Friday, May 30, 2014

Spotlight on paddling

The thing about photography is light.  Its all about light.  Yesterday evening the setting sun shone on the cliffs casting shadows and highlighting the finer details.

The thing about paddling is being at one with the kayak.  That's when it becomes fun versus discomforting.  Yesterday evening we had a bit of swell that made for exhilarating paddling.  We made out way through the G-spot as waves crashed over the rocks.  A paddle through the channel at Sailing Point had to be timed and and the same here just before Portugal Cove at this, as yet, unnamed passage.  Brian emerges as the swell spilling over the rocks turns the water behind him into a chaotic soup.

A day that started out cold with snow flurries ended with a brilliant sun spotlighting an entertaining paddle for our group of eight.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sea world under my hull

The stars did not align for a paddle buddy this weekend.  Sickness and chores claimed most.  I was on two minds whether I'd go.  The main reason for not going was there wouldn't be any kayakers to take pictures of.  The shore without a kayak in it is, well, just a shoreline.

I decided I'd go, take my time and see what kind of interesting shots I could get under water.  It wasn't till I got home to download the pictures from the camera that I could see whether I got anything interesting.  Interest is in the eye of the beholder.  I liked the colours.

I sat behind as rock and caught the surge spilling past the camera.  It looked to me like the stars after starship Enterprise went into warp factor 2.  Maybe pop art?  An Andy Worhal original?

Kelp streaming in the surging swell.

Bits of kelp floating on the surface.

A sprig of delicate seaweed plucked from its place and cast adrift.

A bit of greenery to contrast with the brown kelp with air bubbles on the surface.

Life clings on to a rock laying on an otherwise barren sea floor.

I had a leisurely paddle of 14 kms and I had a bit of fun trying to capture some of the life under my hull.  That was reason enough to get the hull wet.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Another paddle day, more icebergs

Yesterday Clyde, Dean and Gary had an iceberg paddle in Bay Bulls in sunny conditions.  I had other things to tend to.  Before I get to today's iceberg paddle I want to direct you to Dean's post from yesterday.

Where the guys had a sunny day yesterday, today Dean, Gary and I had a foggy day paddle.  It was cool but not unpleasant as we prepared to put-in at Middle Cove.

I knew there was an iceberg in Torbay 5 kms away but there have been issues with the put-in at Torbay so we used Middle Cove.  We left for Torbay exploring along the way.

Dean checks out a small cave.

When we got into Torbay we spotted one large iceberg and several small icebergs commonly called "bergy bits".  This one was a bergy bit just at the right height to lean on.

This berg was considerably bigger.  The water was so clear I could see the volume of ice submerged under water.  An iceberg at the surface is only 10% of the mass.  90% of its mass is under water.

Another small bergy bit with two "towers" to frame Gary on the other side.

All the while we were checking out the smaller bits of floating ice we had our eye on the main berg in the cove.  This one also had two towers with a seaway between them.

The same iceberg from a different angle.  The blue hues were incredible even in the foggy conditions.  Running diagonally across the top is a band of darker blue ice.  It was a fissure in the parent glacier that filled with melt water and refroze.  There are more air bubbles trapped in the white ice making it white and hues of indigo blue.

We bade the icebergs of Torbay farewell and paddled north to Flatrock where another large berg was reported.  We couldn't see it in the fog and we weren't sure how much further it was so we took out for a break in Flatrock and ...

... retraced our steps back to Torbay ...

... still in the unrelenting fog.

We bypassed this berg on our way to Flatrock because we had bigger fish to fry.  Having missed out on the big one Dean and I stopped to have a look at our last iceberg of the day.  It was floating just off the rocks but really bouncing around.  It looked like it was getting ready to roll but after prolonged scoping I made my way past it wasting no time.

We finished our paddle back at Middle Cove having logged 22 kms.

It was foggy but it was pleasant.  We can't control the weather so we have to take advantage of the opportunity to visit icebergs while they are around.  A southerly wind will blow them beyond our kayak's reach so we went.  It was my third day in the company of icebergs.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Iceberg paddle - the movie

Tuesday Hazen and I were in Western Bay checking out some icebergs.  I took some stills but also had a camera to shoot some video.  I shot almost 70 minutes of video that I edited down to just under 15 minutes.  A lot of the video was blurry from water on the lens but I was able to get enough video to give a good representation of our day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Paddling in iceberg alley

From my vantage point at home I could see icebergs on the other side of Conception Bay 35 kms away.  Mind you, I had to use binoculars.  Hazen had driven out last week to have a look and confirmed there were bergs.  Yesterday Hazen and I drove the hour and a half to Blackhead to put-in and get up close to some huge bergs.

