Royston-based Norm Hann became the first person to paddle board across Hecate Strait, a body of water that has bashed around more than its fair share of boats in the past.
Hann teamed up with fellow adventurer for this 12-hour, sufferfest crossing of a notoriously nasty piece of water.
Hecate Strait separates Haida Gwaii from the BC Mainland. It’s shallow, with depths of between 50 and 115 feet. Winds from Dixon Entrance in the north and Queen Charlotte Sound to the south can quickly whip the strait into a frothy mess of whitewater and waves.
Hecate Strait is named after the Greek goddess of the underworld, night and witchcraft. Sailors have recorded 30-metre-high waves in the strait. That’s tall enough to submerge an 8-storey building.
Hann and Kirkby had been watching the forecast like hawks while on a north coast SUP trip. When weather conditions lined up, they hustled to Naikoon with their paddleboards. Also known as Rose Spit, this is the northeasternmost point of land on Haida Gwaii.
Then they set off and paddled into the rising sun for the almost 50 km crossing. It was all that they imagined Hecate Strait to be – wild, windy and bumpy.
“Messy seas slowed our progress to a crawl at times,” Hann wrote in a recent Instagram post. “… being alone on those capricious waters was humbling, and we feel blessed to have glimpsed Hecate’s eternity and power.”
Hann is a widely travelled stand-up paddle boarder. In May 2010, he and sea kayaker Brian Huntington travelled the proposed Enbridge oil tanker route through the Great Bear Rainforest. The 400-km paddle trip took them from Kitimaat to the Heiltsuk village of Bella Bella.
The journey formed the basis of the documentary StandUp4GreatBear documentary that you can watch here.
Bruce Kirkby is a writer and adventurer who first hit the headlines in 1999 after crossing the Arabian desert by camel with two other Canadians and three Bedouins.
His book Sand Dance: By Camel Across Arabia’s Great Southern Desert, tells the tale.