Sunday, October 28, 2012

Frayed ends

Four days now of cold, windy, rainy, drizzly and foggy days.  I feel like my nerves are frayed.  While its not fit to paddle, the inclement weather has given me time to do other kayak related stuff.

I've drafted an article about our circumnavigation of Merasheen Island in August for Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador's publication "Ebb & Flow".  Here's a link to past editions that may be of interest.

The other thing I've done is I've repaired the frayed end of one of the wrist gaskets in my drysuit.  It was looking worn and about to tear.  Rather than replace it I decided to try and extend its useful life.  I inserted the right size object into the gasket, roughed up the surface, applied Aquaseal and folded the edge back on itself.  A little trick I thought worth sharing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One is (not always) the lonliest number

I've been working like a dog since the start of fall.  Trying to get a few jobs finished before winter.  Today I decided to take the afternoon off and go for a paddle.  I had to.

I went by myself.  It was one of those times when being alone let me take my time, time to reflect.

Paddling with a group often means keeping up.   But today I was on my own timetable. Time to stop and just float, listening to the water wash over the rocks.  Time to marvel at the forces of nature.  Here, the rocks have all been contorted out of shape in the Topsail fault zone. Time to feel small but connected to reality.

Being alone means no one talk to but that's OK too if you don't mind keeping yourself company.  Here, in one of my favourite little channels, I stopped.  In the silence I could hear myself breathe and feel the beating of the heart in my chest.  I felt alive.

Beachy Cove, a popular spot on hot summer days was thankfully deserted.  I noted a few trees shedding their leaves, a stark realization that another season was passing by.  A reminder to step off the treadmill sometimes ... rather ... more often.

The gentle NW breeze kept me cool adding to the sensual experience of being out by myself.

Today was a zen paddle.  I felt refreshed, rejuvenated.

I enjoyed my solo paddle but most often I enjoy the company of friends.  No man is an island; in a kayak, upon the sea, is meant to be shared.  After all, kayaking pictures need other kayakers in them.  Otherwise, they're just pictures of seascapes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Where have all the paddlers gone?

Saturday was a super day to paddle but it just didn't happen.  No one interested.  I mailed the gang with a plan for a Sunday paddle.  Again, no takers.  I pulled the plug on that and said I intended to do a short paddle in the afternoon.  Join me if so disposed.

Dean would join me.  Here he paddles out of the harbour, past what looks like the Pillars of Hercules.

It looked calm out in the bay but there was a sizable broad open swell running in the bay caused by post-tropical storm Rafael.  Its well offshore now but it was still sending waves our way.  Easy paddling off from the coast but in close the swell crashed where it met the land.  Can you say clapotis?

At times I was looking down on Dean.

Hard to believe the action on shore was as violent as it was based on the sea state.  Little Bell Island and Kellys Island hover on the horizon.

I kept my gaze well ahead as we paddled along looking for where the waves built and broke.  I didn't want to get caught on the wrong side of the break.

The one place where we were able to scoot between the rocks and the shore.

As we approached Topsail Head the southerly winds dropped over the hill and picked up speed.  The gusts rushing downhill met the breaking waves at the shoreline and blew the tops of the waves.

We got out at Topsail Beach, myself not so elegantly, but safely.  The waves dumped on the beach as we sat.  Ummm ... that could be interesting getting away again I thought.  After sizing up the wave sets I felt it wouldn't be an issue and both of us got back afloat without incident.

Seven kilometers later back at St Philips we had our usual coffee.

Today's paddle was along a familiar coast but the action at the sea - land interface made it a different experience anyway.  Dean and I enjoyed it and I wondered where have all the paddlers gone?  Gone to other things everyone.  At least this weekend anyway.  And, wasn't that a great 60's song?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Another seat repair

Last year after my Long Island trip I had a repair to do on my seat.  The seat had broken away on the left side from where it attaches to the deck beside the cockpit.  The repair is still good but Thursday evening the other side cracked off also.

