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

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....]


  1. Congrats buddy ... your first solo crossing. Great feeling or wha? I saw that plane flying just above the water but didn't realize you were on the water then. I thought it was a UFO *lol*

    Tony :-)

  2. Great for you Dean! Another milestone. I remember the movie and the quote. It's a good one.