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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Return of an old friend


The weather hasn't been great the last little while so the paddling has been sporadic at best.  Monday the weather cooperated with cool temperatures but no wind to speak of.  The call went out with six replies from Brian, Cathy, Dean, Gary, Hazen and Shane.  We met at Bay Bulls.


I was happy to have calm conditions for the paddle; I wasn't looking for a workout.  The conditions also suited Dean who banged up his shoulder earlier this year when he got windowshaded and dragged upside down across a cobble beach.  Dean hasn't paddled much since but this day fit the bill.


A drill ship had been moored at the mouth of Bay Bulls for some time.  We've seen this before when West Hercules was here so I thought it was her again.


We, here Cathy, made our way east along the north shore of Bay Bulls.


Dean looks like his shoulder is doing just fine.


The north side of Bay Bulls offers a couple of places to paddle around sea stacks.  They are not places to get caught in with a big swell running but on this day ...


... it was a piece of cake.  Bran was the first to disappear and emerge out the other side.


Under clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine.


The second opportunity to check out the space behind the sea stacks towering above our heads.


Brian!


As we reached North Head at the entrance to Bay Bulls I asked if we'd paddle a short distance north up the coast to Freshwater Cove.  So, that's what we did.  Here Hazen paddles under the North Head lighthouse.


Its rained a lot lately supplying this waterfall pouring into Freshwater Cove.


We hung out in the cove for a while and then exited to return to Bay Bulls where we ...


... paddled on the rig's blind side to get close.  As I approached I made out the rigs name - West Aquarius!  It was a reunion of sorts for me.  On January 14th of 2013 I paid it a visit while it was in Conception Bay.  At that time I approached it from the control room side and as I closed on it I was warned off of coming too close.  It was hard to believe it was almost five years ago.


On the west side we were in shade as the low sun hid behind the hills.  It was an uneventful relaxing paddle back to the take out, capped off with a coffee and a few laughs.  It was great to be back on the water with these familiar faces.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Cape Broyle shows her raw side


I got a message earlier in the week that two kayak enthusiasts would be visiting over the weekend.  Between Alex, Hazen and myself we managed to get them outfitted.  I then got most of the gang together to accompany them for a paddle in Cape Broyle.


There are places on drive to Cape Broyle with a view of the sea.  I could see that a sizeable swell was running and smashing up the rocks where it met the coast, but not here as we started the paddle to ...


... the first attraction in Cape Broyle - Horsechops Falls.


We dwelled in the still waters of the small cove checking out the falls.


The usual tour of Cape Broyle proceeds up the north shore from the falls up to The Narrows where we usually cross to the south side.  In the more open crossing we got our first hint of the swell that ...


... really bashed ashore.  Paddling well offshore was not challenging but handrailing most of the way east was a blast paddling in the swell and clapotis.


While it was fun paddling in the conditions, it was disappointing that the caves along the way were not accessible.  So, we had to content ourselves with the conditions, here paddling behind the signature sea stack in Lance Cove.


The original plan was to stop for lunch at Church Cove but we felt Lance Cove offered a safer option to get off the water.  I made a perfect surf landing which immediately got less elegant as I wasn't quick enough to haul the kayak out of surf reach.  The kayak pulled out of my hand in the retreating wave, flipped on the next wave, filled with sand and water, washed up on the rocks but was no worse for wear and tear when safely pulled ashore.


We all got back on the water without incident to continue east to check out Cathedral Cave.  As we approached I watched to see what the swell was doing at the mouth of the cave.  It was ...


... doable.  It was a good swell but no breaking waves.  I entered as deeply as I dared with the sound of water booming at the rear of the cave, turned and got some shots of the crew outside.


Satisfied we turned back impressed with the conditions along the shore and the ...


... geology, here where Eleanor checked out this downward bending anticline in the rocks.

We stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat at the restaurant where we pulled tables together for 11 bodies.  Our visitors Eleanor and Monica thoroughly enjoyed their day which I gathered from their constantly beaming smiles.  They just fit in seamlessly with the group as if we had known them forever.  It was an awesome day but the best part was, I've got two new friends.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Painted Fish gets a geology lesson


My friend Neville spent the best part of a year building a bread and breakfast in Hatchet Cove called "The Painted Fish".  Its a 4-star establishment with 5-star amenities.  Not only is it a B&B (airbnb) but they also offer kayak tours.

Neville told me he gets a lot of questions about the geology on the tours so I joined him to give him a rudimentary geology class.  It was foggy but started to clear once we got on the water.


It was a spectacular day weather wise but also scenery wise.  The fall colours were on vivid display as we left Hatchet Cove.


The water was dead calm and reflected the scenery in immaculate detail.  One of the first questions Neville had was what type of rocks were these and what processes tipped them at these angles that in the reflected water looked like arrows pointing the way.


I explained the three basic rock types.  Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic.  These were sedimentary siltstones that were once part of the ancient continent of Gondwana (current continents of South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica).  These rocks were sent adrift across the Iapetus Ocean (pre-Atlantic Ocean) after the micro-continent of Avalonia was rafted off of  Gondwana.


Across the strait fog still lingered while we were in sunshine.  Back to Geology 101.

