Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Theory of retrospection

Life is good and don't forget it!

End of the year and tomorrow is a new year. Its only another day but I guess at some point we have to take stock and see where we are and where we're going. December 31 is inventory day, a day of retrospection.

Retrospection can be pleasant survey of the past years events or it can instill a melancholy feeling if you live in the past, the loss of another year. I like to live in the present with a hopeful eye on the future. But, I am going to look back and for one reason - 2008 was such a fantastic year that making a list makes me think of what I have to look forward to in 2009.

Here are my 2008 paddling highlights:
1. Paddling with Stan generally - a good friend with the same mindset.
2. First overnight kayak camping trip to Tickles - see for outdoor sauna instructions.
3. Kayaking with whales in Mobile Bay - got to get you some whales next year Stan.
4. Practice sessions in conditions started by Graham Openshaw.
5. Rounding my first cape - Cape St. Francis.
6. Rolling in the middle of Conception Bay in the shadow of a tanker.
7. Surfing at Chance Cove - need to do this more often.
8. Crossing from St. Philips to Bell Island.
9. Beach cleanup at Trinny Cove, Placentia Bay.
10. Volunteering at Kids Day at Long Pond.

It can only get better.

Happy New Year to everyone in the paddling community all over the world and paddle safely in 2009.

Tony :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Theory of the scratchable itch

Daggers of ice

Water falls frozen over at pocket beach Beachy Cove

Rinsing off the salt in the fresh river water in St. Philips

Is there anything worse than an itch you can't scratch? I remember my Dad broke his leg many years ago and often complained about the itch in his full length cast. That wasn't easy for him as he couldn't get at the itchy spot.

I had an itch today too, to get out paddling. It was 2 weeks since I was able to get out for a paddle. No one around to paddle with and a temperature of -1 C. But there was no wind.

I waffled and decided to go to the gym. Coming out of the gym I decided to scratch my itch and hurried home to put the boat on the car. I paddled 5 kms from St. Philips to Portugal Cove. It wasn't a long paddle but its close to home and 10 kms wasn't too bad a way to scratch an itch to paddle.

The snow is almost all gone but there were lots of icicles where the run-off water had frozen. At -1 C it wasn't too cold and after a few minutes I warmed up to a point where I could have shed clothes if I was on land. I had a nice low following swell to push me back to St. Philips and did the obligatory rolls before washing up in the river. The water temp was +1 C but felt warmer because of the heat I had built up.

I ran into paddler Ralph Smith who lives in St. Philips on the way home and he offered to wash my gear out for $10.00. Maybe after the river freezes over Ralph!

So, I scratched my itch and rounded my paddles off to 75 for this year.

Tony :-)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Theory of breadmaking

My new Cuisinart bread-
maker's first day on the job

My daughters Lana, Lisa and Aimee gave me a new Cuisinart breadmaker for Christmas. I started making bread last year in an effort to cut as much salt and saturated fats from my diet as possible. I had been using Lisa's.

I was very surprised and felt a little awkward because I just don't want my children to spend their hard earned money on me. They want to give a present of course but I always stress that I don't want anything big. Lana said it wasn't much after everything I've done for them.

Yes, I suppose I've done a lot for them but it was always for them, to help them start their own lives and give them a head-start. Never the thought that anything other than love would come back. Apparently, while I was taking them to swimming, hockey, waiting for them at the university after classes, scraping ice and snow off their cars and the other little things over the years, I was making bread.

My reward for what I have done (and your Mother) is to see you grow to be beautiful, responsible and caring young ladies. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I love you

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Theory of the first Christmas

Ornaments from the first Christmas in Canada

In 1953 my parents came to Canada from the Netherlands. I was 1 year old and while I don't remember that first Christmas, I have a picture of myself and my next born sister sitting by a very small tree. That little tree had the round ornaments on the left hanging on it. They look a little knarled and they are after 55 years of use.

