Sunday, April 29, 2012

Get stuffed

The long and the short of it

I'm thinking and planning for my week long trip around Merasheen Island in August.  One of the things I wanted to address was freeing up more cargo space.  I use a MEC WinterHawk sleeping bag that comes with its own stuff sack(on the right).  I felt there was about 20% more compression possible so I invested in an Outdoor Research compression bag (on the left).

I was anxious to test the compression bag right away so I started stuffing.  To my chagrin, it went in alright but I didn't get the expected space saving.  In compressing the bag it went crooked and I lost a lot of further compression.  I figured the sleeping bag wasn't right to the bottom of the longish bag.

I put on my thinking cap.  I stuffed it first into its own stuff sack and then tried to get it into the compression bag.  The stuff sack was wider than the compression bag so it wouldn't go in.


Necessity being the mother of invention I found the right solution.  I folded down the compression bag outside over itself until it was about the same length as the stuff sack and then put the empty stuff sack into the compression bag.  I stuffed the sleeping bag into the stuff sack and cinched up the cord to close it.

Then I brought the slipped down sides of the compression bag back up, folded the closure and leaned on the compression bag to get my anticipated saving of space.  It worked like a charm.

Now all I have to do is decide what else I can take in the freed up space.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Don't ask

Rear end view

 I've been icing my shoulder a few times a day for almost a week trying to recover from tendonitis in my shoulder.  Its developed from chronic overuse.  I should go to the doctor but I know the answer I'm going to get.  Stop paddling and give the shoulder rest.

I don't know how to do that.  Thursday evening practice session arrived and I was going to go come hell or high water.

Huddled up

It was calm so we took off for a short paddle.  I paddled at my own pace using a limited range of motion trying not to aggravate the condition.  It was fine.  At the turnaround we rafted up, had a chat and paddled back.

I intend to keep icing and paddling but at a more relaxed pace and hope the reduced workload will gradually heal the injury.  In my opinion, if you don't want to hear the answer, then don't ask the question.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bird's eye view

The coast of Merasheen

A group of us are planning an August circumnavigation of Merasheen Island in Placentia Bay.  Its not a major expedition as the island is only 35 km long and 9 km wide at its widest.  With the crossing and possible day side trips I expect it will top out at close to 150 kms.

Part of the planning involves settling on daily paddle distances which will be primarily dictated by the locations of suitable camping sites.  I've managed to get the air photos of the coastline to help in identifying possibilities.

From the air, Merasheen looks a stark landscape criss crossed by ancient fault lines.  Not something you would notice from the seat of a kayak but if you were a bird you would clearly see the scars of continental collisions.

The anticipation is building!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wear and tear

On the water again

A while ago I mused about the number of paddle strokes on an average day paddle of, say 20 kms.  At my cadence its abut 7,000 paddle strokes per side.  That adds up.

Last year I was in my kayak 126 days.  On top of that I was at the gym three days a week, two of which brought the shoulder into action.  Its caught up on me.  My shoulder aches.  I believe, self-diagnosed, that I have tendinitis somewhere in the shoulder joint.

The most common cause of tendinitis is overuse and repetitive motion from recreational, athletic, or occupational activities. Risk factors for tendonitis include repetitive movement.  There's the smoking gun.

I've started icing and tried to reduce use.  Its having an effect but can I stay patient?  The short answer is "no".  I can still paddle but within a limited range of motion where it doesn't hurt.  I'll just have to pick my paddle.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stuff happens

On a good day

Sometime it seems like life sucks.  It only seems that way, its the calamities in life that suck.

I missed out on a good paddle yesterday at first due to a sore shoulder but it ended up because of a busted hot water heater.  And it had been leaking undetected for some time.  I took the old one out when I found the floor boards were soaked with water and also had to be replaced.  It never rains but it pours.

I was dejected at first but I forced myself to look on the bright side: I was doing something about it, it will get fixed and I will return to my normal pace of life.

Looking down the road I'm wondering when my next paddle will be, when I won't remember this little detour.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stubby fingers, small button

Ice cube

I took 80 pictures on our paddle Tuesday in Cape Broyle. I don't expect them all to come out as award winners so I take lots in the hope that a few will be keepers.

The water is still cold so I continue to wear neoprene mitts. The "On/Off" button on the Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 is a tiny button right next to the shutter release. Pressing it with neoprene mitts on to turn the camera off is a challenge and occasionally means pressing the shutter release.


So, I usually get a selection of pictures of my deck. Tuesday I got three and one movie clip that I didn't know I was taking.

I don't know who comes up with these design concepts but maybe they should beta test the camera in situations that target the consumers who are going to be using them. In addition to neoprene mitts add a kayak in heaving seas for example.

