Sunday, June 28, 2015

12/104 = short change.

Today we had a club paddle that was going to take place in Conception Harbour and environs.  Details were not firm but I surmised it would be a paddle in the order of 12 kms.  The drive out and back would be a tad over 100 kms.  I decided to sweeten the pot by leaving early and depart from Avondale to meet the gang at Conception Harbour thereby making the drive out worthwhile for me (personal choice).

I left the river where I put in and entered Masons Cove.  It was hard to tell which was was up and which was down.  Only the kayak supplied the hint.

As I made my way towards Ballyhack Point I was passing the rocks of the Harbour Main Group made up of volcanic, pyroclastic and intrusive rocks interbedded with red subgreywacke, conglomerate an siltstone.

The rocks were red on shore but under water it looked like the salt water had sucked the hemoglobin out of them leaving them looking anemic.

I timed my arrival in Conception Harbour perfectly as the other 21 paddlers were getting themselves on the water.  The first stop was the scuttled wrecks in the harbour.

This is where I live and I invited a few of my friends *lol*, I wish!  These shacks are in Middle Arm.

Approaching Ballyhack Point, again.  It seemed the plan was to more of less force me to backtrack the route I had taken to Conception Harbour.  I didn't mind as I kept an eye on the distance recorded on the GPS.

My first thought was Sue squared, that is Sue X Sue.

We all stopped for lunch in Ezekiels Cove for lunch.  At 22 it was quite an assortment of kayaks.

Gary enters this adit (geology speak for entrance to a mine).  It apparently goes in 150 meters but just inside the entrance we came to ...

... a sign pasted on the wallrock stating we were not to proceed further to prevent disruption to hibernting bats and to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome.  I'm assuming, with some ignorance, that is was what afflicted Batman, Bruce Wayne :)

Kayakers wait our emergence from the underworld.

The plan was for us to paddle up the east side of Gasters Bay and ...

... cross over at Marks Cove to the west side community of Kitchuses.  The trip leader was concerned about the forecasted increase in wind which would exceed level I padle conditions.

I crossed with the crowd but left them at Mugfords Head to cross directly back to Ballyhack Point, for the third time today, and return to the takeout in Avondale while they carried on the short distance to the slipway in Conception Harbour.  Choosing the Avondale launch site stretched a shortish paddle to almost 24 kms, a great deal of it at a relaxed pace.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hump day at the office

Another Wednesday evening "practice" at St. Philips and another calm evening so most of us went for a paddle up to Portugal Cove and back.  Dean stayed in the cove to play in the bit of swell around the rocks.  I didn't get a shot of him but he's a familiar face on my blog anyway.  Seven of us made our way along the shore under an overcast sky.







It was a fun mid-week paddle even with the swim I had.  Trying hard highlights where improvements in skill are needed.  In my case, more patience and rolling in a washing machine.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Gunshots and cannonballs in White Bay

I had a whitewater boat with me and the long boat, the Nordkapp.  After a day of introductory whitewater I drove to Woodstock in White Bay to spend a few days with my sister.  On Tuesday we drove to Mings Bight.  I put the kayak in the water there and she drove home to Woodstock, my destination by water.

Looking down the bight at the bottom of Mings.  The forecast called for SW winds at 9:30 in the 10 - 15 knot range, increasing to 15 - 20 at 12:30  I anticipated getting most of the way round before the wind increased.  The direction of travel I also anticipated would give me protection from the wind.

I had the wind at my back and made rapid progress out of the Bight  As I neared Pines Islet at the mouth of the Bight I could see icebergs off in the distance in the direction of Fleur de Lys.

I passed between Pines Islet and the peninsula where I was surprised by the swell running out of the northeast.

I passed Grapling Point and I was out into the exposed open ocean.  Crossing Grand Cove I caught sight of Cape Hat.  The wind got gusty, the swell was substantial and clapotis rounded off the conditions.  I had my doubts whether I made the right decision but "in for a penny, in for a pound" so I continued.

Around Cape Hat I spotted a small berg floating in the cove but didn't go over to look because ...

... I had bigger fish to fry.  Ahead lay a monster, tabular iceberg.

I was a good safe distance away.  It still filled the field of vision.

I dallied a bit taking in the view for there weren't as many icebergs around this year.  Departing, I turned to take a parting picture and headed for Cape Corbin.

Rounding Cape Corbin I entered Handy Harbour where I found another berg between the land and Bois Island.  As I paddled closer the swell ...

... struck the berg and sent a huge plume of seawater up and over on the left side.

I decided the best option was to pass between the iceberg and Bois Island rather than to the right.  I paddled at what I felt was a safe distance and as I passed I saw a tunnel.  I reached for my camera for a shot and noticed the top starting to come towards me.  "Oh holy crap!".  A good sweep stroke and I paddled like hell to get away.  I heard loud cracks of thunder as the berg rolled.  Catching a look over my shoulder I saw big pieces fall off and a two meter wave coming my way.  I got a nice surf ride.  When the wave passed pieces of ice the size of cannonballs and car batteries fell all around.  Luckily I didn't get hit.

A little rattled I looked back as the commotion calmed, the berg looking nothing like before the roll.  Unfortunately, my composure didn't return in time to consider taking an after shot.

As I came around Cape St. Martin the stronger winds arrived and I was in for a bit of a slog.  The winds increased in strength and got more gusty making me edge into the wind.  A berg in Teakettle Cove caught my attention and then I set my sights on getting to the entrance to Pacquet Harbour.

The previous day I was at Pelee Point at the entrance to Pacquet Harbour.  It was rough but rougher on my paddle day.  Consumed with the need to continue paddling and the thought I needed to get to the entrance before I ran out of gas I thought it wise to paddle a wide berth around.  As I did ...

... I caught sight of the houses of Pacquet.  On that day I spelled relief as "Pacquet".

Just past the entrance to the harbour I got out at the boulder beach at Devils Cove.  After a few minutes short of four hours on the water, without a drink of water or a bite to eat I had to get out of the kayak.  I was too tired to eat but I did guzzle down most of the water I had (foolishly kept in my day hatch).  Ten minutes was all I gave myself before completing the two and a half kilometers to Woodstock.

The wind was really funneling.  Making headway was difficult.  I was looking for respite behind these fishing vessels and as I pounded into the wind I looked at my GPS.  I was making 0.0 kms/hr but eventually made my destination at the bottom of Southwest Arm.

It was a 26 km paddle in big swell and punishing wind, especially the incoming leg.  I wasn't concerned about a skill deficit but it was a test of endurance and determination and a lesson in mental control in challenging conditions paddling solo.  I asked myself if I would have gone had I known the conditions would be worse than forecasted (they were 25 knots gusting to slightly over 30).  The answer came back positive.  It was an excellent experience where I learned a little about myself.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Wetting my feet in whitewater

Brian suggested a trip out to the Terra Nova River in Glovertown at the site of a former papermill locally called "The Ruins" for some whitewater paddling.  I had never done any and was a bit apprehensive but said yes anyway.  Brian fitted me out with a Pyranha Micro240, a skirt, paddle and floatation.

On Saturday, June 13th, Dean, Gary and I convoyed out for the three hour drive where we met Brian and Pete.

We didn't jump into our boats right away though  With a lot of rain in the forecast we set the tents and tarp up first.  Then we got dressed at The Ruins which have been ...

... decorated by local artists.

Then the moment of truth.  We got on the water to play.  The water was fairly low which suited me just fine.  The first skill I got to work on was peeling out of the eddy.  I was tentative and taking the wrong angle so at first I had very little success.  Eventually, as I got more comfortable with the current, I began to paddle over the eddy line with some authority and edge correctly as the current grabbed the kayak.

Gary, on the right, an accomplished WW paddler sits on a small standing wave while Dean powers his Karma RG up through the meat of the current.  So, the next thing I was encouraged to do was paddle up to and get on the standing wave myself.  Not very big, but still enough water running to give a newbie pause for thought.  I managed a couple of times to ride it for short periods being careful to edge correctly to avoid flipping when pushed off of it.

Brian and Pete both experienced WW guys provided guidance and encouragement.  Thanks guys, it made the day more enjoyable for me.

Look Ma, no hands *lol*.  Some guys make it look so simple, like Brian, and Gary who made it not only look awfully simple but effortless.

I went on to practice some ferrying across the river.  Some went very well; some not so elegant.  When I lost the correct angle I just reverse swept to reacquire the angle and continued my ferry.  The nice thing about being a novice you can do that!

After a couple of hours fooling around in eddies and current Brian suggested we do figure eights.  We started in an eddy on the left side of the river, peeled out, paddled downstream to peel in to the eddy on the low side of this old concrete abutment, ferry back and repeat.  I got a few nice peel ins, at least enough to make me happy.

A bit later we drifted down to The Bench where the water falls over a ledge and got out to ...

... survey the situation.  I hobbled around on the rocks on a sore hip after three hours too long in the kayak. 

It was decided it would not be run on the day so instead we dropped into the river on the left over the concrete works.  I paddled close to have a look at the drop before committing and plopped upright below the something like 4 foot drop glad not to be providing entertainment for the guys.

We paddled downriver to the bridge where we got out and brought the kayaks back to the campsite.  End of my first whitewater experience.  I was happy.  Happy with the day but mot happy I didn't get knocked over or swim.  Phew!

Back at camp it was time to grab some supper and after supper it was ...

... time for a fire and happy hour.

Dean and I watched the fire dwindle in the darkness before deciding it was time to hit the hay.

The guys had some more water time Sunday morning.  My hip dictated I sty on shore so after loading the car up I hit the highway for White Bay where I intended to wet the hull of my Nordkapp.  That is nother story.

Thanks to Brian for initiating the trip and every one of the guys for making it a most enjoyable first time in current.  Check out Dean's blog for his perspective.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Out of office reply

I'm on my way to Govertown for my first whitewater experience.  Gonna be interesting and exciting.

From there I'm going to White Bay for some sea kayaking and hopefully bag some icebergs.

I won't be posting until I get back, likely Thursday, June 18th.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Taking a leap into the deep end of the pool

I don't know why I accepted an invitation to do a bit of whitewater kayaking but I accepted and now I'm committed.  I'll be joining Brian, Dean, Gary, Pete and possibly Neville at the Ruins in Glovertown on Saturday for my initiation.

I'm borrowing a Piranha Micro240 creek boat and a WW skirt and paddle from Brian.

So, to do even the smallest preparation I spent some time Monday at Topsail Pond paddling around and checking the boat for rolling ease.  Today I went to Topsail Beach to do some ...

... "river running".  There's a lagoon behind the beach there that drains into the sea as the tide drops.  Its pretty tame as whitewater goes but it was basic enough for me.  After some more paddling about and rolls I descended the turbulent *lol* channel to the salt water.

At the discharge end the water tumbled over rocks.  There wasn't as much current as I had hoped yet it was fun enough entering the flow for the short ride into the sea.  Then a few ferries back and forth across the current and I was done.

On short notice I've done what I can.  Despite that, Saturday will feel like a leap into the deep end of the pool, a leap of faith.  I probably will be the entertainment.