This is the first Christmas for me where neither parent is alive as Dad passed away in October. Its a milestone. But its not a melancholy Christmas, life goes on.

This evening my children, my wife and I decorated the tree and hung the heirloom ornaments on the tree. I am thankful for another Christmas where we're all still able to be together. It won't last forever. As I hung the small old ornaments on the tree I was reminded again that its the small things I have to be thankful for. Family, friends, a sunset, snow that sparkles in the sunshine....

So, that's my wish for everyone. Have a Merry Christmas filled with the small things that mean the most. And to all a good night!

Tony :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Theory of destination

Stan heading for .....?

This is a picture of Stan paddling towards Bauline on a paddle we did back in November. If we had blinkers on and this is all we could see, in a couple of seconds Stan would be out of the picture, destination somewhere left.

Destination is somewhere I suppose we're all going. Sometimes we know the destination because we've gotten in a boat, car etc and purposely gone there. Sometimes, we don't know, like what's the plan for tomorrow.

Sometimes we think we're already there. I have a friend who has been playing guitar for years and years. I've been learning to play for 4 years. I can only get better; he can't because he thinks he's already there (no disrespect to him), an accomplished player.

In kayaking, thinking that you have all the skills mastered can be dangerous. The sea can throw things at you that are totally unexpected and there's always a need to be on top of your game. I try to be honest with myself and when I don't handle a situation very well, I plan to practice for better future execution. Learning to be a skilled kayaker is a journey, there is no destination.

In that sense, kayaking is like life.

Tony :-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Theory of Sustenance

Salvia and Monarda are all that's left of our flower garden sticking thru the snow

Sustenance is the word we use to describe our need for food to survive.

Over the last 2 days we've had our first substantive taste of winter and it appears that the season for homo sapiens kayakerious newfoundlandus is drawing to a close for this year. I'd like to get out today, even Topsail Pond, but it doesn't look good. Temps last night -12 C with wind chill of -27 C; temp today -7 C.

Reflecting on that, I think about the people who gave us the kayak in the first place, the Inuit. They didn't have the luxury of deciding "Ah, I won't go kayaking today". They had no choice. If they wanted to eat they had to get out. One image I have is of a show on the tube I've seen, of an Inuit sitting silently for hours in his kayak, in a polynia waiting for a narwhal to surface. The slightest of sound and the prey that surfaces is gone. Hours of waiting wasted and no prospect for another chance.

Things have changed today but I respect those people of days gone by and count myself lucky to be able to make a choice. Today, I'll still venture out but in search of the perfect Christmas tree. But, I will promise myself to get out some bitter cold day this winter just for the experience and sustenance of my soul.

Tony :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Theory of Gadgets

Gadgets are little devices that we all come up with to serve a particular function or to do something that we can't buy off of a store shelf. Its improvization on the fly.

A little while ago I bought an Olympus Stylus 850 SW to take pictures while out kayaking. Its the perfect camera for that, light weight and waterproof. On calm days its just as easy to stash it under you deck bungees when not in use but in more challenging conditions it can be intimidating to take pictures. There's a need to grab the camera, hold the paddle and stay upright in wind and waves and all the while try to get your picture.

I got some info from one of Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador's Central Chapter members on how to attach the camera to the paddle. Good idea Colin but I thought there might be a better way.

Here's what I did:
- cut a small piece out of a bicycle inner tube and slip over the paddle shaft
- cut a piece of plastic slightly wider that the camera out of any plastic container
- fold over sharply on one end and wrap around the paddle shaft
- tuck the sharply folded end tight and drill 2 small holes on both ends, secure with small screws
- make a template out of cardstock to get the location of the hole under the camera for mounting to tripod
- transfer to your gizmo
- drill hole and attach camera as if on a tripod.

Here's the camera attached to the paddle shaft. Slightly out of focus but hey, you get the picture.

