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Always Beautiful on the Sunshine Coast: Surfing the Alchemy
I’ve only been on a handful of sea-kayaking trips, but it's one of my favorite ways to get around, go camping, and enjoy the wonders of the salt.
Of course, I love multi-day whitewater trips, but it’s definitely a luxury to be able to pack twice as much stuff and have it all much more accessible in a sea kayak. I’ve gotten to paddle my Alchemy all around the San Juan Islands, which are just out my back door, and recently I took it to Skookumchuck Narrows on the Sunshine Coast, BC. It was my first time surfing it, or any long boat like it. It was also a plus to have the Alchemy for the ~40 minute paddle from Egmont to the wave, making the paddle out a bit shorter and being able to carry lots of gear, food and of course beer to the wave.
If you haven’t heard of or seen videos of Skookumchuck, it’s an incredible wave formed by peak flood tides rushing into an inlet. As the water is constricted at one point of the inlet, a perfect wave forms for a few hours each day, depending on tide strengths. As the water rushes by at about 15 knots during the peak of the flood, paddlers take turns surfing and throwing their best moves.
After the tide slows, the crashing wave begins to shrink and lose its foam pile until it’s just a set of a few small waves. This is when I got to take advantage of the Alchemy, Dagger’s versatile 14’ touring kayak. Although I’ve spent a lot of time in the Alchemy taking it island hopping and spent the whole morning surfing Skook in my Jitsu, I had never surfed a boat as long as the Alchemy on any waves before. It was definitely a bit of a learning curve, but once I got the hang of it I had the time of my life.
The Alchemy has a nice rocker to it, so on the wave it was very maneuverable and easy to transition from the eddy onto the wave. No one else had long boats that could surf the small waves, so I got a solid twenty-minute soul surf while everyone jealously watched.
As a beginner I had no idea how small of a wave a long, fast boat like the Alchemy could stay on. I assumed that with around 10 knots of water rushing by I wouldn’t be able to stay on the wave, but to my surprise I could surf and carve on a wave not much taller than the boat itself.
I can't wait to go back to Skookumchuck and surf the Alchemy before and after the peak of the tide when the wave is good for playboating, and find some more surf spots in the San Juan Islands soon!
Also check out the video of my weekend trip to Skook playboating in the Jitsu and surfing the Alchemy here: