BALLENAS/WINCHELSEA ISLANDS – Salish Sea Marine Trail

BC MARINE TRAILS
The BC Marine Trails Network (BCMTN) is a series of interconnecting marine trails along the entire BC coastline with frequent access points, stopovers and campsites for users of small, beachable watercraft. BCMTN is celebrating the grand opening of the Salish Sea Marine Trail on Newcastle Island Provincial Park Sept. 16 and 17 2017. A part of the Salish Sea Marine Trail are the Ballenas Winchelsea Islands.
Over the last three summers, BCMTN has been involved in marine debris clean-ups. The initial work on the west coast of Vancouver Island was part of the Japanese Tsunami clean up program. In 2016, a major clean-up of one of the Chained Islands in Discovery Passage was undertaken. In 2017, it was initially suggested that a clean-up on the east side of Quadra Island be done, but local kayak companies had already done this area. As a result, attention was shifted to the Ballenas/Winchelsea Islands. Besides marine debris, some of the islands have significant problems with invasive species and that became the focus of the trip. One of the best campsites in all the islands is on Gerald Island, but it was almost totally overgrown with English ivy.
After weather delays, we met at Blueback Community Park in Nanoose Bay on June 16 with plans to paddle to Gerald Island to join Nick and who had been on Gerald since the 14th with their motorboat.

SALISH SEA MARINE TRAIL
Connecting the urban centres of Victoria and Vancouver, the Salish Sea Marine Trail follows the south shore of Vancouver Island north through the Gulf Islands. North of Nanaimo, at the Ballenas/Winchelsea Islands, the marine trail has several large crossings as it enters the wilderness of the North Georgia Basin. Jump islands to reach the beaches and sunsets of the Sunshine Coast and then cross the mountainous backdrop of Howe Sound before arriving in Vancouver.

BALLENAS/WINCHELSEA ARCHIPELAGO
This cluster of 19 islands and islets just off-shore from Nanoose Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island, running north from the Lantzville area and Nanoose Harbour to Rathtrevor Beach near Parksville. Nanoose Bay is 25-kilometres northwest of Nanaimo on Highway 19.
The ruggedly beautiful islands offer a unique ecology and diverse ecosystems. Situated in the rain shadow of the Vancouver Island mountain range, the climate is a mild and relatively dry Mediterranean climate. The islands are a must for protection, having been recognised as an excellent example of the endangered Garry-Oak Meadow ecosystem. In Canada, this ecosystem in only found on southern Vancouver Island. Under the knarly garry oaks and beautiful arbutus, visitors will find rare wildflowers and plant species; including the camas lilly and chocolate lily. South Winchelsea Island also offers opportunities to see bald eagles, black oystercatchers, and numerous other birds.
They are perfect for a relaxed day of paddling or for a few days of camping. Four of the islands are privately owned and the other 15 are crown land.
The archipelago is clearly all about nature. Pacific white-sided dolphins, killer whales and humpbacks can be sighted on occasion in these waters. The rocky shores are haul-outs for Northern and California sea lions in winter and harbour seals are ubiquitous year-round. During March, rafts of diving birds stop to feed on herring while travelling to northern and interior BC breeding grounds. The islands are blanketed with mosses, lichens and especially in the spring, wildflowers. Scores of smaller plants grow here, too, including oceanspray, chocolate lily, sea blush, yellow monkey-flower, and camas, long a source of nourishment for the Coast Salish.

SOUTH WINCHELSEA ISLAND
Purchased in 1998 by the Land Conservancy of British Columbia, 10.4-hectare South Winchelsea is an ecological reserve, one of four islands in the archipelago that are privately owned. TLC is still campaigning to pay the mortgage and maintain the property. The Nanaimo and Area Land Trust and the Islands Trust Fund Board hold a conservation covenant on the island.
There is a dock on South Winchelsea Island, which is open to the public, but access is restricted to a single trail to protect the sensitive Garry Oak Ecosystem. The tall Douglas firs on South Winchelsea Island contain several eagle nests and up to 75 eagles have been seen around the Island at a time.
The Land Conservancy offers an exciting holiday at the Robert T. Ogilvie Research Cottage (3 bedrooms) for those who seek a wonderful vacation in an unusual and beautiful setting.
Each July, Nanaimo hosts the internationally acclaimed Marine Festival and World Championship Bathtub Race from Nanaimo Harbour around Winchelsea Islands to Departure Bay beach.

