Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 10 paddles of 2014 - #2

The weekend of June 7th saw me at the old community of Keels in Bonavista Bay.  I was by myself as no one else was took the bait of vast numbers of reported icebergs.  A three hour drive from home saw me at Backside Cove looking out over a horizon filled with icebergs.

I worked myself out to the northwest extremity of the main pack and then ...

... made my way east dropping by huge mountains of ice.

I may have been distracted somewhat by the bergs when I noticed I was well offshore but it was calm and I was unconcerned.

Every berg a different shape.

Once before I was among large numbers of bergs.  Then I was rushed to make a timed meeting.  On this day I was by myself without a timetable so I took my time ...

... because it may be years before I might get the opportunity again.

If I could have looked in a mirror I'm sure my eyes would have been as big as saucers.  I stopped counting the icebergs at 25 but there were many more out there.  The day was getting on and the other bergs were too far out in the bay to make a timely return to shore so I called it a day.

The above shots were some of the many that didn't make the original post, though they were just as spectacular.

I padded back to take out with one of the most satisfied feelings ever in a kayak.  I was so completely pleased with myself for not letting this experience pass me by just because no one else decided to join me.

The carry back to the car was a long carry up a steep bank.  Breathing heavily I took off my paddling gear and drove to ...

... Lockston Path Provincial Park where I camped for the evening.  It was a most pleasant ending to a very large day.

The three hour drive out in anticipation of what I would find, the paddle among the bergs and the solo camping to end the day made this an easy choice for my second most enjoyable paddle of 2014.  The number one paddle therefore must be something to top it.  Wait and see *lol*.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10 paddles of 2014 - #3

The weekend of June 21st Brian, Clyde, Dean, Hazen and I took a short weekend kayak camp trip to Great Colinet Island in St. Mary's Bay.  It was the first day of summer.

This is the shortened version of the trip.  The original post with more shots and detail are here.

We left from Admirals Beach for the short crossing to the island and ...

... a paddle south along the west side of the island to ...

... Wild Cove where we set up camp under mostly clear sunny skies.

Wild Cove faces south and with unlimited fetch its easy to speculate how it came by its name.  We were camped at the far end of the beach about in the center of the picture.

There were at least two items on the agenda.  First was roasting a duck Dean had bought over an open fire.  Second, was a test of Dean's new ...

... super tarp he's dubbed "Big Yellow" which we pitched under the peak of the cobble beach on the downside.  After the duck was roasted and devoured, wood was piled on the fire and we stood around it for heat.  Even on the first day of summer it still gets chilly after the sun goes down and more so with cold refreshments in hand.

All good things must come to an end and so it was on Sunday we broke camp to paddle back to Admirals Beach for the drive home.  We returned along the east side of the island which on its southern end was dotted with little coves protected by steep cliffs.

The topography lowered as the land stretched to the north.  More of the return paddle from the original post is here.

The resettled community of Mosquito was located on this shore.  We stopped for a look around and found old concrete foundations and narcissus blooms in the overgrowing grasses.

One thing I find interesting in the resettled communities of Newfoundland is the abandoned cemeteries.  More shots from our look around as originally posted are here.

Walking down from the cemetery I had a good view over the former fields and over the narrow channel separating the island from Admirals Beach on the mainland.

It was only a two day, one night trip.  It was a quick getaway that didn't need much planning with good friends.  Its a good reason to put it on my list of top paddles for the year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 paddles of 2014 - #4

On May 13th Hazen and I continued the tour of icebergs that had drifted into our waters in Conception Bay North.  I knew the icebergs were there because I could see them on the horizon some 35 kilometers way.  We drove for about an hour and a half and then scouted the area for the best pace to put in, deciding on the community of Blackhead.

We visited our first berg in Blackhead just off the beach before paddling north where there were more bergs in a little breeze towards Western Bay and Ochre Pit Cove.  This was an interesting one with one massive tower and two smaller ones.

This one was in Ochre pit Cove.  Its size is deceiving from a distance but as we ...

... got closer it grew in size.

The day was getting on so we returned on a following sea to Blackhead and returned to the city.  A bright day touring icebergs with a good friend is reason enough to put it on my list.

The original post has shots of more icebergs.

In addition to the stills I also shot some video which gives a more realistic feel on being on the sea among the icebergs.  I edited the video down to just under 15 minutes.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 10 paddles of 2014 - #5

The winter of 2013 - 14 started early.  By February 8th when Clyde, Dean and I arrived at Bay Bulls for a paddle there was lots of snow on the ground.

Lots of snow under bright sunny skies as we paddled along the northern side of Bay Bulls.

Lots of snow and walls of icicles adorned the cliffs.

Bay Bulls is open to the east.  When we reached the end of the north side paddling easterly, the three of us turned north to made a short visit to Freshwater Cove where a small stream froze into masses of ice.

Retracing our track to Freshwater Cove we crossed the open mouth of the harbour to reach the south side where ...

... we were greeted by more sheets of ice, in this case tinted brown by the earthy runoff.

On the north side we were in full sun.  On the south side we were in shade under the cliffs but no less enjoyable.

On the way back to the put-in we stopped on this secluded beach covered in snow and ice to eat a quick lunch.  It was cold on February 8th (-11C) but comfortable while paddling generated body heat.  Stopped it was different.

The snow and ice made this paddle.  Paddling on a cold, sunny, bright day has its challenges but it also has its appeals.  It was appealing enough to put it on my list of top 10 paddles for 2014.

