Friday, November 21, 2014


As the Dire Straits song goes, "Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." And this would be a bug moment as this poor paddler attempts a rough water launch.
Check out the video below:

Power waves overturn kayak vertically from Renzhi on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Life With The Salmon - book review

Paddlers, be on the lookout for small boat use in a variety of books, especially books from modest-sized Canadian publishers. The latest paddling fix I've found was in a wonderful title from Theytus Books. It's the second book from author Diane Jacobson, and it's called My Life With The Salmon. Click here for a link to the publisher's website.

While most of the book discusses the author's time working with salmon enhancement programs, there is a strong element of boating. Jacobson and her colleagues use a variety of boats to reach the various places where they are gathering data on salmon and their habitats. If you're not strictly a kayaker, you can read along and nod sagely as she speaks of the small open motorboats being used to cross a river estuary or reach an island, and of canoes on lakes and rivers. There are even some of her colleagues who swim and snorkel downstream to report on river conditions for salmon. Safety concerns while boating are mentioned several times in her book, as well as a healthy amount of awe for her experiences along the rivers and ocean shore of her homeland.

Y'see, Jacobson is a member of the 'Namgis First Nation, and boating is a natural part of the life in her community on the coast. "The river taught me that it has the power to give life and to take life in an instant," she says at one point.

If this were a kayaking book, I'd ramble on about it. But it's great to see the use of small boats being such an important element of such an interesting book. This book was awarded the Best Regional Non-fiction Prize by the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2012.
If you want to see what it's like to be offshore in a small motorboat, we've got a link to a video here. And if you're interested in salmon stories, check out Kayak Yak posts here on our forays into salmon-bearing streams.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's Hammerhead Time

Earlier this week, a pair of kayakers in Florida had an unexpected follower on their journey: a hammerhead shark. The shark followed them for about two miles before moving off. One of the paddlers later quipped to a local paper, “It’s not really a huge thing to see sharks. But when you have a dorsal fin trailing you like [it's] Jaws, it’s a different story.”
One of the paddlers whipped out his GoPro and shot the footage below:

This wasn't the first hammerhead encounter to get caught on video. Below is an encounter from last year when a hammerhead tried to take a nibble or two from another kayaker, causing the paddler to start hitting the shark with his paddle:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sidney Spit Reminder

The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve has published a reminder to users of the park that part of Sidney Island -- the park area north of the prominent fence line -- is closed to the public from November 1st 2014 through February 28, 2015. You can find notice of this annual closure in the Times-Colonist.
The park area south of the day-use area on Sidney Spit is closed during the winter for public safety reasons, to facilitate hunting by First Nations during this time. The fallow deer on Sidney Island have become so numerous that a cull is necessary to reduce their numbers.
Though the day-use area of the island is still open to the public, and the mooring buoys and the spit itself are available for boaters to use, it is a good idea for kayakers and other boat users to plan visiting other parts of GINPR until the closure is lifted March 1st.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

So I'm trawling through youtube looking for kayaking videos. Because I have no life. But anyway, I stumbled upon this video. A pair of paddlers are lazily paddling a quiet section of the cold Detroit River when suddenly one of them unexpectedly goes swimming. We could critique some aspects of the paddlers' preparations as it looks like the swimmer wasn't dressed particularly well for immersion, but on the other hand the rescue, such as it was, went smoothly with neither paddler panicking and the paddling partner taking charge of the situation. And apart from the clothing, both paddlers seemed well prepared.
But what struck me was how quickly a seemingly benign paddling situation could turn into a rescue situation. There's no wind, no waves, no expected surprise. Just a tree branch, and a quick moment when gravity overcomes balance. Living near The Gorge, Louise and I paddle in conditions similar to this all the time, and sometimes we take the calmness for granted. Consider this a gentle reminder to expect the unexpected.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blue-Green Algae Bloom Confirmed At Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park

Word up, for anyone planning to paddle at Elk Lake or Beaver Lake this week -- there's blue-green algae blooming along part of the shores. Check your launch sites!
The Capital Regional District sent out a press release today with the news, and it's copied below.

Public Service Announcement
For Immediate Release
November 7, 2014
Blue Green Algae Bloom Confirmed At Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park
Victoria, BC - Water tests conducted at Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park have tested positive for blue-green algae bloom. Visitors are advised to avoid areas near the visible blue-green sheen, which appears as surface scum. Pet owners are advised to keep animals on a leash and prevent them from drinking or swimming in either lake.
For further information, please contact:
Andy Orr, Senior Manager
CRD Corporate Communications

Jeanette Mollin, Administrative Clerk
Visitor Services and Community Development
Capital Regional District / Regional Parks
490 Atkins Avenue, Victoria, BC V9B 2Z8
T: 250-360-3341 F: 250-478-5416

Friday, November 07, 2014

Flying Kayak only it flew straight to the ground....
At least he has a PFD on. Not that it helped, because there's no water.
Needless to say, don't try this at home. Or anywhere.

Sunday, November 02, 2014


There are all kinds of neighbours around here. We meet the nicest people when we're out in our kayaks! We are also lucky enough to meet plenty of animal and plant neighbours as we noodle around the shorelines and cross to some of the islands. Now I've been lucky enough to find a website called VictoriaDiving made by another kind of neighbour: one who goes diving along these shores. Sometimes he takes his gear in an inflatable motorboat and goes out to some of the same places we go.
It's interesting to see his perspective on these shoreline places, as he ducks under the water and down far deeper than I though most local divers went on solo dives. Check out his website -- there's a map showing places he's been. You can look on Kayak Yak at posts of places we've been, such as Telegraph Cove, and then go to his website and find posts he's made about the same place.
Neighbours can be grand.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

River Kayaker Video Rescue

A neat little video is making the rounds today. It shows a river kayaker with his boat jammed in the rocks, and unfortunately, his head is under water. But with the help of his friends, he's pulled out of his kayak and a few steps to shore.
Yes, I said "steps." The incident took place in a rocky rapids, looking about Class 2 or 3, which translates as water that is dropping about 2 feet + over and through rocks that make it challenging enough to be fun for experienced whitewater kayakers. There would be deep pools and shallow places all through those rapids.
You can see the video here on a news site. One of the paddlers had a helmet camera and recorded the quick rescue as it was happening.
It's worth saying again: Be prepared! Practise your rescue techniques. There's nothing like a little practise with your tow ropes or wet exit and re-entry skills to give your body the confidence you need if a small emergency happens -- and safety practise can be one of the things that helps keep an incident from becoming a big emergency. That's what happened this summer when Heather and I were able to help a tired swimmer (read it on Kayak Yak here)! And safety practise can be fun and games, as it was when Mike Jackson taught a towing workshop.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Life Boat Launch

I hope everyone had their seatbelts fastened....
Check out the video:

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