Monday, January 30, 2012

Hanging ashore

A rare good winter day

Between snow storms and extremely windy weather its been two weeks since I've been on the water. That's the longest absence that I can remember for a long, long time. I'm starting to feel a bit of cabin fever in that regard. Each morning I check the weather forecast with the hope I'll get out soon. I'm due.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Suppertime (Hazen photo)

Wednesday evening I went to a KNL presentation of a trip by four guys along the south coast of Newfoundland. Partway through the trip one of the guys got violently ill and throwing up. He decided to take a ferry ride out and abandoned the trip.

I spoke to him afterwards inquiring as to what he thought brought on the illness. He was candidly honest - hygiene. Wow, I thought because its not something I've given a lot of thought to myself when I've been out kayak camping. The most I've done is rinse of pots and pans in salt water.

I discussed it with Craig on the drive home. He recounted his practices as a Scout leader. His rules start with washing hands before any cooking starts. After eating, dishes are washed first in hot soapy water, then a bath in a weak javex bath and then a rinse in clear water.

I've paddled the same coastline but I went anyway to show support for the club. I'm glad I did because I did learn something. I will certainly be more careful in future. Its worth the effort to avoid spoiling a perfectly good trip.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Group safety through teamwork

All together

At the doctor today to get a requisition for blood work. Its usually a wait so I took my "Sea kayaking Safety and Rescue" book by John Lull to keep me occupied.

I've read it thru and thru a few times but today my eyes fell on the chapter dealing with group safety and teamwork. It had some application to the situation the last time we were out.

Five kms from the take-out the wind came up unexpectedly as we crossed the mouth of the harbour. We (7 of us) stuck together except after a short while one of the guys drifted away from the group. A considerable distance started to form between him and the group. Gerard went to chase him down and partner up.

As we paddled on into a steady Force 6 wind we got strung out a bit. Back on the beach Gerard thought we should have stayed together more. That would have been preferable but even though we got strung out, no one was left alone. Strung out we had a twosome, another twosome and a threesome taking up the rear. Everyone in the group was aware of where everyone else was so we were still a team.

After reading John Lull's piece, I'm content enough with how the group dissolved yet organized itself into the buddy system. There is, as they say, safety in numbers.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A historic first

Winter outing

Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador offers club paddles during the spring, summer and fall. Up to this year a winter club paddle has never been offered. That is about to change.

A group of us recently approached the Board to put a winter paddle on the Calendar of Events. The Board has agreed with certain provisions for legal purposes. The guidelines imposed by the Board include: mandating the paddle as a Level II paddle (i.e. not a beginner paddle), all participants must wear a drysuit, there must be accessible take-outs, moderate winds and no extreme cold weather.

All this is pretty obvious but they must do their due diligence. We're hoping to get a few more people out to enjoy the winter season and thereby increase the numbers of people paddling all year round.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The case of the vanashing paddlers

Some of the buckos on Sunday

2011 was a tough year on some paddlers. Tough in the sense, they didn't paddle as much as they had in the past.


Derrick - he bought a sailboat and got himself tied up with that.

Neil - he's gotten into diving.

Malcolm - he's also bought a sailboat but says he's still committed to seakayaking.

Stan - he's gotten into photography. I thought I'd see him on Sunday at Bay Bulls but must have gotten distracted. Probably not a bad decision after all we went through.

Time is short and hardly time to do everything. Nevertheless, I hope I'll see them on the water more in 2012.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The second part - paddle from hell

Going for a look see

We left Bay Bulls harbour to go have a look at Red Rock Cove. There's a big rock in the cove that Gerard said would be interesting with the swell rolling in.

Still no problem

The wind was forecast to pick up but from the NW to 25kms so we were going to cross over to the north side of Bay Bulls. There we would have some protection.

Instead, as we entered the harbour to cross, the winds stayed westerly and steadily picked up to 40 kms generating wind waves of close to 1 meter. As we crossed it increased some more until there were whitecaps everywhere, occasionally breaking over the deck. Still manageable as my GPS was telling me we were maintaining 6 kms/hr.

The track back

The dasterdly wind stayed westerly and picked up some more to 50 kms with sustained gusts to 60. Whitecaps started to blow off of the waves. It was getting ugly and we had 5 kms to paddle straight into the wind back to the take-out. There was no hiding from the wind as we each retreated into our own world to slog it out.

