Thursday, October 8, 2015

All good things come to an end

We've been meeting mid-week, every week at St. Philips since April 9th.  Its been another, our 8th, enjoyable year with a mid-week diversion and chance to paddle.  Last evening it was the end of the road as its getting dark too early.  I joined five other die hard paddlers.

Many evenings over the spring, summer and fall it was calm so we went for a short evening paddle.  On our last night the wind was calm; the sea wasn't.

Shane was one of the new paddlers who began attending his year.  We had a chat.  He said he remembered his first evening when it was a bit like last evening.  He was outside his comfort zone but Dean, he said, kept a close eye on him.  Now, so many months later he ventured into the soup caused by the crashing swell.  He's grown tremendously as a paddler.

We left St. Philips cove 6ish.  With darkness about to fall, we only went as far as Beachy Cove.  On the way back latecomer Cathy joined us for the return paddle.  The shot is not very sharp as the dim light didn't give the camera anything to focus on.  But, you get the picture.

By the time we got back in the cove it was dark.

We had a stealthy paddle into the harbour as the lights of houses shone on the water.

Some 20 paddlers joined us at different times over the summer.  On average we had 8 - 10.  I'd say it was a successful season.  Shane is evidence of that.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Surf day in Chance Cove


Tuesday Brian, Terry and I were in Chance Cove for a few hours of kayak surfing.  The swell was forecasted to come from the southeast and have a period of 15 seconds.  When we got there we had a look.  It wasn't wild but there were sizable waves rolling in but with long periods in between.

Why is it the bigger waves to surf come in when paddling out?


There was a zone in the cove where the larger swells reared up and broke.  Terry spent most of his time in that zone.  The place to be in a plastic boat; fibreglass, not so much.  In there its best to keep your head on a swivel because the sea can surprise as ...


... I found out.  A little too close to shore where the water was shallow, add a wave and you're taken for an uncontrolled ride and ...

... boom , you're up on the rocks.


I looked out the cove and thought "Oh crap" as a large wave reared up.  I didn't have time to pivot to meet the wave head on but managed to avoid another side surf onto the beach by backing into it.  Saved by the brace.


As the day progressed the land warmed up and a seabreeze set up.  We decided to paddle south into the wind a couple of kilometers as high tide cut the swell down.  The return into the cove happened to be the best surfwise.  Though not large, the waves were regular and easy to catch making for some nice long rides.

I had my Pyranha creek boat but didn't use it.  I regretted it on the way home.  After my first ride up on the beach rocks I got cautious in the fibreglass Nordkapp.  The good rides were right in the maw of the breaking waves but to go there meant a certain ride up onto the rocks each time.  That would have been "meh" in the Pyranha.

Chance Cove was fun.  I was glad Brian suggested it.  I was glad I went.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Aquaforte club paddle

The last Paddle Newfoundland and Labrador club paddle happens near the end of September every year.  For he last two years its followed by a barbecue.

Seventeen of us met at 10:00 on Saturday morning, September 26, at Aquaforte.  We were surprised by work in progress on the harbour facilities.  At first there was some confusion but eventually the kayaks were placed at the water's edge.

Once the group was on the water the plan was laid out and we ...

... paddled east out the harbour on the south side.  The vanishing point at the entrance of the harbour lay almost 6 kms away.

The group passes by a small sea stack topped by a few scraggly looking trees.

Nearing the entrance to Aquaforte harbour Spurwink Island takes form.

Near South Head at the entrance of the harbour Hazen asked how far around the headland Spurwink Arch was.  I said it wasn't far, in fact, just around the corner.  So, we passed Spurwink Island and paddle around the head to ...

... check out the sea arch.  Outside of the harbour the scenery got more impressive.  After having a look at the arch we ...

... paddled through a passage that opened up big enough to accommodate everyone for ...

... a group photo.

The south side of the harbour was frequently shrouded in shadow where the cliffs were high enough to block the sun.  So, we crossed over to the north side where we would find a beach in sunlight ...

 to stop for lunch in Broom Cove.

Back on the water refreshed we stopped not far from our lunch beach to check out the falls where the Spout River ends its journey spilling into the sea.  At high tide we can paddle right up to the falls.  However, as it was low tide there wasn't enough water to float the kayaks.  But that didn't stop some of us from trying to fight the flow of water and wet our decks in the spray.

