Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lessons of wide application

At ease on the seas

I believe the lessons learned of one discipline can be applied to another. For example, I am learning to play the guitar, though picking it up very late. On the surface there doesn't seem to be much in common between kayaking and guitar, but there is.

I recently came upon an article at GuitarNoise entitled "How to practice your musical instrument" I felt was of particular value. One line in it spoke volumes to me. It states "Muscle memory is developed through repetition. An amateur practices until they get it right; a professional practices until they never get it wrong!"

Apply that to rolling. If you learn to roll you don't necessarily have a roll. You only have a roll if you can perform it consistently and in all conditions. Getting it wrong when you're in the soup or in a tight spot can have dire consequences.

You never know where inspiration can come from. Have a read of the full article.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Strike two

In the moment

Today I was on my way to join Clyde, Dean, Gary and Tobias for a paddle on the Southern Shore. Some distance away from the high speed highway I had car issues, the rear control arm broke. I limped at 40 kms/hr to the highway hoping to catch one of the guys going by so I'd still be able to paddle. Didn't happen so crestfallen, I limped home to take the boat off the car.

After my computer suffered a cyber attack last week this was a second mishap. The silver lining is that it could have happened at 100 kms/hr with serious consequences - I could have flipped the car and damaged my Nordkapp :-P

These things come in threes so I'll be looking over my shoulder for a while waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Off the rails

More pleasant times

Major headache recently. My computer got sick and needed major surgery. That's why I haven't posted in a while but I'm slowly getting everything back on the rails. There are still software disks to locate and reinstall. Its a real pain in the butt.

Right now I'm sweating between the toes trying to deal with what looks to be a real detour. Tomorrow I'll be back on the water and I'll forget this for a while. I wish life was always as simple as it is when I'm sitting in the cockpit of my kayak.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

After the lessons

In the action

Pretty lonely here today as some of the guys have gone to the Atlantic Canada Paddling Symposium in Traytown area. I didn't go, I felt there wasn't enough value in it for me for the money.

That raises the question - does instruction make us better paddlers? Yes and no. Instruction makes us better paddlers IF we practice what we've picked up in the instruction. Taking lessons doesn't make anyone a better paddler no more than does reading a book.

Take the bow rudder. Having been shown the proper technique its important to practice first on calm water and then progressively in increasing wind and waves. Sweep, plant paddle. Yes, I see that. Its the practical application that teaches you to sweep on the back side of a wave and plant the paddle in the next oncoming wave. Edging away from an approaching wave to sweep may have you practicing swimming instead.

I don't think they tell you that.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The war is won

Gone paddling

We knew we had a right to paddle through the harbour at St. Philips to access the sea. Seems like an obvious thing. The Canadian Department of Transportation also took this position.

The Harbour Authority and the Department of Fisheries took the position the waters were harbour authority property the same as the wharves and other physical infrastructure.

How to resolve? Transport Canada came to the rescue and Fisheries saw the light. What does that mean? It means the harbour authority (and therefore all authorities in the province) can't hassle us anymore over access and we don't have to fight that battle again. We can just go paddle for the pure enjoyment of it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Memorable paddles

Enjoying the scene

I've had many paddles, some more memorable than others. Its cause for reflection. What makes a paddle memorable?

Some of the things that make paddles memorable for me include the people in the group. A close encounter with a whale. In the shadow and cool breeze of an iceberg. On a restless ocean in challenging conditions. A spectacular waterfall. Staying upright in a huge breaking wave. It doesn't have to be much to make it memorable. On Sunday though it was a magnificent sea arch, and the fact it was accessible when we were there.

A sculpture of nature

The sea is a patient artisan. It whittles away at seemingly impervious rocks until a weakness is found and exploited. One of those weaknesses may be a fault, a minor movement in the rocks relative to each other. In many human lifetimes a cleft is opened up and expanded until the sculpture begins to take form. But its never a finished work.

