Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kayaks and Lightning

This picture is making the rounds on the Interwebs again, supposedly showing the remains of a kayak that was struck by lightning. I'm pretty sure that this kayak was not struck by lightning, but rather is the victim of a fire. There's what looks to be a gasoline-powered compressor at the far end of the dock, the deck is charred but not exploded apart which what one might expect if lightning struck the dock, and the smoldering deck fire was stopped on the right side by a garden hose. It's possible, of course, that the initial source of the fire was a lightning strike, but I believe this kayak succumbed to the fire, not lightning.
Regardless of the lineage of this photo, it does serve as a good reminder of lightning safety when it comes to kayaking. Getting struck by lightning is rare, and getting struck by lightning in a kayak is even rarer. But it does, unfortunately, happen, sometimes with fatal results. In our part of the world, we might get one or two thunderstorms a year, if that, so lightning safety is something that is rarely considered here.
Some good tips can be found at the Newburyport Kayak Report, and at PaddlingCalifornia.com. The most important tip is, of course, check the weather forecast before heading out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Poirier Lake

Another good round of commando kayaking on a summer day! I'm trying to learn all the buses in and around Sooke near Victoria. This time I hopped on the #63 again with my inflatable Lagoon (a dandy little kayak), and hopped off at the sign for Poirier Lake, with two five-car parking lots right beside Otter Point Road. Poirier is a little kidney-bean shaped lake a few hundred metres across, surrounded by tall trees and a hill, with a few houses peeking out from the trees. On the map it looks like the lake drains through a creek into Young Lake nearby. Poirier is one of several small lakes in and near Victoria that are part of a management plan.

As Hook and Bullet website says, 

Poirier Lake is a lake located just 2.5 miles from Sooke, in Capital Regional District, in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Whether you’re fly fishing, baitcasting or spinning your chances of getting a bite here are good. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel, and head out to Poirier Lake. For Fishing License purchase, fishing rules, and fishing regulations please visit British Columbia Fish & Wildlife. Please remember to check with the local Fish and Wildlife department to ensure the stream is open to the public. Now get out there and fish!
As a matter of fact, one can go fishing only in lakes or the ocean on the whole island this summer. Long before the Department of Fisheries closed all the streams and rivers due to the dry weather, all the fly-fishing clubs and First Nations had announced that no one should fish in any of the streams or rivers. The poor fish are suffering from low water conditions, with some streams drying up to leave only a few warm pools of water.

I rolled up to the lakeshore and chatted with a pair of workers for Juan de Fuca Recreation and the Capital Regional District. I found the plans for park improvement online. There's a nice picnic shelter here above the shore, and a few picnic tables as well. The paths are crushed gravel, and there is a porta-john. Plans are in place to turn the two concrete pads into the base for good little docks for fishing, one of which will be a boat launch. No motor boats are allowed, but small rowboats, canoes, kayaks and the like are welcome. Swimming is not recommended.

The lake has a shallow muddy bottom on the north-west shore, with at least three kinds of water lilies growing. All around the lake are many sunken logs with branches sticking up near or to the surface. These would be places to look for fishes, and possibly turtles, but neither were visible today.

I turned on my SPOT beacon and sent an OK signal from the lake. Later I sent another from the bus stop a little way along the road while I was waiting for the bus. It's a nice way to let Bernie know at home that I've arrived at the lake, and then that I'm waiting at the bus stop after leaving the lake. Paddling alone is less dangerous when a person wears a PFD (always), chooses a sensible place sheltered from strong wind, and has a plan to avoid annoying problems when possible.

I can see why Poirier would be a popular lake for fishing. Not only is it right on a paved road (and a bus route!) but there are clouds of bugs fluttering over the lake so I'm sure the trout are snapping them up. While I was paddling slowly along the south-east shore near the steep hillside, the water looked deeper than where I launched. It was cool in the shade from the trees, there were dragonflies eating clouds of mosquitoes. Several big splashes told me there were big fish swimming unseen. All in all, a pleasant place to have a quiet and relaxed paddle in a small boat.

