Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Being the weatherperson

Kayaking according Paddle Canada is more than just about paddling.  It includes weather awareness because weather is an important element in the exercise of good judgement for when to paddle and when to stay ashore.

On day paddles, being aware of the weather is as simple as checking out the weather forecast(s).  On longer trips local weather forecasts may not be available and the kayaker must try to come up with a best guess forecast.

So, I'm going to do a month long study of weather patterns with the hope of educating myself to a rudimentary level of weather prediction.

The above shot is the current weather systems affecting us on April 30 from The WeatherNetwork.  I'm adding a shot of each days weather system map to a Word document and tracking their movement.

Then I add a shot from SmartBay showing the wind speed and direction.

Winds rotate clockwise around a high pressure system (in the northern hemisphere).  The shot of the wind speed and barbs confirm the alignment of weather systems in the top shot.

I document current wind speeds and wind speeds forecast for the following four days.  That reflects the WeatherNetworks meteorologists predictions of system movements.  I also document cloud conditions and cloud formations that I observe.

I've got three days data saved but so far nothing exciting is happening because of the blocking high pressure system that's keeping air masses in place.

Knowing that weather systems generally track from west or southwest to east or northeast will be the key to predicting weather for the next day or couple of days.  Thereby, avoiding tricky conditions like two and three meter waves.

Often the weatherperson is wrong so I don't expect to be 100% accurate all the time but being a bit more educated doesn't hurt and its better than launching totally oblivious to what the weather may do.

Thirty days, should be enlightening and fun.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Colliers grey foggy day paddle

Today was a cool 2C day with light winds out of the north and, at times, pea soup fog.  Fog and drizzle took turns.

Four of us, Dean, Hazen, Neville and I were not deterred.  We drove to Colliers.  When we arrived the water was near low tide and a good distance from the vehicles.  The wind was blowing towards us as we quickly loaded the kayaks and prepared to head into the grey foggy day.

The plan for the day was to paddle the 12 kms north to South Point and return.  We set off with Man of War Ridge to our left.

The closer we got to Turks Head and more open waters the swell created some great paddling close to the imposing cliffs.

Marysvale is the only place to take out between Colliers and Brigus so we stopped there for a short break before carrying on.  In Bull Cove the battle between sea and land continued.  The swell would take the kayak and sweep it towards the rocks and spent, it pulled us back as it ebbed.

Sticking the bow of the kayak into some falling water drumming a beat on the empty forward hatch.  The falls ...

... behind Hazen in this little un-named cove.

Stopping to look at another cascade of water from the spring run-off.

Timing was everything today with the swell.  We were on to it though.  After three large surges it was doable.  As we paddled up to this arch Dean found it calm.  I waited for him to clear and immediately after the arch became filled with powerful surging water.  I counted to three and scooted through to ...

... wait for Neville and Hazen to also pass through.

This stretch of coast is quite scenic with offshore rocks and seastacks.

Man of War Ridge and the rocks north of Turks Gut are Harbour Main Group rocks composed mainly of Neo-Proterozoic (before proliferation of complex life) extrusive volcanic rocks.  They are predominantly grey and black.  In Woody Island Cove the rocks suddenly turned colour.  These belong to the Lower Cambrian period when complex life on earth made its appearance.  The red and green slates are interbedded with pink algal limestone.

Objective reached.  We paddled around South Point and into Brigus Harbour.  We floated for a short while before retracing our steps to ...

... Turks Gut and the community of Marysvale where we ...

... sheltered behind some trees from the northeast wind that arrived fairly much on time as forecasted.

The seven kilometers return paddle was uneventful pushed along by the strengthening wind and waves.  With the assistance of the wind we halved the time we took on the outward leg of the paddle.

It wasn't the most ideal of days weather wise but each of us enjoyed it nevertheless.  Even if we would admit we're looking forward to putting our neoprene mitts away and paddling in some warmer temperatures.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weather not fit for man nor beast

Thursday is our regular practice evening.  The forecast was for 20 knot NE winds gusting to 30 knots, temperature at 1 C with rain or freezing rain.  I though, what is the point?  Neville to the rescue; he had his kayak at work and wasn't going to go home without wetting the hull.  So, Dean, Neville and I met and Thursday evening practice turned into foul weather acclimatization.

Last year on our circumnavigation of New World Island we stopped into Mortons Harbour for fresh water.  While we were filling out containers the wind pick up considerably and the sea state got worrisome.  We had a slog into howling cold wind and huge seas to get back to a campsite we knew was good.  When we reached the entrance to Roses Harbour I said "Thank you St. Philips", that is, the practices in inclement conditions.

We paddled out of St. Philips and headed towards Portugal Cove in choppy seas, rain pelting into our faces and climbing over occasionally breaking waves.  Up to Wester Point we were on our own, out of sight of civilization.  When we got to Wester Point I suggested we go into Portugal Cove where we would be seen and we could remove all questions concerning our sanity.

It was raw but it was rewarding and we are ready for when the weather turns against us.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Post script Cape Broyle

Six of us paddled in Cape Broyle on Best Friday.  The morning's paddle saw us stopped for lunch at 12:00 at Lance Cove.  The distance from the put-in to Lance Cove was only 9.5 kms so we decided to continue on east out of the harbour and check out Cathedral Cave.

East of Lance Cove we had some rock gardens to explore.

Dean scoots over the surge while Ron waits for him to clear.  Timing is everything to catch the surging water versus the water sucking out.

Just past Church Cove we entered Cathedral Cave, a huge vaulting cave descriptive of its name.

Its a deep cave with daylight at the end.  The sea is busy trying to wear its way through but still has some work to do before the opening is passable.

Unable to pass through, we turned to exit.  I caught the gang barely silhoutetted in the bright light at the cave entrance.  The scale is immense.

