Friday, June 29, 2018

You can't flog a dead horse

For the last nine years I've led and promoted a mid-week practice in St. Philips.  The cove there is ideal because in the prevailing winds, the cove is relatively calm whereas decent conditions can be had outside the point.  The location is great for novice paddlers as well as more experienced.  Novice paddlers can incrementally expose themselves to more challenging conditions by sticking their noses out.

This Wednesday winds were expected to be up but the forecast did not pan out.  Nonetheless some decent waves made for good surf rides but you had to be patient.

There were a scant 4 other paddlers show up this week.  We've had as may as thirteen but usually 8 - 10.  However, attendance seems to have declined over the past few years.  It may be that the more experienced paddlers feel they have gotten as much out of it as possible and newer paddlers maybe are not interested in advancing their skills.

Greg however was there trying out Paul's Makkovik kayak.  Not being used to it, he stuck around in the more calm waters getting his sea legs.  Like I said, you can pick the sea state you want to paddle in.

Paul nails a roll.  Its part of the program where we practice assisted and self rescues, surfing when conditions are right, paddling into strong head winds to build conditioning and confidence.  On calm evenings we've just gone for a social paddle with a chance to do a bit of rock hopping.

But, facing reality, you can't flog a dead horse so I've decided to stop pushing this.  Maybe someone will take up the reigns and maybe it will continue on a limited basis but I've invested enough of my time when maybe I'd have done other things but felt compelled to go anyway.

It was fun while it lasted and I too have benefited greatly.  I likely will pick my days when its too windy to paddle - but I'll be on the water catching the salt water spray.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A new boat, a new impetus?

Its been a while since I posted.  It seems a general kayaking malaise has set in here that appears to infect everyone.  But, last evening we were on the water again.  The event?  Shane took delivery of his new Nordkapp. 

Its a striking beauty with orange hull and black deck.

So, the focus was on Shane.  The conditions were ideal to put her thru her paces.  No wind but huge swell that ...

... piled up in mountainous waves as it reached the cliffs.

Dean was the first to roll the dice as he made his way into the space behind the Rock of Ages.  Massive water swept in unexpected behind him and a bunch of furious ninja paddle strokes got him out of danger.

As the "official" new boat photographer I followed Shane along the shore, both of us enjoying the action.

What goes in has to come out and so significant clapotis accompanied each crashing wave.

Shane joins the Nordkapp crew.  Here on the other side of Dean in his North Cape Jenny.  There's four of us now!

Shane put the word out that he had taken delivery and invited the regular crew to join him on his first paddle in the new kayak.  There were ...

... 10 of us to toast the new arrival thanks to Hazen who brought along a bottle of bubbly.  We rafted up short of Topsail Beach because Shane wasn't putting any scratches on her the first night by landing on the beach.

I welcome the arrival not only for the joy it brought Shane but also for what it might portend.  I'm hoping its going to make Shane a driving force to spur us on to more regular paddling.  Sometimes it only takes one to ignite the flame that seems to have been greatly diminished of late.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Grey foggy day on the water

The forecast Friday was for light southerly winds and sunshine and so it was when I left home Saturday morning early.  Then it changed to fog lifting around noon.  Arriving in Tors Cove it was foggy with Fox Island barely visible from the beach.

We couldn't see the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve so it was a paddle along the shore to LaManche.

Hazen paddles past the micro hydro generating station in Tors Cove.

It looked like it might clear up as ...

... Great Island rose out of the fog and ...

... Pee Pee Island also but Great Island was began to again lose the battle with the fog.

Dean and I paddled around the rock in Bauline East where the wind picked up a little forcing me to pull on my neoprene mitts as it picked up the cold of the ocean.

Heading into LaManche Bay where the bit of swell ...

... went skywards as it hit the shoreline but it was nothing to worry us as we ...

... arrived at LaManche dominated by the magnificent suspension bridge of the East Coast Trail.

The group of eight - Brian, Cathy, Clyde, Dean, Gary, Hazen, Terry and myself stopped for lunch in LaManche.  There it became known that we had a casualty.  Hazen had slipped as he got out of his kayak and injured his shoulder.  It was clear he wasn't going to be able to paddle back himself so after we finished lunch we agreed on a towing arrangement.  More on that later.  We were lucky.  The group was large enough to share the load and what wind and swell there was was at our backs.