The bicycle inner tube keeps the gadget from slipping around on the shaft. The plastic has to be a little wider than the camera so the screws on both ends don't interfere with the camera mounting. If you have a 2 piece paddle, slip the wrist strap over the paddle before putting the paddle together.

All the controls are readily at hand so that's convenient. There is a drawback as I recently found out. To take a picture you have to take the paddle out of the water and in very strong wind both paddle blades are open to the wind. A sudden gust while taking a picture to the side and broadside to the wind can knock you over. You'll have to play with your set-up to safely take pictures under those conditions.

The proto type is white, I'll made a final version in black so that it all blends in with the paddle. Hope you make one for yourself too. Finally, a little "theory" that's practical!

Tony :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Theory of sugar-plums

The kayaks were nestled all snug in their racks ...

while visions of sugar-plums danced in my head. Please allow a little poetic licence!

Its a week before Christmas and a good time to check your list of kayak related toys for Santa to leave under the tree. Kayaking is not a cheap hobby and Christmas is a good time when gifts can do double duty. Well, you're going to buy the stuff anyway, right? There's always more stuff to buy and gear to replace. A throw bag, paddle leash, tow rope, deck compass and on and on.

With the current economic turmoil it seems a little extravagant to be thinking about expensive toys like this. There's a big up-front cost but when I consider the number of times I've been in my boat this year alone, the cost is less than the cost of going to a movie. Say nothing of the need to be outfitted for safety either for yourself or to help another paddler in trouble.

I have to confess, I'm thinking out loud a little here and on-line, justifying my need to buy a Nordkapp for next years paddling season. I'm 99% certain that I'll place my order after Christmas and while I throw it back and forth in my mind, I'll have visions of sugar-plums dancing in my head.

Tony :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Theory of the unscripted swim

Ride'em cowboy Stan

Stan's kayak has after burners?

Jim Price is one of the best kayakers in Newfoundland and Jim says "there are 2 kinds of paddlers: swimmers and those who are going to be swimmers". Before Stan and myself put in today at St. Phillips (again!) I was in the category of "going to be swimmer". Now, I've joined the ranks of the swimmers.

It was blowing at 55 kms/hr with wind gusts of 70. It wasn't ideal but with air temps on December 13 at 15 degrees C, Stan seconded the motion of carpe diem - sieze the day. The wind was very brisk and the gusts threatened to rip the paddle out of my hands.

Then, there was a picture op of Stan. I have my camera attached to the paddle but it means presenting the whole paddle to the wind when taking a picture. I turned broadside to the wind, raised the paddle to snap the picture, a gust of wind caught both paddle blades and over I went. I made one attempt to roll unsuccessfully and bailed. No panic, we've practiced assisted rescues and before long I was back in the boat. I decided not to pump the boat out so I paddled into the beach with the cockpit full of water, 50 kms wind and 1 metre wind waves. A good exercise in balance control.

We hung around for about an hour after and I had to do one roll before calling it a day. I had to reassure myself because I was disappointed that my roll failed just when I needed it.

Anyway, I learned something today - exercise caution taking pictures in challenging conditions and a friend in need is a friend indeed. Thanks Stan!

Tony :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Theory of landlubbers

Waves crashing at Laurie's Beach in Paradise, Nfld.

A landlubber is defined as someone who lives and works on land. I don't know the origin of the word but my guess is it would be derived from "land lover".

Technically, by the definition, I'm a landlubber as I live on land. But I'm not a landlubber in the sense I love the land and avoid the sea.

Today we have southwest winds gusting to 100 kms/hr at the coast. I remember an article on kayak paddling techniques (Technical Nuances for Cruising in Wind; Seakayaker Magazine, June 1995) by Nigel Foster wherein he says "The following techniques ... work in strong winds ... up to 65 knots". (100 kms/hr). I don't know what planet he hails from but I'm skeptical. I've been out in some strong wind much less than 100 and found forward progress to be quite a challenge.

In any case, I had to go down to the shore and see for myself what it would be like on the water. Yup, based on what I saw, today I lubbs the land!

