Friday, April 30, 2021

Practice revival


In August 2009 Graham O posted a message on the then kayak message board inviting paddlers to practice skills in St. Philips.  He opened it to Paddle Canada level II certified paddlers.  I had no certification, and still don't today, but that wasn't going to stop me.  I went demonstrated a roll and I was in.  There were four of us the first night.

Graham moved and in 2010 I thought the 2009 sessions were so beneficial I thought to continue the practices which did so until 2017.  By then they started to fizzle out as attendance dropped to a few every evening.

In 2020 there were a few session and it looked to have gained new momentum with Sean organizing.  Last evening there were 15 eager newer paddlers and some old hands.

People showed up over time as the early arrivals paddled around the cove at St. Philips knocking the rust off of different paddle strokes and a few rolls.  With everyone on the water various rescues were practiced, here an assisted rescue as Dean scrambles back into his kayak.

Johnny doing a back deck scramble on self rescue.

Sean showing of his sculling brace in his Greenland style Black Pearl.

Cathy jumped into the water to teach newer paddler Kelly how to complete an assisted rescue.

Dean being the rescue subject of an injured paddler doing a scoop rescue with Brian and Florence assisting.

The sea was calm making it an ideal first evening.  Over the summer I hope Thursday evening practices will continue.  The sea state will not always be as calm but that is the point of practice - rescue competence when it is needed and where everyone in the group has a role whether someone takes charge and directs the rescue or completes the rescue.

A fine start and a welcome infusion of newer paddlers bringing vigour, passion and excitement!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Livin' in a fog

Spring is here and after a winter of fatbiking in the snow it was time to get some paddling in.  At home is was pea soup thick fog but at water level the fog wasn't an issue.  Higher up on Bell Island five kilometers away the fog also hung high on the land.

Sailing Point, my favorite channel to paddle through.  The water was pretty calm.

At Beachy Cove I stopped to check out the exposed sheeted dikes.  I was paddling along the fault line of the Topsail fault.  The friction of the rocks moving past each other melted them and injected the molten material into the fissures created in the faulting.

This rocky spire stood out against the grey sky.

As I began to leave the protection of the cliffs to starboard I could see the top of the hill overlooking Portugal Cove was also shrouded in fog.  As I passed through the channel I thought I should name the rocks to port.  The reminded me of one of Kayak Bill's painting.  Henceforth I will call them Kayak Bill.

I had been paddling under the cliffs and free from the easterly wind but when I paddled frther to look into Portugal Cove I was hit with the wind gusting to 40 kms.  I waited for the Bell Island ferry approaching until it crossed in front to grab this picture.

In only my second paddle of the year I felt like it wouldn't take me long to get into paddle shape.  I let the wind blow the bow downwind to return to the put-in.  I was glad I went.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Eve paddle revival

The first Christmas Eve paddle happened in 2009.  There were five of us: Dean, Derrick, Sean, Stan and myself.  As is evident in the picture, it was also a green Christmas year.  Since then they haven't all been green.  Some were of the more ...

... of the wild and wooly kind as in 2012 when Brian's son caught Brian, Sean and myself out for a bounce.  Brian (left) and Sean (right) in the closest and myself barely visible in the distant waves.  We've put these Christmas Eve paddles of in seven of the last 12 years.  A few years weather intervened; obviously, worse than in 2012.  They haven't happened since the bounce in 2017 until this year when Sean go the ball rolling again.

It was a fine turnout.  I counted 16 but I could be mistaken as I didn't do a careful count.  As it turns out three of us from the initial Christmas Eve paddle were on hand again: Derrick, Sean and myself.

We set off towards Portugal Cove under ...

... cheerful sunny blue skies.

Shane in his beautiful Nordkapp.  We missed Dean in his as he recently had a mishap and dislocated his shoulder.  The Nordkapp has such fine lines!


Here's Sean, one of the originals, in his Black Pearl.  Glad to see him back on the water but also disappointed cause I claimed first dibs on his kayak should he decide to sell it *lol*

As we made our way northwards it became evident the swell running in from the northwest began to get bigger.  Some of us stayed a bit off the coast while some flirted with the waves crashing on the rocks beyond ...

