Broken Group Islands


Twenty-six years of living with diabetes.  It is a distinct sound, hollow and bold, that a sea kayak makes when it arrives at the shore on the rounded rocks. I pull my neoprene spray skirt by the loophole and exit. My husband and I sort through the hulls to grab the gear that we could and wandered into the forest with our arms full. We knew we were on the right island, but we still needed to locate the camp. The short walk was slippery and not well-traveled; it had rained most of the day. His parents stayed back with our kids in the kayaks until we could get the tent set up.

As a family, we were on a multi-day remote sea kayak trip in the Broken Group Islands off the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C.  Just getting there is logistically heavy, but I highly recommend it for any family who enjoys an extraordinary adventure.

Earlier that morning, once we arrive at our launch location, we laid our gear out on the dock and organized it into systems. The same drill I go through with my kids when prepping for backpacking trips.
Human basic needs for survival: water, food, shelter. What was necessary and could fit went in the piles. Into a giant crate, we placed the leftover gear for us to grab on our return. There was limited space in the kayaks, and we brought more than necessary, purposefully knowing we would do just what we were doing.

We considered the environment, the weather, what we needed for our sleep, food, and clothing systems in packing. The various items were put into multiple dry sacks and then stuffed into the hulls of the kayaks.

As a family, we had been kayaking at least a dozen times. Each year on the last day of school / first moment of summer, I take the kids and a handful of their friends kayaking out to see sea lions and seals lounging on the buoys off the Santa Barbara Pier.  That said, wilderness kayak camping was new to us. We pulled on our extensive backcountry experiences and asked friends who had done this before. The online resources weren't substantial for the area back in 2016, but now many websites offer trip reports and gear lists.

We remained hopeful to see whales, but none surfaced for us during our trip. We slept well in our tent together and enjoyed many warm drinks as the weather stayed cool. Our son enjoyed creating horns out of the kelp bulbs. Our daughter enjoyed fantasy parties with the seashells and rocks as impromptu tea sets. Each of them spent time in a double kayak and a single kayak leading their path as we toured, via sea, numerous islands. I swam daily and hiked when time allowed.

The week was a calm, quiet, and uneventful way to end our summer.

Living with diabetes and living my life, I am often considering where I will be going, how long, what will I need, and then the "what if" game. I choose not to live from a place of fear. I trust in my ability to take care of myself or pull on resources if need be. I have faith in the parts I can't see or touch, knowing it will all work out. There comes the point in my decisions layered with risk mitigation where enough is enough. The "enough is enough" moment is individual for each person, how much risk they want to prepare for, and consider.

Every single time it has worked out.