Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 10 paddles of 2017 - #1

Every year from 2009 to 2015 I've had a multi-day kayak camp trip, usually 5 - 6 days long.  Last year in 2016, one did not materialize.  We couldn't get everyone on the same page.  The same thing happened this year.  A trip was planned but the plans fell through.

However, I was determined.  I set off on a solo four day trip to Isle Valen in Placentia Bay from 17 July to the 20th.  The first day I padded from Garden Cove and found myself looking down the bay from Ship Island.  The day started in fog and which gave way after two hours to brilliant sunshine.

I wasn't my first solo trip.  I've had an extended solo trip in the back of my mind for some time.  To that end, in 2016 I did two one night solo trips.  The first was a close by location, the second was further away.  I wanted to see how I felt off on my own.  I was pleased to find I made good company for myself.

I awoke on day two to low hanging fog but no wind.  I had a longer day paddling from Ship Island to the former community of Isle Valen on Isle Valen Island.  As I rounded the south end of the island the wind picked up as did the sea state.  Nevertheless I found the entrance to the harbour, set up my tent and generally felt quite pleased with myself.

The wind continued to blow and the dense fog persisted.  I decided to hit the hay early with the intention of getting away early the next day.

On day three I was up early; 4:30!  The wind had dropped but the fog was as thick as pea soup.  I had packed everything except what I needed for the night to expedite my departure as early as possible.  I was on the water close on 5:00 paddling away on flat, calm water but only meters away from the shore so as not to get lost in the fog.

A short two kilometer paddle in fog had me back on the mainland shore.  I stopped on the first available beach to have breakfast and later stopped in Gulch Pond for lunch.

The end of day three had me at Browns Cove on Bar Haven Island after a long 42 km but satisfying day.

At Browns Cove at the end of day three I was only 17 kms from ending the trip.  I spent a pleasant evening with a decent camp fire and hit the hay.

I was in no hurry in the morning because I was so close to the end.  I took my time breaking camp and had a leisurely paddle up to Rattling Brook Falls where I got out of my paddling gear and had a swim in the hole above the falls.  Dried off and back in my drysuit I made the rest of the return to Garden Cove with the benefit of a tail wind and mini-surf rides.

I didn't get an extended kayak camp trip with the guys.  I would have preferred that but I was tickled pink that I had completed this trip on my own.  It was something of a voyage of discovery, that is learning something about myself.  I was alone but never lonely.

It was a trip I'll long cherish.  It wasn't hard making this my top paddle for the year.  This post was more of a look back, a birds eye view so to speak.  A complete summary with links to each day and more detail and pictures is here.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top 10 paddles of 2017 - #2

The sea usually freezes along the north an northeast coast of Newfoundland and the shores of Labrador.  In spring the ice breaks up and drifts south.  That's when I start to keep an eye on the ice forecast hoping it drifts down and into the bays nearby.

On April 9th I finally recovered enough from a bout of shingles to go for a paddle.  I was motivated because the ice came in.  Its awesome paddling through channels in the ice using close boat control.

There's also a chance to run the kayak up on the low laying pans of ice in the middle of the bay to stretch the legs.

It was a super day but I had a similar, better day two days later with ...

... Brian and Sue.  We met at St. Philips and headed south through patchy ice.

The water was open along the shore.

Eventually the ice blocked our progress.  We sat and watched this chunk of ice drift north at a good pace.  We decided to return.

The rest of the ice was also moving and ...

... closing in around us until ...

... we were completely barred from returning to the take-out.

I was in a narrow opening between two large pans of ice that were rapidly converging and threatening to crush my kayak.  Thinking quickly I put both hands on the pans as they got within reach and pushed up lifting me above the merging ice pans.  I had narrowly escaped a serious incident.  Above photo by Brian capturing the moment.

Once safely on top of the ice pan I grabbed the toggle of Sue's kayak and pulled her onto the pan and then Brian.  We walked our kayaks across the pan and launched on the other side into open water and paddled without further incident to the take-out.

These ice pans don't always drift into out area but when they do its such awesome paddling.  I had an earlier, spectacular day by myself but the day with Brian and Sue took the cake.  It was calm, clear sunny weather with the promise of spring in the air.  It was 100% pure fun and #2 on my list this year.

Here's a link to the original post with more, mostly different pix from that day.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Top 10 paddles of 2017 - #3

Early May we were expecting the new gravity based oil production platform for the Hebron oil field to be towed from its construction site in Bull Arm.  The hope for plan was to camp nearby and watch the tow-out.

On May 7th ten of us met in Chance Cove to begin the paddle to the campsite at Masters Head.

The coast north of Chance Cove is dotted with sea stacks and is some of the most picturesque on the Avalon Peninsula.

Nearing the crossing to Masters Head.

The campsite on the beach just inside Masters Head.  We collected some wood for a campfire later in the evening and four of us ...

... climbed up the hill behind the campsite to have a look down into Bull Arm and out over Trinity Bay.

When we climbed down we had our fire before retiring for the night.

The next day we rose to a cool and misty day for the paddle into Bull Arm and the Mosquito Cove construction site.  We knew the tow out would not be happening but we were on location so we went to go have a look anyway.

