The Great Race


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Late Saturday night I contact my source to make sure weather conditions will be favourable for our trip to a small bit of heaven just outside Pedder Bay. The news is not good: strong winds, a small craft warning and a strong tidal change make for a likely cancellation. I have a group of Aboriginal Youth from Northwestern ready to go diving at this Marine Ecological Reserve known as Race Rocks. There goes my reputation!

Over the years, I have travelled to this special place to many times to count. The light keepers over the years used to joke about my record of “good luck". My game plan has always been to pack up and go and see what fortune bestowed me.

But this time, it doesn't look good.

Sunday morning 7:00 am. I call my source again and he says the water is flat in the Strait and we should give it a shot after all. I jump in my car and head to where the youth are gathering. They are ready and we convoy out to Pearson College in Pedder Bay. Garry Fletcher, a Biology Instructor at Pearson College, is our guide for the day. Just as we arrive, the sun breaks out. Our luck is changing.

We load up the dive gear and head out of the Bay. There is a small wind blowing from the Northeast but the tide is flooding which keeps the waves low. A great day is unfolding!

As we approach Race Rocks, we see about 20 gulls harassing a mammoth sea lion as it tries to eat a very large salmon. The youth who accompany me have never seen anything like this before. Their eyes bug out, “Wow, is he huge!"

We are now nearing the dock, where a guest is sitting- another hefty male sea lion. To the left of the dock is a large contingent of sea lions, lounging on the shores of Great Race, the island where the lighthouse is situated. Mike Slater the Marine Protected Area Guardian comes down to assist our docking and the big sea lion slides into the water. The ones to our left start making lots of noise, expressing their disapproval at our approach, but none of them leave. A large male is rolling around in the water next to a group of females. I think they're with him.

Ron Kirstein is the owner of a Canadian Travel & Tourism Web site (since 1995). Ron has traveled the length and breadth of Vancouver Island BC Canada in search of adventures; see


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