NORTH WINCHELSEA ISLAND
This island bristles with communications arrays as operations centre of Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges. Kayakers are not permitted to land on the island but can safely paddle along the shore. The firing of unarmed torpedoes occurs in a closed hazard area extending north and east of the archipelago.
Whiskey Golf Military Test Range. It is the most important of the four test ranges jointly operated by the United States and Canada armed forces. Whiskey Golf occupies a 24X8km area in the Ballenas Basin. At 400m, it is the deepest part of the Strait of Georgia. There are 21m thick sediments on the western side from the Fraser River which deposits about half a centimetre annually.
Because of its depth and flat bottom, Ballenas Basin was chosen for testing military warfare equipment, especially torpedoes, sonar, and sonobuoys. Due to the large number of submarine cables terminating at Winchelsea Island, a no prawn or crab fishing (no bottom contact) and no anchoring zone exists within this area.
The torpedo testing range has been operating since 1967. The range tests between 300 to 400 torpedos annually, most of them American and launched from surface craft. There have been 31,000 test firings since the range opened. An average of two submarines and six surface ships visit the range each year. Since the range opened, as of 1999 there had been 246 visits by U.S. surface ships, 162 by U.S. submarines, six by Canadian submarines and 254 by Canadian ships. A Chilean submarine visited Nanoose in 1994.
The range employs 57 people, including 11 Canadian military naval officers and six U.S. civilian technicians. The U.S. has invested $170-million in the facility. Canada’s investment is $47-million. In 1996, the U.S. Navy said it had saved $2 billion over 30 years by using Nanoose Bay.
When Whiskey Golf is active, no vessels — pleasure craft or commercial — are allowed to enter. A safe transit corridor of 1/2 nautical mile north of Winchelsea Island and 1/2 nautical mile east of Ballenas Island is available for passage. Monitor marine broadcasts – Winchelsea Island Control VHF Channel 3.

GERALD ISLAND
This 12-hectare island was purchased in 2007 for $1,375,000 and became Gerald Island Provincial Park in 2013. It is a good example of a rocky coastal bluff ecosystem.
The primary campsite (49° 18.622′ lng -124° 9.757′) is on the WSW aspect of the island. Easy landing on protected pebble, moderate gradient beach. There are several tent sites. 1. Several on upper beach pebble berm that erode and need to be levelled and reconstructed annually 2. At least three level upland areas were cleared of ivy. No facilities or services.
Landing on the SW side is normally preferred. Other beaches may be suitable depending on wind and swell direction. The NW cove is gravel, cobble with some boulders. The SE cove is cobble with many drift logs.
These islands have been lived on at various times. Gerald Island shows this most poignantly – the primary campsite was once a home site and is and was heavily invaded by both English ivy and Himilayan blackberry.
It would appear that Gerald planted one cutting of ivy and it has since totally taken over this bay. The 7 large trees in the near upland were all completely girdled with ivy and in some trees, ivy formed two-thirds of the foliage of the tree. Ivy bushes and blackberry covered the flat area in and around these large trees. We kept removing more bushes. When all the ivy and blackberry was removed, we had “excavated” a clearing, obviously the site of the original homestead. Short rock walls and a fire pit were found. Ivy also formed a complete carpet covering the foreshore and extended up the rocky cliffs.
The original plan was to bag all the ivy in six super sacs, the best way to deal with most marine debris. The super sacs supplied all had narrow mouths and the tops had to be removed. It soon became apparent that there was way more ivy than 6 bags could handle and it was a lot of work to cut up the ivy and stuff the bags. We eventually piled all the ivy along the back of the drift logs at the back of the beach and formed an enormous, long pile. Two other big piles at either end of the beach were also formed.
The foreshore of this beach is completely covered in ivy – both as bushes that extend into the native shrubbery and as a low “carpet”that has completely covered entire area between the logs at the back of the beach and extending 10-20meters back to the bushes. Some of this was cleared but probably 80% remained after our three days on Gerald.
Method of removing ivy: Thankfully, ivy is very soft and easy to saw, but it grows differently according to location.
Girdle around trees. A small pruning saw worked best to cut the dense tangles of ivy. Loppers cut smaller diameter wood. On all the trees about two metres of ivy was removed from the bottom of the trunks. Then as much ivy as possible was removed to an area extending a metre out from the tree.
Bush. In shady areas, ivy forms individual bushes. Each trunk was followed back to where it appeared to originate. One cut often resulted in a big tree with branches that extended well into the surrounding bush. We eventually found the “mother tree”, a huge trunk from which everything else seemed to emanate especially over the dense matt of roots. The blackberry was much more labour intensive to remove.
Low ground cover. The ivy on the foreshore could be rolled up with some difficulty to expose the fine roots. A matlock was useful to cut roots. To me it seemed easiest to take a small patch of 2-3 square metres and work up from the sides.
In the end the bags were used to completely contain the marine debris, the small amount of broom found on the island and all the blackberry that was tediously completely cut up and packed into supersacs. Nick’s boat made 2 extra trips to haul the sacs and debris to the marina where a truck had been hired to haul it all away.
Plans to return in September were made – All the stuff we cut should be dry and ready to burn and a few days of work would go a long ways to removing the rest of the ivy on the island.

