Sunday, November 30, 2014

Escape from St. Philips

For almost two months we've been stuck paddling in St. Philips due to weather.  Its not ideal but it was time spent in the kayaks.  It was a choice of pounding into the wind and returning surf rides or it the wind wasn't howling it was a series of shorter paddles in confused seas.  Today Dean and I finally escaped from St. Philips to paddle on the Southern Shore putting in at Tors Cove.

Friday overnight we had 15 cms snow.  Its been cold so the snow is still on the ground and trees.  It was -6C when we arrived at the put-in.

Its been gnarly paddling in St. Philips in the wind.  Today there was no perceptible wind when we got going on the way to LaManche.  Both Dean and I decided to take it easy.  Even in the cold a bit of work would mean sweating so we handrailed along the shore at a slow pace of 5 kms/hr.

The trees on the hills all along the route from Tors Cove were covered or peppered by Friday's snowfall.

On our port side lay the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.  I had to squint a lot to see where I was going.

Dean and I explored every nook and cranny.

As we cleared Bauline Head there was a bit of swell to add a bit of interest.

The rocks along here are grey to black slates of the St John's Formation.  They are supposed to be grey to black but the brilliant sunshine seemed to bring out a hint of purple.

9.5 kms from Tors Cove we arrived at LaManche with its suspension bridge.  The bridge was constructed by the East Coast Trail Association and is part of, you guessed it, the East Coast Trail.

Dean checks out the water fall at the head of the harbour of the former community before we ...

... took out in a kelp bed at the edge of the sloping rocks.  There is absolutely no beach at LaManche but the kelp bed makes it an easy take-out nonetheless.

Once we had the kayaks hauled out safely on the rocks we had a little walkabout the resettled community.  Concrete foundations and stone retaining walls were scattered on the hillside looking out over the protected cove.

As we ate lunch clouds began to encroach from the south, a harbinger of winds that were forecasted for the afternoon.  We did not hurry lunch but it doesn't take long for the cold to seep into our bones so we also did not tarry.

Our next destination was Great Island in the Reserve.

Here's a link to Dean's take on the day.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seven on the sea

The forecast again did not favour us this weekend.  The winds yesterday an the wind chill did not appeal.  Today the wind was forecasted to be W 40 kms with a windchill of -3C.  It wasn't as windy nor as cold as forecasted but it was raw.  Nonetheless, seven of us (Brian, Clyde, Dean, Hazen, Neville and Sean) met for a paddle.

We got underway in choppy seas under grey skies.

We had pecks of rain that landed on the camera lens.  Oh Well!

Today was the first time we've seen Clyde in months.  Here and there the remnants of yesterday's -12 C windchill were evident on the cliffs as icicles.  We know where its going from here and its not going to get warmer.

Neville has also been scarce on weekends but made it today.

Hazen was in his old plastic Aquanaut today.  For good reason too.  Last weekend he got thrown up on the rocks and  holed his kevlar Torngat, separated the deck and hull over a three foot length behind the cockpit and other general cosmetic injuries.  The Torngat is waiting for a opening in sickbay so the financial damage as not yet been ascertained.  He's taking it well!

Dean and Sean.

Near Topsail a squall descended on us bringing with it hail.  I wondered who suggested this paddle today.  Oh yes, my fault.

At Topsail Beach we got out to snack and stretch our legs and doctor Hazen's backband.The cold weather has us back on the water before long to retrace our track to St. Philips where ...

... some of us did our customary wash in the fresh water of the river.

A most entertaining paddle along a familiar coast.  One we paddled also last weekend but this was different.  Last weekend we had some swell whereas this weekend it was just wind waves.  Swell is unpredictable meaning good judgement had to be exercised padding in the rocks.  Wind waves are more predictable so what you see is what you get.  There won't be any surprises once an assessment of the situation is made.  We got into most of the rocky places today.

It was familiar but at least it was in the kayak.  Thanks to the guys for sharing the day.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Paddling season enters stage 2

Paddling season entered stage 2 today.  That is, cold weather paddling.  It was 0C with a -8C windchill at put-in.

I didn't expect to get a chance to paddle today based on the weather forecast a couple of days ago but it worked out to be one of the most enjoyable paddles in a while.  I joined Brian and Dean to retrace my path from two days ago.

We had ideal paddle conditions.  Not much wind but chaotic water.

Passing what I've named Steen van Anton.

I paddled near the shore where the water was roughest as rebounding clapotis formed peaks on the waves.  The camera doesn't always capture the action but in this case I had Brian in my viewfinder and then ...

