Friday, June 29, 2012

Cranking out strokes


My doctor recently told me I was no longer 20.  I knew that but was hesitant to acknowledge it.  My sore joints, particularly wrists and shoulders, are forcing me to face reality.

I currently use a Werner Camano, straight shaft, but its causing me grief.  Gerard was kind enough to lend me a couple of bent shaft paddles, an Athena and an Ikelos.

I first tried the Athena (low angle, touring) but found it under-powered, for me, compared to the Camano.  The Athena has a 550 sq cm paddle face area compared to the Comano's 650.


Next, I took the Ikelos (high angle touring) with its gigantic spoon sized face at 710 sq cms.  Lots of power to get moving fast in a hurry but I thought at the end of a long day of paddling I'd be exhausted.

But it wasn't so much about the power face, it was about the bent shaft allowing the wrists to open up a bit.


To get a better feel for the difference between the bent and straight shafts, and the difference in power, I joined one end of the Athena with the Camano.

Even a GP

I even tried Sean' Greenland paddle for a bit.

The consensus?  The bent shaft I think is the solution to my paddle woes.  So, its off to the outfitter to buy bent shaft Camano.  More kayaking money flying out the window *lol* but its easy to justify.  And, its approved by the Minister of Finance, my wife Sherry.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kayaking in the subconscious

On the rocks

Sometimes a situation simmers in my subconscious and, eurika, out comes a solution at unexpected times.

A case in point.  Saturday Clyde got washed up on the rocks, as did I, by some small waves.  After a bit of effort we extricated ourselves from the situation and got going again.

It stuck in my mind.  I thought what if the waves were larger or a rogue wave arrived.  They could really bash us around and could hole my fibreglass boat.  In hindsight, I think I would be better served in a similar situation by getting out of the boat quickly, point it into the incoming waves, jump in and get the blazes out of there.

Better still, avoid the risk in the first place.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Looking for pirates on Kellys Island

Foggy exit

The day started off with a fog hanging over Conception Bay as we arrived at Long Pond.  Clyde, Dean, Gary, Gerard and I were going to do a crossing to Kellys Island.  The sun was shining on shore and in the harbour but outside Kellys Island was shrouded in a cloak of invisibility.

Which way?

As we exited the harbour we emerged into the fog bank.  I suggested we just paddle in the direction of our noses *lol*, not really.  We had a compass bearing ...


... which we followed and after the allotted time to do the crossing Kellys Island rose out of the fog.

Foggy shore

After arriving at the island we paddled north along the foggy shore greeted by throngs of seagulls that screeched at us from shore.

The sun was winning

The sun was winning the battle with the fog.  We knew it would only be a question of time before the fog would clear.

Crystal clear

While the fog was not quite burned off, the waters were crystal clear as Dean and Gary appear to be suspended above the bottom.

Martins Cove

When we entered Martins Cove the sun had won the battle.  In bright sunshine we landed on the cobble beach where we had lunch.  Afterwards we climbed up onto the land overlooking the cove where we decided it was a good place for a short kayak camp trip. 

Along the shore in Big Cove

Clyde and Dean paddling in the bright sunshine that again highlighted the bottom.

Almost around

We were back on the same side of the island where we had crossed.

 Up on high

Another beach with plenty of time to spare, we decided to land and climb a path up the cliff face to have a look around.

Reaching the top at about 100 feet we had a good view of the entire reaches of Conception Bay.  The land itself was fairly flat with excellent camping ground.  As I looked around I wondered where Peter Easton had berried his treasure on this island.  Easton was a pirate in the early 17th century and  story persists that he hired a local fisherman to take him to Kellys Island.  He landed empty handed but returned with a large pot and paid the fisherman with a gold coin.  Could he have left any behind?

Red, right, return

We climbed down from our perch to cross back over to Long Pond.  As we neared there was a steady stream of yachts and power boats leaving the harbour.  Remembering the addage "Red, Right, Return" we safely re-entered the harbour.