We all made it safely back to Tors Cove, packed up and stopped for coffee on our way home.  An eventful but good day on the water.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Caving in Middle Cove

Friday is usually shoulders, lats and traps day in the gym but when Shane mailed Thursday about a paddle in Middle Cove, I couldn't pass it up.  We met at 12:30 and after putting in we made our way along the east side of the cove.

Shane has paddle once before in Middle Cove but not the east side where there are a number of caves.  I'm going to tag this cave as "Split Rock Cave".  I don't believe its been named yet so now it has a name.  Its apt because ...

... you can go in one side and loop around to come out the other.  We didn't today due to a bit of swell that was running and the sea has been known to cause an unpleasant surprise especially in a narrow cave.  We moved on to ...

... one more substantial one but its not ...

... ,thought similar to, The Molar where I shot a similar photo.

We paddled into the imposing cliffs of Ship Cove.  Leaving there we poked our noses into Outer Cove where a stiff southerly wind was blowing and decided to cross Middle Cove over to the west side and through ...

... Motion.  Motion is a place to be avoided at times because it comes by its name honestly.  Today when we were there it was low water so the rocks afforded some protection.  The rocks broke up the waves dissipating their energy but still interesting.

Near Torbay we checked out another cave.

Entering Torbay the cliffs out of the sun still harboured a few icicles.  We carried on into ...

... Torbay proper.

At this point we began to retrace our steps to Middle Cove.  In the back of my mind I knew what we were going to face as the wind was forecasted to increase and sure enough when we left Torbay we were face and eyes into 35 km southerly winds gusting to 50.  Breaking wind waves sprayed salt water into our faces.  We paddled the remaining 2.5 kms back at what felt like a snail's pace but the thing about padding into the wind is, just paddle.

Thankfully back on the beach and our gear stowed we stopped for a cup of java, a super way to end the day.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Year 10 get off to a start

A group of us have been meeting at St. Philips one evening a week to practice paddle skills or just an evening leisurely paddle.  Last evening marks the kickoff of the 10th year.  There were years in the past when I was by myself on the first evening but there were six of us this time.

The water temperature is near 0C.  I got things rolling by jumping out of my kayak to do an assisted rescue.  It went off without a hitch.

Cathy gets around the Rock of Ages with a cross bow rudder.

The last number of day have been windy so we still had some residual wave action around the rocks.  Cathy, Peter and I had a blast doing a bit of rock hopping.

Craig and Dave made it an evening for a relaxed paddle.

Paul did the assisted rescue with me and then also made the rest of the evening a relaxed paddle.

I was apprehensive about how well subscribed these evenings would be after last year when attendance hit lows.  So far, so good but I think the water will have to warm up a bit before more people get wet.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Rescuitating paddling

Saturday evening I sent mail out to 12 of my paddle mates.  Shane was the first to reply positively.  Then a stream of declines came in but in Sunday morning Cathy and Gary were in making it a foursome.  We've been woeful getting on the water this winter but with spring on the way hopefully we be paddling more frequently.

The corpse of paddling looked like rigor mortis had set in but I think we've managed to resuscitate it.

It was high water meaning we could get through passageways and channels.

It was only the fifth time I've been on the water this year.  Normally that would be what I'd paddle each month over the winter.  Over the next little while I'll have to slowly build up my paddling conditioning.

Gary goes through my favourite channel.

Arriving at Portugal Cove where we hung out for a bit before returning for coffee and a chat about the paddle.

So, it was four of us today, hopefully more next time.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Four times is a charm

Its been meager pickings this winter to find days to paddle.  Today was only the fourth day I've been on the water this calendar year.  Pitiful really but ...

... I've found other things to do when the weather doesn't cooperate for kayaking (photo credit Brian).  But I digress, back to ...

... paddling.  Today I was lucky to be in the company of Cathy and ...

... Brian, who has also succumbed to the fatbike addiction.  Brian said so far this winter he's paddled once in January, February and now March.  I'm not alone!

Massive icicles just four weeks ago have had their feet nibbled by ocean waves.

Dave hasn't paddled since last September but happy to get out today.

Clyde and Brian paddle by Harald Bluetooth.

And, the fifth (excluding the guy behind the camera) of the group today - Gary.  That made  group of six of us, all of whom also own fatbikes!!! 

So, it was a short paddle of 13.5 kms as we try to get back in paddle shape.  In four days it will be spring and hopefully better paddle weather and regular weekly paddles.