Thursday, April 30, 2009

Theory of the grassy knoll

Stan on the "grassy knoll" of Ship Island getting his "shot" of our lunch stop

Most people who were 10 or so on 22 November 1963 or who have an interest in the JFK assassination would be familiar with the term "grassy knoll". Its a small grassy raised area on Elm Street in Dallas where its alleged a second or third shot was fired at JFK.

I look upon the JFK assassination as one of those life mysteries I likely will never know the answer to. Something like what happened to the pack of Dad's cigarettes I took to smoke with a couple of friends when I was about 10. I stashed them under a rock and when I went back they were gone. Maybe one of the friends got there before me?

But that's only small stuff. Take for example, the meaning of life. What's it all about? I don't have the answer but I do know that I won't worry about it now. Its something that will be revealed (or unrevealed) in due course. For now, I'll take advantage of beautiful days, like on this day, and live in the moment. Maybe its best not to know the answers to some mysteries anyway.

Tony :-)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Theory of the panic button

Corey leading the way to Great Island

Here, Corey looks like he's out for a paddle by himself but there were 9 other paddling companions nearby. But, just because you have paddling companions doesn't mean you're not alone.

After lunch break on Ship Island on Saturday, I misread what the plan was and paddled ahead of the group and after some time looked behind to see where everyone was. Oops, stupid me, the rest were just specks on the horizon going the other way. I had a momentary sense of panic because I knew that if I got into a pickle I'd be on my own to figure it out.

I turned and gave chase and quickly realized that this presented a learning opportunity. I wouldn't be out here by myself by choice but given that this was what it was, I calmed myself and actually reveled in the circumstance. Hitting the panic button would only have caused me to tense up where it was necessary to stay loose.

Its a mental game and there is no such thing as a panic button. If you think there is, you better leave it on the beach.

Tony :-)

Stan and myself were talking about how hard it is sometimes to capture the feeling of the sea state in bigger water. The paddler either disappears behind the wave, as in this shot, or the size of the wave is difficult to see without a point of reference. On top of that, concentrating on staying upright.

This picture comes close to the sea state off of Southern Head on Great Island.

Brian paddling in active water off of Ship Island. Its is said that elite athletes see things in slow motion. That's why people like Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan dominated their respective games. While spectators and team mates see a flurry of activity, Gretzky and Jordan make it look easy. So does Brian. Paddling into wind, surf or big water, Brian looks like he's hardly working - another day at the office. I watch and hope to learn.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Theory of happenstance

Paddling out to the iceberg grounded in Mobile, New- foundland

We get icebergs that calve from the Greenland icesheet along the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland every year. They can be seen sometimes far out at sea from the tops of cliffs. It takes wind from the right direction at the right time to blow an occasional berg into the small coves and bays along the coast. An act of randomness, otherwise the bergs would just continue on their drift south.

While bergs can be seen from vantage points on land, seeing them from the seat of kayak at water level is awe-inspiring. They seem to have their own micro-environment, say nothing of the danger. This one was grounded but we still kept our distance.

Stan and I took advantage of a chance to paddle to this berg on Saturday because not all bergs are accessible and then on top of that, there's the randomness of the weather cooperating to allow us to get on the water. Hopefully there will be more happenstance yet this spring.

Tony :-)

There was a small cove in the berg on this side. It was noticeably cooler around the berg and I just had a different sense of the swell washing onto the berg here than against a rocky shoreline. It seemed more threatening.

Another angle. I found it amazing how different this one berg looked from different vantage points.

Take-out was through a rock garden.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Theory of love me two times

Stan in the foam created by waves crashing on Great Island

Right out of the science department - the Theory of love me two times! Really.

OK, so I've borrowed this "Theory" from Jim Morrison. But it does apply to my paddle today. I had two put-ins today, first in Tors Cove to paddle out to Great Island, one of the islands in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and a second put-in in Mobile to check out a grounded iceberg.

A group of 10 of us put-in in Tors Cove, Newfoundland to do a paddle out to and around Great Island in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, a seabird sanctuary. A swell of 2 - 3 metres with a period of 11 seconds was predicted but with no wind. I don't know about the 11 second thing but we did get up to 3 metres of swell. The swell rebounding off the cliffs made for mildly confused seas but nothing to be concerned with.

After taking out and stowing away or grear and loading the kayaks we headed for home. Stan and I detoured down into the small community of Mobile to check out a grounded berg. What the hell we said, we'll put-in again and go have a look. There'll be more bergs to check out (fingers crossed) but ya never know so we did it while we could.

It was a great paddle today being out with a larger group and I loved both times I got on the water. But I'm not going away, more pictures from today's paddle to post later!

