Saturday, March 30, 2013

After the storm surge, a bob

Yesterday, Good Friday, we experienced a significant storm surge all along the northeast coast.  It died down somewhat today, Saturday, but it was still blowing hard.  It really wasn't fit for a paddle so we opted for a bounce in the waves at St Philips.

The camera rarely captures the true sea state but in this shot taken towards Bell Island, it is nowhere to be seen unless the camera is on the crest of a wave and then ...

 ... Bell Island pops into view.

The wind was blowing northwest at 45 kms with gusts to 55.  We were out in the open.  There was no protection.  The mini-ripples heralded the the coming wind gusts.

We spent an hour and a half paddling into the wind, bobbing in the unorganzed waves and catching the odd surf ride.  Today it was core training.  The obliques got a good workout.

In the hour and a half my GPS said 6.5 kms.  Its surprising the distance covered just bobbing around in the waves.

An hour and a half after putting in we had enough.  We paddled back into the harbour and up into the river to ...

... rinse the salt out of our gear.  Sean went directly home.  Dean, Tobias and I stopped for a coffee and a chat.

How does a person learn to paddle in confused seas?  The answer - paddle in confused seas.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Storm Surge at St. Philips

A storm surge was in the forecast for the northeast coast of Newfoundland with waves offshore reaching 6 - 7 meters.  Exposed shorelines were in for a pounding.  It wouldn't be quite as dramatic at St Philips as it lies deeper inside of Conception Bay.

I went to have a look.

The waves piled the cobbles up against the 5 foot wall protecting the harbour ...

... and on top of the wall ...

... and over the wall.

Breaking waves, short surf ride.

I stood on top of the yellow blocks of wood by the light pole to get a shot of ...

... the waves as they rolled in the channel into the inner harbour.  I wasn't far enough away or high enough.  The wave rolled over the harbour apron and around my knees while I hung on to the pole.  Once the water drained away I moved from my perch just in time to catch ...

... this wave crashing over the sea wall.  That would have been a good soaking for sure if I had not moved.

Safe to say paddling was not an option today, at least safe paddling.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bronco busting in Bay Bulls

The theme for the day was big swell running in from the east, clapotis from all directions and wind waves driven in front of a west wind.  When we were in it, it was like riding a bucking bronco trying to throw us off its back.

Dean, Hazen and I met in Bay Bulls, put-in and paddled past the industrial complex. 

As we paddled across the lower reaches of the harbour it was apparent it was going to be rough at the harbour entrance.  A gentle swell at the bottom of the harbour roared ashore ...

... and went vertical.

The further out we paddled the more we were affected by the swell, clapotis and wind.

Out at the south headland it got interesting.  Huge volumes of water were transported towards shore on the swell.  Holding on to the paddle while turning on the camera with its miniscule power button and trying to get a steady shot was gingerly done to avoid going into the upside down world.

At the south headland we decided to paddle across the open mouth of the harbour to the north side where we hoped to get some protection from the north westerly winds.  Even on the north side the water was confused and tried to climb up onto the land.

Hazen digging in.

Dean was decided to paddle in close, dwarfed by the waves.

The cliffs did give us some protection from the wind but after rounding this point it was all hands on deck as we beat into 25 knot wind gusts for the final 2 kms.  It reminded me of a similar paddle we had a couple of years ago in the same harbour, but then we had a 5 km slog.

Behind Fairload the waters were calm.  We used its shelter.  It had come all the way from Rotterdam just for that purpose!

All in all, it was a super paddle that tested boat and paddler.  I think we passed the exam.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Brian Derrick and I met at St. Philips on  beautiful day for a short morning paddle.  A topic of conversation was the demise of Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador (KNL).  This post is both about pictures from the paddle and a rant.

We found out earlier this week that the Newfoundland an Labrador Paddle Association is proposing the formation of a new entity, Paddle Newfoundland and Labrador, that would take in the membership of KNL and Tumblehome Canoe Club and the windup of NLPA, KNL and Tumblehome.