Today it raining,  perfect opportunity to fix up the new injury.

Fellow kayak blogger Gnarlydog from Australia left a message with a link to a Nordkapp seat replacement he did.  I had a look and its a fine job but I'm not sure about my capabilities to replicate the job.  I elected to duplicate my repair of last year.  I epoxied the broken piece back in and went to step 2.

While the epoxy was drying I bent up a piece of metal (laying on deck) and cut it to fit over the plastic.  Some pop rivets and now its well reinforced.  Both sides should be fine now and I'm good to go again.

Considering what I paid for the kayak, I shouldn't have to be doing this.  The Nordkapp by Valley is top of the line in terms of layup, handling etc, etc but they just didn't get this seating set-up right.  If this was a car there would be a recall.  No?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The last time

Well, October 11 was the last Thursday evening practice session at St. Philips for the year.  It was a windy and rainy evening and it seems everyone else gave it a pass.  I stuck round in the cove for a while and then decided to paddle up the shore a bit.

The wind was ESE when I left the cove but in very short order the wind turned WSW as forecasted.  And, it picked up considerably.  In no time at all I was paddling into 20 kt winds with gusts to 30 and 1 meter wind waves.  I turned back.  There was spray coming off the waves.  I thought to myself, I better hold the paddle a bit tighter.

There was no panic, just some super surf rides.  The strong winds at my back made it easy to catch the waves.

When I got back the light was failing.  The evenings from now on will be just to short to make it worthwhile.

We've had a mild summer in term of conditions but it was successful nonetheless.  Our average contingent over the summer was 6-7 paddlers.  The most I believe was 10 and the fewest was one, this evening.

I'll miss these Thursday evening events because its not all about practice but a chance for a bit of social interaction.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paddling in a quartering sea

Yesterday we paddled up to Chamberlains Head.  We started to feel the forecasted strengthening winds when we turned back.  We had steady wind on our starboard aft that generated waves big enough to force the stern downwind.  Maintaining a heading required some strategy.

When we got back to St. Philips Malcolm and his threesome came in after us.  I missed the start of the conversation and came into it as Malcolm asked if Hazen did sweep strokes to stay on course.  I believe that's the way it went.  Anyway, that's one idea.

I volunteered that my strategy for paddling on course in quartering seas is to get into sync with the sea and as a wave approaches, edge the kayak into the wave but keep paddling as normal.  I find that the combination of edging to force the bow to port and the wave forcing the stern downwind keeps me on course.  I find it also less tiring than having to continually sweep on one side and also the paddling cadence drops to match the period of the waves.

Of course, that doesn't mean an occasional sweep isn't necessary as circumstances dictate.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Giving thanks

This is Thanksgiving Day weekend in Canada.

Its a time of reflection, time to think about all the good things in our lives.  The way I have it sized up is that life doesn't travel in a straight level line.  There are good times and sometimes things don't go quite so well.  Hopefully the good times out weigh the other stuff.

Even in bad times there are always things that, upon reflection, we should be thankful for.  When things don't go my way, I think to myself that things could always be worse.

So, my hope for today is that everyone has some reason to be thankful.  I know I do.  I celebrated with a paddle with Clyde Dean and Hazen.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My first lead

Saturday night's moonlight paddle was a Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador club paddle.  It was the first club paddle I have led.  It was an interesting experience.

In one sense I felt awkward because there were two more vastly experienced paddlers in the group; I wondered if I'd run the paddle appropriately under their scrutiny.  On the other hand, I knew I had excellent back up.

The trip was successful as there were no incidents and everyone got back safely. Nevertheless, I did some self assessment and decided I could have done things differently or better.  For example, I should have delegated collection of waivers and identified sweeps beforehand rather than decide on the water.

Overall, it was a good experience and if the club would let me lead another next year I'll come up with another interesting paddle destination.  I have benefited from attending club paddles when I was a newbie so I see it as my turn to give back.