Friday, October 28, 2011

Ancestor worship

Me and my Nordkapp (Dean photo)

In 1959 Ken Taylor spent the summer in Illorsuit on the west coast of Greenland paddling with Inuit hunters. They made him one of the boats they were using, which he brought back to England. It became the model for the Anas Acuta and subsequently, the Nordkapp.

Ken Taylor has a blog entry detailing with his trip that summer. An extraordinary story with irreplaceable photos of Inuit hunting and kayaking practices.

The only purpose of this entry is to point you to Ken's blog if you're not already aware of it. Its a must read. Here's a link to Ken Taylor's Blog.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A first for everything

In the rain

There's a first for everything. Today it poured rain out of the heavens. It rained so hard that on the way to the gym I had to stop at a crosswalk for ...

Wet under too

... two ducks, carrying umbrellas *lol*

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mule headed paddle

Oily, calm sea

My shoulder has been sore but at times I can be very mule headed. I should rest it but the draw of the paddle is very powerful. So, I iced the shoulder before heading to St. Philips were I met Dean and Gary to paddle the 5 km crossing to Bell Island.

I planned to take it easy and thankfully the sea wasn't going to make me work hard. A relaxed 45 minute paddle and we arrived at Dominion Pier.

Forest of piles

Dominion Pier is one of two abandoned piers on Bell Island where the iron ore mined on the island was loaded onto ships for processing in foreign lands. The pier has been abandoned since the late '60s and is in poor shape but the piles driven into the seabed still stand out like a forest after a fire has gone through.

Scotia Pier

The second of the two piers is only a jumble of metal. Ore was shipped in railed ore cars to be dumped over the cliffs and loaded onto ships. Somewhere along here two ore carriers were sunk by German U-boats during WW II, the big one.


The sea remained calm and acted like a mirror to reflect life underwater. I never know what effects I'll get when I slip the camera underwater but sometimes something psychedelic comes out of it.

Clear waters

Dean and Gary floated on crystal clear waters.

Fall colours

Its well into fall now as the leaves turn colour from green to yellows and reds. Trees catch hold anywhere they can on the steep cliffs. When they turn yellow they really stand out against the grey and buff coloured cliffs.

After paddling up the side of Bell Island for a bit we turned back towards St. Philips for our return crossing. A relaxed paddle just to get in the kayak turned out to net 15 kilometers. I gambled and came out of it unscathed. It was a great day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rotator cuff abuse


Last Sunday was the 107th time in my kayak this calendar year. Hundreds of kilmeters paddled and thousands of rolls have taken a toll on the old body. Then an awkward night sleep laying on my shoulder coupled with chronic overuse has left me with rotator cuff tendinitis.

A dull ache tells me at least I haven't caused a complete tear; the joint is just inflamed. Doctor Internet prescribes ibuprofen, ice, rest and codman exercises.

Its an inconvenience. I can't make a club paddle today. One doesn't realize what one has until it can't be done.

So, it is what it is. But, what can be done to prevent it in future? One preventative measure is to do a proper warm-up before setting off in the boat. That allows the joints to be loosened up and lubricated. Too often its just a matter of jump in the kayak and off I go. Not anymore.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A tale of woe

Frothy seas

This is a kayak story of woe is me. On my trip to Trinity Bay a week and a half ago I slept one night awkwardly on my right shoulder. In the morning it hurt but I paddled at less than 100% anyway. I paddled several times since but Tuesday I had to stand down from my usual practice at Topsail Pond. I suspect a tear in my rotator cuff. I don't know for sure but it needs rest if I don't want to have long term consequences.

Therefore, Tuesday I took a hike out to Torbay Point and down to Shooting Point Cove on the East Coast Trail. It wasn't a day in the boat and I looked upon the sea wistfully but I knew I was doing the right thing.

A few shots along the trail follow.

Better days gone by

Dappled light

Stairway to heaven?

Cimmamon fern

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the dark

Neville backing in

Caves can be spooky things. The echo of voices. Kayaks that bump into cave walls create thunderous sounds that give the impression of major damage being done. The sound of water sloshing around. All those things combine to give dark caves a halloween feel where bats, demons and goblins dwell.