One waits our visit just off the point where were were putting in.

We set out under bright but cloudy skies.

This one wasn't all that large but was interesting with two towers.  The lighter blue water indicates underwater ice.

The wind began to freshen as forecasted.  We looked north where ...

... our next candidate lay 6 kms away in Western Bay.  The bright sunny but cloudy sky gave way to a general overcast sky accompanied by 15 knot winds gusting to near 20.  Seas built and it was a bit of a slog but we arrived an hour and a half later.

As we circled the berg it became more interesting.  There was one massive tower with two smaller ones.  One mushroom shaped and one needle shaped.  Were bobbed for a while in the active water around the berg before ...

... striking off NNE just over two kms to our third iceberg for the day.  It was so windy Hazen couldn't keep his hat on though the picture lies.

This one was massive as Hazen is dwarfed.

As we again circled it became apparent this one had two massive towers.  Hazen and I agreed it was probably 10 stories high above the waterline.  It was hugely overpowering so we kept a healthy distance away from this one.  We paddled around the right side in clapotis as wind waves rebounded.

We had gone as far as we wanted so we turned to return where there was one more berg we could visit without going too far out of our way.

This one was lower but also cleaved open in the middle.

We were in the kayaks for a straight 3.5 hours in very bouncy water.  We were both incredulous as to the time and needed a stretch and snack.  We looked for a take-out in Western Bay but not so far in that we'd have to paddle all the way out again.  Hazen spotted a narrow slot that led to this protected beach.

After a snack we paddled out of our protected hideaway and directly across ...

... the mouth of Western Bay.  There were several other bergs deep in the bay but it was getting late so we paddle back to Blackhead pushed along a bit by the quartering sea.

I arrived first as Hazen straggles into Blackhead.  As he landed he explained he was slowed by a painful lower back which began to feel better compared to the pain in his hip.

I began to feel guilty because I persuaded him to put in at Blackhead versus Western Bay which turned out to be closer to the larger bergs.  Instead of just a tour of icebergs we had a respectable paddle of 23 kms.  Hope you're feeling better today Hazen and remember that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Something familiar

Nothing much was developing Friday so I put the call out for a morning paddle close by.  Winds in the afternoon were being forecasted to be in the range of 20 knots gusting to over 30.  The morning paddle would do just fine because we'd be off the water before the wind picked up.

Brian and I set out under sunny skies with light fluffy cumulus clouds in a slight SW breeze.

We paddled up to Topsail Beach, got out for a quick stretch before heading back to St. Philips.  The tide was falling and the wind picked up a bit.  In close to the cliffs it got confusing with the incoming waves mixing it up with the rebounding clapotis (sorry no pictures, just enjoying the ride).

Sometimes its being in the zone and I was there today.  It was total comfort as the kayak got bounced around whereas on other occasions the kayak might feel twitchy.

It was a short 14 km paddle but so rewarding.  I was just glad to get out.

Friday, May 9, 2014

I alone

Last evening was Thursday and it was the day to meet at St. Philips.  I had indications earlier in the day that some of the regulars would not be able to attend.  I considered that I might be by myself.  When I arrived my suspicions were verified.

It was 4 C at put-in time and a 25 km wind out of the north.  It was brisk.  I decided I'd go for a solo paddle up to Portugal Cove.  I passed this spot where the ice still hung on.

As I rounded the shore to enter Kings Cove the waves picked up but manageable with the larger at 1 meter.

As I made my way along the bow gently settled on the back of the waves except plopped over the larger.  I paddled and side surfed to get through the G-Spot.  A little bit of an adrenaline rush but no issues.

At Sailing Point things looked good to get through the channel.  There was only a bit of swell to deal with.  Having had a swim here Christmas Eve in conditions I should have stayed out of, I was very careful as I was by myself.

