Sunday, May 8, 2022

Baptism by Fire

I haven't paddled much of late.  So, when Shane proposed a paddle I jumped at the chance.  It looked a good day for it; it was sunny and very little wind.  When we left the harbour we got a bit of a surprise.  A significant ...

... wind event was to the east of us and sending significant swell our way that, rebounding off the cliffs made things chaotic with clapotis on top of the swell.

Both Dean and I hadn't done much paddling and both of us were a little uncomfortable requiring close attention to what we were doing.

There were times distant hills disappeared behind the 1.5 meter swell but finally we made our way into Portugal Cove where we got out to stretch our legs.

In the past when we were paddling regularly these conditions were meh!  It will take a few paddles before we're back there but there's nothing like out of the frying pan and into the fire.  Baptism by fire!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Looking at the sea from two sides

Hard to believe but I might be back to some kind of regular paddling; twice inside of two weeks!  Dean mailed the usual suspects and I was the only positive reply.  We met at Long Pond in Conception Bay for a paddle over to and around Kellys Island.

We left the confines of the harbour and began our 3 km crossing to Kellys Island in the distance.

Thirty minutes later we were across and under the imposing 50 meter high cliffs.

 The water was calm between Kelly Island and the mainland and we were taking our time getting a little push from the flood tide.

 As we approached the southwest end of the island we began to notice the waves were bashing pretty well against the cliffs caused by ...

 ... the swell running over a shallow underwater bench.  Given the calm state of the sea before reaching this point, it was a bit of a surprise.  As we rounded and began our paddle north could see waves crashing all up the coast.

We felt it prudent to stay well off the coast as rebounding waves, clapotis, was mixing with the incoming swell.  There was no wind to contend with so it made for a comfortable paddle allowing the boat to sway back and forth under me.  A few times we noticed the crashing waves reached the full 15 meter height of the cliffs on this side.

 As we were well off shore there wasn't much to photograph.  We returned to the point where me made landfall on the crossing over before returning across the bay to Long Pond.  Here, passing to the left of the red buoy; red, right, return!

After stowing our gear we went for a coffee and a catch-up chat.  We agreed we should at least try to get a paddle in every two weeks to mix them in with either our hiking or biking adventures.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Looking for my MoJo

This has the feel of a confession. The last time I paddled was May 30th!  I can't explain it but I've lost my mojo.  I lost my enthusiasm for paddling.  Maybe yesterday's paddle is the start of the way back?  Dean mailed the usual suspects for a paddle out of Conception Harbour.  I considered a bike ride but I hadn't seen Dean in a while so I appreciated the nudge.

There was a breeze blowing from the north barely evident in the harbour but I could see whitecaps in the distance.  It felt good to be back in the kayak.  Before long Dean and Brian and I ...

... were making our way past the houses of the community.

Clear of spectators we were along the rugged cliffs of Gasters Bay.

It didn't take long to recapture the feeling of the kayak under me.  When I got home I checked Stardust's log.  The high point was in 2011 when I had 126 days in the kayak.  That includes pool sessions but in any event, it was an incredible number.

The further north we went the more we felt the breeze.  Looking across the bay towards Salmon Cove Point we could see there was good action as the waves hit the rocks.

Referring again to ship's log, as late as 2016 I still had 76 days in the boat!  In 2017 I was still making entries in the log but bike rides started to creep into the log.  It was the sharp edge of the wedge.

The bike took over and each year from 2018 the kilometers on the bike increased to over 3,000 kms in 2020.  The Nordkapp began to collect dust.

We began feeling the wind more and the waves became steeper.  One more headland I thought and we'd be in Bacon Cove.  We got there but alas there was one more.  This was to be an easy ease-back paddle so we decided we had enough and turned to return with the wind.

At one point Dean was in front of me and I thought about the winter of 2013 when we both paddled every weekend of that winter.  Hard to believe it was almost 9 years ago.

Back in Conception Harbour we checked out one of the whaling boats that were left to find their watery graves.

Taking out and putting our gear away there was talk of a more frequent return to paddling.  Not necessarily to reach the same numbers of earlier days but for a minimum of two days a month.  More between biking days and hiking days would be a bonus.

In closing, I'm not the only one who seems to have lost my mojo but I am lucky to have friends with a mutual desire to spend more time kayaking.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Arr ... be there pirates?

Sunday was a perfect day for a paddle over to Kellys Island.  Its a 3 km crossing from Long Pond were we assembled for the put-in.

Once we were all on the water we paddled out through the pond and made for the exit into Conception Bay.

Thirty minutes later we were along the shore of Kellys Island and making our way in a southerly direction.

As we pulled into one of the few places to take out I noticed someone on the cliffs above with a metal detector.  I don't think the person was going to find Peter Easton's pirate treasure rumoured to be burried on the island.

We got out for a stop and ...

Scaled the steep path to the top of the island where we had a spectacular view of Conception Bay and looked down upon our ...

... matchstick sized kayaks below.

We got under way to complete our circumnavigation of the island.

The rocks of Kellys Island are are fossiliferous shales and sandstones of the Ordovician period.  Here we passed under sandstone beds topped by darker beds of shale.  The change from sandstone to shale is evidence of a sudden change in depositional environment when the sea level rose preciptiously.

The beds strike northeasterly and dip to the northwest.  They disappear under the bay and reappear on Bell Island where the rocks are younger.  The estimated thickness for the sequence of rocks is some 8,000 feet.

The cliffs were just as imposing on the west side as we made our way around.  Once around we sat in our boats for a few minutes before crossing back to ...

... Long Pond where it was red, right, return.

It was a fine day with a great bunch and the promise of warmer weather in the air.

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.