Sunday, May 27, 2012

Faster than the speed of life

Settling in

Pete was the only person to show up in Torbay for a paddle to the community of Flatrock.  That was a surprise because usually its not hard to get at least a few more people together.  Anyway, that was fine and by 10:00 Pete and I settled into our boats and headed north.

In the shade

It was tranquil when we left Torbay as we paddled under the protective cliffs that sheltered us from the NW winds.  It didn't last long as the wind turned into our faces.  We ducked into little coves to avoid the wind where possible.

The bright sunshine gave a false colour to the back slates of the St. John's Formation.

In the swell

Pete waited for his chance to bolt through the space between the cliff face and the offshore rock.  Waiting, waiting ...

And through

... and through.  I waited for my chance but I went round so as not to let too much distance get between us as Pete went on.


As suddenly as Pete got through the opening, the rocks changed from black slates to the reddish sandstones and conglomerates of the Signal Hill Formation.

Inside passage

Nearing Flatrock the winds dropped unexpectedly as we paddled in this protected channel.


The water got just a little lumpy as we rounded Flatrock Point and entered Flatrock harbour to have lunch.


After washing down our sandwiches we were back in the boats in anticipation of the wind bowing us back to Torbay.  We got our bows pointing south with the bird dropping stained cliffs to starboard and the ride began.

Entering Torbay

We both got some nice surf rides.  When the bow digs in and water washes up the foredeck and onto the spray skirt you know you got a good ride going.  The GPS confirmed it.  Our fastest speed in front of the wind was 15.8 kms/hr (8.7 knots).  We covered the 6 kilometers in 45 minutes for a thrilling ride of 8 kms/hr average.

We had a little bit of work paddling into the wind but were rewarded on the return leg.  Excellent paddle Pete and thanks.

Friday, May 25, 2012


On a great evening

The most regular crew was on hand again last night for our Thursday evening practice: Dean, Neville, Sean and myself.  We were joined by Hazen for a group of five, down from a usual group of 8 - 10.

It was perfect.  It was blowing hard all day as the sea was stirred up into a frenzy.  Then the wind dropped but the wave train kept on a coming.

Familiar faces and pleasant conditions, two good reasons to get out for a couple of hours.  But really, any reason or excuse will do.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Something to look forward to

Just hanging out

Tomorrow is Thursday and with that comes our weekly practice session.  I still have shoulder issues but I'm really looking forward to it.  You see, Thursday evening is not necessarily all business but it also has a social aspect.  Even if I'm limited with how much "work" I can do, I enjoy seeing the regular gang and hope to see new faces.

Monday, May 21, 2012

As stubborn as a mule

Dean catching a mini-surf

One thing I know about myself is that I'm mule headed, as stubborn as its possible to be.

My shoulder was starting to feel like it was on the mend after three weeks.  I thought I'd roll the dice and take advantage of the waves on Saturday.  Big mistake.  The effort to get onto the waves was a bit too much for the shoulder and I'm back at square one.

Looks like I'm going to be a fair weather paddler for a while.  Otherwise paddling this summer will be at risk.  It sucks but it is what it is.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When I was a boy ...

Familiar face

When I was a boy, in the winter, I spent hours walking uphill with my toboggan just so I could race it downhill.  It was great fun.

Today, many years later, it felt like nothing much has changed.  Only the ride.

The forecast for today was west winds 20 - 30 knots.  Dean and I met to spend a couple of hours paddling into the wind, out into the bigger waves and surf them back in.  It was just as much fun as those of so many years ago.

I may be more mature (though that may be questionable) but I'd be pleased if I'd be forever the boy inside the man.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What? Me practice?

Assisted rescue

Thursday evening the air temperature was 20 C and the sea temperature was 7 C.  Time to get out of the boat and have some fun.

Seven of us met at St. Philips.  Some of us got out of our boats and tried to knock the rust of our self and assisted rescues.


With the water warming up there was more upside down time making sure the roll was effective and ...


less adversity to getting out to do a back deck scramble on recovery.

I was surprised there weren't more out to practice given the warm weather.  Maybe not everyone needs the practice.  Maybe so, but the time to find out whether the rescue tool kit works or not isn't when things go bad.  Hopefully more will turn out as we get deeper into the season.