Swimmer and a Kayak Flotilla in Active Pass

On July 25, Karl and Stephanie were on a BC Ferry going from Tsawassen to Swartz Bay. While the ferry was in Active Pass (as in, a narrow passage between Gabriola and Mayne Islands with fast, swirling currents, where the traffic protocol is Stay The F*$% Out Of The Way Of The Ferries) they saw a swimmer with a group of kayakers for escort.

Here's the video Karl took:


If this video doesn't load, you can find it here on YouTube, where Karl wrote:
While taking the 1:00PM ferry from Swartz Bay (Vancouver Island) to Tsawwassen (Vancouver BC) on July 25, 2015, they told us that a person was swimming through Active Pass (Between Galiano Island and Mayne Island) with a group of kayakers. They said something about his route, but I didn't hear it. Swimming around Mayne Island perhaps? If anyone knows the name of the swimmer and their route, please post it in the comments. The ferry was the Spirit of British Columbia. Filmed with a Canon HD CMOS digital camera.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Canoe Jumping

Stunt jumping ain't been the same since the late Evel Knievel retired. But if he'd ever gotten into a canoe, I bet he would have tried something like this. Check out the video below:

Monday, July 27, 2015

With Ben in Cooper's Cove

Today there was time for a quick paddle at Cooper's Cove with Ben. He's made various appearances on the blog, often quoted in conversation or chats, sometimes photographed when kayaking with us. Today he paddled our old red Pamlico, the go-to boat for a casual recreational paddle.
Bernie is the one who has taken this boat the most places around here anyone has ever handled this model of kayak, according to Brian Henry of Ocean River, and when in practise Bernie can stand it on its side. But he's been out in it twice this summer and doesn't feel in practise. As for Ben, when he took it out the first few minutes were taken up with practise leaning around and trying various grips on the paddle befoer he settled in and felt comfortable steering and picking up speed.
Cooper's Cove is a nice place to paddle, sheltered from most of the wind. Here's a link showing my SPOT message during the outing. Ben and I looked in particular along the peninsula where one could see the earth accumulating over time and eroding at the edges. As long as that soil has been accumulating since the ice age, people have been using this little cove. A pity that the cove took such a pounding during the construction of the water main from Sooke Lake reservoir to Victoria. There are some articles about that time here and here where the flowline sounds like an interesting sight to see.
Bernie came back to pick up the happy paddlers. Then I went off to the grocery on my bike, and came back to find Ben and Bernie crowbar-ing some damaged boards off the porch deck. Ah, summer!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Standup Paddling Across The Atlantic

People have rowed and kayaked across the Atlantic, but if his plan comes together, next January Nicolas Jarossay will attempt to become the first person to stand-up-paddle unsupported across the mighty ocean.
He plans to paddle from Cape Verde off of Africa to Martinique in the Caribbean, a trip 4,000 km trip estimated to take 60 - 75 days using a specially designed paddleboard 6.3 metre paddleboard with a pod at the front for sleeping.
Jarossay is not the only person lining up an Atlantic corssing by SUP. Chris Bertish is also planning an SUP crossing from Morocco to Miami starting in November, 2016.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Gentle Reminder...

....to securely tie-down your kayaks to your car. Or what happens in the video below may happen to you.

Friends in Montana

No, Kayak Yak paddlers aren't in Montana. But some of our friends have been there! Most recently, our friend Ed Willett the Canadian SF writer (check out his website here) made a trip to Montana with his family. While his wife was busy with a professional event, Ed and their daughter went rafting down a frothy section of Gallatin River near Yellowstone National Park.

Ed and his daughter are the pair of paddlers on the middle bench of their raft.
You can't tell in this photo that under the PFD and paddle jacket, Ed is wearing a wet suit. Apparently it was not tiger-striped like the futurist suit on the cover of his novel Marseguro.