The camera struggles to capture detail of the cliffs on the outside of this tunnel.  We passed through here on the outward leg of our trip when the water was higher.  On the return the water had dropped but we were still able to get by the rocks guarding its entrance.

We took our time retracing our paddle strokes now with the light wind and gentle swell at our backs.  It warmed up noticeable with the wind behind us.

We found the gatekeeper when we arrived back at the slipway.  He wanted a $3.00 launch fee for each kayak.  Not an unreasonable sum but unexpected.  We paid up and went for coffee before driving home after a super day in our kayaks.

I checked my calendar at home to discover it was two years and one day since I was in Cape Broyle.  I should make it an annual paddle because its a great paddle destination that is best timed for high tide.

Thanks to Brian, Clyde, Dean, Ron and Sue for sharing the day.  All the more enjoyed the following day looking out at the freezing rain.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A day in Cape Broyle

Today was the Best Friday holiday.  I joined Brian, Clyde, Dean, Ron and Sue for a day paddle in Cape Broyle.  Lets face it, every Friday is a good Friday but when its a statutory holiday, its "Best Friday".

The first attraction after leaving the slipway is this waterfall where Horse Chops River tumbles down to meet the sea.  Spring runoff was in fine form today.

Paddling up to Sheeps Head where we usually cross over to the south side where ...

... the cliffs became more imposing.  Here Clyde marvels at the wonder of the rocks bent in an anticline.  Not sure if he knew he was looking at an anticline but he does now.  Still a bit of ice around.

Ron squeezing through a narrow gap and ...

... Brian navigating surging water amongst the rocks.  There was just enough swell running in from the northeast to make rock hopping interesting.

Clyde checks out this cave-in-the making which right now is just an overhang.

A relaxing paddle under massive cliffs ...

 ... where, in places, the sea has created tunnels for us to explore.  Clyde switches to his Euro blade after cracking off his Greenland paddle.  When that happens we have firewood *lol*

As I said, spring runoff was in full swing.  This waterfall runs even in summer though and is a refreshing shower on a hot day.  On a day with the temperature near zero and lower with the wind chill factored in, it was chilly.  Nevertheless, I could not resist taking a quick run through the falling water but paid for it as it took some time to warm up again.

The Freshwater River, a more potent waterfall, tumbling over the cliffs in bright sunshine.

It was almost 12:00 and my lunch was calling me.  Good thing too that we were in Lance Cove where we intended to take out for something to eat.  Lance Cove is guarded by this impressive seastack.

We landed in Lance Cove on this sandy beach for lunch.  A little breeze blew out of the northeast which kept things chilly even in the sunshine.  Some of us donned oversized coats to keep warm.

The day was still young and there was more to see, in particular Cathedral Cave.  To be continued ...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cruising into Colliers

Finished lunch, we put in again and checked out this waterfall in a small cove next to where we had lunch.  A few of us took turns to duck into the shallow cave behind the cascading water.

The colour of the rocks behind the falls looked psychadelic.

Inside, looking out through a curtain of water.

Sue was wondering what the "white stuff" was.  A seaweed of some sort but I hadn't see anything like it before.

We hugged the western shoreline and exiting Curtain Cove we were looking down Colliers Bay.

A few walls of ice were clinging on to the last vestiges of winter.

Looks can be deceiving.  This looks like a cobble beach and that would be right if we had been here some 542 million years ago.  Now, its a conglomerate from the Cambrian period that is exposed in James Cove.

Entering Burkes Cove we were greeted by erratics resting on the rocky shore  Erratics are rocks that were picked up and transported miles by glaciers and left to rest where they were when the glaciers melted on the Avalon about 12,000 years ago.

In Dock Cove I checked out this rust bucket with the name "Hamilton Banker" registered in St. John's but unlikely to ever see that port agin.

Looking back from where we came Sue is between Ryans Head on the right and Marysvale Ridge on the left.  We were almost in Colliers where we had left the cars five hours earlier.

All that was left to do after a wonderful day on the water was to change clothing and load the kayaks. But, before we went home the seven of us stopped for a coffee and a chat.  Thanks everyone for sharing the day.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Looking for the Cambrian explosion

Saturday I joined Brian, Dean, Derrick, Hazen, Neville and Sue for a paddle around the Colliers Peninsula.  The first order of business was to shuttle the cars a short distance from Conception Harbour to Colliers.  Hazen and Sue stayed to keep an eye on the gear.

When we got back to Conception Harbour we got ready to get on the water.  Everyone noted Hazen was on the water first because it was unusual.

With all hands on the water we made our way north and out of Gasters Bay.

The mouth of the bay opened up the further north we paddled.

Paddling under cliffs of red siltstone.

Further along the shoreline the land came down to meet the water.

Dean checking out a small run of water in this little nook.

At Bacon Cove we stopped to stretch our legs and we had a ...

... geology lesson on unconformities.  Here we're standing on mid-Proterozoic Conception siltstones.  The siltstones date anywhere between 1 billion and 1.5 bilion years old.  Precise dating is not possible as sedimentary rocks are generally dated with reference to fossils and these rocks were deposited prior to multi-cellular life.

The Conception rocks were uplifted and eroded over a long period of time before the sea held sway again in the Cambrian period to deposit a basal layer of conglomerate.  The students *lol* point to the contact.  The Cambrian period began 542 million years ago at a time when lifeforms exploded and diversified.

We continued on paddling between steeply dipping rocks to our left and ...

... over kelp beds.

At Colliers Point we paddled into this little cove where we ...

... took out and stopped for lunch.  The forecast was for rain and while we did have the occasional sprinkle, it was warm without wind.  It was shaping up to be a large day.

To be continued ...