Friday, August 22, 2014

Thursday evening shenanigans

Yesterday evening was the first evening we've had some conditions at St. Philips in a long time.  We meet every Thursday evening to practice rescues etc.  When its calm we'll do a few rolls and then go for a paddle up the coast.

We each took turns playing around this rock with breaking waves.

Then we took turns jumping out of our kayaks to do some self rescues.  After mastering the back deck scramble in calm water it must be mastered in waves; that is where the skill is most likely to be needed.

We did a few assisted rescues.  It was Sam's first evening out and he was more than eager to join in festivities.  Here he rescues Dean.  The camera as usual flattens the water.

Neville wanted to do a tow and who am I to turn down a free ride? *lol*

As the light began to fade we called it a night.

It was a most enjoyable and productive evening with some rolls and surf rides thrown in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tarp set up practice

Some of Paddle Canada's courses contain what I call "boy scout" stuff like camp set up, assignment of duties in camp etc.  Its not something I've paid a lot of attention to before because I'm more interested in the nuts and bolts of paddling.

Last year Brian had a great set-up at Black Island where he put a tarp up over his tent.  It was wet in the morning and the tarp allowed him to take his tent down without getting it wet.  So, I got a tarp.

Never having set up a tarp by myself I thought it might be a good idea to practice it on a still day, all the while considering how I'd deal with wind.

My first set-up was a basic configuration.

Then I worked out changing the configuration without taking the tarp down.  I just moved the poles back one loop on each side of the tarp, one at a time.  I reasoned in wind it might be best to get a basic configuration up and then modify it to suit the conditions.  Maybe when I get more proficient I'll be able go right to a final product.

But, for now, once I figured out how I could make a small modification to a basic set-up, I changed it a number of times getting different configurations from each set-up all without collapsing the tarp.

This was all done in calm weather but I think I'll be able to cope with a bit of wind.  There is one caveat.  The ground was soft and readily accepted the spikes.  It could get more complicated where spikes can't be hammered into the ground.  Maybe I'll practice that sometime.

The thing is, I thought it wise to at least start a bit of practice before I had to do it for real.  Like most kayak stuff, better to practice before I really, really need to get it done.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back - at last!

Some may have wondered where the blazes I've been.  Good point.

Since we returned from our week long trip in Fortune Bay on 18 July I've paddled a whopping 39 kms.  That's sad.  But, its not been paddling weather lately with, for me, unbearable heat.  Maybe I've lacked a bit of motivation also.  Nevertheless, today we got in a decent paddle.

Brian, Dean, Gary, Greg and I left St Philips destined for Brocks Pond Falls ...

... somewhere down there, in the distance.

It was almost high tide and many passages were open to us.

We were paddling along the cliffs formed by the Topsail Fault.  The fault must have moved over an extended time as evidenced by these felsic sheeted dikes seen on Brian's right.  The felsic (lighter) rocks are intruded as the fault opens and each time there is movement in the fault subsequently, another intrusion occurs.  Notice the vertical light and dark alternating bands of rock.

We paddled through rocks that have been left offshore through the erosion of the sea.  These are just slightly harder than the surrounding rocks to resist being washed away.

Arriving at the community of Portugal Cove, we paddled across its mouth because we were going further.

All along the way we were paddling by the oldest rocks on the Avalon Peninsula.  These date from the Paleoproterozoic (2,500 - 1,600 million years ago).

Nine kilometers later we were at Brocks Pond Falls tumbling over the 300 foot high cliffs.  This July was the hottest on record.  Possibly also the driest but August has given us lots of precipitation and the falls were at their best.

There's no place to "land" but the water was calm enough to climb out onto the rocks for a break.  Stardust clings precariously to the steep cliff.

Here's Dean's blog with video of our landings at the falls.

I don't think my exit sold my choice of place to get out so the guys managed a short distance away.  Tough place for fibreglass kayaks.  We joked we should get the guys in plastic kayaks to seal launch after the break.

We made our way back to St. Philips for a total distance of just over 19 kms.  Not a long paddle but at least its back in the saddle again.  Cooler weather and a return of desire will see me on the water regularly again.

Dean hasn't paddled much lately either.  He said that an extended absence only makes it feel better when you paddle again.  You know, he's right!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tent pole repair

On the second evening of our seven day Fortune Bay trip one of my tent poles broke.  It was a very disconcerting thing because it happened so early on the trip.

If you google "tent pole repair" most results will be tent pole replacement.  I didn't have that luxury because I couldn't get the 5/16 replacement poles in the right length.  Well, I could but it would have been just as cheap to replace the entire tent.

I bought some 5/16 fibreglass poles but they weren't the right length so I was forced to macgyver the repair.  The broken pole was in the middle of the string.  I swapped it with the piece at the end from which I cut the piece that rests on the ground (see last shot).  The repaired piece would then be put on the end as there is less bend there.

Here's how I went about it the repair.  I purchased some 3/8 OD (outside dimension) copper tubing cut off about 6 inches with my pipe cutter and put it into the vice.  I opened the tube up first with a 19/64 drill bit and then used the 5/16 bit.

I checked for fit with a test piece.  I found it tight at first but solved that by running the drill bit at high speed to heat and expand the tubing.  On cooling I had a snug fit so I carried on with the broken tent pole.

I used masking tape to mark off the depth the broken pole had to be inserted into the copper ferrule.  Then I laid out the six pole sections next to a good pole to get the length of the filler piece (grey piece next photo).

I cut and epoxied the grey filler piece into the copper tube and the end thing (? called).