A couple of points of land offered a chance to catch our breath momentarily before continuing the trek into the harbour. I felt I was barely making progress. Almost 100 minutes later we were relieved to be back. Looking down the harbour, the 5 kms we came from looked a long way off.

When I got home I downloaded the data from my GPS. It was interesting. In Useless Bay and up to Bread and Cheese Point we were making 4 kms dropping to 3 at times. Between Bread and Cheese Poing and Flat Point it dropped to 3 and sometimes 2 in the gusts.

Overall the average was just over 3 kms/hr.

What started out as a leisurely day at 10:00 turned into a gut busting paddle at 12:00. It was a tale of two paddles.

But, all's well that ends well and we went off for coffee to rehash the day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A tale of two paddles

Dean in the sunshine

Today it was a tale of two paddles. Part 1 - a leisurely paddle along the south side of Bay Bulls.


The sun was out but it was low in the sky putting us in shadows as we puttered along checking out caves.

Gary chatting it up with Dean

We took our time in calm waters but it started to cloud over.

Checkin' out a cave

Some of the guys went to check out a cave as Neville, Gary, Dean and I waited outside.

Dean entering a hidden cave

A very narrow entry into a cave that opens up like a cathedral once inside. The entrance is just wider than a kayak.

Great big cave

This cave had a much bigger entrance with a vaulted ceiling. A swell was running outside the harbour and we began to feel it as water surged into the cave.


The swell turned to foam as it met the rocks ...


... which is just fine with Clyde.


The cliffs sheltered from the sun were covered with icicles where water poured off the land.

This was the end of part 1 of the paddle. Things would go downhill from this point making it part 2 of a tale of two paddles.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The next big adventure

Merasheen beckons in the distance

Last year four of us paddled around Long Island in Placentia Bay. It was a three day 90 km paddle. As we paddled down the inside channel along the coast of Long Island, Merasheen Island lay to our right. Somewhere beside a beach fire the seeds were planted for a circumnavigation of Merasheen next year, now this year.

The initial call went out recently for expressions of interest and it looks like possibly a party of five for the trip. Merasheen is a bigger island making the trip close to 135 kilometers so the plan is to take more time and to take our time. Over the next few months we'll be busy pouring over maps, checking out air photos, planning menus and making all the other plans that comes with a trip of this nature.

I am already getting so excited.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stayin' in shape

Snow means go

Winter is not paddle season for most. A growing group of us here believe it is.

Passing up on paddling in winter means having to get back in paddle shape in the spring. It doesn't take long to lose it so today I took advantage of pleasant conditions to keep myself in paddling tune. It stopped snowing just as I put-in.

Dusting of snow

Before long I was cruising past snow dusted trees and rocks at a comfortable speed of 7 - 7.5 kms/hr.

Topsail Head

By the time I reached Topsail Head I had built up considerable heat. I was burning off some of the holiday cheer!

Low ceiling

I paddled past Topsail Beach until I had 7.5 kms on the GPS. Turing back, Topsail Head was hiding in the low ceiling.

Back again

Today was a sprint. It was exercise but I enjoyed the rhythm as the paddle sliced effortlessly through the water. No shots of other paddlers and not much colour, sorry, exercise can be pretty bland but I was glad I went. 985 kilometers to go!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Composing a picture

A typical shot

Sometimes on the water I wonder if I paddle to take pictures or I take pictures of the paddle. Given my low budget camera I suffer no illusions that my pictures are works of art.

After a while the pictures can begin to look all and the same. There are, after all, a limited number of elements to include: a kayaker, the sea, the shore-scape. Still, the act of taking pictures on the water makes me "see" the environment I'm in. My eye is looking for interesting combinations and therefore on my paddles I'm not just on autopilot. That's reason enough to take a camera.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The numbers are in

Frequent paddler

Well, I've tallied up the numbers and they indicate a productive paddling year in 2011.

I was in my boat 126 times during the year. When I saw the numbers build earlier in the summer I tried for 122. That would put me in the boat once every third day, so I made that.

The 126 is made up of: 14 pool sessions, 22 pond practices, 40 practices at St. Philips and 50 day paddles.