We were warned off by a sign indicating the site was a construction zone.  We drifted and slowly paddled closer until we saw ...

... a lunch approach to stop us in our tracks.  They weren't heavy handed.  We chatted for a while and then they offered to take ...

... a group photo of us with the Hebron GBS behind us.

With that done we returned to the campsite to break camp and paddle back to Chance Cove.

Looking over the ship's log *lol* it was the only time this year that I did a kayak camp trip with other people.  That was most unusual so that's why its on my list of top 10 paddles for the year at #3.

Original posts with more photos of the trip are here at day 1 and day 2.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top 10 paddles of 2017 - #4

Living in Newfoundland we live next to iceberg alley.  Hundreds of icebergs may drift south every year off our coast.  To have them accessible for kayakers we need wind in the right direction to blow them on shore.  Some years its hit or miss.

I've had some fantastic days in past years paddling around scores of icebergs.  This year they weren't as plentiful close by but we had a couple drift close and we took advantage of the opportunity.  On May 28th a group of us left Topsail Beach and headed out to this one.

We spent some time sitting in our kayaks taking in the views and observing the berg from all directions.

On this side two blue streaks crossed at the corner.  These are formed by meltwater refreezing in cracks of the glacier.  The white colour of the iceberg is caused by air bubbles trapped in the snow and compressed into ice.  The meltwater doesn't contain the same amount of air bubbles an is therefore a different colour.

There was one lesser iceberg nearby which we also checked out before returning to the beach.

These icebergs calved off of the Greenland ice sheet don't always drift close enough for us to check them out.  On the 28th of May a couple did on a beautiful day and that's why, when it happens, an iceberg paddle will always be on my list of top paddles.

Here's a link to the original post with way more pix of the iceberg and other bergy bits we checked out.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top 10 paddles of 2017 - #5

On February 12th we were in Tors Cove for a paddle out to the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and on to LaManche.  Its an area we know well but it never gets old.

Leaving Tors Cove we paddled outside of Fox Island.  It was apparent from the start that we'd be paddling in active waters.

Once we left Fox Island behind we made a short crossing to Great Island in the distance.

We reached Great Island and ...

... began to explore some of the caves on the island.

The east side of Great Island is open to the vast Atlantic Ocean an its effects.  We couldn't safely paddle through the Great Cleft due to the sea state and paddled around the south side of the island and ...

... paddled back to the mainland and entered LaManche Bay where the water was also crashing upon the rocky shore.

Under the suspension bridge at the location of the resettled community of LaManche we ...

... stopped for lunch.  It was cold, even in the sunshine, but we were in good spirits.

It is familiar territory but its on my list of top 10 paddles because the sea state always makes it different and because it was winter.

Here's a link to the original post with more shots of the paddle.

Top 10 paddles of 2017 - #6

My friend Neville and his wife opened a bed and breakfast this year in Hatchet Cove.  Neville also does kayak tours and often gets questions about some of the rocks during the tour.  Not knowing much about geology he asked me to do a paddle with him and answer some of the questions he frequently gets.

On October 26th I drove out in fog but I was happy to find it lifting in Hatchet Cove.

There wasn't a ripple on the water as we set out.

The hills were ablaze with fall colours that were replicated in the reflections on the still water.

As we went along I explained about the three basic rock types and identified igneous and sedimentary where they outcropped along the shore.  Here massive forces are on display as rocks were over thrust by faulting.  The rocks over thrust were subsequently eroded away.

We went as far as St. Jones Within where we turned around to return so I could avoid driving home in the dark.  At times it was almost difficult to see which side was up as the details on the hills were perfectly reflected in the water.

Back at Hatchet Cove and the end of a relaxing paddle.

The scenery of the fall colours, the crystal clear reflections in the water, the interesting geology and knowing I helped Neville out puts this paddle in one of the top ten for the year.

Here's a link to the original post with more pix.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top 10 paddles of 2017 - #7

A post to the Facebook account of Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador the week leading up to the weekend of October 28th by a couple of ladies led to a paddle in Cape Broyle.  They were visiting Newfoundland and wanted to do a paddle over the weekend.

We got a crew together and some gear and went to Cape Broyle.

Cape Broyle is  super paddle destination with many attractions  The first is falls of Horsechops River where it meets the sea.

The usual agenda then is to cross at The Narrows to the south side where there are more waterfalls and caves to explore.   However, most of the caves were not accessible due to a very active sea.

The further east we paddled the swell built and crashed against the shore.

The usual turn around point on club paddles is Lance Cove after a lunch stop.  We stopped for lunch; Brian got a fire going in his wood stove and boiled water for tea.

After the stop at Lance Cove we continued east to check out Cathedral Cave, a vast open cave that follows the strike of the sedimentary beds.  I went in, turned to look out at the gang which appeared and disappeared in the swell.  As no one else ventured in I emerged an we ...

... turned our bows west to return to the take-out.

Our visitors had a great day on the water notwithstanding the fact we didn't get into the caves.  We capped the day with a coffee or tea and a bite to eat.

It was a pleasure to paddle with them and make two new friends.  That makes it my number 7 top paddle of the year.  Here's a link to the original post
 with more pix from the day.