Wendy Killoran, a schoolteacher from London, Ontario, completed the first female solo circumnavigation of Prince Edward Island by kayak this summer in just 15 days, a feat she puts down to calm, cool conditions and a near constant tailwind.
It was not her first major trip: In the summer of 2004, Killoran circumnavigated the world’s largest freshwater island, Manitoulin Island. For both trips, she paddled a Current Designs Solstice GTS.
This trip was wilderness paddling combined with few creature comforts…
“I started and ended my circumnavigation of Canada’s smallest province, and only province completely surrounded by water, at Cameron Point, where I found a modest, hospitable B&B at water’s edge (The Beachside B&B) along the Northumberland Strait, and where I was able to leave my vehicle.
“I am fascinated by islands of the world, places with their own unique identities. I chose to paddle around Prince Edward Island, as I wanted to say I’d paddled around an entire province, my primary goal. It was a bonus to be the first female to complete this journey.
“The trip itself was just over 600 kilometers in length, and I stayed to the outside edge of all islands, so that I could meet my primary goal. I was blessed with calm, cool conditions, and if there was wind, it was usually a helpful tailwind. At strategic points in the journey, where challenging conditions were likely, I experienced ideal conditions. As a result, I completed the journey of approximately 600 kilometers in 15 paddling days, with one rest day, journeying from May 25 to June 9, 2005.
“A highlight of the trip were the lobster meals I enjoyed at restaurants along the shoreline, and the lobster presented to me from the boat “Daddy’s Girl”.
“The quiet solitude of the experience, with the unique perspective of experiencing the island from the outside edge looking inwards, was profound, as I traveled in the shoulder season when most tourists have not arrived at this world-class travel destination. A down point was the often lengthy slogs to bring my kayak and gear above the high tide mark, after 40 to 50 kilometers of paddling, when my energy was drained. The Northumberland Strait in particular is greatly affected by the tide, with extensive shallow shoals, which can create rough conditions. The west to east current in the Northumberland Strait is also quite noticeable. The unprotected north shore is exposed to a huge fetch from the Gulf of St. Lawrence which could create wild seas, but which I didn’t experience.
“I noticed from my unique vantage point that the rate of erosion to P.E.I.’s shoreline is substantial, and that the shoreline is receding at a noticeable rate (estimated at about 1 meter per year), as cottages and lighthouses stood precariously close to the unstable cliff edges. To take advantage of the usual strong winds, North Cape is home to the largest windmill farm in the Maritimes, producing an estimated 8 percent of the province’s electricity.”
She is a member of the Great Lakes Sea Kayaking Association, and her article about the trip is posted on their Web site at www.geocities.com/glska/Autumn05.html.