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 :-)