Sunday, March 30, 2014

LaManche through the backdoor

After a while it get difficult to find a stretch of coast I haven't paddled before.  There are lots but not many that are close to home suitable for a day paddle.  I've been to LaManche a few times, always leaving from Tors Cove.  Today Clyde, Dean, Hazen, Neville and I went back to LaManche but left from Brigus South.

Clyde, Dean and I waited for Old Wobbly to put-in by checking out some action at this rock in the entrance to the harbour.

A number of years ago I paddled the same stretch of coast but well off shore.  This time we hugged the shoreline all the way checking out every nook and cranny.

Staying in close made for entertaining paddling in the waves and clapotis.

Officially its spring but winter hasn't yet released its icy grip.

It still felt like winter with an ashen sky overhead but not bitter cold.  Melt water is starting to flow.

Nor was the scenery brightened by the grey to black slates that run like a ribbon from Brigus South northwards for some 65 kilometers as far as Torbay.

Hanging out is a small cove which we did at every opportunity.

Having logged almost 12 kms we reached LaManche, the site of an abandoned fishing community that is now dominated by an impressive suspension bridge as part of the East Coast Trail.  We started to see patches of blue sky as we rounded Cape Neddick.

Bathed in brilliant sunlight we ate our lunch warmed by the sunbeams that fell on us in this protected though cramped take-out.

After our lunch we turned our bows south sped along with the wind which had picked up from the northeast and ...

... before long we were back at Brigus South.  Hugging the shore gave us 11.7 kms, doing so less rigorously on the return netted us 8.5, a sizable difference.

This will be the last paddle for March.  Winter is behind us.  Some were looking forward to warmer temperatures.  I think they'll be disappointed - there's another 15 cm of snow in the forecast in the next two days.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A change of plan paddle

The wind forecast yesterday, Friday, for today, Saturday was 15 - 20 knots so I suggested a bounce in the waves and some surf rides.

Dean, being the only friend to respond positively, and I met at 12:00 which would have allowed sufficient time for the seas to fully develop.  When we got there the wind was nowhere near forecast so we decided to paddle south and if the wind did pick up we could easily turn and paddle back in the following sea.

I was back in the kayak fresh on the heels of my winter come spring paddle on Thursday.  The temperature was just above 0C but still not warm enough to met the snow and ice that still decorates the rocky cliffs.

Though there wasn't much wind there was some nice action along the shore.

Clyde had said he was passing on today's paddle but Dean and I were pleasantly surprised on our return to see him paddling towards us.  No sooner had Clyde joined us when the wind picked up and sea built almost instantaneously.

Unfortunately, none of the shots I took do justice to the changed conditions.  There were times I was looking down on top of Clyde's helmet.  No exaggeration.

Paddle finished we washed the salt out of our gear in the cool, fresh water of the river.

What started out as a bounce ended up in a most entertaining paddle.  Only 13.6 kms but in this case it was quality over quantity and the third paddle in eight days.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Paddling through the spring equinox

It was to beautiful of a day today not to paddle so Hazen and I put-in at St. Philips.  We put-in almost 1:30 pm.  It was still winter with a temperature of -2C and -7 with the wind chill.  There wasn't much wind but it was out of the NW.

Forty minutes later we were across the Tickle and arrived at Bell Island.  Where we had left in winter, we were now in spring.  Spring had officially began at 2:27 pm.

The plan was initially to paddle to Topsail Beach and be on the water when spring came in but with the gentle breeze we opted for Bell Island.  Spring had set in but tell that to the weather  At "The Beach" ice still clung to the cliffs but the sun was gaining strength and as it did it we heard bits of ice and rocks fall off.

Massive walls of ice were draped over the 200 foot cliffs but ...

... some had already cascaded into the sea as mini bergs.

Near the north end of Bell Island we left the towering cliffs behind to ...

... cross back over but this time to Portugal Cove.  In the distance just over Hazen's bow we could see Brocks Pond Falls were still frozen.

On our crossing to Portugal Cove the gentle breeze we faced earlier had completely dropped out.  To starboard the sun shone strongly in the sky which really warmed us up after paddling in the shade of the cliffs.

Forty minutes later we were back across the Tickle just before the ferry from bell Island came in.

Paddling southwards back to St Philips the bright sunshine from the southwest really brightened the icicles.  Hazen and I took our time finishing our paddle under the most pleasant of conditions.

