Saturday, October 18, 2014

Getting out before Gonzalo

This morning hurricane Gonzalo was just leaving Bermuda as I left home and it had the Avalon Peninsula in its sights next.  The leading edge of the hurricane had winds forecasted to be close to 35 kms with gusts to 50ish.  It seemed wise to stay close so the invite went out for a bounce in the cove at St Philips.

Only Terry was able to paddle so it was just the two of us.  It was blowing alright but nothing challenging in the cove so I suggested we paddle up the coast a bit and if the wind intensified we'd turn and be blown back.

There was very active water along the coast which made for some interesting paddling and exercise of judgement.

We paddled the 6 kms to Topsail Beach where we got out to stretch our legs.  The wind wasn't what it was supposed to be; blowing maybe 25 kms with gusts to 35.  Meh!

On the way back though it picked up close to 35 kms and gusting to 50.  The sea quickly picked up in size making it a fun ride back along side the cliffs.

As we neared St. Philips we were elated that we had decided to take a paddle away from the cove.

However when I got home I was massively disappointed to find the video I thought I was shooting wasn't on the camera.  Drats, I had put to sea without checking the battery which, it turns out, was out of charge.  The stills I was taking I knew wouldn't do justice to the sea state so I thought some video would.  Unfortunately I left some really good video out there.

That's a lesson for the next time.  Anyway, I was happy to get out for a paddle before hurricane Gonzalo arrives and the poo hits the fan.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The season ends for St. Philips practices

Thursday evening was our last practice/paddle/social for the year.  We've been meeting every Thursday evening since early April to practice various rescues, paddle strokes etc but on calm evenings we've usually gone for a short paddle.

The evenings in October are getting very short with it pretty much dark at 7:00 so then we call it quits.

On our last evening there were just three of us.  This was Sean.

We left the cove at 6:00 and paddled half an hour up the coast before turning around to put us back in the cove as darkness falls.  The light was failing even as we left the cove.  This was Reha.

While there were only three of us on the final evening, we've averaged between 6 - 7 per evening over the season and I believe the record for 2014 was 12.  Most are regulars but we did have several come out for the first time and I know they benefited from the opportunity to paddle with more experienced paddlers.

An half hour up the coast followed by a wind and mini-surf assisted push back put us in the boat basin at St. Philips at 6:50 in darkening skies.

I'll miss Thursday evenings now because it was a go every Thursday unless it conditions were truly attrocious.  Rain, sun, wind or calm it went ahead.  Thanks to everyone who participated this year.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tracing the Topsail fault to Bauline

The Topsail fault is a prominent feature along the east side of Conception Bay.  It separates Harbour Main volcanic rocks from Cambrian and Ordovician age rocks, where discernible, that is, not under water.  All long the east side of the fault the hills rise vertically from the sea so much so that we are in shade at Portugal Cove as we ready to put in.

Once out on the water and out of the shadow of the bald hill overlooking the cove our foursome of Dean, Hazen, Lev and myself were in brilliant sunshine.

Soon we are under the hills again and the early sun hasn't had time to creep high enough in the sky to win the battle over shade.

The rocks along here are the oldest on the Avalon Peninsula dating from the Paleoproterozoic, that is, older than 1.5 billion, with a capital B, years old.

An hour later we were at Brocks Pond falls where the outflow of Brocks Pond tumbles over the 100 meter cliffs.  The sun slowly crept into the sky and I had to shield the camera lens from the sun with my cap, oops just visible.

To the west lay the Ordovician rocks of Bell Island isolated from everything else.

It seemed the closer we got to Bauline the more imposing the cliffs got.  The cliff highlighted by the sun rose a further 100 meters above the prevailing landscape to reach 200 meters.

Two hours later and 12 kilometers on we reached the community of Bauline clinging on to a notch in the long march of cliffs.

We stopped for a bite to eat in Bauline.  While we had lunch a van full of tourists arrived in the harbour.  They were lucky with the weather for Bauline would not look so quaint in rain and fog.  It would look more like the land god gave to Cain.

Finished our lunch I had the feeling our foursome was more of a draw than the scenery as we left the harbour to return to Portugal Cove.

Thanks guys for a most enjoyable day on the water.

Here's a link to Dean's blog for his take on the day.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Penultimate Thursday

There were five of us on the next to last Thursday evening at St. Philips.  It gets dark early this time of year so we only went for a short paddle as far as Beachy Cove.  And, it was cool.  My hands started t lose their dexterity so I had to don neoprene mitts for the first time.  In the west the sun was going down.  In the east ...

... the moon was rising over reddish cliffs bathed in the red glow of the setting sun.

As the evening wore on even the water seemed to be on fire.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thursday evening bounce

Last evening five of us met to play in the wind and waves at St. Philips.  Pictures hardly do justice to the conditions so I decided to record some video.  Previous video I shot was with the camera fixed to the foredeck but I found water drops stayed on the lens and the perspective was rather shallow.

I tried a new set-up with the camera fixed to my helmet.  It worked fine for the most part but I have to remind myself in future not to look around suddenly.  I liked the fact that I could keep the camera on the action by looking in that direction rather than having to point the kayak.

Anyway, have a look at the edited down three minute clip with music by local band "nomadic" and turn up the volume!

It was an enjoyable evening.  The waves dropped as the evening progressed.  Just paddling around the cove worked out to 8.5 kms.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Surf's up

Today it was windy; SW 35 gusting to 55.  Too windy for what we might call a day paddle but that didn't keep us off the water.  Dean, Gary, Terry and I met at St. Philips for a bounce in the waves.

If the day was flowcharted it would go like this: paddle into the wind and waves until far enough out, turn and surf back in and repeat.

It was a wet ride going upwind as my kayak slammed into the troughs and the kicked-up spray blew over me.

Some rides down the larger meter and a half waves were exhilarating but I was beginning to see a pattern.  Why I wondered did I have to paddle upwind into the biggest waves only to find the larger waves less frequent when surfing downwind?

Two hours later we had enough and went for coffee.  While we didn't paddle non-stop upwind for the full two hours, it did give us an inkling of how much gas to give if we had to to get somewhere.

There's always an opportunity to get on the water regardless of the weather.  Today may not have been the most exciting experience to share on a kayak blog but it can't always be paddling in interesting surroundings.  Today it was a day to pay dues.

Kate finds her Fortune

In July four of us completed a seven day trip in Fortune Bay.  A while after we got back I received mail from Kate in, what we call the "Boston States", who expressed an interest in also padding in the area.  We corresponded by email, I passed along some information in addition to my blog entries on the trip and she was on her way.

This past week I got an email from her with a link to her trip report that I want to share.  Its full of wonderful pictures and an interesting read.  The amazing thing for me was how different it looked through her eyes even though I had been to most of the places.

Thanks for sharing Kate and so glad you had a great trip.