Tony :-)

Derrick and Pam on the seaward side of Great Island. Above Pam's head is throughway in the cliffs but not for today with the 2 - 3 metre swell. Derrick had his "stick" ( OK, Greenland paddle) with him again today and this was the day to test it out at the next level. I'll leave mine home for a while yet until I feel comfortable with it in calm water.

Here's most of the group after rounding Southern Head on Great Island. The swell was predicted to be 2 - 3 metres and we got that but with no wind it was a great day to be out in some bigger water after the calm waters of our winter paddles.

Stopped for lunch on Ship Island (?). There was a bit of talk about all the pictures kayakers take of lunch stops, so, here's mine for this paddle.

Alison and Brian in close to the action on (I think) Ship Island.

Pete was motoring after his lunch of beer and cigarellos!

This was our second stop. Stan with the iceberg grounded in Mobile, Newfoundland.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Theory of continental drift (2)

Stan in front of the Ordovician rocks of Bell Island

Its hard to believe that the solid rocks beneath our feet , under the right pressure and temperature, become plastic enough to flow. But that's a fact, at least its pretty much universally accepted by geologists today.

I find it interesting to consider where the rocks we paddle along were formed millions of years ago. The rocks of Bell Island are sandstones and shales that are interbedded which indicates the water fluctuated between shallow (sandstone deposited) and deeper (shale deposited). The sandstones show ripple marks and I've split them apart to reveal worm borrows preserved in the rocks. I find it a particularly moving experience to be able to see where worms burrowed 450 million years ago. E.R. Rose in his geological memoir even reports evidence of "rain-drop impressions".

All of this continental drift would have been oblivious to the grains of sand and worms just like it is to us today. But, I like to keep in mind that the world underneath my feet is moving. The earth is dynamic and there are lots of things in it to be enjoyed, whether in a kayak or not.

Tony :-)

Paleo maps by C. R. Scotese, PALEOMAP project at

This is where "Avalonia" has drifted to in about the 60 million years since the Cambrian. This would be the approximate location where we were when the Ordovician rocks of Bell Island were deposited.
This is where "Avalonia" was when the Cambrian rocks of the Avalon Peninsula were deposited over 500 million years ago. This is where we were on my last entry on the topic in March.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Theory of in my backyard

Checking out the yachts in Long Pond

NIMBY refers to unwanted development " not in my backyard". But when a sudden paddle develops then a paddle "in my backyard" just fits the bill. Today Derrick called unexpectedly that there was a paddle on. Ralph picked me up (my car is undergoing an operation) on the way to Long Pond where Dean, Derrick, Pam, Ralph and I put-in for a paddle up the shore.

Its familiar territory but like a favorite sweater, it feels comfortable. We paddled up Long Pond before we paddled onto Conception Bay and then past Foxtrap marina and down as far as Kelligrews. We paddled approximately 17 kms which wasn't bad for the backyard on a beautiful day. Thanks guys for an enjoyable paddle and thanks again Ralph for the ride.

Tony :-)
Dean, Derrick and Ralph in the "long pond" at Long Pond

Derrick and Pam, husband and wife team. They both paddle identical strip build kayaks by Derrick and Pam is still getting the feel of the boat. It was a great day for it.

Dean and Ralph

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Theory of the quickie

I was surprised there are still icicles to be shot. I liked the sunlight on the ice

OK, get yer mind out of the gutter!

It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool. After a visit to Derrick's to get him to look at how my greenland paddle was progressing and to get advice on finishing, duties in the garden called. I said to myself, I should be paddling. But, I can't paddle all the time and expect the garden to take care of itself.

Duties done, after supper I took advantage of the longer evenings now and had a quickie paddle from St. Philips to Portugal Cove. Its only 5 minutes from home so it was convenient and it was on the water. It can't always be a full day paddling, and when it can't a quickie fits the bill.

Tony :-)
The sun was behind me and low in the sky that made for nice lighting and shadows
Inside passage
Sun going down over Bell Island

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Theory of anticlines

Stan checking "did I get that last shot?"

An anticline is a term used in structural geology to describe a fold in rocks that has an apex with the beds dipping down on either side. That is like an upside down "U". That's the opposite of a syncline which would be rocks folded like a right side up "U".

On our recent paddle out to the Iona Islands in Placentia Bay I captured Stan in front of an anticline in rocks of the Trinny Cove Formation. The Trinny Cove Formation is made up of red and greenish sandstones known as an "arkose". Arkose is a sandstone where 25% or more of the sand grains making up the sandstone are the mineral "feldspar". When you think about it, its hard to believe that something like stone would be plastic enough to bend like this.