The 14 pool sessions were probably the most valuable of the year because my roll went from sometimes uncertain to reliable and on both sides. Its easy to exaggerate so I'll say I did not less than 2,500 rolls between the pool, pond and St. Philips.

The 50 day paddles totaled 921 kilometers distance.

I don't expect to be in the boat as much this year but I will set some new targets for 2012 to further develop as a kayaker.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top 10 paddles of 2011 - #1

Bread and Cheese

A three day, 93 km paddle around Long Island in Placentia Bay on the weekend of 25 - 27 June was the top paddle of the year. An obvious choice in my mind. A few shots and the Readers Digest version follows but links to the more detailed posts are provided.

Clyde, Dean, Hazen and I camped off the road Friday night just short of Arnolds Cove. Saturday morning early we drove to Arnolds Cove to make the 6 km crossing to Long Island. We kept Bread and Cheese Islands on our right as security.

At Long Island

An uneventful crossing saw us reach Long Island where we stopped for a short break before heading down the west side through the Inside Channel.

Port Royal

We reached Port Royal, an resettled community, after a 37 km paddle and set up camp for the night. After a beach fire and a few swallies we hit the sleeping bags for a good nights sleep.

Buffett Head

Sunday morning we left early to round Buffett Head at the bottom of Long Island. Not everyday looks as peaceful as this at the Head.

Harbour Buffett

Paddling up the east side now we entered Harbour Buffett, also a resettled community, that was a thriving fishing community in its heyday.

Up the west side

We got out at Harbour Buffett to stretch our legs. There are a few cabins there still and at one we were treated to a warm coffee and a friendly chat. They were amazed at our trip to that point given the size of our watercraft. After coffee we continued north to reach another resettled community for the night.

Quest for fire

Arriving at Haystack after a 34 km paddle we set up camp and a tarp just before it started to rain. After eating the rain slowed and we got another fire going on the beach.

Leaving in fog

We arose Monday morning to a thick fog in the cove. After reloading our kayaks we paddled north to the tip of Long Island before making the 6 km crossing to Arnolds Cove in a dense fog.

Single file

We had a bearing for Bordeaux Island at the entrance to Arnolds Cove and we each took turns leading a single file procession across the channel.

Unloading the gear

A short 21 km paddle saw us back at Arnolds Cove. We piled all our gear on a platform to sort and stow in the vehicles for the ride home. On the way we stopped at Megans for a feed of fresh fish and chips and a back-slapping chat about the fine trip we had just finished.

Well, that's it, those were my top paddles for 2011. A fantastic year of paddling to look back on and the prospect of more of the same for 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 10 paddles of 2011 - #2

Tabular berg

On 20 September I was in White Bay to visit my sister and had a chance to get out to some icebergs. They were bits and pieces that had broken off of the Petermann Ice Island.

It had been two years since I had an iceberg sighting so I eagerly anticipated the paddle as I drove out to Seal Cove. I must have paddled around or in sight of twenty bergs and I was satisfied. It was an unbelievable experience which made it my second best paddle of the year.

Here are a few more shots in addition to the pictures I posted back in September.

Like I said, it was a spectacular day. My only regret was that I didn't have anyone to share the day with. I would have liked to at least get a few shots with a kayak in the scene. There was no one else but I get to share them anyway through the wonders of our modern technology.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Batting 1.000

The protected Quidi Vidi

So far I've paddled everyday this year.

Jim P started a tradition of wetting the boats on New Year's Day at Quidi Vidi. Some years its a challenge as it was weatherwise this year. Easterly winds at 30 - 35 knots and driving rain. Eight of us showed up to keep the tradition going but we had to content ourselves with staying in the inner harbour. The waves pounding into the entrance precluded venturing outside. No matter, we were out and we got the year off to a good start.

Some shots of the crew out today follow.


One of da boys. All of the pictures of Clyde playing in the soup had raindrops on the lens so this is him in a more placid shot touring the different sheds lining the Gut.


Colleen, living in Quidi Vidi, didn't have far to travel to the put-in. The only gal to brave the elements so a thumbs up on that.


Kayak Newfoundland and Labador's president, leading by example!


Gary's place overlooks Quidi Vidi Gut, was going to watch football but saw us and came out anyway.


The G-man in Malcolm's "Dauntless".


One of the more skilled.


Mike looks happy and not just because he's paddling on New Year's Day! I won't tell Mike.