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Thursday, May 26, 2016

If you can't stand the heat ... get out of your kayak


This past weekend (May 21 - 23) was a long holiday weekend.  Most paddle buddies were out of town.  I considered a solo paddle but I decided I needed some time away from the kayak.  That was a good idea as Wednesday evening practice arrived I felt refreshed and anxious to get on the water.


The temperature when we arrived was 22C and 28C with the humidex.  It was warm but the water was cold making the choice of wear under the drysuit difficult.  I dressed for immersion so when I got overheated I just jumped into the water.

The first thing we did was some rescue practice.  Brian and Neville starting the heel hook assisted rescue ...


... and getting ready to roll in and ...


... in.

Shane and I did a T-rescue and a few rolls while Terry demonstrated a new ...


... paddle technique riding his overturned kayak.


It was a bit after 6:00 when we decided to go for a short evening paddle to Portugal Cove.  At the G-spot, where Gerard had a swim a few years go, I pretended to go over giving Dave a chance to rescue me.  I hung on to his bow while he set about ...


... about emptying my kayak for my reoccupation.


At Sailing Point it got a little crowded as 11 of us lined up to get through.

Here, Andrew, Brian and I had a go at using our throw ropes.  For my part, I learned I need to practice that skill for a time when its really needed.


It was hot and humid all evening and at one point the humidity reached 100% as the rain began to pour out of the sky.


Terry and I paddled through this narrow opening and emerged at ...


... Portugal Cove with the rest of the group with fog and low lying clouds draped over the hills.

We hung around a bit in the cove before returning to St. Philips after a super evening of practice and a paddle.  I didn't see one frown when we landed at the slipway.  Eleven people were out with three attending for the first time.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Heel hook assited rescue (update), a swimming porcupine and tickling the dragon


Another Wednesday evening practice is in the books.  All week I mused about the previous week's practice of the heel hook assisted rescue.  I found it difficult and time consuming to try and grab the rescuer's deckline because, in holding my kayak, the rescuer tended to dip the edge of their kayak down and away.

I redid the rescue this week with Brian.  Instead of grabbing decklines I grasped his wrist as he held my kayak and pulled myself into the cockpit.  No problem.  I would just grab a hold of anything close at hand as there isn't as much torque on the kayak climbing in as in some other rescues.

Brian suggest one impediment to doing this rescue with someone not familiar with it.  As luck would have it Ryan, a novice paddler, joined us for the first time and was the perfect "guinea pig".  He was reluctant to jump in the water but I convinced him it would be good practice.  He wanted me to explain the rescue first.  I said I'd coach him step by step once he was in the water.  He got out of his kayak and with a couple of simple instructions we completed the rescue in good order.


Just outside the cove we encountered a swimming porcupine.


I spent the most time tickling the dragon, paddling and sitting next to the rocks to ride the waves crashing ashore.  Good practice edging the kayak into the incoming wave and quickly the other way as the water rebounded off the rocks.

All good fun and time spend in the kayak.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A night with the hot women of Trinny Cove


Eight years ago I participated in  beach clean-up in Trinny Cove with Barb, Graham and Peter.  I was immediately struck with the potential it had as a camping destination.

Last May Brian, Dean, Terry and I paddled in the area and camped there but couldn't get into the pond behind the cobble bar because we arrived at low tide.  There wasn't enough water to get the boats up in the ankle deep water.

Last week Hazen proposed a paddle in Chance Cove which is a 100 km drive.  I'm not fussy about long drives to paddle and said so to my wife.  She suggested I camp somewhere overnight and split the driving over two days.  That was the green light and I instantly decided on Trinny Cove.

 
After a wonderful paddle with sea stacks in the Chance Cove area I drove the short distance to Fairhaven.  There was no wind at Chance Cove but when I arrived at Fairhaven a bit of a breeze was blowing in the harbour.  I wasn't deterred so I loaded my kayak and ...


... set off out of the harbour.


There was just a little lop with the occasional one lopping over the spray skirt.  With the kayak fully loaded she rode the small wind waves like a trusty steed.  I was feeling pretty good and pleased with my plan, particularly so when I ...


... spotted a large rock on top of the hill in front of me an hour out of Fairhaven.  I recognized it as I had climbed there last year and knew I had made good progress in spite of the breeze.


The kicker to the whole plan were the tide tables.  This year, on this day, the tide cooperated to allow me access to the pond upon arrival and would not trap me in the morning.  I paddled into the pond and ...


... landed at the far south end where I had the most protection from anticipated SE winds overnight and into the morning.

I had camped once before by myself after a trip to Keels to paddle among a fleet of icebergs but then I camped in a provincial park with people occupying other campsites.  This time I was alone practically in the middle of nowhere.  I wanted to find out how that would feel without sticking my neck out too far.


I got out of my reeking drysuit and put on a dry set of clothes.  I was beside myself with the giddy feeling of being here and the beautiful weather.  A light breeze continued to blow over the bay but I pitched my tent on the flat area behind and under the protection of the heaped up cobble beach so I didn't feel it.


I did a bit of beachcombing and picked up this fish tub that served both as kitchen and bar.  There was no one else around but I still held out hope that the women of Trinny Cove might drop by for a social. *lol*


The only regret I had as I was setting up was that I had arrived a bit later than I wanted to.  It was after 3:00 when we finished at Chance Cove so I arrived at Fairhaven 4:00ish and a speedy stowing of gear had me on the water by 4:30.  An hour later I was here but I felt a little rushed to get supper etc.  I would have enjoyed a bit more time in camp before the evening set in.