They are mysterious works of nature too. Like, how could the sea carve out a cavernous room such as this when it only had access by a very narrow slot?

We are curious creatures. Therefore we enter.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mermaids and sirens

A beauty

Today Dennis, Gerard, Neville and I paddled with mermaids and sirens. We put in at Bay Bulls and it wasn't long before we sighted our first mermaid. I knew it was a good omen for an exceptional day.

New boat

Neville had his first day paddle in his new shiny yellow boat. I thought back to two years ago when I took delivery of my new Nordkapp. I shuttered the first time I scraped over a rock. Neville was just as protective but don't worry Neville, after a few scrapes it won't bother you as much.

Hidden treasure

Would you believe there's a cave in this shot?

I believe if a person starts off dumb enough they'll learn something new everyday. I found that out today first hand. I'd paddled Bay Bulls at least a dozen times and thought this crack in the rocks was just a crack. I was in fact the entrance to a large cave. The slot was barely wide enough to get a kayak through but inside it opened up with enough room for four.

Gerard knew about this cave as he worked in Bay Bulls as a kayak guide. Thanks for the tip Gerard.

Roomy cave

I thought I could hear a siren calling me into the cave as I backed in. No room to put a paddle in the water, just pushing off he sides to ease the kayak through.

All four of us backed into the cave because with four of us inside, turning wouldn't be possible. Looking to the outside the narrow entrance is evident.

Inside lookin' out

But not all the caves were as tricky to get into. This one had a towering ceiling. Neville at the entrance came and went as the swell rolled into the cave.

Taking a blast

A cave in the making. There was a shallow hole in the cliff that blew back the incoming swell. Only several tens of thousands of years and countless waves before future paddlers will be able to enter a cave here.

Shower time

We've had a bit of rain lately sp there were a few waterfalls draining water off the land. Not quite Angel Falls but refreshing anyway for Gerard.

Baboul Rocks

A sizeable swell was running outside of Bay Bulls Harbour as we passed South Head and made our way to Witless Bay through the Baboul Rocks.

Beating around

Rounding the headland into Witless Bay the swell and clapotis made for interesting, but manageable paddling. A couple of kilometers away a lunch beach awaited in Witless Bay. We had lunch and returned directly to Bay Bulls without stopping much. A most enjoyable day and a little bit wiser about a common paddle destination. Thanks guys.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Return to civilization


We had hit the hay early Sunday night due to rain. I awoke from a good sleep to see the sun gently bathing the distant hills in warm sunlight. After a couple of days of mixed weather our return home promised to be pleasant.

Sailors beware

Exiting St. Jones Harbour the skyline was aglow in pink light suggesting the weather would change according to the axiom "red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning". I wonder if that's taught in Paddle Canada courses *lol*


Right after turning north at North Head there was a passageway behind some rocks that, of course, we had to paddle through.

Seal Island

Several kilometers north of St.Jones Without Seal Island came into view silhouetted low against the distant hills.

Looking back

Looking back, we had put some distance between ourselves and St. Jones Island which lies a kilometer off the mainland.

Shafts of light

The sun did its best to break out as shafts of light broke through the clouds behind Brian and Hazen.

Inside channel

The water was calm as Pete an I paddled inside of Seal Island to our right. Up to here we had a gentle quartering sea from the rear starboard.

Approaching Bald Head

Back into quartering seas we approach Bald Head and the last leg of our journey.

Caplin Cove

Finally, the sun came full out two kilometers from the end of our trip. We left in wind and rain on Saturday and had a cloudy day on Sunday but I wouln't have missed it for anything.

And that's that

All good things the say must come to an end. It was a most enjoyable weekend made all the more enjoyable knowing its probably the last opportunity to kayak camp this year.

Thanks Pete for planning the trip and everyone for the excellent company.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Off to Deer Harbour

Getting in

After a good night sleep, helped by the Irish coffee the night before, we had breakfast, loaded the boats, carried them back down the bank and were ready to go to Deer Harbour.

Destination in sight

Deer Harbour lay 5 kilometers south down the coast of Trinity Bay but first we had to paddle up from the bottom of St. Jones Harbour. The narrow exit of the harbour lay in the distance.


The trees were abalze with the pastel colours of fall.


