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

Monday, August 22, 2016

2016: Post 22 – Is there another way to Garden Cove?

Derek sent out an e-mail last week to see if there was any interest in a one night camping trip on the weekend.  Everyone on the list were busy with other things, or just weren't interested.. except for Clyde and myself.  

Clyde picked me up Saturday morning and we met Derek at the TCH Irving and off we went, stopping at Goobies to pick up a couple things, and then carrying on.  We had decided to camp at Gulch Pond.

Clyde and I were in the lead car and we were having a grand chat about this and that.  I was looking at the Poplar trees and remarked how I liked them, but Clyde preferred Birch trees...  We noticed that Derek was no longer following behind us and  we surmised he must of stopped to answer a phone call.  Clyde slowed down but we carried on down the road.  Still chatting away, we passed Swift Current, Kilmory Resort, and Piper's Hole River...

Derek had not been to Garden Cove (the put-in location) before and he had still not caught up to us, so Clyde pulled over to wait for him... wouldn't want Derek to get lost on his first trip to Gulch Pond.

Next thing we knew Derek came up along side of us and asked "is there another way to Garden Cove because you guys passed a sign back there that said Garden Cove"?  Well now, Clyde and I have both been to Garden Cove three of four times before, but we were so engrossed in our conversation and admiring the trees and such that we didn't even see the sign to turn off to Garden Cove, or clue in to the fact that we had passed Swift Current, Kilmory Resort, and even Piper's Hole River!!  Derek wondered how far we'd actually would of gone if he we had not pulled over to wait for him...  Clyde said we would have figured it out when we got to Davis Cove... we had such a good laugh at ourselves...

We finally arrived in Garden Cove and loaded up the kayaks, got on the water, headed toward Bloody Point, and turned in to the inside channel...

The tide was ebbing and there was no wind, so the paddling was easy and we maintained a good speed.  When we arrived at Rattling Brook there wasn't a lot of water flowing over the little falls but there was plenty to cool off under...

We paddled on.  

I had not been in Jenny in two weeks and somewhere along the way she said "let's go for a little paddle..."  So I let her go and didn't bother to look back, knowing Derek and Clyde would know I was in a paddling mood.  I rounded the little headland abreast of Shag Rock and thought to pull up on the beach just around the corner, but then decided to carry on to La Plante Cove.

When I arrived at La Plante Cove I stopped to wait for the guys and to change my batteries in my GPS.  I noticed the moving average speed on my GPS and was impressed at the speed despite not having to work hard to achieve it... The ebbing tide really was having a positive impact.

I floated and waited for a while, and then I paddled away from shore to see where the guys were...  They had stopped at the beach that I had passed and I guessed they were having a late lunch...  I thought about paddling back to join them but instead just pulled up on a little beach near me and waited.  When they came along we carried on down to Gulch Head and on to the entrance to Gulch Pond.

As expected, with the falling tide the current was flowing out of the salt water pond...

The current was too much to paddle against and so we walked the kayaks up along the shore.

The first order of business  was to put up our tents.  I had brought my tent and my hammock.  The ground was quite dry and I decided I didn't want to do any brush clearing and so I pitched up my tent between Clyde and Derek.

It was somewhere between 4 and 4:30 pm by now and Derek declared it was time for a beer.  He kindly gave me one of his and the three of us sat in the warm sunshine and enjoyed Happy Hour.   Then Clyde gave me one of his beer and we all had another.  I don't drink much beer, but I have to say I really enjoyed those couple of beer, sitting in the sunshine, chatting away with these guys... 


Then it was time to have a bit of supper.

We cleared up and then gathered up some firewood and got the evening fire started...

... and then we walked over to have a look at the current that was now running into Gulch Pond.

Derek decided to be Chief Fire Marshall for the evening and he kept a good blaze going...

When the majority of the wood had been burned and there was mostly coals left, Clyde pulled out some Jiffy Pop and set to work, determined to provide an evening snack.  Well, we didn't get our snack, but we had one hell of a good time watching Clyde do his best.

Let's just say I've never seen Neville or Shane, or even Hazen, set fire to Jiffy Pop!!!  Lord I wish I had a video of the incident.... but here's a picture of the charred remains....

Clyde decided to try to burn the evidence but I got a picture of that too....

We sat around the glowing coals, feeding bits of wood that was around.  Then we all had a real good laugh about how Clyde and I not only missed the turn off to Garden Cove, but drove through Swift Current, and past Kilmory Resort and even Piper's Hole River and still hadn't clued in that we had driven to far until Derek pulled up and asked if there was another way to Garden Cove... Derek was laughing so hard he said his stomach was hurting, which made us laugh even more... Good grief, that was funny!!! 