... Cathy just past Beachy Cove.

Near Portugal Cove these rocks stand in front of a neat passage but not to be ventured on this day.  The swell rushed in to cover the rocks and when pulled back it dropped three meters.  Here Matt tickles the belly of the beast where in 2014 Dean tempted fate and managed to get through unscathed.

We paddled around and into Portugal Cove to float before heading back to St. Philips under a blinding sun.  Thanks to Sean for reviving the tradition and everyone for coming out, half of whom I had not met before but expect to in 2021.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Finding my sea legs again


Well, I've finally managed to get my ass off the bike and into my kayak.  Sad to say it took three months.  Nevertheless, I'm back and intend to do things with a bit more balance.

Today Brian, Cathy, Gary, Hazen and I took advantage of the December weather to get out for a paddle from St. Philips.  It was a warm day for December with light winds; a perfect day to confirm to myself I still knew how to paddle.

We headed up the shore towards Portugal Cove which I believe is a more scenic and interesting shore to paddle because ...

... there are more passages to paddle through as Brian leads.

Cathy making her way through Sailing Point.


We made a short stop at Beachy Cove.  I went over to check out the sheeted dikes inserted into the rocks on account of heating and melting during movement in the Topsail Fault.

Making our way through the last passage before entering Portugal Cove.

After hanging out in Portugal Cove for a raft-up and chat we headed back to St. Philips, at first under glaring sun reflecting off of the water and mercifully later under overcast skies making it easier to see.

It was a fine first paddle after three months.  I didn't realize how much I missed it.  Next time won't take me so long.  Thanks to the gang for sharing the day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Hummel sets sail

 Somewhere about 55 years ago my friend Louis and I decided we were going to build a raft.  We cut down some trees and pitched the logs down over the 30 meter cliff at Middle Cove Beach and lashed them together.  To our dismay the green sticks provided very little flotation and wisely for our ages, abandoned the project.

Zooming ahead 45 years I had purchased my kayak and started my kayak adventures.  A couple of years ago Louis bought a sailboat to start his aquatic adventures.  Sunday I accompanied him to Conception Harbour to witness the maiden voyage and take some pictures.

While they were getting the boat ready I paddled around close by checking out this abandoned whaling ship.

It was taking some time as would any first time so I went to check out the smell of oil coming from this containment boom.  The smell was pretty strong and maybe coming from one of the other submerged whaling ships that were left here.

Eventually I noticed some movement as the sailboat was backed up down the slipway to taste its first sip of salt water.

The mast was up but the boom still had to be inserted and sails fixed.

And there goes "Hummel" for her maiden voyage, first motoring out to catch the breeze.

Off they go the crew of four.  Makes a pretty sight with the orange mainsail and the start of a love affair with the sea!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Staycation 2020 - Little Bay Islands; Early wrap

On day four of our trip to Little Bay Island and area we had a decision to make.  What was the plan for the day?  One suggestion was to leave the tents up for another day and head west to explore headlands, peninsulas and arms.  It was then mentioned one of our colleagues had informed of a campsite at Haywards Bight near Pilley's Island.  That would give us other options on day five.  It was settled then, we'd pack up and paddle to Copper Island and the peninsula beyond.

We left Copper Island behind and paddled down the peninsula on the west side of Halls Bay until we reached the narrowest point for a crossover to Sunday Cove Island.

Along the way the smallest of trickles caught Brian's attention for a water resupply.  Trying to direct a wavering trickle into the narrow neck of a bottle was a feat of patience repeated a number of times until everyone was satisfied they had enough.

The shore was interesting enough with a few rocks to paddle around and ...

... massive cliffs of sedimentary rocks that have been tilted at about a 45 degree angle.

At Indian Beach we started our 3 km crossing of Halls Bay heading to a beach just northeast of China Head on Sunday Cove Island.  The beach invited us for lunch and as it was approaching 12:30 we accepted, taking our time to take in the view and the marvelous weather.

In time we continued down the southeast side of Sunday Cove Island, rounded the southwest end and proceeded up Sunday Cove Tickle where we faced a bit of a breeze.