Paddling back into the harbour on the north side we concluded the day to see if we could get up Aquaforte River.  Again, low water thwarted our effort before returning to the put-in to end the paddle.

I passed on the barbecue as I had other plans.  I didn't even have time to stop for a coffee but rest of the gang went before returning home.

It was the last club paddle for the year but some of us will continue to paddle, not even winter will stop us.  Which, judging by the mornings temperature at 4C didn't feel a long way off.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Water ablaze

The evenings are getting shorter and shorter.  We wondered which way to go last evening.  I suggested north so we'd be paddling into the setting sun on the way back.  Behind the rocks of Sailing Point the low sun couldn't reach us because ...

... its was tool low in the western sky but ...

... not too low to prevent it from casting a soft golden glow on the rocky shore.

Again behind CB Shag Rocks (they've been begging for a name) the sun didn't reach us but the swell tried its best as it poured over.

The sun prepares to depart.

And there it goes setting the water ablaze.  Slowly the fire on the water began to get extinguished the further the sun retreated from the horizon until ...

... blue dominated again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Placentia Bay 2015: The Summary

Here's a summary of our seven day trip in Placentia Bay  Click on the links below to go to a specific day or follow along consecutively.

Day 1 (Saturday): Camped in Pipers Hole close to our proposed put-in - Link

Day 2 (Sunday): Paddled from Davis Cove to Clattice Harbour - Link

Day 3 (Monday): A short paddle from Clattice Harbour to St Leonard's - Link

Day 3: We got into St. Leonard's early so we hiked to the old stone church between St. Leonard's and St. Kyran's - Link

Day 4 (Tuesday): After a windy night we let St. Leonard's to paddle 17 kms to St. Kyran's - Link

Day 4 (Tuesday): Checking out the grand "new" church at St. Kyran's - Link

Day 5 (Wednesday): A fine day to paddle to Toslow - Link and Link

Day 6 (Thursday): A wild ride to Paradise Sound and blown to Channels Harbour - Link

Day 7 (Friday): Finishing up the trip in Monkstown - Link

Thanks to Dean, Hazen, Neville and Terry for sharing the adventure.

Photo by Hazen.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Placentia Bay 2015: Finishing the trip in Monkstown

We got the forecast from the folks in Southeast Bight the evening before.  A tropical storm was on the way.  Our timing was spot on.  On the last day of our 7 days in Placentia Bay we were in Channels Harbour, 13 kms from Monkstown where we had dropped a vehicle.  We'd be off the water and home and dry before the storm hit.

The morning was calm.  There was even a table left by cabin owners that I used to make breakfast.

Channels Harbour is an inlet off of Paradise Sound.  Out through here and a right hand turn and we were ...

... off paddling north in Paradise Sound.

Paradise Sound is a 30 km long, narrow arm of the sea running north without a lot of diversions to occupy the mind.  Dean and Terry charged ahead.  I decided I'd just settle into a relaxed paddle rate of 30 per minute and let them go without worrying about keeping up

The shore changed very ...

... little.

Eventually, 13 kms later I spotted a bump out in the straight coast.  I knew Monkstown lay just beyond.  Around the bump I spotted the first signs of the town.  Usually the dories are white but someone, maybe Lukey, had panted his green.

I passed by a traditional looking fishing stage, then the homes along the shore and ...

... beached not long after Dean.

Here's the complete journey viewed in Google Earth:

The day was a short paddle of 13 kms.  It had to be as we had to, first, take the vehicle dropped here back to Davis Cove where we put-in six days before to retrieve the others, second, unload and pack the gear into the cars and, third, stop for our usual meal of fish & chips before the almost three hour drive home.

A short day on the final but a not too shabby 120 for the trip; two short days forced on us due to wind.  It was a most enjoyable trip highlighted for me by the two churches we saw at St Kyran's/St. Leonard's and by the paddle into Toslow.

Now, where are my maps so I can start contemplating next year's trip?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Placentia Bay 2015: Paradise lost

We've had a mixed bag of weather in the previous 5 days of our Placentia Bay adventure.  On day 6, Thursday, we woke to fog and a bit of wind.  Dean remarked he didn't seep well on account of the wind.  I, on the other hand, wasn't bothered at all.  I had blueberry pancakes with the blueberries I picked the evening before though they would have tasted better under sunlight.

