Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A guarantee is a guarantee

Placid waters

Almost 9 weeks ago my Olympus Stylus 850 camera sprung a leak. I had purchased an extended warranty with it that cost $60. The warranty included a 60 day turnaround on repairs. I didn't realize at the time I purchased the warranty that meant if they didn't repair the camera in 60 days they would give me a new one.

I called a number of times to check when I'd get the camera back because I missed it. Details were scanty. So, I sat on my thumbs and tried to be patient. The closer it got to 60 I figured I'd just as soon get a new camera.

On day 61 (September 27) I presented myself at the moment the store opened to pick up my repaired camera. They told me the camera was on its way back. Well, I said, I have a 60 days guarantee and I'll either have my repaired camera or a new one if you don't mind. But sir, you put the camera in for repairs on July 28 and you'll have to wait until September 28. No, no, no .... 60 days are 60 days not 2 months.

I can be a stickler for details and precision when I want to be. The situation was resolved as I had it played out in my mind. I walked away with a new Olympus Stylus Tough-6020. I'm looking forward to getting out on the water again and start shooting. The question is: will it be tough enough for Tony?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Just paddle

Club paddle last year in Aquaforte

There was no club paddle in Aquaforte this year so 6 of us had our own "club" paddle. And that's what I did on Sunday - just paddle.

I've been using a non-waterproof camera kept in a zip-lock baggie since my waterproof sprung a leak. Its time consuming work to take pictures then. Open baggie, take picture, put back in baggie and stow. Then play catch-up with the rest of the crew who have kept paddling.

On Sunday I left the camera at home and, in a way, had paddling freedom. It felt different without stopping to compose pictures and it was a nice change of pace. But that was a one-off. Today I'm getting back either my refurbished waterproof camera or a new replacement. That will make picture taking easier and therefore paddling overall more pleasant.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The big bad wolf

In the dark

On Tuesday Hurricane Igor blew in and I felt like one of the little piggies with the big bad wolf outside my door threatening to "huff and puff and blow my door down". At 4:00pm we lost our electricity and then for 42 hours we camped in our house.

I got out my kayak camping gear and cooked on it for the next 2 days. I used my headlamp to pass the time reading. It was an inconvenience but it had the air of adventure about it anyway.

Notwithstanding the storm blowing outside and the air of adventure inside, there was a civility about it. Out came the candles and a bottle of wine. I'll have to remember to do that more often, even when we have lights.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trip interrupted

Trip leader at the Point

42 hours after Hurricane Igor hit and I lost electricity I'm ready to finish my paddle we undertook in Avondale. That was a bit longer than we lingered at Salmon Cove Point. We were there only about 10 minutes watching as swell after swell rolled in and crashed on the rocks at the point.

Dean was our trip leader for the day so he ushered us on our way as it was getting close to lunch.

Arriving at Ballyhack

We retraced our steps back to Salmon Cove and there decided to make a direct crossing to Ballyhack Point. Just beyond the point is the regular take-out beach for paddles in the area.

Lunch on the rocks

We took out at Ballyhack to have lunch. I had proposed we bring our camp stoves to cook. Some of the guys did but I changed my mind and brought a sandwich. Watching them cook up made me regret not bringing mine.

Some fine shacks

Paddling along the shore from Ballyhack towards Conception Harbour we entered Middle Arm where some posh homes are built.

A rusting hulk

This old whaling ship has seen better days but is now left in Conception Harbour to rust away. I'm not sure what the logic was to leave it here because while its interesting to paddle around, it is an eyesore. The most interesting thing I hadn't noticed before were the fir trees that were growing on the deck of the derelict.

Done snooping around the old wreck we paddled back to Avondale to take out. The fresh water in the river made it easy to wash up our gear so we didn't have to do that at home. We had an easy relaxing paddle that turned out to be a hair shy of 20 kms and for anyone reading this post, 42 hours to complete!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Smelling the roses


Saturday Dean, Clyde and I were in St. Philips playing in the rain, wind and waves. Dean hasn't paddled much lately and wanted an easy paddle the next day. I suggested he pick the location and mail the group. He picked Avondale and 8 of us answered the call to paddle.

Normally we put in at the wharf in Avondale but today we put in where the Avondale River meets the sea. Here we were able to wash the salt water out of our gear at the end of the paddle.

And off we go

With all hands on the water we paddle out of Healey's Cove.

The Goat Shore

The sun was shining, the water was calm and we took our time paddling. There are days like this I thoroughly enjoy and there are days when I like to be challenged. This was a day to stop and smell the roses.

A few rocks

There aren't many rocks along the east side of Gaster's Bay and where they are found they naturally have to be negotiated.

