Vancouver Island 2008

An Account of Sean Morley’s Record-Breaking Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island 2008


In September 2008 California based British sea kayaker Sean Morley attempted to break the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Canada’s Vancouver Island. The record stood at 23 days 10 hours for a single kayak set by Joe O’Blenis and 19 and a half days for a double kayak set by Kieron Tastagh and Jeff Norville, both in 2007. Sean paddled a single kayak, a Nordkapp manufactured by Valley Sea Kayaks. He aimed to complete the 700 mile journey in under 18 days. Vancouver Island can present some of the most challenging conditions a kayaker can face including fierce winds and huge waves off the notorious headlands of Cape Scott and the Brooks Peninsular, high surf and treacherous reefs guarding the remote beaches of the west coast and raging tidal rapids reaching speeds of 15knots in the myriad of channels separating Vancouver Island from the mainland.

Sean lives in California where he runs River and Ocean LLC; a sales and customer service agency in the watersports industry. He was the US West Coast importer and distributor for UK based sea kayak manufacturer Valley Sea Kayaks. Sean is also the Western region sales representative for Kokatat Watersports Wear and has been a member of Team Kokatat since 2006. He is the current World Masters Surf Kayak Champion in the High Performance category.

In 2004 Sean completed the first solo circumnavigation of the UK and Ireland and all the inhabited islands; a six month, 4500mile expedition and the longest journey ever undertaken by kayak in British waters.

Sean began his attempt to break the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Vancouver Island immediately after the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium on September 22nd 2008.

By making an anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Vancouver Island Sean hoped to take advantage of the anticipated late summer prevailing northwesterly winds on the exposed west coast of the island. By starting as far north and as close to Cape Scott as possible he hoped this would allow him to wait for a weather window before starting the expedition. This would minimize any weather related delays for what was likely to be the crux of the expedition, Cape Scott and the Brooks Peninsula. It also meant that he would complete the west coast first, ideally before any autumnal storms arrived.

The tide is a big factor on the east coast and by making an anti-clockwise circumnavigation Sean calculated that by the time he reached the east coast in the first week of October, he would be able to use the ebb during daylight light hours in Discovery Passage and Johnstone Strait.

Sean explains;

“Of course was a provisional route plan and very likely to change somewhat as the weather and my own endurance dictated how far I would get each day. Since my aim was to complete the circumnavigation in 18 days, I built expected weather delays into the plan. I did not want to be pushing on towards some pre-determined campsite if the weather and sea conditions and my own physical state suggested that I should stop and wait. It is always important to be flexible and I had many alternatives and escape routes built into my plan if conditions turned nasty. In terms of safety, heeding weather warnings, etc each situation has to be taken in context. Your location, intended route, the strength and direction of the wind, the fetch and size of swell, nature of the coastline, escape routes, your own level of ability and your current physical condition have to be taken into consideration and sensible parameters set.

That said of course an expedition of this nature is all about pushing limits and it comes down to judgement and learning from experience. This area was new to me. I didn’t yet understand the Pacific weather systems as well as those more familiar to me generated in the North Atlantic. I resolved to be cautious whilst I got a feel for it and only started to push hard when I felt comfortable in my surroundings.

I recognise that a high profile undertaking like this can attract the attention of the media and it was important that it was a good news story. The ironic thing is that in my experience, the media aren’t really interested until things go wrong!

To answer the understandable question of why anyone would want to ‘race’ around such a beautiful island, I guess one has to be of a competitive nature to understand. It’s the same reason why adventure racers go to exotic places to put themselves through hell instead of relaxing on the beach, or why folk go running in the hills instead of walking. Sure I would love to spend the rest of my life exploring Vancouver Island. Unfortunately I only had three weeks available and I wanted to see as much of the island as I could in the time available. I also love competition and the physical and logistical challenges of travelling fast in a wilderness area. Yes it’s all about ego, about being the first, the fastest, whatever. But that is what opens our minds to what is possible and allows us to grow. I absolutely respect those that would rather take three weeks to explore just one inlet or island group in detail and get to know every facet of its natural environment. Maybe one day I will let myself slow down enough to do just that. In the meantime, whilst my body will let me, I will continue to push my boundaries and set goals that to some may seem foolhardy but to others are inspiring.”

Around Vancouver Island by Kayak – Route Plan

Day       Start – Finish & Approx. Mileage
1            Port Hardy to Cape Sutil – 35
2           Cape Sutil to Lowrie Bay – 35
3           Lowrie Bay to Lawn Point – 35
4           Lawn Point to Bunsby Islands – 40
5           Bunsby Islands to Calvin Creek – 50
6           Calvin Creek to Mate Island – 50
7           Mate Island to Florencia Bay – 50
8           Florencia Bay to Tsusiat Point – 45
9           Tsusiat Point to French Beach – 55
10         French Beach to Discovery Islands – 55
11        Discovery Islands to Pirates Cove – 60
12        Pirates Cove to Qualicum Bay – 55
13        Qualicum Bay to Campbell River – 60
14        Campbell River to Camp Point – 45
15        Camp Point to Blinkhorn Peninsula – 45
16         Blinkhorn Peninsula to Port Hardy – 45

Total: 710

The following are excerpts from Sean’s Blog with photos:

waiting for ferry at Port Angeles, WA

waiting for ferry at Port Angeles, WA

Ready and Waiting at Port Hardy
Written by Sean at Port Hardy, September 23, 2008Brian Coggan and I left Port Angeles, WA yesterday evening on the ferry to Vancouver Island. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset down the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We stayed the night with Doug Alderson, author of the fabulous guide book, Around Vancouver Island. We talked through our respective routes and gleaned tons of useful information. Brian is probably going to head NE from Port Hardy and make his way island hopping over to the BC mainland coast before heading south weaving his way through the islands in Johnstone Strait and the Discovery Islands before crossing back to VI and heading south towards Puget Sound. In the meantime I will wait for the weather window I need to make a start on my record attempt. We are at Port Hardy, ready and waiting. At the moment there is a big fat weather system, the first of the autumn moving onto the west coast of VI. Whilst I may be able to head up towards Cape Scott tomorrow it may be more prudent to wait a day and let the system blow itself out over the island.

