Saturday, May 30, 2009

Theory of first love

In my Necky Looksha IV at Great Island (photo by Derrick B.)

I've had my Nordkapp for a month now and I'm just reflecting back on my first love - my Necky Looksha IV. Its something like first love or your first car. I'll never forget the first paddle, I was pretty green. I've had some great paddles in the Necky since and learned a lot.

Somehow, when I got the Nordkapp I didn't know if I was doing the right thing. Did I really need to buy this boat? Was I deserving given that I'm not a skilled paddler? A month later and the answer is in. I'm still not the paddler that a lot of Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador members are but I've grown into the Nordkapp. I feel really comfortable and I'm ready to continue learning.

I still have my Necky and I won't abandon her; I'll still take her out for a spin from time to time. Little does she know that it'll be to rockhop or paddle in ice. I figure I owe her that given she was the first love of my paddling addiction.

Tony :-)

Three weeks later and I'm in my Nordkapp on Fair and False Bay on the way to St. Brendans. Thanks Derrick for the picture; it was a memorable day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Theory of seasons

Tulip Princess Irene finding it rather cool for this time of year

There are of course, nominally, 4 seasons.

Today I'm reminded of a Crowded House tune "Four seasons in one day". There can't be too many places on the planet where you could literally have 4 seasons in one day. But, one place is Newfoundland.

They say here that if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change. This morning started out with snow falling. It snowed for about 5 hours (winter), then it started to warm and the snow turned to light rain (spring), then the sun made a feeble effort to shine (summer) and this evening it cooled (fall).

The snow didn't last but it was a bit of a shock to the system, especially as I hadn't started Christmas shopping yet.

Tony :-)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Theory of go west young man

Stan at Cape Spear

John Soule first coined the phrase "Go west young man, and grow up with the country" in 1851. It was used in an editorial to urge young men to head west in the USA to forge a trail through the wild west and settle the states of California, Washington and Oregon. That period was imortalized in countless western movies where wagon trains were attacked by Apache indians and rescued by the U.S. cavalry.

Stan and myself paddled, kinda unplanned, from Quidi Vidi to Cape Spear this morning. Cape Spear is the most easterly point of North America and as such the only way to go was west. To go east would have meant a long, long paddle to Ireland. It would have essentially been the same as throwing a message in a bottle, only a couple of skeletons in kayaks would have wash up on the shores of Europe instead.

We stayed at the Cape for a few minutes, content we had made our first trip to Malcolm's Cape. No cavalry rode back west with us but we did have a following sea which was pretty sweet.

Tony :-)

We came out of Quidi Vidi and paddled along the Southside Hills down into Freshwater Bay. Though the picture doesn't show it, the water was pretty confused until we got deeper into Freshwater Bay and behind Sprigg's Point.

Stan making his way down into Freshwater Bay.

Stan paddling into Freshwater Bay. The red Signal Hill sandstones form the shoreline here.

Stan on the Deadman's Bay side of Sprigg's Point. An oil industry supply boat had come out of St. John's harbour and laid to for a while.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Theory of the chicken or the egg

Beothuck stone quarry at Bloody Point

So, what came first? The chicken or the egg? We know with certainty that the native Newfoundland Beothuck were here before the English arrived to settle Newfoundland. There's no doubt about that. There's plenty of archaeological evidence for that, and previous occupiers of the land.

This was a stone quarry of the Beothuck where they came to collect rock for arrow heads and stone cutting tools. Its not a natural talus slope where natural processes weathered the rock from the cliff face. These rocks were discarded by the Beothuck quarriers as unsuitable for their needs.

Standing on this spot is a little awe inspiring. First they had to collect the rough rock, carry it back to camp and then fashion it into arrowheads and tools. No Wal-Mart then. We maybe should have appreciated the culture more when it still existed. We're still struggling with how to treat first nations. I'm not directly involved with that but I hope that those who are do remember who came first and treat their culture with the respect it deserves.

Tony :-)

View towards Rocky Bay, Bloody Reach in the foreground from the top of Bloody Point. A friend has a cabin on the small island tucked in behind the larger island right of center. We visited there 20 years ago and it was interesting seeing it again from this vantage point. I wonder if the Beothuck also identified points of interest from here hundreds of years ago?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Theory of wooden ships

A fleet of wooden kayaks

How many different materials do we make kayaks out of? Skin-on-frame, fibreglass, kevlar, plastic, wood. And, there are as many people who prefer one over the other. The Inuit didn't have these choices.

On Sunday past Paul remarked that the group of 8 had a majority of wooden kayaks - 3 strippers and 2 stitch and glue. That doesn't happen very often. It think it was Paul also who noted that if we got stranded we wouldn't have far to look for fire wood. *lol*

This picture also reminds me of a Crosby, Stills and Nash song "Wooden Ships". Here's the chorus (if you're not as old as I am!)