I restrung the bungy chord through the poles and the repair was complete.  The repaired piece is longer than the original but because there is less bend where I placed it, its not an issue.

I'm good to go again and for pennies at that.

The field repair was a large nail retrieved from a burned log, held by gorilla tape.  I'll, however, be taking a few pieces of  PVC on future camp trips to make emergency field repairs.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Heat wave

The month of July was the hottest on record for St John's.  Luckily we had a week long trip in cooler conditions but we haven't done much paddling outside of that.  Many days it was around 30C and close to 40C with the humidex.  Too hot for me to paddle.

This morning Brian and I did get out for a short paddle early before it got too hot.  The paddle put me over 650 kms for the year and 50 ahead of the same point last year.  Last year I missed clocking 1,200 kms by a hair.  I just might make it this year.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fortune Bay return

All good things must come to an end and so it was on the seventh day of our Fortune Bay trip.

It was windy all night and so it was when we got up on Friday morning.  We listened to the marine forecast and discussed the options as we watched whitecaps on the water in the protected cove we were camped in.  We took our time with breakfast while our indecision simmered.

As we finished breakfast it seemed like the wind abated a bit so we decided to break camp and stick our noses out past Lobster Cove Point.  If it looked safe we'd carry on.  If not we'd come back and pitch the tents again.


Things looked OK but sizable.  The saving grace was that what wind there was would be behind us.  There wasn't much wind but the sea continued to run with 1 - 1.5 meter waves.  Here's a short 1 minute video of conditions at Friar Head.  Practice at St. Philips was paying off.

Looks smooth but looks are deceptive.  I put on a burst of speed to catch Dean and Neville and the sea stack, just barely.  Funny thing was when we passed Friar Head there was no discussion of whether we should go back.  In my mind there was never any doubt we were going.  While some waves broke over the kayak it was exhilarating paddling.

At Conne Big Head the land turns and we had protection from the larger waves but only while we were in Big Conne.

At Tranmer Cove we were in it again and the first hour was behind us.

An hour later we were in Wild Bight and the entrance to the resettled community of Femme.  Things were calm as Petticoat Island to starboard provided the protection.

Near Femme we stopped to stretch our legs and a snack.  It continued foggy and grey as we exited back out into the bay between Petticoat Island and Red Cove.

At Fish Rock near New Harbour we set off into the fog to cross over to Bay L'Argent.  Somewhere over there lay land, beyond our compass bearing of 130 degrees.

We kept paddling in the beam sea and sure enough land began to appear.  To be truthful, we couldn't miss because we would have hit land nywhere in the direction we were going but its comforting to know ...

... our navigation skills were up to the task.  The headland at Harbour Mille is dark on port and Bay L'Argent to starboard with the 1,000 foot beacon of Sugarloaf Hill right in front of my bow.

Neville and I arrive at Bay L'Argent just as skies were beginning to clear at 1:00.

Brilliant sunshine erupted while we unloaded the kayaks and prepared for the 2.5 hour drive home.  We were headed home but not before we had our traditional feed of fish and chips.

The trip was over.  We managed to clock 150.1 kilometers.  We had a bit of everything: sun, fog, rain, calm and wind.  That is to be expected on any week long trip.  I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thanks Dean, Hazen and Neville.  To Clyde who was part of the planning but had to bail at the last minute, you were missed.  Maybe next year.  Now, where are my maps!

The last leg!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Twenty-one kilometers to nowhere in Long Harbour

We awoke again on day 6, Thursday, to foggy weather.  We were in Lobster Cove in Long Harbour and had clocked just over 100 kms on our tour of Fortune Bay so far.  The plan for the day was a paddle up Long Harbour and back, leaving the tents in place.  Long Harbour is a fjord like indenture that probes almost 30 kms inland.

Without having to break camp we took our time and got on the water just before 10:00.

Just underway we came to Pissing Mare Falls cascading off of the 250 foot high cliffs.

The thing about fog is there is usually very little wind.  The water was calm an we were in no hurry what-so-ever.  We made our way slowly past the ruddy volcanic rocks of the harbour.

The entrance to Long Harbour began to disappear the further we delved into the fjord.

The harbour narrows at Tickle Beach in the distance but then opens up again.

As we past Tickle Beach we saw a red object in the distance.  The closer we got the more it came into ...

... focus.  Someone with a sense of humour had tied a Santa up in the trees.  We all got a good chuckle out of it.

At noon it began to pour.  It made no difference as we were in our drysuits and it wasn't cold.

At Indian Tea Island and ten kilometers in we crossed over to the west side arriving at Herring Island.  Behind it we found ...

... this small take-out where just wide enough to haul the kayaks out and cook lunch.

It continued to pour off and on so we erected a tarp crouched against the cliff.

I had filtered some water earlier in the morning but there was no need to get it out.  The heavy rain washing the rocky cliff trickled down and we had outside plumbing.

Looking back down to the entrance to Long Harbour it looked to be clearing up.  It did a bit as the rain stopped but it brought with in a bit of a breeze and from Tickle Beach it was a sprint back to Lobster Cove.  We were glad we had left the tents and the tarp up.

Looking out from under "Big Yellow" it didn't look like we were going to have our usual camp fire.  A driving drizzle was blowing into the cove so Neville took out a couple of glowsticks that served as a fire stand-in.  If my memory serves me well, I believe it was the first time in five years of kayak camping we didn't have a camp fire.

We were comfortable under the tarp and the bar was open.  Last call for alcohol was early though as we made a dash to the tents.  The wind and rain continued overnight and I wondered whether we'd escape Long Harbour in the morning to continue our tour.

The track into and out of Long Harbour.