Sunday, January 31, 2016

A prod and a paddle

Tuesday past I had a red letter day snowshoeing in deep powder and sunshine.  Later it rained and all the snow melted away.  We were supposed to get another dump on Friday into Saturday but it too turned to rain before we got much in accumulation.  I considered another trek on snowshoes but the cold weather turned the snow into an icy crust.

I took the position I'd wait to see what would develop kayak wise but I wouldn't initiate anything.  I was happy enough to take a pass.  It didn't come to that as Dean proded me into action.

I wondered about the sea state as the swell height was between 4 and 8 meters offshore.

I got my answer as we left St. Philips cove.  It wasn't near the height offshore but it was substantial, broad and open.  It was interesting seeing the swell come from NW and SW echoing like water sloshing around in a bathtub.  On top of that the clapotis added to the confusion.

This shot of Shane makes me look like the boy who cried wolf.

We paddled further offshore as getting caught inside of the break meant a world of hurt.

At one point Brian had a go at paddling inside of some rocks.  A larger set of waves arrived and he really got pushed around and I thought "holy s*it".  I didn't get a picture as I was distracted looking on with some concern.  The only thing that saved a nasty situation was him being one of the best paddlers in the province.

Relieved, we carried on along the shore to arrive at Harald Buetooth.  It was the only spot where I felt comfortable enough to paddle through.

The temperature was -8C and -14C with the wind chill.  The icy spray began to stick to me and my skirt.

After a stretch shortened by the temperature we headed back.

Thanks to Dean I had an enjoyable paddle on the last day of January.  Sometimes everyone needs a friend to give a prod.

Derek was with us also but he was evasive most of the morning paddling up front so I missed getting a shot of him.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A short but sweet paddle

Yesterday I could only manage a three hour paddle due to commitments.  I mailed the gang and happy to have seven to join for a few hours.

When I got to St. Philips Brian was there with a new P & H Hammer that he took delivery of a couple of days ago.  Here he's trying to leave blue plastic on the slipway.

We had calm winds but they would strengthen out of the NE later in the morning so we headed north.

It wasn't long before Brian tested the Hammer out in the soup.  There was no wind but a broad open swell of about 1 meter was running making for interesting conditions when it reached the shallow water near shore.

Neville was there also with his Hammer as he paddles past dagger of ice hanging from the cliffs.

Derrick I think had second thoughts about coming given the cold temperature but in the end decided to join us and was happy he did.

One of only a few places that were accessible in the swell an with the right timing.

Terry cruising along.  Later I found out he had already paddled the same route having gotten on the water at 7:30, two hours before us.

Cathy paddling along shore as the water bashes against the rocks.

Almost into Portugal Cove.

At times we were two meters above the rocks riding high on the swell and looking down into the hole caused when the water sucked out.

At Portugal Cove we got out to stretch our legs which gave Neville a chance to check his skeg.

It wasn't a day to test fate around the rocks though Terry did and got away with it.  It was three hours in good conditions getting my fix for the week.  Now I start looking at next weekend's forecast.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Making it real

Is there anything more authentic or true about kayaking than paddling in the cold with snow falling?


Friday was a series of snow squalls.  They were mostly light until just after 1:00 pm when a steady snowfall came through.  I looked at the weather radar and saw another band of snow coming in behind it.  I sprang into action and wasn't long before I had myself at the slipway in St Philips.

As I put in a light snow began to fall.  I thought the band of snow was coming in from the northwest so I headed for Portugal Cove.  There didn't appear to be any chance of snow in that direction but south I could see where it was falling.  I turned for Topsail.

There wasn't much wind and the snow was light but it still stung where it got behind my glasses.  But, it was cold -7C and -10C with the wind chill so what did fall stuck to the rocks and ...

... me.  Do I look like I'm having fun?  In fact I was.  I just felt as one with the kayak as it rode over the bit of chop on the water.

I was a bit disappointed though as I couldn't catch the band of snow which gradually pulled away from me.  No matter.  I paddled on going inside of the rock, henceforth to be known as, Harald Bluetooth.