Across the Iapetus Ocean lay Laurentia (currently North America).  During the Cambrian Period (between 542 - 488 million years ago) the Iapetus Ocean began to close as Gondwana and Laurentia began to drift together sweeping up Avalonia and volcanic island arcs along the way.  Between the Ordovicin an Silurian periods the Iapetus Ocean closed and Avalonia was appended to what would become North America.

Tremendous forces of collision forced flat laying sediments to be tipped at various angles we saw along the shore.


The next query was "What are these rocks and what makes them red?"  Siltstones are not the only rocks in Northwest Arm.  These were interbedded sandstones and conglomerates that were deposited in shallow waters.  Deep water in anoxic (oxygen poor) whereas shallow water is well oxygenated that oxidized (rusted) the hematite (iron) in the sediments.


The tremendous forces of collision are evident in this small tightly folded siltstone and ...


... if not convinced, more evidence the deformation the collision caused.


We paddled up to the entrance of St. Jones Within before turning back so I could head for home early enough to avoid driving in the dark.  Driving in the dark around here is risky with the possibility of moose collisions.

Again, the still water captured the hilly scenery in exquisite detail.


We arrived back in Hatchet Cove an the red roofed Painted Fish with its waterfront views.

It was the first time I paddled in the area and won't be the last.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Blowin' in the wind


This morning it was blowing westerly 25 knots, gusting to 35 and cold.  A day paddle was out of the question but Dean, Shane and I spent an hour and a half pounding into the wind and waves to catch surf rides back.


It was the first time in months that we were out in those conditions.  At first I felt a little uneasy until I found my sea legs.  We haven't paddled a lot in conditions this year; I felt a little rusty.


The west wind blows directly into St. Philips so there was no place to hide to catch a breather.


After an hour and a half Dean and Shane lingered near the entrance to the harbour as if to say they have enough.  I caught one final surf ride and called it a day.

As we were putting our gear away Dean volunteered he felt uncomfortable in the wind and waves at first.  I was relieved to hear that I wasn't alone in taking some time to find my groove.  But, find it I did and caught some good surf rides.

We had coffee in the restaurant overlooking the cove as usual.  We had gotten some comments from onlookers that we were crazy to be out on the water under the circumstances.  Looking out from the warmth of the restaurant and seeing the whitecaps we didn't think we were crazy, we just saw it as a sense of accomplishment.  Thanks to the guys for sharing the morning.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Wednesdays done for this year


Since 2008 an informal group has been meeting at St. Philips to practice rescues, paddle strokes or just go for an evening paddle.  Last evening was the last time we'll do it for this year as the evenings are getting to short.

The evening started like the first evening of the year, sparcely  attended.  It was Paul, Shane, Terry and myself.  There were good size waves.  It was the first time Paul was in his new NDK Explorer.  I felt it wise to stay close.


I've more or less kept things going since 2009.  Its a worthwhile initiative as it gives novice paddlers a chance to practice skills and paddle in challenging conditions with a supportive cast around them.  One of the guys who has grown tremendously since he first attended is Shane, here powering along the coast.


We made our way down the coast in sizeable waves with Paul, a newer paddler who has been coming out this year.  I knew he was in near the top end of his comfort zone so I stayed close and suggested the same to the other two guys.


Paul was doing well until one wave did him in.  We put him back in his boat and we continued for a bit but it was clear to me he wasn't comfortable.  There was still a bit of water in his kayak.  He asked me to raft up so he could pump the last of the water out.  I suggested we turn around to go back.

Paddling into the waves you see what's coming.  Paddling with the waves is a different proposition.  I could see he was very nervous.  We stayed close together.  He went over again and after we got him back in his boat I suggested we do a tow back to the harbour.  Terry rafted up to stabilize while Shane and I did the towing.


We arrived back in the harbour none the worse for wear.

It was an all around productive evening.  Paul got some experience in challenging conditions and we practiced a rescue and tow.  Exactly what these evening hope to achieve.

The primary lesson to take from the evening is a tow is not a blow to pride.  No one wants to have to take a tow but sometimes it is necessary for safety sake.  Its up to the more experienced paddlers to recognize when a tow is called for and take charge.

Paul took a tow but a time will come when he will be the more experienced and be doing the towing himself.


All's well that ends well and we ended the evening with a coffee and a discussion about how things went.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Looking for my mojo


2017 has been a slow year for paddling.  Not only for me but it seems for all of my paddle buddies.  I'm wondering if I've lost my mojo.  I've seen it before.  People like Tony, Neil and Derrick have effectively stopped kayaking after years being avid paddlers.


In 2016 I had a good excuse when I didn't paddle much because of time I spent working on house projects.  But this year it seems as though a general malaise has crept in.  Previously weather didn't matter.  I didn't care if there was wind and rain, in fact, I welcomed it.  Not so much this year.


What I found most disappointing was it seemed like most of my paddle mates weren't as gung-ho either.  Sometimes it takes someone with some enthusiasm to get the ball rolling.  That is to say, if I'm apathetic about getting out then I usually get energized by feeding off of the go-for-it vibe of someone else.  I didn't get that feeling very often.


Finally, after what seemed like forever I got out for a paddle last evening.  It was a small turnout, just four of us.  The evenings are getting shorter and it was especially short last evening because there was no sunlight to keep things bright.  Cathy, Sharon, Terry and I left in daylight for a short paddle and returned in darkness finding our way back by the lights shimmering on the water.

It felt great back in the boat.  I think its time to get my mojo working again.