Tuesday, April 30, 2013

She's gone boys, she's gone

Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador was formed in 2000.  I joined in 2004 and served on the Board of Directors for four years.  I was very attached to KNL.

Over the last month there had been a campaign to merge the membership of KNL with the membership of a local canoe club.  A number of reasons were given for the merger.  One being that all other provinces have one combined paddle club.

I had reservations and became the lone public voice against the proposal.  I reasoned a combined club with one director dedicated to kayaking that had to serve numerous interests could not further kayaking as would a dedicated Board of 12 kayakers.

Last Thursday the voting closed.  The membership decided to throw KNL into the dustbin.  Less than half of the membership bothered to vote (which itself is sad).  The results: 62 for a merged club and 9 against.  So, KNL is no more.  Will the the new club serve kayakers?  We will see.  Will I feel the same about the new setup?  If so, it will take some time.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Keeping the streak alive

Today was my 15th straight weekend that I managed to get on the water.  In fact, the only weekend I missed since January 1 was the weekend of January 12/13.

I had a familiar paddling companion today.  It was just Dean and myself.

There were a few things I wanted to do around the house on Saturday so I put the paddle off until Sunday.  Dean got out for a paddle anyway Saturday which made me question my sanity.  Who passes up a paddle to do chores?  OK, some do.  Maybe I should a bit more.

Its not very often I let responsibility get in the way of a paddle but, no matter, I had a banner day today.  The water was clear as a bell all the way to the bottom and the sea reflected the sky and cliffs.

No wind and no hurry allowed us to ...

... poke into some spots that sometimes are not accessible.

I'm beginning to realize now that I have the streak up to 15, I just might have to paddle every weekend from now on.  Oh, the pressure *lol*

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In the soup

Anyone who has checked out the videos of gangs like Neptune's Rangers or the Hurricane Riders on YouTube will be impressed with their skills.  Its a scary place, that soup zone between land and sea.

Finding the right place with the right amount of foamy water that still affords a margin of safety to practice in is the key to developing comfort there.  Last Thursday the swell running into St. Philips crashing over the rocks and rebounding waves gave us an opportunity.

The key to developing any skill is incremental learning.  A good first step is just sitting in the soup to get the feel of being pushed around and how the kayak interacts with the power of the water.  Before long, it will become second nature to hang out there.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

When the wind flops

Yesterday the wind forecast was SW 15 - 20 knots with gusts near 35.  Not too appetizing so we met at St Philips for some playtime in the anticipated winds  They didn't materialize so we went for a paddle to Topsail Beach.  If the wind did pick up we would turn and run back downwind .

It is a familiar coast that never seems to lose its appeal. The theme for the day was paddling through rock gardens and  whitewater

At Topsail Beach we got out to stretch our legs and Dean decided to run the whitewater spilling out of the lagoon behind the cobble bar.  Brian, Dean and I ran the same run of water on February 3rd when it looked more fibreglass friendly.  This time Brian and I passed, it looked too rocky.

Good thing too we didn't try it.  Dean in his plastic kayak came down the stream going bump, bump, clunk, clunk over the rocks.

Every paddle, even along familiar territory, is what you make of it.  I've lost count of the number of times I've paddled the coast between St. Philips and Topsail but its always entertaining.

Some additional shots on Deans Blog.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Starting young

One of the issues in growing the sport of kayaking is getting younger people involved.  There are a number of obstacles to that end such as cost and other competing interests.  However, last evening we were joined by Jacob who, I believe, is 15.

We saw Jacob a couple of years ago paddling around the cove in St. Philips on a sit-on-top kayak.  He's since acquired a Valley Aquanaut and attended pool session over the past winter where we've gotten to know him.  He fitted right in as we went for a short paddle.

After the short paddle Brian jumped out of his boat and talked Jacob through an assisted rescue.  While there's no formal instruction offered during our Thursday evening practices, there are clear advantages to attending.

So, Jacob is well on his way to being a sea kayaker and a lifetime of memorable moments in a kayak.  The challenge for Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador is how do we make this possible for others of Jacobs age?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A quickie is good

Spring seems to be taking her good sweet time in coming.  Tuesday afternoon showed the promise of what is to come.  I thought it would be a perfect evening for a short, impromptu paddle so I mailed some of the guys who I thought might be avalable.  Dean, the kayakoholic, was interested and one hour after leaving work he was on the water.