Thanks to everyone who did turn out; it was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blowin' in the wind

In bigger seas

I saw an interesting comment on Facebook from my friend Alex in connection with a tether for stand up paddle boards.

Alex posted "In seas that go to hell I lash one end of my tow kit to one of my life lines. In wind the boat may blow away faster than I can dog paddle. The tow rope can be used to draw us back together .. Theoretically. Even in a dry suit My head , the size of a turnip, would be hard to see. The 18 foot long yellow or white thing should be easy to find. I can likely get back in should I end up swimming."

I've never seen this mentioned in any book or magazine article and thought what a great idea.  I agree its an excellent idea in big seas in heavy wind in case there's a chance for a swimmer.  Even in a group it will shorten the time to track down the boat and tow it back.  In a duo situation is solves the dilemma of whether to stay with the swimmer or chase the boat.

Its probably a must do when paddling solo.

Great idea but care would have to be taken to prevent entanglement.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

De Vliegende Hollander

Look Ma, no mitts

Today I became De Vliegende Hollander, the Flying Dutchman.  I think it was the fastest I've ever paddled over a given distance.

But the day started when I met Dean and Sean at St. Philips for a quickie paddle.  It was warm, the first day I was able to comfortably paddle with my mitts left on the deck


 The sea was calm inside the cove as we left to paddle towards Topsail.  Sean was back in his own handcrafted Black Pearl.

Into the wind

We rounded the point and were met with seas from the SW but wind more SE.  Very confusing but it was good paddling in very moderate waves.

Squeezing through

Dean and Sean paddling side by side between the rock and the ... bigger rock.

Turn here?

 Sean was on the clock so once we reached Whelan's Point we turned for home.

The wind had picked up to 40 kms and the bay was awash in whitecaps.  I paddled in the beam sea out into the bay and out into the whitecaps.  Dean and Sean stayed closer to shore.  Once I was directly up wind of St. Philips I turned.

I looked across the distance towards my colleagues and began my hell-bent-for-leather paddle.  I didn't have to paddle hard to catch surf rides on almost every wave.  It was pure ecstasy as I flew down the bay all the while putting some significant distance between myself and boys paddling along the shore.

I didn't time myself but a honest estimate would be in the 6.5 to 7 knot range.  I looked back to see where the boys were.  They were distant specks on the horizon.

Sean arrives

I paddled into the serene waters of he cove to wait for the boys.  After some time Sean arrived.

Dean follows

Then Dean arrived moments later.

The run I had downwind was as much fun as I've had in a while.  It was be damned shoulder impingement, I'm gonna paddle.  A lower paddle angle than usual served me well without causing me further grief.  I was elated.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stealing the show

Black Pearl

 The star of the show as boats lined up for the Thursday evening practice at St. Philips was Sean's newly completed Black Pearl.  What a sleek looking vessel.

Grinning ear to ear

The payoff after all the work is to take the boat out for its inaugural spin.  Sean is all smiles and rightly so after such a very fine job.  The craftsmanship is superb that can be seen even right up close.  Even has that new boat smell!

Like bees to honey

Everyone had a close look.  The side profile shot of this boat shows her elegant lines.

Comin' thru

Time to put her through her paces.  Inside the cove the water was calm.  Outside of the protection of the land we had small waves just about right to test a new boat for the first time.

Comparing notes

Derrick and Sean discussing the craft of strip-building a kayak?

Another first

After the initial excitement calm down we got into our own thing.  Sue had her inaugural paddle for this year too.  A little apprehensive about it being her first time on the sea this year but she still has it.


 The water is still cold but it warming up a bit, maybe 3C.  Cold yes but not so cold that the object was an immediate return to uprightness.

Prodigal son

Haven't seen Dennis in quite a while as he was out wandering in the working man's wilderness.  A hiatus of six months finally came to an end for him and he looked quite pleased abut it too.  Six months, I think I'd die.

It was the first warm Thursday evening of the year that attracted nine of us.  Overall a fun evening.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dark places


Caves are dark places.  Cave are dark places until the flash of the camera illuminates and causes iridescence of the rocks to glow in shades of pink, purple, indigo blue and gold.

