Haida Gwaii // Reid and Arran Jackson
Two of the most adventurous humans on the rock we call Vancouver Island; Arran and Reid Jackson have recently come back from a yet another grand surfing adventure around the north island of Haida Gwaii. A spur of the moment trip booked on points; the resourceful brothers made what is an expensive trip cheap, through airline loupe holes, sleeping under the stars, and living off the land. Their 16-day trip was spent venturing from Skidegate to the tip of Rose Spit; the two brothers ate like kings from blacktail deer to a plethora mushrooms picked from the surrounding forests. With a little help from a friend, they scored some wheels and accessed groomed waves from knee high to just overhead every day. Check out their travel Q&A below coupled with some imagery from their trip.
Haida Gwaii, Graham Island.
The length of trip?
16 days on the Gwaii, had to come home for Mt Cain ski patrol training
Who’s on the trip?
Just me and my bro.
How many boards are in your trips quiver?
We just brought two boards, for small fun surf, because every time we bring boards for big waves we get skunked. We borrowed a longboard from a friend and a 6’0 for bigger surf.
North West Surf Designs (Scott Rowley), Sitka ( Jay Novak)
NWSD “halibut” Sitka “knock-it.”
Halibut is a 5’5′ by 19 7/8, 2 3/8,
Knock it is a 5’9 by 18 3/4, 2 1/4
(Arran) Scotty put two 8 inch fin boxes in the halibut, so I can experiment with making homemade fins. These are basic keel fins, wood, and fiberglass.
(Reid) The knockit has future AM 2 and some random center fin. I tried to set it up as a quad, but the waves were pumping, and they wouldn’t go in easy, too much fucking around, so I went with the thruster set up.
Both are rocking the FCS leash. I think Arran’s is a comp leash. Mine went to Mexico last year and got a knot in it, can’t get it out, but it still works.
(Arran) Matuse 5.4, warmest suit ever!
(Reid) Hotline. 5.4. full front zip, size too big, will last forever.
(Reid) We tried to pack light. Bivvy sacks, and tarp, no tent. Everything is multi-purpose, surf gear, wrapped in sauna tarp, stuffed into one board bag.
We flew with Air Canada on Aeroplan points.
(Arran) None!! if you look on the website of your carrier, you can sometimes find loopholes. The guy at the desk was behooved that there is no charge for some items stated on their website.
Any dings or damage?
None, camping gear helps protect.
We were so lucky with the conditions! The wind has been grooming perfect waves for us every day, from knee high to just overhead. Big winds and rain at night, and the sunshine in the day, to dry stuff out. It is so awesome to see very few people sharing beautiful, clean waves; with locals that are stoked to see others surfing.
How were the Locals?
The surf scene is pretty fresh up here. People are willing to share knowledge and then invite you over for dinner. Others who don’t surf are excited to see people out there, and generally, have a lot of questions.
A wise man once said: “if you starve in Haida Gwaii, you’re a dumbass!” The land is bountiful, we have had meat hangovers from all the venison. The first time is eating liver, heart, and roasting dear ribs over the fire!
Easy-very remote. You can drive for miles up and down the beach, and find a peak to yourself if you have a 4WD. Most of the locals won’t drive very far and just surf the local spots. There is a lot of solitary waves out there. There are many waves beyond the end of the road.
Give respect to gain respect. Most people are super friendly and keen to have a chat. The Haida warrior stink eye is very real, don’t destroy what you came to enjoy. It’s always important when traveling to someone else’s land to remember that you are just visiting, and some places are secret for a reason.