Ed reports that the outing was fun, and very very wet. It was a two-hour excursion highlighted by the Mad Mile, which has eight Class 3 to 3.5 rapids in a mile. Geyser Whitewater Expeditions was the company that got them on the water. It sounds like they had a great time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stranded Orca Saved

photo from the Whale Point Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/whale.point.3/posts/912426832151101
A young transient orca was saved by whale researchers and local volunteers yesterday when the orca became beached on some rocks as the tide went out. The orca was spotted high and dry on the rocky shore near Hartley Bay on the central BC coast. The volunteers kept the orca cooled with watered sheets and blankets for nearly seven years it took for the tide to return.
The CBC reported:
"We decided the best thing to do would be to keep her cool, that meant to put water on her body and we used blankets and sheets," said Hermann Meuter, a co-founder of Cetacean Lab. "It was the only thing we could do." Meuter said they could see the orca's behaviour change as they began to help her. "At first she was stressed, you could see that her breathing was getting a little faster," said Meuter. But after about 15 to 20 minutes, she began to calm down. "I think she knew that we were there to help her," said Meuter. Around 4 p.m. PT, the tide began to rise and the orca was able to start freeing herself. "It took her about 45 minutes to negotiate how best to get off the rocks," said Meuter. "We all just kept our distance at that point." When she swam away, the orca was quickly reunited with her pod, which was nearby.

Check out the remarkable story in the video below:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kemp Lake Paddling

Another great day of exploring the lakes around my new home!

For this day, I took the #63 bus in Sooke for a day of commando kayaking, with my new little inflatable Lagoon kayak on a roller. The #63 goes past two little lakes, Poirier and Kemp. Both are stocked with trout for fishing. This day was my first time to Kemp Lake. Here's a link showing Kemp Lake, made using my SPOT.

It wasn't hard at all to get there from Kemp Lake Road. The bus driver let me off at the corner of Chubb Road where I could see the boat launch at the lakeshore. I walked two long blocks on pavement, past some houses and a pretty farm. There is room at the end of the road for three or four cars to park next to a large green shed which seems to be waterworks for a drinking water facility. Kemp Lake is drinking water for many local homes, so be clean and considerate paddlers here!

The boat launch itself is well-suited to kayaks and canoes, and there is a rickety little dock suitable for launching boats or swimming. A grassy space made a convenient place to inflate my kayak. Though the tiny beach has very shallow water, it's possible to launch without getting muddy. Tiny fish darted about the rocks and mud as I launched. A few minutes later, I also saw a trout about as long as my hand. Fish!

It was a day for relaxing and dawdling, so I floated in my little kayak and drifted. Turkey vultures circled overhead, bringing to mind the line from the first season of Game of Thrones where the dancing-master asks, "What do we say to death? Not today."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stand Up Paddling with Sharks

Ever wondered what it would be like to stand up paddleboard with sharks in the water? Probably something like this video embedded below:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ultralite Pack Paddle review

Got a minute, so I'll post a more detailed review of a new paddle I received this summer. I've been so glad to try out the Ultralite Pack Paddle, which you can find on the Advanced Elements website page for paddles. All their paddles are on the one page, just scroll down to find the Ultralite near the bottom. A few days ago I took it with me when paddling my Lagoon in a sheltered cove.

At 20 ounces (a pound and a quarter, or under 570 grams) the AE5005 Ultralite Pack Paddle certainly is light, as its listing said. I couldn't help comparing it with the 2.7 pound (about 1200 grams) AE3034 Touring 4-Part Paddle, which I've used for three years now. Both of these models are more than long enough to be suitable for paddling with these wide inflatables.

This is the AE5005 Ultralite


This is the AE3034 Touring

I liked how both of these paddles take apart into four pieces, which makes it possible to carry the paddle inside the zippered-shut bag for a Lagoon. That's the best thing about these paddles, after five years of stuffing a two-piece paddle into the bag and leaving the shafts sticking out at one end of the zipper.

