The last week I have been in Bella Bella hanging out with the students of the local high school as they put the finishing touches on their very own handmade cedar stand up paddleboards. After 6 months of hard work and the odd late night after school, the finished product is just beautiful. The students put in an incredible amount of time, helped each other along the way and completed a project that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
To cap it all off, the Hakai Beach Institute invited them down for a long weekend to launch their boards. After an aborted attempt to boat down to Hakai Friday morning, the waters settled and with a bigger boat everyone made it in time for dinner. Hakai is a research institute on Calvert Island, 2 hours boat ride south of Bella Bella and situated at the end of a long, calm inlet with anchorages and a 200m walk to white sandy beaches that fronts the Pacific. And waves. A former fishing lodge, it was purchased by Eric Peterson and his wife Christina Munck and converted into a place for scientists, archeologists, artists and youth to come and work. To say the location is stunning is an understatement and the interesting people doing field work in the surrounding areas all have plenty of interesting tales to tell.
Norm Hann joined the group to instruct the students on how to use their boards safely. Raph Bruhwiler fought off a nasty stomach bug to bring Quiksilver wetsuits and give them a surf lesson. By Saturday afternoon everyone was out on the water paddling, surfing and enjoying the sun that graced the entire weekend. The students were naturals and took to paddling and surfing easily, making all the hard work sanding, gluing, fiber-glassing a bygone memory. It made for a great way to have everyone together in person and on film.
Up next is Norm’s Haida Gwaii expedition. We will be in Old Masset tomorrow to meet up with the Soul Haven crew and start paddling. Haida Gwaii holds the promise of more stunning scenery and wildlife, not to mention mystery. The entire crew is looking forward to 2 weeks paddling, sailing, fishing and shooting on what anybody who as been there describes as a trip of a lifetime.
It’s going to be an adventure!