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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Doing my sums


Saturday morning as I arrived at Holyrood for our paddle I had logged 988.2 kms for the year.  When I got home I added the days total ...

9 + 2 = 11; carry the 1 ...


1 + 8 + 7 = 16; carry the 1 ...


1 + 8 + 2 = 11; carry the 1 ...


1 + 9 = 10 ...


... for a year to date total of [drumroll] 1,016.1.  Not quite the total at the same date as last year but a second consecutive year of surpassing 1,000 kms.  That's not a shabby total for just a recreational paddler and there are still two weeks left in the year.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tracking down diamictites of the Gaskiers Formation


Saturday, December 13th found us in Florida.  No, not really!  But it was 11C when we arrived at the home of the Holyrood Yacht Club.  An unreal temperature for this time of year.

Dean, Neville, Terry and I put-in under overcast skies at the slipway of the marina with millions of dollars stored out of the water for the winter.  Their hulls won't feel water until near the end of May next year.


As we made our way into North Arm two kilometers away the combination of the warm air and the cold saltwater created a foggy haze.  It started to rain heavily.  We were unmoved and undeterred.


When we paddled north out of North Arm and out of the protection provided by Joys Point the SE breeze cleared the air.  At the 250 foot high Blow Me Down Bluff the dark volcanic rocks of the Harbour Main Group loomed overhead but ...


... as we entered Red Rock Cove we found the red, hematite stained Cambrian age sediments faulted as a block against the volcanics.

This was where a GoPro would have been an advantage.  It was still in this picture but within minutes a rogue water entered the cove and rose in the shallows threatening to envelop Neville and myself.  We saw it coming, pointed our bows towards it and paddled hard.  I cleared the crest ahead of Neville and looking over my shoulder Neville was totally airborne.  Alas, no picture.


In Harbour it again got hazy.  Neville and Terry check out a waterfall.


We decided on having lunch on the beach by a church on the west side of Harbour Main but not before having a look at this outcrop of diamictite at water level.  A diamictite is a term most often applied to poorly sorted glacial sediments.  Here, stones of various sizes can be seen as they were dropped by melting of the base of the glacier floating on water at its terminus.

These diamictites are part of the Gaskiers Formation dated between 580 - 582 million years ago and thought to be evidence of a world wide glaciation termed "Snowball Earth".


I like to tell the guys about this stuff!


Things brightened up as we ate lunch at Harbour Main.  We felt the heat of the sun on our backs as did the cold seawater causing a fine mist to form.


After lunch we headed up towards Salmon Cove Point stopping in this cave to explore.  There's an opening at the end but rarely passable.  Today it was almost but conditions were just not right.  A gentle swell at highest tide may allow passage.


So, we arrived at Salmon Cove Point hoping to paddle through the cleft.  It didn't look good as water surged through.  The largest swells piled water a minimum of three meters in the middle of the slot then ...


... ebbed some ...


... and some more exposing land on the other side of Gasters Bay until ...


... sucking out leaving a hole and exposed rocks.

But, timing is everything.  Checking the wave action at the Point and being patient allowed Terry and myself to get through unscathed.  Waves not crashing on the Point opened a window of opportunity.


We left Salmon Cove Point to paddle back to Holyrood.  The sun came out and the slight wind we had earlier stiffened making it a bit of  slog.

The only thing we didn't have from the four seasons was snow.  That is unusual as normally a blanket of snow would be blanketing everything.  That will come soon enough but Saturday was a bonus.  As is everyday!

Here are the bredcrumbs:


Monday, December 8, 2014

Finishing the circumavigation of Bell Island


After completing just over half of our circumnavigation of Bell Island at the 19 km mark we stopped at Big Cove for lunch.  We were in the shade and it was cold so we only stopped 20 minutes before we got back on the water to finish our circumnavigation.  A large sea stack dominated the the north end of the cove as we exited.


Bell Island was at one time the largest underground iron mine in the world.  There are three main oolitic hematite beds contained in the Ordovician age sediments.  The first mining was a surface operation exploiting the bed known as the "Little-Upper" bed.  Because the sediments gently dip in a westerly direction, when the iron beds were followed they terminated at the shoreline.  The darker gaping holes where the miners emerged can be seen just above sea level.

The middle bed known as "Scotia" lay some perpendicular 60 feet below and the lowest bed, "Dominion", another 250 feet below that.  Mining of those beds was underground extending out under the sea and below our hulls as we paddled northerly.


The west side of the island was cloaked in shadow.  Another huge sea stack was silhouetted against the blue sky and stuck out like a sore thumb.


Finally the west shore came to an end, we paddled along the north side and we had to turn south.


The distinctive outline of "Long Harry Point" came into view.  The sun was so bright I had to duck under the cliff to get this shot.  The sun was directly in our eyes for the next 2.5 kms requiring me to squint to see the way until we reached ...


... "The Beach" close to where the ferry terminal is located.  Even then I had to get ahead of the guys to get the sun behind the camera for a decent shot.


A short paddle from the ferry terminal we arrived at Dominion Pier, the point from where we started our circumnavigation earlier that morning, four hours previous.  We got out for a short stretch and the call of nature before beginning the 5 km crossing back to ...


... St. Philips. The GSP read 35.8 kms.

