Sunday, November 16, 2014

Paddling season enters stage 2

Paddling season entered stage 2 today.  That is, cold weather paddling.  It was 0C with a -8C windchill at put-in.

I didn't expect to get a chance to paddle today based on the weather forecast a couple of days ago but it worked out to be one of the most enjoyable paddles in a while.  I joined Brian and Dean to retrace my path from two days ago.

We had ideal paddle conditions.  Not much wind but chaotic water.

Passing what I've named Steen van Anton.

I paddled near the shore where the water was roughest as rebounding clapotis formed peaks on the waves.  The camera doesn't always capture the action but in this case I had Brian in my viewfinder and then ...

... he disappeared.  I just love how the Nordkapp handles in these conditions.

Near Topsail Beach the sun came out.  It bathed everything in a bright glow.

After brief stop at Topsail Beach we returned to St. Philips as the wind increased somewhat and things got more chaotic.  But that didn't stop me from sticking close to the cliffs.

Back at St. Philips the cold wind on wet hands suggests its not going to get warmer any time soon.  No problem.  Winter paddling beckons.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Taking a provisional paddle

I'm taking a term from golf for today's paddle.  If a golfer suspects they have driven their tee-shot out of bounds they can play a provisional ball.  If the original drive is out of bounds they play the provisional and take the penalty.

Today it was foggy but not a breath of wind.  It may not be great weather this weekend so I decided I'd go for a quick solo paddle after my class so I'd at least get one in.  There was no wind but a bit of swell.  Here at Up-around-ya Corner a rock guards the entry.  The swell runs in around the rock, meets behind it and does ker-sploosh.

Up past St. Thomas Cove it got more civil.  Here it was no sweat getting in behind Steen van Anton.

The fog made it look like the rocks were floating in the air.

Little Bell Island came into view during a momentary easing of the fog.

I got out at Topsail Beach to surreptitiously relieve myself as there were other people about.  A saving grace to have the spray skirt *lol*

I got back in the kayak and it was the highlight of the paddle.  I had the most graceful, elegant surf launch ever.  I was very pleased with myself I have to admit.  Not to get smug about it because the next may not be a sweet.

I also managed to get over the 900 km mark for the year.  Its unthinkable to end the year with less than 1,000 kilometers paddled.  It looks within reach.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Following up a class in plate tectonics

Monday, Wednesday and Friday I attend a plate tectonics class at Memorial University's Earth Sciences Department.  Therefore, I initially passed on joining Dean and Julie on a paddle today, Monday.

They were paddling south from St Philips, leaving at 1:00 pm.  I decided I'd paddle anyway, put-in late and catch them somewhere between St Philips and Topsail.

I caught them only 2.5 kms into my paddle.  They were returning to St. Philips so at that point it would only net me 5 kms.  Hardly worth getting the hull wet.

A sizable swell caused havoc along the shore.  As we neared St. Philips I decided I'd paddle by myself up to Portugal Cove to make the paddle worthwhile.  Dean and Julie went home.

At the G-Spot (so named because this is the spot a few years ago Gerard had a swim) the swell went skywards when it hit the rocks and ...

... carried on into the cliffs.  Caught inside there today would mean a side surf up onto the rocks and possibly a holing and swim.  The decision to bypass was an easy one.

At Sailing Point I surveyed the situation.  This is where I had an eight minute swim last Christmas Eve in conditions similar to today.  The tide was falling exposing rocks in the center of the channel when the water sucked out ...

... and substantially more when the water surged in.  Another opportunity to exercise good judgement.

Near Portugal Cove I sat and observed another spot that in safer conditions we scoot through.  Now you see the exposed rocks and ...

... now you don't.  Trying that today was going to put anyone in a serious spot of bother.  Awe inspiring the power of moving water.

I reached Portugal Cove, did a calculation of the distance I would end the day with when I returned to St. Philips and decided it would do.  Arriving back at St. Philips I clocked 12.7 kms.  It was foggy and it rained intermittently but it was worth the effort on a day I didn't plan to paddle.  A bonus so to speak.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Foam on the water ... no fire in the sky tho

Last weekend I was out of town and consequently couldn't paddle.  I wanted to get back in my kayak after a two week hiatus.  Checking the forecast it was going to be windy.  The forecast was for SW winds in the am at 20 knots gusting to 30 picking up in the pm to 35 gusting to 60.  Ykes!  No day paddle for sure but a bounce in St. Philips was an option.  I was lucky to recruit Brian and Terry.

The plan was to paddle upwind as far as feasible and surf back:


We had a rain squall and the wind seemed to pick up.  The SW winds wrapped around the point and over the rocks:


The sun came out after the squall passed and we had a rainbow:


As the morning progressed the wind increased; waves got bigger.  Quick responses were necessary to counteract the sudden gusts or the roll was going to be tested:


The wind picked up to gusts I estimate at 40 knots.  As the waves crashed on the rocks the spray blew away in the wind:


After two hours it was time to call it a day.  My drive home was along the shore.  I looked out over the bay.  It was a mass of white.  We were off the water in time.

I checked the wind velocity when I walked in the door.  It was 35 knots gusting to 45.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy in my kayak

Facebook friend Tess recently posted the Jack Kerouac quote "Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream."  He has a point if the dream is falling off of a cliff but ...

... he's obviously wrong when the experience is paddling in confused seas ...

... with salt spray pouring over the deck and myself and the drizzle build up on my glasses that feels like I'm looking through sandblasted glasses.

I think happiness is the feeling of being alive that today certainly could not have been a dream, the real experience  verified by corroborative evidence from Brian and Hazen when we had coffee afterwards.  Surely we didn't all have the same dream.

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.