Saturday, July 27, 2013

Looking for whales in all the wrong places

Today seven of us met at Bay Bulls en route to Tors Cove on the Southern Shore to look for signs of whales.  The plan was to paddle on the outside of the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and survey the vast expanse of ocean for spouts.  Afterwards we intended to paddle into the abandoned community of LaManche for lunch before returning to Tors Cove.

It was a bright sunny morning as we got our boats loaded in Tors Cove.  In the distance the isands of the Reserve awaited our visit.

The first island in the cove is Fox Island.  This is the front side and ...

... this is the back side.

Before long we reached the southern tip of Fox.  After some on the water, long distance conference calling with raised voices to be heard, we decided to cross directly to Great Island, bypassing Ship Island on starboard.

The hot, penetrating sun made the dark shales look less than dark.  I regretted wearing the dry suit already.  As it turned out the temperature peaked just over 30 C, 39 C with the humidex.  Too hot to be out in a drysuit.  I was basting inside the suit like the Thanksgiving turkey cooking in the oven.

Thankfully there are a number of caves to explore on Great Island where the air was a lot cooler.

Dean and I handrailed and eventually reached this slot in the westerly dipping greenish grey sandstones of the Cabot Group.  Actually, there are two slots.  One difficult to see to Dean's right.  Dean and I paddled through the tunnel where the rest of the gang was hanging out in Southern Cove.  After paddling through we turned and paddled back through the other slot before striking out across the 4.5 km expanse on choppy seas in the direction of Cape Neddick.

It was a bit of a slog into the 15 to 20 knot winds.  Dean set the pace and after 45 minutes we were under the cliffs of Cape Neddick.  I find a crossing like that plays tricks on the mind at times as the target hardly seems to get any closer with the passage of time and effort.  Reviewing the track afterwards it was hard to believe we were doing a respectable 6 kms/hr.

Handrailing again along the south side of LaManche Bay to max out the kilometers we reached the entrance to LaManche dominated by the magnificent suspension bridge of the East Coast Trail.

At LaManche we had lunch and said hello to numerous hikers who were on the trail today.  Refueled, we stuck to the shore on our way back to Tors Cove, dodging behind this rock.  Usually a fun place to be in gnarly seas but pretty tame today.

Just past Bauline Head Dean, Gerard and I checked out this crevice in the cliffs.  As we entered an eagle left its perch but it was too evasive to catch with the camera.

Passing by Pee Pee Island under fluffy white clouds I was almost cooked and I really just wanted to get out of my drysuit.  But I couldn't resist ...

... checking out this spot for passage through.

Back at Tors Cove I cooled down in the inviting salt water before getting back into more comfortable clothes.  A good day extended by a trip out to Cape Neddick for a daily total of 23.8 kms and bringing my cumulative total for the year so far to a hair under 600 kms.  Crossing that mark will have to wait for another day.

Oh, and the object for the day - whale watching.  Didn't happen, not even a sniff of one.  Maybe too on another day.

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