Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Olympus Tough 6020 leaks (Update)

Keeping it dry

My Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 recently had a minor leak and I was looking for rubber seal replacements. Here's the story from an earlier entry. This is an update as I heard back about my inquiry.

The reply got was:

"We do not sell replacement parts for our shockproof/weatherproof camera because the parts must be replaced by a qualified Olympus repair technician to guarantee the integrity of the watertight seals."

So I mailed back to say it wasn't rocket science. The screws and plastic plate automatically make sure the alignment is right. I indicated I would take full responsibility for any leaks if they sold me the seal for me to install myself.

I got the following follow-up reply:

"You can contact the Parts Department at but you will be denied the parts for shockproof/waterproof cameras. Repairs are guaranteed for six months."

I expect all the manufacturers of waterproof camera have the same policy. Maybe its collusion?

I wondered if anyone else had the same problem. Yes! One review listed a "Pro" for the camera was: "Doesn't leak when not underwater." That's funny. I think I'll not take the camera when I plan to practice rolls or rescues.

One thing I would advise and something in hindsight I should have done was to store the camera with the battery compartment open. That may extend the life of the seal.

In any case, I'm doubtful of ever buying another Olympus camera again. There are better options on the market.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

White knuckles time

Now you see Clyde ...

Paddling along the shore from St. Philips to Portugal Cove there are numerous opportunities to paddle through rock gardens or rocky passages. When the swell is running these spots can be exciting to paddle. Here Clyde is making his run.

... and now you don't

Seconds later Clyde disappeared behind the next incoming swell that crashes over the rock.

Success padding in these spots means stopping to see what the waves are doing, picking the correct track, good timing, good bracing skills, a calm cool head and the ability to roll in the soup if need be.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Familiar faces


Anyone who follows my blog will be familiar with the names Clyde and Dean. I took a few pictures again today even though we paddled familiar territory. After our paddle Dean said "people are going to say, here are pictures of Clyde and Dean again". Ho hum. Not! I suppose after a while one kayak picture looks much like any other but there's always something different anyway ... in this case the different coloured, tortured rocks in the Topsail Fault zone.


I keep track of each paddle by date and location. I should also keep a record of who I paddled with. I don't have any numbers but if I did I'd guess I've paddled the most with Dean this year. He's a kayakoholic. What does that say about me?

Watching Dean paddle around rocks and in the soup today I could only marvel over how much he's progressed in a couple of years. Three years ago he couldn't keep upright. Now he goes were he wants.

Setting sun

We landed in Portugal Cove to stretch our legs before returning to St. Philips as the sun was going down. It wasn't windy as forecasted but there was a fair bit of chop anyway. Especially, paddling along the interface of land and sea.

A coffee afterwards capped off a totally thrilling day of paddling, a day when everything seemed to come together, even good friends.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 leaks

Taking pictures

This is a tale of covert deception and crappy service.

I used to have an Olympus Stylus 850SW that sprung a leak after 2 years. I had an extended warranty and got an Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 as compensation under the warranty. That was just under 14 months ago.

Last weekend after doing a bunch of rolls I noticed there were drops of water on the battery inside the watertight compartment. The camera still works but it was a warning sign that the rubber seal should soon be replaced. I had previously tried to buy new seals from Olympus Canada in anticipation this would happen but they replied I should send the camera to them to have the seal replaced. After the weekend I tried again and asked why they wouldn't sell me the seal because I could install it myself.

I still haven't received an answer and I don't expect to.

You see, what's going on here is that they know the seals only last a certain period. They get you in either of two ways. One, they ding you for a service you can take care of yourself or two, they expect you to buy a new camera after the camera fails. These cameras turns out are semi-disposable. Disposable every two years or so.

Its disappointing that I can't buy the seal. Its short sighted I believe on the part of Olympus. In fact, I believe each camera should come with one or two spare seals.

Things will stay the same unless the consumer puts pressure on these manufacturers to supply decent service after the purchase. This is my contribution.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A visit to the dentist and an angry sea

Hole in the sky

A visit to the dentist for two fillings left me with one side of my mouth totally numb, uncomfortably numb. About 2:30 I started to get some feeling back and the sky looked to maybe yield some interesting cloud formations so I made a quick jaunt to St. Philips thinking I'd head to Portugal Cove and catch the sunset coming back.


I got to the put-in as the wind picked up and clouds rolled in along with a few snow flurries. Discretion is the best part of valour so I paddled squares well outside of the cove. Seas weren't big but choppy as wind waves from the west interacted with a sizeable but gentle swell from the north. Across an angry and disturbed sea The Beach was highlighted by the sun on Bell Island.


