Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kayakers' news from CHEK

Two local stories of note for paddlers on Vancouver Island, reported on CHEK news:

-a paddler from Campbell River is missing. His vehicle has been found on Quadra Island, and his kayak and gear have turned up on another island nearby. You can read this story and see the CHEK video here. This case is a reminder for all of us, especially those who paddle alone, to have a ground crew. It's also a good idea when parking your vehicle to leave a brief note on the front seat telling your paddle plans and when you plan to return.

-a cargo vessel loaded with fossil fuels was drifting off Haida Gwai, but is now under tow. It appears disaster may have been averted, for now. You can read this story here.

Update: as of Saturday night, the tow line had broken and the vessel was drifting again towards the rocky shore. Then the vessel was taken under tow again. On Sunday the 19th, the vessel was being towed for repair. Stay tuned to your news services to hear the next stage in not only this particular vessel's story, but the ongoing story of How Fuel Tankers Affect The Coastline. As small boat users, this is our story too and there are many ways we can participate.

Paddlenorth - a book by author and paddler Jennifer Kingsley

Conservationist and paddler Jennifer Kingsley has a new book being launched this fall, called Paddlenorth. Published by Greystone Books with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, this book tells the story of Kingsley's 54-day paddling adventure on the Back River in Canada's north. This is a terrific choice for a gift to give the paddler you love.

“A perilous journey through an unforgiving landscape. A wild adventure that sweeps you up in its wake. Jennifer Kingsley is a wicked paddler and a beautiful writer.”–Andrew Westoll, author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
“In the tradition of great exploration literature, Jennifer Kingsley examines both the wilderness she paddles through and the wilderness within. An engrossing story that illuminates the north and the nature of friendship.”—Don Gillmor, author of Mount Pleasant

 Kingsley will be reading from her book at the following free events in Vancouver and Victoria BC in the next few days:

October 19, Vancouver, B.C.

Afternoon in-store signing at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). 130 West Broadway Vancouver, British Columbia V5Y 1P3
Come by to say hello, talk about paddling, check out some muskox fur and meet the author.

October 19, Vancouver, B.C.

Evening presentation at Book Warehouse, 4118 Main Street at 25th Ave.
6:30-8:00 p.m.
Free admission.
Join author and naturalist Jennifer Kingsley for stories and a sample of her new book, Paddlenorth. Meet other people who love travel writing. Say hi to Jenny.

October 20, Vancouver, B.C.

Evening presentation at Mountain Equipment Co-0p (MEC). 130 West Broadway Vancouver, British Columbia V5Y 1P3
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Free admission.
Join author and naturalist Jennifer Kingsley for slides, stories and a sample of her new book, Paddlenorth. Meet other paddlers, talk about adventure, get inspired.

October 22, Victoria, B.C.

Evening presentation at the Victoria Public Library, Central Branch, 735 Broughton Street.
Join Jennifer Kingsley, author and naturalist, on her Arctic voyage as she recounts stories, shows photos, reads select passages and answers questions. Come and say hi!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Old-timey Kayak Racing

Here's an old, and short, British Pathé newsreel showing a canoe and kayak racing in Ausburg, Germany from 1957. The first event shown is apparently the Double-scull Canadian Canoe race. Check out the embed below:

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Thanksgiving Pumpkin Paddle Centrepiece

Now this is how to make a centrepiece out of a pumpkin for a paddler's festive gathering! Never saw a stand-up-paddleboard carved out of coconut before this...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Canoe Launch Fail

Because if you can't sink your canoe in three seconds, what's the point?

Check out the video below:

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Kayaker Rescued Off Oak Bay

Last night, a high school-aged foreign exchange student was rescued after her kayak paddle off Oak Bay went awry. According to this report, a couple walking along Willows Beach saw the girl's shoes and kayak dolly along the shore. When the couple returned from their walk, they noticed the items were still there. They alerted authorities, and then jumped in their boat located at a nearby marina. After about an hour of searching, the couple found the girl on rocks located between Willows Beach and Discovery Island. She apparently got caught up in the currents, but was able to steer towards nearby rocks, where she landed. She was cold and embarrassed, but otherwise unhurt.
The report doesn't say exactly where she ended up, but my guess would be that would be in the Chain Islands. A beautiful place to paddle, and we have many times, but the currents can be tricky. I haven't checked what they were doing last night, but with a full moon tonight, I'd imagine that they were running hard. But thankfully, all turned out okay. Hopefully, she'll be a little more careful next time out, or the story may not have the same happy ending.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Next Time, Consider a Kayak

