VIDEO: Ucluelet kayak guides circumnavigate Vancouver Island

“It was actually a really powerful spiritual journey.”

Friends and fellow paddlers cheered Alaina McNeil and Shannon Jensen into Majestic Ocean Kayaking on Monday evening as the pair triumphantly crossed the finish line of their Vancouver Island circumnavigation.

The local kayak guides left Ucluelet in a two-person kayak on May 7 and completed their roughly 1,150-kilometre voyage around the Island in 28 days.

“We had really good weather. We were lucky. I expected there to be more impossibly challenging days, we did have a couple but, all-in-all, it went pretty smoothly: no epics, no capsizes, no crash landings,” McNeil said. “It went by really quick. I feel like we left here last week and now we’re back.”

Jensen said the experience was much more substantial than she had expected.

“This was Elena’s dream and she needed someone to come with her. It sounded like a cool idea so I jumped onboard and had no idea what I was really getting into,” Jensen said. “It turned out to be more than just paddling around the Island. It was actually a really powerful spiritual journey. It was amazing.”

She said the solace she found travelling and camping around the Island’s remote landscapes was bursting with opportunities for reflection.

“There was so much time in each day, as you’re sitting for 12 hours in a kayak, to reflect on everything in life,” she said.

“We met fear a couple of times…and came out of it stronger and with the opportunity to grow and move on from that. It was so much more than just paddling. I’m very happy that I did this.”

McNeil and Jensen are both guides with Majestic Ocean Kayaking and the company’s owner Tracy Eeftink said navigating unfamiliar waters while keeping well-rested and well-nourished along the way is an impressive feat in itself, without considering the amount of paddling needed to get around the entire Island.

“There’s a lot of concerns about water hazards, currents, storms, boat traffic and wildlife,” she said.

“Once they got up to Port Hardy and they started coming around the top part of the Island, especially around the Brooks Peninsula, we were all going, ‘Oh my goodness, this is the part that’s really going to be challenging for them’ and they handled it so well…I was really proud of them.”

Eeftink said adding the circumnavigation experience to their guiding resume has brought McNeil and Jensen “leagues above where they were at,” and added the “grit, determination and bravery,” the two women showed is inspiring.

“I can say that they’re hardcore now because of what they’ve done. This isn’t something people just do everyday. This is completely amazing,” she said. “It’s ‘Girl Power.’ It’s empowering for them to do this. This is a big thing in their life.”

Just Posted

Campbell River store to accept donations for Zeballos as wildfire flares up

Local 7-Eleven offers free Slurpee in exchange for donations to Zeballos on Wednesday

In smoky conditions, listen to your body – Island Health

Symptoms of smoke exposure include eye, throat irritation

UPDATE: Fast-burning construction materials fuelled Willow Point blaze – fire chief

Curious onlookers created challenges for emergency crews; fundraising effort underway for family

Howie Meeker Campbell River Special Olympics golf classic welcomes new co-host

30th annual event pays tribute to 94-year-old namesake

UPDATED: Zeballos wildfire not getting any closer to town – BC Wildfire Service

About 64 wildfires burning north of Campbell River on Tuesday

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Prime minister greeted by B.C. premier as cabinet retreat begins

PM Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan meet in advance of federal cabinet meetings in Nanaimo

Are your kids anxious about going back to school?

BC Children’s Hospital offers tips to help your children be mindful and reduce stress

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Team Canada’s next game postponed at Little League World Series

They’re back in action on Wednesday against Peurto Rico

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

Said he and Trump arranged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Canada’s team chasing elusive gold medal at women’s baseball World Cup

Canada, ranked No. 2 behind Japan, opens play Wednesday against No. 10 Hong Kong

Most Read