Terms like arkose are a bit technical but the small anticline is clear to see in the rocks and you don't have to be a geologist to notice these kinds of structures on you paddles. Its all part of the environment we paddle in and adds to the interest of being out there.

Tony :-)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Theory of liberation

Stan in the middle of nowhere

On Friday past Stan and myself paddled to the Iona Islands in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland from Mount Arlington Heights. Its almost a 7 kms crossing excluding Shag Rocks which we paddled past on the way. Its effectively a full 7 kms crossing as there's nowhere to land on Shag Rocks.

Its not a long crossing by any stretch of the imagination as the furthest you can be from land is 3.5 kms. But out in the middle of the bay I just felt totally liberated. No noise, only the sounds of silence.

I enjoy paddling along shore but paddling there is something like walking with crutches. Doing a crossing of any length I feel is akin to throwing away the crutches and setting myself free. Its another aspect of kayaking like paddling in big waterthat deserves checking out and this coming year I expect I will. I see a 20 - 25 kms crossing in my future and I shall slip the surly bonds of the land.

Tony :-)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Theory of go for it

Route of our paddle to the Iona Islands

This past week Stan came down with a stomach flu and only started to feel better yesterday. We spoke this morning and decided on a paddle to the Iona Islands in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. We put-in in Mount Arlington Heights.

The Town of Long Harbour - Mount Arlington Heights had a population of 211 in the 2006 census. It was the former site of the Albright Wilson phosphorus plant. Things are looking up thought as a new hydrometalurgical plant to process Voisey's Bay nickel is scheduled to begin construction shortly. This should boost the population.

Anyway, back to the paddle. We took our time as Stan wasn't feeling on top of his game. We weren't in a hurry as we had no wind and just a gentle swell at times. At times we stopped in the middle of the bay, drifted and listened to the sounds of silence. After stopping for lunch and snapping some pictures we paddled back to the put-in and saw a couple of minke whales.

Sometimes ya just have to go for it. We paddled about 20 kms, you're a trooper Stan! Pictures hereunder.

Tony :-)
Stan stoked for a paddle to the Iona Islands in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.
Slalom course of bouys that we "slalomed" thru.
Stan lookin' good paddling along in Long Harbour on our way to the Iona Islands.
Stan with Long Island Head in the distance.
Stopped for lunch looking back towards Mount Arlington Heights.
This "homestead" has seen better days. This was shot on the Little Island where we stopped for lunch looking south.

Stan coming back to the put-in.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Theory of mental imagery

A seal on the ice

My last entry was about the theory of "seeing" versus "looking". I wanted to follow that up with the theory of mental imagery, in the sense that sometimes we see what we want to see.

A couple of weeks ago I went for a paddle in Torbay, Newfoundland that had some ice in it but wasn't ice choked. As I was getting ready to put in a couple of municipal workers drove up and said that there was a seal out on the ice pans. I hurried to get on the water and after a few minutes I spotted the seal. I was very stealthy as I paddled up to try and get a picture. I didn't want it to slip away into the water before I caught it on camera. As I paddled up to the ice pan it didn't move so I took some pictures and as I got really close it still didn't move. Puzzled, I paddled to the other side of the ice pan to find .....

...... a rock!
Tony :-)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Theory of seeing

Cliffs in Outer Cove

There's a big difference between looking and seeing. I often have to "look" for things I need when I don't know exactly where I left them. But, I often don't "see" them even though I'm looking straight where I should be. Haste may be a factor.

So it was on a recent paddle I did in Outer Cove, Newfoundland. I snapped this picture because I wanted to capture the ice along the coast. After I got home and downloaded the pictures from my camera I saw something I missed as I was looking more so at the ice.

I've paddled here once before and also missed it. If you enlarge the picture you'll see ripple marks on the rocks in the cliff. I totally missed this before.

These rocks are black slates of the St. John's formation that underlie the red sandstones and conglomerates at Signal Hill and along the coast north. They were deposited in waters that were getting shallower and the action of the water made these ripple marks. More material was deposited on top, formed into rock, uplifted, tilted and eroded. I'm not sure about the age but these rocks would be older than 543 million years.

Its interesting what can be found when you "see" versus "look".

Tony :-)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Theory of craftsmanship

Brian Duffett's skin on frame kayak on display at the Rooms

I think the concept of "craftsman- ship" is becoming lost today. Often times I think the term "craftsmanship" is being replaced with "good enough". Solid wood is being replaced by pressed board, plastics replace metal and robots mass produce consumer goods.

