Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Geology of Newfoundland - a book review

Geology is a big part of our kayaking experience.  The rocks in the cliffs we paddle by have a story to tell.  Therefore, I believe, some knowledge of the subject adds to the pleasure of the activity.

"Geology of Newfoundland" by Martha Hickman Hild is a field guide to 48 interesting sites in Newfoundland with an introduction to basic geologic concepts.

Each site is explained in terms of it history and setting with pictures and GPS co-ordinates.  I recently visited two sites at Manuals River to test the layout and explanations in the book.  It was also a good opportunity to use the waypoints feature in my GPS, which up to then I had not used.  So, I entered the two waypoints into the GPS and off I went to the ...

... first outcrop (outcrop meaning rock exposure) at Manuals River in Conception Bay South.

The knobby rocks by the water are layers of volcanic ash that were belched by volcanoes in the late Pre-Cambrian and later intruded by the magma that fed the very same volcanoes.  The directions provided in the book were very accurate and the provided picture ensured that even the armchair geologist could confirm for themselves they were in the right place.

The second site features sedimentary rocks that are dissected by a mafic dyke.  Geology, such a simple science in some ways, is full of complex nomenclature.  Mafic means "dark" as in made up of dark minerals.

The dyke runs diagonally from the middle bottom upwards to the right and bounded by the obvious straight lines on either side.

Some other geology enthusiast had been at the site recently and broke off some of the rock to verify it was dark.  The dyke (a rock called rhyolite) is related to the granite further downstream.  The rhyolite, cooled quicker than the granite, formed smaller crystals, making it look dark compared to the pink granite which crystalized slower at depth.

The co-ordinates provided (N47.51282, W52.94029) put me right on the outcrop and again the provided picture verified I was in the right place.

I was happy with the directions and explanations in the book.  As I was in the area I walked downstream and below the bridge over Manuals River to check out some of the geology which wasn't included in the book.

Here, water flows over Pre-Cambrian conglomerates that were deposited on top of the eroded granites.  In a nutshell, the volcanoes and rocks overlaying the granite body that lay several kilometers underground were eroded, exposing the granite, after which sea levels rose depositing various size cobbles much like those on any beach.

This is a close-up of the conglomerate.  The cobbles are rounded indicating they were either transported over considerable distances or were worked by waves along a shoreline.

I continued down, following the river, until the rocks became black slates.  These rocks were deposited in deeper waters in the early Cambrian period just after 542 million years ago.  Some of the sedimentary beds contain trilobite fossils which places the rocks firmly in the Cambrian.

We have a kayak camping trip planned for New World Island.  The book lists several sites in the New World Island area so, based on these explanations, I expect they will be easy to find.

I believe anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of geology would find this book useful.  Its an excellent buy for the $34.95 it costs.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Another 14

High winds forecasted did not materialize so Dean, Neville and I decided to go for a short paddle today.

It was only 14 kms but it was time in the kayak.  Time in the kayak is essential for skills development whether a person first takes kayak instruction or not.  Everything learned on a kayak course must be repeated until it becomes burned in muscle memory. Without instruction, time in the kayak provides instant feedback on what works and what doesn't.  Some things cannot be taught but have to be learned.  For example, staying calm while getting pushed around in a rock garden.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A good Thursday turnout

A group of us gets together every Thursday evening for kayak practice.  We got going on April 4th this year but up till last evening it was the usual 4 or 5 paddlers.  Last evening 11 people showed up.  That may be an indication the weather is warming up.

Paddling is more than just going in a straight line.  Admittedly, 90% or more of the time we only use the forward stroke.  For me, getting proficient using the other and corrective strokes is what makes kayaking fun.  In particular, using and combining various strokes.  I did some of that last evening before the crew decided they wanted to go for a short paddle.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Duck tape, just in case

This is my roll of duck tape that I take on extended paddle trips just in case I need to do an emergency repair.  It takes up precious room so I wanted a more efficient way to take it.

So, I put on my thinking cap and thought I could roll it onto  piece of plastic.  I cut a piece that was 2" wide and long enough to handle on either side of the tape.  I wound about 8 feet of duck tape on which should be plenty.  If I need more to do a repair then I have bigger problems.

There, that's a good saving on space.

Its not much of a post but its not supposed to be.  Its just a little tip I thought may be useful.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Captain Kuk sights the North Atlantic

St. John's is the foggiest major city in Canada, if not all of North America. After a week of cold fog, I was beginning to feel bad for Jim Kakuk who was Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador's Retreat guest this year.  But today we saw the sun. 

Jim wanted to check out some of the sights so we drove to the picturesque fishing village of Petty Harbour, about a 20 minute drive from downtown St. John's where ...

... local fishermen were off loading the day's catch of snow crab.  They had left port at 4:30 in the morning, steamed 15 miles off shore and pulled their crab pots in, I believe, 50 fathoms of water.

Hazen introduces Mr. Crab to the internet.

We drove a short distance north and east of Petty Harbour to Cape Spear, the most easterly point of North America were we climbed the hill to ...

... the new lighthouse which replaces the ...

... old lighthouse.

It has much more character than the new.

It was built in 1839 and has been restored to its original appearance.  Looks good on the outside but wasn't open for tours yet.  The National Historic Site indicates it is also restored on the inside to show how the lighthouse keeper and his family might have lived when lighthouses actually had keepers.  That's another story which everyone in coastal communities is familiar with.