I am still laughing at the whole thing as I sit here trying to finish this blog entry.  That's the kind of thing we will remember years from now.  We'll be on a beach somewhere around a campfire, the three of us with other people too, and one of us will tell the story about how Clyde and I missed the turn off and just kept on going.... Yep.  Good stuff that is.

We checked the time... almost midnight.  We headed for our tents.

The next morning we got up to a heavy dew.  It was overcast as we ate our breakfast, but then the sky cleared and the sun came out before we left the beach.

The tide was flooding as we made our way back up the channel, and we had a bit of wind behind us.  We noticed three kayakers a little way behind us and wondered who it was. We had paddled almost half way back and so we pulled up on a beach for a rest.  The three kayakers caught up.  One of the them (yellow kayak) had done a trip with us last year, but I did not know the other two.  They had paddled down in the area on Friday, spent a couple nights on Barhaven Island, and were on their way back to Garden Cove. 

The three campers carried on after we had a little chat and then we got back on the water after a while as well.  We watched them handrail along the shoreline, but we opted to paddle out in the channel, taking advantage of the wind in our back and the flooding tide to help us make faster work of the paddle back to the cars.

As we drove away from Garden Cove, Clyde joked that we had better watch for the turn off back to the Trans Canada... Derek was ahead of us this time and so it wasn't likely that he would be coming along to tell us we were going the wrong way... 

What a fun trip this was.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

2016: Post 21 – Culmination of eight years of paddling

In 2013 I did the Level 2 Sea Kayaking course... click here for the first part of that course and here for the second part.  Last year I signed up to do the Level 3 Sea Kayaking course but there wasn't enough interest and it did not go ahead.

Earlier this year the Level 4 Sea Kayaking course was offered by the Newfoundland Kayak Company, and for anyone not having the required Level 3 certification there would be a one day assessment offered (see the end of this post for that entry) and, if passed, the candidates could partake in the Level 4 course planned to take place in August.  

Five of us did the assessment, passed it and, armed with the required Level 3 pre-requisite, along with a sixth person who already had her Level 3 certification, we arrived in Burgeo, NL on August 1.

Day 1

I guess the six of us were enthusiastic to get going because we all had our kayaks loaded on the slipway at Aaron's Arm Wharf before the instructors showed up.

Before long the instructors (Richard, Dave, and Jeff) arrived and their kayaks were soon loaded.  We had a little pow-wow on the slipway and then off we went.  

This five day course had officially started.

Under clear skies, we paddled the short distance to Cornelius Island.  We had the use of a cabin there for the week, and it would serve as our base camp.

The owner of the cabin, Derrick, took us on a little tour of the island and then left us to get down to our course.  One of the first lectures we had was on how to make coffee... Richard had devised a new system in which the coffee peculator, a pot, and two stoves could be used together to make the coffee making process more efficient. 

Each day we took turns supplying the food for meals, but we each helped in some way in the actual preparation. On the first day Neville made Best in the West Beans.  He grossly overestimated the amount required and ended up with two pots of beans.  The beans were very good for supper, and even better with Ron's breakfast the next morning. 

In the evening we all congregated in the cabin and went over some of the pre-course work that we had to complete prior to the start of the week.  Also, after much discussion and weather consultation, we decided we would do our two day expedition trip starting the next morning.

Day 2

Tuesday morning found Ron cracking a couple dozen eggs... 

Dishes were cleaned up and the kayaks were packed up and off we went on our two-day excursion...

Along the way we each took turns leading the group, watching our marine charts, piloting along through some of the many islands in the area.  Between Rencontre and Baggs Islands we were asked to check to make sure our towlines were in proper working order.  We teamed up into pairs and took turns doing a short tow, capsizing, releasing the towline, and then rolling up.  

We carried on, making our way through the passage between Braggs and Vanils Islands, and pulled up on a beach where Jenn provided soft taco's for lunch.  After lunch we paddled around the southern end of Cuttail Island, the north end of Boars Island, and then carried on to Aldridge Head.

We began to cross over to Bay de Loup Point and shortly afterward someone yelled "swimmer!!!"  Jeff had ended up in the water.  The others went to his rescue and I decided there were plenty of cooks around the pot so I had a little chat to Richard while Jeff was being put back into his kayak.  

It seemed to be taking a while to get things straightened up back there, but when things were, I noticed Jeff was being towed, with Jenn supporting his kayak.  When they caught up they filled me in... Jeff had managed to dislocate his shoulder when he capsized!!!

