Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I've looked at stacks from both sides now

On Saturday Cathy, Gary and I put in at Point LaHaye to paddle the shore of St. Mary's Bay down to St. Vincent's.  We made it into the Gut and pitched our tents just off of the beach but out of sight of houses in the community.

Sunday morning it was time to head back to Point LaHaye and check out the sea stacks from the other side.  It was the same coast but any coast looks different from either direction.  We'd find out we missed a few features paddling south on the previous day.

We got out through surging waves at the mouth of the Gut safely and were pushed by an easterly breeze towards Cape English where ...

... massive slabs of steeply dipping rock dominated the headland.

Around the Cape we were back into the rocks and sea stacks.  Whereas Saturday we had a little swell, Sunday there was none and we were out of the easterly breeze.

On the paddle south this cave wasn't obvious or ...

... this one that had to be explored.

Fourteen kilometers from St. Vincent's we stopped again on this beach to stretch our legs 8 kms from the end of the paddle.

There are fewer sea stacks along the last 8 kms but still lots of rocks ...

... and passages to paddle through.

Exiting the last passage we made a straight beeline for the beach at Point LaHaye and the end of our two day adventure.

We three agreed it was the most scenic stretch of coast we've paddled.  Its not around the corner as its an hour and a half drive from home and its open exposure makes it dependent on the right winds and swell so it doesn't get much kayak traffic.  Any planning should carefully consider the weather forecast and an assessment of skill in case of a change in the weather while on the water before taking on this paddle.

Gary suggested the next time we do this we should paddle from St. Vincent's and camp at Point LaHaye.

A good helping of fish & chips topped off the weekend with a whole bunch of new memories formed with good friends.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Stacks, stacks, stacks

About 10 years ago paddler friend Neil did a paddle along the shore from Point LaHaye to St. Vincent's in St. Mary's Bay.  He raved about the sea stacks.  Somehow I didn't get around to doing that paddle until this weekend.

All week long from Monday the wind forecast looked good.  Thursday I sent out mail to see who was interested and only Cathy and Gary committed so Saturday the three of us drove to Point LaHaye, unloaded the kayaks, did a 20 km car shuttle to St. Vincent's and put in at Point LaHaye.

It was a picture perfect day as we set out southerly along the shore past Gaskiers.

It was good paddling but it took 50 minutes to reach our first sea stack.

It wasn't all about sea stacks (though there were too many to count); there were also worn down to rocks sea stacks.  A gentle swell made everything accessible but interesting.

Here a tipped stack of Neoproterozoic (1,000 - 941 million years ago) siltstone, sandstone and shale turbidites look like a disturbed stack of playing cards.

A waterfall we ...

... just had to check out.  Each of us grabbed a cooling, refreshing shower.

Prior to hitting the road I had checked out Google Earth.  A scattering of sea stacks and rocks showed up to False Cape but after that it was sea stack heaven.  Again, the gentle swell made things interesting as the water got squeezed in ...

... narrow passage ways and swept around the sea stacks.

Here we were greeted by one massive stack.  For some stacks it wasn't clear if they were separated from the land so each one had to be prospected to verify whether we could get round.  It made for the most enjoyable leisurely paddling.  And, yes, this allowed us through.

Sometimes I led with Cathy and Gary following who I caught on this selfie.

We just couldn't get enough of this stuff as we made our way along the southwest shoreline leading to Cape English.

So, here's another!

And, one more.  There were so many the post could have been pix of nothing but sea stacks but I selected a representative sample.

Almost 4 hours after leaving Point LaHaye we left the stacks and rocks behind and rounded Cape English heading to the beach and entrance to Holyrood Pond at St. Vincent's.  The water flowing out of the pond created standing and spilling waves, the sounds of which made the mind wonder when we'd be overtaken from behind.  All three of us made it into the pond without incident and a good thing too because a bunch of locals watched to see how we would fare in the challenging conditions.

We selected a campsite, pitched our tents, made supper (the first meal since breakfast) and watched as the sun began to set overlooking Holyrood Bay and the entrance to the pond.

St. Vincent's is fully exposed to the Atlantic south with no landfall until the West Indies in the Caribbean.  I didn't expect to find much wood but we made a find effort to collect enough small sticks to have a decent fire during happy hour.

We hit the hay under a clear starry night overjoyed with the day's paddle and looking forward to the return paddle on the next day.  A totally awesome day; many thanks to Cathy and Gary.

Day 2, the return to Point LaHaye here.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Whale shopping list

Well, at long last I'm back for a day paddle.  There hasn't been anything wrong; just the no paddling bug seems to have inflicted most of us.

I found out late there was a paddle today in Witless Bay with the hope of catching sight of some whales.  I got on the water first as the rest of the gang of 11 got ready.

Eventually we all got on the water and got underway.  Everyone except Shane and I headed out into open water in the middle of the bay.  Shane and I ...

... decided a bit of rock hopping was more stimulating.

