Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top 10 paddles of 2016 - #1

On May 15th the club had a paddle in Chance Cove, an hour's drive out of the city.  I decided I'd bring my camping gear and stop in Fairhaven to paddle to Trinny Cove for the night rather than drive back the same day.  It was a test to see how I felt about camping alone and it was not a long paddle in case I wanted to bail.  I liked it and made plans for a solo one night trip a bit further afield.

So, on August 19th ...

... I drove across the barrens to Fairhaven, this time to ...

... paddle northerly to the abandoned community of LaManche.

Paddling solo is not recommended but I had no fears about that.  The only thing about a solo paddle is the challenge of getting interesting kayaking pictures without other people to put in the frame.Ahead I was about to enter Great Pinchgut.

At the bottom of Great Pinchgut it was time to stop for a bite to eat.  I had an earlier trip report to rely on in planning the adventure and ...

... had lunch on the very same piece of ground the earlier trailblazers had lunch (P. Delaney photo).  That was 12 years earlier!!!

The day that started under mostly sunny skies went south as northwest wind blew in with a steady rain.  I didn't curse the weather.  Sometimes I relish the weather the worse it gets.  Maybe a tinge of masochism showing?  I paddled with determination across the mouth of Little Harbour East and stopped on a ...

... small beach near the community to answer the call of nature.  I as close to LaManche so the benefit of the stop also gave me a break to harness my energy for the rest of the paddle.

About to enter LaManche Bay.  I went around the point and stopped to talk to a fisherman.  He said he saw me beating across Little Harbour East and wondered about my kayak ... again, you're going where in that?

I got into LaManche a the rain began to abate though it was still coming down.  I found a sheltered spot and strung my tarp as best I could to put the tent up under it.  This was what I call the "boy scout" part kayaking skills.

I had a good spot near the trees which gave me protection from the pecking rain an a place to cook supper.

After setting up the tent I carried all the gear I needed to cook, and for the night, up from the beach.  It was a little hike and after several trips I carried the kayak off the beach where it would be safe for the night.

With supper cooked and the rain essentially stopped it was time to explore.  The choice of LaManche was made on purpose because nearby is the site of an old lead mine.  I was there over 40 years ago on a geology field trip so I knew where it was though I didn't remember it looking as I found it present day.

There was no "happy hour" on this trip.  I didn't need it; besides drinking alone has its own connotations.  I had a beautiful perch above the beach looking down over Placentia Bay as the day came to an end.

The next day I was rewarded with a beautiful day to the return.  While I handrailed the coast on the way to LaManche (for 30 kms) I made shorter work of it returning to Fairhaven crossing directly across Great Pinchgut and other small coves for a total of 23 kms.

I was alone but not lonely.  It was a good feeling finding out I'm good company for myself.  I greatly enjoy the company of my paddling colleagues but this solo trip was good for the soul.  The unmitigated joy I felt made me feel refreshed when I returned.

It was further afield than my first solo trip to Trinny Cove in May and only one night but it laid the base for further solo multi-day adventures in the new year.

I'm only scratching the surface but more pix and detail in the original posts:

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 10 paddles of 2016 - #2

 For a number of years we have tossed around the idea of camping on Kellys Island.  Kellys Island is a short 15 minute drive from the big city and only a 30 minute crossing so its not a big adventure, unless its made to be, which Cathy, Gary and I did on the weekend of July 2/3.

We launched from Long Pond to make the 30 minute crossing to the island.

When me reached one of only two possible camping options we carried the tents and essentials for the night up the 30 meter cliff and pitched the tents before heading out for an ...

... afternoon paddle to ...

... Bell Island 45 minutes away.  Long Pond to the campsite was only 4 kms and while it was going to be an overnight camp trip it had to also include some good time on the water.

It was a beautiful day and we were in no particular hurry so we landed on a small beach to explore a little on land.  We walked up a small ravine which we dubbed "Ant Hill Ravine" and looked back through the cut and the sea beyond.  I'll have to ensure the government updates the topo to include the new name.

Cathy and I tried to jig a codfish when we got back within eye-shot of the tents without luck.  After landing and getting out of our kayak gear we straightened out the tents as we had merely just dumped sleeping bags etc in the tents before setting out on our pm paddle.  Then we repelled back down to the beach where we made supper.

We had a small fire as the available wood allowed and began happy hour.  Only a few though as the steep climb required our full attention so we continued by sitting in ...

... Cathy's tent.

That's when the fun started as we made up guessing games and quizzed each other on firsts in our lives.

As full darkness set in the lights of Conception Bay South came on providing a spectacular sight from our vantage point.

More joking around ensued as we considered contacting Dean to paddle a pizza over to us or even some cheezies.  That wasn't going to happen so around 2:00 am we hit our respective tents for the night.

I unzipped my tent and emerged into another beautiful day.  I didn't see any activity from the other tents so went for a little walk and up from the tents I looked back to capture our perch high above the water.  A ...

... zoomed in image shows our tents high on the cliff and our tiny kayaks on the grassy spot beow.  Trips up and down were kept to a minimum!

After breakfast we paddled around the back of the island before crossing back to Long Pond in a bit of a breeze to ...

... completing the trip hauled out in Long Pond.

It was only a short trip though we did notch 23 kms on the first day and 8 on the return,  But, the distance wasn't what stood out for me.  A real estate agent will tell you its all about location, location, location.  We certainly had that at our campsite.  That and the hard to describe fun we had laughing and joking in the dark makes this my number 2 favourite paddle of the year.

