Travel Story 

Can't see the sunset for the trees

The perfect sunset is hard to find in Roberts Creek. Densely forested, its private driveways reveal few glimpses of the homes that line the shore; fewer still of the ocean beyond.

Since most Roberts Creekers would rather move the sun than cut down a tree, the pier at the mouth of the creek is the place to catch a sunset. It's also a good spot for a better look at the waterfront real estate hidden from the road.

The best sunsets though are viewed from the water. You could buy a boat or do what Harry Roberts did almost a century ago and build your own. (For several years, his 36-foot yawl was registered as "Odamit" – possibly with good reason.)

The easiest way to get out on the water, save for swimming, is to rent a kayak. Seventeen feet of polyethylene may not be quite as rustic as the rest of Roberts Creek, but with guides Sarah and Jamie Mani, it's the driest and safest option. The Manis are what's known as "nouveau Creekers" since long-time residents of this small Sunshine Coast community dictate that the term "Creeker" can only apply to those who've lived here 30 years or more.

Both are teachers but like many on the Coast, they run a separate business to try and get ahead, perhaps a little closer to the waterfront. They guide snowshoers in the winter and kayakers year-round.

The sunset cruise leaves from the mouth of the creek where the stubs of pilings sunk around 1920 are still visible. The pilings used to support a breakwater, built as a trade-off negotiated by Roberts with the McNair Shingle Company in 1916. The company built a flume to transport shingle bolts in upper Roberts Creek to the ocean. In return for the flume crossing Roberts' property the company was supposed to build a breakwater to protect the creek mouth from winter's southeasterly storms. When McNair reneged on the deal, Roberts successfully sued the company for the money to build the breakwater.

Which was subsequently washed away by a winter southeasterly storm.

No such drama this night. After a pep talk from Sarah about safety and steering, and with the sun disappearing behind the trees along the water's edge, we gingerly eased our rear-ends into the bucket seats, desperate not to tip our vessels. Out on the water, we set course for the sun; shoreline on one side and on the other, Vancouver Island silhouetted against a salmon pink sky.

Joining us on the water, albeit several miles away, were four cruise ships heading north to Alaska. As if on cue, an eagle soared just metres above our heads and somewhere on the shore, the sound of a clarinet broke the silence. Sarah tried to convince us she'd choreographed the eagle and the clarinet – until someone started up a noisy lawnmower.

It didn't matter. The sun had us captivated. It edged behind the hills to the west of Sechelt and it occurred to us that maybe sunsets seem perfect because we so rarely take the time to watch them.

What with all the trees in the way.

For more information about sunset or moonlight paddle trips, or guided multi-day sea kayaking trips, call Alpha Adventures and Education at 604-885-8838 or visit www.robertscreek.com/kayak/

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