The shoreline was a disappointment with its forested slopes falling all the way to the water line.  It was then just a paddle to get to Haywards Bight to check out the proposed campsite.  When we got there it became apparent we had been mislead.  True, we could have camped there in an emergency but it did not appeal due to its low profile, boggy pond and grass that was sure to launch a torrent of flies.  We went further past Charlie's Cove and into Moorey Cove hoping for something, anything.

It was not to be.  The decision was made to go back to Miles Cove where our vehicles were and conclude the trip a day early.  The other guys grabbed a bite to eat and I eventually started to Miles Cove at an easy pace allowing the rest to catch up.

We unloaded the kayaks and scored a fine campsite at an old ballpark.  One day short we had an enjoyable evening but forced to taste test four beers, versus two, on the last night.

The next morning the five of us had a cooked breakfast at Eddy's Restaurant on the Trans Canad Highway.  I drove west to see my sister in White Bay while the other guys drove home.  I was disappointed to have see the trip cut short but the disappointment was short lived with a two day visit to Woodstock in view.  There, under clear dark skies we had a great view of comet Neowise to top off the week.

The trail of 36 kms of breadcrumbs.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Staycation 2020 - Little Bay Islands; Going round

On the third day of our kayak camp trip at Little Bay Island we awoke to another beautiful day with light winds.  We left our tents up and decided on a circumnavigation of the island.  The only question was clockwise or counterclockwise.  Decision made we got our kayaks off of the rocky put-in and ...

... left Suly Ann Cove and headed counterclockwise past Black Head and turning Berry Head entered Southern Harbour ...

... under the bridge connecting houses on Mack's Island to the rest of the community of Little By Islands.

Little Bay Islands was a prosperous community in its day with schooners being built and sailed to the Labrador coast to fish.  As I coasted along the shoreline I noticed the remnants of slipways remaining from the days schooners were built and launched.

The house at Campbell's Point with Ethel Wellon Wiseman's shop on the right.  I stopped to speak to the new owner of the property who told me the shop originally was on the other side of what now was a road and was a two story.  He moved the shop, reduced the height and was using it to store his equipment.  FYI Dawn Rae!

We paddled around the perimeter of the harbour.  Some of us refilled our water containers at the house of a weekend visitor and ...

... departed through Boatswain Tickle.

What had been a nondescript shoreline on the west side began to appeal as we entered Wellman Bight on the northeast.

I believe this is Back Cove.  Its not noted on the topo but seems to me a logical place where I'm told the child Marion was saved from the clutches of the sea.

Paddling on we rounded Venison Point and across Batt Cove to enter North Harbour.  There we noticed a small cabin and approaching Mike Parsons came down to chat with us.  Mike and his wife are the only two people living year round on the now resettled and isolated community.  We had a grand chat and did not impose on his secluded getaway opting to head further down the arm to have lunch on this beach with a great view.

Now Newfoundland is a geological wonderland.  I couldn't pass by this site without having a closer look and snap a picture.  This entire area is composed of submarine dark to light volcanic rocks, parts of the earth's mantle as continents collided starting in the Ordovician Period and unseparated igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.  In laypersons terms, a mishmash!  Here a deposit of breccia is sliced showing an angular and subangular deposit of rocks close to their source.

Leaving North Harbour to continue our circumnavigation.

The gang of five stopped at Burnt Head Cove.  Left to right: Brian, Neville, Clyde, Hazen and myself.

At Western Cove we spotted a lovely meadow with a splash of red.  Landing we figured people lived here because piles of rock and been picked to make vegetable gardens and someone had planted these distinctive red poppies in a home flower garden.  The topo shows a dashed trail which would make a fine day hike from the main community.

Back at our campsite we had the convenience of standing tents and only had supper to cook.  We made a bigger effort to collect firewood for the evening's fire hoping it would keep the flies away.  As the fire burned we sampled and rated another two beers from Quidi Vidi Brewery which was part of our regular nightly schedule.

It was an awesome paddle along a spectacular coastline.  We could not have had better luck with the weather.  We hoped it would hold.

Here you have the breadcrumbs for the day's paddle.