Sunday, December 15, 2013

Good-bye Gondwana

Winter has arrived.  This morning it was -8C with the windchill at -17C in the 15 - 20 knot winds.  The call went out for a planned crossing to Bell Island and a paddle in the wind shadow under the tall cliffs of Bell Island.  But, it was only Dean and myself.

We had to negotiate the ice pans in the harbour before we could get out into the open sea,

We left the land behind and set out for Bell Island 4.5 kms across the Tickle.  The wind and waves were on our port beam.  It was brisk but before long I was warm from the effort.

50 minutes later we were at Dominion Pier on Bell Island.

The wind chill and the occasional waves over the deck made sure I was iced up pretty good on the crossing.  I'm not stylin' it with the "goggles".  The lens fell out of my glasses so I had to go to my very dated back-up glasses.

Dean and I decided to paddle to the north end of Bell Island under some imposing cliffs decorated with icicles.

The rocks of Bell Island are sedimentary sandstones and siltstones laid down in the Ordovician geologic period beginning 482 million years ago.

Some of the cliffs were adorned with walls of ice.

So, back to Gondwana.  The lower beds were laid down when the Avalon Peninsula was still part of the super-continent of Gondwana which was made up of the current land masses of Africa, South America, Australia, India and Antarctica.

As we headed north the swell increased substantially.  Here the waves crashed high up the cliffs with the spray freezing onto the layered beds.

As the Ordovician sediments accumulated, continental rifting began to tear Gondwana apart.  The micro-continent of Avalonia was wrenched from the edge of Gondwana opening the Rheic Ocean behind it.

We had  look at the conditions at the north end before turning and retracing our steps sothwards.

Avalonia drifted west and north across the Iapetus Ocean and at the close of the Ordovician began to collide with Laurentia, that is, proto North America were Avalonia docked during the Taconian Orogeny with much fanfare (upheaval actually).  Avalonia had said good-bye for good, or at least until the next super continent is possibly formed hundreds of millions of years hence.

When we arrived back at The Beach where the ferry docks I suggested we stop for lunch in the heated ferry waiting room.  We spoke to some of the passengers waiting to board who had puzzled looks.  I stated the purpose of our attire was because we were worried about the ferry sinking on the crossing *lol*.

OK, I fessed up that we had come from St. Philips by kayak to which they gave us looks of incredulity.

Nicely warmed up and refueled with a snack we paddled further down to Dominion Pier were we crossed back over to St. Philips.

A quicker return crossing saw us approach St. Philips after 45 minutes ...

... where the iced up Pillars of Hercules welcomed our return into the harbour.

We paddled up into the fresh water of the river which would prove to be a refreshing dip.  A car stopped to watch us ...

... rinse off our kayaks and gear.  It looks cold but actually the water was warmer than the air.

Rinsed off we stopped for a coffee before heading home totally satisfied with our endeavours on the day.  Winter paddling has arrived!


  1. Nice pics. Also, do you have a new drysuit?

  2. Thanks Tobias. Yup, new, to me, drysuit. I'll use it over the winter and when it warms up I'll use my old one.

    Tony :-)

  3. Oh my, those cliffs with ice were cool!!!

  4. Cool i indeed the word Mia. There was little risk of sweating!

    Tony :-)