Sunday, October 23, 2016

In a fog

I can't believe its been three weeks since I last paddled.  Unfortunately the weather just hasn't cooperated with hurricane and tropical storm remnants keeping us off the water.  Today was going to blow hard too but the wind was forecasted to drop after noon.

Cathy, Derrick and I took the opportunity and as promised there was no wind.  But there was also almost no visibility.

Cathy was concerned but I reassured her it wasn't an issue.  Handrailing close to shore kept us in touch with the tangible world.

We made out way south cloaked unseen in the fog.

Cathy navigating between rocks.  I told the other two I had checked the radar for rain which was supposed to come in.  I figured on about an hour before it arrived and ...

... sure enough it came in and came down in torrents with the raindrops bouncing up off the water.

Meh, it didn't matter as we were in our drysuits and it was warm.  Actually the rain had a cooling effect which made it all the more comfortable.

We stopped for a break as the rain began to hold up.  Possibly the rain cleared up some of the fog as we could see more of our surroundings.

Back on the water the visibility was better but certainly not crystal clear.  At least clear enough to see fall colours on the hillsides.

We had a hard rain the night before with numerous torrents running off the cliffs.  This was the biggest carrying dirt muddying the black sea waters.

Finally we were back and we could see land 5 kms across the water.

Not everyday is going to be sunny and bright but given the limited opportunities of the last three weeks we made the best of it.  In spite of the fog it was still a most enjoyable day on the water.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Chance Cove return

Where was I before I dosed off?  Oh yes, camped on a beach inside Masters Head with Cathy, Dean, Derek, Gary and Hazen.  The day before we set up the tents and three of us went to check out Stock Cove and the Bull Arm construction site.

We got up in the morning to a beautiful sunny day but where we were camped we were still in shadows early on.  Slowly but surely ...

... the sun began to rise and bathe the campsite in warm sunlight.

The paddle to the campsite from Chance cove was just over 6 kms because we made a crossing of Rantem Harbour.  On the way back the plan was to handrail and take our time ...

... squeezing through narrow openings and ...

... around sea stacks.

We explored every nook and cranny, here where a brook ran out.

Another sea stack!

Dean was up at the crack of dawn and told the late risers that there was a skim of frost on his kayak when he got up.  The change of season and the cooler nights were having an effect on tree leaves as they began turning from green to yellows.  The dogberry trees seemed to be leading the way.

We saw numerous eagles.  At one point in Bull Arm on Saturday we saw three close together.  Usually they cry out and take to wing trying to lead us away from their nest sites.  This eagle didn't move and was the closest I ever got to take a picture.  We thought it might have been injured so we backed off so as not to stress it.

Within sight of Western Head we stopped on this beach to relax for some time.  It was still early and we were in no hurry.

From Western Head its only as short distance back to Chance Cove.  That part of the shoreline is punctuated with numerous ...

... sea stacks, this one being the biggest.  Not a sea stack but and island really.

We hit the water at 10:00 and 12:30 we were back entering Chance Cove.  We doubled the distance of 6.2 km on Saturday, which included a crossing, on Sunday by hugging the shoreline.

It was only a one night camp out but felt longer because we stuffed the day with wonderful paddling, incredible scenery and great company.

Here are the breadcrumbs on a Google Earth screen shot:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Plan the paddle; paddle the plan

After visiting the Dorset Paleoeskimo site at Stock Cove, Cathy, Hazen and I continued our paddle into Bull Arm towards the Hebron GBS (Gravity Based Structure).  The GBS will be positioned in the Hebron oil field of off Newfoundland to exploit that resource.

We kept guessing at what point we'd catch sight of the GBS and finally we did sight it some distance off.

At the entrance to Mosquito Cove where the construction site is, I noticed a sign indicating it was a restricted area.  I thought about it and resolved it didn't apply to small craft like kayaks so I started to paddle across the cove and caught sight of the top sides.  The previous picture was the GBS, this was the actual production module and crew quarters.

The wind was blowing pretty good out of the cove with numerous white caps.  Edging into the wind I got closer and ...

... closer till it almost filled the field of view of the camera.  To say it was massive is an understatement.  The topsides itself is 110 meters high.  I imagine that would be to the top of the derrick.

So far so good, I was either undetected or no one cared about a guy in a kayak.  I was making my way across the cove towards the head there in the distance where I thought it would be close enough to get a decent picture.

I arrived at the point of land to grab a picture.  I dared not tempt fate and go further as I may have been pushing my luck because as you can see ...

... if you click on this to enlarge, I was well within the construction zone marked off on the blue chart.  I edited in the position of the GBS in red.

The GBS is 120 meters tall and 130 meters in diameter at the base.  They started the GBS in drydock and then after they had slip-formed so high that it would float, they towed it into deeper water to continue slip-forming with concrete, topping the base off with the part now sticking out of the water that the topsides will be fitted to.

Bull Arm is the ideal site for this construction as 100 meters off of the coast the water reaches over 500 feet in depth.

Cathy and Hazen didn't follow me across the cove so we met up again as I returned.