I shall probably be blogging again tomorrow but if I don’t it means I have started!


Starting Today
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The forecast is looking okay for a start this afternoon to make use of the ebb and the remaining SE winds to carry me towards Cape Scott. The wind is forecast to drop Thursday into Friday and back NW so that should give me the opportunity to get around Cape Scott and then have the wind at my back for a couple of days. I have to say the extended forecast is not good with a big low developing up in the Gulf of Alaska in four to six days time. That could bring some strong wind and big swell to the west coast which is not ideal. I will need to get south of the Brooks Peninsula before all that arrives!

I will of course continue to monitor that and make the right decision if conditions get too big.

So I plan to start as soon as I can this afternoon. Keep watching….

Ready to go at Port Hardy

Sean Departs Port Hardy on 9/24
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hi Folks,
I am Gina, Sean’s wife.  He has given me the task of keeping folk posted on his journey.  I am happy to do so in between work and taking care of our daughter.

Sean departed Port Hardy on 9/24 in the afternoon.  He was reluctant to do so because of some gale force winds, but the weather was clearing and he was eager to get his first two strokes in the water.

He is using his Nordkapp instead of the Rapier 20 by Valley Sea Kayaks. He performed a test run in the Rapier in the morning, but felt because of the stormy conditions he will be more stable in the Nordkapp.

I have been receiving squawk’s from his [SPOT]GPS system.  He will squawk me upon arrival to a new destination and in the morning before he departs.  It seems to be working so far.  His first camp out was successful and I will update you all as soon as he makes it around the Northwest corner of VI.
Cheers for now!!!
Go Sean!!!


grammygal said…
Go Go Sean,
So happy you got started on your V.I. venture and we wish you much success and a safe journey! We will be watching your progress and thank you Gina for the updates.

Much love,
Carolyn & Fred from Oregon
September 25, 2008 7:34 PM

Corinne Kane said…
Thanks for the updates sista! We will be keeping track of that hubby of yours. Love ya!
September 26, 2008 1:31 PM

Day 3 at Winter Harbour
Friday, September 26, 2008

He is Day 3 into his epic journey and appears to be doing well.

Cape Scott in a flat calm!

Cape Scott in a flat calm!

He has made it around Cape Scott (which was the most exposed) Northwesterly point of VI.  Hopefully now, the wind will be at his back and he can cruise down the Western portion of VI with a smile on his face.

Sean has a couple big river mouths to cross, so stay tuned…


Corinne Kane said…
Yeah! That means the hardest part is over, right?
September 26, 2008 8:32 PM

grammygal said…
Sean is pushing through!!! Hope he is having a nice rest at the beach tonight!
September 26, 2008 11:07 PM

Pat said…
Go, Sean! The Brooks is behind you. My grade 6 class is following your amazing journey.
September 28, 2008 9:25 AM

smudge said…
Well what can we say, good luck on your latest exped, catch up properly when you get home safely
love Ian Gina and Mills
September 28, 2008 12:34 PM

Lowrie Bay

Lowrie Bay

Day 5
Monday, September 29, 2008

Well, it looks like Sean slept on an island last night in between lots of river mouth crossings.  He has squawked me several times throughout the days letting me know that he is still moving and making progress.

Spot Tracker

Day 5!!!  We hope that he is feeling well and getting in lots of good strokes.  Looking at the VI, he still has a bloody long way to go.  Will be break the record???
I keep looking at his progress and wondering well, “if he paddled this far today, how long will it take him to get to Tofino?”

In the town of Tofino, I believe he will have cell phone access.  That could occur by tomorrow or the next.  I will update the blog after I have a conversation with Sean.

Until then…

Arrived at Ucluelet
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I spoke to Sean this evening, and he has arrived at Ucluelet.  To be honest, he sounded exhausted.  He has been fighting headwinds pretty much his whole trip.  The water has been very choppy.  There has not been much swell or dangerous waves breaking over him, just constant chop and wind.

The world's laziest sea lion, Ucluelet

The world’s laziest sea lion, Ucluelet

He went into town today to an internet cafe to look up the weather.  Tomorrow and the next are expected gale force winds in a Southeasterly direction.  This is not favorable.  He plans to get through the next big crossing by sneaking in between the small islands and sheltering himself from the wind. With that said, I felt like telling him to abort the trip, but could not allow those words to escape.  When you love someone and feel like they are “unhappy,” or could be physically drained…  You want to embrace them and be close by. I held back any words of ending the trip and later Sean thanked me for that.  He thanked me for my support and says that “this will carry him through the rest of his journey.”  Sean plans to paddle really hard the next two days through the gale force winds and making Victoria by Sunday.  We are nearly a third of the way done with his trip.  He is still on track of his route plan even though he has setbacks with the weather.Keep your head high Mr. Morley!!!


grammygal said…Seems that findmespot is down for maintenance so Sean can’t be tracked. They said to try back in a few hours so hope then we will see how far he is into his goal!

October 1, 2008 12:01 PM

grammygal said…Yea, findmespot is up and running and Sean has paddled his way a bit past Uceulet it looks like. GO GO SEAN!!!

October 1, 2008 10:33 PM

grammygal said…Hey Sean & Gina,You are both so special to us and to each other! It makes a mom proud!!! Sean you are in our thoughts as you brave these seas and we look forward to seeing your successful progress.

