For Movember, many people grow a mustache to raise awareness for prostate cancer. Allen Kurtz, owner of West Coast Outdoor Adventure Rentals on the other hand, decided to support the cause a slightly different way by sailing across the Juan de Fuca Strait in a kayak.
Sounds daunting, but luckily the kayak was of the Hobie Cat variety — meaning it is outfitted with a sail, traditional paddles as well as a foot-operated pedal flipper system that can propel the small boat when there isn’t any wind.
Enlisting the company of Craig Toker, the representative for Hobie Cat Canada, the two set out in two Hobies a couple of Saturdays ago at 8:15 a.m.
“It was an impromptu thing, an awareness thing,” said Kurtz, who spoke to the Sooke News Mirror on his cellphone while on the water in a kayak last week.
“I lost my dad to cancer — pancreatic cancer, but it’s cancer nonetheless.”
He said having been an athlete his whole life — wrestling in high school in his native New Zealand and then mountain biking in the U.K. for 20 years — people sometimes feel like they’re invincible. He decided to test this on water.
Kurtz contacted the Canadian Coast Guard and Homeland Security on the other side before leaving, as well as Al Kennedy from Reel Excitement Fishing to provide chaperoning services in a separate vessel in case of an emergency.
The first part of the journey was a little slow as the pair fought incoming flood tide currents, but once passing Whiffin Spit and making their way towards Possession Point it was smooth sailing.
“The wind was coming in at 12 to 15 knots with our feet up,” said Kurtz.
Going into the open strait, the conditions changed with the wind disappearing just as they were heading towards the busy shipping lane. A massive international container ship appeared radiating out giant waves that luckily dissipated by the time it reached the kayaks.
“The (six-foot plus) wake going by from the cargo ship was kind of neat,” he said.
Besides encountering a pod of dolphins, the rest of trip was fairly uneventful. Sailing into the Port Angeles airport at 1 p.m., they turned around and made it back into the Sooke Harbour in time for dinner at 4:20 p.m. making it an eight-hour trip in total.
“I’d definitely do it again without a doubt.”
The Hobie Cats, along with other kayak models, are available for rent at Kurtz’s shop at 6791 West Coast Road. Until the end of the month, 20 per cent of all rentals goes toward prostate cancer research.