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Monday, September 15, 2014

The most awesome roll ever


Yesterday Dean and I thought we were going out for a short relaxing paddle as we looked out over the Bell Island Tickle.  It looked flat calm but looks were deceiving.  As we got going we realized there was a very gentle but broad open swell was running in the bay.

Some spaces between the rocks were not accessible.  Dean tried here.  A larger than normal wave arrived and he was over.  (We discussed it after and neither of us could pin-point why he went over.)  I looked on with some concern as the kayak seemed to hang for seconds on its edge.  (He said afterwards he was laying on a rock.)

Another wave came in and Dean got washed into deeper water.


A close up and all I could see was the top of his Greenland paddle just over my bow.


I watched as he came into view again, set up, rolled upright and made his escape.


Safe out of the clutches of the waves Dean looks back.  I chose to paddle around.

We discussed it later at Topsail Beach.  These things happen so fast its hard to deconstruct why he got knocked over in the first place.  One thing for sure, it was the most impressive combat roll I've ever seen.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Post #1,000

Hard to believe but this is my 1,000th post.  My, oh my, where has the time gone?  I don't know but its gone pretty well.  So, some shots of a paddle last evening under the setting sun seems somehow apt.









As the sun went down, the lights of St. Philips came on ending another pleasant evening on the water.

1,000 posts in almost six years.  That causes me to consider when I'll hit 2,000 and what my circumstances will be.  That will take care of itself.  One day at a time; live in the present!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blowin' in the wind


On our paddle down to Gulch Pond some people had an issue with the wind which came up.  That's the thing about wind.  Most will not like paddling in wind but the weather can be unpredictable and the forecast wrong.  Therefore, it is necessary to prepare for windy paddling.

There is only one way to get comfortable and efficient paddling in wind ... you have to paddle in wind.

When its windy I like to go to St Philips and first paddle up into the wind before turning to surf the waves back.  On Sunday Des and I spend a couple of hours doing just that.  We would paddle upwind for about 30 minutes, fly back before busting upwind again.

Practice paddling in wind does two things: first, it gives you feedback on how long paddling into wind at various speeds is possible based on one's fitness and, secondly, it builds stamina.  With that knowledge its possible then to be honest with oneself when deciding to paddle or not in a given forecast.  Furthermore, it enables a paddler to cope when the wind comes up unexpectedly.

Paddling into wind is work but the surf rides back are adequate compensation for the effort.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The trip ends in Garden Cove


We were in Back Cove on Woody Island on our return to civilization where not a stone was in sight because ...


... they were all picked up and cemented into the construction of this house by Randy Lieb.  Woody Island was resettled during the mid-1960s but a number of outsiders settled there in the early '70s including Canadian folksinger Valdy.  Lieb grew crops and raised small livestock but as the new settlers gradually left Lieb became the lone holdout until he too left all this work behind.  It appears it was a hurried departure ...


... for he forgot his watering can.  Maybe it wasn't needed at his new home?


Finished looking around, we got back in the kayaks and paddled past the rocks leading out of Back Cove and ...


... reached the shores of Sound Island.  Still on glassy calm waters we ...


... savoured the remaining kilometers of our trip.


The clouds towards Come by Chance across the bay looked ominous.


The calm water reflected mirror images of the shore.


But, all good things must come to an end as they surely were as the houses of Garden Cove came into sight.


The kayaks were run up onto the slipway and before we could all disperse we took a group photo for posterity.  From left to right its Ron, Lee, Julie, Dean, Hazen and myself.

The kayaks were unloaded, stowed on the cars and we left Garden Cove behind.  Lee went directly home.  The rest of us stopped for a meal of fish and chips to cap the trip.

It was an excellent trip.  Thanks to Hazen and Dean for organizing it and the crew for sharing the experience.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Leaving Gulch Pond for home


I awoke Monday morning to the sound of rain on my tent.  It rained hard all night and I did not relish getting out to break camp in the rain.  No one else stirred so I stayed in my sleeping bag and gradually the pitter patter of rain drops slowed and then stopped.  Someone was rustling about so I got up to an absolutely still morning with fog draping the hills across the pond.