October 1, 2008 10:41 PM

Joshua Teitelbaum said…Sean dude! Go for it! We’re keeping our fingers crossed here at Terra Santa in Israel. See you once again in the spring. Josh

October 2, 2008 6:49 AM

Jameson said…Sean-We are pulling for you–hopefully with the change in weather, i.e. rain that will calm the winds! Hang in there with the rainy weather you are now in for the next week or so! It has been terribly windy the last few days and we were just hoping it was at Sean’s back! Gina-he didn’t happen to run into Willie who was at worlds from Canada? He lives in Ucluelet? Good Luck–stay warm. Jameson & Christina

October 2, 2008 10:54 AM

Saltman said…Keep it up Sean. The folks at Alder Creek kayak and Canoe wish you the best. Finishing the race is sometimes more important.

October 2, 2008 5:59 PM

Storm bound in Ucluelet

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hey Folks,

I have just read Gina’s updates to my blog. She is such a trooper, looking after the house, the dogs and Shea Bella whilst I am out ‘playing’ and she even finds time to update my blog bless her! Of course my Mum is there helping too and I will forever be grateful to them both for this opportunity.

So I am here in the small town of Ucluelet storm bound with winds of 30-40 knots from the south east which once again is in exactly the wrong direction. I made the decision to stay put after listening to the weather forecast on my VHF radio issued by the Coast Guard. Thank goodness I did. I took a walk out to Amphrite Point Lighthouse and the sea conditions were horrendous. Horizontal rain, less than 1/2 mile visibility and a very rough sea. So it has given me the opportunity to catch up on my emails and the blog.

I want to thank Gina’s Mum who is ‘on the case’, following my every move and watching my back, especially when the Spot Messenger website was down for a while. She now has a personal contact with the folk at Spot who will update her if the site requires any more maintenance in the future!I also want to thank Rob Avery who has sorted out a delivery of a container of Valley Sea Kayaks for me whilst I am out ‘playing’. It is reassuring to have him looking after business in the Pacific Northwest for me.So how’s it been? Well I am completely in awe of this island. I will be writing in detail about my adventure later but for now I just want to say that from the moment I said goodbye to Brian Coggan as we left the bay at Port Hardy, I didn’t see a single human being for 6 days. I saw a couple of boats in the distance but that was it. The north west of the island is by far the most remote place I have been. Sure there was evidence of human activity and maybe it is just the time of year but it was quite an experience to not see anyone or be able to talk to anyone for such a long time. I did monitor my VHF radio for weather reports but even that was sketchy reception at times.

What I did see were lots of bears (I shared my first beach with a Mum Bear and her cub – they didn’t seem to mind!), whales, seals, porpoise, loads of sea otters and some very big and scary sea lions! Please tell me they don’t bite because at times they were coming very close and roaring at me and I was paddling away as fast as I could! I was delighted by the sea otters which seem to be really pletiful north of Clayoquot Sound. I have spent much of my paddling hours ‘writing’ a children’s story in my head for Shea Bella. I think I have a nice story line going and may publish it online if it is any good. It is about a baby sea otter called “Kelp” and his journey around Vancouver Island…

Anyway, the weather forecast is not great for the next two days at least and not great for the next 6 days. I am confident I can get to Bamfield across Barkley Sound from here but the problem is the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The wind gets channeled through the Straits and there are potentially few places to land if the swell is big. They are giving swell heights of 4-5 meters at the moment. I need to be able to make good mileage and I cannot do that if the wind is too strong.

Graveyard of the Pacific

Graveyard of the Pacific

So I have to wait for the wind to drop. It is forecast to do that tonight, but to pick up again from the SE tomorrow. Saturday sounds better but the wind is forecast to pick up again from the SE on Sunday and Monday. I had hoped for NW winds to blow me down the Straits but it seems that the northwest winds that are predominant in summer were switched off as soon as I set foot on the island! Of course I wonder if I my strategy was wrong. Maybe I should have started at Victoria and headed up the west coast. It’s always easy in hindsight. And there is a good chance I would be up around Cape Scott right now and they have a hurricane wind warning in effect up there at the moment!

Anyway, I will try to be patient. I cannot afford to take any uncessary risks with this next section. They don’t call it the ‘Graveyard of the Pacific’ for the fun of it and I do not want to be added to the long list of lives lost on this notorious section of coastline. I have just heard that Dan Henderson, who is trying a clockwise circumnavigation is holed up in Port Renfrew. I am sure he is having the same concerns as I am having. At least he will have a tail wind but that can be tough too if the wind is too strong.

Thanks for your interest and I will try to keep you posted or get my darling wife to let you know what I am doing or just keep checking the Spot page.



Tofino Dan said…
Hi Sean
Heard about your trip from Adventure Kayak magazine. Figured you must be getting close to my hometown of Tofino yesterday so checked it out today and sure nuff my spidey sense was right!
Glad to hear you laid over today-it was gnarly for sure! Hoping you will get some fair winds soon, altho I agree it is not looking great for the next few days. In terms of your record attempt, do layover days count? I would encourage you to complete the circumnavigation even if it looks like you won’t set the new record. I went around in 1990 and it is such a feeling of accomplishment.
Stoked you are enjoying the Island. It is usually a lot busier than you have found, but definitely quiets down mid-September. A bunch of kayak guides will converge on Ukee this weekend. Please consider yourself invited to supper on Saturday night-if you want to meet a bunch of paddlers I’m sure they would love to meet you as well. Call Tracy at Majestic Ocean Kayaking and she can provide details-we start Friday evening around 1700 at the UAC Hall downtown.  All the best for rest of your journey. In my opinion you made a good decision on direction. SE tailwinds aren’t that helpful on the outside coast-you will smoke the inside in SE gales. We did Campbell River to Hardy in 4 days, ending our trip October 25, and we were basically slackers who wanted to get the trip done before seriously snotty weather set in for November. Call me if you need anything-Tracy has my number.
All the Best!
Dan Lewis
Tofino BC
October 2, 2008 9:00 PM

grammygal said…
Excellent paddling today Sean!!! You made it much farther than we expected—must have been that NW gale that transported you along! Look to see you heading past Victoria before long.
October 4, 2008 9:12 PM

