Sunday, September 30, 2012

Paddling under the harvest moon

Last night 15 paddlers in 13 kayaks met at St. Philips for a moonlight paddle.  It was a harvest moon paddle; the harvest moon being so named because it is the full moon nearest the autumn equinox.  Farmers used it to extend their harvest time in fall.  We used it as a backdrop to a very enjoyable paddle.

We have tried to do this paddle for three years but up to now weren't lucky enough to have the moon accompany us.  Here is shines on the water with the lights of St. Philips.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Not true on this night.  This shot catches Sue under the moon with its light shimmering on the water.  It was much more surreal than the picture suggests with much more light being actually cast on the water.

We paddled out of the harbour and the first thing Alex and I saw was a meteor.  It blazed a trail across the sky that was almost in slow motion compared to a meteorite.  I thought to myself, the night was off to a good start.

Still in the bay was the oil drill rig Henry Goodridge, just over the bow of the red boat.  We paddled out to it in daylight two weeks ago but in the dark it was lit up like a Christmas tree.

While there was a significant amount of light provided by the moon I till had to get up close in order for the camera flash to capture any detail.  Here, Dean, who always seems to be on the water when I am gets caught by the flash.

We stopped for a break at Topsail Beach.  There was very little wind but a sizeable broad open swell was running.  When it hit the beach it required care in landing.  Dad Alex makes it easy for Sandy.

We all had various arrangements of glow sticks so we could keep track of everyone on the water.

When we landed Dean spotted a campfire that was abandoned but still had hot embers.  We collected what wood was around and got it going again.  Oh but for a bag of marshmellows!

Here's the crew on last night's paddle.

Excellent paddle all around gang, thanks very much for sharing the night.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Around Bell Island, the long way (3)

We were on our way again after our stop for lunch.  As we left Front Bell Cove we felt the wind blowing from the southeast.

Occasionally the high cliffs gave way to small coves, but there weren't many.

Approaching Chimney Rock we were almost across the south facing end of the island.  Around the corner we turned in a northerly direction and back towards Dominion Pier.

Hazen paddling in front of Lance Cove.

At Scotia Pier the rocks took on a reddish tinge indicating there was more hematite in the rock.  Scotia Pier and Dominion Pier were two of the piers where the mined iron ore was loaded into bulk carriers when the mines were still operating on Bell Island.  There's not much left now, only crumbling concrete and rusting, twisted iron.

Five hours after leaving Dominion Pier for our circumnavigation we were back for a quick break before we crossed back to St. Philips.

Facing into the southeast winds we made our way across the 5 km crossing of the Tickle.  The distance we crossed in the morning on calm seas took an additional 15 minutes in the wind.  I was relieved to be back at St. Philips.

Dean, Hazen and I stopped for coffee while Brian decided to go directly home  At the restaurant I decided I may as well have supper so I had their specialty, fish and chips.  I felt I deserved it having gone around Bell Island, the long way.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Around Bell Island, the long way (2)

Fourty-five minutes after leaving Dominion Pier we were at the north end of Bell Island and pointed our bows southerly to paddle down the west side of the island.

A major sea stack.

The coast along here featured what looked like a numerous caves but were in fact the result of extracting iron ore.

I ran the kayak up on the slippery slope and gingerly made my way up to have a look.  After walking around some it became obvious that these were man made.  Brian and Hazen waited while I explored.

The paddle down the west side took to hours before we reached "The Bell" for which Bell Island is named.

We were dwarfed by the cliffs as we paddled between the sea stack and the island.

On the south side of the island, at Front Bell Cove, we stopped for lunch.  It was 12:15 and it was time to eat.  We had paddled 21 kms and were a bit over half way through our circumnavigation of Bell Island, the long way round.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Around Bell Island, the long way (1)

I've circumnavigated Bell Island before.  Then I took the ferry over, did the circumnavigation and took the ferry back.  Dean and I have talked about doing it again but this time we'd do the crossing ourselves.  That adds 10 kms to the trip.

This morning Brian, Dean, Hazen and I met at St. Philips to do the 5 km crossing to Dominion Pier on Bell Island before starting our paddle around the island.

Dean and I were dressed in dry suits.  It was too hot.  At Dominion Pier I took mine off.  Once dressed more appropriately for the unseasonable warm weather we left Dominion Pier and headed north to do the trip counter clock wise.

Immediately we were under the tall cliffs of the island.

It was a spectacular day, more like mid-summer and not the day when summer turned into fall.

We were near the north end of the island which this feature indicated.

