Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Getting off the beach

Middle Cove is a dumping beach.

Launching through dumping waves can be tricky.  There isn't much written about the subject so, its learn by instruction or do it yourself and by mistakes.

John Lull in the excellent book "Sea Kayaking Safety & Rescue" indicates the best method is to have someone on shore give you a good push after the last wave in the set.  If no one is available the suggestion is to seal launch.  Not happening for me with  fibreglass boat.

I've worked out what I think will work well if executed correctly.

Going sideways

I positioned the kayak below the high water mark of the largest wave after the largest in the set passed.  My intention was to dig my fists into the sand to hold the boat in the smaller waves and get the skirt on before the larger waves arrived to carry me off the beach.

I jumped in the boat and gingerly put on my skirt due to my continuing sore shoulder.  Speed putting on the skirt is key but I was much too slow.  I got pasted by the next dumping wave and pushed sideways up the beach.  Like I said, learning by mistakes.

In the kisser

I managed to get the boat perpendicular to the waves but was carried off the beach by the retreating wave.  I didn't want that to happen.  I wanted to ride the largest wave out as it was flowing up the beach, not ride it out as it drained back to sea.

My reasoning was that the retreating wave contributes to the breaking of the wave coupled with the sudden rise of the beach.  Riding out on the incoming, surging wave would avoid having to paddle through the dumping wave.

Again, you can see, learning again by mistake.

Presented with the situation, I plunged my paddle into the dumping wave and paddled hard to avoid being pushed back onto the beach.

 Made it

It all worked out OK as I didn't get my face planted back on the beach.  But I learned something that I'll apply more accurately the next time, at least if my shoulder doesn't hurt so much tucking the skirt into the back combing.

Regardless of instruction or not, you still have to do it.  That's how to learn.

Thanks to Dean who shot these pictures and probably had a chuckle at my graceful launch.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

In search of whales


Today four of us met at Middle Cove to go in search of whales.  Its one of these things where the anticipation is an objective in itself.  One never knows how these paddles will go.

There was a  sizable sea in the cove and it was a cool 11C.  We weighed our launch options as Middle Cove is a dumping beach.  The extreme left seemed to be the best option and we all got on the water without incident. 

Looking up

Once on the water we were greeted by a significant swell pushing into the cove.  It was going to be an entertaining day.  We could see a large flock of seagulls out at Torbay Point that indicated where we could encounter whales.

Lumpy water

I saw spouts of spray.  All at once a humpback whale surfaced and dove again swimming into Outer Cove before I could get my camera out.  Drats I cursed my luck.


Out at Torbay Point the gulls had moved on and so apparently had the whales.  We sat bobbing up and down in the swell hoping for whale sightings.  We did see a couple more at some distance and heard them clearing their blow holes but were frustrated not being able to get one on camera.

Take-out for lunch

Disappointed at the scarcity of whales we decided to paddle back across the mouth of Middle Cove towards Motion to check out the action.  Conditions had calmed somewhat from earlier in the morning so much so that behind the protection of the off shore rocks we were able to pull out onto the seaweed covered rocks.

Tide pool

 Always something interesting in a tide pool.


Hazen used his paddle as a walking stick to stabilize himself walking across the slippery rocks.  Most of the time there's no possibility for a take-out here but it was easy and convenient.  We had a snack, or lunch, depending on the degree of hunger.

Its called Motion

This area between Middle Cove and Torbay is called Motion.  Its called Motion for a reason.  Hazen went to check out the waves breaking over the rocks.  We didn't stay long before paddling back to Middle Cove and the end of our paddle.

Bright sunshine

The sun, high in the cloudless sky, drenched everything with overpowering brightness as we made our way back into Middle Cove.  We had only paddled 13 kms because we had spent a considerable amount of time bobbing hopefully that a whale would present itself close by.

It wasn't a bust.  We did see whales.  Just no pictures of whales to share.  Sorry.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Paddling is paddling

Standing up

Recently there's been some discussion on our NewsGroup about different paddling preferences.  Namely, fast open water paddling and slower handrailing along the shore.  Here's another twist on paddling.  Mike showed up with a paddle board.

Store gear on top

There are no hatches so the gear has to be stowed on top.

Scramble on

Mike had the board tethered to his ankle and we were curious about getting back on after falling off.  Lower in the water and broader made it look easy to scramble on.

Exchanging boats

But we were here to kayak.  Mike took advantage of our presence to try the board out and avail of our assistance if needed.

Look out behind

And, we were here to have fun.  Dean pretending to spear Sean in the water.

Down below

One of the more unusual things I've seen in my kayak.   A couple of divers were in the cove.  Their surfacing air bubbles betrayed their presence.  No problem, we were able to share the space.

Anyway, Mike showed that paddling is paddling.  It doesn't matter if you paddle a sea kayak or a whitewater boat, use a Greenland paddle or Euro blade, paddle in open water or along the shore, paddle stormy seas or fair weather conditions.  The way I see it is get out there and have fun.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Paddling in fog

Fog moves in

Earlier today a posting appeared on the local NewsGroup about paddling in fog.  The plan by a party of three appeared to be paddle to an agreed location on a known heading.  One of the three paddled off heading, the others followed to keep the group together.  There was some speculation the wayward paddler wanted to handrail along the coast in the fog.  No matter, all three arrived safely.  But, it does raise some issues.

Paddling in fog to or from an island doesn't afford the paddler the handrailing option.  Then the ability to paddle on a heading takes on a greater or an absolute import.

Last June four of us paddled in a dense fog from Long Island to Bordeaux Island at the entry to Arnolds Cove.  It was a small target but we hit it dead on.  Why?  Because we had a bearing and we trusted the compass.  The sea was calm.

What if the sea is a mass of breaking waves and the kayak is yawing all over the place.  Padding even a short distance off course can have a huge impact on hitting the target, especially if there is no backstop.

If the kayak yaws back and forth regularly the overall heading may be maintained.  Attention to the degree of yaw relative to a wave set would be necessary to determine whether its necessary to adjust course one way or another.

If seas are so chaotic that its next to impossible to maintain an accurate heading the best option I believe is to take note of the heading angle relative to the waves or wind and keep a consistent overall angle relative to that.

Use time to cover the distance as a backstop when paddling to an island.

Also, I believe it would be wise to practice maintaining an accurate heading on a clear day just to get a feel for the difficulties that waves and wind present.

And, as a final backstop, have access to a functioning GPS.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oh joy!

Loving it

There are days when everything is in sync, when reserves of energy seem endless, when the kayak glides along effortlessly ... when paddling is pure joy.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hot fun in the summertime

Sprung a leak

The kayak is a northern boat.

I don't think the peoples of the north ever considered the kayak would be paddled in tropical locations or for just the sheer pleasure of it.

Yesterday evening it was 26 C but felt like 30 with the humidity.  I thought to myself "Too warm".  But, there is water for cooling so I went.  It was refreshing and to stay cool I filled the cockpit with water.

Getting out

Others did rolls or just fooled around in the water.


The glare of the sun was still strong but it had started to cool so we went for a short paddle.

Rocky shore

The sea was calm except for the small waves generated by sea-doos and other motor boats.

Brilliant sunshine

I've paddled plenty in minus, minus temperatures when I just keep going to keep warm.  In the heat of summer its just  matter of stopping for a dunk to cool down.  Another thing I'm sure the people of the north never considered necessary.