Sunday, November 27, 2016

Go big or go home

Here Neville approaches me heading down wind.

Recently I've been asked to consider some people for an invite to paddle with our group.  The group consists primarily of people who have been regulars at our summer Wednesday evening practices.  There we paddle in whatever conditions exist on the evening and also practice rescues.

One evening in June Cathy, Neville, Terry and I arrived at St. Philips to paddle in some decent conditions.

Neville completely disappears.

The thing about Wednesday evening practices is the group has developed skills to deal with bigger waves and also developed a synergy with respect to rescues.  Any of us are able to rescue any of the rest.  In the event of  the need to do a rescue we know what to do whether rescuer or rescuee.  There's no need to talk through the rescue so it can be completed efficiently.

Neville emerges from behind a massive wave climbing over the top.

One might say, well, invite persons not normally in the group depending on the conditions.  That is all well and good if conditions remain flat.  Should conditions go south then the group is left with a possible situation to deal with.  That could range from cutting the day's paddle short spoiling the day for most or having to rescue or tow placing the rest of the group in possibly dangerous circumstances.

Neville left, Cathy right

For me though, it goes further than that.  Its about paddling with people of the same mindset.  It like birds of the feather flock together.  Our group is not elitist.  We have added people who are just willing to learn and up their skills.  I personally don't want to be placed in the roll of "guiding"; inviting someone and acting as a crutch just so they can get out.

The Wednesday evening practices are wide open to people of all skills from beginner to more skilled.  There, a novice can improve their skills in a supportive environment.  If people don't take advantage of that opportunity and only interested in paddling flatwater then they should form a group that only paddles in calm water.

There's also group size to consider.

Is that mean spirited?  I'd like to know.

Here's a link to a re-edit of a short clip from that evening.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Coming up for air

Tuesday was our first pool session going into the winter months.  A few of us will paddle all winter but we'll also take advantage of the tropical conditions.

I recently mailed around a link to the latest Neptune's Rangers video on YouTube.  One of the situations that arose was one kayak on top of another which adds a wrinkle to the roll.  It served as one example of a skill to practice.  It not only addresses this possibility but also having the kayak caught on a rock.

So, here Dean runs up on Shane's read deck to see how it affects ...

... his roll.  No problem.  Then I had a turn but Shane had to haul my shorter Pyrhanna up onto his foredeck because it kept slipping off.

I snap pix of our day paddles, even in the gnarliest of conditions.  There's always the risk of getting knocked over with camera in hand so its a skill I practice.  I asked Dean to flip and so I could take a picture of him upside down, stash the camera away and roll.  Here he sends a wave my way as we're both upside down.

Another opportunity shoot a pic and roll as Cathy does a roll.

Lets face it, rolling in the warm confines of the pool is a world apart from rolling in the cold sea even in flat water, say nothing of conditions where the chances are greater of getting knocked over.  But, its about building confidence in the roll through repetition after repetition.  In real conditions when it counts, its just as much, or more, about confidence as it is about the physical skill.

The pool is also a nice break between winter weekend paddles.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Neither snow nor rain is an excuse

The forecast for today was heavy rain.  Some of our paddling friends had reasons for not paddling and two of the guys paddled closer to home.  Dean, Shane and I drove the 70 kms to Cape Broyle for our weekly fix.

We have had a lot of rain recently as was evident when we arrived at the terminus of Horse Chops River.  There was a good flow of water at the falls.

Shane examines a small anticline, an downward facing warp in the sedimentary rocks.  I'm not sure if he realized what we were looking at but at least he knows now!

There was water running everywhere.  So far we hadn't run into the torrential rain.  I wondered when it would start.

The further east we paddled the more massive the cliffs became.  Here the lines separating the sedimentary beds are highlighted by growth of vegetation in places.

Cape Broyle is a beautiful place to paddle, even in the rain, but this tunnel is my favourite feature.  When Shane suggested the day's destination I checked the tide tables.  It was going to be near high tide while we were here so I knew it would be accessible.

There are also numerous caves in Cape Broyle harbour.  Nearby, I entered this cave and caught Shane at the entrance.

At Freshwater Cove we saw our largest waterfall for the day.

We entered Lance Cove with is offshore sea stack.  This is usually the turnaround point for club paddles but we didn't stop there, instead crossing through the cove on our way to Church Cove where we planned for lunch.  Between Lance Cove and Church Cove there are ...

... numerous off shore rocks.  Deep in the harbour it was calm.  Further out we started to feel a bit of swell which made for more interesting paddling.

We arrived at Church Cove and took out for lunch.  If the truth be told, it wasn't fit for man nor beast.  Except us.  It was raining and resting for lunch the chill began to set in.  Dean and I had our cags which made it pleasant enough as we were entertained by a half dozen or more seals.

After lunch the sea state changed dramatically building until we ...

... paddled out into the open ocean past North Point where it was huge.  Some swells had long wavelengths but volumes of water.  Interspersed were breaking waves of 2 meters that, when paddled over, caused a precipitous drop and plop on the down side.  Dean got a better shot of the conditions on his blog.

We were surprised by the change in conditions and by its effects that were felt a full 5 kms into the harbour.  It wasn't until we were past Gentlemans Cove that the sea flattened again protected by Brigus Head at the north entrance.

So, for 5 kms we had some great surfing and then a relaxed paddle back to the take-out where hot coffee and soup waited for us at the Riverside Restaurant.

Awesome day guys!  Thanks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Super paddle under the supermoon

Now for something different.  A night paddle under this month's supermoon.  We (Brian, Cathy, Dean, Derrick, Gary, Neville, Shane, Sue, Terry and myself), arrived in total darkness and carried the kayaks to the slipway.