Ron said…
Hi Sean,
You are making a trip I can only dream about. Paddle hard and be safe!
October 5, 2008 6:21 PM

grammygal said…
Yea Sean—Good job!!! Looks like a good wind tomorrow that will take you well on your way northward. Hope it is good paddling for you.
October 5, 2008 7:40 PM

jim said…
Hallo to a familiar brave solo traveller from wet and windy Galway (West coast of Ireland), Only heard about your trip last week Sean (from Jim Kennedy) and have been checking out your daily progress on SPOT. Vancouver Island sounds like the kind of elemental & remote place guaranteed to astonish any ‘European’ paddler! This new trip highlights once again your drive, determination and pure sense of adventure. Congratulations on all the hard miles to date and we wish you continued safe passage, enjoyable paddling and a tailwind up the east coast. All our best…
Jim ,Sarah, Rowan & Ewan Morrissey
October 6, 2008 4:26 AM

Pat said…
Grade 6 Division 14 at Silver Star Elementary in Vernon, BC are cheering you on, Sean! We are following your progress on a big wall map of Vancouver Island. We hope you are well and waiting out the winds. The students are wondering if you are still in Ucluelet? Also, they are curious to know if you have seen any Killer Whales? Pat and the gang from Div. 14
October 6, 2008 9:16 AM

Pat said…
Hi Mr. Morely,
My name is Tayler from Mrs. Couch’s class. I will be reporting your progress to the other kids. Do you ever get seasick? What are you eating? Tayler
October 6, 2008 9:23 AM

Rounding the southern tip of Vancouver Island

Rounding the southern tip of Vancouver Island

Around Victoria
Monday, October 6, 2008

Hi Folks,
First of all…  I would like to thank all of you who have emailed me in support of the venture.  Believe it or not…  I have even gotten some atta’ boys for holding down the fort and supporting Sean.  It has been hard!  Some days pass quicker than others!  I am just glad that Sean has gotten around Victoria safely and there is an end to this outrageous trip sooner than we might think.

As you know, Sean took a layover day in Uculeut when there were fierce winds and minimal visibility.  The next day, the winds dropped and he departed for Port Renfrew.  I think the thoughts of turning around or aborting the trip were still in his mind, but he persisted and went with his instinct and (VHF radio) that stated better weather.

With the wind at his back, he got to Victoria pretty quick.  I think he was a day earlier than he had predicted.  Awaiting him in Victoria (I believe in a sea kayak) was a friend of his.  This kind man took him in for the night at his house.  Sean phoned me from the strange area code to let me know that he was okay.  He was charging his cell phone among other things… It looks like (as of 10 mins ago) he has made it south of Nanaimo and is camping out for the night.

Again…  Thanks for your emails, phone calls, questions, and support.  They are immensely appreciated.

gina and shea bella

A message from Christian Gaujous
who met Sean on the water while paddling near East Sooke Park:

Subject: Sean Morley Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island

Hi Paddlers,

Yesterday I went out paddling along East Sooke Park to meet Sean Morley. We met past Beechey Head Point, I introduced myself as knowing your guys, then we paddled together a bit towards Becher Bay (can the man paddle fast, whoo!). I invited him to meet later at my construction site at Willow’s Beach right across from Discovery Island where he was going to camp. He looked tired after 10 days of paddling the West Coast of the Island and looked like he could use a good meal and a bed for the night.

So we agreed to meet later and when I went back into Becher Bay 3 Orcas were chasing sea lions. It was amazing, the sea lions stay in pairs to confront the Orcas and they would come up along side of my kayak with a desperate look in their eyes, like saying, help us!

Meanwhile the Orcas were moving so fast around the Bay that I was trying to get the sea lions away from me. The Orca fin looks very impressive when it comes directly towards you as you may have experienced before. This spectacle went on for over an hour, it’s the best whale show I’ve ever experienced. The kelp was flying in the air when the Orca would dive into the kelp bed probably where the sea lions were hiding.

Meanwhile Sean was paddling hard towards Victoria and missed all of that because he is in a different mission, but what an incredible record he’s setting!

We met later at Willows’ Beach, load up his Nordkapp into the house under construction and went over to my house where he could shower/laundry, all the things a paddler needs after 10 days at sea. Then with we went out for pasta-dinner and my daughter came along too. We had a nice chat, talked a lot about kayaking and traveling, it was a nice visit. Very likeable guy and very humble for his achievements.

I was the first kayaker he met since he left Port Hardy. That tells a lot about the remoteness of the Island West Coast.

So, another good day sea kayaking and thank you for telling me about Sean.

