Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Iceberg on the doorstep

Last Wednesday evening we spotted a large iceberg in the distance near Long Pond.  Thursday I mailed some of the guys who are also retired to gauge interest in going to check it out.  Clyde, Hazen, Pete and Ron were interested.  We met at Topsail Beach for the paddle to Long Pond but my surprise the berg had drifted north to just off of Topsail Beach.

It didn't look like much from the beach but ...

... a we paddled toward it, it got bigger and ...

... bigger until it ...

... took up the entire field of view.

Behind the huge face that greeted us it sloped away and revealed a darker blue streak of refrozen water.  Somewhere on the glacier of Greenland a crack opened up, water poured in during warmer weather and froze solid when winter temperatures returned.

We mostly floated for a long time admiring the berg from all angles.  Here two bands of refrozen water marks an "X" on the berg.

After some 30 minutes we set off to a smaller, lower iceberg a short distance away.

It wasn't much above head height with lumps of ice scattered on its surface.

Paddling around it I caught the larger berg in the distance which looked further away than it really was.

Ron in what looks to be an iceberg hug.

There was one more iceberg to visit on the way back to Topsail Beach but we stopped to check out this odd shaped bergy bit on the way.  In a posed picture, I caught Hazen on the other side.

The berg nearer to the beach was also a low laying one that extended out under the water.  The colour of the ice underwater was so close to the colour of Ron's Makkovik made in Newfoundland by Eastern Island Kayaks that I talked him into posing over the ice shelf.

Satisfied with our short paddle but our savouring of the three bergs were headed back to the beach for to end the day.  Thanks guys!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Shaken, not stirred and on the rocks

Wednesday evening saw eight of us for some cold water entertainment.  Three of the guys were in short rock-hopping type boats.  They got started riding over some pour-overs.  The rest of us watched for a while with me trying ...

... to catch the right moment to guide my 18 foot Nordkapp through the foam without risking life and limb.  It was hard to catch an opening as the guys were constantly buzzing about.  A long kayak isn't as nimble and I didn't want to find myself tangled up with Brian, Dean or Shane in the soup.  I managed to find an opening for a couple of rides before ...

... the five of us with long boats decided we'd seen enough and went for a paddle.

The ocean was surprisingly violent around the rocks and timing was essential to avoid situations like ...

... this.  I watched Gary paddle through the rocks here and it looked good but as I was near exiting a wave over my head presented an unpleasant surprise.

I got swallowed by it and pushed back ...

... and up and got deposited onto the rocks.  A couple of more large waves tried to paste me into the rocks but I managed to hold onto the rocks and hold position.

What looked to be a chance to escape turned out to be a wave that pulled me off the rocky perch and upside down.  Fearing more bashing I wet exited and the next wave deposited man and kayak back on the rocks.  Amazingly I kept calm, stood on the rocks to empty the kayak, got back in and waited for the right size wave to lift me off to make my escape, which I managed without further incident.

Its all about timing but the sea was unpredictable last evening and I rolled the dice.  Lesson be learned!

The above three pix are still screen shots from a bit of video Cathy recorded.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Living on past paddles

We awoke Sunday to 4 centimeters of snow on the ground.  Its been that kind of spring.  But, we were out the previous week so I have those shots in my back pocket for a post on this miserable weekend.

It was overcast with a bit of fog hanging on when we put in at 10:00 with also a bit of ...

... wave action along the shore that ...

... got substantially bigger the further north we paddled.

Still the fog persisted until ...

... just after 11:00 the sun came out to brighten our day and really ...

... turned the dark dreary rocks of earlier into happier shades of grey.

There's nothing we can do about the weather but, if we take the opportunity to charge our batteries on good days, the memory sustains us when its not so nice.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Slim pickings on a Thursday evening

This week Wednesday was Thursday.  That is to say, we did Wednesday evening practice on Thursday evening due to a conflict with another club event.  Turns out, it may have contributed to a small turnout this week.

This week it was just Brian, Craig and myself.  Slim pickings, and not the musical kind.

No matter.  I did my first dozen or so rolls in the ocean this year.  The water temperature is just above zero, maybe 2 - 3C.  I tried to stay upside down for 10 seconds but brain freeze set in at 6 seconds (which Brian measured) before I righted myself.  At those temps its really a matter of mental control.

It was Craig's first time so we went through a couple of rescue scenarios.  First Brian jumped out of his kayak and talked Craig through a between the kayaks re-entry.  Brian was in his Karma RG so that exercise didn't include dumping the water out.

Then my turn to jump in.  I turned my kayak upside down and talked Craig through the emptying procedure and got back in.

