Saturday, February 24, 2007

Northern Voice 2007

I couldn't go to a blogging conference and leave without posting once, from the conference. In this case, I'm in the Forestry Center at UBC, attending Northern Voice 2007 (tagged @ technorati northernvoice, nv07). The conference arranged guest access to the UBC wireless network, which is how I'm posting. I must say, I could get used to being able to fire up a browser follow along the presenters' content, or do a quick search on a tool or service they have mentioned, or see if I can disambiguate an anagram I didn't quite catch as it whizzed past. And I've never been surrounded by so many Macs at one time in my life!

Things I have learned about that are likely to be useful:
  • Digital Photography Review
  • Luminous Landscape (needs hypen, otherwise you wind up at the usual marketing-all site)
  • a lot of manufacturers are releasing new camera models for PMA, in March
  • noise is beginning to limit high resolution cameras can go. Having 10 MPx may be no better than having 7.
  • having taken pathetic non-programmer stabs at creating screen scrapers, and having hit the Google API and bounced - my ambitions far, far exceeding my competence - I was delighted to be introduced to Dapper, Screen Scraper or OpenKapow, which can be used to create structured outputs for aggregation
  • information pulled from multiple sources can be combined in ingenious ways using Yahoo! Pipes, (brilliant idea, still find the moniker a touch - see Mashups for Non-Programmers
  • Wordpress has a multitude of fascinating plug-ins that can be used to pull in content from Flickr, YouTube, etc
  • Drupal, an open-source CMS is too heavy-weight for a single site (possibly), but the UofC and others are using Drupal to explore the possibilities of blogs and wikis in University education, see weblogs.calgary
  • blogs and wikis are converging
  • tags help but are not enough; nor is search sufficient

Next session's up; unfortunately, I should leave now to pick up my bag from the Y downtown and get to the 1730 bus, rather than waiting for the last bus. The pickup spot I would normally use has been displaced by construction; getting from the skytrain station to the main bus station is not something I'd do after dark; and the connection on the other side between the ferry and the local bus just isn't, leaving me with a 2 mile walk at the other end.

The Long Recovery Week 14

Clearly, things are looking up -- last night I went through the drive-in at Wendy's.
Now before you get yer garters in an uproar about global cow warming and all that, consider this: I drove up to the order window, wound open my own window, and passed out money, then took back my change then took in my drink and meal.
I did it all with my left arm.
Slowly, very slowly, my shoulder is getting better.
It's still very weak, and mobility is still limited, but it is coming back. I keep finding myself able to do things that a week or two ago I couldn't.
And I must be feeling optimistic about my eventual return to the kayaking -- yesterday I ordered a waterproof VHF radio.

Paddle Saanich Inlet

Saanich Inlet:
Coles Bay, Brentwood Bay, Bamberton, Tod Inlet, and Squally Reach
Use Chart 3462 Juan De Fuca St. To St. Of Georgia or
Chart 3313 Tsehum Harbour to Ladysmith Harbour (supersedes #3310)