The water was several hour from high tide but we padded into this tunnel to see if we could get through anyway.  Dean managed it but with quite some effort.  The rest of us decided to go around.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Clouds, from one side now

Sometimes the thing that captures our attention on the water is the coastline.  Sometimes its the kayaks along the coastline.  This evening three of us paddled a familiar coast and the thing that captured my attention was the clouds.

Before the sun set, the sky was greyish with the drill rig Henry Goodridge floating on the horizon.

After the sun went down it seemed everything turned to blue.

It stayed blue but the clouds were ever changing.

While the sun had set, the openings in the clouds allowed enough light to highlight ... a kayaker.

And another kayaker and the Henry Goodridge with her lights coming on.

Gene, Glen and I finished our paddle just as darkness set in.  In the descending darkness the clouds disappeared and it all turned to black but there was interest in that in between time between sunset and total darkness.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New World Island trip promotion

This is not New World Island

One of the guys sent me a link to a trip report of a paddle around New World Island in Notre Dame Bay by Kate Hartland and company that I wanted to share.  The trip report is 10 pages long with many very scenic pictures taken on a seven day circumnavigation of the island.

Here's the link to the site.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shorter days

At the setting of the sun

Our Thursday evening sessions at St. Philips are getting shorter as each day we're losing about two minutes a day of daylight.  Sunset today was at 7:18 but its still worthwhile getting out for a workday evening.  Not only for the paddling, but also for the sunsets.

Almost gone

We squeezed every last minute out of the evening as the last rays of sunlight sank behind Bell Island.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hodge podge strained through a Leslie


Hurricane Leslie lingered near Bermuda before she headed north with Newfoundland as the bulls eye.  When she hit it was downgraded to a tropical storm but she still packed a punch.  The Tickle was a mass of frothy water in the 40 knot winds with gusts to 50+.  I went to have  look as I was really interested in the conditions at St. Philips.  I was impressed as I watched the tops of the waves being ripped off by the wind.

The oil rig Henry Goodridge seemed to be laughing at the wind and saying, give me your best. 

Calm here

I was surprised to see hardly a ripple in the cove at St. Philips.

Green light?

I considered running home to get my kayak but I thought better of it.  I was afraid anyone on shore would think me an idiot.

Waves crashing

On the north side of the cove the wind and waves came in with full fury.


Nothing going on in the boat basin either.

It seemed to me a metaphor when things go south in a kayak.  Amid all the confusion outside, everything should remain calm on the inside.

Leslie left in a hurry but power and other services weren't restored to some for hours later.  I said good riddance.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday at the Cape

  Leaving Quidi Vidi

Today Clyde, Dean, Hazen and I were out to Cape Spear.  Its not Cape Horn but it is our Cape.  It also has a claim to fame; its the most easterly point of North America.  We launched from the quaint fishing village of Quidi Vidi on the doorstep of St. John's.

Out into the Atantic

Leaving Quidi Vidi and turning south towards Freshwater Bay we had the massive red sandstone cliffs to starboard with some swell beating up on the shore.

Looking in

About 20 minutes later we were at the mouth of St. John's Harbour.  Be careful to look both ways to avoid being run down by traffic exiting or entering the harbour!

Fort Amherst

Fort Amherst guards the harbour on the south side.  It was the site of gun emplacements during WW II, the big one.  The guns are all gone and all that's left now is crumbling concrete, which in my humble opinion is an eyesore.


Following the Southside Hills we arrived at the bottom of Freshwater Bay where there's  fine lagoon behind the boulder and cobblestone barachois.

 Spriggs Point

Spriggs Point separates Freshwater Bay on the right from Deadmans Bay on the left.

In Deadmans Bay

Hazen preparing to plant his paddle in the active water.  There was very little wind but out in the exposed North Atlantic the sea always seems to be in a state of turmoil.

 Passing Blackhead

The wind was forecast to pick up near noon and it did.  Nothing serious but the direction was right for a quick ride back from the Cape to Quidi Vidi.

At the Cape

We arrived at the Cape, the most easterly point of North America.  We paddled a bit beyond to have a look south.  As we did Des, Gerard and Linda appeared from Petty Harbour which is in that direction.  We rafted up and had a chat.  Linda will be relieved her picture is not posted *lol*

After hanging out for some time we turned our bows towards the north and Quidi Vidi.  We covered the 4 nautical miles in 1 hour but could have taken another block of time out of it had we applied ourselves.

A coffee at Tim's put the exclamation point on a fine day of paddling.