We will need to fly our kayaks up to Boat Basin (Hesquiaht Peninsula), the end-point of the hiking section of the expedition and start of the sea-kayaking leg. Back in the day, float planes would strap kayaks and canoes on to their floats – but they’re not allowed to do that any more.
Lucky for us we have a pair of Feathercraft folding kayaks! Each boat fits into a big backpack. These are excellent kayaks: skin-and-frame design (like the original Inuit kayaks), but with the skin made of nylon cordura fabric and hypalon rubber (the same stuff Zodiacs are made of), and the frame made of aircraft-grade aluminum.
These Feathercrafts are extra-special, because they are not even made any more. I have paddled other brands of folding boats before, and honestly, they don’t perform like kayaks at all – they are more like pointy rafts. (What is so special about a sea kayak is that you lock your legs and hips into them – so it is not like sitting in a boat it all. Rather, it is like adding an extension to your body – you maneuvre it with your whole body. That is why and how you roll a sea kayak: you must use your whole body to do it). I’ve paddled my Feathercraft all over the world: Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia (photo to left from 20+ years ago!), Mexico, and both eastern and western Canada. I’ve had it in some pretty big seas – I have even Eskimo-rolled it! These are real kayaks!
So we will be able to transport the kayaks inside a float plane, and have them ready for us in Boat Basin when we get there! We haven’t had them out for a while (have been mainy using our kevlar kayaks these past few years), so Dave and I took them on a one-week trip last month to check them out. We flew into Megin Lake by float plane, then paddled down the river (the largest pristine watershed on Vancouver Island) to the sea, then along the outer coast back to Tofino. These two pix are from that trip – but there are more Megin kayak photos on my personal blog, if you are interested!
The boats worked great. We are super-careful with them, especially the aluminum frames, as you can no longer get spare parts for them. They are a bit sun-damaged, so we will have a bit of work seam-sealing them and putting UV-protectant on as a winter project – but other than that, they are good to go!