Tony :-)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Theory of smiling kayak gods

The pleasure boats are done for the season! (A)

Glacial till NE of Long Pond (B)

Houses perched on Conception Bay (C)

Well, the kayak gods did smile on me today. It didn't look good early this morning as my paddling buddy Stan was tied up with house chores. My better half doesn't like for me to paddle alone but today she had faith. So, I was off for my first solo paddle on the briney sea.

I put in in Topsail in Conception Bay, Newfoundland, and paddled some 5kms southwest to the community of Long Pond. It was blowing only about 15 kms from the WSW, 3 degrees C and small wind waves. Had I gotten in trouble I'd have blown up on the shore all along the way.

Its not an exciting paddle but it was a day out. This part of the shore of Conception Bay is either houses spilling out down to the edge of the sea (picture C) or unoccupied cobble beaches (picture B).

On the way to Long Pond the sun was directly in my eyes but I found the marina at Long Pond. Got out and stretched my legs and found it funny that I was still out on the water but all the pleasure boats were hauled up for the winter (picture A). Isn't it ironic?

The hills backing cobble beaches consist of glacial till (B) that was dumped when the glaciers retreated here some 12,000 years ago. The houses are somewhat newer and look like clumps of habitation dumped unwittingly here too.

While it was liberating to be out alone, I did miss Stan. I hope there'll be other days when the kayaking gods smile on me yet this year. Either way I've no reason to complain if I was able to be out on December 6!!!

Tony :-)

Theory of discretion

Dumping surf at Middle Cove, Nfld.

One of the meanings of discretion is the ability to make responsible decisions.

Earlier this summer, in August, three of us had a practice session here at Middle Cove that I feel now was pivotal in my progression as a kayaker. It was the first time I was in substantial water. The sea wasn't as angry as on the day I took this picture but there were occasional 2 metre waves and a dumping surf. I launched through the surf safely and the three of us just paddled back and forth in the cove. For me, it was just being in the boat and being in the bigger water. After a while I felt comfortable and thought, its no biggie.

There in lies some danger. There's a risk of being overconfident to the point of being cocky. There are people who could get out thru the surf on this day but I'm not there yet. Make a responsible decision, leave the boat on the car and wait till I'm ready. Know my ability and my limits.

Sometimes you want to get out for a paddle but sometimes the gods are against you. When they are, its probably for a reason.

Tony :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Theory of hardness

Bucket and float set-up

Bucket and float out for a tow!

The theory of hardness, more accurately, Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, is a system which characterizes the scratch resistance of various minerals. Its on a scale of 1 to 10 with talc as 1 and diamond as 10. There's another definition of course where hardness is based on relative difficulty.

Paddling on calm water is easy whereas paddling into a strong wind is more difficult. Taking someone in distress under tow also adds to the degree of difficulty.

Recently I've rigged up a float and a bucket to add to the difficulty of paddling practice. The float keeps the bucket close to the surface and the bucket adds resistance. I find that the addition of resistance allows me to concentrate more on form and is good towing practice.

Practice easy and you end up with talc; add some difficulty and you end up with diamonds. And you'll know you have diamonds when you take the resistance off because the boat just glides effortlessly across the water. I guess its like life, you have to have some difficulty in your life to know how good the "good times" are. That last part was an afterthought, WOW!

Tony :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Theory of waves

View from St. Philips towards Bell Island

Wave rolling under Stan

Stan scampering up a wave

Waves can be measured in terms of height, wavelength and period. They all depend on wind speed, distance over open water which the wind blows and length of time the wind has been blowing over the area. So, as the wind begins to blow over the sea, waves start to form and the longer the wind blows the bigger the waves become. Waves max out at any given wind speed with enough duration. At that wind speed the sea can be said to be fully developed. They won't grow any further unless the wind increases in strength.