The fog and the hill were perfectly reflected on the surface of the pond.  Everyone was pleased the wind had vanished for day three of our trip and the return home.


We were even lucky with the timing of the tide as we exited the pond at slack water and ...


... entered Placentia Bay heading for Bar Haven Island.


I looked south down the bay as we crossed.  Ship Island seemed to float in space that was neither sea nor sky.


A short crossing saw us paddling along the rocky shores of Bar Haven Island.  Padding was a far cry from our exertions of the previous two days.


An hour after leaving Gulch Pond we stopped at Browns Cove to have a look and evaluate it as a possible camp site.  A saltwater lagoon diagonally split the beach in two, either side of which would make for an excellent camp spot.


The water line formed the perfect place to fold the scene back on itself.


At the top of Bar Haven Island there was some talk of what lay ahead.  It could only be Woody Island on the left and Little Woody Island to the left.  What may have confused some was the vantage point on the map didn't appear to show any separation between both islands ... until laying the paddle shaft along our intended track.


We set out from Bar Haven Island and made the short crossing to Woody Island floating in the space between heaven and earth.


We paddled down the west side on our trip to Gulch Pond on Saturday but we returned via the east side with a view of Come by Chance across the bay.


It was close to lunch time when we arrived at Back Cove on Woody Island so that's what we did before having a tour of an old homestead nearby.  There wasn't a rock in sight on the sandy beach and a piece of wharf had been blown on the beach since I was here in October of last year.

We were only a couple of hours from concluding our three day trip in Garden Cove.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Leaving Great Sandy Harbour


After finishing lunch near the falls at the bottom of Great Sandy Harbour we paddled the short distance to go check them out.


With all the rain we've had in August the swollen Sandy Harbour River poured over the last hurdle.


We took turns paddling into the current and riding it downstream.  When we had our fill of that it was time to head back to Gulch Pond.


We hugged the south side of the harbour keeping out of the wind until we got near the entrance when we ran downwind.  I kept an eye on my GPS as I was blown downwind noting the wind was driving me along at an average of 6 kms/hr without even paddling.


Exiting Great Sandy Harbour we were fully exposed to the wind and the sea got lumpy.  I paddled offshore catching some excellent surf rides.  They were not big waves but I still managed a top surf speed of 13.3 kms/hr.


Arriving back at our campsite at Gulch Pond we found the tarp had blown down.  Lee took a rest break after ...


... helping get "Big Yellow" back up.  Then it was happy hour and time to cook supper.

The rain arrived with dusk and its arrival meant the departure of our plans for a campfire.  It was hard to leave the wood we had cut.  The tarp was a blessing as we had a few swallies and Hazen popped some popcorn Dean had bought.

It was an early night hitting the tents.  I felt secure from the weather in the tent as I got ready for the sleeping bag, crawled in and was lulled to sleep by the steady stream of water falling on the fly.  It was heaven.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A tour of Great Sandy Harbour


The initial plan was to leave Gulch Pond and go to Bar Haven Island to camp and then the following day it would be a short return to Garden Cove where our cars were.  It seemed a lot of trouble to break camp to paddle a couple of hours and set up camp again.  So, a proposal was made to leave the tents standing and paddle south into the wind to Great Sandy Harbour and have the wind at our backs on the return.


I'll throw the track in here that resulted.


That suggestion was passed by unanimous consent and we were on our way.


There was a bit of wind but nothing challenging, yet.


Without having to set-up camp at the end of the day we had the luxury of taking our time.


As we neared Great Sandy Harbour the wind picked up to 15 knots and dropped again as we entered the harbour protected by hills all around.  We began our paddle into the bottom, some 4.5 kms away, where the Sandy Harbour River pours out over a waterfall.


The topography of Great Sandy Harbour is nondescript - low hills and almost nowhere to take out except near the falls in tis grassy, reed bad ...


... where there was just enough room to have lunch.


Dean asked what was for lunch.  Trick question?  Not really, for the second day in a row lunch for Dean and myself was Mr. Noodles supplemented with a tin of tuna in my case.

I ate my lunch with one eye on the waterfall where we would head after getting going again.