SISKA's February 2016 Newsletter. Upcoming events, reports and articles
View this email in your browser

February 2016 SISKA Newsletter

Introduction and news

Dear <<First Name>>,

This is our second SISKA newsletter and we hope that you enjoy it. We had some good feedback from the first one. Please let us know if you have any comments, suggestions or questions. Please contact us at: A newsletter archive will be linked on the club web site soon.

We have just moved the website to a new host (Thanks to Dave Ostapovich!) which should now be faster and more responsive. If you notice any errors, please email

We are looking to develop a volunteer team to take care of the SISKA spring barbecue on May 14th and the MEC paddlefest on June 25th. If you are willing to help out, please email Mike Jackson and/or Alan Campbell

SISKA is collaborating with several other paddling groups in opposition to the current proposal for the Victoria Mega-yacht marina proposal. We are most concerned that a safe passageway is ensured for all paddlers. Stay tuned. 

The club executive is also looking into setting up a club Meetup site for club members to organize informal paddles. The meetup site exists, but is not ready for members. An email will be sent out to SISKA members once the site is ready.

Michael Jackson (SISKA president) and Ben van Drimmelen (editor)

Membership Renewal

Club membership renewal is now a bit overdue. If you haven't done so already, please go to the membership renewal page to renew your club membership.

Table of Contents


Upcoming Events

February 06, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm 

February 07, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm  (ENERGIZER) 

February  14, 10:30 - 4:00 pm  

February 14, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm 
February 15, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm 
February 20, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm  (RELAXED)

February 24, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm : Quarantine Station at William Head
March 04, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm   (ENERGIZER)
March 05, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,   (ENERGIZER)
March 13, 10:15 am - 4:00 pm   (ENERGIZER)
March 14, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm 
March 20, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm  (RELAXED)

March 23, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm 
For more details, go to the SISKA website
HMS Discovery and HMS Chatham becalmed in Rosario Strait in 1792, by Steve Mayo

What’s in a Name? Chatham and Discovery

This is the second in our local name series! Most of our featured names will be drawn from “The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names” by Andrew Scott. We have a copy in the library!

Chatham and Discovery Islands

The names Chatham and Discovery often come up in our part of the world… streets downtown, islands off Oak Bay, Chatham Point, Discovery Passage, Discovery Islands and others. HMS Chatham and HMS Discovery were the ships that accompanied Captain George Vancouver on his 1791-95 expedition to the “Pacific Northwest”.

George Vancouver had been a midshipman under Captain Cook on an earlier Discovery, a 303-tonne, 29m sloop with a crew of 100. Discovery Point was named after that earlier ship; Discovery Island was named after the Discovery that accompanied Captain Vancouver. After its Pacific Northwest expedition, Vancouver’s Discovery was converted first to a mortar ship in 1797, into a hospital ship in 1807 and then into a convict hulk in 1818 before being broken up in 1834.

The Chatham was a 122-tonne brig with a crew of 55. It was named after the Earl of Chatham who was the 1st Lord of the Admiralty (John Pitt) when Vancouver left England. The Chatham was captained at this time first by William Broughton and later by Peter Puget. The Songhees First Nation name for the Chatham Islands is Stsnaang.
A portion of a painting by Hewitt Jackson in which the “HMS Chatham” is shown off Restoration Point in Puget Sound. 

The Chatham and Discovery lslands Energizer Paddle

Saturday January 9 was a cool, sunny, bright winter’s day, 5-6 degrees C. Winds were 10-15 knots, outflow from the north. A veritable flotilla of eighteen sleek, colourful kayaks gathered at Gyro Park, each accompanied by an equally colourful kayaker.
Ready? Ready yet?
We had calm conditions throughout the 17 kilometre paddle except while crossing Baynes Channel, where it was a bit lumpy. We went counter-clockwise, with the lunch break in the lee of Discovery Island, at the Parks campsite – a perfect site for basking in the sunshine, watching freighters cruise by and completely forgetting that Victoria was a mere 10 kilometres away.
Lee lunch at Discovery
Mike mentioned that he had seen the resident wolf several times recently, and that it looked happy and healthy. We didn’t spot the wolf, but did see black turnstones, black oystercatchers, buffleheads, both double-crested and pelagic cormorants and bald eagles. We also examined a botanical marvel – prickly pear cactuses on a rocky point, cactuses that somehow survive being periodically covered with salt water. These cactuses are the same cactuses found in semi-deserts such as the Okanagan; amazing resilience!
Submersible cacti!