Something you can't see in these photos is that the metal shaft of the Touring has a plastic sleeve on it, to reduce the feeling of cold. The uncovered metal of the Ultralite's shaft is all right for me. I usually wear paddling gloves, the kind with short fingers, so a cold metal shaft is not a deal-breaker for me even though the sea water where I live is about 7C or 40F year-round. (Cold!)

The black colour of both paddles works for me. If I ever think it's too dark or sombre, I'll put some bright reflective tape on the blades like my husband put on his paddles.

Something that wasn't mentioned on the AE website's Paddles product page is that the Ultralite has a small diameter shaft. The feeling is really very different from a standard shaft! I have small hands and usually find a standard shaft is a bit larger than my ideal. The Ultralite's shaft is smaller than my ideal. It would be a terrific size for a teen or child. I'd also recommend trying this shaft for a person with a problem gripping tightly -- pad this shaft with some pipe insulation and see if it is easier to grip! That's how I intend to use this paddle for a friend with rheumatoid arthritis, when we go out in a StraitEdge2 again this summer.

Unfortunately, there are two ways the Ultralite dissatisfies me. The paddle when assembled has more "shimmy" in it than I like. Many take-apart paddles have a little shimmy at the joins. But the Ultralite has way more shimmy than the Touring, enough that I inspected each join to see if any looked looser than the others. Nope, all looked fine. The shimmy made the Ultralite seem a bit flimsy. I felt like I could bend the shaft in my hands like Superman. I wonder how sturdy the Ultralite is in challenging conditions.

I was also not really satisfied with the way the Ultralite blades bite the water. It seemed inefficient, like paddling with a hockey stick. Maybe I'm too used to the dihedral blades of the Touring. I'll have to go get my scoop blade carbon paddle out of storage, and borrow my husband's Greenland paddle, to have some variety.

My plans are to use the Ultralite when paddling my Lagoon in sheltered flat water that I've reached by bus or on foot, so the light weight of the paddle will be a real asset. It will be good to have a small shaft paddle to loan to my friends with small or disabled hands. The Ultralite could also be a convenient spare, to carry in case someone in my kayaking group breaks a paddle. I suspect that conditions which would break my other paddles would break the Ultralite easily.

Bottom line: this is a paddle that weighs half as much as my other paddles. When ounces of weight matter, I'll use it. In challenging conditions, I'll use my Touring paddle.



Editor's Note: When Paula compares one of the paddles to "paddling with a hockey stick," she knows exactly what she's talking about. Here's the evidence.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

E. coli count -- a factor in urban paddling

The factors determining whether today's a good day to paddle are usually weather -- is it too windy? No visibility can mean no paddling because of too much fog or snow (both have cancelled paddling for our group, once back in 2006) or that smoky orange haze last week from all the forest fires. Of course some gung-ho kayakers figure that any day the sun comes up is a good day to paddle and they're willing to overlook when it might be nighttime. But for urban paddlers, the E. coli count is another factor.

At beaches where a lot of people want to enjoy the water and shore, local health authorities test the water for germs of various kinds. One of the most important is Esherichia coli. Good ol' E. coli is not something you want a lot of in water where you're swimming or even paddling. As my friend Todd Wong says, To paddle or not to paddle at the beaches of Vancouver -- that is the question. An E. coli count of 10 per 100ml for Kitsilano Beach? Fine! But 1184 in East Bay of False Creek... ooo, ya don't want to go there.

Check out the Beach Water Quality Report for the Vancouver area this month. There are some beach postings here by the Vancouver Island Health Authority. Here's a link for Ontario beaches; if you live somewhere else I'm sure you can find your local water quality report or beach warnings.