Here's a link to the original post with other shots.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Top paddles of 2014 - #6

On June 14th Clyde, Dean, Gary, Hazen and I met in Quidi Vidi to paddle in St. John's Bay and out to Cape Spear to check out a bunch of icebergs.  Not far from where we emerged into the heaving waters we approached this berg off of Fort Amherst.  This was the view as we approached and ..

... this was the view from Fort Amherst of the berg and our five ant-sized kayaks by the berg.  The picture was taken by David Armstrong who noticed us.  If you click on the shot and zoom in you'll see how massive the berg is compared to our tiny boats.  On the left are Clyde, Dean and myself and to the right are Hazen and Gary.  Check out how I got a copy of the picture here.

Paddling on towards Cape Spear we neared another iceberg and ...

... another made up of four towers that warranted ...

... further investigation.  The sea was heaving up and down and washing between the towers as we floated drinking in the images.

There was one more huge berg right in the middle of the bay we had to check out.  As we made our way out to it the heaving sea made it disappear and reappear paddling either in the troughs or crests of the swells.  Finally, we made our way back and ...

... visited the first berg again with a view of Signal Hill and the entrance to St. John's in the background.

The paddle was special for two reasons: first the size and shapes of the icebergs we checked out and, second, the visit to Cape Spear, the most easterly point in continental North America.  That's why its number 6 on my list of top 10 paddles for the year.  Here and here are the links to the original posts with more shots.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Top paddles of 2014 - #7

My number 7 top paddle of the year was a cape rounding.  Capes are usually active areas and on August 24th Cape St. Francis lived up to the billing..  Dean, Des and I met in Pouch Cove to drop the boats and then made the short car shuttle to the other side of the peninsula at Bauline.

The slipway at Pouch Cove is very steep and the launch area constricted with large waves rolling in.  We left just after 10:30.

Approaching the Cape from the east side ...

... and around on the west side.

Three hours after launch we paddled into Bauline perched on the side of the rocky cliffs that are only a notch in a long, high coastline.

Rarely are capes placid places to paddle.  They can be downright dangerous places.  The day we picked offered true open ocean paddling.  It was a memorable day in kayaks and that's why its on my list.  Also, it was three Nordkapps made for the environment.  More, other shots from the day on my original post.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Top 10 paddles of 2014 - #8

Paddle wise 2014 was the year of the iceberg.  We had the wind in the right direction to blow the bergs onto our shores.  My paddle buddies and I took full advantage of the opportunity to get out among these majestic mountains of ice.

On 1 June Brian, Hazen, Sue, Tobias and I met in Flatrock to check out some bergs reported in the area.  The Flatrock coast is exposed to the North Atlantic.  Its was a lumpy ride as we left Flatrock paddling north.  After a while Brian and Sue had to leave while Hazen, Tobias and I carried on further north stopping in Shoe Cove before returning.  We had numerous icebergs to check out.

Some years we don't get to see any bergs.  When we do get them close enough to paddle out to them they end up on my list of top paddles.

Way more shots on the original posts which I posted in a one, two and three part series back in June.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Top 10 paddles of 2014 - #9

On the weekend of August 30 - September 1 Hazen and Dean led a club kayak camping trip to Gulch Pond in Placentia Bay.  It was three days of paddling that I'm collectively putting on my list at number 9.

We left under sunny skies from Garden Cove on Saturday and paddled down the Western Channel between the Burin Peninsula and Sound, Woody and Bar Haven Islands.  As the day progressed the wind picked up and it became a bit of work on the final run into Gulch Pond.

Here's a link to the original post

Supper consisted of a BBQ of salmon followed by some refreshments and a fire.  Evening shots here.

Sunday promised strong winds from a southerly direction and there was a bit of discussion as to paddle plans.  We decided to paddle south into the wind into Great Sandy Harbour.  We would work to get there but we expected some protection in the harbour and help from the wind returning to Gulch Pond.

Here and here are the original posts from that part of the trip.

Monday morning we broke camp to return to civilization.  It was calm and foggy.  Whereas the paddle down was in the more protected Western Channel, the return was a paddle around the islands.

Here and here are the original posts from the return.

It was my third kayak camp trip for the year.  I think any such trip belongs on  list of kayaking highlights for the year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top 10 paddles of 2014 - #10

Its that time of year again when I begin to take stock of my paddling year.  And, its been an excellent year for sure.

My number 10 top paddle of the year was a paddle seven of us did on 23 November from St Philips to Topsail Beach and back.  Its a well worn paddle destination.  Even so, it seems there's always something different to enjoy.  We started off in choppy seas caused by the southwest wind.

Close to the shore it was confused as swell rebounded off of the cliffs and surged over and around rocks.  Offshore not so much in the longer wavelengths.  Hazen, fresh from and adventure with the rocky shoreline when he broke up his kevlar boat, paddles furthest off shore in his standby poly kayak..


On that day the sea along the shore made for tricky conditions.  The waves collided with the immoveable rocks creating clapotis.  It was one of those days when I felt as one with the sea paddling right next to the cliffs revelling in the ride.

Nearing Topsail Beach the water flattened out a bit a we paddled under the dominating Topsail Head.

We stopped at Topsail Beach for  stretch.  Neville somehow managed to put himself in the water an had to swim himself and his kayak into shore.  Its a given that if there's a camera around, there's someone going to take a picture of the mishap.

I've paddled either north or south out of St. Philips 15 times over the year.  Its conveniently close by when a longer drive by car isn't appealing or when the weather is off.  We have the choice in wind to paddle into it and turn back or go the short 6 kms to Topsail Beach.  Sometimes the temptation is to overlook the familiar when assessing the year.  Not this time so I'm making it, as a proxy for all 15, my number 10 paddle for the year.

Here's a link to the original post.