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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011: Post 31 – Another night in Pinchgut

A few weeks ago I did an overnight camping trip at Pinchgut (see 2011: Post 25) with Hazen, Charlie, Julie and Clyde.  This past weekend Tony and Dennis joined me for another night at Pinchgut.  We were supposed to have a couple others guys on this trip, but they had to cancel…

The route this weekend was the same as the one before.  I have not seen a lot of wildlife during the trips I have made to this location, but this particular trip we seen two moose, an otter, a seal, an eagle, a squirrel, and what was thought to be a porpoise…

Some pictures to share…

On the way to our campsite

As soon as we got to the campsite we immediately set about putting up the tents and hanging out the laundry...

With camp in order it was time to tend to supper. We found a piece of an old brick chimney, filled it with BBQ charcoal and set about cooking up some surf and turf (mussels and steak)

Dennis slicing up onions... all smiles, no crying...

Good looking grill there guys...

 If the flies get a bit too much just add some bows to the fire to smoke them away...

Sometimes you can drive away the larger pests from the fire as well....
just kidding Dennis, it was really great to have you with us...

After supper was taken care of we lit up our beach-side campfire..  I took a bunch of pictures of our fire, but the flames in these two are interesting.... 

It rained pretty hard during the night but we had turned into our tents before it started and with the exception of some leaking tents during the night we all managed to make it through the night.  We awoke to a damp, but windless morning, had breakfast, loaded up the kayaks and got back on the water.

We crossed over to John's Pond in very calm conditions and then headed up the shore....

Dennis forgot his camera and so used mine to take a few pics,
this is one of them

We had lunch at Half Island and then made our way to Rocky River....

Dennis up the river...

Tony up the river...

We anticipated the falls would be flowing nicely with the amount of rain that fell the night before.  We were not disappointed...

Dennis at Rocky River Falls

Tony sitting in the froth below the falls

This is the third time I have done this camping trip, and the trip is short enough that we have done it as a day paddle several times as well.  There is always something new to experience, or new people to share the experience of this trip with. 

Thanks Tony and Dennis for another great overnight camping trip. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

2011: Post 30 – Bell island: My first solo crossing

Today was a nice warm sunny day.  It was about 22 C.   I decided I would rather be on the water than mow my lawn.  I have my priorities set… but some may say I’ve set them in reverse order… no matter.

I checked the weather channel at lunch time; winds were W 22, gusting to 31, and were supposed to drop to SW 15 in the evening…  it would be a good afternoon to get on the water for a couple hours.  I posted to the newsgroup in case anybody was around that might join me, got my gear together, and headed to St. Philips.

Nobody showed.  I loaded up my kayak, hit the water, and paddled out into the cove.  Will I turn right to Portugal Cove or turn left to Topsail Beach?  I looked across to Bell Island and a line from the movie “The Edge” came to mind, spoken by Anthony Hopkins...  “What one man can do, another can do!” 

I knew other paddlers have paddled the 5 km crossing solo before.  I had checked the weather on television and on the internet before I left.  There were half a dozen motor boats in the tickle fishing for cod.  Both ferries were running from Portugal Cove to Bell Island.  I decided the weather was good and with these boats around the risks were lowered.  I turned on my VHF to channel 16 and pointed my bow for Dominion Pier.

Fishing for Cod just outside St. Philips
Bell Island, a short five kilometer crossing

There was not anything out of the ordinary during the crossing, except that I passed alongside a feather from a gull somewhere in the middle of the tickle.  The end of it was curled up slightly and the feathers had a permanent separation in them along the quiver.  Don’t know why I noticed that, I suppose it was because it was something to look at during the crossing.  I almost scooped it up as I passed it.

I landed on the beach to the right of Dominion Pier and checked my GPS.  Just a couple minutes slower than the last time I paddled across here with Tony back in May.  That day the water was glassy calm; today there was a gentle swell and wind in opposing directions.  I got out of my kayak to have a little rest for about ten minutes.  I ate a granola bar, and drank about three-quarters of a litre of water before pushing off and heading back. 

The beach at the right side of Dominion Pier

Looking back toward St. Philips

I have a tendency to do open crossings in as little time as I can.  They are not my favourite thing to do when paddling, but I decided I would purposefully paddle at a slower pace back to St. Philips so as to try to enjoy the solitude of being by myself on such a nice summer day.  I have to admit that I did enjoy the paddle back, but I would catch myself increasing my cadence and then remind myself to slow it down. 

Again, there was not anything out of the ordinary during the crossing back to St. Philips, except that I passed another feather somewhere in the middle of the tickle.  It looked to the the same in size and colour as the one I seen en route to Bell Island.  It had the same separation of the feathers and the same curled up end.  I wondered if it was possible that this was the same feather, just sitting there in the middle of the tickle, despite the bit of wind and swell.  Or did all gulls feathers floating on the water look the same to a lone paddler? 