While it was a short trip I did manage to make three posts out of it.  Part 1, part 2 and part 3 provide more detail and pix.

Some of the guys who wanted to be on the trip could not so we will have to make it happen in the new year.  I think I may have sold them on it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 10 paddles of 2016 - #3

The weekend of October 1/2 was looking good and I was ready to escape.  I thought back to a paddle we did out of Chance Cove back on May 15th when we stopped on a beach for lunch that looked a very good camp location.  It was close to a couple of points of interest, namely a Paleoeskimo site and the Bull Arm construction site.

The proposed trip was well received by the group so one Saturday Cathy, Dean, Derek, Gary, Hazen, Shane and I ...

... drove to Chance Cove and headed towards Masters Head to set up camp just inside the head.

There was hardly a cloud in the sky as we paddled along the shore punctuated by sea stacks but ...

... clouds did creep in though the day remained bright.

The plan was to setup the tents once we arrived at the campsite and then carry on around the head and into Bull Arm to visit the Paleoeskimo site at Stock Cove and the construction site in Mosquito Cove.  Some of the group decided to relax in camp while Cathy, Hazen and I went on with the original plan.

I landed in Stock Cove and waked around the thousands of years old occupation site though there wasn't much to see due to current overgrowth until I came upon ...

... this excavation by archaeologists studying the location.  It was a weird feeling walking around a site that was inhabited almost 4000 years ago.  I took this picture three months ago and it seems like yesterday.  It puts 4000 years into perspective.

Mosquito Cove was further down the Arm.  The wind picked up as the afternoon progressed but we were determined to see the construction site for the Hebron oil field production Gravity Based Structure.

The wind was really blowing out of the cove as I made my way across to get closer too the GBS.  The topsides module had recently arrived from Korea sitting on solid land waiting to be matched with ...

... the concrete GBS floating in deep water; deep water because only the top few meters of the 120 were showing above the water line.  So, mission accomplished and Cathy, Hazen and I rode the small wind waves back to the campsite averaging 9 kms/hr.

The next morning dawned another beautiful day to slowly ...

... make our way back to the cars ...

... again paddling by the sea stacks leading into Chance Cove.

Chance Cove by itself is a beautiful paddle but with the attractions in Bull Arms are thrown it was my third most favourite paddle of the year.

Check out more pix and detail in original post out of Chance Cove, the Paleoeskimo site at Stock Cove, the GBS construction site and the return.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top 10 paddles of 2016 - #4

Early June the word was there was an iceberg in Bay Bulls.  Well, that was reason enough to go there for a paddle to check it out.

We arrived at Bay Bulls and sure enough the berg was still there.  But, the semi-submersible drill rig West Hercules was also in Bay Bulls so we paddled out along the north side of Bay Bulls and past the iceberg, for now, to check out the rig.  We had it in our sights and ...

... were soon paddling close by the behemoth.

I was soon done with that bit of sightseeing and went to check out some sweet passages that on this calm day were accessible.

A paddle in Bay Bulls nets about 15 kms paddling staying in the harbour.  I proposed a visit to Freshwater Cove just north of harbour.  Its exposed and sure enough it showed its rough side until we got into the more sheltered cove.

On the way back out of Freshwater Cove we spotted an iceberg on the south side of Bay Bulls so we crossed the harbour mouth and arrived at Baboul Rocks where a small iceberg was heaving up and down in the swell.  It was a tease for the larger berg we came to see.

Making our way back into the harbour we came across another berg referred to as a growler, so named for the sound they make grinding up against each other.

Then the main event, the ber in the middle of the harbour.  There were so few icebergs around this year that each one had to be savoured.

We paddled around it and off in the distance was the West Hercules.  The only thing left to do was grab a chunk of the iceberg and bring it ...

... home to have a swally with some of Fidel's finest!

It was a super day the main features being the drill rig, an entertaining paddle in rough water and the icebergs.  Any paddle around icebergs is always going to be on my list of favourite paddles because we don't always get the chance though we live beside "iceberg ally".

The original post for the first part of the paddle to West Hercules is here and the icebergs is here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top 10 paddles of 2016 - #5

I checked ship's log for last winter.  We paddled mostly in St. Philips throughout the winter but one winter paddle that stood out was one we did in Cape Broyle on March 13th.  My list would not be complete with at least one winter paddle and so this memorable one is my number 5.

We arrived at our usual put-in and found it frozen so we moved around to the south side where we managed to get the kayaks on the water.  We got on the water alright but there was plenty of ice to navigate through.

Icicles hung from the rocks and a light snow was falling some of which ...

... stuck to the rocks.

We got through the tunnel catching the high tide.

There are lots of great features in Cape Broyle.  The usual first stop is by Horsechops Falls but we couldn't get near them on the day as the fresh water floating on the briny was frozen solid.  We did manage here where we grabbed a refreshing shower beside a massive wall of ice.

Entering Lance Cove with its sweeping beach where we usually stop for lunch but we ...

... pressed on to Church Cove where we had lunch instead on the snow covered beach.  There were a few seals in the cove that bobbed up and down checking us out.

A day in Cape Broyle is not complete without a visit in Cathedral Cave and ...

... as we were this far we figured we may as well see what the open ocean was beyond the entrance to Cape Broyle harbour.

Its easy to look out at the world in winter and hunker down in the warm but a winter paddle has its appeal.  All it takes is to go for it.  It was a cold, snowy day but so worth the drive.

More pix on the original blog posts with more detail of course.  Part 1 here and Part 2 here.