Paddler profile: Jennie Sutton

It is our intention to profile a club member each month who is or has been contributing to the club. Sheila was our first, and Jennie is our second.
Jennie paddling her CD slipstream at one of the Harbour Appreciation events

Jennie started padding back in 1998 in Western Australia as an alternative to running and walking. She found that paddling gave her pain-free mobility which was important physically and emotionally. When she moved to Canada in 2001, she bought her first sea kayak. Being on the water and enjoying nature is very special to Jennie - it "feeds her soul".

Jennie has two kayaks. Her original Current Designs Solstice GTS is her faithful touring kayak, but you are most likely to see Jennie paddling her Wilderness Systems Zephyr. The former tracks well and holds a lot of gear while the latter is maneuverable and likes to play among the rocks and surge channels. Having two boats is a treat and she would not change either of them… at the moment!

Jennie has taken her PC level 2 skills as well as her level 1 instructor certification. She loves learning from different instructors and also loves sharing her knowledge with beginner and intermediate paddlers.

Her favourite trips have been on the west coast of the island. Her favourite area is the Nuchatlitz, which has a nice combination of open west coast waters, protected paddling, First Nations sites and plenty of sea otters. A recent highlight trip[ was Cape Scott with five other paddlers last summer. Good company, spectacular beaches as well as whale and bear encounters made this trip special. This trip was the subject of January's well-attended general meeting (and see below!).

Jennie has been our paddles coordinator (with the help of Alan Stevens) since 2011 and continues to enjoy organizing them, though she says she would be happy to mentor someone else in the role! She took over from Duncan Pennington (who has just turned 90!) after assisting for the first few years. It used to take them 30 minutes to organize a paddle, but now she and Alan can get most of the year’s paddles together in a couple of hours.
The capers ready to set off in Port Hardy

Cape Scott Kayak Trip June 2015

The “Capers” - 3 women, 3 men, 6 kayaks
Six SISKA members completed a wonderful 17-day kayak camping trip from Port Hardy to Coal Harbour in June/July 2015, a paddling journey of 115 nm, with another 57 nm in day paddles, plus many extended shore hikes and more!

Rounding Cape Sutil, Cape Scott, Cape Palmerston, Cape Russell and Cape Parkins molded this group of intermediate to advanced paddlers into the “Capers”! And the experience of a lengthy west coast wilderness trip, celebrating, understanding and helping each other along the journey, brought them together in a new way as travelling friends. 

At the Club’s January meeting Jennie, Debbie, Gene, John, Michael and Alan described what was involved with their planning and decision-making before and during the trip, and shared some of the highlights, joys and challenges from their often-entertaining individual points of view! 
  • Gorgeous north coast scenery: huge sandy beaches, dense rain forests, amazing ancient dunes, rivers, caves, arches, sea stacks…
  • Unforgettable animal encounters: bears, wolves, whales, sea lions, sea otters…
  • Gourmet cookery: spaghetti Bolognese, polenta stacks, chili, Thai cashew chicken, salmon, mussels, pulled pork, rice pilaf, turkey curry…
  • The sounds of the wilderness: crashing surf, plaintive loon calls, whales breathing, sea lions barking, wolves howling…
  • Tuning in to each other and those back home: daily decision-making, group debriefs, inReach posts…
  • And, of course, winds and weather of all kinds – this trip really had it all!
The “Capers” experience showed that extended group kayak expeditions on our wild West Coast don’t have to be daunting if you plan and prepare well and that it is truly rewarding to experience it all firsthand!
5 Capers en route.

Kayakable Birding

Birds are a fine feature of any kayak trip. While most water birds seem surprisingly leery of kayaks (those flashing paddles suggest the wings of a swooping predator), a cautious kayaker with binoculars can get some good looks at our local seabirds. But which is which? In each Newsletter, we’ll describe a couple of species that you are likely to see at this particular time of year.

For February, look for Harlequin Ducks diving along rocky shorelines that have strong wave action. The males have garish white bars on the chest and face; females just have a round white spot behind the eye.