... he disappeared.  I just love how the Nordkapp handles in these conditions.

Near Topsail Beach the sun came out.  It bathed everything in a bright glow.

After brief stop at Topsail Beach we returned to St. Philips as the wind increased somewhat and things got more chaotic.  But that didn't stop me from sticking close to the cliffs.

Back at St. Philips the cold wind on wet hands suggests its not going to get warmer any time soon.  No problem.  Winter paddling beckons.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Taking a provisional paddle

I'm taking a term from golf for today's paddle.  If a golfer suspects they have driven their tee-shot out of bounds they can play a provisional ball.  If the original drive is out of bounds they play the provisional and take the penalty.

Today it was foggy but not a breath of wind.  It may not be great weather this weekend so I decided I'd go for a quick solo paddle after my class so I'd at least get one in.  There was no wind but a bit of swell.  Here at Up-around-ya Corner a rock guards the entry.  The swell runs in around the rock, meets behind it and does ker-sploosh.

Up past St. Thomas Cove it got more civil.  Here it was no sweat getting in behind Steen van Anton.

The fog made it look like the rocks were floating in the air.

Little Bell Island came into view during a momentary easing of the fog.

I got out at Topsail Beach to surreptitiously relieve myself as there were other people about.  A saving grace to have the spray skirt *lol*

I got back in the kayak and it was the highlight of the paddle.  I had the most graceful, elegant surf launch ever.  I was very pleased with myself I have to admit.  Not to get smug about it because the next may not be a sweet.

I also managed to get over the 900 km mark for the year.  Its unthinkable to end the year with less than 1,000 kilometers paddled.  It looks within reach.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Following up a class in plate tectonics

Monday, Wednesday and Friday I attend a plate tectonics class at Memorial University's Earth Sciences Department.  Therefore, I initially passed on joining Dean and Julie on a paddle today, Monday.

They were paddling south from St Philips, leaving at 1:00 pm.  I decided I'd paddle anyway, put-in late and catch them somewhere between St Philips and Topsail.

I caught them only 2.5 kms into my paddle.  They were returning to St. Philips so at that point it would only net me 5 kms.  Hardly worth getting the hull wet.

A sizable swell caused havoc along the shore.  As we neared St. Philips I decided I'd paddle by myself up to Portugal Cove to make the paddle worthwhile.  Dean and Julie went home.

At the G-Spot (so named because this is the spot a few years ago Gerard had a swim) the swell went skywards when it hit the rocks and ...

... carried on into the cliffs.  Caught inside there today would mean a side surf up onto the rocks and possibly a holing and swim.  The decision to bypass was an easy one.

At Sailing Point I surveyed the situation.  This is where I had an eight minute swim last Christmas Eve in conditions similar to today.  The tide was falling exposing rocks in the center of the channel when the water sucked out ...

... and substantially more when the water surged in.  Another opportunity to exercise good judgement.

Near Portugal Cove I sat and observed another spot that in safer conditions we scoot through.  Now you see the exposed rocks and ...

... now you don't.  Trying that today was going to put anyone in a serious spot of bother.  Awe inspiring the power of moving water.

I reached Portugal Cove, did a calculation of the distance I would end the day with when I returned to St. Philips and decided it would do.  Arriving back at St. Philips I clocked 12.7 kms.  It was foggy and it rained intermittently but it was worth the effort on a day I didn't plan to paddle.  A bonus so to speak.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Foam on the water ... no fire in the sky tho

Last weekend I was out of town and consequently couldn't paddle.  I wanted to get back in my kayak after a two week hiatus.  Checking the forecast it was going to be windy.  The forecast was for SW winds in the am at 20 knots gusting to 30 picking up in the pm to 35 gusting to 60.  Ykes!  No day paddle for sure but a bounce in St. Philips was an option.  I was lucky to recruit Brian and Terry.

The plan was to paddle upwind as far as feasible and surf back:

We had a rain squall and the wind seemed to pick up.  The SW winds wrapped around the point and over the rocks:

The sun came out after the squall passed and we had a rainbow:

As the morning progressed the wind increased; waves got bigger.  Quick responses were necessary to counteract the sudden gusts or the roll was going to be tested:

The wind picked up to gusts I estimate at 40 knots.  As the waves crashed on the rocks the spray blew away in the wind:

After two hours it was time to call it a day.  My drive home was along the shore.  I looked out over the bay.  It was a mass of white.  We were off the water in time.

I checked the wind velocity when I walked in the door.  It was 35 knots gusting to 45.