Long-distance runner Reza Baluchi, who has in the past run around the Unites States and bicycled across nearly 60 countries, attempted a new long-distance endeavour last week by attempting to walk the almost 1700 km from Florida to Bermuda. He was going to walk across the ocean in a homemade "hydro pod," propelling it by running and pushing it with his arms. Think of it as a human hamster wheel.
Last Wednesday after only travelling about 130 km, the US Coast Guard checked on him, but let him continue, but by this past Saturday, he had made little further progess and activated his rescue beacon. He was rescued by the Coast Guard, exhausted but apparently otherwise uninjured.
Here's a video of the hydro pod in action:

Here's part of the Coast Guard rescue video:

Friday, October 03, 2014

Pierre Trudeau on Canoe Travel

What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau
quoted from his famous 1944 essay
"Exhaustion and Fulfillment: The Ascetic in a Canoe"
which appears on the website

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

When Streets Become Rivers

It rained so hard in parts of France on Monday that a couple of kayakers took their boat to the city streets. The city of Montpellier received 25 cm of rain in a three hour period, about half of what the city normally receives in a year. With streets turned into rivers, a kayak might seem like a sensible way to get around. How successful were they? Check out the video:

A bystander also shot a quick clip:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Drone of Orcas

Drones are just about everywhere, and I don't mean just the drone of me snoring.
Last August, researchers from the Vancouver Aquarium and NOAA used a custom-built hexacopter to photograph and track the local resident orca pods. Researches were trying to determine how low salmon stocks affect the health of the local resident orcas. The locals, which are considered endangered, stick to diet of salmon, while transient orcas will go after seals, dolphins or whatever's around, and so the locals' health depend on the health of the salmon stocks. If salmon stocks are low, the locals will go hungry. It's hard to tell if an orca is getting thin with only a side view from a boat as an orca will only appear skinny from the side once it is serverly malnourished. But from above, it is much easier to get a sense of an orca's health, particularly whether or not it is getting enough to eat as its girth is easier to make out from above.
Using their drone and looking down from above, the researchers followed some of the northern resident orcas to get a sense of their health. The good news is that because of a large chinook run, most of the northern residents looked robust and well-fed; the bad news was that some of the orcas were not doing as well and two of them disappeared and were presumed to have died during the course of the study.
You can read the whole story here (and look at some cool pictures as well), and you can also check out the embedded video below:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum

A couple of weeks ago, Louise and I found ourselves travelling through Portland, Oregon. Even though we were following a map, somehow we zigged when we should have zagged, and ended where we didn't want to be, but in a happy happenstance we stumbled upon the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum.
The museum was closed -- it's only offically open Wednesday evenings or by appointment -- but we could see through the window that there were at least a couple of dozen old skin on frame Inuit-styled kayaks. In fact, the museum houses almost 60 full-size kayaks, as well as nearly 50 models. Most of the full-size kayaks are replicas, but there are a couple of originals in the collection, and it's touted as being one of the world's largest collections of traditional Arctic-styled kayaks. Sadly, we couldn't wait around for opening time, but maybe next time we are down that way, we will make sure we have a Wednesday evening free to stop by.
The Musuem is on Facebook -- check out its page for photos of the collection.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Remember learning about the coureurs de bois and the fur trade in Canadian History class? Here's an image of their voyageur canoes from the Canadiana website.

Their caption reads:
The Spring Brigade leaves Montreal for the West
Franklin Arbuckle
Reproduced with the permission of the Hudson’s Bay Company From the HBC Corporate Collection

When many fur traders traveled together, it was called a “brigade.” The brigades would leave in the spring and return in the fall, their canoes heavy with furs.

And here's a comment from an anonymous coureur-de-bois quoted by a Hudson's Bay Co. historian:

For 24 years I was a light canoeman. I required but little sleep, but sometimes got less than I required. No portage was too long for me; all portages were alike. My end of the canoe never touched the ground 'til I saw the end of it. Fifty songs a day were nothing to me. I could carry, paddle, walk and sing with any man I ever saw... I pushed on - over rapids, over cascades, over chutes; all were the same to me. No water, no weather ever stopped the paddle or the song... There is no life so happy as a voyageur's life; none so independent; no place where a man enjoys so much variety and freedom as in the Indian country. Huzza, huzza pour le pays sauvage!

