Storm Watch

22 February 2023 – Well, not really.

“Storm Watch” is the winter draw for Tofino and other points along the west coast of Vancouver Island, not for mainland White Rock — a small community tucked into Semiahmoo Bay, just 5 minutes from the Canada/US border.

But if the weather doesn’t quite qualify as a storm, it sure is blustery. We have piled on the layers, pulled up our hoods, zipped every zipper, found our mitts and generally shown due respect for the elements, this holiday-Monday Family Day.

Which makes that black crescent in the lowering sky (mid-photo) all the more amazing.

Dog in surf, fine. Bundled-up patient dog owner on beach, fine. But what maniac would want to be out there wind-surfing? We spy his sail, trace the line to his wetsuit-clad body, and shake our heads in amazement.

On along the beachside path, heading for the pier you can just barely make out ‘way down there on the horizon.

We are going to walk, not just a pier, but the pier, the capital-P Pier: the White Rock Pier. “The longest pier in Canada.” That pier.

We plod on, breathless and laughing, past this imposing tree stump, looking at / listening to rolling waves as we go.

And then we’re there! On the Pier!

Everybody else as windblown as we are, bracing against the blasts, and sharing “what-a-day” grins with passing strangers.

How long is “longest,”you may want to know. I did, & later I look it up: 470 metres (1,542 ft) is the answer. OK-fine, but the merest nuthin’ compared to the world’s longest, which is in Progreso, Mexico and juts 6.5 km out to sea. It was built to accommodate cruise ships, wouldn’t you know; ours merely has to accommodate feet.

Also accommodate storms, as it happens. Built in 1914 for steamships, it had to be extensively rebuilt after a huge storm in 2018 and has been smacked around by further storms since then. We walk right to the end, and pause for the landward view before heading back to town.

The view includes the eponymous white rock — the 486-ton chunk of granite so liberally coated in seagull guano in the 19th century that (they tell us) it served as a beacon for sailors. It is now repeatedly coated in Park Dept. whitewash — not to make up for an absence of guano, but to cover up the presence of graffiti.

Return trip along those 470 metres, wind at our backs this time. We are almost literally sailing along…

Up the steps to the main drag, and a look back across the bay. The flag is snapping in the wind…

and the gulls are hunkered down against the wind.

We power on down the street.

We’re headed for fish & chips at Moby Dick (“famous since 1975”)…

and we take in a lesson in maritime etiquette along the way.

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  1. What a wonderful walk! I have always enjoyed a bracing wind-walk, liberally rewarded with a great meal and/or drinks afterwards. So great.

    I have seen a lot of winter surfing on Skaha Lake which gets some powerful winds in autumn and winter. I don’t know how they manage the cold either.

  2. I could feel the exhileration.

  3. Brrr! It was about -4 this morning and windy. I suspect it’s around the same in Vancouver today…I hope it was warmer when you walked the pier! Must have been exhilarating though!

  1. Cold Remedy | WALKING WOMAN

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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

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