Take care,

Arriving at Willows Beach, Oak Bay

Arriving at Willows Beach, Oak Bay


grammygal said…
WAY TO GO Sean—you are making very good progress I see. We are cheering you on from our comfortable recliners!! Good job Gina on your reporting.
October 6, 2008 6:41 PM

Corinne Kane said…
Things are looking much more promising. Looks like your husband should be home sooner than you thought. We’ll keep watching!
October 7, 2008 10:11 AM

Nikki said…
Hi Gina, Nikki here. You hangin in there?! I was in Ucluelet on the 3rd and 4th and was sad I could not connect with Sean. I text him to see if we could connect in Victoria but alas we never did. I was happy to hear that he made it safely to Victoria. I was out on the water in Ucluelet on the 4th and on the “inside” winds were roaring at 25 knots and gusting up to 30. I will continue to follow the blog, IF you remember – tell him hi and I am sending him lots of positive thoughts and prayers for a safe and fun journey. Looking forward to hopefully seeing you and Shea Bella in the Spring when I am back in California for work.
October 7, 2008 11:45 PM

Thisisthelife said…
We found out about Sean’s trip 3 days ago and have been watching his progress daily – what an inspiration!
Way to go! We are with you in spirit!
October 8, 2008 7:03 AM

Spoke with Sean last night
Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spoke with Sean last night and he is beside himself.  He has been having headwinds the whole time so far up the East Coast.  His wind direction has been total opposite of what he has needed from the West coast to the East.  I said to him, “Oh!  Are you done today?  It does not look like you went very far?  I thought you would have made it to Qualicum Beach?  He said, “thanks!  I paddled straight for 9 hours against a strong headwind.”

The night before last…  He thought his tent was going to be blown away while he was in it.  Amazing winds he said…  Physically, he is doing okay.  He is having normal back aches and pains.  Mostly, his left heel is killing him.  He says it is from bracing so much during the choppy seas of the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”  It is really bruised and difficult to paddle and walk on.

On the brighter side, I shared with Sean all of the blog inputs, emails, and phone calls that I have received.  He also shared a cute story with me once he arrived in Victoria.  He had a man greet him by kayak.  “Are you Sean Morley?”  Sean replied, “yes.”  The nice French-Canadian man and his daughter took him out for dinner and let him stay in their home on the beach.  Another cute story was the next morning a group of school kids ran down to the beach and cheered him on.  They are following his progress from school.

My conclusion is although the weather and conditions have been challenging and unfavorable…  the people and scenery he has seen has been remarkable.  I mean how many times does somebody meet and greet you in the water, take you out for dinner, and provide a nice warm bed for you???!!!***  Not in my lifetime.  And I have been on some pretty extreme kayak trips.

Counting down the days Sean.  Get home soon!

gina and shea bella

Deman Island

Deman Island


grammygal said…
Sean, we are amazed at your fortitude, with the high winds and seas and soreness. You will reap a huge appreciation from all your fans as you make it through to Port Hardy in remarkable time! We are proud!!!
October 8, 2008 8:23 PM

The Explorers said…
Sean has reached Comox, where I (another Brit kayaker) live, and I found him on the beach at Point Holmes having checked his progress via Spot. He was looking tired but in pretty good shape. We chatted for a quarter of an hour or so. He is missing family lots, of course.

What a remarkable achievement he is headed towards. I paddled around the Island earlier this year with a friend. It took us 9 weeks (though we did tend to stop to smell the cedar and examine nooks, crannies and caves). I am full of admiration for what Sean is doing, and was knocked out by how quiet and unassuming he is. He is a fantastic ambassador for our sport.

I hope he sleeps well tonight – he is right under the flightpath of our local airport as you can see from the satellite view on his Spot page. Fortunately it is a pretty sleepy little airport so there won’t be many flights after it is dark.

The forecast here is for northwesterlies tomorrow, getting up to 15-25 knots in the afternoon. Fingers crossed that they are not that strong.

Jonathan Reggler
October 8, 2008 11:53 PM

Corinne Kane said…
We are amazed that Sean is so close to the finish with all the wind and weather he has had to deal with. 18 days, 19 days, etc. whatever the final time is, we are so proud of you!
October 9, 2008 3:16 PM

The Explorers said…
Now Sean is north of Campbell River. I’m sure the Home team know this, but according to Bluechart calculations, Sean did 38 miles today and has 95 to go.  Looking good windwise, too, with lighter northwesterlies tomorrow then 20 knot following southwesterlies along Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Strait for two days. Good luck to him for the final push.

Jonathan Reggler
October 9, 2008 7:16 PM

Malcolm said…
Sean, too bad I didn’t hear about you until after you’d left Comox as I live on the bluff almost above where you camped at Pt. Holmes. I still have my Nordkapp that I ordered from VCP in ’76 which enabled much exploring of the west coast of VI in the 70’s & 80’s so ‘twould have been good to talk for awhile (I’m from the UK originally too) though it sounded like you were ready for rest that day.

Here’s hoping you beat the record.

Malcolm Jolly
October 9, 2008 8:46 PM

Pat said…
Hi Sean, The class has been following your progress. The students are cheering you on. You are almost there! We’ve have some problems with getting onto this Blog with their questions. Nevertheless, all the students are keenly interested in your determination and bravery.
Pat and the gang from Div. 14 🙂
October 10, 2008 7:34 PM

grammygal said…
Hurrah Sean!!! You have pushed through today and we are cheering you on to Port Hardy tomorrow! Winds look favorable and knowing how you have pushed on under inclement conditions, we are positive we will see you finish this journey in your timeline. Carry on!!!

Your cheering family from Oregon,
Fred & Carolyn
October 10, 2008 8:20 PM

Corinne Kane said…
We are heading out for the marathon and won’t have internet access. Please call and tell me if Sean made it! Love to you both.
James and Corinne
October 11, 2008 1:59 PM

Greg said…
Sean, this is a little premature, but Congratulations! I know you will land tonight at Port Hardy by candle light. How sweet a good meal, shower, clean bed and, of course, hugs, will feel.
Greg (Arcata)

October 11, 2008 6:15 PM

Finish in the dark at Port Hardy!

Finish in the dark at Port Hardy!