The tide was low which made the swell really stand up when it met the shallows.  We had to be careful not to be caught in the holes created as the water sucked back off of the rocks.

The sun gave a gentle, honey glow to everything as it sank in the late evening sky.

We don't generally paddle in the evenings.  Maybe we should take more advantage of these longer days because after all, a quickie *lol* is always good.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Looking for the Cambrian explosion

Saturday Dean, Peter and I drove to Avondale with the paddling destination of Bacon Cove.  I don't know how Bacon Cove got its name but one thing of interest there is an angular unconformity between the Late Proterozoic rocks of the Conception Bay Group and a basal conglomerate of Cambrian age.  The Cambrian period saw the explosion of various life forms that ultimately led to the evolution of the highly intelligent kayak paddler.

We put in beside the river that flows into Masons Cove that today was ...

... so calm it reflected the passage of my kayak colleagues.

We were soon out of Masons Cove and into Gasters Bay ...

... handrailing on the way to ...

... Conception Harbour to check out this sunken, rusting hulk.  Its not very scenic but its a must stop.  I don't think anyone paddling in the area misses out on having a look around.

We were soon on our way north again past Mugford's Head where we left calm waters to paddle in ...

... more active waters.  I had checked the ocean wave model before leaving and expected some swell but yet I was surprised by the amount of water rolling into the bay.  Nothing challenging just large, broad open masses of water.

We arrived at Bacon Cove landing without incident and had a lunch.  Afterwards we went looking for the outcrop with the unconformity but I couldn't locate it.  It was odd because I had been there before though its not unusual for me to have it right under my eyes an still not see it.

Dean and Pete launched untroubled.  I made a mess of it and had a swim but more on that another time.

Back on the water, still smarting from the blow to my pride, we crossed Gasters Bay to the east side.  In the distance the razorback appearance of the Blue Hills of Avondale rise 850 feet above the bay.

We set our sights on the white church in Avondale where we washed the salt out of our gear in the river, had a coffee and called it another glorious day on the water.

Check out Dean's Blog with his take on the day.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ice cream anyone?

Under dramatic skies and in cold steel grey waters we did ...

... our first multiple rolls or ...

... layback skulling braces until we developed ice cream headaches and ...

... at the setting of the sun we went home to warm up.  A second Thursday evening practice was in the books.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A bounce in St. Philips - The Movie

Sunday was a windy day and probably a day to stay ashore.  But, when a person is determined to get on the water they will find a way.  Brian, Dean, Sean and I met at St Philips where the wind was blowing from the west at 55 km with gusts well in excess of that and the sea a mass of whitecaps.  I decided to shoot some video rather than take stills.

I had over an hour of video that I got down to 7:14 but Blogger would only allow video files up to 100 megs so I cut it down some more and uploaded 1:23 worth.  Its a teaser.  The full 7:14 can be seen on Youtube.  I recommend full screen.

I think it almost captures the conditions but its not the same as being there.  Impossible to get the feel of the wind that made things wet for sure.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A bounce at St. Philips

This morning the wind was blowing at 55 kms westerly with gusts well in excess of that and the bay was a mass of whitecaps.  Not fit for a day paddle but perfect for a bounce and surf rides in St. Philips.  We bounced around in waves reaching 2 meters, slogged into the wind and turned tail to surf back in for an hour and a half.

I thought the conditions would make for some good video so last night I quickly made up a makeshift camera mount to capture some of today's playtime.  I got over an hour worth of video which at first glance looks to be pretty interesting but will take a little time to put together being as it is my first foray into "cinematography".  I'm hoping to have a clip in a day or two for my world premiere *lol*

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thursday practices are here again

I've waited all winter anticipating the resumption of our regular Thursday evening practices at St. Philips only to find ...

... it was still winter.  A small turnout of Brian, Sean and myself were on hand to do a short paddle along the coast in a bit of chop and in a few snow flurries.  It was cool.

It was exhilarating paddling in the cold and looming clouds.  In the west it started to lighten ...

... but the chop did not.

Surprisingly there wasn't much wind.  That is some of the most enjoyable paddling for me; a bit of action without the slog into the wind.

The setting sun was our cue to turn and head back to the cove before it got dark.  I suggested we paddle out into the bay a bit in the beam seas until we were upwind from St Philips so we could catch surf rides back.

The first Thursday evening practice was in the books.  It will gradually warm up, we'll get more daylight each week and more bodies will turn out.  Thursday evenings are something I look forward to because rain or shine, windy or calm, we'll be out there.