Near Wester Point at the entrance to Portugal Cove there's another channel behind some rocks.  There's more water between the rocks and the shore here than at Sailing Point so more room for error.  The Bell Island ferry plies its way across on the horizon.

I thought I might as well go right to the beach beside the ferry terminal.  Nature called in any case.

Seakayak Stardust looked a lonely boat so I though better make it a short break.  I retraced my steps back to St. Philips to find Dave and Jacob there.  Apparently I wasn't patient enough.  Ah well, I had a fine paddle anyway by myself.

I wanted to clock some more kms so I went.  But, I prefer to paddle with others if for no other reason than the pictures are more interesting.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Casing the iceberg

We arrived at the berg from the west side.

And paddled around it clockwise.  It was only one iceberg but I made sure I shot lots of pictures.  This one on the north side with the pinnacle towering over the rest of the ice.

Icebergs can be unstable and flip over or break apart unannounced.  On the east side Dean and Brian discuss the potential for the pinnacle to collapse leftwards along the diagonal lines of refrozen water.  I don't know how many times we said we'd like to be there, at a safe distance, when the pinnacle did collapse.

Neville and I checking out the south side.

Back around on the west side, it featured a small alcove.  Darker blue lines highlight fractures in the glacier where melt water refroze.  The berg itself is white because of the air bubbles in the ice whereas the refrozen water doesn't contain the same amount of air so it froze darker unable to scatter the light the same way.

Here's the track of our paddle.  The circle is where the berg was located, 2.6 kms from the left (west) side and 1.7 from the right (east) side.

We live next door to iceberg alley but aren't always graced with icebergs that drift close to shore.  There were none last year so when they do present themselves we got to get out there.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Lassoing the first iceberg of the season

This past week we have had constant northerly winds.  They are cold but have now born fruit.  The wind has blown a good number of icebergs close to the coast.

Iceberg Finder reported two icebergs in the bottom of Conception Bay.  Today Brian, Clyde, Dean, Hazen, Neville and I went in search of our first icebergs for the year.  We drove to Lance Cove Pond and put in on the sweeping cobble beach.

Iceberg Finder reported a berg between Lance Cove Pond and Indian Pond.  We were disappointed to find the berg had disappeared or was just a hoax.  We paddled on southerly in search of the second berg.

Joy and elation as we neared Lance Cove Head and saw our target in the distance.  We decided to cross first to ...

Harbour Main where we showed a considerable amount of restraint to stop first for ...

... a short stretch and lunch break.  There would be no opportunities to get out of our kayaks for the rest of the day.

The plan at the outset was to paddle up to ...

... Salmon Cove Point before crossing over to get a closer look at the interesting looking iceberg.

At Salmon Cove Point the swell that was really negligible on open water reared its destructive side.  It wasn't anything to treat without respect but Dean and I couldn't resist having a go at passing through the slot.  Timing was everything.  No time to lolly-gag once committed.  Things looked good, I went.  On the other side the swell reared up but I got over it and surfed right on through to the other side (Thanks The Doors!).

From Salmon Cove point we set our sights on the berg which was 2.6 kms away, a mere blip on the horizon.

We paddled and with each paddle stroke we got closer and ...

... and closer and bigger until ...

... we arrived under its towering pinnacle.  Icebergs are in themselves awesome because they travel so far to reach us.  Even blocky bergs are a gift but when something like this comes along it is just WOW!  Nature can be an amazing sculptor.

We circled the berg marveling at the different features taking our time to savour the moment.


We bobbed about and stared for about 30 minutes before we beaded back across the bay to return to the cars.  I have oodles of other shots that I will post later but I must get on with the trip.  Every put-in hopefully ends with a safe take-out.

So we made our way back to the Lance Cove Pond side basking in the afterglow of our first berg for the season.

We hit the shore a short 1.7 kms away (it looked further) at Indian Pond and paddled the non-descript shoreline back to Lance Cove Pond.  Non-descript but ironic in a way.  The shore along here is composed of glacial till deposited here some 12,000 years ago by melting glaciers.  Not the same glacier that gave us today's iceberg but a glacier nonetheless.

While I bobbed around the iceberg I picked up a bergy bit and stashed it in my cockpit.  Its in my freezer now waiting to be pounded into ice cubes far a swally.

Awesome day guys.  Thank you!

Some more shots here.

Next weekend different bergs.