Tumbo Island
By: Jim and Sheri Standen

Well, you probably need one every year, - the “Shakedown Cruise”.  A short expedition trip where you’ll find out if you did prepare and store away correctly all that equipment away last fall (or has it turned a fuzzy green, black or worse).  And you get to try out all those great kayak Christmas gifts you received (and have no idea how or if they work or not) prior to the next big expedition.

The Scenario for the Standen Shakedown Cruise.

A 3 day trip to Tumbo/Cabbage Island in early to mid May.  It is the start of the season and it is before the beaches on Cabbage Island get crowded and noisy or the campsites get full.  In fact, when we did our trip last May there was only one solo camper for one night and one or two boat visitors.  Very nice indeed.

The Details.

We chose to leave by car from Long Harbour on a Sunday and travel by the 7:15 Ferry to Villiage Bay, Mayne Island.  The early ferries on all other days leave at 6:15 which is too early (if you can avoid it) or 3:30 in the afternoon (which is far too late).  We then have a coffee at the bakery in Miners Bay or a full break fast at the Saltwater Inn. Firmly caffeinated (in either case) we then drive across to Bennett Bay for a beach launch.  The trick there is to avoid a receding tide, or make the best of it if you have one.  Bennett Bay is a shallow shoal and the water can move considerably further during the time it takes to load your kayak with gear.  It can be a messy challenge, but unavoidable.  Once you free yourself from the shore, it is clear sailing (if that makes any sense at all).  The paddling trip then takes us out by the seal lions at the Belle Chain Islets and along the east side of Samuel Island and Saturna Island to arrive at Cabbage Island (adjacent to Tumbo Island) by mid to late afternoon.  Cabbage has a nice campsite with 5 sites, and a promise of a toilette being built one day.  (note: Sheri returned to Cabbage on a later trip in August end enjoyed the newly installed composting toilette.)  There is hiking on Tumbo around the bird sanctuary (the “Tumbola”) and to other beaches and forest trails.

This time we had to test our brand new solar showers (which we did a-la birthday suit and wouldn’t you know it that is when our fellow solo camper chose to arrive - blush), our new MEC stove, west coast sleeping bags (identical except for temperature ratings so we make a big one out of two and vote on which side is up that night), new pots and pans and many other things.  All worked really well.

The weather was fantastic, the camping, private and the sunsets, superb.  Cabbage campers must be prepared for some of the gutsy Racoon’s that will risk anything for your food or snacks so be aware that evasive precautions are necessary.  You may be visited by the local deer during your stay as well.

After a few days of R&R, new recipes tested, lots of happy hours and other activities it is time to declare the new gear a success or plan the ferry trip to the Victoria MEC.  Returning options include rounding the East tip of Saturna Island (East Tip and Boiling Rock), and then completing the circumnavigation of Saturna.  That option is for more experienced paddlers, especially the rounding of the tip.  The easier route back is to backtrack alongside the coast of Saturna and Samuel.  On the way back we chose to “shoot the rapids” at Boat Passage.  We then came up between the islands to our launch site, against the current the whole way.  A learning experience you might say.  Arriving mid afternoon, the tasks are to unload, pack up, visit the beautiful Japanese Gardens, head to one of the pubs for dinner and “refreshments” and try not to miss the 9:05 trip to Long Harbour (note: only available Mon-Thur) 

This was so much fun we will make it an annual event.