Monday, February 24, 2014

A slow start to 2014

At this point last year I missed paddling on only 1 weekend.  So far this year I've only managed a paddle on 3 of 8 weekends.  That's depressing.

There was a weather window on Saturday but hard core paddling friend Dean was down with the flu.  I considered going for a paddle by myself but going by myself didn't appeal a lot to me.  Not that I don't paddle solo, I just wasn't feeling it.

So, its off to the pool again tomorrow evening and hoping Dean is better again next weekend.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A bloody nose

Christmas Eve I gave my kayak a good smack.  I got flipped and driven upside down into a rock.  It chipped off a sizable piece of gelcoat at the bow, exposing the fibreglass underneath.  I finally got up the nerve to ask if I could bring it in the house to do the repair.

Paddling friend Neville did a repair also recently using a product called Marine Tex.  His repair was perfect.  This stuff is advertised to form a tenacious bond to fibreglass, metal, glass, plastics, wood and porcelain.  It can be worked like putty and can be sanded when cured.  I got a couple of teaspoons from him to do my repair.

Its white but can be tinted with ground epoxy pigments.  I didn't need much and doubted I could get such a small amount so I just applied it white knowing I could also paint it with most topcoat systems.

I decided against trying to match the deck colour, settling rather on a blood red colour to signify a wound.  Maybe also to serve as a reminder to be more careful in future.  And, its bound to be a conversation starter.

The bow is repaired and ready for action again.  But there is a scar LOL!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ice Ice Baby

There's no paddling this weekend with wind gusts near 100 kms all weekend.  But my mind is on paddling nonetheless and in particular on paddling in ice.

I've been keeping an eye on the Environment Canada ice reports.  Its clear to see that there is a lot of ice off of the north east coast of the island.  The heaviest ice is the red segments.  Now the question is will it drift down to our area on the Avalon Peninsula where the ice is thinner and coloured brown and yellow.

Its been  couple of years since I've been able to paddle amongst the ice floes.  Here are a few shots from a few years ago that I'm hoping awaits.

Here, in Middle Cove, the ice was packed too tightly to provide room to paddle.

Next door in Torbay there was ice and open water to paddle.

Lots of open water here but ...

... more ice to explore here.  The thing I enjoy most about this scene is the opportunity to manoeuvre around ice floes using sweeps and bow rudders.

Whether we'll have ice to paddle around depends on getting the right wind to push the ice near the shore.  I live in hope.  Its a different experience with even an opportunity to run the kayak up on an ice floe for lunch.  Maybe its so enjoyable because I don't get the opportunity every year.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Paddling Bay Bulls with worker bees

On Wednesday Hazen and I skied Butterpot Park.  It was a glorious day.  Hazen took a picture and sent it to the some of the working guys.  He called them the worker bees.

Well the weekend came and I joined two of them Clyde and Dean for another glorious day this time on the water.  We arrived at Bay Bulls with the put-in snowed in.  The thermometer registered -11C.  We didn't feel it as we hauled our kayaks over the snow to the water.

There was a bit of ice on the water we had to negotiate to get out.  The sky was oh so blue without a cloud to see.

We started up the north side with the intention of returning down the south side which would give us a bit more protection from winds that were forecast to come up.

The further we went towards North Head the cliffs got higher and draped with walls of ice until  further along yet they ...

... came down to sea level.  Near North Head the sea became more active.

We arrived at North Head with the lighthouse coming into view.

The plan was to cross over to the south side but that crossing was deferred.  We instead paddled north and entered Dungeon Cove and then ...

... into Freshwater Cove again dominated by icicles.  At Freshwater Cove we returned to North Head and crossed in strengthening winds to the south side of Bay Bulls.

The south side was also draped in icicles like at the mouth of this cave.  I entered and looked out towards the north side in the distance.

At times the going was slowed by slob ice on the water.

Clyde ponders whether there was enough water to get between these snow and ice covered rocks.  There wasn't.  Dean was ready with the camera to catch the action if there was a comedic event.

Clyde and I checked out some other nooks while Dean paddled ahead.  There aren't many take-outs in Bay Bulls.  Dean found this one where we got out for a ...