Stan and myself knew the forecast called for wind speeds of 40 kms/hr with gusts to 70 from the west. We thought that we'd take the ferry to Bell Island and paddle the west side of the island and be sheltered from the wind. When we got to Portugal Cove to catch the ferry it didn't look any better on the other side of the Tickle. We decided on St. Philips and were content to paddle squares, diagonals etc.

It didn't look too bad before we put in but after 2 hours the wind had whipped the sea up into some impressive waves. Paddling into the wind was at snail's pace, paddle so far, turn broadside to the waves, paddle some more and turn downwind. Communication in the wind was difficult but wasn't necessary. There were some excellent surf rides to be had down what felt like mountains of water.

I wouldn't do this without someone else along to help if needed. Stan made it possible today, thanks as usual Stan.

It was a great day of practice paddling in wind and waves. Why? So that we'll be able to handle it if the wind comes up on a day that starts out calm. Some people suggest that when the wind blows, it sucks. It only sucks if you're not prepared!

Tony :-)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Theory of lightening

This is the original picture of Stan at Topsail Beach

This is the "lightened" picture

This post doesn't have anything to do with lightening as in a bolt of electricity. This is about being able to doctor a picture that turned out too dark because the taker (me) wasn't familiar with the new camera.

I came across a freeware program called "GIMP" that I think works the same as Photoshop. I tried it out on the picture of Stan at Topsail Beach. In the first picture you can't see his face but after brightening the picture by 50% Stan is easy to identify. And, it looks more like the rainy dreary day it was!

Probably I should learn to use the camera but technology shows that lightening can indeed strike the same spot twice.

Tony :-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Theory of acceptance

That would be me out for a paddle recently in Brigus South (Malcolm Rowe photo)

The theory goes that you should change the things you can and accept the things you can't. Today was one of those days when I just had to accept that I wasn't getting out for my almost ususal Tuesday paddle. I haven't missed many.

Today's burden was a job that just had to be done before the snow comes. It wasn't that bad as I made a first - my first success at cutting glass. Its one of those things that I've always looked upon as a bit of witchcraft. Cutting glass without breaking it up I thought was beyond me.

There were a number of kayak skills that I thought were beyond me at the start of the year, like the sculling balance brace. Its a bit like cutting glass, you just have to commit to it and trust yourself.

No paddle today but a wistful look back at an enjoyable day in Brigus South, Newfoundland with Malcolm and Stan. And, the prospect of more paddles yet this year.

Tony :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Theory of the early bird

Topsail on a dull, windy, rainy morning

Stan arriving in front of Topsail Head

The theory is that the early bird catches the worm. On today, the early bird caught the rain and wind. What the pictures of course don't tell tell you that the day turned sunny and the wind dropped.

Stan MacKenzie and myself (seems to be a recurring theme) decided on a paddle this morning as Stan had plans for the pm. Stan was sitting in his Toyota at St. Philips, Newfoundland when I arrived and it was raining hard. We sat for awhile until the hardest rain passed and then we put-in and headed for Topsail. A paddle of about 6.5 kms into the wind and waves that took us an hour and a half (another recurring theme for Stan and myself).

A few landlubbers on shore must have shaken ther heads as we hung around checking out some fine sheds build along the beach. We headed back to St. Philips in a quartering sea and as we zipped along the wind dropped. After 45 minutes we were back in St. Philips and agreed we'd done enough for the day.

As we paddled into the harbour we saw paddling mates Malcolm and Des. They had come looking for conditions to paddle in but had missed it. It goes to show that, while the day turned nice and maybe to most, the early bird missed the worm, it depends on the worm you're after.

Tony :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Theory of juggling

Stan and myself paddling towards Brigus Head (Malcolm Rowe photo)

Normally I think of juggling as a skill where more than one object is tossed into the air and kept in motion without hitting the ground. In my mind, I see clowns as jugglers.