Wooden ship on the water, very free, and easy
Easy, the you know its supposed to be
Silver people on the shoreline, let us be
Talkin' 'bout very free, and easy.

Tony :-)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Theory of love thy neighbour

Put-in at Burnside

We all know that Jesus Christ taught that we should "love thy neighbour". For me its still a theory because the fact that mankind follows this commandment is still unproven.

Probably not moreso than in the 1800's in Newfoundland. As English settlers spread across the island of Newfoundland they came into contact with the native Beothuck who were living here when the English arrived. The English expansion started to crowd the Beothucks out of their traditional hunting and harvesting territory. The Beothuck reaction was to cause a nuisance to the settlers by stealing fishing equipment, cutting the mooring of boats and similar acts.

That resulted in numerous skirmishes where Beothucks were killed and occasionally settlers. We were paddling in an area where a massacre occured in the mid 1800's - Bloody Point and on the other side Bloody Reach. Pete thought English settlers were enticed to a Beothuck camp and slaughtered. A friend tells me the English slaughtered the Beothuck and an ancestor of his wife was involved. It doesn't much matter who is right, one group of people killed another group.

We haven't learned much either in the time since.

On Sunday a group of eight paddled from Burnside to Bloody Point and then on to St. Brendan's to catch the ferry back. We stopped at Bloddy Point and reflected. I wondered when we would get around to living peacefully together and "love thy neighbour".

Tony :-)

Fishing stage at Burnside. This is a typical scene in most fishing communities in Newfoundland.

Here we are leaving Burnside. A group of four turned left and handrailed along the coast down to St. Chads and the eight in our group paddled towards Bloody Point.

After we left Burnside we crossed the open waters of Fair and False Bay on our way to Bloody Point. The view of islands floating in the bay, still waters and a little breeze make for a pleasurable crossing.

Here's the group on top of Bloody Point, about 100 metres above the water. We had a great view about 270 degrees around. Its kind of sobering knowing without question the Beothuck stood on this site 200 years or so ago and had the same thoughts about the great view. People aren't so different based either on ethnic background or time.

After we walked up to the top of Bloody Point we returned and had lunch, fuel for the run up to St. Brendan's.

Wharf at the archaeological Bloody Point site, getting underway again to meet the ferry at St. Brendan's.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Theory of J. L. Seagull

Ralph in his Valley Auqa- naut. Ralph is living the good life like myself in the Freedom 55 Club.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull was one in a flock of seagulls in that wonderful book by Richard Bach in 1970. As there's safety in a flock of birds, so is there safety in group kayaking. But, as the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull told us, you can be an individual within the flock and explore your own horizons.

My camera caught a number of paddlers individually on our paddle on Saturday and they have their own stories. Its what makes paddling also a social event where you can chat it up and get to know your fellow adventurers. As the foreleaf in the book stated "To the Jonathan Livingston Seagull in all of us".

Tony :-)

Tony, as comfortable in a kayak as he is on his motorcycle. Did I mention he's got a great kayak website with lots of great shots at ?

Paul is our weatherman. People on his mailing list know what I mean. Here he is out on his first paddle for the year.

Alex, what can I say? Alex is Alex and loved by all. Alex is the current President of Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador. An accomplished paddler himself, he'll do anything to share his knowledge and assist novices by sharing his paddles. Alex is also known to be involved in many interesting paddles and because of that, has towing down to a science.

Neil putting his self-built stitch and glue kayak on edge. Neil is a kayaking instructor, thats why he looks like he knows what he's doing. Working in the environmental field, Neil is great to paddle with if you yourself don't know much about wildlife.

Paul is from Marystown area and was a competitive runner and represented the Province at the Canada Summer Games. He's still pretty competitive as I would find out on Sunday.

Craig is from Twillingate on the Northeast coast of Newfoundland. Craig, in one of his own boats, builds kayaks as Eastern Island Kayaks. They have five models to choose from and you can contact Craig for more information at ""

Julie in her Necky Elaho. Julie is a former municipal and provincial politician and most notably a cancer survivor. She's also a scuba diver and involved in dragon boat racing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Theory of flocking - more pics

Black bear hunters

Craig saw a black bear close to where we stopped for lunch so a few of us went to have a look. As we got close to where Craig said he saw the bear Neil said if we met the bear he was going to pull someone's dry suit down around their ankles and run. Notice, I'm safely taking up the rear!

A few more pictures from our paddle on Saturday in Newman's Sound, Terra Nova National Park during Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador's annual Retreat.

Tony :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Theory of flocking

Kayakers exhibit flocking behaviour, what a great sight.

Flocking refers to the collective motion of a large number of individuals and is a collective animal behaviour exhibited by many living things like birds and fish. Birds flock together for a number of reasons. I think one reason is to confuse preditors - so many targets that its hard to focus on one.