After some thought, while paddling along, I decided that it could be the same feather.  The opposing swell and wind could have been opposite enough to have caused the feather to stay more or less in the same location, and my path of travel over and back could have been off just enough to have crossed paths with this floating feather.  It’s funny what the mind becomes focused on when paddling.  I can still picture that feather floating on the water.  I wish now I had taken a picture of it on the way over and again on the way back to compare.  But no matter, I have convinced myself that it was the same feather…

Just as I was getting to the cove at St. Philips there was a plane that I began to watch coming from the direction of Topsail Beach.  It seemed to be getting lower and lower.  By the time I got my camera out and turned on it had passed St. Philips.  I was startled at how close it was as it zipped past me flying off down the shoreline. I only got this picture as it went on its way.  Seems odd to see a plane fly along the shoreline, so low like that… I wondered what it was all about…

De plane, boss! De plane!

I paddled about a kilometer and a half toward Topsail Beach, decided I was getting hungry, and turned back.  After I got home and got my gear put away we went to Don Cherry’s, took out a couple orders of wings, picked up a case of beer on the way back, and enjoyed the rest of the warm sunshine on the back deck.  Imagine, I am on vacation for two more weeks; it’s a tough life but someone has to live it.

When there are no other paddlers around to take a picture of,
 just simply take one of yourself  (could of smiled a little, I suppose)

St. Philips Marina
It's not always this calm when we paddle out through here...
but what a day it was today...

[I do not advocate anybody paddling alone, ever.... Please, do as I say, not as I do....]

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011: Post 29 – East to Cape Spear

There was a club paddle scheduled today in Conception Harbour.  Normally we would partake in a club paddle; after all we are club members...  But the weatherman said it would be a stupendous day and so Tony and I decided we would paddle from Quidi Vidi to Cape Spear and we managed to entice Gary to join us as well.

I have been paddling for over three years now and today was the first time I have paddled to the Cape.  A few of the guys did this paddle earlier this year but I was not feeling well and did not go.  Tony and Gary have both paddled this area before.  Today I finally saw what I had missed.

Each year on the first of January KNL club members go to Quidi Vidi and welcome in the New Year by having a little club paddle.  It’s more of a ‘get the kayak wet’ than an actual paddle… sometimes you cannot even get out of the little harbour due to wave and swell.  I have attended this ritual the last two consecutive New Year’s Day, but have never paddled from this location in the summer.   

We left the sheltered harbor of Quidi Vidi and had no trouble on this day paddling through the narrow entrance.



As we passed Cuckolds Cove I could see the Cabot Tower up on Signal Hill and thought of the times I had been up there looking down onto the water where I now paddled.  It was interesting seeing Cabot Tower and Fort Amherst while sitting in my kayak in the middle of the The Narrows (the entrance to St. John’s Harbour).  

Cabot Tower

Fort Amherst

From my vantage point in The Narrows I could see a lot of the buildings along the harbor front where I have walked and driven many times…

We continued handrailing along the shore into Freshwater Bay where a fellow was in a rowboat.  He began to row away from us as we moved closer into the bay.  I thought I might eventually get close enough to get a picture; nowadays you do not see many people rowing boats anymore.  But this fellow must have been shy of strangers because he kept moving away from us….  Today was the first day of the ‘food fishery’ and maybe he thought we were Kayak Fishery Officers… anyway I never did get my picture.

We kept on paddling the shore up the other side of Freshwater Bay and around Spriggs Point and then down toward Deadman’s Bay.  There was a whale off to our left and Tony and Gary veered toward it, trying for a good picture, no doubt.  I kept on handrailing the shore and stopped to talk to a family in a motorized boat while the guys chased the whale.  They had not caught any fish but were very interested to see kayakers. 

The mother was concerned about the stability of these 'little' kayaks and what happens if they tipped.  I assured her it was a stable craft and did a few braces to show her how easy it was to stay upright.  The two young boys asked about what happens if I tipped over so I did a roll to show them what we do if they tipped over.  They were quite pleased with that.  Maybe I squashed some fears the mother had about these kayaks and maybe one day those two little boys will have their own and join our club…    

Tony and Gary caught up and we continued on and came to a cave that was big enough for the three of us.

In the bottom of Deadman’s Bay there was a waterfall.  We decided we would have lunch there and we cooled off in the fresh water before eating.

Gary passing the falls

Very refreshing on a warm, sunny day

After lunch we continued along the shore into Blackhead Bay.  There wasn’t much to see there but someone had a horse that looked to be a good size from where we were sitting.  We carried on and then finally, as we passed Hole in the Head, Murphy’s Gulch, and into Cape Bay I was able to get a good look at Cape Spear from the seat of my kayak.  