Joe O’ said…
Congratulations Sean. I know you are now in Port Hardy! Way to go, very impressive. Hope you have a good celebration. Sleep well afterwards friend!

cheers…Joe O’
October 11, 2008 8:26 PM

grammygal said…
CONGRATULATIONS SEAN!!! We see you at Port Hardy–bet land never looked so good! We are so happy and excited for your accomplishment.

Love and welcome back!
October 11, 2008 8:28 PM

PeterD said…
Congrads! Checked spot and it looks like you do a 60ish mile day to complete the run! Amazing.
October 11, 2008 8:40 PM

The Explorers said…
Well done, Sean. Yours is an extraordinary accomplishment which leaves me awestruck. I’m particularly pleased that I was able to meet you in person on your way to the Record.
Jonathan Reggler
October 11, 2008 9:42 PM

Pat said…
Congratulations Sean, from Grade 6, Div. 14 at Silver Star School. What an incredible accomplishment under such adverse conditions! You are a great role model for the students.
Pat and the gang from Div. 14
October 12, 2008 9:26 AM

Thisisthelife said…
Way to go! Congrats!
My husband and I would like to circumnavigate the island (slowly) and would love to hear your story once you have time to reflect on your accomplishment. Rest, relax and take in the beauty of the island!
October 12, 2008 9:36 AM

WestCoastPaddler said…
Awesome achievement Sean. We’ve all been enjoying tracking and discussing your progress on

Thanks for your efforts — it shows what can be done. Congratulations!

October 12, 2008 1:07 PM

He Did It!!!
Sunday, October 12, 2008

Congrads to Sean!!!  He pulled into Port Hardy last night @ 7p.m.  He broke the record by nearly 6 days, (plus he had 1 layover day in Ucluelet).  He paddled straight all day without stopping.  Solely eating power bars and drinking water.  You would have thought that he would have been exhausted, however just empowered.

His adrenaline rush carried him throughout the night as he drove to the ferry terminal in Nainaimo.  He survived eating a Subway sandwich and Rockstar drink arriving at 2:30a.m.  He caught the first ferry to Vancouver.  He will make his way home now down the I-5.  Projected arrival into SF Bay on Tuesday.  He wanted to make some stops at dealers along the way and I absolutely said “No Way!  Get home!”  He was easily convinced but feels like he should pay visits to his dealers.

I will be having a welcome home party for him next weekend with friends and neighbors.  I am sure he will be delighted.  I am teaching our daughter to say “Dada driving” now because that is what Sean will be doing for the next 2-3 days.  Cannot wait!  Thanks everyone for following his journey.  Hopefully, Sean has inspired others to take a journey and get out and explore.  I know he has with me.  I am off to Mexico next month with girlfriends on a surf trip.

Gina and Shea Bella

Sunrise the day after over Vancouver, BC - Homeward bound...

Sunrise the day after over Vancouver, BC – Homeward bound…


Joey said…
Congrats Sean, amazing accomplishment, you and your family should be proud.
October 12, 2008 11:08 AM

Gord said…
Congrats Sean.  A stunning achievement.
October 12, 2008 11:27 AM

Geoff said…
Awesome job Sean. Always neat to see someone set a difficult goal, and make it. Big Congratulations!  Hopefully there will be some photos?
October 12, 2008 12:54 PM

John said…
Congrats, Sean!
October 12, 2008 5:15 PM

On my way home…
Monday, October 13, 2008

Hi Folks,
I am just back in Cali, at a Motel 6 in Yreka, catching up on some work and sleep before leaving in the early hours to make the final drive home.

So just a quick update: I finished the circumnavigation of Vancouver Island at 7.42pm on Saturday October 11th, in the dark and rain. I started at 2.53pm on Wednesday September 24th which by my sketchy math makes a total of 17days 4hours 49minutes.

It was one of the toughest challenges I have ever undertaken on several levels. Whilst the sea conditions I faced were much less challenging than during my UK and Ireland circumnavigation, and that was of course a much longer (6 month) trip, the fact that I was trying to break a record and that I desperately wanted to get home to be with my family meant that what seemed at times to be constant headwinds became incredibly frustrating. I pushed my body and mind as far as I ever want to go and will not rush to put myself in that position again. I found the pressure of breaking a speed record quite different to that of being ‘first’ to do something. It was definitely a different mindset and one that turned an amazing journey into something of a chore for a large part of the time.

Grey Whale, Strait of Juan de Fuca

Grey Whale, Strait of Juan de Fuca

That said of course it is very satisfying to have set out with a goal and to achieve it. I saw some incredible scenery, had some really close encounters with some amazing wildlife, and grew to love and respect our ocean and its coastline even more than I did before. I learnt a lot about myself now that I am a father and how this has changed my attitudes to record breaking and risk taking without me being aware of it until now.

Thank you so much for your support. Believe me, knowing that there were quite a few folk willing me on made all the difference when the doubts crept into my head, which they did several times.

By the way, I used a Valley Nordkapp (standard size) and it was awesome! My Kokatat gear performed superbly, as did my Optimus cooker and Gaia dry bags.


I used a Lettmann Nordic wing paddle in a medium blade size and 215cm in length. It’s the same type of paddle that I used for my UK and Ireland trip and once again it was as smooth as silk and bomb proof.

After 700miles I had no blisters on my hands, just an aching back and two very sore heels which I bruised whilst bracing in big seas whilst being blown down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Time to get some sleep so that I will have the energy to play with Shea Bella tomorrow afternoon.

Good night!

Killer whales approaching in Johnstone Strait

Killer whales approaching in Johnstone Strait


Getting closer!

Getting closer!


