Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 paddles of 2015 - #1

June 16th, 6:00 am: My brother-in-law Harry speaking to his brother Henry on their way to work looking out through Pacquet at the sea state:

"I hope Tony is not going today"

June 16th, 8:30 am: I drove with my sister from Woodstock, White Bay to Mings Bight, kayak on the beach ready for a paddle around the coast back to Woodstock.

There was a light breeze blowing out the Bight.  It looked good.  Winds were forecasted to pick up around noon and I hoped to beat them getting off the water before they struck.

At Pines Islet near Grapping Point and open water a swell was running in from the northeast.  No problem.

Four kilometers on I rounded Cape Hat very pleased to see this huge iceberg.  The swell seemed bigger along the exposed coast as I swung SE past the Cape and I detected an increase in the wind.

Rounding Cape Corbin I spotted this berg in Handy Harbour.  Whoo-ho, two unexpected bergs in one day.  I sized up the situation and decided I best pale to the left between the berg and Bois Island as there was more room to pass.

Passing by the berg water from the swell was washing over the top.  I spotted a tunnel and though it would make an interesting picture so I took the camera out and as I raised it to snap the shot I noticed the top slowly tipping in my direction.  Shit!  I stowed the camera quickly, did a powerful sweep stroke to get perpendicular and paddled away as fast as I could.  Behind I heard cracks of thunder and glancing over my shoulder big chunks were breaking off sending a wall of water my way.  As it caught up to me the stern rose and I surfed faster away.  Then big chunks of ice started to spatter around me and luckily I didn't get hit.

I felt I had kept a safe distance but, phew, that sent a rush of adrenaline coursing through my body.

Leaving Handy Harbour where it was fairly protected I rounded Cape St. Martin and I knew I was in for a slog.  The wind had picked up considerably and now I felt the full force of it.  Combined with the swell it was a concern.  But, I was out there and so it had to be dealt with.  I dug in looking down the coast were everything looked the same.  I couldn't see the entrance to Pacquet Harbour which would have given me an idea of how long this was going to take.

I kept paddling looking for the entrance and eventually I saw the rocks (picture taken the previous day) off of Pelee Point at the entrance to Pacquet.  My sister was there waving.  I felt relieved and caught sight of ...

... the houses through the entrance.  Inside the entrance I landed in the bouldery Devils Cove.  Four hours straight in the boat without a drink or anything to eat.  I still had three kilometers of hard paddling into southwest Arm but I had the end in sight.

It was an experience not the least of it was because I was by myself.  Not far from the shore I paddled, several years ago two Americans were blown off shore by the wind and one did not survive.  I knew I had the skill and stamina to deal with the situation but they did enter my mind.

Shortly afterwards I asked myself if I would have gone ahead with the paddle had I known the winds would arrive early.  The answer was "Yes".  Now, in the clear light of day, probably not.

Nevertheless, I learned a lot about myself on the paddle; I kept it all together and didn't panic.  That's why this was my most memorable paddle for the year and therefore my #1.

When Harry came home that evening he asked me if I went.  Yes, I said.  All he did was raise his eyebrows.

Here's the original post.  Some different pics, some I reused for this post.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 10 paddles of 2015 - #2

Our "big" trip for the year was in Placentia Bay from September 6th to 11th.  Dean, Hazen, Neville, Terry and I drove out to the old Piper's Hole park site on Saturday to put us close to Davis Cove where our trip would start.  After a fun evening at the park we drove to Davis on Sunday morning, did a car shuttle and headed own the coast to Clattice Harbour.

Monday morning was more like fly by the seat of your pants morning.  I wasn't sure what would develop because high winds were expected.  While I thought we were on our way to St. Kyrans the wind came up and the group decided to stay at St. Leonards.  A green field is all that left to indicate a community stood here until the 1960's.

Here's a picture of a picture Hazen sent of what the beach at St. Leonards looked like in the old days.

After setting up the tents we went to look for the old stone church along an old "road" between St. Leonards and St. Kyrans.  Not much was left standing but what was, was an impressive sight.

Tuesday morning was blustery.  We hung around St. Leonards, walked to St. Kyrans had lunch and after decided the winds had dropped enough to head back to St. Kyrans by water.

Wednesday was a super day.  We did a tour of Presque Harbour before exiting to paddle to Toslow.

Thursday morning we awoke to typical Pacentia Bay weather.  It was foggy, windy and sizable seas.  Funny there was no discussion as to whether we should stay.  We didn't grasp the size of the sea state until we were out in it.

We managed fine to arrive at Little and Great Paradise.  Leaving Great Paradise we entered Paradise Sound which was protected and paddled down the long sound to Channels Harbour for the night.

Friday we finished the trip paddling the rest of the way up the Sound to Monkstown.

It was an excellent trip the highlights of which were the abandoned communities where we stayed, the old stone church and the newer church at St. Kyrans the paddle into Toslow etc etc.

There was just too much to cover in one post, the purpose of which was just to put it on the list.  I posted a summary of the trip here with individual links to each segment of the trip for anyone interested to check it out further.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 10 paddles of 2015 - #3

My fourth favourite paddle for the year was a three day, two night kayak camp trip.  So, a four day, 3 night trip must be even more memorable.  It was.  Between August 6th and 9th a group of us spent four days in Bonavista Bay.

We drove the three hours to Burnside where we put in and paddled across Fair and False Bay stopping at Bloody Point to check out an ancient Beothuk stone quarry before stopping at The Beaches for the night.

Our campsite at The Beaches.  This is the location of a former Beothuk summer camp site.  The Beothuk were native Americans that English settlers of Newfoundland encountered at the time of colonization.  Through fighting, loss of hunting grounds and disease the Beothuks were decimated and eventually passed into history.