Good thing we're in the digital age because old fashioned film would get expensive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To Cathedral Cave and return

Me and my shadow

After stopping for lunch at Lance Cove I appeared to cast a slightly bigger shadow *lol* though I'm not a big guy.

Sun drenched

We got back on the water and decided to paddle out towards the headland where we'd have a look at Cathedral Cave.

Even an iceberg

As we entered Church Cove we spotted a berg near the beach. It was a totally unexpected bonus on a very enjoyable paddle up to that point. Dean and I went to have a closer look.

Indigo blue

On the side away from the sun the light cast a bluish tinge as it penetrated the iceberg.

Looking out the front door

A short paddle away we entered Cathedral Cave. It was the second time I'd been in the cave this year. It was calm and water dripped from the roof echoing in the vast chamber.

The back end

At the rear of the cave the sea has almost carved an exit to the cove beyond. There was just one more rock to wash away and when it goes we'll be able to get through. A passage may be possible in a spring tide with a bit of swell and a plastic boat that can take a pounding, just in case.

Sea stack

After hanging out in the cave for a while we paddled back across Church Cove and back into Lance Cove, dominated by a massive sea stack.

Caught in the weeds

Often I find that the outward leg of a paddle is relaxed and the inward, return, leg is a sprint back to where we put in. Dean and I agreed we'd take our time as there was no hurry to get back. We retraced our paddle strokes again paddling around rocks, occasionally getting stuck in the seaweed when the water drained away.

Arriving back at the beach Dean checked the GPS which clocked us at just over 19 kms. A coffee at the nearby restaurant before we returned home put a nice finishing touch on a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unemployed and liking it

Out of the gate

Dean is between jobs. He isn't starting his new job for two weeks so technically, he's unemployed. But that's not a problem, just more chances to paddle for him and therefore also for me.

Today we drove the 75 kms from St. John's to Cape Broyle where we had spectacular weather for a great day on the water.

Brilliant sunshine

Anyone who has paddled Cape Broyle will know the script. Put in and paddle up the north side to the falls. Paddle up to the falls and let the cascading water drum on the foredeck. Today the falls were bathed in brilliant sunshine.


Where the water splashed gently into the sea the sun conjured up a rainbow in the spray.

Between a rock and a hard place

Next on the script its cross over to the south side and paddle east. We are sometimes such creatures of habit that its painful to think that we are so controlled.

Coming thru

The water was too low really to enter this cave but a gentle swell and good timing meant we could ride over the rocks guarding the entrance.


It was starting to warm up and a shower was in order. The last time I paddled here was in February. Then a shower was also in order but a fair bit colder.

Inside looking out

We got into every cave today. The bright sunshine overwhelmed the camera looking out of the cave.

Basking in the sun

As I exited I took note of the seaweed clinging to the rocks in the bright sunshine while underwater it swayed as if to say I had better get going again.


So, I did get going onto the next cave. There the rocks seemed to be phosphorescent glowing in purples, greens and burnt umbers. I thought it was magical.

Again I exited into the sunshine and before long lunch was calling myself and Dean. We took out at Lance Cove and had our lunch before continuing into the afternoon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A little motivational assist

Getting underway

Saturday evening a group paddle seemed to be going nowhere. I only had a narrow window in time for a Sunday paddle. As others seemed to try to organize something I mailed that they should carry on without me because I planned to get out for a short paddle by myself.

Sunday morning when I got out of bed I said to myself "Nah, I'll stay home". That was until I read my mail from three of the guys who said they would meet me at St. Philips. That was just the little motivational push I needed.

Bright sunshine

As we made our way along the shore I thought to myself that I was glad to get that little push. The guy's desire to paddle was contagious.

Through here

Just a little bit of swell at near low tide made for interesting paddling through rocky passages. Getting through meant the swell pushing the kayak first to one side and then towards the other as the water drained away.

On the rocks

Clyde likes that zone between the sea and the land. Sometimes the line gets blurred like today when he transitioned from the sea to the land in his kayak. A surprise swell picked him up and deposited him up on the rocks. I joked I would get a picture but not post it on my blog. Oops!

He kept calm, waited for the next swell big enough to refloat himself and got out of the jamb.

It turned out to be a shortish paddle of 12 km but was still filled with enough excitement to have made it worth getting out. Today I had Clyde, Gary and Neville to thank for giving me that pick-me-up. It would not have happened for me otherwise.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When is too close, too close?

Jagged bergs

Saturday we were out to check out some icebergs that had drifted in close to Quidi Vidi. I posted some shots as did some of the other guys. I was expecting considerable criticism for paddling too close to the bergs. They can, after all, capsize or break apart unexpectedly and when that happens it can be dangerous to be too close.

I suppose its a calculated (or brazen) risk.

We avoided these jagged bergs. They looked like anything could happen at any moment.