Funny what there is to see in the presence of a bit of light.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jig-a-loo and paddles don't mix

After trying and putting away my Greenland paddle I got out my Werner Camano paddle to paddle around in the cove.  I couldn't get the two halves to lock together.

A while back the release button on the paddle was sticking.  Its happened before, I just sprayed a bit of WD40 to lubricate it.  This time I had a can of Jig-a-loo handy.  Its an all around lubricant.  Printed on the can is its "ideal for wood, metal, most plastics, leather and fabric surfaces".

Most plastics, just not the plastic in the locking mechanism of my paddle.  The Jig-a-loo reacted with the plastic to melt it and bind it up immoveable.  I could get the paddle halves together, just not lock.

I mailed them and was told its not reversible.  Now I had a real problem.  I considered the problem and thought the application of heat may free up the mechanism.  It did but now was stuck fully pressed in and wouldn't spring back up.

This enabled me to get the two pieces together but now I have a one piece paddle, never to be a two piece again.  Its inconvenient but at least I don't have to throw it away.

This is a warning ... don't use Jig-a-loo to lubricate anything plastic.

Friday, May 4, 2012

My Greenland paddle and I

The "stick"

 Several years ago, jumping on the bandwagon, I carved a Greenland paddle.  I tried it and didn't like it so went back to the Euro blade.

My recent bout with rotator cuff issues prompted me to give it another try because its supposed to be easy on the joints.  I took it to St. Philips last evening.  I paddled around in the inner harbour a bit and then out into the cove.  After only about half a kilometer my rear deltoids were screaming.  Again I dismissed making the change and ...
Back on deck

put the thing back on the foredeck.

Some of the guys have transitioned seamlessly to the Greenland paddle.  I have no idea why I find it so unappealing.  I'm not one to get into something just because its in fad but I would use the GP if it helped with stress on the body.

I'm afraid my Greenland paddle and I will never be friends.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Connecting the dots

A low paddle style

Armed with the picture of the rotator cuff (on the last post) its easier to see why we do things the way we do when executing certain strokes.  For example, "face your work" when doing a skulling draw.

When I paddle in wind, other than into it, I find I do a lot of sweep strokes to keep the kayak on course.  Upon reflection, I realize I may have let my technique slip a bit and that may have contributed to my rotator cuff injury.  The torso should follow the paddle as it sweeps towards the stern but I may have been cheating on that part of the stroke.  I think I've just been pulling my arm back further while still facing forward.

Hindsight is 20/20.  Once I get a full recovery I'll be more careful to assess my technique on an ongoing basis to avoid slipping into bad habits.

Connecting the dots then, its about good technique, strengthening exercises for both the main and stabilizer muscles of the shoulder and a balanced approach to kayaking in relation to other interests.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rotator cuff and the paddler

Here's the detail

I'm in recovery from a rotator cuff injury and part of that recovery is educating myself.  I was extremely disappointed to have suffered the injury because I know my main shoulder muscles are plenty strong.  I felt over-confident in fact until my daughter asked me whether I trained the stabilizer muscles of the shoulder, that is the muscles of the rotator cuff.  No I said.

Here's my bird's eye view of that joint so important to paddlers.  I'm not qualified in the field but what follows is research I've done; you should satisfy yourself if any of this is useful.

The rotator cuff comprises four muscle and tendons that hold the ball of the upper arm in the socket of the shoulder.  An injury can occur in any of the four so to track it down its necessary to know something about each.

Going clockwise from lowest in the photo are:

The (1) teres minor, and (2)  infraspinatus rotate the shoulder and arm externally.

The (3) supraspinatus begins to raise the shoulder joint and arm when held out to the side.

The (4) subscapularis attaches to the front ribs and rotates the shoulder internally or forward and it also pulls the ball of the upper arm down so that the shoulder joint can clear the clavicle when raising the arm to the side above shoulder height.

There are strengthening and stretching exercises and for each of these muscles and tendons.  They are easy to find by googling.  I know they are important now.  I just wish I had realized it before my injury because I could have avoided it.  I hope others can learn from my experience.

Educated comments , or other insights, invited!