Recently, my son Ramzi came up from Vancouver to help me renovate my house. We wanted to do something fun for a bit and decided to go on a short kayaking trip. The spoils of divorce left me with only one kayak, so my son needed to rent or borrow one so we could go together. I called around for a kayak to rent. I called North Island Kayak at Telegraph Cove first, but they only offer guided tours and did not rent them out to individuals. I then called the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce and I cannot believe the response I received: “There are no kayaks to rent on North Vancouver Island.”
Just think how absurd that sounds. That is like having a freeway and no cars! An airport and no planes! Train tracks and no trains! North Vancouver Island is a kayaker’s paradise with no kayaks!
Since we could not find a kayak to rent, we decided to take a 2-hour Telegraph Cove tour. They offer several tours, 2 -hour, 4-hour, half day, full day and 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8-day tours. The prices were quite reasonable: our 2-hour tour was $75 per person not including tax. The eight-day tour is $2100, with accommodation (tents) and entertainment (whales, sea otters, sea lions, birds, etc.) included. Prices are lower earlier in the season.
We saw the usual North Island gems: islands, channels, beaches and plenty of wildlife. Our tour guide, Nadia, picked up a sea urchin for us to look at and talked about their anatomy. I mentioned making kelp pickles and she helped us retrieve a kelp stipe to take home. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take my “kayaking chihuahua,” Chloe, with me. I swear she knew we were going kayaking and was supremely upset when we left her behind at home.
The tour succeeded in getting my son more interested in kayaking. We later ended up finding someone who could lend us their kayak so we can go kayaking on our own next time he comes up. I can now continue to contribute to my kayaking blog, “chloethekayakingchihuahua.com.” that had to go on hold for a couple of years after my relationship with my former kayaking partner ended.
A kayak rental would greatly bolster tourism in Port Alice. We have the beautiful scenery, but there’s not much visitors can do with it! These days, however, there are new very strict safety regulations that have discouraged many an entrepreneur from starting a kayak rental business. Because of the insurance liabilities, guided tours are now the way to go.
There is a silver lining to this cloud, however, as anyone who is certified to be a kayaking guide and can get a hold of a few kayaks can have a kayak touring business in Port Alice! It doesn’t have to be a big operation, and the tours can be flexible and personalized…in a relaxed, easy going Port Alice way. The business owner or owners can leave a phone number around for people to call if they want to go kayaking, then arrangements can be made. This would probably be a service for mostly for kayaking newbies, so paddling the inlet would suffice most times; or, arrangements can be made to go elsewhere.
There would be few start-up costs and the safety aspect would be covered by the presence of a guide who can save anyone who gets dunked. It would be essentially a kayak rental, with a tag-along friend for safety. It would be a great summer job for someone who likes to be on the water.
Debra Lynn is a freelance writer for the North Island Gazette, an artist, and an educator who lives in Port Alice