... stretch and quick snack.  We didn't stay long to give the cold a chance to give us a chill before we ...

... returned to the put-in where we had parked our cars.

It was an amazing day.  We saw some hikers probably on snowshoes, shouting out to each other, maybe congratulating each on getting out on such a cool winter's day.

Clyde treated Dean and myself to coffee.  I drove home a wide grin on my face the whole way.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

You can't XC ski in a buffalo herd

It was a bright, sunny and cold morning.  I phoned Hazen to see if he was interested in going to Butterpot Park to cross country ski.  He was.  So we met at the gate to the park, clipped into our skis and skied over a skim of snow on the road to the trail head with a biting wind in our faces.

Just a few pictures of a great day skiing in beautiful surroundings.

After gliding down three slopes we were down in low country and out of the wind.  We had this beautiful view at the start of the looping trail around the park campsites.

The classic track that was put in on the past weekend was still in excellent condition.  Taking pictures was very different than from the seat of a kayak.  The subject moves away a lot faster.

The trail passes through this playground that in summer would be full of boisterous children.

A long uphill slope hemmed in by protective trees.

The track curves away to the right at the start and to the left is the end of the return loop.

Butterpot Mountain for which the park is named in the distance across a snow covered bog.

Hazen and I went two times through the loop for a total of about 10 kms before skiing back up over the three slopes we came down over so easily to start the day.

You can't cross country ski in a buffalo herd.  We didn't see any buffalo, nor did we expect to, but we did see moose tracks in a couple of places.  Overall a most enjoyable day spent outside.  The 20 minute drive home was done on Cloud 9.

Thanks Hazen for sharing a super day.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Daggers of ice

Sunday we had a relaxed paddle of almost 15 kms.  By relaxed, I mean, we took our time to check out this massive formation of icicles.

Hazen disappeared into the space between the cliff and overhanging wall of ice ...

... that invited closer inspection too on my part.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A study of contrast - black rocks, white ice

Finally, after a two week, weather enforced hiatus, we were back on the water.  Clyde, Dean, Hazen, Neville and I met on a day of calm weather but cool.  It was cool enough though to freeze the fresh water floating on the heavier salt water.

We got underway under an overcast sky with light snow in the forecast.

I'm well behind of last year's pace but what can a person do?  I just have to accept the weather as it comes.  I wasn't the only person delighted to be paddling again.

We had winter early, then spring when all the snow disappeared, then some more snow that blanketed the black rocks ...

... and combined with some spectacular icicles provided a study in contrast.  The stark black rocks looked cold enough.  The snow and ice were visual evidence that my impression was well founded.

Neville with Bell Island still visible across the Tickle.  That would change with the arrival of snow.

It was a relaxed paddle scooting between ice draped cliffs and snow covered rocks.  A day without hurry.  A day to savour.

These 5 guys are our so-called "core camping group".  It just feels comfortable paddling with these guys.  We were glad to see Clyde after an extended period on shore.

As we approached Topsail Head we encountered the first snow flurries.

High tide was at 9:00 and was still sufficiently high enough at Topsail Beach to enable us to paddle up into the fresh water lagoon behind the cobble barachois.  It was the first time for me so a bit of a highlight.  Its these small things that make some paddles memorable.

So, in the lagoon we paddled up to get out for a snack under this bank that provided protection from the light breeze and increasingly falling snow.

After our short break we turned back under Topsail Head.  It began to snow more that, in all honesty, just added to the ambiance of the day.

The amount of snow falling is hard to tell from the pictures but it began to accumulate on my foredeck.  What started out as small snowflakes gradually grew to larger fluffy flakes.

The tide was falling; the rocks clearly showing the drop from the high water line.

We returned to the peaceful waters of the cove at St. Philips.  I really didn't want the paddle to end.  It wasn't what some might call a 'fairweather" day but it was such an enjoyable, relaxed day with a bit of snow to add to the atmosphere.

Yet, all good things have to come to an end.  In the end, a contented feeling that I had taken advantage of the day and formed more happy memories in my kayak.

We washed the salt off of our gear in the fresh water of the river, loaded our gear and boats and went for a coffee and chat.  Outside the snow continued to fall.  It didn't matter.