I've recently come to realize that while I'm not a juggler in that sense, I do juggle tasks. I've realized that its incomprehensible that a retired person like myself has to juggle tasks. There just aren't enough hours in a day for me to do everything I want. Weather is closing in and unfinished tasks remain.

There's a good reason for that; I've been in my kayak 66 times so far this summer. That might explain why I didn't get as much done as I hoped. But ya can't be all work and no play either.

What's the point if ya can't find some time to play? So I did, I insisted on time in my kayak and loved every minute. If I couldn't find time for that then I'd really be a clown!

Tony :-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Theory of Comparison

Stan in Malcolm's Nordkapp HS

Malcolm in his new Nordkapp LV

Malcolm and Stan switching boats

My theory of comparison deals with the similar or dis-similar properties of two or more things and how the they are rated by the person doing an assessment of desireability. You can compare items for their physical properties, such as cars. You can compare similar items for price when sold at different stores. You can even compare apples to oranges if you're comparing for preference. Why not? Some people do prefer apples to oranges!

On Saturday Malcolm Rowe, Stan MacKenzie and myself set off for Brigus South (about 45 minute drives south of St. John's, Newfoundland) to do a comparison of two Nordkapps which Malcolm owns. Malcolm recently bought a new Nordkapp LV and wanted to do a comparison with his older HS boat. The plan was for Malcolm to paddle his LV while Stan paddled the HS and then switch and compare notes. The conclusion? Both Malcolm and Stan agreed there wasn't much difference in the handling of both boats even though there were small differences between them.

I was the odd man out as I was in a Necky Looksha IV. Boy, this is where it gets dangerous for me to apply the theory of comparison. It would be easy to get tempted into buying a Nordkapp. But, for now I prefer apples and I think I'll stick with my Necky.

Tony :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cape St. Francis, my first cape

The Battery Hotel at Cape St. Francis *lol*

Rounding the peninsula and entering Conception Bay, it started to rain :-)

Stan moving in for a shower!
Apprehension is defined in Wikipedia as either (1) an awareness or understanding of something by the mind or (2) a fearful emotion. I was apprehensive about rounding Cape St. Francis north of St. John's, Newfoundland as it was my first "cape". I'm pretty sure that the apprehension I felt wasn't something that was understood by my mind. If it was, I'd still have been home with my feet up. But then it wasn't a fearful emotion either. It was more a feeling of not knowing what to expect while giving it the respect (fear) it deserved.

Today Stan and I paddled from Pouch (pronounced Pooch) Cove, north of St. John's, around Cape St. Francis and down Conception Bay to the community of Bauline. We paddled out of Pouch Cove with a quartering sea on the right side. Somehow starboard seems out of place to ascribe to a kayak. Nothing too serious, just had to be attentive.

We arrived at the Cape after about an hour and there was a lot of water bashing the rocks. It started to rain and blow harder. Was I being told you don't round your first cape easily there matey? Uncomfortable? No, it seemed right for the occasion.

After rounding, the first part of the paddle into Conception Bay was calm and little wind. There's not much to see down this coast but did remind me somewhat of New Zealand. Thankfully no Mauori war canoes came out to challenge our passage. The wind came up and the last 5 kms (who knows, it felt like forever) were a bit of a workout. Expecting Bauline to be much further on I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the houses perched on the cliffs.

So, I was let to go around. I didn't need to feel apprehensive; it wasn't too bad a day and I was prepared. I guess there's no need to feel apprehension if you've done the prep. Another excellent day on the water with my good friend Stan.

Tony :-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Theory of Sacrifice

Stan watching the MV Flanders preparing to dock in Portugal Cove

Sacrifice is from the Latin meaning to make sacred. Sacrifice varies from food and animal offerings to the gods to, in the extreme, human sacrifice. In recognition of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many in wars, for the purpose of this blog entry, sacrifice will mean the giving of one's own life for a greater good.

Its easy in the everyday hustle and bustle of life to forget the ultimate sacrifice made by soldiers and others who fought to keep us free. No one of course keeps that on their mind daily. But, there is one day set aside to reflect and to remember.