As we made our way east along the shore we hit upon schools of caplin that were as thick as flies.  So thick in fact ...

... Shane was scooping them up bare handed.

Shane and I paddled up to Witless Point, looked to see if we could see the others (we couldn't) and decided to make a short 2 km crossing to Gull Island.  It may be named Gull Island but there were ...

... thousands of Atlantic puffins nesting on the island.  As we approached they took flight.  I had no idea why they felt threatened as we kept well clear of the shore.

In White Horse Cove we checked out this ...

... cave.  Up to that point we didn't get one sniff of a whale or whales.  We emerged from the cave to paddle along the east side of the island and as we passed Long Point Shane spotted a whale breaching in the direction of South Head, Bay Bulls.  After about 10 minutes we heard whale exhalations and ...

... we were with two humpbacks.

They were not doing much just hovering in the water not 10 meters away.  I hoped for a flukes shot and missed a flipper shot, one flipper raised as they left us heading south.  I've had better encounters but this was what we came for so Shane and I were satisfied.  Before moving on I retrieved ...

... a container of three tea buns and we each had one trying to speak about the whales with mouths stuffed.  Finished and the lone tea bun left stashed in Shane's day hatch again we paddled north towards South Head and ...

... into this cove dominated by red hematite stained sandstones.  At the bottom of the cove we took turns ...

... looking out at the world from this massive cave.

Heading west again into Witless Bay harbour we handrailed and investigated another cave in Red Cove, aptly named and sharply contrasting with verdant green vegetation.  Left center in the picture there was one more ...

... cave to check out before heading back uneventfully to the take-out.

Its been too long getting out for a paddle but at least it was a red banner re-introductory day to paddling.  Shane and I got in a bit of rock hopping, saw thousands of seabirds, a coupe of humpbacks and a few caves.  It was just the two of us as we left the other 10 to their own devices.  I think we made the right choice.  Awesome day, thanks Shane.

Friday, June 29, 2018

You can't flog a dead horse

For the last nine years I've led and promoted a mid-week practice in St. Philips.  The cove there is ideal because in the prevailing winds, the cove is relatively calm whereas decent conditions can be had outside the point.  The location is great for novice paddlers as well as more experienced.  Novice paddlers can incrementally expose themselves to more challenging conditions by sticking their noses out.

This Wednesday winds were expected to be up but the forecast did not pan out.  Nonetheless some decent waves made for good surf rides but you had to be patient.

There were a scant 4 other paddlers show up this week.  We've had as may as thirteen but usually 8 - 10.  However, attendance seems to have declined over the past few years.  It may be that the more experienced paddlers feel they have gotten as much out of it as possible and newer paddlers maybe are not interested in advancing their skills.

Greg however was there trying out Paul's Makkovik kayak.  Not being used to it, he stuck around in the more calm waters getting his sea legs.  Like I said, you can pick the sea state you want to paddle in.

Paul nails a roll.  Its part of the program where we practice assisted and self rescues, surfing when conditions are right, paddling into strong head winds to build conditioning and confidence.  On calm evenings we've just gone for a social paddle with a chance to do a bit of rock hopping.

But, facing reality, you can't flog a dead horse so I've decided to stop pushing this.  Maybe someone will take up the reigns and maybe it will continue on a limited basis but I've invested enough of my time when maybe I'd have done other things but felt compelled to go anyway.

It was fun while it lasted and I too have benefited greatly.  I likely will pick my days when its too windy to paddle - but I'll be on the water catching the salt water spray.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A new boat, a new impetus?

Its been a while since I posted.  It seems a general kayaking malaise has set in here that appears to infect everyone.  But, last evening we were on the water again.  The event?  Shane took delivery of his new Nordkapp. 

Its a striking beauty with orange hull and black deck.

So, the focus was on Shane.  The conditions were ideal to put her thru her paces.  No wind but huge swell that ...

... piled up in mountainous waves as it reached the cliffs.

Dean was the first to roll the dice as he made his way into the space behind the Rock of Ages.  Massive water swept in unexpected behind him and a bunch of furious ninja paddle strokes got him out of danger.

As the "official" new boat photographer I followed Shane along the shore, both of us enjoying the action.

What goes in has to come out and so significant clapotis accompanied each crashing wave.

Shane joins the Nordkapp crew.  Here on the other side of Dean in his North Cape Jenny.  There's four of us now!

Shane put the word out that he had taken delivery and invited the regular crew to join him on his first paddle in the new kayak.  There were ...

... 10 of us to toast the new arrival thanks to Hazen who brought along a bottle of bubbly.  We rafted up short of Topsail Beach because Shane wasn't putting any scratches on her the first night by landing on the beach.

I welcome the arrival not only for the joy it brought Shane but also for what it might portend.  I'm hoping its going to make Shane a driving force to spur us on to more regular paddling.  Sometimes it only takes one to ignite the flame that seems to have been greatly diminished of late.