Catala Istand Text

A narrow passage in the fog.

On day 4, we moved to Catala Island. We woke to dense fog, so once again we relied on compass headings for the one hour crossing. First we went through a narrow passage by Island 40. We then picked up our northwesterly heading and paddled without visual aid.


Crossing to Catala Island in the fog.

Twice we heard powerboats, and stopped to be ready to get their attention. The first never got close enough to be seen, but the second stopped when the captain saw us, and he seemed not quite sure whether to rescue us or press on. We waved in a friendly way, and he moved off. Navigation by dead reckoning is an act of faith, and a few times we murmured that the next landfall past Catala was Japan, but eventually we came to rocks which Bob was able to recognize as being the debris around Catala Island.


Fog at Catala Island.

Catala is a much larger island than Island 44 was, and it has a striking coastline, with lots of massifs and caves to explore. Here, George admires a rock jutting out of the water.


East coast of Catala Island

As the fog burned away, the northeast face of Catala Island showed its beauty. The Bark Beetle is an infestation problem throughout British Columbia and it is evident here. It has lead to economic difficulty for the lumber industry.


Underwater rock.

The clarity of the water made the scenery below our boats interesting. Starr fish, anemones, and even crabs were visible.


Carala Camp

We camped on an open, triangular promontory when projected from the northeast side of Catala Island. As the fog burned back, we had an up close view of the mountains of Vancouver Island. Scanning with binoculars, some of the party watched a black bear walking down the beach across the channel.



Bob did not bring a tent on the trip, preferring to sleep in a well sheltered hammock. Since this framework was already erected, he found it perfect for suspending his bed.


Don's tent

I carry a large tarp for rain, but in this case, the bright sun drove me to set it up. The ground was made up of pebbles, and when lying down, these gradually conformed to make a comfortable sleeping surface.



Some, but not all the campsites in the area have toilets. Those that do, use this open air septic style. In wet weather, the worst part is not that one is sitting, pants down, in the rain, but that one realizes that the toilet paper has turned to mush.

Contrails in the sky.

Depending on the jet stream, is is common that the great circle route to Tokyo runs right up the west side of Vancouver Island, as it did on this day.


Getting the air out of drysuits.

For our afternoon paddle, we elected to go to High Rocks, about three miles west of Catala Island. Before any paddle, those in dry suits must get the excess air out of them. The easiest way is to wade into the water and then pull away the latex gasket at the neck and let the air rush out.


The High Rocks

We started our crossing to High Rocks on a flat, windless sea.


Seagulls on a rock.

A seagull rookery at High Rocks.


High Rocks2

On occasions when Bob has paddled down the coast of Vancouver Island, he found sanctuary at High Rocks. North of these rocks, the coastline offers no protection for many miles.


Tide pools.

Bob described how he used to swim in these tide pools after a long, hard paddle.

Seals at High Rocks

A colony of seals watched our every move, but went under if we took notice of them.


Group photo on Catala Island

On our paddle back to Catala Island we saw a Humpback Whale repeatedly breaching and then showing its huge fin as it went back under. We paused at the southern point of Catala for a group photo.


Rip tides

At the southern point of Catala, the wave set came in two directions around Little Catala Island, setting up standing waves which would shoot spray into the air. We enjoyed a brief surf ride as we passed through this passage.


First Nation Village

We had planned to spend a fifth day exploring the area, however the weather report told of an incoming front with gale force winds. Our weather had been excellent, and with no off days we had seen what Bob had intended to show us. So on the fifth morning we set out on a scenic route to Espinosa Inlet. On the way, Bob took us by a First Nation community where he had friends. We visited briefly with them before moving on.


Landing back at Little Espinosa Inlet.

By 10 AM we were back at Little Espinosa Inlet, where we had started our paddling trip. As we moved our gear back into cars, we could not stop talking about what a stimulating, interesting trip it had been. For me, it was my first Canadian adventure without rain, which made it even better. We are grateful to Bob for organizing the trip and sharing his insight with us. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest ten years ago, I knew that I wanted to get into ocean kayaking. However, I never anticipated that it would get me into so many remote, beautiful areas as it has. I credit the Hole in the Wall Kayaking Club for much of that exposure. A good kayaking club provides a rich interchange of experience and information. It creates leaders who can take others to new places. It also provides safety information; very important in this sport. I hope that you enjoyed taking this journey vicariously with me. Feel free to explore my Home Page for other stories.

Don Webster

The End