Somewhere in the fog between Gibsons and Egmont, Nick asks me, “Why, again are we doing this?”
The wipers can’t keep up with the rain and the tires feel loose on the endless curves. Foreigner is all that blares on the local radio station. It takes me a second, focused on the scantly visible road enveloped by dark BC forest, top-heavy from the pair of soggy, racked sea kayaks.
“Uhh, to test boats,” I answer.
More specifically, to finally get on this Skookumchuck wave we’ve all heard so much about.
Mark Hall from Delta Kayaks planted the seed a few weeks ago after sending some YouTube-age of his new 16-foot, thermoform prototype surfing on the mysterious tidal beast.
Click here for the footage
I always thought of Skookumchuck as some giant M Wave-like Sasquatch of the Great White North reserved only for helix-poppin’ playboaters.
But hearing more and more about the shorter sea kayak crop in development — ones with progressive hull shapes to handle surf zones and tidal races with ease — the C&K staff pulled the trigger to put six new models to the Skookum-test.
That explained why art director/photographer Rob Zaleski, photo intern Brandon Gonski and I flew up from our SoCal office to meet with our Seattle-based advertising and marketing team of Jim Marsh, Nick Hinds and Scott Waidelich for 24 hours of frenzied, soaking wet travel sandwiched around a Saturday sea kayak orgy of activity.
That, and the Skook Burger.
To finish the Skook Burger, you need a serious carb deficit.
Skipping breakfast helps. Tired from rain and roads, we get the wake-up cabin call that the max flood will be earlier than anticipated. As we hastily unpack Gearzilla — a seriously stuffed duffle full of new dry gear to test — Hall and the Hurricane Riders are already putting on in the rain.
I can’t say that I’ve ever paddled with a Canadian sea kayak posse, but this particular one, based out of Vancouver’s Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak, is definitely one core Canadian sea kayak crew. You can only see their eyes. Decked out with insulating face masks, down to waterproof camera housings and Scuba strobe lights lashed to PFDs, they know what they’re up against. They aren’t fooling around rigging their boats and guessing if they need touring or whitewater skirts and paddles. We take a few obvious cues that it’s better to err on the side of whitewater — think neoprene skirts, short paddles with big blades, poggies and gasketed tops. Fortunately, that’s our group’s frame of reference going into the bizarro, sea/wave hybrid world of tidal long-boat surfing.