SISKA's  May 2017 Newsletter. Upcoming events, reports and articles
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May 2017 SISKA Newsletter


Dear <<First Name>>,

Thanks again to the members who contributed photos and materials. After enjoying a SISKA event or paddle, please consider putting fingers to keyboards and cobbling together a short (100-150 words) summary article; for more information, contact one of us. And if you would like to start a regular column, please let us know!

Don't forget to save the date for our June picnic - June 10th. If you are able to help organize something for this event, please contact Jane Jacek. More details to come!

You can find SISKA on Facebook at this link. SISKA also has a Meetup site for "impromptu" and other paddles organized by club members. (To join this, you have to be a club member.) For more details, go to

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

Table of Contents


Upcoming Events

(Lots of training/practice opportunities in the next two months....)

May 04, 9:15 am - 3:00 pm,   (RELAXED)

May 06, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,  (RELAXED)

May 13 and May 14

May 14, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, 

May 16, 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm, 

May 21, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,  (ENERGIZER)

May 24, 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm, Monthly Meeting (see details below)

Jun 04, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,  (RELAXED)

Jun 10, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, 

Jun 11, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,  (RELAXED)

Jun 18, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm, 

For more details, go to the SISKA website

Symphony Splash and MEC Paddlefest

Two upcoming events may be of interest to club members:

MEC Paddlefest

MEC will be holding its annual paddlefest at Willows Beach again this year - June 18th. For more details please check out this link.

Victoria Symphony Splash

On Sunday August 6th, the Victoria Symphony will be putting on its annual "Splash" event. In the past, SISKA paddlers have helped by volunteering to collect on-water donations by kayak. Those of us who have done this have enjoyed ourselves and benefitted from our "front-row seats". If you wouldf like to help out, please contact the volunteer coordinator, Della Preston

Our April meeting and AGM

On April 26th we held our Annual General Meeting as well as a talk on Pacific storms by David Atkinson.
The 2016 financial statement and 2017 budget were approved, as was our updated constitution (both of these can be viewed in the members' area of the website). We also voted in some ongoing and new executive members resulting in the following executive team:

President: Mike Jackson
Vice-president: Alan Campbell
Secretary - Mark Byrne
Treasurer - John Levey
Members at Large: Lynn Beak, Jane Jacek and Tony Copping

David's talk on storms was excellent. We learned about how Pacific storms form and develop, and why they are very different from tropical cyclones. 

Our May meeting (24th)

Alisa Preston is a co-owner of Rockfish Divers, one of the best dive shops in the Victoria area. She and her students and fellow divers have been doing fish surveys and other scientific diving in the area for the past decade. Alisa's presentation will center on the concept of establishing a marine conservation area in the Salish sea and other waters surrounding Vancouver Island.

On-water Coordinator Update

What’s happening on the water?
SISKA offers a number of on water clinics and Paddle Canada courses through Paddle Canada certified Level 1 and 2 instructors. In addition to Crystal Pool clinic,s a number of open water clinics and courses are being offered from now through the fall, including Paddle Canada Basic, Level 1 and Level 2, strokes, edging and bracing, towing, rescues and rolling. Specific details will be sent out in club emails and listed on the SISKA calendar. 

As instructors, we are trying to provide helpful instruction and coaching to club members through set clinics and courses but I also welcome you to contact me if a few of you are looking for something specific; I will try to arrange an instructor to put on a clinic for you. This is a great opportunity for you to identify specific areas you would like some coaching in.   
In the spirit of openness and accountability, Paddle Canada has updated its policies around grievances. I am bringing this to your attention, given all the SISKA instructors belong to Paddle Canada. Grievances may be brought by anyone against a member, policy or agent of Paddle Canada. Grievances may include, but are not limited to, matters of an instructional nature, inappropriate conduct or administrative process. Paddle Canada recommends trying to address all issues locally first and that applies for SISKA as well. If you have a concern or grievance, please contact the SISKA club president as a first step to try to resolve the issue. The Paddle Canada grievance policy can be found at
More generally, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about courses or clinics or if you would like me to try to arrange a clinic for you and your SISKA paddling partners. Hope to see you on the water.

Tips from the Trips

Tarping down

A small tarp is very useful, both in your vestibule and on the beach, to keep your dry bags from getting wet, sandy or dirty while packing or unpacking.


- by Vic Turkington

The island just off Oak Bay marina is named after Mary Tod (1843-1912), who was the favourite daughter of fur trader and HBC official John Tod. (of Tod Inlet). The island changed hands several times and was eventually bought by John Virtue, who bequeathed it to the Oak Bay Municipality in 1929. He attached a condition - no building or structures should ever be built on it. The island therefore remains today as a natural beauty complete with a small sandy beach, ideal for lunch stops or picnics. Abundant crabs, birds and a wide variety of sea life live along its shores. 
A red flashing beacon (chart symbol Fl R) sits at the end of the adjoining breakwater.
Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum.
The island was also known locally as "Jimmy Chicken" Island after a colorful Songhees, who lived there with his wife Jennie, in the 1890's.  Jimmy made a living by fishing for salmon and digging clams, which he sold to local merchants. He supplemented his income by stealing chickens and then scuttling back to his island in his canoe. Unfortunately, the proceeds went mainly to the demon drink. He and his wife went on frequent binges and the noisy carousing often echoed across the water to Oak Bay, much to the chagrin of the local residents.  Jimmy was well known to the police who often escorted him to the drunk tank - apparently he was their most frequent guest. In spite of this, he was very much liked and was a genial and pleasant soul. He was considered a model prisoner and was sometimes released to do local errands but always returned faithfully to his cell. His wife Jennie died in 1899 and Jimmy followed in 1901.  At least one hundred Songhees canoes were present to pay respects and honour his  funeral.  He was finally taken by canoe to be ceremonially buried beside Jennie on Chatham Island. 
So perhaps when we paddle out of Oak Bay Marina next time, we can glance over at Mary Tod Island and give a nod to the memory of Jimmy Chicken.
Dave Giuliani talking about intertidal natural history

Intertidal sightseeing

On Sunday April 29, Dave Giuliani and Mike Jackson led us down Willows Beach to draw ‘lines in the sand’ to explain the physics of tides. Our next lesson was to go slowly and look closely for details - along the barnacled concrete barrier, seashore and tide pools.

We kayaked to Oak Bay Marina looking under the wharves for anemones and near the shore spying crabs and clam siphons. Dave reminded us to use the shadow of the paddle or boat to help us see more clearly below the surface. Along the breakwater and around Mary Todd, our guides pointed out a myriad of treasures including blood stars, lined chitons, nudibranchs and frilled dogwinkle snails. Also, we saw numerous varieties of kelp and how First Nations used them.

The eight paddlers who completed the 2 NM journey were delighted with the way that Mike, Dave and his bow paddler Sean showed us how much there is to see under the sea. The descriptive body language helped! The plasticized invertebrate and seaweed cards from Periwinkle Press (available for viewing) were an added resource for identifying the invertebrates, seaweeds and grasses.

For those who missed this fun and informative four hour tour, sign up for the next intertidal paddle, scheduled for June 11. We’ve had a request for more of these paddles in the future.
Trip Leader: Debbie Leach