Saanich Inlet stretches from Deep Cove in the north down to the entrance to Goldstream Park in the south, and dropping over 100 metres below you. The main area out of Brentwood Bay comprises some of the most beautiful and protected paddling areas, and some of the worst excesses of the local land developers.
Access is usually from the east, leading you into areas like Coles Bay and Brentwood Bay. Coles Bay has public access to the beach through a park, which is nice because there is longer term parking, but requires hauling your boat(s) a long way (better part of a kilometre?) down a narrow path. Once at the water, the tide defines whether the launch will be easy or difficult, as the high water makes launching…crowded.
The waters out of Coles Bay are beautiful and clear, with a scoured rock bottom mostly unobstructed by, well, anything. Patches of plant growth, but mostly white smooth rock. The bay itself is quite shallow and protected , with a southern exposure. On the north end at the mouth of the bay is Yarrow point and Dyer Rocks, which make for a good place to get an impression of conditions in the inlet proper.
Our paddling has been exclusively to the south of the bay, heading down the shore towards Thompson Cove and Brentwood Bay. Saanich Inlet is close to two nautical miles across at this point, and one could cross from Coles Bay on the east side of the inlet, to Mill Bay on the west side. Mill Bay marks the western embarkation point for the Brentwood Bay ferry, and doesn’t offer a lot of on-shore inducements to the paddler. Paddling down the east side of the inlet offers stunning views, with the Malahat running along the crest of the first hump of mountain out of the water.
Coles Bay has a wide opening into Saanich Inlet, and the shoreline continues around a long curve to Thomson Cove and Henderson Point. Just south and west of Henderson is Senanus Island, part of the Senanus First Nations territory.
The island is a great place to paddle around; relatively isolated even though it is so near so many people, the island is a great place for watching wildlife. Seals feed in the waters around the island and sunbathe on its rocks (remember, the rule is to stay 100 metres away from seals—particularly during the spring and early summer when they’ve just pupped). And the water is clear and relatively shallow, making it a good place for undersea life watching. A myriad of sea stars, crabs and fish can be seen amongst the eelgrass and kelp. But the island itself is First Nations territory, so landing is not on.
If you come out on Keating Cross road to West Saanich Road, and turn onto Verdier Ave, you find at the end of the avenue the Brentwood Bay Ferry, which travels between here and Mill Bay on the northwest side of Saanich Inlet. As kayakers, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the ferry because to it we aren’t much more than speed bumps. Between the ferry terminal and Brentwood Bay Inn and Spa is a small park and sidewalk that leads down to the docks and to the public beach (what little is left of it). Remember that parking here is limited and restricted to two hours. And don’t park in the ferry worker’s spots! Brentwood Bay Inn rents kayaks to the public, if you find yourself needing a boat, or you can launch your own from the public beach. The public beach does have a tendency to disappear at high tide, so it is important to time your launch and return.
If you launch from Brentwood Bay, the trip across the inlet to Bamberton is about 4.5 kilometres or over to Senanus Island is about 2.2 kilometres. An alternative to these trips is to more or less follow the shore to the south and head past Daphne Islet and into Tod Inlet about a kilometre from the launch point.
Tod inlet is a part of the Gowlland Tod park and extends roughly a kilometre and a half. The waters here are extremely protected, and quite shallow. Used to moor boats (mostly sail), it’s also home to a lot of different wildlife. We’ve seen eagles feeding on ducks, ducks feeding on fingerlings, sea stars feeding on whatever they feed on, oysters, crabs, cormorants, herons, and plenty more wildlife of various kinds.
At the far end is a small dock and a couple of picnic tables, making this a great place to take a break and maybe a walk. A trip up Tod Inlet is beautiful, relaxing, and easy on the paddler. Definitely a must do—especially for the novice paddler.
For the more adventurous, heading out from Brentwood Bay to Bamberton is a good start. Heading slightly south to Willis Point is a good idea, as it lets you check conditions before heading across. You can shorten the distance across Squally Reach by heading from Willis Point south and then across to either Sheppard Point (1.5 km) or McCurdy Point (1 km). But be warned, Squally Reach is well named, and winds seem to channel down the mountains and into the reach, making conditions a bit treacherous on occasion.
The shoreline, particularly on the west side of the inlet, rises steeply out of the water, making it difficult to find places to beach your boat and have a look around. There is a pullout just on the north side of Bamberton and the B.C. Cement pit, but that’s about it. The rest of the way from McCurdy Point to Bamberton is mostly rocks and coves full of rocks. Great for the seals—they have several haul outs and feeding areas along this stretch—but not so great if you need to pull in. But we have met paddlers from Cowichan Bay (20 kilometres to the north) paddling down the inlet to Finlayson Arm. A major all-day paddle; we were such wankers compared to them.
Another put in can be found at the bottom of Marchant Road in Brentwood Bay. There’s a public wharf, but t isn’t suitable for kayakers. Instead you have to descend a steep flight of concrete stairs to a public beach that, again, disappears at high tide. But, on the plus side, both public beaches have nearby restaurants—a definite plus after a day of paddling.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Very cool site

Australian kayakers planning to cross "the ditch." Check out the photo pages! Cool kayak design!