These Wednesday evening practices are a chance to advance the skills of novice paddlers and to also make sure our own skills have not rusted over the winter.  When the need to perform a rescue arises is not the time to learn how to do the rescue.  It needs to be rehearsed in controlled conditions so that it becomes second nature and runs smoothly.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The best laid plans go awry in Bull Arm

Last October a group of us were in Bull Arm to check out the arrival of the topsides for the Hebron oilfield production platform.  The gravity base structure (GBS) was complete and floating in Mosquito Cove.  The topsides were on shore waiting to be mated with the GBS.

Now, seven months later the GBS was ready to be towed out to the oilfield and were were back in Bull Arm hoping to see it pass by.  However, ice offshore, as shown in the above screen shot from Environment Canada, cancelled the tow out but we went anyway to see the completed GBS.

We all spent a cold night in the tents and the day didn't start off very pleasant either.  It was misty, cold and raw.  Slowly we got on the go and ...

... left our campsite inside Masters Head and ...

... entered Bull Arm paddling north into a northerly breeze.

Clyde, in the orange, and I donned our cags that made the conditions more tolerable.  I didn't anticipate the cold weather and didn't have a second layer of clothes so the cag was a lifesaver so to speak.

We stopped in Stock Cove to do a quick check of the archaeological dig establishing the presence of Paleoeskimo at the site.  I spent more time here last October walking about and posted a blog entry with more information on the excavation so I'll just point to that post here.

We got our first view of the GBS in the distance.  Mosquito Cove is a restricted construction site.  We stopped just before the cove but ...

... slowly paddled and drifted closer and ...

... closer until we saw a launch approaching letting us know we were spotted.

The guys weren't heavy handed but were quite cordial telling us we were in a restricted area.  We chatted for a while and before leaving Brian passed his camera over to one of the guys asking him to take a ...

... picture of all of us with the GBS in the background.  Left to right we have myself, Gary, Cathy, Roy, Brian, Terry, Clyde, Hazen and Ron.

So, while we were disappointed the tow out didn't happen it was still interesting to see the thing.  Especially I think for Cathy, Hazen and myself who were here last year.

Coming as far as we could, we paddled back to the campsite to break camp and then back to Chance Cove to the cars and the drive home.

Thanks to Hazen for doing the planning and organizing.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A hobble in Bull Arm

Sometime on May 8th the Hebron oilfield production platform, a gravity base structure (GBS), was tentatively scheduled to be towed out of the construction site in Bull Arm.  Seven tugboats were contracted to do the tow out but nine of us decided we had better attend in case they need more towing power.

The plan was to leave from Chance Cove and camp at Masters Head Beach and monitor the situation as to when the tow-out would proceed.  On a bright sunny but cool Sunday morning Brian, Cathy, Clyde, Gary, Hazen, Ron, Roy, Terry and I loaded our kayaks on the slipway in Chance Cove.

Loaded down with all the camping essentials we left Chance Cove and ...

... headed northwest along the shore.

The shoreline along here is punctuated by sea stacks of the Bull Arm Formation comprised mainly of andesitic volcanic flows.  That is to say, the same composition of the rocks of the Andes Mountains in South America.

Its one of the most picturesque shorelines on the Avalon Peninsula which is hard not to get ...

... enough of.

Near Rantem Harbour we paddle past the last of the sea stacks where a bit of mist hung in the air.  We crossed directly over bypassing the harbour and landed on the opposite shore where we examined ...

... the lone bergy bit in the area.  This shot is for Brian, Hazen and Terry who made the longer crossing to ...

... the beach just inside of Masters Head.  They were soon joined by the rest of us and we all set up camp.

Its not only an army that marches on its stomach.  We had to fuel up too for the tow we thought we might have to assist with *lol*.

We all pitched in to collect firewood for the evenings campfire which we knew we'd need as temperatures were expected to drop to near 0C.  After we had a good pile of wood stacked up Brian, Cathy, Gary and I followed the start of a moose path up through the trees to climb up to the top of the Head.

Its was a cool breeze (guessing 5C) but the exertion of the climb had us plenty warm.  We had a nice view of Trinity Bay from our vantage point some 50 meters above the water.  I couldn't resist throwing a few rocks over and watch them kerplunk into the water below.

After ten minutes or so we made our descent picking our way through a mass of dead trees and windfalls.

Just after 7:30 fire chief Terry decided it was time to get the fire going.  It was still an hour and a half from darkness but a welcome warmth as the sun began to set loosing the heat it provided.

As night drew on and the cold set in, we began to stand closer to the flames.  Warmed by the fire people started to drift away to the tents steeled against the cold that was expected to hit near freezing.

As it turned out, the tow out was cancelled due to ice conditions in the tow path.  We would not be needed after all!!!  Nevertheless, the next day we planned to paddle down Bull Arm to the construction site at Msquito Cove where the gravity base structure bobbed in the water waiting patiently for the move.  More on that later.