The wind continued to blow at our backs for the 9.3 km paddle back to camp which we knocked off at an average speed of 8 kms/hr, arriving back at the campsite where we hoped the others had things in order with wood collected for the evening's campfire.

A shortish paddle of 6.2 kms from Chance Cove to the campsite and a 26.4 paddle to and from Mosquito Cove gave the three of us a respectable 32.6 for the day.  It was the plan I proposed earlier in the week.  I was pleased and appreciated the company of Cathy and Hazen to see the plan completed.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Visiting the Dorset Paleoeskimo in Stock Cove

The plan was to paddle from Chance Cove to a campsite just inside Masters Head, set up camp and then proceed into Bull Arm to investigate an archaeological site at Stock Cove and thence to the construction site for the Hebron GBS.

When we got the tents set up it turned out Dean, Derek and Gary were going to spend the afternoon relaxing in camp.  Cathy, Hazen and myself stuck with the plan and headed around the headland and into Bull Arm.

The clear sky started to cloud over but it was sweet paddling.  Bull Island hovered on the horizon.

Hazen had to stop to rest a shoulder injury sustained out fat biking.  Cathy stayed with him while I continued on to Stock Cove telling them I'd wait there.  Eight kms from Masters Head I spied Stock Cove.

I wasn't sure exactly where the site was in Stock Cove so I just pulled up on the beach and got out to investigate.  I walked up from the beach and ...

... into the woods.  It didn't take long before I spotted a piece of blue tarp poking out of the ground.  A dig had taken place and recovered.  I was in the right place.

The Dorset occupying this site belong to the "Early Palaeo-Eskimo" phase dating from 3800 to 2200 years before the present date.  The site possibly looked much like it does today but many generations of trees have fallen and regrown since they were here.

As I looked out through the trees to the ocean beyond I wondered what was so appealing about this site.  Today its certainly not close to their main source of food, namely seals.  Possibly they came here during the winter for the shelter and access to caribou and other land game?  From this spot I followed a well defined path  that led to ...

... the main excavation site where the current summer digs were exposed.

I walked around to try to get a shot with my kayak in the picture which lay on the beach in the distance.  I wondered if the Dorset had come here in kayaks themselves?  Surely some must have.  I wondered what the site would have looked like with people milling about and shelters and kayaks on the beach.  So much time between them and me.  It made me feel very small in the grand scheme of things.

Nothing lasts forever.  Even this site.  The rise of sea level in the intervening period has changed the site from when it was occupied.  Archaeologists have documented thousands of artifacts that have been washed out and onto the beach.  That raises the point that visitors like myself should not collect or disturb anything on the site.  The Historic Resources Act of the province in fact prohibits it.

A message was propped up which read: "Please do not disturb!  We'll be back next year.  Follow us "Stock Cove Archaeology Project" on Facebook for updates".

There's also a blog that can be checked out plus a number of Google hits for anyone interested in further info.  I'm just scratching the surface here.

I was careful not to disturb anything but I did pick up one artifact from the current period.  Someone had left an opened can of pop standing upright, still with some of its contents.  Some people just have no respect.

There are other locations of Peleo-Eskimo occupation as shown on Heritage Newfoundland website (credits noted in the image):

Soon Cathy and Hazen arrived and we were on our way to check out the Hebron Gravity Based Structure (GBS) deeper in Bull Arm at Mosquito Cove.


I subsequently found a map produced by the Provincial Archaeology office that showed Dorset Paleoeskimo sites in Trinity Bay at and near our campsite.  The red oval on the map is where we camped inside of Masters Head and the red circle is the Stock Cove site.  I had no idea that there were so many numerous sites until I did some research for this blog post.  Here's the map:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Blue sky day in Chance Cove

ll last week I kept an eye on the long range forecast.  I mailed a few people on Monday to propose a kayak camp trip from Chance Cove to Bull Arm.  Cathy, Dean, Derek, Gary and Hazen replied with interest.  The good long range forecast held so on Saturday I went to meet the gang for the convoy out to Chance Cove.  The sun cast the shadow of my car and kayak on the side of the highway which I though was pretty cool.

At Chance Cove we loaded up the kayaks for our one night trip and ...

... hit the water leading out of the cove.

The shore running northeast of Chance Cove is one of the most scenic on the Avalon Peninsula with sea stacks and cliff holes to pass through.

Hazen and the first of a line of sea stacks.



This one was a huge block separated from the mainland by sea.  These sea stacks testify to the fury of the waves that are unleashed against the shore driven by winds out of a northerly direction.


At Western Head we had run out of sea stacks and made a short crossing of Rantem Cove to land at a beach just inside Masters Head.  The plan was to land here and set up our tents and unload our kayaks before extending our day paddle into Bull Arm.

With the tents set up Dean, Derek and Gary decided to call it a day and just relax in camp.  Cathy, Hazen and I ate lunch and headed for Bull Arm.  The object was to visit a Dorset Palaeoeskimo archaeology site at Stock Cove and a little further down the Arm, the construction site for the gravity based structure that will produce oil in the Hebron oil field.