Today was my last paddle for the winter and, coincidentally, my first spring paddle.  That was what appealed to me today - a paddle through the spring equinox.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Last winter paddle? Maybe.

Every Monday I start looking at the long range forecast with an eye on weekend paddling.  Then I schedule the things I have to do around that.  If Saturday is the best paddle day then other duties are assigned to days other than Saturday.

During the week as each day passes I keep an eye on the forecast hoping the optimistic forecast holds.  It held ...

... so, I mailed the gang to see if I would have company on such a perfect paddle day.  Only Neville was free to paddle.  The rest had chores to do or were ill.  Saturday dawned a beautiful clear bright but cold day.  The slight breeze out of the north had a biting sting as it ...

... blew across an expanse of sea ice of off the northeast coast.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky.

A week ago the sea here was frozen solid.  A southerly had blown it out of the bay but it was still cold enough to form ice crystals.  The north breeze blew it onto the coast at places where it formed pools of slush that was just like trying to paddle through wet concrete.

Neville and I took our time and paddled through this kelp bed and into Portugal Cove ...

... where we met paddling colleague Mike K who snapped this shot of us approaching.  Again the slush was pushed along the shore to our right.  It stood between us and a beach we intended to take out for a break so we became ...

... icebreakers, sort of.  Thanks Mike for the pictures.

We took out in the cove and sat in the sun which is slowly gathering strength as the winter ebbs away.  Thursday is the first day of spring.  Cool conditions will still prevail but the paddle on this day will likely be the last one that is technically in winter.

So, the message for my friends that missed paddling on the day is you have to make hay when the sun shines.  And guys, don't hurt yourselves too much as you kick yourself *lol* for missing out.

I'll start looking at the forecast again Monday morning for our first spring paddle next weekend.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Overland to the Spout

If you read my last post the sea was frozen solid where I intended to paddle on Saturday.  Today wind kept us on shore.

I know this is not a kayaking post but it is an out-of-doors adventure and I hope I'll be given a bit of latitude to show a few shots from a ski and snowshoe trip to a sea run geyser.  Its a stretch but I'll use the excuse we went out to scout for a kayak trip later this summer.

Hazen, Neville and I started our trek at Middle Pond on the Southern Shore highway.

The first section is steeply uphill.  Before long we stopped to address a couple of equipment issues - Hazen's poles and some kick wax for me.

After the terrain leveled off a bit we came out into the open barrens where the northerly wind blew bitingly.

Four kilometers after starting we caught sight of the sea and it was down hill the rest of the way.

Hazen and I took off our skis and walked and snowshoed as we descended.  Neville continued to ski which amazed me.  My glide wax made my cross country skis too fast and made for harrowing skiing so I took them off.  Neville has done a lot more bushwacking than us whereas I'd rather ski on a groomed trail with a classic track laid in.

A shot of happy Tony (thanks to Hazen), featuring my multi-coloured hat knitted by my daughter Lisa.

As we descended we entered the trees and got cover from the wind.

Hazen crawling under a windfall over the trail.

Spout reached.  We were disappointed.  There was no show running today.  Only a snow and ice cone of the sea run geyser's previous work.

A sea cave lies directly under our feet with a hole extending down into the roof of the cave.  Water runs down the blow hole and as waves compress the air in the cave a spray belches out many meters high depending on the sea action.  Today, the sea did not cooperate.

We had a lunch and made the two hour trek back to the cars in reverse order.  Again uphill, along the level barrens and then downhill.  A coffee was our reward for a day well spend outdoors.

I'll start looking at the long range forecast tomorrow with an eye on my next kayak adventure.  Fingers crossed.

The breadcrumbs.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Paddling cancelled

Its been bloody cold around here the past week with the temperature close to -20C and -30C with the wind chill.  It has caused the salt water in Conception Bay to freeze.  I've lived overlooking the bay for 25 years and have never seen it caught over like this year.  I went to St. Philips to have a look.

The ice in the cove was thick enough to walk on and there's no way we'll be able to force out way through in kayaks.

Ice right up to the shoreline.

The channel from the harbour out into the cove can barely be seen with it also covered in ice.

There was an almost imperceptible swell.  Imperceptible as in if this was open water a paddler wouldn't even notice.  But, there was enough to make the ice creak and groan.

Bell Island, 4.5 kms in the distance is a place we often paddle to.  This weekend we may be able to walk over there with enough daring.  Kidding!  So, sadly it looks like there's no way we'll be paddling this weekend.  That is disappointing.