Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top paddles of 2013 - #2

Between August 8th and 11th half a dozen club members took part in a four day kayak camping trip in the vicinity of Ireland's Eye.  We started in Burgoynes Cove and finished in Trinity.  The first day we drove out to Burgoynes Cove, shuttled the cars to Trinity and then had a shortish paddle of 16.5 kms to First Pond where we camped for the night.

We had absolutely clear skies and a spectacular view of the stars and Milky Way wheeling overhead.

We arose early at First Pond to brilliant sunshine to paddle over to Thoroughfare which we checked out for suitable camping before circumnavigating Ireland's Eye island.

We stopped into Ireland's Eye, the former community, to have a look that included ...

... the remains of the community church, seen here, and post office and school.  Done exploring we returned to Thoroughfare to set up camp, have happy hour, cook supper and have our usual bonfire.  The total paddled on the day was 25 kms.

The morning of the third day was overcast and the wind picked up as the day progressed.  Decamped we crossed back over in the direction of Popes Harbour in calm conditions.  While in Popes Harbour the wind had picked up as did the sea state.  We stayed close together as we made our way steadily up the coat and decided to stay in Kerleys Harbour.

We set up the tents under threat of heavy rain which was due.  We were lucky though as we got in a nice hike onto the distant hills, set up a clubhouse to house our bar for the evening and had a swally before the rains came pouring down.  Another 18 kms to add to the trip total.

Rain in the cooking ware stood at about 2 inches when we got up in the morning.

On day four we completed our trip into Trinity.  It was overcast as we left Kerleys Harbour but as we paddled in a northerly direction the sun came out behind us while we were still paddling into fog around Bonaventure Head.

The fog burned off as the day wore on and 22 kms later we made our way into Trinity in bright sunshine.

After unloading the kayaks we stopped for a feed of fish & chips before driving home.

This was just a quick overview.  The original posts for each section of the trip can be checked out by clicking on "Ireland's Eye" in the sidebar on the right.

It was a great trip to a location that was on my radar for quite some time.  I was glad to get it done and plan to return sometime.  It was easy to pick for my list of top paddles.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top paddles of 2013 - #3

Between October 12th and 14th Brian, Dean, Hazen, Neville, Pete and I did a Thanksgiving weekend kayak camping trip to Gulch Pond.  The original posts can be found by clicking on the "Gulch Pond" link on the right hand sidebar but I've selected a few shots I didn't post previously with short commentary.

So, we drove just over an hour and a half to Garden Cove on the Burin Peninsula where we launched from the community slipway.  It was an interesting launch because the water was some distance below the end of the slipway.

We paddled inside of Sound Island, Woody Island and Bar Haven Island.  Between the islands we could see the other side of Placentia Bay in the southeast distance.

We had the wind behind us and it seemed in no time we were entering Gulch Pond, almost 22 kms from Garden Cove.

Our campsite at Gulch Pond looking southwest s the sun was setting.  Gulch Pond is an inlet of the sea that is accessed by a narrow channel.  Entry can best be made at a rising tide because a significant tidal current flows at ebb tide.

The same scene early the next morning after a frosty night.  Everything was covered in frost as the temperature sank to -4 C.  It took a little while to get moving in the morning but we didn't have to break camp.  The plan on day 2 was to leave everything at Gulch Pond and make a day paddle over to the former, resettled communities of Western Cove and Bar Haven.

It was a cool, crisp day as we made our way over to Bar Haven Island and entered a broad open cove that contained the former communities.  At Western Cove we got out and cooked lunch on the lee side of a cabin.  The former community of Bar Haven, now a community of summer cabins, lies at the north end pointed to by the wharf.

Day 2 ended back at Gulch Pond with a super cook-up and our usual bonfire.  Well, it got to its usual size after Pete hit the hay.  The temperature, while frosty overnight, wasn't as cold as the first night.  The third day dawned sunny and bright with calm winds for our return home.  Along the way we checked out some possible other campsites, here at Carroll Point at the north end of Bar Haven.

We stopped at Back Cove on Woody Island for lunch and explored the former homestead of eccentric Randy Lied.  It was an amazing amount of work that has imply been abandoned.

We got back on our horses and paddle the last few kilometers into a slight breeze and into Garden Cove.

It was a late year trip, a stolen moment so to speak.  We had great weather though cold.  We had lots of laughs.  It was an all around good time.  It was always going to be on my list of top paddles but the one thing I took away from the trip is that it can be comfortably be done in sub-zero weather.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top paddles of 2013 - #4

On June 8th a group of us paddled from Middle Cove to Quidi Vidi,  Its a paddle along an exposed coast that I've wanted to do for some time.  I was pleased to finally got around to doing it.  Here we're leaving Middle Cove but not before ...