There was a "Slicing the waves" exhibit yesterday at the Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland. Prominent in the exhibit was the kayak. BrianDuffett brought in his skin-on-frame kayak which he constructed. I consider myself pretty handy with tools so I can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into its construction. The work is meticulous right from the way the structure is tied together, the wood is all sanded smooth and the skin is tight to the frame. Beautiful job Brian.

Its nice to see that craftsmanship is alive.

Tony :-)

Inside Brian's Skin-on-frame kayak. You can see there's a tremendous amount of work gone into it. Everything is tied together.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Theory of power

The skyline of St. John's as you enter the harbour

Last Sunday Stan and myself had a beautiful day to have a paddle into and around St. John's harbour. This is the skyline sailors see as they enter the harbour. If you enlarge the picture you'll see two large structures on the skyline, the Rooms on the left and the Basilica on the right.

For many years fishermen from Spain and Portugal fished cod on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. These countries are predominantly Roman Catholic. The Basilica was a beacon for them, a place to worship that was easy to find. The Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a gothic style Roman Catholic church that was consecrated on 3 September 1855.

The Rooms (name taken from "fishing rooms" where local fishermen process their fish and store their fishing gear) house the Province of Newfoundland's museum and art galleries. Its a legacy building of Brian Tobin. Brian Tobin was Premier of the Province and was determined to leave a lasting remembrance of that fact.

The Rooms sit on the ruins of what was Fort Townshend 250 years ago. The private citizen of Newfoundland is prohibited from digging, collecting or altering any historically signifiant site. If it was my land I woudn't be allowed to build a shed but because Brain Tobin had the power, he decreed it be built and no one should stand in the way of his vision.

I think its a monstrosity on the skyline of St. John's and a local joke has it that the Rooms are the box that the Basilica came in. Its a beautiful building, just in the wrong place. You know what they say about power corrupting.

Tony :-)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Theory of beauty

The old and new bridges over the Colinet River above the falls

Most people would be familiar with the expression "beauty is only skin deep". That sort of applies to this area of St. Mary's Bay in Newfoundland. Newfoundland has many scenic paddling destinations where you can paddle with sea stacks, rocks and cliffs of all kinds of formations and caves and beaches. This area of St. Mary's Bay doesn't have any of that but still has something to offer the paddler.

Paddling out of Colinet and all the way up to and in Pinchgut Tickle the water is low and clear. If you take the time to look into the water you can see fields of eel grass, seaweed (sorry, don't know the name) growing up from the bottom and mussel beds. If you care to look you can find something of beauty anywhere.

Today Brian Duffett, Dan Miller and Ralph Smith and I started with a paddle to the falls on the Colinet River, saw a moose crossing Pinchgut Tickle and enjoyed the first hints of spring. Beauty they also say is in the eye of the beholder.

Tony :-)

After having a look at the falls on the Colinet River we paddled back out of the river mouth and made for Pinchgut Tickle. I decided to snap a few shots here because I knew I wouldn't get a chance once we got into the wind. These 3 guys are strong paddlers and they would have been over the horizon before I'd be able to get the camera out! OK, that's a stretch but I'd have a slog to catch up after.

And, yes, I was out with 3 paddlers today other than Stan! I started my blog after I bought an Olympus Stylus 850 SW late last year and since then, if you've been visiting, it seems it was only Stan and myself paddling. There'll be more paddlers out as the season warms; we have a very active club of kayakers with almost 200 paddlers.

Stopped for lunch and a break. We had a good paddle into what I estimate at 30 kms/hr winds with gusts to 40. Brian said we were making 4 knts into the wind so I guess we needed to fuel up and deserved a break.

Paddling out of Pinchgut Tickle back to Colinet. We had the wind at our backs and got in some mini-surfs.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Theory of the wild goose chase

The rock in Middle Cove

A wild goose chase is an expression that means "a hopeless quest". Its a phrase that was introduced by that great bard of the English language - William Shapespeare.

Today I started out on a wild goose chase, sort of. By the time I got myself organized it was a bit late to go far afield for a paddle. I can see Conception Bay from my home and it was almost completely full of ice. I knew St. Philips had some open water so I drove by there to have a look and it was but not a lot. I decided to go to Middle Cove not knowing what to expect there but considered it worth checking out.

There was very little ice in the cove so my little wild goose chase wasn't so hopeless today after all and I put-in. Here are a few pictures from my paddle there and around Outer Cove.

Tony :-)
Here a piece of ice was left high and dry on a rock until the tide comes in again.
Its starting to warm up (above 0 C) but there are still a few icicles around. The ice in the water is keeping things cool.
There was a little ice left in the cove and a bit of swell that made for and interesting paddle.