It was a good thing we had checked that our towlines were in good working order before lunch, and even a better thing that Jenn is a nurse.  Unlucky though was the fact that our VHF's were not working so we couldn't radio for help.  All we could do was to carry on and tow Jeff to our pre-determined camp site at Red Island.

As we rounded Western Point, Jeff miraculously had a full recovery from his injury!!  Towlines were put away and then we had a discussion of the event.  From then it was a short paddle up Northwest Arm to our campsite on the north end of Red Island.

I had been looking at my chart and I just had a feeling as I rounded the north end of Red Island the scenery would be impressive.  So I picked up my pace a little and got ahead of the others.  I took a picture of the scene before me, our campsite in the distance...

The tents and our community tarp went up...

... and then Ron produced some pork chops for supper that had been marinating for a couple days.  Man, oh man, were they delicious!!!

Dishes were cleaned up and we gathered under the tarp and continued going through the pre-course homework until it was too dark to see, and then we simply enjoyed the evening fire and had a few laughs. At this time it did not feel like we were students and instructors... we were just a bunch of buddies camping and having a good time.

Eventually we all wandered away from the fire and to our tents.

Day 3

For the third day in a row we woke to sunshine and no wind to speak of.  Hazen got to work on breakfast... 

We packed up the kayaks and got on the water.  Today we would paddle back to our base camp on Cornelius Island.  We paddled out of Northeast Arm and turned our bows east.

We had only paddled as far as Tom Rock Head, and spent some time there practicing rescues whereby the paddler was separated from his kayak and only one of us had to retrieve both kayak and paddler... 

As we carried on our way Dave wasn't feeling too well.  I don't think he had been drinking enough water.... it had been quite hot the last few days and hydration is quite necessary when paddling.  Rather than just drift around, we decided we would tow him for a while so he could have a rest and drink some water.  The towing practice on the previous day really paid off.  We were much better at it today.

When we got closer to Burgeo Dave was feeling better and felt he could paddle on his own.  It was a warm day and so the towers decided to cool off by capsizing in unison, releasing towlines, and rolling up, feeling quite refreshed. 

We rafted up and had a chat while we put away our towlines.  

It was nearing lunch and I think it was Terry that suggested we paddle to Aldridge's Pond to eat.  After lunch we made our way past Burgeo to Circular Rocks where we practiced dead reckoning navigation, taking bearings to some of the many islands in the area.  Then we made our way back to base camp.

For supper we had Hazen Stir Fry...

Later in the evening Jenn made us an alcoholic beverage, but I cannot remember what she called it.  I think it was part coffee, part hot chocolate, and with a dash of rum... You bit the opposite corners off of a Tim Tam biscuit and then sucked the drink into the biscuit and popped it in your mouth...  it was yummy.

We were having such a good time and a good laugh with the treat and then Richard came over to try one...

I cannot remember if we did any of the pre-course work that evening though, but I'm sure we must have.

Day 4

Another nice morning.  It was my turn to provide breakfast... scrambled eggs on toasted English Muffins, with a babybel cheese in the center.

We cleared up and took the gear we would need for the day, and headed north to Normans's Head.

We did some work in the current, ferrying and rescues, as the tide flowed into Grandy Brook.  Later we took out on a nearby beach and, for the third day in a row, Jenn fed us lunch.  We lounged around in the sun and continued going over our pre-course work while we waited for the tide to ebb.

After a while we donned our helmets and finally, after all week, we got into true Level 4 conditions as the current flowed back out of Grandy Brook and into the ocean.  It was a lot of fun and I didn't even think to take a few pictures.

After the fun in the current we paddled over to a nearby beach and did some work with surf, landing and launching individually, and then landing a simulated injured person through the surf.

Of all the things we did during the week it was the practice of landing an injured person through the surf onto the beach that I really enjoyed.  All the other things we did during the week I have had exposure to prior to doing this course, except for this particular procedure.  I had read about how to do the procedure but this was the first time I had actually practiced it.  I guess this was something new to me so I was quite keen on the whole thing.

We did high and low braces in the surf and after a while we just mucked around.  I think Richard decided to forget he was running a course for a while because he came out and had a bit of fun trying to catch a good surf ride...

It was my turn to supply the supper meal back at camp.  The day at Norman's Head was a long one and luckily I had planned on spaghetti, which doesn't take too long to make.

Later in the evening we had a few drinks and a lot of laughs.  I think it was about 2230 hrs or so and it began to rain so those of us still up went off to our tents.  This was the first rain we had all week. I think it only rained for a couple hours though.  

Day 5

In the morning it was overcast but still a nice day.  Terry cooked up oatmeal and pancakes for our last breakfast of the week...

