If you just go for a paddle than you can stop thinking about wanting to go for a paddle.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2017: Post 3 – We have all become complacent!

Recently, at my place of work we had to do three manditory safety courses - WHMIS, office safety, and site safety.  I've done these in the past, but it has been a while.  I am glad I had to re-do these courses... it has got me thinking about our safety as kayakers.

When I paddle I do try to make it a point to take mental notes in terms of my own safety and the safety of others in my group.  [In particular I am discussing gear in this blog post, but non-gear safety needs to be thought about as well, perhaps this will be a future post]. I will watch people getting ready and start to make my notes... Who has a proper and quickly accessible sea kayaking tow rope and spare paddle.  Who has a map, GPS, and compass?  Who is wearing a one piece dry suit, or just pants and jacket, or a wetsuit?  Does everyone have a pump and a whistle?   Are PFD's zipped up?  I'll wonder if people have spare clothes in case they take a swim and get wet (zippers do sometimes get left unzipped) or will they need to use someone else's?  Within the group do we have the proper gear if someone gets hypothermia?

I've noticed complacency in both myself and in my paddling partners on day trips.  Have we gained so much kayaking experience that we no longer need to carry the 'just in case' gear?  I admit on day trips we don't really need a map if we are paddling an area we have paddled 20 times already.  But a tarp can come in real handy if something goes awry and we end up on a beach someplace.

As for my own complacency... Here are a couple examples.  I used to carry my VHF radio on a regular basis, but I only seem to carry it on camping trips now.  I used to carry a ditch-kit that included a little tarp and a fleece sleeping blanket that can be zipped up like a sleeping bag - but these things seem to have found their way out of my kit...  

Here is just one recent example of how complacency could evolve into a situation.... 

On open crossings I will often paddle ahead of my paddle partners to get the crossing over with; I don't like open crossings so much.  During our last paddle we were doing a crossing of only about two kilometres - not a big deal.   The sea state was benign and my own complacency kicked in.  Wanting to get the crossing over with I had started paddling ahead.  As I was paddling I was thinking about tow ropes.  I checked my mental notes and realized that I was in possession of one of the only two sea kayaking tow ropes within my group, and I was paddling away from my partners with this very important piece of sea kayaking gear.  What if something happened back there and someone needed to be towed?  Only one person had the ability to do a proper tow.  Yes, the tow rope could be handed off to someone else, but it would be far easier and better to get a tandem tow going.

We are kayakers.  But we are humans first and therefore subject to the human condition, complacency being one of them.  As we gain more experience and skill in our kayaking ventures it seems we tend to let things slide.  The tow rope we used to take, and have readily accessible, is left at home, in our car, or tucked away in our hatch.  We never had to pull out that tarp for an emergency so it sits on the shelf in our basement now.  We lose our whistle one day and don't make it a point to go and pick one up before the next paddle.  

I believe most of us kayak for its pure enjoyment, and we don't want to always have to be thinking about gear and safety.  But vigilance is the price we have to pay to keep ourselves and our paddling partners safer when we are out there enjoying ourselves.

Personally, I see that I have to try to do better and make the effort to get out of my own complacent behavior.   In her awe inspiring beauty,  we forget that Mother Nature is extremely cold hearted... She couldn't care less if my paddling partners or I freeze or drawn out on the ocean... she will not cradle us and make it all better.  And every time we go for one more paddle we add to the chance that we are gonna get a good sized chunk of the left cheek of our derriere bitten off.  So it just makes sense that we try to be a little better equipped in gear and in skill to deal with situations that might arise in our pursuits of the great outdoors.

We have all become complacent.  We all have to try to be better.  After all, we are all in this thing together.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2017: Post 2 – La Manche by Land and by Sea

La Manche by Land

Yesterday (Saturday), Derek sent me a text to see if I wanted to go for a hike at La Manche.  He picked me up and off we went.  We parked at the trail-head, put on our crampons, donned our packs, and made our way down to the suspension bridge.  

We decided we would cross over the bridge and head towards Bauline East since neither of us had done this section of the trail before.

When we arrived above Doctor's Cove we took a little detour down to have a look at the cove.   We've paddled past here before and it was interesting to get the perspective from the shore.

We carried on toward the community of Bauline East until the trail turned into a gravel road.  We walked a little way down the road and Derek decided to check the map.    We discovered the rest of the trail to Bauline East was on the road and neither of us held  enthusiasm about hiking along a road, and so we turned back.

We crossed back over the bridge and I snapped a shot of the river that flows into The Quarry (this is the name of the cove at La Manche).

We decided we would hike along the trail around the cove until we found a spot in the trees that was sheltered from the wind where we boiled up some water and had a cup of tea with our lunch.

Derek took this pic of me with the suspension bridge in the background...

La Manche by Sea

Shane had sent out an e-mail to see if anyone was interested in a paddle today (Sunday).  There were several places offered, but in the end Shane decided on Tors Cove.  I was car-less again today and I told him I could go if he could pick me up.  We met Tony, Cathy, and Gary in Bay Bulls this morning and then we drove down to Tors Cove.  