On day two we left The Beaches, paddled around the top of Cottel Island and crossed over the the Flat Islands.

The Flat Islands were once the site of a thriving community that was resettled to the mainland in the 1960's.  There are only cabins there now to look out over a protected harbour where we were camped.

Even though we had paddled two days away from the put-in were were only a day away from returning due to the circuitous route we had taken.  So on day three we elected to leave our tents up and spend the day paddling around the archipelago of the Flat Islands.

The fourth day was a return to civilization.  A northeast wind that was forecast arrived during our return but as it was behind us it didn't cause any issues.

Back at Burnside and the trip was over.  We packed up and some of us stopped at a restaurant in Charlottetown for a meal of fish & chips.

A more detailed description of the trip can be found here.  Its a summary with links to each pat of the trip.

I had paddled part of the area some years ago but I hadn't gotten to The Beaches.  It was on my wish list.  Now I can cross it off as done but maybe not for the last time.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Top 10 paddles of 2015 - #4

On the weekend of May 16 - 18 Brian, Dean, Terry and I did a kayak camp trip in Placentia Bay.  It was a trip I proposed and I was happy the guys were interested.  There were two attractions for me: Trinny Cove and the Iona Islands.  We put in in the community of Fairhaven and paddled south with the intention of camping close to Argentia.

It was an absolutely beautiful day as can be seen.  The Brine Islands hover on the horizon.

We passed across the entrance to Long Harbour and the Iona Islands to the west and found a fine campsite at Great Seal Cove where we camped the first night.

The next day we left our campsite and made a short NW 3 km crossing to the Iona Islands.

We got out to have a look at Merchant Island and paddled by Burke Island onto Harbour Island.

At Harbour Island we found a protected cove to stop for lunch.  One of the things that attracts me to these places are the abandoned communities.  Tombstones lay scattered around on the hill above where we sat to eat.  There was very little else to testify that people once lived here.

Continuing northerly from the Iona Islands we encountered again the Brine Islands, this time paddling through them on our way to ...

... Trinny Cove, another of Newfoundland's abandoned communities.  A number of years previous I took part in a beach clean-up and was struck by the huge amount of wood available for a campfire.  Unfortunately it was low tide and we couldn't get into the lagoon where all the wood was but had to settle for a campsite just west.  We made do with the wood that was around for our usual fire.

We awoke Monday morning to windy weather.  That's where the planning paid dividends.  At Trinny Cove we were only 6 kms from the cars so it wasn't a big deal.

Just before 10:00 am we were back on the slipway in Fairhaven and the end of our three day excursion.

We did the trip on the Victoria Day long weekend.  Its not unusual to have cold wet weather on that weekend.  This year it was everything we could hope for to make for a wonderful weekend.

This post is only a threadbare account of the trip.  A longer dissertation on the trip can be found by going to the archive for May.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Top 10 paddles of 2015 - #5

There was a report of an iceberg in Torbay so on May 3rd Clyde, Dean, Hazen and I met in Middle Cove to put in for the short paddle to Torbay and the iceberg.  There was a nice swell running in from the north which made for an entertaining ride.

As we reached Motion the berg in Torbay came into view in the distance.

A short time later we were beside the huge berg.

It was all one berg under water with its three separate towers poking skywards.

We were certain it was grounded.  90% of the iceberg is under water so we did a mental calculation and figured the water wasn't all that deep.

We paddled around the berg checking out all its facets an came back to where we first arrived.  The paddle was only a short one but the objective on the day was the iceberg and not the distance.

Turns out a fellow paddler was out for a hike the same day and took some pictures of us around the berg.  We're just specks on the ocean in comparison but if the picture is enlarged by clicking on it I can be seen in the front middle and Hazen can be seen just on the right hand side.

2014 was a banner year for icebergs.  I paddled near dozens.  The icebergs were scarce in 2015 so when there's a report of a berg we took advantage.  This lone berg was a beauty and that's why this paddle is on my list of top 10 paddles for the year.

The original post is here with other, different pictures.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Top 10 paddles of 2015 - #6

On March 15th Dean, Gerard and I were in Tors Cove for a paddle.  While spring was less than a week away the cold of winter persisted.

There was a skim of ice on the salt water and ...

... winter still held its grip on the land as well.

We left Tors Cove for Great Island.  As we approached we encountered more ice on the surface.  That was a surprise.

We tried to push ourselves through the ice that blocked our path but it proved too thick.  We changed course towards the mainland.

It was no longer paddling but pulling ourselves through the ice at a snail's pace.  We became icebreakers.

The closer we got to the mainland more breaks in the ice opened up that we navigated through.

The GoPro started to grow icicles.  Nothing spells cold like salt water forming icicles due to its lower freezing temperature compared to fresh water.

It was cold but sunny and bright.  Near shore there was more open water as we began a return to Tors Cove stopping on ...

... Ship Island for a bite to eat and a stretch.  Again, there was no sign that spring was in the near offing.

After a most satisfying day we were soon within sight of the take-out.  It was a most unusual day encountering ice on the open sea and that's what made it memorable.

The above are some shots that didn't make the original post.  I also recorded some video which shows how we turned our sea kayaks into icebreakers.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Top 10 paddles of 2015 - #7

The club had a kayak camp trip for members the weekend of July 11th and no one else was interested in checking out a report of an iceberg west of Bell Island.  I decided to go check it out by myself.  It was a two pronged mission: find the iceberg and do the 35 km circumnavigation of the island.

A short post today as Santa Claus was here overnight and I have to go see if I was good or bad this year.  So, I'll wish everyone a Merry Christmas and direct anyone who is interested to the original two posts here and here.

I did another circumnavigation of the island with Dean two weeks later going in the opposite direction.  It could just as easily be on the list but as I did this solo, the July 12th trip is my number 7 paddle of the year.