The game was up as looking towards Little Bell Island and Kelly's Island a patch of blue sky opened up.

Daggers of ice added to the ambiance.

I got out for a short break at Topsail Beach.  One vehicle was parked there so I didn't stay long for fear of them calling the psychiatric ward to come and have me committed.

I rode a stiffening breeze off of the rear port quarter back to St. Philips.  The push was gratefully accepted as I was flirting with the chance of being overtaken by darkness.

It was about as real as it gets given the ancestry of the kayak.  There could have more snow but I was pleased nonetheless.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Depression is a weather event

This weekend there is a deep, intense low pressure system, or depression, south of Greenland.  Warnings were out that the north coast could expect high seas and surge.  Even the east coast would feel the swell where harbours opened east.

Lots of people were out getting pictures of the wild seas.  In this case, our paddle buddy Cathy was in Middle Cove.

Anywhere facing north was going to be problematic.  What to do?

I suggested deep in Conception Bay where I expected the swell seen at Middle Cove would be dissipated.  It was.

We put in at Holyrood.

The shore is not all that striking but it was on the water.  Heading north we passed the white tanks of the old Golden Eagle tank farm which melted into the white, snow covered background.

Typical shoreline as we made our way to our destination of Indian Pond.

A light northerly wind was in our faces but once we got going we hardly felt the cold which ...

... the presence of icicles clearly demonstrated it was cold.

The oil offloading station meant we were near Indian Pond and the ...

... oil fired hydro generating station that supplies most of the power in our area.  Two of the three stacks were belching smoke but they won't be for much longer.  The plant will be replaced in a couple of years by clean hydroelectric power from Muskrat Falls - our contribution to eliminating carbon emissions.

The entrance to Indian Pond is under the trestle bridge.  We felt the swell here as the water got shallower.  We managed to negotiate the entrance without incident, landed and had lunch.

After lunch we did a tour of the pond which supplies the plant with fresh water for steam generation.  The line between fresh and salt water was at the edge of the ice.

Exiting was so much easier as we could see what was coming.

It took us 90 minutes to paddle up but only 60 to return.  We packed up.  Dean and Derek couldn't join us for coffee but Cathy, Dave, Gerard and I enjoyed a post paddle coffee and chat.

Thanks to the gang for another wonderful day on the water.  A depression is a weather phenomenon, not a state of mind, at least not with a paddle in your hands.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Getting started on 2016

Today, January 2nd, I got started on the 2016 paddle year.  I joined Brian, Cathy, Dean Derek, Derrick, Gary, Shane and Terry in familiar territory.  We met at St. Philips where snow covered the parking lot and slipway.  That made it convenient getting the kayak to the water by puling it along on the snow and a seal launch.

When I downloaded the pictures from today I was struck by how dark they were.  The only colours were the kayaks and kayakers.  Otherwise, everything else was back or white.

We had 15 cms snow New Year's night and into the morning.  It lay on the rocks above the line where salt water was able to lick at it.

We took our time paddling along the shore.  It was great breathing in the fresh air and getting some exercise after the extravagances of the holiday season.

Waiting for the right moment for when a bit of water washes in to paddle through and over the rocks.

Snow and icicles.


Cathy, the rose amid the thorns.  Absolutely wonderful that she feels comfortable with the gang.

Terry checking out the possibility of squeezing between the cliff and a rock.

At Topsail Beach we got out for a stretch.  It was -4 when we put in.  It warmed up a little but still cool enough to put on coats over our paddle gear.  I picked up an extra large coat at a used clothing store for $5.00 expressly for these stop overs.  It doesn't matter if it gets wet and I stuff it in my day hatch without having to be concerned about getting it dirty.

Without saying a word we all knew it was time to get back again.  Enough time spent milling about but not too much to make us cold.

Back at St. Philips and up where the fresh water of  river runs in I washed the salt out of my gear before joining Cathy, Gary and Terry for hot drinks.

So just after counting down my top 10 paddles of 2015, I'm started on building memories for this year and grateful to have these friends to share them with.