I don't just think of the men and women but think of what they gave up. I think of what I would have given up, that I now have, had I been killed in battle at a young age. No family, friends, sunsets, days out in the kayak and on and on.

I took the picture of Stan and the MV Flanders on this past Saturday and knew that would be the subject of a blog of remembrance. The Flanders is of course named for that famous field where "poppies blow, row on row". Also in the Province of Newfoundland's fleet of ferries is the Beaumont Hamel. Newfoundland lost a significant number of the cream of its population and remembers by the naming of these vessels and other ways.

I spent a few hours in a war cemetary in Arnhem (of a bridge too far fame) many years ago. I remember that visit every year and tomorrow on the 11th of November I will keep sacred the memories of those soldiers and the ultimate sacrifice they made.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Theory of Weather

Stan making headway near Portugal Cove

"Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain ..."

In my book there are two theories of weather. The first, is that the uneven heating of the earth's surface by the sun causes areas of cooler dense air and warmer lighter air. As the atmosphere wants to reach a state of equilibrium, the air moving to reach that state causes wind, clouds, rain, etc. The second theory states that if its wet or cold miserable weather outside, its best to stay indoors and stay comfortable.

Well, in Newfoundland, if we subscribed to the second theory, we'd spend too much time looking out the window lamenting about the weather.

The beauty of seakayaking is that, if you're dressed for cold water immersion, a bit of rain is not going to cause undue hardship. With that in mind, Stan and myself paddled from St. Philips, past Portugal Cove and just past the waterfalls near Bauline.

Calm water and showers on the way down. An unexpected whale swam under us, surfaced for air and continued down the bay. There was enough swell to make rock hopping interesting or dicey. I passed on dicey, I didn't want to impose on Stan in case I got into trouble.

Lunch in Portugal Cove and a stiffening wind and waves on the way back to St. Philips made for a day of a bit of everything - except sunshine.

As for the theory of weather, the forecasting of that is, is all hot air and can't usually be trusted. That is something seakayakers in Newfoundland have learned to live with.

Tony :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Theory of Race

Whale surfacing in Witless Bay

Race is strictly a biological classification of mankind based on physiological traits. Most anthropologists agree on three major groups of humans: caucasoid, mongoloid and negroid. While that may be factual, all these groups belong to one single species - homo sapiens.

It seems so appropriate to me to make an entry on this today as Americans vote for their next president. I think history will be made today and when you think of it, the possibility that Obama could be president tomorrow is almost beyond belief. Just 50 short years ago he wouldn't be allowed to use certain washrooms and would have had to ride in the back of the bus. If elected, I think he will change not only America but the entire globe - and for the better. And that's worth hoping for.

I took this picture of a whale in Witless Bay. Its not a high quality photo but will do. It is a single picture that I inverted the colours in of one half of the picture. Two different looking scenes but all part of one picture.

Tony :-)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Theory of practice

Brian Duffett catching a wave

Ralph Smith motoring by

Pete Noel with the Bell Island ferry in the background

The theory of practice is that if you do something over and over, you'll improve or master the activity. Today Brian Duffett, Peter Noel, Ralph Smith and myself had a more or less practice session in St. Philips. Well, OK, on this day and this group the theory of practice applied only to me. Brian and Pete make it look just so easy and Ralph is also pretty accomplished with his Paddle Canada Level II certification.

The wind was blowing upwards of 40 kms/hr with wind waves between 1 and almost 2 metres at times. The plan was to paddle from St. Philips up the coast towards Topsail into the wind and then surf back. After paddling for a while we decided to turn around and head back to St. Philips and do some surfing in the cove. This is where it was evident to me that I need more practice paddling in a quartering sea . Nigel Foster in the article (Sea Kayaker; June 1995) "Technical Nuances for Cruising in Wind" states: "Paddling with a following sea can be your greatest delight or your wildest nightmare ...". Today was not a nightmare, so its getting better as I weathercocked less and had some good stretches where I felt I had control of the boat.