Moving on

After spending sometime in and around the arch it was time to continue on. Another location that has become a marker in my mind of memorable paddles. One I'm sure I'll revisit in the future.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In the foorsteps of John Guy

It began in fog

Sunday began in fog. We dropped the boats on the beach in Colliers and Clyde, Dean and Hazen took two of the cars down to Cupids where we were headed for the day. It was cool in the early morning fog so I found a comfortable spot to sit and guard our craft as I awaited their return. There was a fair bit of traffic on the road, our boats attracting only a passing glance as people drove by.

On our way

The boys returned from the car shuttle and we left Colliers headed north towards Cupids. The cliffs along here were bleak and barren but as the day progressed it got more interesting as the weather also brightened up.

Exploring a small cove

After stopping in Marysvale for lunch we continued up the coast stopping to explore interesting little coves, this one with a small waterfall.

Taking turns

Our first arch for the day. Its narrow and due to the low water, timing was everything.

Red beds

Continuing along the shoreline there's a channel between some rocks and the cliffs. Paddling through all of a sudden this magical cove opens up with greenish waters and striking massive cliffs of red and greenish-grey sedimentary rocks. Dean and Clyde paddle by some huge blocks that have tumbled into the cove.


We didn't paddle into Brigus today but crossed straight across the mouth of the harbour. A lighthouse dominates the north point, one Captain Bob Bartlett would have sailed past numerous times. Captain Bartlett commanded the Roosevelt, Robert E. Perry's ship on his way to the North Pole. Bartlett himself came to within 100 miles of the pole before being sent back by Perry.


We stopped for a brief break at the location of the former community of Greenland. A possible future campsite but the landing is very rocky.

Under the arch

Just outside of Cupids we had our second arch for the day, this one was much larger. Even in low water with a bit of a swell running almost directly into it, it was very accessible. Paddling in through the arch there's a large room open to the sky. Paddle back through the arch or continue to paddle right around the the east shoulder of the arch.

Paddling into Cupids

As we arrived at our destination of Cupids I thought about looking at the scene through the eyes of John Guy who sailed into this cove almost 401 years ago. Cupids is the site of the first English settlement in Canada. It was established in 1610 by the London and Bristol Company, John Guy being its first Governor. The investors in the company eventually lost interest in the colony but it survived and some of its citizens created other settlements in Conception Bay. Learn more here.

A total of 22 kms on what proved to be a very entertaining and enjoyable paddle with lots to see and highly recommended to the rest of the Newfoundland community.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A lull in the acton

Sitting ... waiting

Transport Canada, who oversee boating safety and protection of navigable waters, agree we have right to paddle through the harbour at St. Philips (though it could be any harbour). The Department of Fisheries claim the waters of the harbour there are the property of the harbour authority the same as the wharves and other infrastructure.

What to do?

Tuesday officials of the Office of Boating Safety are meeting with officials of Small Craft Harbours. This issue will be on the agenda and hopefully Fisheries will acknowledge our rights. In any case I will exercise my rights. Rights cannot be taken away, they can only be waived if I agree to waive them.

So I'll wait till Tuesday and paddle tomorrow and put this business all out of my mind.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The battle rages

Put-in? Nope

We attended the AGM of the St. Philips harbour authority last night and were told that the wharves, parking lot, slipway and the water enclosure, lock, stock and barrel, all belong to the authority and we have to pay for access. The bone of contention is that we can put-in at the river which flows into the harbour (but not part thereof) and paddle through the harbour to the sea but we still need to pony up some cash.

The position of the Office of Boating Safety is that we are entitled to paddle through the harbour to access the sea without having to pay. That is also the position of the people at the Navigable Waters Protection Program. Both part of the Department of Transportation.

The Small Craft Harbours section of the Department of Fisheries who leases the facility to the harbour authority surprisingly take the same position of the harbour authority.

Isn't that typical of government?

