Passage was a great adventure

When my good friend from Campbell River told me about an annual event of Discovery Passage Passage, I got intrigued

When my good friend from Campbell River told me about an annual event of Discovery Passage Passage, I got intrigued.

Being an adventurous person at heart, I could not resist the temptation. Immediately, I registered my husband and myself for this adventure.  Mr. (Geoff) Goodship, the organizer of this event, and his wife, kindly offered us an accommodation.  Now, there was only matter of finding a house /dog sitter for our 14-year-old dog.

The Discovery Passage Passage was the fifth annual event of crossing the Discovery Passage from Campbell River to Cape Mudge on Quadra Island.  (In 1792 Captain George Washington came to Campbell River aboard the ship HMS Discovery, hence Discovery Passage and  Cape Mudge is named after a 1st Lieutenant of HMS Discovery, Zachary Mudge. )

The crossing is opened to any man- powered vessel.  It has to be done in a short period of slack tide, to avoid rushing waters of changing tides. There were 151 people registered and 40 boats.

What a spectacle! The first to depart from Campbell River were the slowest row boats, followed by canoes, then kayaks and last the two dragon boats and an Indian war canoe.

The weather cooperated with us and we had a perfect crossing.  Beautiful, clear and cloudless sky, and only a hint of a breeze.  A Coast Guard ship and two rescue boats accompanied us across the Passage.

When we were nearing the Cape Mudge on Quadra Island, a party of We Wai Kai people of the Cape Mudge Band approached us in a war canoe. The canoe was heavily painted or carved with intricate patterns of the We Wai Kai people. Their canoe swiftly sliced the water and we were transported back in time with songs,  and a drummer on the bow of the canoe.

According to the custom, we waited to be invited to step on the shore.

This invitation came from a medicine man wearing a tall cedar hat and a coat made of cedar bark. Village people came to greet us, some wearing beautiful button blankets and cedar head dresses.  They sang their traditional songs in Kwak’Wala language; they danced and beat their drums.  We were welcomed as friends, and we were offered a feast of a thirst quenching watermelons. We were all deeply touched by a compelling speech of an elder, who spoke of a high suicide rate among the young members of the band.

There was only 20 minutes or so to enjoy their hospitality and we had to head back across the Passage before the changing tide made the crossing difficult if not impossible.

Our paddles moved to the rhythm of the Dragon Boat drums and encouraging shouts. We felt the strong pull of the incoming tide and the confused waters, where the currents met.

We made it back to Campbell River just in time. Helpful hands helped us with our canoes, kayaks and row boats to bring them to our cars.

On the shore Mrs. Goodship offered us more of a very welcomed watermelon and each of us received a certificate of achievement.

The dedication, the unassuming kindness and generosity of the volunteers, mostly members of the Goodship family, is unparalleled. They invited us, who were complete strangers to them, to their home, and they gave us a gift of friendship and memory of shared adventure.

Thank you.

Helena Gazdik

Surrey, B.C.