We didn't find any sign of Peter Easton, or of his treasure, but we did have a glorious day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

First day of summer


Eight of us met Thursday evening for our usual practice/social/paddle a St. Philips.

Some of us were content to paddle around, some got wet intentionally and Dean got wet when he cracked off his Greenland paddle doing a roll.  Brian to the rescue as a few looked on.

 Where's my spare

I accompanied Dean back to the harbour to get his spare as he alternately paddled on both sides with half of his paddle, and at a good pace too I might add. 

There they are

When Dean and I came out into the cove again there was no sign of the crowd.  They had decided to amble along the shore towards Portugal Cove.   After a while we spotted them low against the shoreline.

Bright sunshine

It was a beautiful evening on the first full day of summer with the sun brightly shining upon the rocky cliffs.


 The angle of the sun cast shadows highlighting the deeply etched rocks.

In the shade

 At Sailing Point the channel was in deep shadow ...


 .... except between the rocks of the channel it was still bright as I caught Gary paddling through.


We turned at Beachy Cove to paddle back back to St. Philips.  We felt a little less rugged in our drysuits at Beachy Cove where we watched a couple of kids swimming in the cool ocean water without thermal protection.

Emerald scene

Dean and I paddled up the river when we arrived back at St. Philips to wash out our gear in the fresh water.  The rest of the gang took out on the beach.  It had been an entertaining evening.

The sea was calm, the day warm and brilliant and the evening as long as it gets.  It wasn't all "work" as we concluded with a short relaxed paddle.  Its what we do Thursday evenings; a good excuse to get on the water.

Monday, June 18, 2012

After the whales

At Torbay Point

After our friends the whales seemed to have disappeared we paddled up to Torbay Point where the seas grew considerably.

Following seas

We hung out a little while in the big seas before paddling into Outer Cove on a following sea.  We hugged the shoreline along the reddish sandstone cliffs playing in the clapotis until we were into Outer Cove where we ...

Lunch stop

... stopped in this little cove for lunch.  Here we were out of eyesight of the homes clustered, overlooking the main cove.

Entering Middle Cove

As we made our way into Middle Cove the rocks changed from reddish sandstones to blackish slates.

Gaping holes

At the bottom of the 200 foot cliffs the sea found weaknesses in the rocks and was relentlessly pounding away to make these huge caves.

Rock fall

Eventually, the cliffs get undercut so much that the rock face comes tumbling down.  Good thing we weren't here when that happened.

Back at Middle Cove where we had put-in earlier we ended our day with the whales and the waves.  We packed up, went for coffee and called it a great day.

I haven't done a lot of day trips recently due to my continuing shoulder injury.  While my shoulder felt the day's work, I was happy to be out and it is slowly getting better.  At least its going in the right direction.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A whale of a date

Waiting for the boys

The plan at the start of the day was to meet in Middle Cove to see if the iceberg that was grounded there, was still there.  It wasn't but we were not one bit disappointed.  We were in store for some close encounters with whales.

Here they come

Clyde and Tobias joined Dean and myself who had paddled at our leisure towards Motion.  The water was quite active, most waves between 1 and 1.5 meters.  It told us we were on the sea.

A seal

We spotted some plumes from whales breaching in Torbay and made our way over there.  En route, I happened upon a seal that didn't realize I had paddled stealthily up to it.  Hard to see but trust me, its there in the middle of the picture, near the horizon.


There were whale spouts all over the place.  Difficult to say how many were feeding but my guess was between 6 and 10.  The spouts were the first hints they were about.  The sound of the whale clearing its blowhole was a sign they were close.


There were lots of gulls overhead and I suspected where they were, so were the whales.  We just floated about hoping the whales would pass by close to our position.  It wasn't long before ...

Another diving

... we heard another woosh and another surfaced before diving back into the depths.  I was close to numerous whales, some coming right towards me, but the active water made them difficult to capture with the camera.  They didn't stay long on the surface as they were busy feeding and once on the surface the wave crests often got in the way.  One dove right in front of me before I could get the camera ready but ...

