By Ken Hegan for MSN

Are you a sun fearing/loving albino like me?

I’m pretty much always cold so I love the hot summer months. But thanks to my Scirish heritage (Scotch-Irish), my love for sunshine means an abusive relationship for my pale skin.

Still, despite the freckle-frying heat on BC’s Sunshine Coast this week, I had a fantastic first summer weekend. It got so hot on Canada Day, my superfine girlfriend and I went pier jumping into the warm Georgia Strait. We even made local kids wait for us (and take our pictures).

Ready to jump

Pier jumping? THE BEST. If you haven’t done this since you were a kid, drop everything, take the 40-minute ferry from Vancouver to Gibsons, strip your clothes off, and jump off a wharf.

I recommend two piers on the Sunshine Coast:

1) Davis Bay wharf — located off Highway 101 across from the Pier 17 ice cream shop between Gibsons and Sechelt, free parking. There’s no fence at the end of this pier so you can take a good long run at it.

2) Hopkins Landing — located 2 minutes from Langdale Ferry terminal which connects the Sunshine Coast with Vancouver. Note: parking’s tougher here but the water’s cleaner and the ocean scenery’s even prettier. If you can swing it, rent a summer beach house at Hopkins Landing; your kids will love it.

Of course, nobody will believe you went pier-jumping unless you post photographic evidence. Here you go:

Yep, it’s blurry because a child took it. This pic also proves how pale I am. Look at the after photo:


I’m not just a secret former ginger, I’m practically an albino. Complete absence of melanin.

Which has some advantages, I suppose. Some people in Burundi and Tanzania believe albino organs are lucky and valuable (Yay! Unless they harvest my organs for witchcraft, boo!).

But super-pale skin means I’m also extremely vulnerable to sun damage and skin cancer. Fortunately there’s an app to save my hide and yours.

SUNSCREEN is a free iPhone app that calculates when you have to re-apply your sunscreen. It’s a boon to sun worshippers (like the model below) who get helplessly hypnotized by The Great Flaming Sun God:

Woman sand

Here’s how the Sunscreen app works:

1) Apply sunscreen

Apply sunscreen liberally, even if you’re conservative. Do it 30 minutes before you go outside and use water-resistant lotion if you’re leaping off a pier, cliff, or roof, or, if you’re a billionaire playboy (like me) and you like to leap out of helicopters flying low over the warm Caribbean Sea.

2) Give the app your location

The Sunscreen app then calculates the maximum UV Index level for your local beach. For example: today’s UVI in Vancouver is 9 (very high). This means unprotected skin will burn quickly, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

3) Enter the SPF number of your sunscreen

4) Pick your skin type

The app lists 4 skin types, ranging from Skin type 1 (pale skin that always burns; this applies to all babies, kids, and me) to Skin type 4 which was my dad’s type. He used to rebuild car engines in the bright hot sun for hours with his shirt off. He never burned, although he did grow nasty dark neck moles that he used to tear off by wrapping floss around them. I know: ewww. I’ll spare you that photo.

 5) Press ‘play’ and start sunbathing

CountdownThe Suncreen app takes all that data, and sets an alarm for when you need to reapply your sunscreen.

Example: based on my skin type, location, UVI level, and SPF number, the app set an alarm for 2 hours and 40 minutes from now.

WARNING: the alarm is a piercing electronic alert designed to shock you into action. You’ll have to slather on more sunscreen, or sprint from shadow to shadow for the rest of the day.

Even if you don’t plan to someday be a Sears catalogue swimsuit model (like me), protect your body this summer.

Until we perfect human cloning (hurry up, science!), your body is the only one you’ve got.

— Ken Hegan
Download the Sunscreen app here

Rent a Sunshine Coast cottage here

BING: Train your dog to dock jump

Read more of Ken’s travel stories here

Twitter: @KenHegan

Beach photo: OJO Images / Rex Features