BALLENAS ISLANDS
South Ballenas is a federal defence property that is off-limits to the public (despite the occasional camping kayaker),
West Ballenas is privately owned and was recently up for sale for $1.45-million. Whatever your choice, the lee side of the islands offers some protection against winds, which prevail from the northwest in summer and southeast in winter.

Launch (less than an hour to closest islands): 1. Schooner Cove Marina (fairwinds.ca/marina/) in Nanoose Bay charges a launch fee of $4 per kayak. Parking is free. 2. Blueback Community Park. Limited free parking and free launching.
Use marine chart #3512. Closures to the military exercise zone are announced on Weather Channel #3. Schooner Cove Marina Adventuress Sea Kayaking (adventuress.ca) rents kayaks and conducts tours.

ENGLISH IVY Hedera helix
Hedera helix (common ivy, English ivy, European ivy, or just ivy) is a species of flowering plant in the family Araliaceae, native to most of Europe and western Asia. A rampant, clinging evergreen vine, it is a familiar sight in gardens, waste spaces, on house walls, tree trunks and in wild areas across its native habitat.
It is labeled as an invasive species in a number of areas where it has been introduced, particularly Washington, where it is labeled as a noxious weed, and Oregon, where its sale or cultivation are banned.
Etymology. Hedera is the generic term for ivy. The specific epithet helix derives from Ancient Greek “twist, turn”
Synonyms. Synonyms include Hedera acuta, Hedera arborea (“tree ivy”), Hedera baccifera, Hedera grandifolia, bindwood, and lovestone.
Description. Hedera helix is an evergreen climbing plant, growing to 20–30 m (66–98 ft) high where suitable surfaces (trees, cliffs, walls) are available, and also growing as groundcover where no vertical surfaces occur. It climbs by means of aerial rootlets with matted pads which cling strongly to the substrate. The ability to climb on surfaces varies with the plants variety and other factors: Hedera helix prefers non-reflective, darker and rough surfaces with near-neutral pH. It generally thrives in a wide range of soil pH with 6.5 being ideal, prefers moist, shady locations and avoids exposure to direct sunlight, the latter promoting drying out in winter.
The leaves are alternate, 50–100 mm (2–4 in) long, with a 15–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in) petiole; they are of two types, with palmately five-lobed juvenile leaves on creeping and climbing stems, and unlobed cordate adult leaves on fertile flowering stems exposed to full sun, usually high in the crowns of trees or the top of rock faces.
The flowers are produced from late summer until late autumn, individually small, in 3-to-5 cm-diameter (1.2-to-2.0 in) umbels, greenish-yellow, and very rich in nectar, an important late autumn food source for bees and other insects.
The fruit are purple-black to orange-yellow berries 6–8 mm (0.2–0.3 in) in diameter, ripening in late winter, and are an important food for many birds, though somewhat poisonous to humans.
One to five seeds are in each berry, which are dispersed after being eaten by birds.
The three subspecies are
H. h. helix – central, northern and western Europe, plants without rhizomes, purple-black ripe fruit
H. h. poetarum Nyman (syn. Hedera chrysocarpa Walsh) – southeast Europe and southwest Asia (Italy, Balkans, Turkey), plants without rhizomes, orange-yellow ripe fruit
H. h. rhizomatifera McAllister – southeast Spain, plants rhizomatous, purple-black ripe fruit
The closely related species Hedera canariensis and Hedera hibernica are also often treated as subspecies of H. helix, though they differ in chromosome number so do not hybridise readily. H. helix can be best distinguished by the shape and colour of its leaf trichomes, usually smaller and slightly more deeply lobed leaves and somewhat less vigorous growth, though identification is often not easy.
Range. It ranges from Ireland northeast to southern Scandinavia, south to Portugal, and east to Ukraine and Iran and northern Turkey. The northern and eastern limits are at about the −2 °C (28 °F) winter isotherm, while to the west and southwest, it is replaced by other species of ivy. Hedera helix itself is much more winter-hardy and survives temperatures of −23.3 °C (−9.9 °F) (USDA Zone 6a) and above.
Cultivation and uses. The ivy is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant. Within its native range, the species is greatly valued for attracting wildlife. The flowers are visited by over 70 species of nectar-feeding insects, and the berries eaten by at least 16 species of birds. The foliage provides dense evergreen shelter, and is also browsed by deer.
In Europe, it is frequently planted to cover walls and the government recommends growing it on buildings for its ability to cool the interior in summer, while providing insulation in winter, as well as protecting the covered building from soil moisture, temperature fluctuations and direct exposure to heavy weather. Further uses include weed suppression in plantings, beautifying unsightly facades and providing additional green by growing on tree trunks.
