The past couple years I’ve spent a considerable amount of time chasing after big tidal rapids like Skookumchuck, Okisollo, Bay of Funday and others for the Pacific Horizons and Eastern Horizons films. While on face value the goal of shooting these locations appears to revolve around capturing big, scary looking footage, tidal race sea kayaking is actually what I consider “fun” in a sea kayak. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all aspects of the sport, but playing in the tide has become an addiction. An obsession to find different features, waves and challenges that keep pushing my abilities and interests. This year we honed in on another new location. The Butze Tidal Rapids in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Considered to be the largest tidal rapids on the west coast, we did as much prep work as possible before boarding the ferry at Port Hardy and traveling 15 hours north.
The irony of getting on this ferry was that we were motored up the entire inside passage. A trip that kayakers all around the world dream of doing. Yet we were setting off on a ferry bypassing all that incredible scenery to explore a set of rapids just a few miles outside of Prince Rupert. In search of that elusive wave, special spot and the unknown, the team was myself Paul, Kuthe, Dave White, Nick Jacob, and photographer Phil Tifo. We had enough food for a week, lots of rain garments and several fast manueverable sea boats to play with. The Butze has a tidal exchange of over 20 feet and currents that approach 18 knots, so we would need everything we brought. And then some!
After a long ferry ride and two nights in a row at BC ferry terminals, we were excited to arrive to waves at our doorstep. From the Rupert ferry terminal to the rapids was an easy float with the incoming tide and within minutes of arriving we were already catching some initial waves. What makes the Butze different than most tidal rapids is the number of channels. Four distinct channels provided enough features to keep us busy for close to a week.
Lots of people have been asking me what we have been up to this summer and if we are working on a new film. Others have just assumed that since I’ve just had a kid, that I’ve completely fallen off the radar. Not so. I’ve been hard at work on a few projects. The Butze footage will appear in a web TV series called The Season which launches in late January. I have also been producing a bunch of material for a new TV series National Geographic is launching in Summer 2010. For the complete story on Butze be sure to check the Buyer’s Guide issue of Canoe and Kayak Magazine. There is quite an intersting end to the story. Needless to say we were humbled by the Butze.
ALL PHOTOS TAKEN BY PHIL TIFO