Then it was off to get a picture as evidence we could go no further east, at least, without a boat.

I don't know how well known Cape Spear is elsewhere.  It is not as famous as Cape Horn but it is our "cape".  It is a destination sought only in the right conditions because an offshore wind will blow us directly to Ireland.  When we do get out there its a ...

... spectacular sight from the seat of a kayak.

So, today St. John's put her better foot forward and just in time before Jim heads home on Thursday.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Looking for change in all the same places

A familiar place with a familiar paddling friend.  I'm beginning to become acutely aware that some of my pictures are starting to look the same.  Different places but the same composition.  So, today on a short paddle with Dean I tried for some variations on the kayak theme.

Still the same kayaker but interesting reflections in the water.  Here, the rocks on the sea bottom were white but due to an overcast sky, there wasn't enough light penetration to highlight them.  Nevertheless, the little ripples in the water gave a nice effect to the reflected Dean, trees and rocks.

Further along, I noticed the sea urchins populating the rocks, some of which had a pinkish tint with various sea weeds and mosses growing on them.  I plunged the camera int the water and hoped.

In the shallower water, as we neared Topsail Beach, seaweed grew up from the bottom and in the low tide, was able to break the surface.  Again I plunged the camera int the water not knowing how the shot would turn out.  The reflection on the underside of the sea's surface was an interesting effect.

And, again here.  This part of our sea kayaking environment could make for even more interesting pictures if they were manipulated with imaging software.

At Topsail Beach the sun tried to shine through.  The subdued light emphasized the seaweed as it floated on the surface but ...

... could be embellished with the addition of my paddling friend Dean.  A sea kayak blog should, after all, include some shots of a kayak.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A day with Captain Jim Kakuk

Jim Kakuk is a co-founder of the Tsunami Rangers and this years Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador Retreat guest.  The Tsunami Rangers are a team of extreme sea kayakers and have spawned, or more accurately, inspired, a number of similarly motivated kayakers such as Neptunes Rangers, the Hurricane Riders and The Ocean Dragons.

He flew in last night from California and staying at our home for a couple of days before the Retreat.

Its a long haul to Newfoundland from California so today was an easy day taking in a tour of The Rooms, the provincial museum, a walk downtown St John's and a look at Signal Hill ...

... to see if Cape Spear could be seen.  Unfortunately, it was hidden in the fog.  It was windy and cold.  We didn't stay long on the hill but did get a good view of ...

... the harbour and city scape of St. John's.

I think he enjoyed the day.  I know I did spending a day with one of the pioneers on extreme sea kayaking.  Will he inspire any kayakers in Newfoundland to push the boundaries?  I think he already has, a least a few of us as we begin to build the necessary skills incrementally.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Return to Tors Cove

Finished our lunch in LaManche the six of us began our paddle back to Tors Cove handrailing along the coast in LaManche Bay.

Dean and I paddled a bit closer to shore where the water was more active.

On the way to LaManche we had paddled outside of the islands on the horizon.  On the return we paddled between the islands and the coast.  The wind and swell behind us made short and easy work of our paddle and before long we passed Ship Island.

Dean with Ship Island in the background.

Pete taking the direct route in front of Fox Island.

Just over 20 kilometes after leaving Tors Cove we were back.  It was another great day on the water with seabirds, caves and like minded paddling buddies.  Thanks guys.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

LaManche by way of Great Island

Today Brian, Dean, Gary, Jake, Peter and myself met at Foodland in Bay Bulls to settle on a paddle destination.  Brian had suggested Tors Cove - Great Island - LaManche return.  These are the breadcrumbs.

The weather looked to cooperate so we headed for Tors Cove where we put-in.  It was decidedly foggy.

The fog hung over the hill at Fox Island as we left Tors Cove heading for the islands of the Witless Bat Ecological Reserve.

After paddling along the outside of Fox Island we set our sights on Ship Island a kilometer away.  While it was foggy, the fog didn't hang all the way down to sea level so we could paddle by sight.

Passing by Ship Island we arrived at Great Island, still shrouded in fog.  The sandstone beds of sedimentary rock dip steeply and ...

... are covered with white guano left by the thousands of sea birds that call the Reserve home.

Dean and I checked out this, the first cave on Great Island.  We had to be careful for ...

... the birds circling over head.  Don't look up with mouth open *lol*

Dean and I caught up with the other guys who were checking out this massive cave on turquoise waters.

The fog looked like it was trying to lift as we reached the notch.  The notch is where the sea wore through  weaker bed of sandstone where its clear to see the orientation of the sedimentary beds.

The guys are but specks by comparison with the overhanging rocks.  There aren't many days that this passage can be made but we did it today.

Leaving Great Island behind we crossed back to the mainland.  Still the fog hung on.  I hoped the sun would eventually burn it off and let us paddle in the promised sun, which we did as we reached ...

... LaManche where we stopped for lunch.

Kayaks hauled out but just barely.  There's no beach in LaManche.  I usually haul out on gently sloping rocks covered in seaweed that are a bit kinder on the fibreglass hull.

We sat in the glorious sun to eat our lunch.

LaManche is one of hundreds of resettled communities in Newfoundland that is evidenced now only by its abandoned foundations.

Finally, check out Dean's shots of the paddle here.