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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017: Post 5 – Still some ice around

On Sunday past a few of us met at St. Philips to do a little paddling with the ice that is still hanging around. 

We spent some time paddling around the ice right in the cove at St. Philips....

Eventually we decided to head to Portugal Cove and see what ice there was to see along the way...

When we arrived at Portugal Cove we were stymied by a little field of ice...

We could have paddled around the ice field to get into the cove but instead decided to float there for a while before heading back to St. Philips...


It was just another short paddle but it was a good to get out with my kayaking buddies again.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

2017: Post 4 – Off the Kayak Wagon!!

I've been on the kayakoholic wagon for just over two months.  The last time I paddled was Feb 12th!!  Every night since then I have been attending meetings trying to get the paddle monkey off my back...

"Hi.  My name is Dean and I am a kayakoholic..."
"Hi Dean!"
"For me, it all started back in June of 2008..." (sniff, sniff, sob)
"It's okay Dean.  You're among friends here.  Take your time."

This morning I put my garbage out and it was quite chilly.  I went out to my shed and got the city-imposed mandatory net to put over the garbage at then end of the driveway.  There was Jenny.  I swear she winked at me.  I avoided eye contact and went back in the house. 

I figured I'd have a cup of tea and find my sweater.  Surf the internet; check my e-mails.  Then the desire began to come over me.  Poor thing; out in the shed half the winter... I knew I should not have glanced at her when I was out there.  Temptress.

I could go for just one little paddle.  Just one won't hurt a bit.

I e-mailed a couple of the guys to let them know I was gonna be at St. Philips in an hour's time if anyone was interested.  Only Terry showed up.  

We had a good bit of pack ice around the last while.  Most of it is gone now, but there were enough remnants of it left around between St. Philips and Portugal Cove to make the paddle enjoyable.

Some pics...

... and a little video clip...


Well, what can I say about this little stumble on my road to kayak sobriety?  I guess I'll start going to meetings again and start all over.  See if it sticks this time.

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...