We paddled on the outside of Fox Island and then made our way over to Ship Island.  From there we crossed over to Great Island, paddling on the outside.  

We checked out the caves at Great Island...

When we rounded Great Island I was informed we would cross over and go to La Manche.  Good call, I thought to myself... I would have lunch in La Manche for the second day in a row.

When we arrived I paddled into the bottom of the cove to get a picture of the river to compliment the one I had taken from the bridge above on the previous day...

The tide was low so it was easy to take out on the little beach and we had our lunch...

When we got back on the water I snapped a pic of Shane under the suspension bridge.  Roughly twenty-four hours before I was walking over the bridge looking down on the cove where we now sat in our kayaks.

When everyone was back on the water we headed back to Tors Cove.  It was a chilly day on the water and we all went for a welcomed cup of coffee before heading back to town.

It was interesting to have hiked and paddled to La Manche this weekend, and to of had my lunch there both days... interesting in that it was not a planned event to do this weekend... it just happened that way. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017: Post 1 – A new season has began

Last years kayaking season ended yesterday and many paddlers were a little saddened. But then today the new kayaking season for 2017 started... and all the sad paddlers became happy once again...

In celebration of the new season, Tony, Brian and I met at St. Philips this morning for a leisurely paddle up to Topsail Beach.

There was a little bit of wind when we started, but not much so things were pretty tame on the way up to Topsail Beach...

The only action we found was at Topsail Beach where the river was flowing into the salt water...


What wind there was had pretty much dropped out before we got back to St. Philips...

At the cove in St. Philips there we found a little bit of action...


The three of us can now say we have paddled every day so far this kayaking season.  Hopefully we will have lots of nice days like today on the water, and of course a few more challenging days as well.

Happy New Kayak Year to all.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Post 30 – Last post for the year

The 2016 paddling season is now closed. It has been open for 365 days.  I've had a very good paddling year and have added a new activity to compliment my kayaking life..

If you look at the numbers,this year I only managed 44 days on the ocean totaling 736 kilometres, with another 10 days at St. Philips, the pool, river, and pond.  My numbers are down when compared to previous years.  Last year my butt was in my kayak 61 days, totaling 1018 kilometres.  In 2014 I totaled 921 kilometres over 53 days, and 2013 had me at 1190 kilometres in 69 days.  There were another 53 days spread out over 2013, 2014, and 2015 that were spent in the kayak for practice, river, pool or pond days, plus more days while I completed the Safe Kayaking Level 2 course in 2013.  So yeah, compared to other years my numbers are down. 

On the other hand, I got in six kayak camping trips this year; five of them were over-nighters, and one was a four day trip in July.  This is the highest number of kayak camping trips so far in a year since I started kayaking.

I successfully passed the Safe Kayaking Level 3 Assessment that was offered in early July, which allowed me to do the Level 4 course during the first week of August...  We camped for five days in the area of Burgeo, Newfoundland, where the course took place, adding another camping trip to my tally this year.  [If interested, click HERE for my post on that trip.]  

In late 2015 I decided that I just wasn't doing enough walking, and so I took up hiking this past year.  I have found hiking to be a very good compliment to paddling; on days that are too windy for sensible paddling, or if I just feel a need to get out and get my legs moving, I take to the trails.  My first hike this year was on February 27, and my last hike was on December 29.  My hiking tally has come to 292 kilometres over 29 days, which included four overnight camping trips. 

A couple pics of me... 

A hike day

A paddle day

If I add my kayaking days on the ocean and days on the trails together, I have paddled and walked 1028 kilometres over 73 days during the year, and got in 11 camping trips.   But those are just numbers to tally up and do percentages with.  What these numbers really mean to me are many fun days on the water and the trails, and lots of nights around campfires, shared with some good friends.  

Thanks to all those that have paddled and hiked with me this year; we've had some fun trips in 2016.  And I especially want to thank those that picked me up so I could get on some of the paddles, hikes, and camping trips that I would have otherwise missed... I've been car-less on a lot of weekends this past year, and would have missed some really good times if it were not for them. I'd name names but am apt to leave someone out... but they know who they are, and I really appreciate them going out of their way for me.

So that's it then. Another year is in the books.  I hope everyone reading this has had an enjoyable year in their outdoor pursuits.  Be safe out there on the water in 2017, and on the hiking trails too... and do always try to remember that we are all in this thing together when we are out there...

Happy New Year  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

2016: Post 29 – Here in the real world...

Shane sent out an e-mail looking for people to go to St. Philips to play. The forecast for the weekend called for Level 4 + wind from the north and he wanted to get into some more intense conditions.  

Six of us met at the slipway in St. Philips this morning....

Shane and Cathy admitted to me that they were apprehensive about the conditions, especially getting out through the channel.  But all went well and once out into the cove we paddled into the wind and waves for a while.  

A few of the bigger waves were as much as three metres from trough to crest and after a little while we turned around and surfed back into the cove for a little break.

After some more paddling around, Brian and I decided it would be good for Cathy to do a rescue " here in the real world."  I gave Shane my camera to get a few pics, but discovered he had taken a little video of the rescue as well.  Cathy had a bit of trouble getting hold of my kayak and it finally got away from her in the wind...  


