Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crunchy on the outside

Last year we did a circumnavigation of Merasheen Island in Placentia Bay.  The waters were calm and it was an idyllic day.  I never considered the possibility that a great white shark could potentially lurk in these waters.

A CBC story shows there is a great white shark currently in the waters we paddled last year.  This is a pic from Ocearch that shows the track the shark took from Florida.  That story certainly puts an interesting twist from now on every time I put-in.  I'll be wondering if the shark would consider me crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside *lol*

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Back in the saddle again

Two weeks ago I spent Thanksgiving weekend at Gulch Pond.  Three days paddling on top of all the paddling for the year to date had me feeling like I was due a rest.  Today the rest was over.  I needed to get back on the water.

Ten of us met at St. Philips to paddle down to Topsail Beach and then out to visit the oil production ship, the FPSO Terra Nova and thence the drilling rig West Aquarius.

It took a little time for all of us to get on the water.  We waited in the cove with the West Aquarius on the horizon.

With everyone on the water we carried on down the shore towards Topsail Beach.  A decent swell was running.  Some of us stuck close to shore enjoying the action while some stayed further off shore.

As me made progress south the FPSO Terra Nova came into view on the distant horizon.

Dean and I arrived first at Topsail Beach where the largest waves breaking on the beach were a meter.  We landed and helped land the others in the party.

With the boats hauled up safely above the reach of the surf we stretched our legs and had a snack.  Southwest of us lay the Terra Nova where we were headed some 20 minutes away, depending how fast ya paddle.

Neville and I approached the FPSO and looked around to see where everyone else was.  Apparently, while we were making our way out, four decided they weren't going all the way and paddled back closer to shore.

I paddled to a distance where the ship almost took in the full frame.  The Terra Nova is a floating production platform for the extraction of oil from the Terra Nova oil field on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

After hanging out at the FPSO for a short while we paddled north in Conception Bay towards here the semi-submersible drill rig West Aquarius was anchored.  The swell gave us a good push and crossed the distance in no time.

The West Aquarius recently completed a couple of successful deep exploration wells in the Orphan Basin.  I last saw her in January earlier this year when I dropped in to check her out before she went on station.  This time I had company.

I was warned to keep my distance in January so I suggested to Derrick we not get too close.  I took a few pictures (I hesitate to use the word "shots" in this case *lol*) before we surfed our way back to St. Philips.

It was good to get on the sea again and it was encouraging to be part of such a large group.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thanks given, going home

The third and last day of our Thanksgiving holiday weekend trip broke with bright sunshine again.  The night was cold but not as cold as the previous night.  As everyone arose we set about cooking breakfast and packing up for the return home.

Exiting Gulch Pond we were headed northerly between the Burin Peninsula on the left and Bar Haven Island on the right.

The trees were really beginning to show their fall colours and the dogberry trees were laden with bright red berries.

We crossed over to Bar Haven Island so we could check out ...

... Carroll Point for a possible future camp site.  Lobster traps were stacked up for the year and there was level ground but a better choice may be at the nearby Baker Cove.

At one point Hazen called out to me there was a bald eagle right over my head.  The majestic bird looked down over its domain and didn't move.  Normally, during nesting season, it would fly away trying to steer us away from its nest.

At the north end and west side of Bar Haven we made for the south and east side of Woody Island.  At the north end of Woody Island we stopped on this beach in Back Cove for lunch.  There were very few rocks on the beach because one Randy Lieb had picked them all up to use in the ...

... construction of this fine house.  That was in the early '70s around the same time Canadian singer Valdy tried to set up a commune on the island.  Building the house and outbuildings must have been a ton of work.  Lieb raised some livestock, did some gardening and fishing before just up and leaving the place.  Most peculiar!

In fact, it looked like he was in such a hurry he left with one boot.

At Gilberts Point we huddled up for the final leg of our paddle back to Garden Cove.  We had a short rest before turning to the northwest and into a little breeze.

A few whitecaps formed but it wasn't a lot of work making our way into Garden Cove in the distance.  Pete seemed slower so I hung back.  He was slower for good reason.

When he got the kayak on the slipway and started to unload it he found the rear hatch flooded.  Seems the nut on the skeg cable had backed off and let water in.  She must have been a dog to paddle.  Luckily it was near the end of the trip and not at the outset.

This is how the trip ends, unloading the kayaks.

The six of us stopped for a coffee nearby before driving the 150 kms back home.  It was a most enjoyable trip to wrap up the kayak camping season.  We had three cool but gloriously sunny days.  Going forward it will get progressively colder to the point where it becomes more of a chore to camp.  I don't mind; I had three great trips this year.

Thanks to Brian, Dean, Hazen, Neville and Pete for sharing the trip.

And, the breadcrumbs from the final day:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A day over to Bar Haven

We crawled into the sleeping bags around 10:30 Saturday night.  It was cold; frost was starting to form on the tents.

We awoke in the morning to a coating of frost on everything including ...

... the kayak and all our gear.  I got out of the tent and got moving to get the blood circulating and some heat built up.

The water at low tide looked to have dropped 2 meters.  The water flowing out of the channel was like a river.  An exit out of the pond would be a nice little ride to get the day started.

