Saturday, July 21, 2012


A last chance for a holiday before returning to work.
Time with friends in a beautiful setting.
A chance to explore an island from the water.
Great food and lots of wine.

Heather graciously invited a bunch of swimmers to her house on the island for all of the above.  How could we say no?

This is the story of the three swims in three days we undertook.
Friday afternoon: The western end of Gabriola, leaving from the Descanso Bay Campground and swimming to the Malaspina Galleries for some sightseeing.  Rachia and Heather arrived on Thursday night, Pete, Linda, myself and Matt got in around 2:00PM on Friday.  As soon as Brenda arrived around 5:00PM we took off for the Campground.  The late afternoon water was warm and glass smooth, and the visibility was incredible.  Matt and I had briefly seen the Malaspina Galleries (sandstone cliffs eroded by surf) the previous time we had been to Gabriola, and he wanted to get a better look at them from the sea.  We swam into the warm afternoon, stopping to admire the beauty of the shoreline and to chat.  It didn't take long to arrive at the Galleries and then to continue to the point and peek at the next bay.  At the point we could feel the current and though the sandy beach of the next bay called to us, we turned and swum leisurely back to the campground.  It was to prove the longest "hike" of the weekend at 3km round trip.
You can't tell but I am on tip toe
Rinsing off after swim #1
Saturday afternoon:  There had been discussion of a swim earlier in the day but on Saturday night Rachia served an amazing meal and we enjoyed some great bottles of wine - which all conspired to keep us chatting far too late into the evening.  The next morning  was busily taken up with drinking coffee, exporing Heather's beautiful garden, and a trip to the Gabriola farmer's market.

The amazing outdoor eating area

Rousing ourselves in the late afternoon Heather, Rachia, Brenda, and me and Matt decided to head to the eastern end of the Island.  Linda and Pete generously offered to drive the cars so we could do a point to point swim.

Getting ready to jump off the dock at Silva Bay Marina

We took off from the Silva Bay Marina around the Flat Top Islands.   This was probably my favourite swim of the weekend.  Islands, kelp, eddies that had us spinning around in circles. Visibility may have been even better, if possible, than the previous day.

Hey Look!  We can see Vancouver from here!

Pete and Linda met us at Peterson Bay.  They were equally enamoured of the site and the kelp forests; lucky Pete had manged to get in some freediving while waiting for us to arrive.

Another evening of cooking together, wine or beer in hand.  Heather picked fresh greens and onions from the garden for the freshest salad possible.  By the time we sat down, the table was creaking under everyone's contribution.  After dinner we cozied up on the couches and chatted about dream swims we'd like to undertake.

On Sunday afternoon after seeing Brenda and Rachia off, Pete, Heather and I decided to swim from Sandwell Beach on the north side of the island to Berry Point, where we would meet Linda and Matt.


The water was rocky right off the bat, with rolling swells at the beach that turned into chop when we got closer to land and they began bouncing off the rocks.  Sighting became a bit of a chore but we stuck together and as soon as we swam around the point the water calmed down considerably.  We saw Matt almost immediately, standing out on the sandstone and telling us to swim out to avoid the shallow rocks.  Berry Point is made up of flat sandstone with all sorts of nooks and crannies where you can find shelter from the wind.  The water looked so nice that we decided to do some freedive drops to around 10 meters where we dove around the kelp, anemones, school of herring and one lone nudibranch on the bottom.

From the moment we arrived on Friday until the dolphins saw us off on the ferry, we felt pampered and welcome.  Matt and I agreed it was the best holiday we had taken in a long time.  Thank you to Heather for such a magical weekend!

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