I see you

... as I looked down into the water under my boat I saw the white flippers of the humpback, plunged the camera into the water and hoped.

Cat and mouse

Another set of flukes racing away.


We saw a couple of plumes across the bay near the Rocky Hills in Outer Cove so we went to have a look.  When we got there they had disappeared.

Oh well, we had a very good first day of whale watching.  I've been lucky to have paddled close to whales numerous times but no matter how often it happens its always an awestruck moment.

We paddled to Torbay Point where it got gnarly before paddling back to Middle Cove, stopping in Outer Cove for lunch.  Those pictures for a later day.

Here's a link to Dean's blog with a few other shots of the whales today.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On the rocks


Thursday evening again and the water is warming.  Time to get out of the boat and do some self and assisted rescues.  That was great but in calm conditions, not a big challenge.  So we went for a short paddle.

High and dry

Some of us got into some interesting places.

Anyone who has gotten stranded on a rock knows balance becomes a problem as the water drops away.  The first time it happened to me it was disconcerting.


After Dean extricated himself he looked back at me.  I intentionally ran the kayak onto kelp covered rocks.  No need for panic, I just waited for the water to return and float me off again.  Doing this a few times on purpose, it became a lot less un-nerving.

Riding the surge

Timing, when riding the surge over rocks, is everything.  It takes practice to get the timing right.  The conditions were very beginner-like and that was OK because it was great fun.

There are lots of things to practice.  Get out there, have fun and become a better paddler.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The G-man get his new boat

The christening

Gerard ordered  a kevlar Nordkapp LV before Christmas.  It has arrived.  This past weekend he and Hazen went to Bay Bulls for its inaugural paddle.  What are you pouring on there Gerard?

All aboard

Notice how Gerard is getting in carefully avoiding the rocks.  I felt the same way a couple of years ago but with time and that first scrape over a submerged rock, the boat will truly be christened.  Its unavoidable, a sad fact of life.

Not so close

And, there will be times when collisions or little bumps are also unavoidable.  Its that first one that sends chills up the spine.  Nevertheless, taking delivery and the first paddle in a new boat will always be burned onto the mind, the mind of happy memories.

Great looking boat Gerard, a unique G-man special colour scheme.  I know you will enjoy it.

Thanks Hazen for the use of your photos.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kayak cookbook

Beachy Cove


  • 1 foggy, drizzly day,
  • 1 broad residual swell from previous storm,
  • 1 rocky coastline,
  • 1 lengthening summer evening,
  • 8 undeterred paddlers
Yield: one enjoyable paddle and one satisfied group of paddlers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


A change is supposed to be as good as a rest.  Maybe.

My notebook crapped out  couple of days ago.  I said to myself "Oh no, I need a new notebook in order to blog".  So, off I went to buy your basic computer necessary to access the information highway.

The new notebook looked sleek and I was anxious to get it going.  That's when I realized a change is not always good.  I went from Windows XP to Windows 7.  As someone who grew up with DOS I was most comfortable directing operations myself.  Windows takes that away a little bit.  And, there are unexpected surprises like the computer now doesn't recognize the camera whereas the old one did.

Anyway, it will take a little while to get back up to speed and comfortable with the new operating system.  Then it will take on an air of familiarity.

Its a bit like kayaking too.  In order to grow paddle-wise, you need to get out of the comfort zone and try new challenging things.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

High over Greenland

A week ago

There's a high pressure system stuck over Greenland.  Its keeping a low pressure system in place over the Avalon Peninsula.  The rotation in the high and the low is flowing cold air from a northerly direction over us.  Today, accompanied by drizzle.  As a consequence there aren't too many interested in paddling.

Days like this I sustain myself with other activities and think about other days when it was a pleasure to paddle.  Some of those days came to mind this morning when I met Stan for a coffee.  Talking kayaking with him I think has gotten his juices flowing again.  I hope so.  There's always next weekend.