Sunday, February 28, 2016

Round and round it goes

Today it was windy.  Ten of us met at St. Philips for a bounce in the waves.  The wind was blowing at about 20 knots and gusting to 30 from the SW.  Inside the south point of the cove it was calm.

I had my GoPro and shot some video of the action but in the interest of getting some pix up I decided to extract some stills until I can get the video edited.

But as we passed the point we were face and eyes into the wind and breaking waves.

The waves were especially entertaining along the shore.

The procedure for the morning was to paddle out past the point into the waves and then catch some surf rides back into the cove.

We spent two hours going round and round and decided to call it quits as the wind gusts reached 35 knots.  Back on the slipway I checked my GPS which registered 11 kms.

Nine of us finished the day and eight of us hit the restaurant for hot drinks and a chat about the day.

I'll get the video edited in a few days and post the director's cut.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hip, hip, horray: Back in the saddle again

The last time Hazen paddled was October 13th last year.  Not long after that he had his second hip replacement operation.  His recuperation was going well and it was time to get back on the water.  Wednesday was a perfect day with light winds.  I suggested a short relaxed paddle to start his ease back.

Brian, Derek and Shane joined the paddle.  Here, Shane paddles in the icy slush that had formed along the shore.  It was like paddling in wet cement so ...

... we paddled further offshore where it was easier in the open water.

Recent rains have washed away the snow that fell earlier in the winter.  Icicles former where the rain and meltwater ran off the land.

It was a relaxed paddle ... Derek takes a break.

About 5 kms down the shore we had gone far enough for Hazen's return to paddling.  Over the next few weeks it will be a gradual build-up of distance as he recovers his paddling fitness.  Somehow most of the slush had disappeared on our return.

Almost back we ran into the icy slush again.  At the Rock of Ages I said to Brian "slush or no slush I'm going to paddle around it".  The kayak slowed to a crawl as we forced our way around the rock with a series of different paddle strokes as a bow rudder was impossible in the sticky mixture.

It was a short paddle of 10 kms and that was fine.  It was after all only a chance for Hazen to reacquaint himself with Miss PJ (his kayak).

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Before the snow hits the fan

This morning we had a "winter storm warning" in effect.  Snow in the range of 15 - 20 cms was forecast and wind east 30 km/h gusting to 50 increasing to 50 gusting to 80.  The first snow was expected to start at 2:30.  We thought we could squeeze in a paddle before the snow hit.

There was a good skim of ice where we put in.

Eight of us met at 9:00 and were on the water 9:20.  There was no wind, the water was calm and it was near high tide.  That meant the predominant activity was rock hopping.

Everyone except Derrick was into it and that meant at times there were traffic jambs and line-ups.

The temperature was -8C with a wind chill of -14.  It didn't feel that cold but still it was cold enough to form masses of icicles.

Derrick paddled a straight line and was often well ahead of us as we negotiated our way through the rocks and channels.  To stay warm he'd often double back to rejoin the group.

Here's the other Derek, the shorter version of the name.  He put the first ding in his newer kayak today.  From here on it gets easier and less disconcerting when riding up on the rocks.  Trust me!

Those in plastic boats had no concerns squeezing through dicey spots.

I remarked to Dean how several years ago we'd often be out this time of year by ourselves.  Today there were eight of us and could have had more.

We neared the end of the line where we go out to stretch our legs.  Some played in the fresh water rushing out through a breach in the cobble stone beach.  Terry put on a show of how to stand in the kayak and treat it like a paddle board.

We stopped for our usual hot drinks, Brian bought the group a large plate of french fries which we were grateful for based on how fast they disappeared.  It weren't long seated before the first snow began to fall.  Now its coming down so trong that visibility is down to 100 meters.  No matter, we got our paddle fix for the weekend.

Thanks Brian, Cathy, Dean, Derek, Derrick, Shane and Terry for sharing in a most enjoyable paddle.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Taking option three

There are three options when leaving out of St. Philips: south to Topsail; north to Portugal Cove and west to Bell Island.  Sunday we took option three and made the 5 km crossing to Bell Island.  Eight of us set out for Bell Island in the distance.

Half way across Conception Bay lay open to the north with Cape St. Francis on the right and Bell Island on the left.

We made good time to make landfall at Dominion Pier on Bell Island.  Recent rain turned to icefalls on the tall cliffs above a bunch of ramshackle cabins.

From Dominion Pier we headed north along the dominating cliffs of Ordovician sandstone and siltstone.

We paddled by the ferry terminal and passed by The Beach on Bell Island Front.  At the terminal a lady asked us if we had come for our psychological assessment.  At -5C it must have felt cold to her.

A swell pounded on the beach aerating the water giving it a turquoise colour.

Reaching Pulpit Head.

The further north we paddled the more we felt the swell dashing against the rocks.  Tobias joined us for the first time in a year and a half having been too busy with new family arrivals to paddle.

Derek paddles towards the distinctive feature of Long Harry Point and I also caught ...

... a smiling Gary there.

Some of us paddled just past Eastern Head to take a peek at conditions along the north shore.  We sat for a while in the swell and watched 2 meter waves build, steepen and rush towards Redmond Head.  Cathy said we should keep going and do an unplanned circumnavigation of Bell Island but we suggested it for another day.

After 5 minutes or so we headed back the way we came.  I shot one last picture of Cathy.  We weren't as far apart as the picture suggests but we were several meters apart in height which made her look tiny in the setting of sea and land.