... checking out some of the caves at the foot of the 200 foot high cliffs.

We paddled over to Outer Cove, up to and around Torbay Point before turning south with the steeply dipping sedimentary beds to starboard.  This coast is entirely exposed to the North Atlantic.  To port lay Ireland well over the horizon.

Along the way we stopped to explore some gigantic caves.

All the way south the hills kept us company.

At Logy Bay we took out for lunch.  It was a tangly take-out but we got all boats out of the water and had lunch on the raised rocks.

At the end of the trip we were in Quidi Vidi and went back to Middle Cove to retrieve the cars left there.

I've wanted to do this paddle for a while and it was all I expected it would be.  Therefore, its on my list of top paddles.  Here's a link to the original post and here too.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Top paddles of 2013 - #5

Between June 23rd and June 27th five of us completed a 150 km circumnavigation of New World Island and the Twillingate Islands in Notre Dame Bay.  It was our "big" trip of the summer.

This post is just a bird's eye view of the trip but the whole trip can be checked out starting here or clicking on "New World Island" in the sidebar on the right (if you do that you'll have to scroll all the way to the bottom and scroll back up to get the correct chronological order).

The first day we paddled from Dildo Run Provincial Park to Cobbs Arm for a daily total of 25 kms.

On the second day, June 2th, we left Cobbs Arm and paddled in beautiful but stiffening winds northwards to the top of North Twillingate Island and camped in Sleepy Cove.

The weather forecast for the third day was for northeast winds so we put a little push on to put us in position to paddle down the protected, west side of North Twillingate Island.  The daily total was 32 kms.

The weather changed on the third day, June 25th.  The northeast wind brought plunging temperatures and a raw, damp chill.  We left Sleepy Cove in a bit of a sea but before long we were around the headland and protected from the wind.

We stopped in the community of Twillingate for a warm coffee where Dean decided to put on his cag.  Twenty kilometers later we were camped on Black Island near the causeway between New World Island and South Twiillingate Island.

It rained overnight on Black Island  It remained cool as we set off for Mortons Harbour on the fourth day, June 26th.  The wind was against us for most of the day which ended with a slog into very strong winds that whipped up between a meter and two meter waves.  The total for the day was 23 kms.

At Mortons Harbour there was some talk of abandoning the circumnavigation and going to get the cars.  In the end, it was agreed we'd get up at first light to get around Western Head before the wind rose from the northeast with unlimited fetch.

The fifth day, June 27th, we left Roses Harbour (within Mortons Harbour proper) at 5:00 am without eating breakfast and got around Western Head without incident.  Later we stopped in Little Bridgeport Harbour to eat breakfast, still only 8:00 am.

After breakfast we made our way to Intricate Harbour where Dean had identified a camping spot for the night.  We got into Intricate Harbour just before noon having already paddled 27 kms.  We looked around.  Dean and I picked out our cam sites but it was decided we wouldn't be staying the night.  So, after a warm lunch we set off for Dildo Run Provincial Park and the end of our trip.

Rounding Farmer Head we were greeted with a howling wind but the short fetch only made for small wind waves.  We had a little adventure at the Curtis Causeway against a strong tidal current before finishing the final 23 kms into the teeth of the wind.  The last day was a 13 hour, 50 km day with half of it in strong winds.

The day and the trip ended at 6:00 pm with a shower and a drive to Twillingate for a feed of fish & chips.

It was an interesting trip with a bit of everything.  Therefore I'm putting it on my list of top paddles for the year.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top paddles of 2013 - #6

On July 6th I did a paddle from Flatrock to Pouch Cove with Californian Marc.  Marc came up from California to do some paddling at various locations in Newfoundland.  To do so, he bought my Necky Loosha IV and off he went.  Almost four weeks later he was back in my area so we did a paddle together.

Here are some pictures from the paddle I didn't post before and here is a link to the original post.

We met in Pouch Cove and we put his, now, Looksha on my car and drove to Flatrock.  We crossed the harbour from the put-in where we checked out this thrust fault.  The movement was an overthrust of older grey Conception Group rocks on top of the younger reddish Cabot Group sandstones which are slightly upturned seen just in front of our bows.

At Red Head we passed along by the red sandstones in the foreground which are faulted against the grey siltstones in the background.

The water along this exposed coast is seldom calm enough to explore either close to shore or get into the several caves carved by the sea.  This cave, just past Stiles Cove, is accessed through a narrow entry and opens up inside with room to spare.

Imposing cliffs.

We reached Pouch Cove, put both kayaks on Marc's rental and drove back to Flatrock.  Marc went on
to do some more exploring before staying with us before heading home, thoroughly pleased with his Newfoundland paddling experience.