Over 30 cultivars have been selected for such traits as yellow, white, variegated (e.g. ‘Glacier’), and/or deeply lobed leaves (e.g. ‘Sagittifolia’), purple stems, and slow, dwarfed growth.
Ethnomedical uses. Ivy extracts are part of current cough medicines. In the past, the leaves and berries were taken orally as an expectorant to treat cough and bronchitis. In 1597, the British herbalist John Gerard recommended water infused with ivy leaves as a wash for sore or watering eyes. The leaves can cause severe contact dermatitis in some people. People who have this allergy (strictly a type IV hypersensitivity) are also likely to react to carrots and other members of the Apiaceae as they contain the same allergen, falcarinol.
Invasive species. Like other exotic species, ivy has predominantly been spread to areas by human action. H. helix is labeled as an invasive species in many parts of the United States, and its sale or import is banned in the state of Oregon.
With a great capacity for adaptation, Ivy will grow wherever development conditions and habitat similar to that of its European origins exist, occurring as opportunistic species across a wide distribution with close vicariant relatives and few species, indicating recent speciation.
Australia. It is considered a noxious weed across southern, particularly south-eastern, Australia and local councils provide free information and limited services for removal. In some councils it is illegal to sell the plant. It is a weed in the Australian state of Victoria.
New Zealand. H. helix has been listed as an “environmental weed” by the Department of Conservation since 1990.
United States. In the United States, H. helix is considered weedy or invasive in a number of regions and is on the official noxious weed lists in Oregon and Washington. Like other invasive vines such as kudzu, H. helix can grow to choke out other plants and create “ivy deserts”. State- and county-sponsored efforts are encouraging the destruction of ivy in forests of the Pacific Northwest and the Southern United States. Its sale or import is banned in Oregon. Ivy can easily escape from cultivated gardens and invade nearby parks, forests and other natural areas.
Control and eradication. Ivy should not be planted or encouraged in areas where it is invasive. Where it is established, it is very difficult to control or eradicate. In the absence of active and ongoing measures to control its growth, it tends to crowd out all other plants, including shrubs and trees.
Damage to trees. Ivy can climb into the canopy of young or small trees in such density that the trees fall over from the weight, a problem which does not normally occur in its native range. In its mature form, dense ivy can destroy habitat for native wildlife and creates large sections of solid ivy where no other plants can develop.
Use as building facade green. As with any self-climbing facade green, some care is required to make best use of the positive effects: Ivy covering the walls of an old building is a familiar and often attractive sight. It has insulating as well as weather protection benefits, dries the soil and prevents wet walls, but can be problematic if not managed correctly.
Ivy, and especially European ivy (H. helix) grows vigorously and clings by means of fibrous roots, which develop along the entire length of the stems. These are difficult to remove, leaving an unsightly “footprint” on walls, and possibly resulting in expensive resurfacing work. Additionally, ivy can quickly invade gutters and roofspaces, lifting tiles and causing blockages. It also harbors mice and other unwelcome creatures. The plants have to be cut off at the base, and the stumps dug out or killed to prevent regrowth. Therefore, if a green facade is desired, this decision has to be made consciously, since later removal would be tedious.
Mechanism of Attachment. Hedera helix is able to climb relatively smooth vertical surfaces, creating a strong, long lasting adhesion with a force of around 300 nN. This is accomplished through a complex method of attachment starting as adventitious roots growing along the stem make contact with the surface and extend root hairs that range from 20-400 μm in length. These tiny hairs grow into any small crevices available, secrete glue-like nanoparticles, and lignify. As they dry out, the hairs shrink and curl, effectively pulling the root closer to the surface. The glue-like substance is a nano composite adhesive that consists of uniform spherical nanoparticles 50-80 nm in diameter in a liquid polymer matrix. Chemical analyses of the nanoparticles detected only trace amounts of metals, once thought be responsible for their high strength, indicating that they are largely organic. Recent work has shown that the nanoparticles are likely composed in large part of arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs), which exist in other plant adhesives as well. The matrix portion of the composite is made of pectic polysaccharides. Calcium ions present in the matrix induce interactions between carboxyl groups of these components, causing a cross linking that hardens the adhesive.