This issue not only affects St. Philips but all harbours we have to pass through to get to the sea so its a battle worth waging. We're in a battle but the war isn't over yet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The battle is joined

Near St. Philips

We've been having practice sessions at St. Philips for three years on Thursday evenings. Its a chance to learn or hone skills in challenging conditions but in relative safety.

Lately we've been getting getting grief from the Harbour Authority at St. Philips over launch fees. They want us to pay the same launch fees as the largest traillered boat the harbour can accommodate. That's just absurd in my opinion as a kayak causes absolutely no wear and tear on their facilities. What it is is a cash grab by a bunch of wankers with a little bit of power.

Their annual general meeting is tonight and a few of us will be there to argue our side. Should be interesting as I'm told some of the Board members have a gene pool as deep as a rain puddle.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy day for mothers

Mothers' Day interlude

Sherry, the mother of our children, went to see her mother for a couple of hours and I was able to sneak away for a quick paddle. So was Dean.

My mother, though having passed away 22 years ago, was not forgotten on this day. Sadly, she was only 62 years of age. I don't know if I think more about what she did for me or the tragedy of the many years she left on the table.

One of the things we all have in common is a mother so there's no need for me to write a soliloquy to mothers. We all know what that special relationship we have with our mothers means. It goes without saying.

Mothers' Day is a chance to show or tell them how much they mean to us or to quietly reflect on memories where that's all we have.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Yes, we have no bananas today

Visiting Bell Island

Enthusiasm is catching, so is a lack of it. It doesn't seem like a paddle is going to happen this weekend. Dean mailed the regular bunch but there wasn't much interest in Saturday. There was no interest in Sunday, it being Mothers' Day.

The fog, drizzle and cool weather may have something to do with it. Funny how that works. Last weekend was wet but it couldn't put a damper on eight of us getting out. This Saturday in somewhat similar conditions we couldn't muster the same interest. It seems as though our group has developed a collective consciousness.

I'm OK with it because I was out three times this past week. Next weekend the juices may be running and everyone will be ready for their fix on the water.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Scramble on self rescue

Its a kayak picture

Last evening I and some of the guys did some scramble on self rescues. What does a scramble on self rescue imply?

It implies, if you have to do one, you were out by yourself, failed to brace properly and got knocked over and you missed your roll.

It could also suggest, if you had company, that your paddle partner did not know how to do an assisted rescue.

Its good fun and good balance practice but that's as far as I'm willing to go on that. A scramble on is problematic in rough water and that's where the chances are greatest for being knocked over. In that situation, in my opinion, a wet re-entry and roll is the preferred option for self rescue.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A dart across the Tickle

Bell Island in the distance

Dean took the day off. I wasn't sure if I could paddle but got home early enough to call him and suggest a dart across to Bell Island. Its not a long crossing, only 5 kms, but its always fun to do. There's something about being out in the middle of the bay.

Gotta do a looooong crossing this summer.

About half way

My sights were set and the Nordkapp ran true. Looks like an ocean liner *lol*

Almost there

We arrived at Dominion Pier after making the 5 km crossing in 40 minutes. We did stop a few times to take pictures. The ferry operating on the Tickle takes 20 minutes to cross so we didn't do so bad by comparison. I wonder what the record is?

A forest of piles

This is the old Dominion Pier on Bell Island. It hasn't been used since the late 60's when mining of iron ore stopped. The piles in the old wharf are still in fairly good shape though. It was low tide and the kelp hanging on the piles, high out of the water just looked amusing.

Checkin' out the ferry

We paddled up to the ferry terminal before re-crossing. Only one ferry was operating at the time of day we were out. The Nonia, tied up here at the ferry terminal on Bell Island, joins the Flanders for a two boat operation once rush hour starts.

Back at the mainland

We arrived at Portugal Cove just ahead of the ferry so we kept well wide of her until she passed in front of us. A paddle of 4 kms back the St. Philips and we had 16.5 kms under our hulls in just under 2.5 hours. That was a average of 7 kms/hr but we did goof around at Bell Island for a while so that's not a bad average.