Patience didn't pay off as there wouldn't be any spectacular sunset this evening. Instead, the clouds became more ominous as the setting sun tried to go down in a blaze of orange and red. Only the slimmest wedge of colour showed itself on the horizon.

Putting my boat back on my car my freezing hands distracted me from my earlier dental work. Nonetheless, I was happy I had taken the hour and a half to bounce around in the waves.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On self evaluation

Clyde in Tors Cove

Sunday was a rude awakening for me. Clyde was goofing around and ended up out of his kayak. I went to assist. I was surprised and disappointed with how I performed.

The winds were blowing at about 20 knots which generated wind waves of about a meter. Clyde's overturned boat was broached in the waves. I paddled up to the bow in the wind, latched on as Clyde went to the stern to help me get the boat up to drain it. Clyde, in the water, acted as an anchor for the stern of his boat while the wind blew me and the bow of his boat downwind. The drift put his kayak at about 11:00 relative to me and couldn't get any leverage to pull the bow up. I let go to reposition for another attempt.

By the time I got back into position to help, Clyde had righted his boat and started a back deck scramble on. I steadied as he got back into the cockpit. Situation stabilized.

I've reflected on the rescue. In hindsight, I could have been quicker to pull the bow out of the water before I lost the perpendicular leverage I had. Also, my technique felt a bit rusty because I hadn't done an assisted rescue in a while.

The easiest thing is to shrug it off but honesty will tell me I have to practice this more often in conditions. Practice in safe, realistic conditions will identify any flaws in technique or mechanics that need to be fixed so that they can be counted on when really necessary.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Too much of a good thing

Rear view shot

Today was the first time I've been in the boat in a week. I have a confession to make ... I had had enough of paddling after last weekend. Last weekend at Tors Cove was the 116th time in the kayak this year and I needed some time away.

After a week, it felt like meeting a lost friend.


Five of us met at St. Philips again for some play time because it wasn't fit for a day paddle. Paddle upwind and turn to catch the following sea for surf rides. I know when I've caught a good ride because the skeg vibrates and hums as the kayak is shot forward.

Blowing by

In between surf rides, a bunch of rolls in the waves rolling in from southwest and an assisted rescue after Clyde came out of his boat. After two hours, three of us had a coffee at the restaurant overlooking the cove and chatted about the afternoon.

It wasn't anything very exciting to share but there are days like that. On this day it was good to put Stardust back in the water.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Practice pays off

About to be swallowed

Sunday we stopped to play a bit in South Bauline where the swell was breaking over some submerged rocks. The swell would rush for shore but every now and then it would send standing waves in all directions.

I sat, camera in one hand and paddle in the other, to take some shots of Clyde. I got too close as a standing wave rushed towards me. Oops, can't brace with one hand so over I went. No big deal. I let the camera go, grabbed the paddle with both hands, set-up and back above water.

I managed my first combat roll earlier this summer in Middle Cove. I wasn't sure if it was skill or a fluke. Once may be lucky but twice tells me that practice is paying off. That is gratifying.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Looking up the sleeve

A slot in the rocks

An open invitation to paddle along the Southern Shore attracted three. Clyde, Dean and I put-in at Tors Cove and paddled south to the resettled community of La Manche. That would be French for "The sleeve".

Leaving Tors Cove we paddled through our first channel.

Boiling water

There was a gentle swell rolling in that really kicked up as it entered shallow water and crashed over offshore rocks. These places were a lot of fun to paddle through on the day.

On the rock

There are two submerged rocks in the middle of the cove in Bauline South. The swell washing over the rocks created a fun area to play in as we skirted on the edges. As the water sucked back we could look down the three meters at the exposed rocks and right there in the middle of it all was a seal, also having a fun day.


Passing Bauline Head and heading into La Manche Bay we were fully exposed to the swell. Paddling close to the shoreline made for excellent paddling. First being pushed from one side and then the other by the clapotis rebounding from the cliffs.

Entering La Manche

Handrailing along the shore we arrived at the site of the former community of La Manche dominated now by the suspension footbridge constructed by the East Coast Trail Association.

Lunch perch

Easy to see how the place got called "The sleeve" from this vantage point where we stopped for lunch.

Checking it out

After we had eaten we had a walk about checking out the old foundations of houses that clung to the land. La Manche was settled in 1847 and had a population of 54 by 1949 but was abandoned in 1966.

Here's a link to some old photos of La Manche at the MUN resettlement site.