I looked out through the entrance to Sand Cove where the sea was bashing in quite good.  I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride.

I lead the pack out through into the open ocean keeping a watchful eye on the submerged rocks at the entrance to Toslow and Sand Cove.  The water really reared up breaking into a mass of white foam.  It took a little while to find my rhythm in the 1 and 2 meter waves.  I didn't stop to take many pictures out of fear of losing ground to the others intently paddling but I did feel the need for some.  One resulted in just waves as Hazen disappeared behind a wall of water.  This one doesn't show any breaking waves but at least I caught Hazen off to port as we passed White Sail Head.

At Eastern Head, an hour after leaving camp, we were at the end of the SW trending landmass.  We rafted up inside the head to discuss the next objective.  We settled on a 2.5 km crossing bypassing Great Bona Cove to ...

... make land again at Little Bona Cove.  The water raised up as it entered the constricted bay.

Making landfall again at Little Bona Cove we were paddling SW again and two kilometers later we were at Little Paradise.  I'm sure on a sunny day it is but in fog, not so much.  We negotiated the narrow entrance safely as ...

... the harbour opened up.  A few houses, a still serviceable wharf and fish plant are all that's left of the resettled community whose population peaked at 108 in 1935.  Little Paradise was resettled in the 1960's but still had permanent residents living there as late s 2009.

Little Paradise has a larger harbour than the nearby, and soon to be visited, Great Paradise.  The interesting thing about the name, in spite of the larger harbour, is that entrance to the harbour is made with "little" trouble.  Entry to Great Paradise, on the other hand, was done with "great" difficulty.  It had nothing to do with the size of the population.

We usually count on finding flat land to pitch our tents on when visiting resettled communities but that's not necessarily the case every time.  This traditional looking house brightly painted pink is propped up by stilts on the rocky slope.  Not sure about the amenities the house has but it does get satellite TV.

Leaving Little Paradise we made the short hop over to Great Paradise, Neville maybe jubilant we were out of the bigger water.  The Gull Islands on the horizon which were in front of us for most of the morning receded with each paddle stroke.

Approaching Great Paradise we had Marticott Island on the left and Fox Island directly in front.

There were more buildings at Great Paradise but it too has been resettled.  The houses that now serve as summer places looked well kept and they even a community center.  Boats were tied up indicating people were there but no one was out and about so we went on.

Its a well protected harbour which no doubt was a major attraction to settlement.  The census for 1836 shows a population of 66 and grew to 197 in 1921 but declined thereafter.

We said good-bye to Great Paradise without getting out of our kayaks, paddled across Red Cove, which looked more like a bay to me, and entered Paradise Sound.  The Sound is a some 30 km long indentation of the sea where the still settled community of Southeast Bight is located near the entrance.  Its isolated, the only access is by personal boat or by the provincial ferry service.

As we arrived people came out of their houses to chat and take pictures.  The people of Southeast Bight are typical of outport Newfoundland.  Friendly, salt of the earth people who would do anything for a stranger.  Its well documented by kayakers who have circumnavigated the island that they were often welcomed into homes to clean up and share a meal.  I'm sure we could have found lodging had we stayed but we were destined for further up the sound  We got a weather forecast which was most helpful.

We continued on past Southeast Bight after our conversations.  Ahead lay, what in my mind was, a monotonous paddle along an uninteresting shore.  We were intent on reaching a campsite that was about 2 hours paddle from Monkstown where we would conclude our trip.  We were informed of a campsite about 6 kms from the community.  An hour later still no options in sight.  I kept thinking how much longer could it be.  Turns out ...

... the said campsite at Channels Harbour was 11 kms out.

In any case, it was a fine campsite, well protected but devoid of wood for our usual campfire.  So, we had to consume our medicine entertained by the bioluminesence on the small wavelets rolling over a rock in front of us.

It was a long 8 hour, 35 km day which started in challenging conditions and ended with a good nights sleep, the last one in Placentia Bay for this year at least.

The track from Toslow/Sand Cove to Channels Harbour.