Ben and the boat with mussels

Another note from Ben, who has spent the late summer exploring rivers and streams in the Okanagan valley, when not picking fruit. He reports that Fish and Wildlife officers have politely asked him to not fish for salmon this year because the spawn is depleted and they want the ceremonial allowances not to come up short. Any first nations traditional harvest feeds the community in lots of ways, Ben knows, and so do at least some fisheries workers -- at least enough of them to actively recommend he eat trout instead.
Ben went on to add:
ben: I met a couple modern day vikings who want to kayak the northwest passage. A Finnish guy and his half Aleutian wife.
We met when an American tourist pulled in at a gas station pulling a boat that had mussels on the hull. We had a short talk with him.
 me:  mussels on the hull? Bad boat hygiene!
That's how zebra mussels end up in lakes!
 ben:  precisely. We mentioned the concern, the extreme fines levied over such problems, and his licenseplate. The couple gave him a card for a local marina service that cleans and inspects. 
Glad to hear that Ben and his viking friends were good neighbours, with practical advice for the dirty boat owner. It's so important for us small boat users to clean our boats well. There's really no excuse for letting our boats carry kingsfoil weeds or zebra mussels into all the lakes we visit, y'know?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Whale on a SUP

Okay, so the whale is not on an SUP, but a guy off of Malibu was on an SUP when he was overtaken by a couple of whales. I'm thinking humpbacks, but what do I know from whales? And of course, he had a GoPro with him. Check out the video below:

Whales go where they want, of course. But how close is too close?
Fisheries and Environment Canada recommend that vessels (and that includes kayaks) should stay a minimum 100 metres away from whales. Don't approach from in front or behind, only from the sides.
What you should do if you see a whale? You can get more info from Be Whale Wise.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Over The Sambaa Deh Falls

A kayaking couple from Colorado think they may have been the first to kayak over the Sambaa Deh Falls in the Northwest Territories last month. Leif and Natalie Anderson did a whitewater kayaking tour of the NWT and northern BC this summer, but describe their plunge down Sambaa Deh, a Class V, as a highlinght. Leif told the CBC, ​"It sort of drops into this mini gorge that's about 10 feet deep, 10 feet wide and you have to navigate a couple of bends there — a couple of S-turn kind of moves. Then it speeds up and opens up into this big fan and there's one particular spot that we wanted to hit on the righthand side there and you just drop into the fan and speed up."
A CBC report is embedded below and is worth watching, if only for Leif's awesome mullet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Keep an eye out for a whale!

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre posted this important news yesterday -- kayakers and others be alert on the water:

Alert for anyone on the water around the SW end of Vancouver Island today. A humpback whale is entangled in fishing gear and looks to be in terrible condition. Call the DFO Incident Reporting Line at 1-800-465-4335 to report where you see it and when.

CBC reports: German kayakers reach Bering Sea from Hay River

Bernie spotted this news story on the CBC, reporting that during this summer a pair of German kayakers have made an epic journey from Hay River in the Northwest Territories to the Alaskan shore of the Bering Sea. You can read about their trip here, on the CBC website.

The young men launched on May 14 at Hay River on Great Slave Lake, paddled down the Mackenzie River to the Gwich'in community of Tsiigehtchic at the point where the Arctic's Red River joins the Mackenzie. They then did a 160-kilometre portage through the Richardson Mountain pass to Fort Yukon. Once on the Yukon River, it was all downstream to the coast.
(and now it's time to ask: what did you do on your summer vacation? Suddenly my day paddling on the South Saskatchewan seems so tame :)
This map is from the article on the CBC website. Support your CBC!

Kudos to Janosh Hagen and Jan Kruger! They're high school friends who learned kayaking in order to make this trip. And get this -- not only did they not take longer to complete the journey than expected, they finished ten days ahead of their plans. I don't know what they ate, but I bet it was high-energy food.

The Hurricane Riders: The Art of the Skook

The Hurricane Riders just dropped a new short film. (That's how the kids today say it, right? Dropped?)
Anyway, The Riders were out at the world-famous Skookumchuk tidal race earlier this year and filmed some of their rides on the wave.
Check it out embedded below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A call for Citizen Scientists that suits paddlers well!

Louise spotted this call for volunteer Citizen Scientists, and passed it along to me. It will be of particular interest to paddlers living along Canada's west coast and Haida Gwai, in communities like Hartley Bay.
InFORM is a non-governmental organization of universities, groups, Health Canada, and citizens gathering data on the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan during 2011. They're listed on their website as 
Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) Network: 
A collaborative radiation monitoring network to determine and communicate environmental risks for Canada’s Pacific and Arctic Oceans from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident

I'll just add the note here, if the word "radiation" is giving you the willies, that everything I've heard (from newspapers, science journals, and the University of Victoria) says that while some radiation from Fukushima did reach Canada, it was only in very small amounts, measured and tracked. This call for volunteer Citizen Scientists is part of a program to keep gathering water samples to test. 
It's a great thing to know that our scientists are continuing to measure the tiny amounts of Cesium that drifted across the Pacific. There's not enough radiation to be a threat to our health, so we paddlers can take to the water with confidence.