Improving yes, mastery, we'll see!

Tony :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Theory of the little engine that could

Sherry at Queen's River bridge

Sea meets land in Shoal Bay

The "Little Engine That Could" is a moralistic story of trying anything optimistically. As we all know, the little engine did. For me, its not so much about success but about trying and giving it an honest effort. Without trying nothing is sure to be accomplished.

On Sunday my wife Sherry and I decided to hike to The Thoroughfare on the East Coast Trail to pick cranberries. I've done it before but I really had to step on it to do it in 2 hours. Sherry wasn't sure but decided to give it a go. There were numerous places along the Shoal Bay trail with standing water that we had to scoot around. In one place the trail was a river and we had to bushwack around it for a few hundred metres. This and stepping on stones to cross streams are not one of Sherry's strong points, but she did it.

It took longer than expected as it wasn't a straight hike. We reached the saltwater after 2.5 hours and decided that the cranberries would have to wait. We had lunch and enjoyed the fantastic scenery and headed back. It was a great day even though we didn't get what we came for, but we tried. I was so proud of my wife because I knew it wasn't easy for her. She did it to spend the day together.

Tony :-)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Theory of barnacles

Stan trying out Malcolm's Nordkapp

Barnacles are encrusters, that is, they attach themselves to hard surfaces. They are immobile except when they're lucky enough to attach themselves to a ship's hull; then they become world travellers. Otherwise, they're lot in life is set, unable to do anything for themselves and no chance to expand their horizons. Some people I think are like barnacles. They get comfortable in their situation and just can't get out of the rut and try new things and new challenges.

Not Stan. Today, in Torbay, Stan tried on Malcolm's Nordkapp in the company of Malcolm, Ian, Jonathan and myself. There was a bit of apprehension - how would it handle compared to the poly boat? What about stability? Stan has been paddling for about 10 years, so this might not be such a big challenge ;-) and it showed. No problem and Nordkapp has a convert.

And I get a chance to put a pic of Stan on my blog, which of course is a change!

Tony :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Theory of rust and dust

RIP in Tickles

I took this picture at Tickles in June where a group of Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador members completed an overnight camping trip. Tickles is an abandoned community that has one house left standing. The old rusted truck looked like an interesting subject.

The picture came back to mind after the recent passing of my Dad.

At the time I took the picture, I thought how handsome the truck must have been when it was new. It must have been a source of immense pride for the owner. And, I wondered how much work it had done for its owner. Now it sits in Tickles rusting away, returning to nature.

That rusty old truck struck me as such a metaphor for human life. When you're young there's so much promise and vitality. Hard work and the passage of time takes its toll over the years. Before you realize it, as the clock ticks on, you're the truck. Dad passed away on October 18 at 83 years of age.

There is of course a difference; Dad won't be forgotten and left adandoned to rust. And, this rust and dust will be part of another world after our sun goes supernova.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Theory of friends

Tent city at Tickles

Friends are sometimes like stars. Stars form from interstellar dust and gas clouds. Some clouds coalesce into stars that don't have enough mass to start nuclear fusion and don't fire up. Some clouds form stars that are white (hot) to supergiant reds (cooler).

I've met a lot of people over the years. Some have become life-long friends, friends that I can count on come hell or high water. Some never became friends and others range between good friends (hot) and acquaintences (cool).

I've been lucky to have met a lot of great people through Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador. At the outset they were people I'd see on paddles or club meetings. A lot of them I've gotten to know better and now count as friends. Friends are people I'm comfortable associating with.

A group of us paddled to Tickles, a resettled community in St. Mary's Bay, Newfoundland, for an overnight kayak camping trip in June. There was lots of room at Tickles for people to set up their tents apart from each other but most people staked out campsites close together. A friendly act by friends with common interests.

Tony :-)