The haunting cry of a bald eagle followed my stand-up paddleboard across still waters. Beside me, sandstone shores – fractured and orange – rose sharply from the ocean, occasionally giving way to the arid headlands of Mayne Island, dotted with saxifrage, Garry oak and even cactus. Waves washed over my toes, and in the waters below, fish darted through emerald forests of kelp.
Twenty years earlier, I spent an entire summer guiding sea-kayak journeys amid these pastoral southern Gulf Islands – part of an area now referred to as the Salish Sea. The region was, and remains, surprisingly wild, given that it lies within sight of Vancouver and its North Shore mountains.
Fate and circumstance kept me away for two decades, until last spring when, on a whim, I bought an inflatable stand-up paddleboard. Living in British Columbia's landlocked interior, I loved surfing, missed the ocean and was looking for a cure.