It was a relaxing paddle

Neville relaxes in Salmon Cove as we all did. It was needed after witnessing Gary's spectacular side surf, knock over and recovery roll. None of us captured a picture of it but it was one of the most awesome things I've seen yet in kayaking. Tsunami Ranger type stuff for sure.

Higher cliffs

The cliffs rose steeply from the water as we paddled northerly towards Salmon Cove Point in contrast to the coastline on the Goat Shore and at Salmon Cove.

Salmon Cove Point

As we got closer to Salmon Cove Point we could see the swells breaking. There's a slit in the rocks there that can be negotiated on a good day but not on this day.

Just hangin' around

The swell giving us such a great show at Salmon Cove Point with the water crashing and spraying into the air we just stuck around for 10 minutes marveling at the waves crashing on the point. After we had our fill of that we made our way to Ballyhack to stop for lunch.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Winds of change

Rain doesn't slow Dean down

The forecast today was rain with SW 15-20 knots until 12:30 when the wind would change to NW 20-30 knots. NW 20-30 makes it dangerous getting back int0 St. Philips harbour. So, Clyde, Dean and I met at 10:00 to get out for some playtime before the change.

We put in with conditions as forecast. Wind waves were from the SW and then at 10:30 a front came in with heavy rain as the wind made an abrupt change to the NW. The residual SW waves started to interact with wind waves now blowing in from the NW. Things became confused for 30 minutes until the NW winds reorganized the water and we had only waves from the NW.

We got the change in winds early but stayed out all the while keeping an eye on the entrance to the harbour. After an hour and a half of wind, rain and active water we took out and went home thoroughly satisfied.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shorter days

Sunset over Conception Bay

Thursday evening practice sessions at St. Philips are coming to an end, forced by the earlier setting sun. But, I noticed people are showing up earlier to take advantage of the time left. We've got 3 more evenings before darkness puts an end to our Thursday evening fun.

The sea temperature currently is 12C so last night there was a lot of in water exercises.

The early sunsets also make for a picturesque backdrop to our practice.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Moose in my backyard

I live in a rural setting outside the city of St. John's but close enough to be able to take advantage of both country and city living.

I've seen moose walk through my yard before but this time they stuck around for about 5 minutes as I watched from a back window. They seemed lost as to where to go as they milled about in the blackberry and raspberry bushes. A developer has cleared land behind me for new houses and may have disturbed a route these moose have used regularly in the past.

After nibbling on some juicy looking trees they took off at a gallop - a mama and a yearling twin.

That raised a question for me. If more than one goose is geese, wouldn't I have been viewing meese? And wouldn't it have been a maggle of meese?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A tight squeeze

Entrance to St. Philip's harbour

Sunday it was blowing hard. Conception Bay was full of whitecaps as the water was whipped into 2+ metre waves. They were rolling at an angle to the entrance to St. Philips harbour. We sized it up, keeping in mind that its not only the exit we had to be concerned with but also getting back into entrance.

The entryway is only about 8 metres wide and doesn't give much room for error when returning in following waves. Four of us got out and after an hour and a half of playing in the waves we headed back in.

I waited for a large set to pass before making the run. As I entered the passage an unexpected large wave picked me up and pushed me forward and sideways towards the wharf. Edging away with an aggressive high brace to the stern I shot by the pilings with only 20 cms room to spare.

The lesson for the day was to consider foremost the need to get back in and off the water. All ended well.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Neck gasket replacement

Tools of the trade

Two patch jobs on my neck gasket. The second one failed so it was time to put the new gasket in. I had gotten the above disks from Brian who made them up for the purpose. They are an improvement on the cardboard used in the Vimeo clip that shows the entire neck gasket replacement. I won't go into details as the clip is very useful.

So I took the old gasket out and fitted the disks but noticed the drysuit material I was going to glue the gasket to wouldn't sit flat. I saw too many opportunities for things to go wrong. I instead used an old garden pot through the neck opening and stretched the gasket over and into place. It lined up perfectly.

I applied glue and the gasket started to creep out of position. After much sweating between the toes, I stabilized it and it cured perfectly.

The next time I do this though I'm going to use Brian's disks (I'm gonna cut my own set) because in hindsight I think its the best way to go. Its a case of doing it yourself in order to learn.

The disk sizes (l-r) are: 10 1/2 inches; 8 inches and 9 1/2cinches outside diameter with an inside diameter of 6 1/2 inches. The big goes inside the neck opening in the drysuit; the smaller goes inside the neck gasket to keep it open and the ring goes over the gasket flange. I expect when weight is put on it, it flattens out the material for a leak proof fix.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Emergency gasket repair

Not pretty but patched and ready to go

As I put on my drysuit on the last day of our south coast trip, the neck gasket ripped. I didn't say anything to Ralph or Stan because I didn't want to cause them concern as there wasn't much I could do about it in the field. Had they known they wouldn't have been amused as we rounded Barasway Point in 2-3 metre waves and clapotis.