Huge bull surfacing just feet from my kayak

Huge bull surfacing just feet from my kayak

Time to reflect
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hi Folks,

So I have spent a week getting to know my family again and have started wading through the paperwork and phone calls and other stuff that has stacked up since I have been away.
My Mum flew home yesterday and we shall all miss her, especially Shea Bella who got to spend quality time with her English Grammy and loves her very much. I couldn’t have done the VI trip without your help Mum. Thank you so much!

My body is almost completely healed. A huge blood blister appeared on my left heal which explained why it hurt so much for the second half of the record attempt. Otherwise I am in good shape and already replacing the lost pounds and losing my six-pack once again. Ah well!

Thanks to everyone that has sent messages of congratulations. They are all really appreciated and whilst I have tried to respond to them all, if I have missed you out please accept my apologies. If I can help anyone planning a similar style of trip, feel free to get in touch either by email: or my cell: 415-816-8746.

It will be quite a while before I do anything quite so long and hard again. But never say “Never”….


PeterD said…
That photo of the orca has me so jealous! That must have been an awesome experience!

Looking forward to when you can do a side show on this in the Bay Area (preferably for me in SF or on the Peninsula, but I would travel). Maybe at a BASK meeting? Or Aquann?
October 22, 2008 10:12 AM

Sean’s Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island

by Greg Bundros

The following chronicles Sean Morley’s circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. It took me a few days to start recording forecasted weather and sea conditions for the next day, so that information is missing for the first four days of his trip. Coordinate locations and times are those reported by SPOT Satellite Messenger that was linked to Sean’s web site. [Note that there are some inaccurate locations were reported by Greg due to the Spot Messenger website going down and these have been corrected].


1  Wed 9/24 Port Hardy (Scotia Bay Campground) to Shushhartie Bay –  22 miles

Camp 1, Shushartie Bay

Camp 1, Shushartie Bay

2 Thu 9/25 Cape Sutil to Lowrie Bay (50.6948 , -128.3671)  –  36 miles

3 Fri 9/26 Lowrie Bay to Grants Bay (50.4811 , -128.0947)   – 23 miles

End of a nasty day, Grants Bay

4 Sat 9/27 Grants Bay to Brooks Bay South (50.1308 , -127.7009)  – 41 miles

Brooks Peninsula, Cape Cook ('Cape of Storms')

Brooks Peninsula, Cape Cook (‘Cape of Storms’)

Launched around 9:00 am and landed around 7:00 pm, about 8 miles north of Bunsby Islands and 50 miles north of Calvin Creek.  Gail force winds were predicted for today. Outlook: Gale warning in effect.  Wind southeast 15 to 25 knots increasing to 25 to 35 near midnight and to 40 early Sunday morning. Wind diminishing to south 15 to 25 Sunday afternoon.

Cape Cook and Solander Island, Brooks Peninsula

Cape Cook and Solander Island, Brooks Peninsula

5 Sun 9/28 Brooks Bay South to Catala Island (49.5819 , -126.6728)  – 37 miles

Launched around 9:00 am and landed around 6:00 pm, about 15 miles north of Calvin Creek. Outlook: Wind variable 5 to 15 knots becoming southeast 15 to 25 early Monday evening.

Catala Island, Esperanza Inlet

Catala Island, Esperanza Inlet

6 Mon 9/29 Catala Island to Barcester Bay, Hesquiat Peninsula  – 36 miles

Kyuquot Sound

Kyuquot Sound

Launched at 9:20 am and landed around 5:40 pm on the south shores of Nootka Sound. It appears Sean is  about 55 miles from Florencia Bay. Outlook:  Wind southeast 10 to 20 knots except 20 to 30 near the mouth of the Juan de Fuca Strait. Wind increasing to southeast 25 to 30 after midnight then diminishing to 10 to 15 Tuesday afternoon.

7 Tues 9/30 Barcester Bay to Ahous Bay, Clayoquot Sound – 45 miles

Launched at 8:40 am. I am checking Spot at 7:15 pm and the site is down. Spot server came back up at 9:25 pm. No new reports are listed.  Outlook:  Gale warning in effect. Wind southeast 10 to 20 knots increasing to 25 to 35 Wednesday afternoon.

8 Wed, 10/1  Ahous Bay to Ucluelet (48.924 , -125.526)  – 37 miles

Launch time not reported and landed at 6:32 pm, south of Florencia Bay and just north of Barkley Sound-north. Checked forecast about mid-day, and gale warnings for the entire west coast of VI had been issued; 40 knot winds by the Straight. Our internet connection was down in the pm and couldn’t get next day’s forecast.

9  Thurs, 10/2   Spot showed no progress today. Must have held due to weather/conditions.

Forecast issued October 2 at 04:00 AM PDT: Winds – Storm warning in effect.  Wind southeast 30 to 40 knots except 50 to 60 northwest of Estevan Point.  Wind veering to southwest 25 late this evening then diminishing to 10 after midnight. Wind increasing to southeast 20 Friday morning and to 30 Friday afternoon. Wind increasing to southeast 40 Friday evening.  Waves – today, tonight and Friday: Seas 2 to 3 metres building to 3 to 5 early this morning then subsiding to 2 to 3 late this evening. Seas building to 3 to 5 Friday evening. Issued 09:30 PM PDT 02 October 2008 – Tonight and Friday, gale warning in effect. Wind southwest 10 to 15 knots increasing to southeast 15 to 20 early Friday morning and to 20 to 30 late Friday morning. Wind increasing to southeast 30 to 40 Friday afternoon. Waves – today, tonight and Friday, seas 3 to 5 metres subsiding to 2 to 3 late this evening.

