Thursday, November 29, 2012

Torngat trip

Last night we got our first dump of snow and as the snow fell outside, I took in a presentation of Lev and company's trip this past summer to northern Labrador.  They paddled on some of the most isolated coast on the planet under the Torngat Mountains of the same named national park.

The Labrador coast is as isolated as Alaska.  Alaska, much younger by comparison, is made up of exotic terranes that have accreted to the continent.  Labrador, on the other hand, represents the roots of the continent.  Its rocks are primarily gneisses formed under tremendous heat and pressure deep in the Earth.

The threesome paddled some 650 kms over a 30 day period from Nain to Nachvak Fjord.  The average temperature was 5 C, the sun was rarely seen and the threat of polar bears constant.  Its an extreme paddle.  Lev has some pictures of the ancient rocks, vistas and a polar bear on his site.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meeting the buzzsaw

I have a tablesaw that I've used safely for twenty-five years, until Saturday.  Still can't figure out how it happened, it happened so quickly.  One thing for sure, flesh can't compete with a carbide tipped blade.  Luckily, I didn't cut off my thumb but I did give it a good scare.  Its a nasty looking wound that after two days has finally stopped weeping.  It could have been a whole lot worse and I'm sure it will heal fully.  It will test my patience.

In the meantime my paddling has been restricted to YouTube.  I found some excellent clips of a bunch of paddlers from California dubbed "Neptune's Rangers".  They're in shorter playboats but still some of the places and situations they get into are, shall I say, entertaining.  Look for them on YouTube.  Just don't try any of this stuff in a fibreglass kayak.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No sweat

I woke up this morning to minus temperatures.  Some standing water had caught over with ice.  A first taste of approaching winter.

With a maximum temperature of 0 C and northwest winds of 16 knots gusting to 27 there were no proposals for a day paddle.  Dean and I decided to head down to St Philips for a bounce in the waves and hopefully some surf rides.

Gary enjoying the bounce.

Clyde and Gary were also at the put-in when I arrived.  Excellent I thought, there'd be four of us.  We knew we were in for some good entertainment judging by the angry sea as we looked out over the cove.

Clyde and Dean rafted up for a chat as Bell Island disappears behind the wave they were on.

Now you see Dean and ...

... now you don't.

It was a cool day.  I paddled boxes catching some awesome surf rides with the wind at my back.  I know I'm catching a good one when I can hear my skeg hum as it vibrates pushed along by the surging water.

Just goofing around in the cove for a couple of hours I clocked 8 kms with a maximum speed of 19.1 kms/hr.

The wind chill was -6C but I felt warm.  It was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday and the best part was no flies and, I didn't sweat.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Iron, man!

The various layers of rock in the cliffs of Bell Island indicate that they are sedimentary in nature, composed of brownish grey shales and sandstones.  But, interbedded are beds of hematite iron ore.  That's an interesting relationship because sandstones and shales are formed by the mechanical transportation of sand and clay grains.  Hematite is too heavy to be transported any distance.  It has another origin.

In September I got out to explore this bed of hematite that had been mined on the west side of Bell Island.  The iron ore here had a substantial thickness.  So, how did it form?

Well, the iron ore had a chemical origin.  Hundreds of millions of years ago in the Ordovician geologic period the oceans at a time were anoxic, that is, there was very little oxygen in the water.  That was caused by widespread glaciation.

Along with the dissolved minerals that makes the sea salty, ferrous oxide (FeO) was in suspension.  As the climate warmed, glaciers melted and photosynthesis resumed and the oceans became more oxygenated.  The ferrous oxide reacted with the introduced oxygen to create the new compound ferric oxide (Fe2O3) which settled to the sea floor and formed these iron ore beds.

Interesting or what?  I think so. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Scratching the surface

The cliffs of Bell Island at some 200 feet high are quite imposing when looking up from the seat of a kayak.  But what is exposed at sea level is only scratching the surface.

These rocks were laid down in an Ordovician sea between 485 and 443 million years ago on the micro-continent of Avalonia which had separated from the super continent of Gondwana, in what was then a southern ocean.  Since then its drifted a long way north.

Fourty-two million years is a long time and a lot of sediment can build up over that time.  E. R. Rose estimates this series of rocks have a measured thickness of more than 8,000 feet in a Geological Survey of Canada memoir from 1952.  There's obviously way more to this "book" than what is to be seen at sea level.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Paddling in the shadows

The winds today were forecasted to be west 25 knots with gusts to almost 40.  Not the most appetizing but I formulated a plan.  Carry the kayaks onto the ferry to Bell Island, paddle in the shadow of the 200 foot cliffs and surf ride the west wind and waves back to Portugal Cove.

Dean and I caught the 9:20 sailing.  As chance would have it, we were the only kayaks on the ferry *lol*

We carried the kayaks a short distance from the ferry to a small beach where we put-in.

The winds may have been west but they wrapped around the island and were more like southwest as we approached The Beach.

Below and for a distance above the ferry terminal the island runs almost southwest to northeast and right in the wind.  Soon we were at Pulpit Head where the land bends towards the north and we were out of the wind. 

Dean on the south side of Long Harry Head.

And, on the north side of Long Harry Head where we got a little surprised by rebounding waves.  We had paddled up to Redmonds Head to check out the waves blowing in from the west before turning back under the cliffs and in the wind shadow.

As we came round Pulpit Head again heading south we lost the protection of the land and we were face and eyes into the wind.  The paddle became a slog.  We had planned to continue to Lance Cove but thought better of it and took out on a beach north of the ferry terminal that offered protection from the wind.

The original plan was to paddle and surf the 4.5 kms back to Portugal Cove but discretion being the best part of valour, we elected to catch the ferry back instead.  The approaching ferry with waves crashing over the bow reassured us that we had made the right decsion.

A short paddle but we were out.  As we disembarked carrying the kayaks in tandem we joked with staff that we had brought our own life boats.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election over

Well, the big election is finally over.  Not the presidency of the United States of America, but the election of officers and Board members for Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador.

It wasn't as riveting as the Obama - Romney joust and there was no mud slinging.  To be honest it was a coronation because the positions went uncontested.  No matter, we have a full Board of volunteers that will keep KNL running for the next year.

KNL offers and backs a lot of kayaking activities over the year running from a club newsletter, club paddles, presentations and workshops.  It wouldn't happen without volunteers so I applaud them for stepping forward to keep the good work going.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Return of the sun

Today the wind forecast was for 20 knots and gusts of 30 knots.  We decided to to try our luck that waves suitable for surfing would be generated.  It was windy but not enough to give us the waves.  We decided to paddle into the wind and ride it back.

The wind was manageable but gusts did rustle up the water.

There were five of us:





It was great to get a paddle in because today was the first day we've seen the sun in 10 days.  It wasn't because it was cloudy.  Its been foggy, drizzly and rainy and windy.

Thanks guys for a fun paddle.