Cabins now occupy part of the resettled community of St. Jones Without. Back in the day when there was a community here, there would have been more houses crowded together hugging the steep hillside a kilometer from the entrance to the harbour. While the harbour is 5 kilometers deep, the fishermen would have wanted to live as close to the entrance as possible because they would have had to row dories out to the fishing grounds.

Deer Harbour, here we come

Leaving St. Jones Without we passed between some rocks at the southern headland before making our way down the coast towards Deer Harbour some 5 kilometers away.

Birch Cove

Approaching Deer Harbour we paddled into Birch Cove and inside of a sizeable, un-named island.

Local knowledge

As we entered Deer Harbour we heard an outboard motorboat who we hailed to get local information about possible camping spots. If push came to shove we were offered the opportunity to camp at this guy's cabin.

Entering Deer Harbour

Deer Harbour extends 9 kilometers inland and is considerably wider than St. Jones Without. We scouted along the north shore of the harbour and stopped at a small cove in Strong Tickle for lunch. We weren't very optimistic about finding a campsite so we more or less swung through paddling around Gooseberry Island and inside of Grub Island before deciding to return to a campsite at St. Jones Without.

We're out of here

Deer Harbour overall was disappointing for me. There were some scenic locations and the sun did come out for a while but the lack of campsites didn't make it very endearing. We grudgingly accepted that any decent campsites would have already been claimed by cabin owners.


Just inside of the entrance to St. Jones Without we set up camp on this flat piece of ground.

We could have stayed here the first night but were too deep into the harbour to return before failing light. If I return to this coast I would camp here, bypass Deer Harbour and camp on Bull


We collected some driftwood for a campfire after dark.

Fire on the beach

I was kept in check with the size of the fire but it was a fine one nonetheless.

Roughing it

Hazen promised us another Irish coffee on the second night and again it hit the spot. This time one of his mugs broke and Pete took his in a regular coffee mug. Either way, it tasted good and proves that just because you're roughing it, you can still enjoy some of the comforts of home.

At 8:30 it started to rain. We called it an early night and retreated to the comfort of our tents. An early night meant we'd get a good rest before heading back to Gooseberry Cove and back to our daily routines the next day. So far so good, almost 50 kms paddled.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

St. Jones Harbour

Approaching St. Jones Within

We left Gooseberry Cove at 11:00 and after stopping at Round Harbour for a quick lunch we arrived at the entrance to St. Jones Harbour at 2:30.

St. Jones Harbour breadcrumbs

St. Jones Harbour is a fjord-like finger of the sea that pierces the land some five kilometers inland. We knew beforehand that finding a level campsite was going to be difficult.

Having a look

As we entered the harbour we saw what looked like a possible campsite where the cemetery had been. Brian, Pete and I got out to have a look while Hazen chatted it a up with someone who had come by in a motor boat. The site was too wet but Hazen was told there was a nice cabin at the end of the harbour where we could camp.

Autumn colours

We wanted to find our own campsite so we scouted along the shoreline. Things didn't look promising but it sure was pretty paddling down the fjord with fall colours starting to dominate.

Still looking

I anticipated a slog down the harbour into strong funneling winds but it was pleasant going. We could see there were no possible campsites as far as where the fjord pinched in in the distance.


We explored the different nooks and crannies at the bottom of the harbour but found only steep hillsides or wet boggy sites. It was getting near 5:00 when we conceded we had to use a developed site. We had to because there wasn't much light left in the day and we had to set up camp. We landed. It took four of us to lift the fully loaded kayaks up a 2 meter embankment onto the level area in front of the cabin.

In the dark

Hazen, Pete and I set up tents while Brian set up the tarp. There wasn't any driftwood around but there was a firepit so we didn't need much wood to have a campfire. We gathered a bit and borrowed a few junks from a pile stacked by the cabin owner. After cooking supper we lit the fire, had a few swallies of the refreshments we brought and shared jokes and tall tales. The deck chairs made for a comfortable evening.

The evening was getting on but we had one more surprise. Unknown to us Hazen had brought supplies for ...

Irish coffee

We were deep in no man's land with no one around for kilometers but that didn't mean we couldn't enjoy the comforts of home. The Irish coffee was the highlight of the evening and the trip so far. Well done Hazen and thanks.