It was the first time I've paddled around in a clockwise direction.  I enjoyed it tremendously seeing it from  different perspective.  The significant feature of Bell Island are the almost unbroken vertical cliffs that circle the island making for, in my mind anyway, stunning scenery.

Dean, Terry and I washed up in the fresh water running into the harbour, got chilled but warmed up with coffee at the restaurant.  Brian went home to clean and warm up.  It was a large day.

And the breadcrumbs:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tick, Tock: Clockwise around Bell Island


The forecast all week long looked good for Saturday and when it arrived is was a jewel of a day.  Brian, Dean, Terry and I settled on a circumnavigation of Bell Island.  We arrived at St. Philips at 9:00 under clear blue skies, totally calm winds and a temperature of -7C.

As we exited the harbour we pointed our bows towards Bell Island which lay 5 kms distant.  Just over 40 minutes later we were ...


... at Dominion Pier where iron ore was loaded onto ships for transshipment, mainly to Nova Scotia.  Oolitic hematite, iron ore in scientific parlance, was first recognized in 1578 but serious mining consideration didn't take hold until 1892.  The first small shipment of ore was made to Halifax in 1895.


I've paddled around Bell Island several times before but always counter-clockwise from Dominion Pier.  For the day's paddle I suggested a clockwise circumnavigation. I expected the scenery to look different and hoped for new unexpected discoveries.  Leaving Dominion Pier the massive cliffs extend into the far distance.  Before long we were at ...



... Scotia Pier.  In addition to Dominion Iron and Steel Company operating at Dominion Pier, Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company operated at Scotia Pier.  The iron ore was mined from two principal beds, underground extending up to three kilometers out and under the sea.  The iron ore mines closed in 1966.  The death knell for the mines was the discovery of large deposits that could be mined more cheaply by open pit.  There is, however,  still recoverable ore in the range of 3.5 - 10 billion tons left on the island.

Since then both piers have succumbed to the elements.


Two days before it rained hard.  It came down in buckets.  The cold weather since formed ice falls where the water poured off the land.


Not all the water was frozen however.  Here the sun formed a miniature rainbow in the cascading water right in front of Dean's bow.


Like I said, the rain came down n buckets and was still running two days later.


As Chimney Rock came into view we saw two eagles perched on top.  By the time I got close enough to get a picture they ha flown away, but not my three kayak comrades.


Here we paddle into a cove dominated by "The Clapper".  That's the part the rings the Bell.


As we paddled all along the cliffs the rising sun warmed up the dark rocks and everywhere bits of ice fell off to splash into the sea.  Here, the sun hadn't swung south far enough to shine its light on the wall of ice so it survives in the shade, for the time being.


This is "The Bell" where we made our turn north.  As we paddled through we paddled into the shadows and felt the difference in temperature.  Even though it was cold, the glorious sun warmed us and we felt just how much when we were under the shadow of the cliffs ...


... so we paddled offshore a bit to stay in sunshine as we headed north.  As we did the huge piles of tailings from the mine added vertical height to the land



There aren't many places to land along the west side of Bell Island but Big Cove is one spot and conveniently about half way at 19 kms of our circumnavigation.  It was cool to say the least as the cove was in shadow under the 200 foot tall cliffs.  We were hungry so, in the absence of other options, this is where we had lunch before continuing.

I'm giving away the plot of the second part of the day; Dean some shots on his blog.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Not a bird to see in the seabird sanctuary


On Sunday Dean and I paddled from Tors Cove to LaManche where we stopped for lunch.  We got back in the boats before the chill soaked into our bones.  We decided to paddle outside of the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve rather than retrace our route along the shore to Tors Cove.  Here, we're headed for Great Island.


A short 2.5 km crossing saw us on the outside of Great Island looking down into an open channel through the easterly dipping sedimentary beds.  The Reserve is home to the largest Atlantic Puffin colony in North America.  Some 260,000 pairs nest in the Reserve during late spring and summer.


A bit of swell was running in from the southeast but nothing that kept us from getting through the channel.


We emerged on the other side.  In addition to the colony of Atlantic Puffins, the Reserve also hosts the second-largest (after Baccalieu Island Ecological Reserve) (also in Newfoundland) Leach's storm-petrel colony in the world-more than 620,000 pairs come here to nest.


Another short crossing saw us reach Ship Island.  Dean and I were out here alone when ...


 ... at the right time of year there'd be birds buzzing all around us.  Thousands upon thousands flying about making lots of noise.  In July last year we we out here looking for whales and we saw a few but the highlight of the day were the birds.  Check out a sort video of the birds I took on that paddle.  A world of difference today.  Seabirds generally spend most of the year at sea and only return to land from May to August to breed and raise their young.  While we were in their summer home, they had gone south to spend the winter on the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream passing just south of the Grand Banks.


Another short crossing to Fox Island saw us at the north entrance to Tors Cove; the dark Fox Island standing out against the snow covered hills on the mainland beyond.


And, here are the breadcrumbs.  Only Dean was able to make it on Sunday.  The rest of the guys had other commitments or maybe they had the sooners (sooner do something else?).  Myself, I was glad to finally get a bit further away from home, to a place I haven't been in a while.

We stopped for coffee to bask in the afterglow of the paddle before driving the 30 kms home.