On Friday past, 89 paddlers from all over Newfoundland flocked to Splash -N- Putt waterpark cabins for our annual kayakers Retreat. The Retreat kicked off with registration from 7:30 to 10:30 and icebreaker social hosted by The Outfitters. Volunteer Phyllis and myself were busy with registration and missed out on the icebreaker but there's always overhead to a successful event.

Saturday there were 2 groups of paddlers. One group of about 50 paddlers had a shorter paddle to ease themselves into the paddling season. I was in the second group of 22 paddlers who wanted a bit more of a workout. We had a great day on the water and after cleaning up we had a dance (music by DJ Justice Malcolm) but not a lot got up to dance. No big deal, we were here to paddle anyway.

There's a saying "birds of the feather flock together". One a year its great to get the flock together, meet new paddlers and start new friendships based on a common interest.

Tony :-)

Here we were putting in at Salton's Wharf in Terra Nova Park in Newfoundland.

Paddler Tony Lee. Tony has one of the best Newfoundland paddling websites at and has taken pictures of me on many occasions. But, of course, very few pictures of himself. I hadn't paddled with Tony since I bought my Olympus waterproof camera so this time I told him I was turning the table on him and putting him on my blog. Obviously having a good time.

We left Salton's Brook and paddled west down Newman's Sound with a bit of a breeze blowing from the southwest. There was a small inlet here where we found we were protected from the wind.

Derrick with his "stick" (Greenland paddle). Derrick seems to be using his GP exclusively now and says that he thinks he gets more purchase with the GP than the Euro blade.

More flocking paddlers *lol*

We stopped for lunch at South Broad Cove. There's a back-country trail that goes by here with something like 6 wilderness campsites. There are structures to tie camp food up high out of the reach of bears. Craig went looking for a restroom that Neil said was nearby but found instead a black bear. He came back unflustered so we went back to where he saw the bear but it was gone.

Here the paddling got pretty tough as the paddlers had to paddle through the rocks!

The group got spread out a bit and stopped here to re-flock.

We encountered an immature seal on our paddle back to Salton's. I stopped paddling and the seal approached my kayak. It was as curious about what I was and I was pleased to have it stay around for a couple of minutes. At one point it swam under the kayak and I could feel it bump the hull of my boat.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Theory of retreat

Steve and Stan on a recent paddle

Retreat could mean going back the way you came. It also could mean "get outta here". In this case its like a religious retreat only the religion is seakayaking. I'm off tomorrow to Terra Nova National Park for Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador's annual kayak Retreat. There are almost 80 people registered and I expect there will be another 30 of so late registrations.

Saturday there's a ocean paddle, Sunday a day at a pond for various clinics. The Retreat guest is Doug Alderson. Doug has written a number of books on the subject and should provide everyone with some new insights. And a chance to get some pictures in another area of the province.

I might be going to a Retreat but I'm already a convert.

Tony :-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Theory of antidotes

Sue and Derrick paddle thru the Pillers of Hercules

It was a frustrating day dealing with registrations for Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador's annual Retreat coming up this weekend. There's always last minute things to take care of and often things happen beyond one's control.

Derrick called. "Are you interested in a paddle?" he asked. Absolutely I said. We arranged to meet at 6:00. I figured a paddle would be the perfect antidote for what ailed me. Brian and Sue made it a foursome.

An antidote is something that counteracts an unwanted effect. We paddled up to Topsail from St. Philips and when we got back the antidote had taken full effect, proof medicine doesn't always come in a pill bottle.

Tony :-)

Sue "rescues" Brian as Derrick is ready to assist. Brian jumped out of his boat before we came around some rocks and had to be rescued. Sue sprang into action and after Brain was back in his boat she said it wasn't very realistic. I asked why not and she said "he practically got back in the boat himself". All good fun.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Theory of plan B

Stan taking his Nordkapp for its first saltwater spin

The weather forecast the day before was 10 kms easterly wind. Plan A was to meet at Donovan's Irving and paddle in Chapel Arm.

I checked the forecast this morning and we were now promised easterly 30 kms gusting to 60 and rain. Lovely! On to plan B.

Stan, Steve and I decided plan B was a put-in in St. Philips and paddle north towards Bauline. Its not an exciting paddle at the best of times but it was a paddle. The first of the season for Steve and the first taste of saltwater for Stan's new Nordkapp. It blew hard at times, it rained, it was cold. It didn't feel like we went anywhere but we still paddled about 20 kms all told. Plan B turned out to be OK, ya gotta take what ya can get.

Tony :-)

Steve having his first paddle of 2009.

Steve enjoying the paddle today in spite of the rain. Neither of us complained and when we got back to the pit-in in St. Philips we enjoyed paddling in the rain so much we carried on down towards Topsail for another 3 kms or so before deciding to call it a day.

Over the shoulder shot of Stan, and the heavens opened up.

The dark rocks and the swollen sky with the paddler just looked like a nice composition.

An along the hull shot at water level makes Steve look farther away than he was. It was raining which made keeping the lens free of water difficult.