A Year in the Life of a Kayak Guide

2018 was a huge year for me

In January a friend (thanks Jo) reassured me that I had the skills to be a Canadian kayak guide, sending me down a path I never expected I’d get to walk.

A google search in February prompted me to email some guy called Brody at Go With The Flow Adventures. From their website it looked like a very small company with a full compliment of guides already lined up. I highly doubted they were hiring, but I could not stop watching their promotional video, so figured it couldn’t hurt to check if they would want to take a risk on a brand new kayak guide from the other side of the Atlantic. Just in case.

March saw me hunched over a borrowed laptop at my kitchen table in Nelson, nervously waiting for the wifi to reconnect for a grainy skype interview with Brody and Cristina all the way on the other side of the province.

I got the Job

In early April I was sitting in a café with friends, taking a break from some intense reading for a first aid course when I got a call from Brody; he and Cristina wanted to offer me a job. I could hear my friends laughing at my excited dancing on the still-snowy sidewalk through the café windows, while I tried to sound professional on the phone. From there I had a whirlwind of courses to complete with a quick trip back to the UK for a wedding in between.

In June I drove my little van onto the ferry at Campbell River for the first time and headed to Quadra, full of nerves about working for this couple I’d never met on an unreachable island I’d never seen. The drive from Quathiaski Cove over to Heriot Bay calmed me right down; how could anything go wrong in a place this beautiful?

Within minutes of getting onto his boat, having followed Brody’s directions to ‘drive until the road runs out, park up, walk down to the ocean and I’ll meet you there,’ Brody had ascertained that I didn’t eat fish. He redirected our trip out to Maurelle to include some crab traps he’d laid down and a quick stop to hook a ling cod at Hole in the Wall. He was going to change my mind. Meanwhile my mind was made up that working for a family that helped me catch my own lunch to expand my horizons was going to be a blast.

Landing at Basecamp was Unforgettable

As any of our guests can attest, the first couple of hours at our base camp on Maurelle are unforgettable. I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty and serenity of the place. Brody told me the history of his Aunt’s cedar-shingled A frame home, now our cook house, and the stories behind the driftwood railings, the gutters carved from branches, the cabins and cabana built by friends and family to Brody and Cristina’s designs. There were soft pine-needle paths through the forest to incredible old growth cedars, a couple of beers cooling in the creek that runs through the property, and well loved flowerbeds marked out with shells and beach rocks. Best of all, this amazing and thoughtfully planned out space was going to be my home.

What followed was a busy summer. We took eight groups of happy paddlers to the Octopus Islands. We sat and figured out the current for eight trips through Surge Narrows. We served over a thousand delicious meals out of aforementioned tiny cookhouse and spent hundreds of hours on the water with our happy guests. Most importantly, I ate 22 incredible everything sandwiches.

Let the Season Change

After all that hard work it was (nearly) a relief to retreat to Brody and Cristina’s office on Quadra in September and entangle myself in all things social media while the rain fell outside. Instagram prepped and blog up and running, it was time to head back to the UK and see my poor abandoned parents (I know you’re reading this Mum, hi!) before following in Brody and Cristina’s footsteps and heading down to New Zealand for another season of guiding.

Looking back on the last year, I can’t really wrap my head around all the amazing experiences I’ve had and fantastic people I’ve met through Go With The Flow, all off the back of a lucky email to a small kayak company. I cannot wait for the upcoming 2019 season, so we can do it all again!

Written by: Kat Osei-Mensah