Paddling Cooper's Cove with a new paddle

Got a minute to get back to writing about that short outing in Cooper's Cove the other day, trying out my new paddle. Things have been busy around here with the move, and I was glad to take the time to go out in a boat.
Cooper's Cove is a nice sheltered place for taking a recreational kayak, and a good place for entering Sooke Basin. I like that there's room for a couple of cars to park, and a loop for turning around. The Galloping Goose bike & hike path is right here, and bus stops for the #61 bus! There's even a kayak rental place right here, and a restaurant.
I sent a SPOT OK signal while paddling here -- you can see my location at this link. Looking at the map just now, I noticed again that sometimes when I'm near a cliff the signal doesn't reach always reach a satellite right away. Half the sky is blocked by the cliff, eh? The signal got through about two minutes later, when I was a few dozen yards away from the cliff and headed towards the launch site. If I really wanted to pinpoint my location up against a cliff, I'd send the signal and stay put for a few minutes, letting the SPOT keep flashing its OK signal till a satellite comes into range.
The paddle I was using is by Advanced Elements, and it's their Ultralite Pack Paddle. At 23.6 ounces, it's certainly lighter than any other paddle I've handled, even my carbon paddle with scoop blades. It comes apart into four pieces, and has its own drawstring bag with a mesh side.
For paddlers needing a paddle to use in challenging conditions, I recommend Advanced Elements' Touring 4-part paddle with dihedral blades rather than the Ultralite. The Touring is what I used on the Red Deer River, though if I were going there again my spare paddle this time would be the Ultralite since the stretch I paddled isn't whitewater. The Touring 4-part paddle is sold through West Marine stores as well as Advanced Elements' website.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

MEC Paddlefest Victoria 2015

This morning, Louise and I headed down to Willows Beach for the 2015 iteration of the MEC Paddlefest Victoria. This year's event probably could not have taken place on a better day. With nearly constant sun and nearly no rain since April, today was another gorgeous day. Okay, I'm trying to put a nice face on it -- we're actually facing some extreme drought conditions and forest fire dangers in the province. It's going to be a long, hot summer. But things aren't bad enough that we can't put those thoughts aside for a while and enjoy today's event.
IMGP0534-Pano2

First, Louise and I wandered down to the Ocean River area where we bumped into Ben, and chatted with him for a while as we caught up with each other.
IMGP0517-2

But of course the whole point of a paddlefest is to go paddling, so Louise and I took turns trying out the new Delta 17.
IMGP0519-2
I enjoyed paddling this boat so much that I forgot to take a picture of it.

Then we bumped into our old pal Mark of Kayak Distribution, and spent a while catching up. We're starting to do more talking then paddling at these things.
IMGP0529-2

Another successful paddling event!
IMGP0525-Pano2

Trip length: .10 km
YTD: 8.44 km
More pictures are here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kayak Landing Fail

Not every surf landing goes right. But on the other hand, any landing where you finish with a smile is a good one.
Check out the video below:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

David Suzuki rescues capsized canoeists at Site C Dam protest

During the Paddle for Peace event on Saturday July 12 along the Peace River, a capsized canoe put several people in danger. Who came to their rescue? David Suzuki and his friend Shirley Ann Reiter, in a story told at this link.
After the rescue, Suzuki gave the keynote address to the people gathered to protest construction of the Site C Dam. Not a bad day, overall.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Kayak Trip Along the Inside Passage

While deep in the bowels of YouTube, I stumbled upon this video chronicling a kayak expedition up The Inside Passage from Vancouver Island to Alaska in 2010. Check it out embedded below:

Monday, July 13, 2015

You're Gonna Need a Bigger Kayak

What would you do if a great white shark swims under your kayak? If you're Giancarlo Thomae, you take out your camera. Two weeks ago, he was paddling off Santa Cruz to check out reports of great whites swimming around offshore. He eventually counted over a dozen.
Check out the video below. Be warned, it's a quick clip, but there's also some pictures here. And check out Giancarlo's website for more great marine life pictures.