The kayaks are readied under the glow of a light thanks the harbour authority.

There wasn't room enough for the ten boats so the front lined up boats put in to enable everyone to get on the water.

Just before 7:00 we we all on the water and ...

... ready to go.  There won't be much scenery in this post, only my friends seemingly suspended in the inky blackness.  The moon had not yet risen at the time we put in.

While the pictures show an inky darkness and while the moon had not yet risen, the actual conditions were much lighter.  The moon lit up the sky announcing its imminent arrival and the sea was a steel grey colour.  We each had glow sticks so that we could keep track of everyone on the water if we got too separated.

Minutes after 7:00 the moon rose over the low hills to our left.  The dot hovering in the dark is the moon and the best the camera could do so I scammed the following image from Google images.

The moon averages 384,000 kms from the Earth.  Because the moon's orbit is elliptical, it is closest at what's called perigee.  This month its distance is 356,500, the closest its been since 1948 so we were determined to mark it with a moonlight paddle.  As you can see, last night it was 14% bigger and 30% brighter.

We arrived at Topsail Beach to stretch our legs under the moonlit night.

We all agreed to bring some wood so we could have a little fire.  It was unseasonably warm for November 15 but the fire was appreciated anyway.  It served as a focal point to stand around and chat.

Topsail Beach is car accessible and as we left some turned on their lights to see what the lights were on the water.  They were seeing our glow sticks.

The super moon, technically called a perigee moon, wasn't the only attraction on the water.  The bioluminescence was spectacular not unlike the sparks flying from a grinder on metal.  Sparkes flew from the bow as it cut through the sea and also from each paddle stroke pulled through the water.

At 10:30, three and a half hour later we were back again cruising through the channel into the harbour.

It was by all accounts a super fantastic night, a nice change of pace.  It will be some job to keep this paddle of my list of top 10 paddles for the year.  Thanks to everyone for a most enjoyable night.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Noah's Ark - Update

On August 3rd we met in St. Philips for our usual Wednesday evening practice.  It was calm so we went for a paddle to Portugal Cove.  Along the way we came upon this contraption of a boat.  We had no idea who owned it or how it came to float here.  It was taking a good pounding on the rocks and some of the boards had come off floating in the water.

We checked to see if anyone was aboard, dead or alive, but there was no one.  We went on and a week later we paddled the same shoreline but the floating object was gone.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a CBC Newfoundland article online indicating it has washed up in Ireland recently.  Here's a link to the article.  Good for a chuckle for sure!

Friday, November 11, 2016

14.3 Squared

Today was Friday, Remembrance Day, 2016.  On a grey cloudy day Cathy, Gary and I arrived at Tors Cove to paddle to the abandoned community of La Manche.  It was supposed to be windy but it wasn't when we arrived so ... on with the plan.

We put in and headed south inside the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.  The Reserve is home to 10's of thousands of sea birds but they have already departed for the winter to live on the open sea.  Here, inside the islands we were protected from the open North Atlantic and I mean open.  Open all the way west to Ireland.  But, as we paddled south we lost the protection of the islands and ...

... it got lumpy.  Lumpy and confused with waves we had to climb over and ...

... down.

All along the shore where the sea ended, it ended in foam.  There were places it went 5 - 6 meters into the air but trying to catch that and stay upright proved to be hit and miss.  Actually, miss.

The water all along was a mass of peaks but we stuck with it and soon we were at Bauline Head and the entrance to La Manche Bay.  In the middle distance loomed Cape Neddick.

While we paddled south we were padding into the waves.  As we turned west into La Manche Bay we had it on the beam with occasional waves breaking over the deck.  No big deal and when we got further into the Bay and got protection from Cape Neddick the water flattened out as we cruised into La Manche with its scenic suspension bridge of the East Coast Trail.

As we paddled into the harbour we were greeted by two people on the bridge who shouted out that there were 7 or 8 seals by the falls where La Manche River runs out.  We went to look but the seals are elusive swimming under us and out into the harbour so we ...

... took out for lunch.  There's no beach at La Manche as can be seen from ...

... old photo dating to 1966.  We pulled out onto the seaweed covered rocks just about where the white house is in the center of the photo.  Back up on the hill where the dark grey house is located we ...

...sat on the old foundation to eat lunch.

Cathy brought a bag of twigs and grass *lol* ha ha clippings. to start a fire and warm us before we got going again.  There was no wood around to add so it was a pretty modest fire but we convinced ourselves we were warmed.

As we got in our kayaks to return to Tors Cove one of the seals was hauled out on a rock (bottom center).  We weren't going to get close so we went on.

The conditions for the run back had not changed except we then had the waves to push us back.  At Tors Cove I checked the GPS.  It read 14.3 kms.  Not a long paddle because we had to stay offshore but the conditions made it seem much longer; at least squared.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Deja Vu

I think I've been here before!!!

On Tuesday Brian and I paddled from St Philips to Topsail return.  Invitees Hazen and Pete couldn't come so Brian and I chatted as we made our way in small wind waves and weaving around rocks.  At one point Brian wondered if I kept track of all the times we've paddled this familiar shore.  I had no idea about the numbers off-hand.

I know we paddle there in the spring and when its windy.

I was curious so I checked Stardust's ship's log.  I started recording it in 2009.  For the first three years it was 8 times.

We paddle there in summer when its calm and warm.

In 2012 we paddled this shore 7 times and in the fall.

From 2013 to the current year, and the year is not over yet, the frequency of paddling the shore really picked up; a whopping 54 times in 4 years.

As you can, see we also paddle there in winter.

Its so close by and convenient.  Sometimes I don't feel like a longer drive but I need to get on the water.  St. Philips makes sense.