She sent Brian to retrieve my kayak while I hung on to her bow.  I was dressed for immersion and the water wasn't as cold a I thought it might be.  While we bobbed in the waves, waiting for my kayak, we had a little discussion about how a rescue 'out here' was not like doing rescues in the pool or on the pond, and that this is where people really need to learn to do rescues... 

Before too long Brian was back with Jenny and once I was safely back in the cockpit we had a little discussion, as usual, about what we might have done better or different...

We paddled some more into the wind and waves, turning around and trying to catch surf rides back into the cove.

I followed Shane and got a couple pics of him rolling in the waves... 

I took a little video to try to capture the sea state...


After a while we figured Cathy should have another go at doing a rescue, but this time Shane was the swimmer.  I think this rescue went smoother.  We had pre-discussed things and decided Shane should flip his kayak upright so it would be easier for Cathy to get a hold of it in the waves...

I was taking a few pics of the rescue and the wind gusted and blew me transverse to the waves.  I picked up my paddle and as I tried to turn myself into the gusty wind I pushed hard on the upside of my paddle and snapped it in two, almost putting myself over in the process!!  I had one piece in my hand and had to retrieve the other as it tried to float away from me.  I got the pieces stowed under the bungees and pulled my spare off my deck.  

By this time a couple hours had passed and the wind has picked up a little more.  We decided it was time to call it a day and we headed back into the marina.  We had to time the entry into the channel as some of the waves were bigger, some actually a little higher than the wharf itself.  

One by one we entered and as I came in I noticed an elderly couple standing on the wharf watching us.  The lady was pointing to each of us, and I could see her mouthing the words... "one, two, three..."  I guess they must of been watching us and she wanted to make sure we all made it back in...

With the kayaks loaded up we all went for coffee and conversation at the nearby restaurant.  I was watching Shane and he couldn't wipe the grin off his face the whole time.  I think the morning's fun just may have changed his life...

It was fun.  It's been a while since we played in the wind... 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2016: Post 28 – RDF in Cape Broyle

Cape Broyle is a fantastic place to paddle but it is a bit of a drive... about 150 kms there and back... and so we don't seem to paddle there as much as places that are closer.

Some of us had paddled in Cape Broyle in June past but not Shane; he had not been there since last year and was itching to get back.  He tried to get it on the roster last weekend but there were no takers.  So he tried again for this weekend. 

The forecast was for rain all day.  No matter.  The wind was to be only 15 km in the morning and then increase to 20 km in the afternoon.  It would be from the east all day, which meant the further out the harbour we went the more interesting things would become.

Yesterday morning I picked up Shane.  We gassed up and then got some breakfast at Tim Horton's and headed to the meeting place in Bay Bulls.  Only Tony showed up and the three of us drove down to Cape Broyle.

The first thing we did was to put on our drysuits... Tony had put his on at home.  We unloaded the kayaks and gear.  Shane and I just geared up near the car and carried the loaded kayaks down to the beach.

It didn't take us too long to get ready and we were heading down the shoreline.

With all the rain we had been having lately we knew the several waterfalls in the area would be flowing quite nicely.  We were not disappointed... 

It was a mausey day... one of those Rain, Drizzle, Fog (RDF) type days.  But we were all smiles and laughter as we paddled along.

The further we paddled away from the bottom of the harbour the more lively the water became.

When we arrived at Church Cove it was time for lunch. Shane brought his chair... I guess he figured he would be tired...

Tony and I made due by sitting on the rocks...

After lunch we got back on the water.  Shane seemed to be pointed back the way we came, and so I simply said "follow Tony," who had his bow pointed to carry on further out the harbour.  We almost always go to visit Cathedral Cave, and often go to North Point (the headland) for a look-see down the coastline.

By this time the easterly wind had picked up and the waves were interesting at the headland.  Some of them were as much as two metres as they neared the shore and some were pretty steep... we were able to run up the face and crash our bows down with a 'thunk' as we came over the crest.  

We hung around at the headland for a while and then had a fun following sea chase us back into the harbour for several kilometers.... Shane wouldn't stop grinning until the water significantly calmed somewhere abreast of Admiral's Cove...



It was a great paddle.  The only issue I see is that it was such a great day that Shane is going to want to keep going back more often.  Well, maybe we will just have to give in... it is a great place to kayak and we really should try to get there a little more often.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2016: Post 27 – Night Paddle

November 14th was the full moon in our area; actually it was a super moon!!  Last night was calling for very low wind and so ten of us met at St. Philips at 6:30 pm for a moonlight paddle.  I think we were on the water by 7 pmish and we paddled up to Topsail Beach. 

Most people brought a few bits of dry wood from home so we could have a little fire on the beach.  I got ready in a bit of a hurry and neglected to grab a few bits of wood I have lying around in my shed...

The ten of us huddled around the fire on the beach and we had a few good laughs.  It's always a fun time when this group gets together for kayaking adventures.  

I took a few pictures during the paddle with hopes to get a few that might turn out, but except for the ones I took near the fire, they were all just mostly darkness... 

Thanks to Tony for organizing this night paddle, and thanks to those who came along to share the experience.