The thing for me on this paddle was first of all paddling with someone else paddling my first kayak and secondly, that he had come all the way from California to paddle here.  The Looksha is no longer mine so this last paddle with her is my reason for putting it on my list of top paddles for the year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Top 10 paddles of 2013 - #7

On 13 July a group of us went looking for whales outside of Witless Bay.  We left Witless Bay and made our way generally in the direction of Great Island.

There were whales about but it seemed always from a distance.  And these were minke whales not the humpbacks we hoped to encounter.

We started in clear skies but fog settled in and the whales stopped breaching outside of Great Island.

While we didn't see anymore whales, we saw thousands of sea birds.  The sound and smell was amazing.  Any day in the company of whales is a great day and that's why its on my list of top paddles for the year.

Check out the original post and more pictures here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top paddles of 2013 - #8

On February 3rd Brian, Dean and I had a paddle from St. Philips to Topsail Beach.  We paddled a lot last winter.  There was only one weekend I did not paddle.

This is a familiar shoreline but its close to home which is good in the shorter days.

Dean was still in his yellow Sirrocco.  So far, nothing unusual transpired as we paddled along the snow and icicle draped cliffs.  Nothing unusual that is until ...

... we reached Topsail Beach.  There's a lagoon behind the beach with a small stream that empties into the sea.  There seemed to be a bit more water running.  I don't remember who came up with the idea to run it in our long sea kayaks but that's what we did.  Dean went first in his plastic boat, then Brian in his strip-built.

Then I took my turn (Dean's photo) in my fibreglass.  What was I thinking?  Anyway I made it down without holing the kayak and only  few light scrapes.

We made it back to St. Philips and washed up our gear in the river as is our practice whether its summer or winter.

I've paddled many, many times out of St Philips towards either Topsail Beach or Portugal Cove but the little run in the stream made it different and memorable.  That's why I put it on my list of top paddles for the year.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Top 10 paddles of 2013 - #9

January 14 was a beautiful day, cool but calm.  The deep ocean drill rig West Aquarius was in the Bell Island Tickle about 3 kms off shore from St. Philips.  I decided I would go out for a visit.

The clouds of the sky were reflected on the absolutely calm sea.  I pointed my bow towards West Aquarius and set off.  I was by myself but was comfortable with my decision to go alone.

As I got closer the reflection of the rig made an interesting pattern is the ripples coming from the massive structure.  Closer still, I heard a voice boom out over a loudspeaker.  I was advised to stay clear of the rig for my own safety.  I raised my paddle to acknowledge I had received the message and steered to give it a wider bearth.

As I was only a kilometer and a half from Bell Island I decided to combine a crossing with my visit to the drill rig.  The top edge of Bell Island just shows itself on the left while in the background the land stretches north towards Cape St. Francis.

I got out and had a little walk-about before retracing my tracks back to St. Philips.

Solo paddling is not recommended but given the conditions I felt justified.  I prefer paddling with company but being out in the middle of the bay by myself is a liberating feeling.  That's why I'm making this paddle my ninth favourite of the year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Top 10 paddles of 2013 - #10

Winter paddles in general make my list at #10 this year and specifically a paddle Dean and I completed yesterday.  Five - 10 centimeters of snow was forecasted with easterly winds strengthening as the morning wore on.  The temperature at put-in was -7C.  Balmy in comparison with our coldest paddle on 27 January earlier this year.  Then it it was -9C but the wind chill made it feel like -15.  We were covered in ice.

Snow started to accumulate on my foredeck  The water in the harbour was a mass of slushy icepans.

Dean and I headed north towards Portugal Cove.  Fine snow was falling that gave everything in the distance a hazy look.

Icicles hung from the cliffs and snow settled on the trees like icing sugar.

My thumbs felt the sting of the cold mostly but they warmed in the exertion of paddling.

Dean wore his cag and, surprisingly, had to take it easy to avoid overheating.  I wore my usual gear with a fleece under my drysuit.  It looks cold but I was perfectly comfortable.  In many ways, more comfortable than in a drysuit in the heat of summer.

Dean is not hard to spot paddling through the channel at Sailing Point.

As we rounded Wester Point and entered Portugal Cove we were greeted by easterly winds and blowing snow in our faces.  Refreshing!

After paddling across the cove were were under the sheltering hills again.

We continued north still under the imposing cliffs until we reached ...

... Brocks Pond Falls.  Four of us paddled up here earlier this past summer and had a lovely cool down in the fresh water.  On this day the water was still running but under a frozen layer of ice.  We hung out for a bit before returning to St. Philips where we feasted on a meal of fish & chips.  A great way to finish off the day.

Winter paddling looks daunting but is most enjoyable with some fine tuning.  I really enjoy it and therefore I'm putting it on my list of top paddles for the year.