The 16.5 put me over 250 kms for the year already and so-called paddling season proper is just starting!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Opening act

The waterfall at the community of Bauline where we put-in on Saturday turned out to the the first of numerous waterfalls we encountered on the day. Of course, each one had to be explored and seen up close.

Water, water everywhere

The raindrops dance on the briny sea surface and merge with the ocean. Where the rain falls on the land it too must return to the sea but in more copious amounts.

A torrent

Where the cliffs fall as steeply as the water, there's a chance for a shower.

Separate paths

Sometimes there's too much water for the terrain to channel and it must find an alternate route to the sea. Instead of thundering over cliffs faces it splits off to caress the rocks and echo the folded beds.


Here in this small cove the water has sought out a micro-fault, an area of weakness in the rock, that over time it will exploit and wear down through the bedrock. Slowly sediments that accumulated in Proterozoic seas will return to the sea once more.

Falls obscured

The fog obscures the water falling in this nape in the land. Even the smallest water droplets in fog contribute to create waterfalls. The fog touches the trees, condenses and falls to the earth where it seeks the lowest point and returns to the sea.

Waterfalls - an added treat on our Saturday paddle.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Around the Cape

The track

Yesterday we had a paddle around Cape St. Francis on the menu. Its an exposed cape. The next stop north of here is Cape Farewell, Greenland 1,500 kms away.

Eight of us met at Bauline on the east side of Conception Bay and then shuttled some cars to Pouch Cove (pronounced "pooch" surprisingly) where we would be taking out. Stan and I did this paddle in the opposite direction on November 11, 2008 - how time flies. For the others it was their first time.

Leaving Bauline

It was fairly clear as we left Bauline but it would turn out to be a mixed bag weather wise on the day. Rain and fog would predominate but the sun did make an appearance briefly.

Striking cliffs

The cliffs north of Bauline (and extending south to Portugal Cove) loom overhead. The Topsail fault strikes through here; the cliffs to our right plunge straight into the sea.

Gimme shelter

At times the heavens opened up and it poured. At one point we were close to this cave as some of the guys took refuge. It rained so hard that the raindrops were bouncing up on the sea surface.


The snowmelt is well under way as winter makes room for spring. It coupled with the rain that was falling meant we had numerous waterfalls on our paddle. This one was just before we reached the top of the peninsula.

Things got interesting

As the line of cliffs gave way, they continued on under water making for a spot to play in the swell breaking over the rocks.

Into Cripple Cove

Cripple Cove sits at the top of the peninsula guarded by a large rock at the mouth of the cove. Nonetheless, its not much protection from the almost unlimited fetch from the north. As a result the cove lacked a beach.

Rounding the Cape

The Cape was shrouded in fog. We were welcomed by the foghorn which was in good form as it boomed out its message of warning.

Rocky take-out

Just southeast of the Cape we took out in Biscayne Cove where we stopped for lunch. Half of us here and the other half on the other side of the run down wharf. Neither spot was ideal but these guys probably got the better deal for landing and relaunching, as much as I hate to admit it. We jokingly accused them of being anti-social.

In a fog

Paddling in fog has its charms.

Crash and bang

The sea on the Conception Bay side was calm but after rounding the Cape it was more active. It wasn't a steep swell, just broad and where the water got shallow it piled up and crashed against the cliffs. The aerated water accentuating the smell of the sea added to the ambiance.

Cleaved open

Coming into Pouch Cove we spotted this deep cleft in the cliffs that must have been 75 meters long. There was lots of room for everyone. Our day was almost over.

Traffic jamb

Arriving at the slipway in Pouch Cove we lined up to take-out. The water was low and had the slipway was very slippery so we helped each other land. A carry up the steep slipway to the cars we had shuttled taxed our lungs as we stood about huffing and puffing.

A first time around the Cape for most for a total of 21.5 kms. To sum up the day, what can I say - pinch me!