Up close

This big tabular berg did not appear to present any imminent danger of rolling because of its low center of gravity and its flat broad presence.

Monster berg

And, similarly this one looked to be stable enough.

Earlier, Gerard paddled between the towers of one berg. I sized it up and felt there was too much risk for things to go wrong so I resisted the urge. That was my decision, as it is for every individual to decide what is safe and what is not safe.

In the end its a personal decision where we paddle whether its near icebergs or in wave washed rock gardens. Published pictures should not be seen as an invitation for a novice or any other paddler to engage in safe or unsafe practices.

Safest is to stay home and sit in the rocking chair but that's not much fun. I'll leave that for a time when that's my only option.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Robin Hood and a band of merry kayakers

That's enough

After some 45 minutes of paddling around the ice bergs north of Quidi Vidi we split up for the rest of the day. Three of the guys decided to call it a day while Clyde, Gerard, Hazen and I paddled to Logy Bay via Robin Hood Bay for a look. It was a good decision.

A cave

At Small Point Gerard went to explore this cave carved into the almost vertically standing red sandstone.

Sugarloaf Head

Rounding Small Point we saw the prominent landmark of Sugarloaf Head. And, much to our amazement, another huge ice island nestled in Robin Hood Bay.

Huge ice island

From afar it looked to be huge and it was. I waited to take a picture until the length of the iceberg filled the entire scene. Hazen in front sets the scale as a reference point.

Reach out and touch

At the lower end of the berg Clyde got close to reach out and feel the cold icy surface. A blue vein in the iceberg was a fissure in the icecap filled with water that froze again before calving off of the glacier.

Others were out

When we reached Sugarloaf Head I saw a couple of kayakers coming south towards us. Its not very often that happens. Turns out it was Cory and Des who had been out before us and had paddled as far as Torbay Point.

Entering Logy Bay

After exchanging greetings with Cory and Des we made our way into Logy Bay ...

Cleft in the rocks

but not before exploring this cleft in the rocks. The red sandstone rocks along this side of the shore are the upright arm of a southerly plunging syncline. The other side of the syncline is expressed at Cape Spear where the beds dip in the opposite direction. The northerly wind and waves have found a weakness in the sedimentary beds and exploited it, pounding this cleft.

Marine Lab

Logy Bay is the site of Memorial University of Newfoundland's Marine Lab. It looks a bit like a spaceship landed from another planet. The technical name given by the University is the "Ocean Sciences Centre" but locally is called the Marine Lab. There they do research "conducted on the North Atlantic fishery, aquaculture, oceanography, ecology, behavior and physiology. Research is conducted on organisms ranging from bacteria to seals."

Rocky take-out

There's no soft sandy beach to take out in Logy Bay. Clyde and Gerard took out for lunch. I hadn't considered stopping for lunch so mine was back in the car. Hazen and myself sat in the boats for a while before taking our time to paddle back to Quidi Vidi.

We had a fantastic day on Saturday. It was the first time in three years that icebergs came this close to the coast. Sometimes is only by chance that winds carry them in the right direction. Otherwise they float south, well offshore. We really took advantage of the opportunity and I hope they stick around for another chance to paddle with icebergs.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Iceberg (OMG) paddle

There they are

Last September I was in White Bay for a paddle with icebergs. I enjoyed it tremendously but I was by myself. Saturday I was in company of 6 other kayakers to have another close viewing of the ice mountains that drift our way from the frozen north. Its so much more enjoyable to have others to share it with.

Gary and I exited Quidi Vidi first. I was amazed at how close the bergs were and their size. I wanted to get going but we waited for the rest of the party.

Getting closer

We paddled north of Quidi Vidi in the moderate swell as the ice bergs grew in size.


We took our time to drink in the jaw dropping scenery.

Saltwater plume

The swell washed into berg somehow and erupted in a plume of spray as Dean and Clyde check out the action up close.

At the edge

Gerard goes around to the other side to see what is causing the geyser.


Would you believe 90% of the iceberg is unseen under water?

A question of scale

The enormity of the berg is evident with the kayakers no more than tiny specks in its shadow.


This is one berg. The three towers rise from a huge mass hidden underwater.


Clyde deciding will I or won't I.


We explored all around the icebergs taking our time to savour the moment.

I'm goin' thru

Gerard saw this as an opportunity for a bit of excitement. Not long after he disappeared behind a 2 meter high swell. Stan, on shore, caught him emerging in his header photo on his blog. A truly amazing action shot worth taking a detour for!


Gary was probably the most responsible of the lot making sure he kept his distance.

Now what?

After some 45 minutes of paddling around the bergs we huddled up to discuss the plan going forward. Three of the guys decided to go back to Quidi Vidi and the rest of us decided to paddle up to Logy Bay.

It was a wise decision because we discovered another huge ice island in Robin Hood Bay.