I have been wanting to check out the Murray Islands on the SouthEastern end of Prince Edward island for some time. There is a chain of five islands at the mouth of the river, with many of them connected with barrier beaches and intertidal area. I planned to start paddling the first couple hours before high tide and explore around the islands and if weather permitted out to the Northumberland Strait.
I started at sunrise at Cahoon’s Wharf on the Greek River. The trip began with some early morning wildlife including some Great Blue Heron along the shore and an eagle soaring over the river.
As I came out towards the mouth of Greek River and around Indian Point I was greeted by a mussel boat working on their leases. Prince Edward Island accounts for approximately 80% of Canada’s cultured blue mussel production so you are sure to see these folks working on the water in the bays and estuaries around PEI.
As I rounded the Northern end of Reynold’s Island I was greeted by a few seals drying off on a sand spit. They didn’t allow me to get too close before they were wiggling their way into the water where they are much more agile than on land.
I explored around the islands and spotted a variety of bird life and more seals at different spots along the islands. Reynolds, Herring and Thomas Island are all connected by small sand spits except on larger than normal tides and storm surge.
The wind was gusting strongly from the SW, but the land provided enough protection that I decided to paddle out past Penny Pt and Beach Pt range lights and out into the Northumberland Strait. As you pass through the channel you will see the Beach Point Seafood Processing Plant.
I continued along towards Murray Head and was happy to be greeted by a flock of Northern Gannet’s fishing, It is always amazing to watch them plummet towards the sea and disappear into the water in search of their prey. They are known to dive from 30 meters high and can dive more than 20 meters deep for fish.
I stopped for lunch at Murray Head and decided to walk the shoreline. I gathered a few jewels for Heather as she is a fan of sea glass and also looked at the signs of how our Island changes yearly with coastal erosion. I always say, this Island truly is a massive sandbar in the lower Gulf of St. Lawrence.
This was an interesting paddle with some wonderful scenery and lots of wildlife. There are lots of landing spots along the way, however, some caution can be required in some areas. There is an active wharf close to the mouth of the Greek River where it feeds into Murray River and boat traffic can be common in the area. There are also some significant currents that can be encountered at the narrow channel leading from Murray River out to the Northumberland Strait. If you don’t time it correctly you may have trouble paddling against it. The wind was too strong, but there are also said to be some currents not to far off shore from Murray Head.
It was totally unexpected when I was asked to join the Stohlquist Canada Pro Team. I knew many of the current members of the team and knew they were excellent paddlers and great ambassadors. I also knew there were a bunch of highly skilled, capable and active paddlers right here on the East Coast. That being said, it didn’t require much thinking and the obvious answer was YES! I was immediately excited about the opportunity and then I came to learn I would be able to take part in a team event on the West Coast in the picturesque Tofino, British Columbia.
I was able to spend four days on the Wild West Coast living in a beach house and playing in some amazing Pacific Coast swell with a crew of incredible paddlers. I was excited to not only get on the water in February (while the little province of PEI was locked in ice), but to be able to watch and learn from some world-class surfers. It was a great opportunity to spend four days with everyone and get to know each other and learn from some of the best.
We were lucky to have fellow team member and photographer join us for the event, Kevin Light. He proved to be not only talented, but quite hardy, and seemed to thrive getting thrashed around in the surf zone and staying in the water for hours on end to get the right shot. Oh, yeah…did I mention Kevin is also an Olympic Gold Medalist.
Monday morning rolled around and we were leaving late that morning. When I woke up I could feel the seven previous surf sessions and my muscles were aching. However, when Santiago Berrueta asked if I was up for a surf, how could I say no. It was a beautiful morning and the surf was up.
The event was an incredible experience and perfect way to get to know the rest of the team. I am already looking forward to the next time I get to paddle with these guys. Upon my return I was happy to see it was recently announced that one of Kevin Light’s photos from the event was selected as the cover of Ocean Paddler Magazine. I remember that evening walking back to the beach house with fellow team member Lee Richardson. The perfect bookend to an epic trip!