HIMAAYAN BLACKBERRY Rubus armeniacus
Rubus armeniacus, the Himalayan blackberry or Armenian blackberry, is a species of Rubus in the blackberry group. It is native to Armenia and Northern Iran, and widely naturalised elsewhere. Both its scientific name and origin have been the subject of much confusion. In some areas, the plant is cultivated for its berries, but in many areas it is considered a noxious weed and an invasive species.
Description. Rubus armeniacus is a perennial plant which bears biennial stems (“canes”) from the perennial root system. In its first year a new stem grows vigorously to its full length of 4–10 m, trailing along the ground or arching up to 4 m high. The stem is stout, up to 2–3 cm diameter at the base, and green or reddish-tinged above if it is exposed to bright sunlight. The leaves on first year shoots are 7–20 cm long, palmately compound with five leaflets. Flowers are not produced on first year shoots. In its second year, the stem does not grow longer, but produces several side shoots, which bear smaller leaves with three leaflets (rarely a single leaflet). These leaflets are oval-acute, dark green above and pale to whitish below, with a toothed margin, and thorns along the midrib on the underside. The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on panicles of 3–20 together on the tips of the second-year side shoots, each flower 2–2.5 cm diameter with five white or pale pink petals.
The fruit in botanical terminology is not a berry, but an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets, 1.2–2 cm diameter, ripening black or dark purple. Both first and second year shoots are spiny, with short, stout, curved, sharp spines. Mature plants form a tangle of dense arching stems, the branches rooting from the node tip when they reach the ground.[6]
Cultivation
Berry crop. The species was introduced to Europe in 1835 and to Australasia and North America in 1885. It was valued for its fruit, similar to that of common blackberries (Rubus fruticosus and allies) but larger and sweeter, making it a more attractive species for both domestic and commercial fruit production. The cultivars “Himalayan Giant” and “Theodore Reimers” are particularly commonly planted.
Invasive species. Rubus armeniacus soon escaped from cultivation and has become an invasive species in most of the temperate world. Because it is so hard to contain, it quickly got out of control, with birds and other animals eating the fruit and then spreading the seeds.

About admin

I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am “home”, are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking.
I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.

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