Saturday, June 20, 2015

Gunshots and cannonballs in White Bay

I had a whitewater boat with me and the long boat, the Nordkapp.  After a day of introductory whitewater I drove to Woodstock in White Bay to spend a few days with my sister.  On Tuesday we drove to Mings Bight.  I put the kayak in the water there and she drove home to Woodstock, my destination by water.

Looking down the bight at the bottom of Mings.  The forecast called for SW winds at 9:30 in the 10 - 15 knot range, increasing to 15 - 20 at 12:30  I anticipated getting most of the way round before the wind increased.  The direction of travel I also anticipated would give me protection from the wind.

I had the wind at my back and made rapid progress out of the Bight  As I neared Pines Islet at the mouth of the Bight I could see icebergs off in the distance in the direction of Fleur de Lys.

I passed between Pines Islet and the peninsula where I was surprised by the swell running out of the northeast.

I passed Grapling Point and I was out into the exposed open ocean.  Crossing Grand Cove I caught sight of Cape Hat.  The wind got gusty, the swell was substantial and clapotis rounded off the conditions.  I had my doubts whether I made the right decision but "in for a penny, in for a pound" so I continued.

Around Cape Hat I spotted a small berg floating in the cove but didn't go over to look because ...

... I had bigger fish to fry.  Ahead lay a monster, tabular iceberg.

I was a good safe distance away.  It still filled the field of vision.

I dallied a bit taking in the view for there weren't as many icebergs around this year.  Departing, I turned to take a parting picture and headed for Cape Corbin.

Rounding Cape Corbin I entered Handy Harbour where I found another berg between the land and Bois Island.  As I paddled closer the swell ...

... struck the berg and sent a huge plume of seawater up and over on the left side.

I decided the best option was to pass between the iceberg and Bois Island rather than to the right.  I paddled at what I felt was a safe distance and as I passed I saw a tunnel.  I reached for my camera for a shot and noticed the top starting to come towards me.  "Oh holy crap!".  A good sweep stroke and I paddled like hell to get away.  I heard loud cracks of thunder as the berg rolled.  Catching a look over my shoulder I saw big pieces fall off and a two meter wave coming my way.  I got a nice surf ride.  When the wave passed pieces of ice the size of cannonballs and car batteries fell all around.  Luckily I didn't get hit.

A little rattled I looked back as the commotion calmed, the berg looking nothing like before the roll.  Unfortunately, my composure didn't return in time to consider taking an after shot.

As I came around Cape St. Martin the stronger winds arrived and I was in for a bit of a slog.  The winds increased in strength and got more gusty making me edge into the wind.  A berg in Teakettle Cove caught my attention and then I set my sights on getting to the entrance to Pacquet Harbour.

The previous day I was at Pelee Point at the entrance to Pacquet Harbour.  It was rough but rougher on my paddle day.  Consumed with the need to continue paddling and the thought I needed to get to the entrance before I ran out of gas I thought it wise to paddle a wide berth around.  As I did ...

... I caught sight of the houses of Pacquet.  On that day I spelled relief as "Pacquet".

Just past the entrance to the harbour I got out at the boulder beach at Devils Cove.  After a few minutes short of four hours on the water, without a drink of water or a bite to eat I had to get out of the kayak.  I was too tired to eat but I did guzzle down most of the water I had (foolishly kept in my day hatch).  Ten minutes was all I gave myself before completing the two and a half kilometers to Woodstock.

The wind was really funneling.  Making headway was difficult.  I was looking for respite behind these fishing vessels and as I pounded into the wind I looked at my GPS.  I was making 0.0 kms/hr but eventually made my destination at the bottom of Southwest Arm.

It was a 26 km paddle in big swell and punishing wind, especially the incoming leg.  I wasn't concerned about a skill deficit but it was a test of endurance and determination and a lesson in mental control in challenging conditions paddling solo.  I asked myself if I would have gone had I known the conditions would be worse than forecasted (they were 25 knots gusting to slightly over 30).  The answer came back positive.  It was an excellent experience where I learned a little about myself.


  1. Awesome top 10 list Tony!
    Thanks for sharing ...
    i really enjoyed all of your narrtions and insighs :)
    Happy New Year and the beginning of the top 10 challenge for 2016! So much adventure lies aead! :)

  2. Thanks Cathy an looking forward to many paddles with you in 2016!