We cleared up the dishes and then finished going over our pre-course home work.  Then we ran through a couple go/no-go scenarios, and then Terry provided a lunch of Kedgeree.   Later, we each had our one-on-three session with the instructor's to discuss the week and our individual outcomes.

Richard gave each of us a Newfoundland Kayak Company baseball cap for all the hard work we put in during the week.  With the presentation of our caps we were each given a distinction...  Jenn's was for providing the best meals (no one can argue this lady has kayak lunches all figured out).  Ron's was for being the oldest person to have taken the course, and Hazen's was for being the person with the most artificial joints to have done the course.  Neville's was for being the best tower, and Terry's was for having the most interesting helmet.  For the life of me I cannot remember what mine was for... no matter, I have the cap.

We all took to the water for some final instruction on strokes, bracing, draws, and the like, and then Dave took a little video clip of each of us demonstrating them.

At this point the five day course was pretty much over.  All that was left to do was to pack up the gear.... 

... and to do the short paddle back to the slipway in Aaron's Arm.

Final thoughts

What a week we had.  The weather was phenomenal.  Richard said in all the years he has ran courses in Burgeo he had never seen the weather so calm during a course.  

My course-mates were excellent.  I have done lot's of paddling with Ron, Terry, Neville, and Hazen and we are all good 'ol paddling buddies.  I had not paddled with Jenn before though, but she fit right in to our motley crew.  We are gonna have to get her out on some of our paddling excursions... maybe we can talk her into providing the lunches!!

The instructor's were top notch.  The instruction was professional, but delivered in a fun manner.  If you ever get a chance to take courses from these guys your gonna learn some things and have some laughs doing it.

Burgeo.  What a fantastic place to paddle!  I can easily see driving down there in the future and spending a week in the area to paddle, camp, and just do some general exploration. 

So a BIG thanks to Richard Alexander for running the course, Dave Nichols (of Blue Dog Kayaking) who flew from Vancouver to help provide instruction to us, and to Jeff Martin who decided pretty much the day before the course started to come and help out.  

And a BIGGER thanks to Jenn, Ron, Neville, Hazen, and Terry for sharing the experience of the Level 4 Sea Kayaking course with me.  You guys made the week fun and provided a lot of memories over the five days.   

Interesting thing to note... This Level 4 course was the only one ran in all of Canada so far this year, and perhaps will be the only one.  We were lucky to have been part of it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

2016: Post 20d – Tack's Beach - Day 4

During the night we had thunder, lightening, and rain.  By morning the rain had subsided, but it was foggy.  

We went about the morning  routine of breakfast and clean-up, and then proceeded to take down camp and pack up the kayaks.  The fog seemed to clear a little as we went about our business, but then it thickened up again.

Several of us took a bearing straight from Tack's Beach to Davis Cove.  We got on the water and aimed a little off to compensate for the south wind and tide, and we would use Gooseberry and Greens Islands as our midway checkpoint.  

I think for some paddlers it was the first time doing a crossing in fog and they must of had trust in the rest of us that we would not lead them astray because they willingly followed us away from Tack's Beach and into the fogginess of Western Channel.

It is often a difficult task to keep a large group of kayakers together on a crossing.  But we were intent on keeping the group together and I think for the most part we didn't string out too much.  We had our VHF's on and whenever those in front got too far ahead we closed up the gap.  

I watched the time and Gooseberry and Greens Islands came out of the fog just about when they were supposed to, but we were farther north of them than expected.  We were drifting with the wind and flood tide more than anticipated and so we corrected our heading again to compensate.

As we paddled closer to Davis Cove, we could make out Chambers Island, and then the fog cleared up and the sun broke through.  It became a very nice day on the water in Placentia Bay... 

We paddled past Chambers Island and on to Davis Cove... Cathy decided it would be a good time to do some rescue practice with a loaded kayak and talked Terry and Shane into helping out...

We all helped to carry the kayaks up the rock 'beach' and then all that was left to do was to unload them and stow the gear into the cars and the kayaks on the roof racks.  Except for the "great trip b'ys" and "thanks for the invite" and other such conversation this trip was done.  All that was left for us was the drive home, with some of us stopping along the way for coffee.

Big thanks to all those who came along...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

2016: Post 20c – Tack's Beach - Day 3

We were into the full swing of things on the morning of day three.  We woke, had breakfast, cleaned up, and got ready for another paddle.

Today we decided to paddle south from our campsite.  The wind was still blowing from the south and we had no set destination in mind.  We would paddle into the wind, tucking in to coves and behind islands to get a break and see how far we would go.

Just south of Broad Cove we found a little spot where there was some current flowing with the flooding tide.  So we mucked around in the moving water for a while, some of us did a few rolls for good measure, and we continued on our way.