KNL members were surprised to find out about this so suddenly after apparently several months of discussion.  We continued on our way paddling into and out of shade.

The fact that this discussion was taking place unknown to the membership is disconcerting.  Like we were being kept in the dark similar to this channel in shade.

A meeting has been called for April 17th to discuss this issue so eventually we won't be in the dark anymore but ...

... maybe we'll emerge enlightened.

Meeting or not, I think we'll all still be in the dark as to the real motivation because I feel its taking on a bit of a political feel.  Nevertheless, informed or not, we will be asked to vote on the proposal.

I hope KNL members reject the proposal.  I think a Board composed of kayakers and canoeists will not serve kayaking's interests as well as a Board made up of exclusively kayakers.  The chance is that KNL will die.  I will be sad.  I'll accept it and hopefully not make bad friends over the discussion.  In the end its all about kayaking and I will continue either way.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

General audience shots of Bay Bulls

Sunday Hazen, Neville and I were in Bay Bulls for a shortish paddle of just under 11 kms.  I posted shots of our paddle but some were X-rated so I was requested to withdraw them.  I won't expand on that.  I looked through the pictures of the day to pick out the general audience shots and what I was left with were pics of Hazen as we approached North Head.  As we got closer to the Head and out of the protection of the land we felt the fury of the North Atlantic.

Some shots of Hazen paddling out to stick his nose into the breeze just to document the day on my blog for completeness.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ice, ice, baby

Every year around this time I start to feel the anticipation of paddling in or, rather, between and through the sea ice that drifts near our coast.  So, I start looking at ice maps supplied by Environment Canada.

Its looking good but there's still some time before it drifts our way.  The red and the related "Egg Code" indicates, in the coloured areas, the ice concentration is 9+/10.  So, in a 10 square meter area, more than 9 square meters is ice.  Further information includes:
  • 4/10 is old ice and 6/10 is new ice, formed in the current year,
  • the 6/10 new ice is thin ice in small floes, and
  • the 4/10 old ice is composed of small ice cake.
I'm skeptical that there's any old ice in that ice pack and if it was it certainly wouldn't be small ice cake but that's what they're telling me.

Nevertheless, now we need wind in the right direction to blow it into our vicinity.  Last year I had my ice paddle in Torbay on April 3rd.  Still some time to go.  I'll be paying close attention to the ice maps in the coming days and weeks.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On display

Turns out Dean Neville and I weren't the only ones out for a paddle this past weekend.  I spent Saturday with daughter Aimee having coffee, a tour of The Rooms and lunch.  It was a most enjoyable day.

At The Rooms I caught this guy out for a paddle.  He's part of a small display that includes an authentic skin-on-frame kayak from Labrador, a paddle that looked to be about 12 feet long, pictures and Inuit implements and tools.

We're all about fun and recreation.  This was all about life and survival.  We shouldn't forget it wasn't always about fun.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In like lamb

March 3rd, fog, rain and 3C.  March has come in like a lamb.  The icicles and snow along the shore have shrunk considerably.

Gone is the bitter cold but not the swell.  In this over the shoulder shot Dean scoots between rocks covered in washover and the cliffs.

Neville trying out his newly carved Greenland paddle stayed a bit further offshore with Bell Island obscured in the fog in the background.

The rain the last couple of days and the meltwater from the snowpack made for a considerable flow of water at the falls in Beachy Cove.

This area just before Portugal Cove is a fun paddle through some rocks.  Today it was more entertaining than usual as waves broke over the rocks.  Timing is everything as Dean, a mere speck compared to the crashing wave, makes his way through.

At Portugal Cove we took out to have our granola bars and compliment ourselves on the stretch just paddled.  Dean commented that paddling season would be starting in about four weeks.  I agreed it certainly was probable with the way March has come in even though the lamb wasn't accompanied by mint jelly.

Question is, will March go out like a lion?