Watery treasure hunt open to kayakers

Summer paddle caching challenge offers prizes

Victoria Waterfront Tours' Nici Baughman shows off her GPS device

Victoria Waterfront Tours' Nici Baughman shows off her GPS device

An Esquimalt company has set up a water-logged treasure hunt.

Victoria Waterfront Tours, in West Bay, has taken the idea of geocaching to the Gorge to encourage people to get out and paddle.

“Last year, we were trying to think of ways to make more interesting paddling activities for people, especially experienced paddlers, so it may have started out with a treasure hunt idea,” said Nici Baughman, owner of Victoria Waterfront Tours.

“It’s just to provide a fun and interesting way to get people to promote their paddling skills, mapping skills, looking at charts and GPS.”

Here’s how it works: Staff have laminated cards with numbers, and tied them in secret locations in the Gorge and the Inner and Upper harbours. By registering at Victoria Waterfront Tours, paddlers of all abilities receive a clue sheet and map.

Out on the water, paddlers can search for the numbers using co-ordinates. When they find numbers, they return to the shop and describe the location, to receive a paddling-related prize. There are eight caches to find, and they can only be found from the water.

“I think it’s a gentle enough waterway (for anyone) to paddle in,” Baughman said. “People can focus on their map skills without worrying about paddling conditions most of the time. It’s the perfect setting just for enjoying kayaking for the sake of kayaking and being on the water.”

She added it’s a good way for paddlers to learn about tides, too – one cache is partially submerged at high tide.

For paddlers with equipment, the registration fee is $15. For those without, a three-hour rental and clue sheet costs $45. The caches will be out year-round.

For more information, go to www.victoriawaterfronttours.com/kayakingevents.htm or call 250-858-9090.

ecardone@vicnews.com