We paddled around Pond Head and into The Grandies.  Some of us elected to paddle across, and others decided to follow the shore a little closer.  We hadn't gone far distance-wise, and I can't remember exactly where, but somewhere in the vicinity of Smiths Cove we found a little cranny on the north side of one of the islands to take out for a stretch.  A couple of the guys were still back in The Grandies and our stop gave them a chance to catch up.

Back on the water we hatched a plan.  There was a stiff wind blowing and so we would round the southern end of King's Island and start our paddle back towards Best's Harbour... not sure if I have mentioned that Tack's Beach is on the west side of Best's Harbour.. well, actually, I believe that technically speaking, Tack's Beach is a community next to Best's Harbour, and we were camping on the isthmus that connects the north and south ends of King's Island... but who really cares as it's a lovely spot to camp and visit anyway....  

As we rounded the end of the island, four of the guys decided to carry on farther south while the rest of us stuck to the plan.  I think they carried on along South Tilt Island and found a spot for lunch; I cannot remember if they made it to Lower Gray Gull Islands or not.  The rest of us had a late lunch we got back to camp.

We paddled in a beam sea to the south end of Long Island and then to the south end of Upper Castle Island.  Along the way, Shane encouraged Cathy to do a roll in the wind and waves...

Now, Cathy has learned to roll, but it's not yet bomb-proof.  I give her a hard time about it (all in fun though) and I tell her she simply does not yet believe in her roll... Anyway, she set up and I was prepared to do a rescue, just in case.  Over she went, and up she came, with Yee-Haws shouted across the waves... But we won't discuss what happened in calm waters at Davis Cove the next day; we will only focus on this particular roll!!  Suffice to say I think she is better at rolling in conditions.

Once we rounded the end of Upper Castle the wind was behind us and we had a push back to Best's Harbour, trying to catch some surf rides along the way....

Back at camp we had lunch and then decided we would walk to the headland on the south side of Best's Harbour.  The wind had picked up since we had gotten off the water and we wanted to see if we could get the weather on VHF.  Also, we would see if we could see the four guys that had carried on by themselves...

We passed a tree that had a bunch of old kettles hanging from it.  No one could guess the reason for this 'artwork' but perhaps the reason was just to get people talking about it.... if that was the reason it worked on us.

Well we did get the weather, and we mulled around for a while...

Then we spotted the wayward kayakers coming in from the perils of the sea.  We knew they were  all okay out there, but the wind had picked up a good bit, and I think we were all a little relieved to see them.

Back at the beach it was chores as usual... prepare supper, clean up, gather up some firewood for the campfire.

I found Shane taking it easy, really enjoying himself on the beach.  

As we did during the last two nights, we enjoyed a good campfire, drinks, and lots of laughs. This would be our last campfire for this trip.

Among the laughter during the evening, I think there was an undertone that people knew that tomorrow we would be leaving Tack's Beach....

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

2016: Post 20b – Tack's Beach - Day 2

I had been awake for a while, laying in my hammock and listening.  I couldn't hear anyone stirring on the beach and decided to make my breakfast of oatmeal and tea.  I ate my oatmeal, kicked off my boots and layed in my hammock while sipping on my tea.  Life was good.

I began to hear people stirring around.  Shane had hung his hammock close to mine (we actually each hung our foot end off the same tree) and he had made extra bacon with his breakfast and passed a couple pieces to me under our tarps.... note to self: hang hammock near Shane on future trips.... mmmm, bacon!!

When I went down to the beach people were eating....

And Neville was doing a little homework for our upcoming Level 4 Sea Kayak course...

We hatched a plan for the day.  We would paddle north, on the west side King's Island.  Off we went... 

... paddling in the serenity of Long Reach.

Along the way we found a little nook to have a break and a snack...

... and checked the map before proceeding.

The plan was to paddle up past North Tilt Island and up around Hollets Islands before crossing over to the east side and heading back south. 

On the way back down we found a nice little spot to take out for lunch; I believe it was on Billy Green Island.

After lunch we got on the water.  The wind had picked up and we had to get down to the business of paddling the six or seven kilometres, until we reached  Redhead Point where we could turn up into the shelter of Best's Harbour and to our camp on Tack's Beach.  I didn't take any more pictures during the paddle.

At camp it was Hazen's turn to supply supper for me.  He had brought porkchops and we cooked over a fire again...

We cleaned up supper dishes and scrounged up some wood for the evening's fire.  Again, like the previous night, we had a few drinks, and lot of laughs.

One by one we called it a night and retreated to our sleeping accommodations...