Finished supper I surveyed my supply of wood for my planned campfire.  There was no need to collect wood.  I could start my fire anywhere along the beach and just feed the fire directly from the wood laying about.  There was enough for a month or more of nightly fires.


I had no trouble starting the fire using tufts of dry grass.


I had a beautiful sunset.  The moon came out.  I was happy with how things were going and how I felt.  No question, I am not an island.  I very much enjoy the company of my kayak camping friends but this I wanted to do solo so I hope my friends didn't take it as a snub.


Confession to make here.  I let the fire start to get a little out of hand with sparks setting some the the nearby dry grass on fire.  I stomped that out and prodded the burning logs further away.  Had it gotten completely out of hand the wind would have driven the fire down the length of the beach consuming the wood as it went.  I had to restrain myself to keep the fire contained.  Nevertheless, there was good heat from the flames as it got colder with the setting of the sun.


It got darker so I scaled back putting bigger logs on the fire.  I was getting tired and didn't want to stay up much longer to watch the fire burn out so I just fed it smaller wood.

With the fire burned out I toddled off to bed.  It was cool in the open air but comfortable inside the tent.  Snug as a bug in a rug as I lay in my sleeping bag I reflected on the day.  It was a good thing I had concocted.

As far as the women were concerned, I was almost 100 years too late staying here.  Trinny Cove was sporadically settled since 1836 with the maximum population of 29 souls reached in 1901 and no census data for 1935 and beyond.  But, it made for a catchy title for this posting.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Up to my eye balls in sea stacks


I'm not a big fan of long drives to go paddling but I had something up my sleeve to compensate.  Sunday 10 of us drove the 100 kms out of the big city to Chance Cove on the Isthmus of Avalon.  Shane and I launched from this beach with its view of the lingering fog.


The others beat the harbour master's launch fees putting in at the slipway getting away before he could catch them.


Having left the city at 8:00 and getting ready we were on our way out of the cove at 10:00.


Rounding the north point of the cove we were under the cliffs of the Bull Arm Formation consisting of andesitic and rhyolitic volcanic flows and tuffs.  I'll get the geology out of the way first because after the scenery, its the most interesting. *lol*


For two kilometers north from Chance Cove, between it and Western Head at the entrance to Rantem Cove, an incredible number of sea stacks populate the shoreline.


Dean prepares to paddle between a rock and a hard place.


Some of us have been here before but quite some time go.  Hazen thought it was time to go back to reacquaint ourselves with the place and also introduce it to people like Shane.


Looking and waiting for a chance to get through here Dean, Shane and I lined up but passed to catch the rest of the gang who had padded on.



Did I mention there are lots of sea stacks?


And, there were the remnants of sea stacks evidenced by their roots now mere rocks poking out of the sea, some of which ...


... required a watchful eye.


Timing is everything.  Here Brian goes through at the entrance to Rantem without a problem.  I prepared to follow when two large surges threatened to make me either a swimmer or a talented paddler.  I back paddled choosing not to let the sea decide before making my way through also.


The Tai Chi devotee fronts a trio of stacks.


All that's left of where the shore was at one time.  Who knows how many years ago?  How long does it take the sea to sculpt such a masterpiece?


All morning the fog tried to obscure our views blown in by the northerly wind but the sun beat it back time and again.  We decided against surprise and found this beach protected from the wind just inside Masters Head and the entrance to Bull Arm.


The sun beat down on us making the lunch stop very pleasant.

After lunch we paddled around Master Head to have a look down Bull Arm towards Great Mosquito Cove where the Hebron oil field production structure (a concrete gravity based structure supporting all the production facilities and crew quarters) was being constructed.  It lay 7 kilometers away which was too far for us to approach on the day but it will be a target destination hopefully later this summer.

We retraced our track back to Chance Cove through the same sea stacks to end the day there.  I loaded my kayak leaving on my drysuit to drive to destination #2 while the others headed for tea or coffee somewhere on the road back to the city.

Thanks to Brian, Cathy, Clyde, Dean, Derek, Hazen, Ron, Shane and Sue for sharing a most enjoyable day.

Check out Dean's pix on his blog and Shane's pix on his blog.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Heel hook assisted rescue

We recently had a swimmer on one of our paddles when they capsized riding the surge over a rocky ledge.  The rescue went well but could have been performed more efficiently.  It highlighted the fact we've gotten complacent (read "slack") on our Wednesday evening practices.  In calm conditions we've just gone for an evening paddle.

Last week in response to the recent rescue we decided to pick one rescue to practice every Wednesday evening.  This week it as the heel hook assisted rescue.  A very good demonstration of it is provided by the well known Gordon Brown which can be seen here.

Practicing exposes shortcomings in either the rescue or rescuer/rescuee technique.  In the case of the heel hook assisted rescue we identified one issue.  In the video the rescuee is advised to grab their deck line or both their and the rescuer's deck line to level themselves back into the cockpit.

We found it took time to grab the rescuer's deck line because the rescuers kayak was usually tilted down toward us making it difficult to get a hold of.  If I have to use that rescue I'm inclined to just grab my deck line especially if time is an issue say around rocks.

Having completed our homework we ...


... decided to do some towing practice.


Cathy puts her contact tow line back which, as it turns out, was a dog leash.


Then some of us just goofed around a bit or did other rescues before ...


... heading own the shore for a short paddle.  It was low tide so we often paddled through the weeds.


In the west the sun began to set eventually ...


... emerging from the clouds before disappearing under the horizon reminding us to turn back and close out the evening.

It was a great feeling getting the purpose of Wednesday evening practices back on track.