10  Fri, 10/3 Ucluelet to Cloo-oose Bay – 42 miles

Launched around 8:00 am and landed around 5:30 pm at Tsusiat Point (Cloo-oose), covering about 42 miles. Sean is at the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Straits.  Outlook: Issued 04:00 PM PDT 03 October 2008; Winds tonight and Saturday: Gale warning in effect.  Wind southeast 15 to 20 knots increasing to 20 to 30 early this evening then diminishing to 10 to 20 early Saturday morning. Wind increasing to northwest 30 to 40 Saturday afternoon.  A few showers.

11 Sat, 10/4 Cloo-oose to Jordon River (48.4175 , -124.0275)   – 42 miles

Launched around 7:50 am and landed around 5:45 pm, about 1.4 miles southeast of Jordon River and about 5.5 miles northwest of French Beach. Sean is just slightly more than two days behind his planned 16-day itinerary, mostly due to the layover for weather on Day 9.  He’s doing great.   Outlook:  Issued 04:00 PM PDT 04 October 2008: Tonight and Sunday, gale warning in effect.  Wind west 30 to 40 knots diminishing to 10 to 20 after midnight and to light early Sunday morning.  Rain ending early this evening. Chance of showers Sunday morning and afternoon.

12 Sun, 10/5 Jordon River to Willows Beach (48.4317 , -123.3043)  – 43 miles

Launched around 8:40 am and landed around 5:40 pm at Oak Bay. Sean is in the Haro Straight and will enter the Straight of Georgia tomorrow.  He is about 60 miles south of Pirates Cove.  It appears that he will finally have a tail wind.  Outlook:  Issued 04:00 PM PDT 05 October 2008: tonight and Monday.  Strong wind warning in effect.  Wind south 15 knots diminishing to light early this evening and becoming southeast 15 Monday afternoon. Wind increasing to southeast 25 to 30 Monday evening.  Chance of showers this evening. Rain beginning Monday afternoon.

13 Mon, 10/6 Willows Beach to Kuper Island (48.929 , -123.6323) – 44 miles

Launched around 7:45 am and landed around 5:20 pm at Kuper Island, about 15 miles south of Pirates Cove.  Sean has roughly 225 miles to Port Hardy, possibly a 5-day paddle (10/18/08) if tides, rips and weather work for him. Outlook:  Issued 04:00 PM PDT 06 October 2008: tonight and Tuesday, gale warning in effect (so what else is new!!!).  Wind southeast 10 to 20 knots increasing to 25 to 35 this evening then veering to southwest 25 to 35 late overnight. Wind diminishing to southerly 15 to 25 late Tuesday morning.  Rain ending late overnight. Chance of showers beginning early Tuesday morning.

14 Tues, 10/7 Kuper Island to Dolphin Beach (49.3069 , -124.1787)  – 40 miles

Launched around 8:00 am and landed around 5:15 pm near Dophin Beach, about 15 miles south of Qualicum Bay. Weather has improved and Sean is clearly on his way to securing a new record.  Outlook:  Issued 04:00 PM PDT 07 October 2008: tonight and Wednesday, wind variable 5 to 15 knots becoming light near midnight and becoming southeast 10 to 15 near noon Wednesday.  A few showers. Risk of thunderstorms this evening.

15 Wed, 10/8 Dolphin Beach to Comox Beach (49.6956 , -124.8635)  – 41 miles

Launched around 8:40 am and landed around 6:05 pm at Comox Beach, at the end of the Comox Airport runway.  Sean is about 26 miles south of Campbell River with head winds forecasted.  Outlook:  Issued 04:00 PM PDT 08 October 2008 – tonight and Thursday, strong wind warning in effect. Wind light becoming northwest 10 to 15 knots late overnight then increasing to 15 to 25 Thursday afternoon. A few showers beginning late this evening and ending Thursday afternoon.

16 Thurs, 10/9 Comox Beach to Granite Bay (50.1915 , -125.3828)   – 43 miles

Launched around 8:30 am and landed around 5:50 pm, across from Quadra Island and Granite Bay, and about 106 miles to Port Hardy. He is in the Discovery Passage, a channel that forms part of the Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and the Discovery Islands which lie off the British Columbia coast north of the Georgia Strait.  Most of the eastern shoreline of the passage is Quadra Island with Sonora Island forming the shoreline at the northern end where Discovery Passage meets Johnstone Strait. The southern end of Discovery Passage enters the Strait of Georgia. It is 14 miles in length and is typically about 1.2 miles in width, less at Seymour Narrows which lies in the lower half of Discovery Passage. Outlook: Issued 04:00 PM PDT 09 October 2008 – tonight and Friday, gale warning in effect.  Wind northwest 25 to 35 knots diminishing to 5 to 15 late overnight.  Chance of showers this afternoon.

17 Fri, 10/10 Granite Bay to Johnstone Strait (50.4789 , -126.3309) –  53 miles

No launch time reported but landed around 6:20 pm, about 5 miles west of Port Neville. Sean traveled over 10 miles to Chatham Point, entering Johnstone Strait by 10:25 am.  Coordinates reported at 6:20 pm placed Sean in the water?  It appears Sean continued to paddle, landing around 7:30 pm, now about 11 miles east of Robson Bight.  He’s now about 54 miles from Port Hardy.  Outlook:  Issued 04:00 PM PDT 10 October 2008 – tonight and Saturday, wind light. Go Sean!

18 Sat, 10/11 Johnston Strait to Port Hardy (50.7441 , -127.4971) –  58 miles

No launch time reported, but Sean checked in around 4:25 pm (50.622 , -127.1691), having covered about 39 miles and located less than 20 miles from Port Hardy. Will he go for it? I believe he will.

Sean completed his trip at 7:47 pm. Bravo!  Total: 661 miles.

Sean would like to thank Greg for taking the trouble to record his route, mileage, weather forecasts, etc. Hopefully it will be a useful  resource for anyone who wishes to have a go at the record!

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.