Off again

Clyde and Dean pulled out amidst boulders. I opted for the gently sloping seaweed covered rocks. They though I was being anti-social; I was just being protective of my kayak. In the distance they were getting back into their boats as we got underway again.

Cape Neddick

Back in the boats we south towards Cape Neddick where we played in the rocks and swell again before making a beeline crossing of La Manche Bay and back to Tors Cove. A very enjoyable November day and another 20 kms under our belts.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jan van Hoof


Today is Remembrance Day. A day set aside on the calendar when we remember those who laid down their lives for freedom. No, I didn't go to a ceremony this year. I have in the past but its taken on the air of a photo op for politicians so, this year, I didn't go. I remembered in my own way.

In the shadows

I went for a paddle with Dean. It seemed fitting as I would not have been able to do this without the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers made to free Holland.


To most Canadians, Remembrance Day is just that, a day of remembrance. For me, its not just a day to remember, its a day to be thankful.

Right on thru

Thankful to not only the soldiers of Canada but also the soldiers of the Dutch Resistance. Jan van Hoof was one. He is credited with cutting the wires to explosives attached to Nijmegen Bridge and thereby saved the bridge during Operation Market Garden.

He was subsequently captured while guiding American troops through Nijmegen, beaten and summarily shot to death. Dutch resistance fighters, you see, were not recognized a combatants but as traitors.

Mini tide race

So, I remember and I wonder, when will they put an end to war? Maybe when they pick up paddles rather than rifles.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Weather capital

A bit of a fog

Environment Canada reports that St. John's has the distinction of being the [bad] weather capital of Canada. St. John's apparently has the most:
  • foggy days at 124 days,
  • snow with 359 average snowfall,
  • rain at 1514 mm average yearly rainfall,
  • wind at 24.3 kms/hr daily average over the year, and
  • cloudy with only 1497 hours of sunshine per year.
To be quite honest, I didn't notice. Still a great place to paddle though.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Catching one

Awoke this morning to a dusting of snow on the ground. By midday the temperature had climbed to 3C but with west winds blowing at 30 with gusts to 45, the wind chill was -3C. A perfect day for some playtime. Nine of us were of similar mind ... or the lack thereof according to some onlookers. They questioned our sanity.


The wind worked the sea up to 1 meter wind waves, some approached 2 meters. Some of us present have no formal training, having built up our skills by watching, reading but mainly by doing. Certainly instruction shortens the learning curve ...

Comin' thru

... but instruction is not the be all and end all. Taking Paddle Canada courses implies some level of competence. I, however, have found that having that piece of paper can be deceiving. I've seen more than a few level II certified paddlers that would have had trouble dealing with the conditions we played in today.

Bouncing around

Skills taught at courses have to be practiced. The course only provides instruction on how to execute certain skills. You have to do your homework afterwards to prove you can actually execute the skills taught. Not all do the homework and end up wasting the course time.

I am not certified. Haven't even done a flatwater course. I have though spent considerable hours in my boat. In my humble opinion, that's better than taking a course and not following up the instruction with practice.

Though I'm not certified, in the eyes of onlookers today, I am certifiable. That's good enough for me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dry land paddling


I didn't paddle today, rarely do on Fridays but I did do some paddle related stuff.

I noticed my wrist gaskets were starting to look a little ratty and unattended it would only be a matter of time before they split open. So I did a bit of preventative maintenance.

I kept the damaged neck gasket I replaced some time ago. I cut two lengths about 10 cms wide, turned the wrist gaskets inside out and aquasealed the strips along the top edge. Hopefully that will give me some time but I'll get new gaskets to have on hand when I really need to replace them.

Can't paddle everyday but there's always something to do, even if its just thinking about paddling.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

At your service

New Board member

Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador had its AGM last night. A new Board was "elected" and having spent four years on the Board I applaud the new Board for their dedication to keeping the club going. Two of our regular group are on the Board this year so maybe we can exert some influence on Gary and Hazen.

New business was a new calendar of events for the winter and spring. There are mostly presentations of other members' kayak trips. Should be good to see what others have experienced.

Too, a date has been picked for the Atlantic Canadian Paddling Symposium. The event focuses on skill development, outdoor leadership, education and paddling. I'm seriously considering going this year. Wouldn't paddling across the Cabot Strait to Nova Scotia be a great warm-up?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Going downhill

A good day

November has arrived. Its getting colder each week as we head downhill towards winter. Last night the puddles froze over. Surely its going to get more uncomfortable underwater in the coming weeks. Pool sessions have started but I'm holding out as long as I can and will continue to practice by myself at Topsail Pond. When the water gets too cold for continued immersion the temperature will dictate that I retreat to the pool.