When I got home I thought I'd try to do a patch job just to see how it would work. If it held then it would be a workable fix far from home.

First, I put both edges as close together as possible and used duct tape on the inside to hold in place. I cut a strip of an old bicycle inner tube to use for the patch and prepared both surfaces by sanding and cleaned with rubbing alcohol. Applied Aquaseal to both surfaces an applied the patch. Next morning I tried it and it held.

I have a new neck gasket to put in but its nice to know that an emergency fix is possible on an extended kayak trip. I'll keep the old gasket to cut any patches out of because its thinner than the bicycle inner tube.

In addition to my usual emergency tool kit, in future, I'll be packing the supplies I need to make this fix if necessary.

Monday, September 6, 2010

An odd feeling

Here they come

Neil had posted a paddle from Quidi Vidi on the east side of the Avalon Peninsula to Torbay on the west. I considered but resisted with the intention of taking the whole weekend to recharge my batteries. I was taking a sabbatical from paddling but I did decide to take a short hike out to Torbay Point to see if I'd see them.

The sun was shining and warm. I ate my lunch and snoozed for a while. I thought they may have already passed but as I got up to leave I saw 3 dots on the horizon underneath the steeply dipping cliffs. I watched enviously through binoculars as they poked into a cave. After a while they headed to where I was sitting on the rocks.

Approaching the Point

As they came closer Neil recognized me. We exchanged a few words and he went on as I took this shot.

It was an odd feeling seeing these guys on the water and I on dry land.

West side story

Ysabelle, Neil and Julie after rounding Torbay Point and in Tor Bay proper heading for Outer Cove. The wind was blowing in a westerly direction and they were protected while paddling up from Quidi Vidi. Once around the Point there were a few whitecaps and the rest of the trip was a bit of work.

Precisely why I taking these shots from this vantage point on a recharge battery weekend.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Outside the comfort zone

Ralph earlier this summer in Burgeo

This morning I made a batch of black currant wine. And, yes I make it the traditional way - I stomp the berries. When I make wine I listen to the radio to relieve the boredom of berry stomping. The music switched to the Leeza Gibbons' show.

The topic for the day was stepping outside the comfort zone. Her guest contended that we are truly alive when we step outside of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves. Reading between the lines I knew she wasn't talking about crossing the street before reaching a crosswalk. She meant, for example, throwing oneself out of an airplane to skydive.

Stepping outside the comfort zone to me doesn't mean taking undue risk that could result in death. There's not much sense of feeling totally alive for a few minutes followed by an eternity of black.

Lots of times as I've learned to paddle I've stepped outside of my comfort zone. I felt then it was a growth opportunity. There's always some risk every time I put my boat on the water and I accept that. Its a calculated risk. But, never at the risk of a final paddle and I never bite off more than can be chewed. It still makes me feel alive.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A paddle missed

Stan headed for Cape Spear

Well, I've been burning the candle on both ends and its finally caught up to me. Between putting in my daughter's lawn and responsibilities for my own grounds, harvesting berries and wine making, kayaking and training at the gym, etc, etc, the batteries have been completely depleted. Time to rest and recover.

I woke this morning no more rested than when I went to bed. I had planned to accompany Clyde, Hazen and Stan on a paddle from Quidi Vidi but decided I needed some down time. I contacted Clyde to say I wouldn't be joining them after all and wished them a good paddle.

Usually I'd hope for an inclement weather day to force a rest. Not today as I wouldn't wish that on my paddling buddies. I know they're having a good one; I wish I could be out there too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In the dark

Neville barely seen

Paddle Canada has 4 levels of kayaking proficiency from Level I to Level IV. The cut-off for each level is a certain amount of wind, sea state, wave height, safe take-outs etc. A lot of this I feel is arbitrary and very difficult to pinpoint. For example, flat calm seas are Level I conditions. An exposed coast with no or few emergency takeouts is considered Level IV. What would a paddle in calm seas along an exposed coast be considered?

Interestingly, Paddle Canada certification levels don't address paddling in darkness. It does up the degree of difficulty, particularly navigation and leadership. The increase in difficulty is subjective. I contend its not much different from paddling an exposed coastline. Probably more challenging because I noticed it was very difficult to make out the coastline as we paddled along in darkness last Thursday.

Its all subjective. Sometimes its just a matter of knowing the forecast and looking out at the sea. If I like what I see, I go.