Gary getting a look at Cape Spear from Cape Bay side 

We rounded the cape for good measure, hung around for a while, looking at the tourists and sightseers who were looking at us, and then we headed back to Quidi Vidi.  

Watching eyes at Cape Spear...
I always say that kayaking is a spectator sport,
but am I glad I stopped being one of the spectators...
The guys at Cape Spear….


What a great day.  What a great paddle.  Thanks guys.

[Don't forget to check out Tony's pics of this paddle on his blog, titled In search of Bjarni Herjolfsson]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011: Post 28 – Crisis averted!

The last time I was immersed into the water I felt wetness in the crotch of my Kokatat GMER drysuit.  Okay, you’re probably thinking what I thought… “Gee, did I wet myself?”  I am getting older but haven’t lost control of my bladder facilities just yet.  I just figured the zipper wasn’t completely closed and some water got in…

On Monday past I made plans to join Tony on Topsail Pond the next day for his regular Tuesday pond practice.  I decided to check out my drysuit to be sure.  I filled up the laundry tub, made sure the zipper was closed, put my hand inside the suit and held the crotch area down in the water.  In very little time I could see drops of water on the inside of the suit and before long my hand was actually wet.  With some further investigation I found delamination on both sides, just below the relief zipper!

The realization of an actual leak in my drysuit was a little nightmarish…. This time of year I generally have my drysuit on twice a week; once during our Thursday evening practice and then once when we paddle on the weekend...  and sometimes I’ll get in a third time on the water during the week.  But on Tuesday I was starting my vacation and hoped to get on the water 3 or 4 times a week, weather permitting, for the next couple weeks.

Okay.  Now what?  I’ll have to invoke plan ‘Last Resort.’ I will have to use my wetsuit until the drysuit gets fixed.  On Tuesday morning I brought the suit down to The Outfitters for Jon for have a look at.  This was a warranty issue and he would send the suit back to Kokatat for me.  This is service, and the reason I bought my suit from the outfitters in the first place.

“How long will I be without the suit?” I asked Jon.

“Four to six weeks” was the reply. The nightmare lengthened.  First day of vacation and I was without my drysuit.  At home I began contemplating just buying another drysuit and told my wife what I was thinking.  Her response was simply “well you paddle enough that you should probably have two drysuits”… this is from a woman who has not paddled, and will not ever paddle!  

I dug out my wetsuit and off I went to Topsail Pond to meet Tony.  It was an overcast day, the thermometer on the car read 22 C, and the pond water had a refreshing coolness to it.  I did a roll, and felt the coolness of the water trickling down my back and chest.  I had not used my wetsuit in 28 months since buying my drysuit.  I did maybe a half-dozen rolls, became thoroughly wet in the couple hours we were there, and did not like it at all.  I peeled the wetsuit off after our practice and went home.

Tony at Topsail Pond

Tony cranking off one of many rolls on Topsail Pond

I began thinking.  Yes, I can get along the next four to six weeks with my wetsuit….  Perhaps I have become spoiled with the comfort my drysuit provides, but you know, wet is wet, even if the water is not cold.  During our July 14th practice at St. Philips the air temperature was 7 C, it was raining and there was a bit of wind.  I was wearing my HH heavy top and bottom polypro under my drysuit, and my neoprene hood and gloves. My hands became quite chilled; I can imagine being out there in just a wetsuit and a jacket on that evening! 

I do not wait for fair weather days to get on the water.  We practice in whatever the weather happens to be Thursdays and we paddle in whatever the weather happens to be on weekends, unless the winds are too high that the risk is too much, but rain and cold does not keep us on shore… When we paddle we will do it waves and play in some surf, we will seek it if we can find it even on calm days.  There is always the potential of capsizing, having to roll or maybe swim; we have had 3 swimmers in the last six and a half months!

These thoughts and more went through my mind during Tuesday evening.  After supper I e-mailed Jon at The Outfitters to see if they had a suit there in my size, same colour and make as mine. I did not hear from him.  On Wednesday afternoon I called.  The fellow I talked to said they did not have one in the same colour and size.  I went down on Thursday morning to poke around to see what else they had there… maybe a different brand or model? 

Jon was there and I asked him if they had one the same as the one I had brought down the day before.  He poked around and produced the same Kokatat GMER drysuit as mine, but in a red, not mango like my other one, my preferred colour.  I thought to myself “well, it might not match my mango Kokatat hat” but I have never been known for my good fashion sense.  Done deal!  Maybe because I am a repeat customer, maybe he felt my plight, probably both reasons, but he took a few dollars off the cost for me…

Crisis averted.