The plan for the day was to leave the tents standing and only take supplies for a day trip over to Bar Haven Island.  A short crossing of three kilometers put us in Back Cove.

It was a sunny cool fall day.  A perfect day to paddle along some pretty impressive scenery.

Paddling up the eastern side of the island we came to an indent of the sea that sheltered the former communities established on the island.  Check out the map at the end of this post.

We paddled down to check out Western Cove first.  It was established in 1884 when the population was 46.  It was abandonded by 1966 when the last of a population of 31 left but ...

... not for good.  Former residents and family have come back and built summer cabin.  We stopped here for lunch in the shelter of one of the cabins.

After lunch we put-in again and made our way towards the north side of the arm and the former community of Bar Haven.  Known as Barren Island until 1911, it was settled by 1800.  The population reached its maximum in 1911 when 248 souls called it home, some of whom are interred in this old cemetery with broken headstones.  At the time of resettlement in 1966 the population was 188.  A sizable population but isolation and lack of services drove the last residents out.

It is also now the site of well maintained summer cabins and grounds.

This is all that remains of where the community church once stood.  I had a grand chat with some of the people who were there for the holiday weekend.  They were, in fact, relatives of my first steady girlfriend so we had somewhat of a connection.

After a visit to check out a possible campsite on Ship Island we returned to Gulch Pond for supper.  We wind had come up so we moved the kitchen area to a more sheltered spot and everyone got busy cooking supper.

The setting sun was part of a spectacular evening view of the pond itself.

Pete arranged a circle of rocks which implied that it would be the limit of the evening's fire  It was a small one at first which meant we had to stand close.  But ...

... once Pete went to bed things took a more familiar turn.  The fire grew under the watchful eye of the Man in the Moon.

The previous night the temperature had dropped to -4 C.  Only my feet were chilled so on tis night, Sunday, I was determined to go to bed warm.  I positioned a flat rock near the fire to warm and put in the bottom of my sleeping bag.  It was pure heaven as I got into a cold tent and the prelude to a most comfortable night in sub-zero temperatures and the end of our second day in Gulch Pond.

Here are the breadcrumbs for the day's paddle:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Entertainment in Gulch Pond

After we had the tents set up at Gulch Pond we got ready for the evening festivities.  We had a BBQ planned and we needed wood for heat too because it was going to get cold.

We picked up wood along the beach and piled it up and we ...

.... harvested wood from dead wind falls in the area.

We had a good pile of wood gathered and used the small stuff to build up a bed of coals for the BBQ.  Dean prepares the mushroom and onions using instructions from his wife.

It was only a matter of patience waiting for the potatoes to bake before we could put the steaks on the grill.

The water was flowing like a river out of the pond into the sea beside our kitchen area.  It was a clear, calm evening.  We all guessed as to the strength of the current.

After we finished the BBQ we put the bigger wood on the fire for heat and sat around the fire within reach of its warming effects.  There were no clouds in the sky so what heat the sun provided during the day was going to escape skywards.  It was going to get cold.  The thermometer was going to go under 0 C.

As the evening turned into night it really got cold and it was time for a Tony fire.  We needed the heat.  We got into the sleeping bags warm as frost started to form on the tents.

It was the end of our most pleasant first day at Gulch Pond for the Thanksgiving day weekend.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Giving thanks at Gulch Pond

Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.  A good excuse to get away.  Six of us decided we would be giving thanks at Gulch Pond in Placentia Bay.

Dean picked me up at 6:30 am, in the dark, and then we met Brian, Hazen, Neville and Pete at the TCH Irving.  The sun came out but it was cool.  The roofs at Garden Cove still had frost on them as we loaded our kayaks on the slipway.

All packed up we gingerly got off of the slipway because there was a drop off to the water.  For some it was more of an adventure and a chance to show off a roll in a loaded kayak.

Just before 10:00 we were underway heading northwest to the top of Sound Island in the cool breeze.

At the north end of Sound Island we were almost in the channel going south with the Burin Peninsula on starboard and a chain of islands on port.

Neville and I had a look at Rattling Brook Falls, a sweet place to grab a swim but on a warmer day.

Continuing south we passed by Sound Island and reached the south end of Woody Island where we could look east between Woody Island on the left, Little Woody Island in the center and the north end of Bar Haven Island.

The leaves on the trees were starting to show the first tinges of yellow .

We made very good progress riding on the small waves that pushed us along.  La Plante Cove was a fine looking place to stop for lunch, so we did.  Neville and I got the stoves out.  The rest of the guys had a less work intensive lunch.

We didn't have far to go after lunch.  The sun warmed us when it came out and sparkled on the water on our trek south.

Dean and Brian reach the entrance to Gulch Pond after 21 kms.  Gulch Pond is a sizable pond accessed by a narrow channel from the sea, the entrance to which is best timed for slack water at high tide.  A falling tide will make for a workout to get up the tidal current flowing out of the pond.

We got out of the kayaks and tramped around looking for the best place to pitch the tents.  While it was sunny, it remained cool though once the tents were up they warmed quickly absorbing the warming rays of the sun.

We were at our home for the weekend and it felt good.

And, the breadcrumbs: