Monday, October 19, 2015

Catching the weather window

The forecast for Sunday was windy and rain, but in the afternoon.  There was a weather window for three hours.  Eight of us took advantage of it to get a paddle in.  Because the forecast could be off we decided on close by with an option for an easy return to the put-in in case winds arrived early.

We met at St. Philips and waiting for all of us to get on the water we saw some whales north of us.  That decided it.  Clyde, Gerard, Shane and I paddled into the bay hoping to get near.  Brian, Cathy, Dean and Derek paddled along the shore.

The minke whales were busy feeding and elusive.  I had several sightings close by but they evaded capture on my camera.

We returned to the shore and the group reformed for a relaxed paddle to Portugal Cove.



Derek and Shane

Brian, Dean and Gerard



Portugal Cove is just 4 kms from St. Philips.  When we arrived back at St Philips Brian, Clyde, Dean and Derek called it a day.  Cathy, Gerard, Shane and I decided to paddle the 6 kms to Topsail Beach.  As we made our way south we could see a rain front approaching.

At first it just pecked  few drops.  It didn't bother us in the least.

Even a few small ducklings we out.  The rain drops were like water on a ducks back but ...

... we could not escape the rain forever and it got cold.

It was an uncomfortable change into street clothes back at St. Philips harbour.  We had pushed past the weather window but it was worth it.  Thanks to everyone who showed up.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Four crossings on a peanut butter sandwich

Yesterday's paddle took some time to develop.  Gerard mailed to check on interest for a paddle.  He was prepared to go anywhere.  I suggested a paddle from Long Pond to Kelly's Island.  Hazen replied to keep him in the loop.  Gerard went to Calvert.  Too late for a longish drive for me so I got into some chores.

The day was just too good to pass up for a paddle so I dropped what I was doing and convinced Hazen to do a paddle from St. Philips, again, to Topsail Beach.  I didn't have time to grab much to eat so a peanut butter sandwich had to do.

As we padded down the shore for what looked to be a 14 kms day, Kelly's Island and Little Bell Island, on the horizon above Hazen, entered our thoughts.  Arrived at Topsail Beach, Kelly's Island beckoned.  So, off we set into freshening wind and waves to make the 6 kms crossing.

We got out at Easter Beach for a short break; one crossing done.  Well, what's next we mused.  It was such a beautiful day we felt obligated to take advantage of it.  That decided it; we'd make the almost 3 km crossing to Little Bell Island behind me in the middle distance.  (Hazen photo)

I thought we'd go straight to Little Bell Island but Hazen thought we should go around so we did and on the back side we spied the object of our second crossing.

The second crossing completed we go out for another short stretch and a phone call home.  What was going to be a 2 hour paddle was getting out of hand so we had to let our better halves know we'd be late.  Good and late.  From Little Bell Island we set off for Bell Island in the distance 4 kms away and ...

 ... arrived at the community of Lance Cove.  (Hazen photo)

Third crossing completed.

The sun was beginning to set behind us as we paddled north more of less in the shade along Bell Island and from there we completed our fourth crossing, 5 kms back to St. Philips. (Hazen photo)

It was coming on dark when we arrived and dark by the time we had changed out of our paddling gear and the kayaks loaded.

A tad shy of 32 kms on a peanut butter sandwich, I was anxious to get home and supper.

Here's the track for the day, in hot pink.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The worst thing you can have on your kayak

What is the worst thing you can have on your kayak?  Stay tuned.

On Sunday we had a bounce in St. Philips, catching some surf rides.  Some of the waves were substantial, approaching 2 meters.

There was a capsize, downwind, right in front of me.  Brian was down wind of the swimmer.  Both of us made for Shane.  Grabbing on to the bow of a kayak in those conditions can be hit or miss.  Miss and be prepared to roll.

I made my way carefully so as not to drift past the overturned boat.  In fact, I deliberately aimed to two feet up from the bow, even running over it if possible.  It worked perfectly and I soon had the bow in hand as Brian arrived to assist.  I turned the kayak right side up to haul it on deck to dump the water out.  That's when I discovered there were no deck lines.  I managed to grab the straps over the front hatch to pull the boat over my deck and dumped the water out.

Next thing I look up and one of the larger waves descended on us.  With nothing to hold on to, the wave flipped the drained kayak, slipped out of my grasp and I drifted away downwind.

To make a long story short from then on, Shane did a paddle float rescue and Brian held on during the pumping.

So, the worst thing you can have on your kayak is, no deck lines.

Firstly because it makes it very difficult to do an assisted rescue especially in gnarly conditions.

Secondly, there's not much for a swimmer to grab onto after wet exiting.  In wind the kayak will bow away faster than anyone can swim after it.  Alone that becomes a big issue.  A twosome means there's a decision: go for the swimmer or the kayak?  That has to be evaluated based on circumstances at the time.  A panicked swimmer means things can go very wrong, very quick.

I don't know why any kayak manufacturer would not add deck lines.  If they don't, then it would be wise to do it yourself.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A bounce in St. Philips

Saturday was wet and with winds southerly at 25 knots gusting to 35.  Not very appealing.  Sunday the winds veered SW and blowing at 20 with gusts to 25.  Eight of us decided too have a bounce in St. Philips.  The cove is fairly protected inside the south point while the sea in the bay can be a mass of whitecaps.

The plan was to ...

... beat into the waves and surf back into the cove and repeat.

I decided I'd have more fun (I wouldn't have to stop to take pictures) if I took my GoPro, shoot some video and export stills.  Trouble is, with it mounted on my helmet I couldn't see what I was recording.  I ended up with more water than sky and ...

... I needed to get a lot closer, unless ...

... like Hazen, he came to me.

Not all impressed I edited some of the video and limited to 100 Mbs for upload to Blogger I got just under 50 seconds ...

... as a sample of what it was like.  The video really gets downgraded on upload so its not worth viewing in full screen.

There's a lot of benefit to having a bounce.  There's learning what its like to paddle in wind and waves in case the weather turns foul on a good day, there's learning how to control the kayak running downwind and there's learning to paddle in larger beam seas.  Its also getting into the kayak on a day when paddling otherwise may not happen.

Thanks to Brian, Cathy, Derek, Gary, Hazen, Julie and Shane for sharing a couple of fun hours.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

All good things come to an end

We've been meeting mid-week, every week at St. Philips since April 9th.  Its been another, our 8th, enjoyable year with a mid-week diversion and chance to paddle.  Last evening it was the end of the road as its getting dark too early.  I joined five other die hard paddlers.

Many evenings over the spring, summer and fall it was calm so we went for a short evening paddle.  On our last night the wind was calm; the sea wasn't.

Shane was one of the new paddlers who began attending his year.  We had a chat.  He said he remembered his first evening when it was a bit like last evening.  He was outside his comfort zone but Dean, he said, kept a close eye on him.  Now, so many months later he ventured into the soup caused by the crashing swell.  He's grown tremendously as a paddler.

We left St. Philips cove 6ish.  With darkness about to fall, we only went as far as Beachy Cove.  On the way back latecomer Cathy joined us for the return paddle.  The shot is not very sharp as the dim light didn't give the camera anything to focus on.  But, you get the picture.

By the time we got back in the cove it was dark.

We had a stealthy paddle into the harbour as the lights of houses shone on the water.

Some 20 paddlers joined us at different times over the summer.  On average we had 8 - 10.  I'd say it was a successful season.  Shane is evidence of that.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Surf day in Chance Cove

Tuesday Brian, Terry and I were in Chance Cove for a few hours of kayak surfing.  The swell was forecasted to come from the southeast and have a period of 15 seconds.  When we got there we had a look.  It wasn't wild but there were sizable waves rolling in but with long periods in between.

Why is it the bigger waves to surf come in when paddling out?

There was a zone in the cove where the larger swells reared up and broke.  Terry spent most of his time in that zone.  The place to be in a plastic boat; fibreglass, not so much.  In there its best to keep your head on a swivel because the sea can surprise as ...

... I found out.  A little too close to shore where the water was shallow, add a wave and you're taken for an uncontrolled ride and ...

... boom , you're up on the rocks.

I looked out the cove and thought "Oh crap" as a large wave reared up.  I didn't have time to pivot to meet the wave head on but managed to avoid another side surf onto the beach by backing into it.  Saved by the brace.

As the day progressed the land warmed up and a seabreeze set up.  We decided to paddle south into the wind a couple of kilometers as high tide cut the swell down.  The return into the cove happened to be the best surfwise.  Though not large, the waves were regular and easy to catch making for some nice long rides.

I had my Pyranha creek boat but didn't use it.  I regretted it on the way home.  After my first ride up on the beach rocks I got cautious in the fibreglass Nordkapp.  The good rides were right in the maw of the breaking waves but to go there meant a certain ride up onto the rocks each time.  That would have been "meh" in the Pyranha.

Chance Cove was fun.  I was glad Brian suggested it.  I was glad I went.