The last couple days have been troubling for me without my drysuit.  But now I am a happy paddler once again.  Currently the weather forcast for the evening is calling for SW 30 km winds gusting to 60 km, but the showers are supposed to end this afternoon.  With a wetsuit I would still go but would not get out of my kayak, maybe only do a few rolls, if any.  I would just paddle around and watch others playing in the water.  But with the new drysuit I am now looking forward to tonight’s Thursday practice....

I will let you know in a few weeks what happens with the suit that has gone back to Kokatat…

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011: Post 27 - My new Greenland sister paddles

A while ago I posted a picture of my newest paddles that I started earlier this spring. Here they are again... one was carved and the other was waiting to be...

I had finished carving out the second since and they have been waiting patiently for me to sand them and apply the tung oil finish....

On Friday a friend came to borrow one of my paddles for the week. I had made three last spring and had re-shaped and sanded one of them earlier this spring to thin out the blades and to take weight off of it.  I decided to finish it off so I could give it a test on the next days paddle (see previous post).

After our paddle yesterday Clyde asked if I had any spare ones, he wants to give the GP another try.  I do have a couple solid spruce ones (my second and third paddle) but one is heavier and the other has less shoulder, and I do not find they paddle as well as my cedar/spruce laminated ones.  If I am going to loan one to someone I would prefer they use a better, lighter one so as to get a good experience... okay, I admit it, Sean has recruited me and together our goal is to convert all euro-bladed paddlers to using the Greenland paddle....  Sorry, Sean, but the truth has to come out...

So after I got my gear put away I decided it was time to sand down the two newest ones and get them finished off...

So here are the newest GP sisters to add to my collection.

Meet paddle #7 and #8
(still need a couple more coats of tung oil finsih)

Here is a shot of all my creations (except the loaned out one) since converting to the Greenland paddle in March of 2010...

Starting from the right side... The unfinished one is the very first one I tried to made.  I used a piece of 2x6 spruce and, as you can see it twisted and bowed; it looks like a propeller!  The next two are made from a well-grained piece of 2x10 spruce (at a cost of under 10 bucks).  I used them for a little while until Neil held a GP making workshop during which I made three spruce/cedar laminated ones for about 80 dollars in wood and glue.  These are the forth and fifth ones in the picture and the third of the three is the one I loaned out.  The last two are my newest ones.

Here are a couple shots of my first GP endevour showing the bow and twist - anyone have a single prop airplane?  I have a propeller for you...

 I decided not to epoxy the ends of my paddles.  Although I do not try to abuse them, my intention is is to use them.  They are wood and inexpensive to make (about 30 bucks in wood and glue for a laminated one) so I will just use them and resand and refinish as required. 

They do get chewed up after a while...

these are the solid spruce ones with limited use...

The chewed up one in the center is the one I mainly use.
This is what the ends look like after more than a full year of good use 

The beauty of a wood GP that I make myself is that I can reshape and refinish them if they become worn too much.  I can cut about a 1/4 inch off the ends when I feel they have been worn down too much and could even fill in any gouges with wood filler. Then refinish and get a lot more use out of them.  If they become too short for my liking I can just refinish and reshape them and give them to someone else who would use a smaller paddle. 

GP forever, man!!! Sorry, that isn't politically correct....

GP forever, people!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

2011: Post 26 – Looking for whales…

The plan today was to look for whales.  We did not have a paddle plan… where to put in, where to have lunch, or how far we would paddle…. But seven of us met at the Foodland in Bay Bulls where we decided we would put in at Mobile and see if we could find some whales.  But none were to be seen today. 

But we did have a fun paddle.  It was about 16 C, mostly foggy during the day, but with moments of sunshine that were greatly appreciated.  There was increasing swell as we paddled to Tors Cove; deciding to paddle around Fox island as it looked a bit risky to go through The Gut.  

We regrouped after paddling around Fox Island and decided, since it wasn't quite lunch time yet, to paddle over to Ship Island. We paddled into the fog the short distance (about 1.5 km) by compass to a cove on the inside of Ship Island where we had lunch, hoping the fog would lift by the time we got back on the water.

After lunch we decided to head back across the cove, again by compass as the fog was too thick to see the land only about 3/4 km away, and then we continued hand-railing the shore toward Bauline South.  After some time we decided we had gone far enough and sat in the swell for a few minutes, then turned around and headed back.  

I enjoyed the paddle, the company, the swell, the waves crashing on the shore, and the events of the day...  I cannot say that I entirely enjoyed paddling in the fog; I prefer to have a visual point of reference.  But when you get a chance to get on the water with good paddling friends you paddle in whatever Mother Nature gives you for the day… 

Here are a few pictures to share….

The put-in







Lunch on Ship Island

Clyde and Neville



Tony and Gary

Sean and Neville

Clyde and Tony

Thanks to Tobias, Sean, Gary, Clyde, Tony R., and mostly to Neville for a memorable day...