On the evening of Wednesday August 15th, 2007, Joe O'Blenis paddled into the Brechin Boat Launch in Nanaimo at 8:00 PM, successfully completing his solo circumnavigation of British Columbia's rugged Vancouver Island. In doing so, Joe shattered the previous speed record of 28 days, having completed the expedition in just 23 days and 10 hours!
The expedition was done with support from Kokatat Watersports, Sea kayaking UK (Nigel Dennis), Comox Valley Kayaks and John Kimantas of the Wild Coast (Guidebooks and Marine Atlases). Also helpful in countless ways were a good number of people, too numerous to mention in this brief press release. Many thanks to you all!
The expedition held many challenges right from the start from the dense fog at launch time to the headwinds of up to and over 40 knots for the first 17 days. Rough seas, limited landing spots and the ever-persistent winds took their toll during the expedition but despite the challenges, the rewards were equally plentiful. From the magnificent scenery of Vancouver Island to the vast array of marine wildlife with near daily sightings of a variety of whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions as well as deer, bears, eagles and so much more! The beautiful but incredibly rugged shoreline of the west coast of Vancouver Island with its cliffs, sea stacks, caves as well as number of long sandy beaches made for an amazing and inspiring journey.
Highlights of the trip included camping on the outer tip of the Brooks Peninsula complete with a large bear just down the beach from my camp, rounding Cape Scott in pristine conditions, a cold can of beer in the Bunsby Islands compliments of the staff at West Coast Expeditions on Spring Island and of course finishing the expedition back in Nanaimo with the hot shower & shave afterwards closely followed by delicious chicken wings and beer at the pub with good friends!
The new record, four and half days faster than the previous mark, is now there for the taking. In Joe's words, It is my hope that the record will fall within the next year or two, giving me reason to do it all over one more time, using the knowledge gained from this expedition to shave a few more days off the mark and, hopefully, beat the time from Keirron Tastagh and Jeff Norville who paddled a tandem around the island in May 2007 in a record time of 19 and a half days in a Triton double kayak.
Hopefully there will be some stunning photographs from the expedition in the gallery once Joe has gone through them all!
Sea Kayaking UK
John Kimantas/ The Wild Coast
Comox Valley Kayaks