Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 paddles of 2015 - #1

June 16th, 6:00 am: My brother-in-law Harry speaking to his brother Henry on their way to work looking out through Pacquet at the sea state:

"I hope Tony is not going today"

June 16th, 8:30 am: I drove with my sister from Woodstock, White Bay to Mings Bight, kayak on the beach ready for a paddle around the coast back to Woodstock.

There was a light breeze blowing out the Bight.  It looked good.  Winds were forecasted to pick up around noon and I hoped to beat them getting off the water before they struck.

At Pines Islet near Grapping Point and open water a swell was running in from the northeast.  No problem.

Four kilometers on I rounded Cape Hat very pleased to see this huge iceberg.  The swell seemed bigger along the exposed coast as I swung SE past the Cape and I detected an increase in the wind.

Rounding Cape Corbin I spotted this berg in Handy Harbour.  Whoo-ho, two unexpected bergs in one day.  I sized up the situation and decided I best pale to the left between the berg and Bois Island as there was more room to pass.

Passing by the berg water from the swell was washing over the top.  I spotted a tunnel and though it would make an interesting picture so I took the camera out and as I raised it to snap the shot I noticed the top slowly tipping in my direction.  Shit!  I stowed the camera quickly, did a powerful sweep stroke to get perpendicular and paddled away as fast as I could.  Behind I heard cracks of thunder and glancing over my shoulder big chunks were breaking off sending a wall of water my way.  As it caught up to me the stern rose and I surfed faster away.  Then big chunks of ice started to spatter around me and luckily I didn't get hit.

I felt I had kept a safe distance but, phew, that sent a rush of adrenaline coursing through my body.

Leaving Handy Harbour where it was fairly protected I rounded Cape St. Martin and I knew I was in for a slog.  The wind had picked up considerably and now I felt the full force of it.  Combined with the swell it was a concern.  But, I was out there and so it had to be dealt with.  I dug in looking down the coast were everything looked the same.  I couldn't see the entrance to Pacquet Harbour which would have given me an idea of how long this was going to take.

I kept paddling looking for the entrance and eventually I saw the rocks (picture taken the previous day) off of Pelee Point at the entrance to Pacquet.  My sister was there waving.  I felt relieved and caught sight of ...

... the houses through the entrance.  Inside the entrance I landed in the bouldery Devils Cove.  Four hours straight in the boat without a drink or anything to eat.  I still had three kilometers of hard paddling into southwest Arm but I had the end in sight.

It was an experience not the least of it was because I was by myself.  Not far from the shore I paddled, several years ago two Americans were blown off shore by the wind and one did not survive.  I knew I had the skill and stamina to deal with the situation but they did enter my mind.

Shortly afterwards I asked myself if I would have gone ahead with the paddle had I known the winds would arrive early.  The answer was "Yes".  Now, in the clear light of day, probably not.

Nevertheless, I learned a lot about myself on the paddle; I kept it all together and didn't panic.  That's why this was my most memorable paddle for the year and therefore my #1.

When Harry came home that evening he asked me if I went.  Yes, I said.  All he did was raise his eyebrows.

Here's the original post.  Some different pics, some I reused for this post.