet and face some unique challenges you won't find in other forms of fishing. You don't want to make the investment and find it isn't right for you. Many dealers will let you demo their kayaks, and if they don't they'll most likely apply rental fees to future purchases. So call around and take one out for a test drive.

After you've tested one out and know its right for you, you're ready to buy a kayak. New kayaks will range from $600 to $2,000, but if you buy used you may be able to cut the price in half. You can also find deals on new kayaks during the off season, when dealers are pushing old inventory to make room for new models.

Look around and see what options you have within your budget. Paddle kayaks are cheaper than pedal kayaks, and generally larger kayaks are more expensive than smaller ones. Look online, in the classifieds of your newspaper, and at your local dealer shops to see what's available. Don't hesitate to ask dealers if they have any used kayaks, or if any are discounted due to scratches or imperfections.

Now that you have your kayak, you'll need a paddle. Even though you're on a budget, don't go for the cheapest one you can find. You'll be sorry once the paddle breaks and you're a mile from shore. Look for a strong and sturdy paddle, and don't worry so much about weight difference. A $50 difference in price might only amount to a few ounces difference in weight. For a paddle you're looking at $40 to $400+.

Next you'll need a PFD, or personal flotation device. Again don't jump for the cheapest version here. Above all else look for comfort, because if you buy a cheap PFD that's uncomfortable to wear, you probably won't wear it. And what good is that? Also look at fishing PFD's, which have pockets that make kayak fishing much easier.

Alright, finally time for the accessories. If your kayak doesn't have a rod holder, this is a good place to start. Your local kayak shop should be able to outfit your kayak with an angler package, which will be around $100. If you're looking to save money you have a couple options here. The cheapest and easiest option is to take a milk crate and attach a couple short PVC pipes to use as rod holders. This will also give you some extra storage space.

Another option you have is to cut out a couple holes in your kayak and install flush mount rod holders yourself. You should be able to find these for under $20 each. If you're not a 'do-it-yourselfer', you'll have to go with one of the options above.

Considering you have a pole and some fishing tackle already, you're ready to hit the water! This is enough equipment to get you started. But there are some other items you should consider. The first is a paddle leash. You can find these for around $10, no need for anything fancy here.

You'll also have to think about how you're going to transport your kayak. If you have an SUV with a roof rack or flat bed pickup truck, just throw in some padding and straps and you're ready to go. If you'll be using a car, you'll need to purchase some foam blocks to place on your roof and some straps. You should be able to find a kit online for $40 or less.

Once you reach the launch destination, will you be carrying your kayak to the water? You may want to consider a kayak cart, which are less than $100. You probably don't need one of these, but if it fits into your budget get one. Your back will thank you for it.

This is all you need to start kayak fishing on a budget. You can always add more accessories later, like navigation systems, specialized clothing, and new fishing equipment. The important thing is to get out on the water and enjoy your new hobby. So what are you waiting for? Go out and catch some fish!

Want to learn the secrets to catching crappie? Visit [] and learn the techniques that will have you reaching your limit in no time.

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