Paula's Discovery

Some photos from last saturday's trip to Discovery. So it might be a little small, but there are six seals checking Paula out at the south of the islands.

As we rounded the south-eastern tip of Discovery, there was a large sign saying "Welcome to Discovery." Paula gives the international kayak sign language sign for "Yee Haa!"

Rudlin Bay from the ocean. It looks lovely, especially after an hour and a half's paddling. It faces almost due east onto Haro Strait, and gives you a view of hundreds of square kilometres of ocean and the dozens of container ships that pass by.

Paula doing her best "Rocky" impression after landing in Rudlin Bay. She wasn't quite so happy after the tea was only warm rather than hot.
Ah, the ocean. She's so damned........wet! And a lovely view of the Olympics to the south. Well, behind the bank of clouds there is.

Again, hard to tell, but there's a big eagle sitting on the "welcome to Discovery" sign. Of course there is....
The weather was superb and just kept getting better. What a day......

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In Case You're Wondering....

The mapping service I use is provided by the BC government. It offers great markup capabilities and will even write the map to PDF and email it to you. Check it opens with the zoom tool alredy enabled, so just keep clicking on the appropriate square/map centre and you'll get to where you want to be. If you select a different tool, the cursor doesn't change, but it tells you what tool is selected at the bottom of the map.

Update on the last week

Yeah, I was out again today, but it took an hour to get out of the bay against the wind and tide. Brutal, but a great cardio-vascular workout.
So Last Sunday, this is the route I took around Discovery, with the stopover at the cammpground. There were seals everywhere--two dozen feeding at the south of Chatham, eight in one group in the passage between Chatham and Discovery, and three more off the campground. Not to mention the one's I'm sure were there but I didn't see. This trip was about 15km in length, and took about three hours.

Wednesday was raining pretty good. I called John from the southern tip of Discovery and then went back up through the central passage. There's a seal haul out at the south end of the passage between Discovery and Chatham, and some fairly shallow rocks the current just whistles over. Cool paddling--although I recommend less rain. You can see where I found the passage through to where John flipped last year. Total trip length: ~13km and three hours.
This is the Saturday paddle with Paula. Same route out and back, totaling about 13km and three hours, plus a half-hour layover at the campground. Dozens of seals in the water on the way over, but most of them were on the haul-out rocks on the way back. Well, it was sunny and they were enjoying it...

Today was a trip out to close to halfway between Chatham and Great Chain islet. I stayed out in the passage rather than head towards either land mass. the paddling took real work getting out, but I had some great surfing moments coming back. But I only saw one seal and no eagles :-( Sun kept threatening to come out though....

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Quite The Week

Well, this last week was quite a change. I made three trips out this week; last Sunday morning I headed out and managed to finally circumnavigate Discovery Island. Wednesday, rain and all, I went back to Discovery, and then back through the Chatham Islands--finally travelling with the current through the passage John, Dennis, and I were at about a year ago when John flipped.
And then on Saturday, conditions were perfect. I woke Paula about 7:40 am (I'd already done a 6+ kilometre walk) and told her to get ready, we were going paddling. Tide was high at 6:00 am and was dropping slightly and then rising to the second high at about 12:40--and the second high was only about a half metre higher than the first, with minimal drop off between the two. So the currents in Baynes and Plumper were going to be minimal. Also, the day was cool but still, with almost no wind movement on the water. Environment Canada described the local seas as "rippled."
We were launched at 9:00am--delays included breakfast, gear, and chatting with several people on the beach before launching. By 10:40 we had paddled through several dozen seals (some of which were following Paula's boat as close as 1.5 metres), spotted three sea otters heading for Jemmy Jones, and landed in Rudlin Bay on the south-east side of Discovery. This is where the campsite is located, and we stopped here for about 30 minutes. Just long enough to eat a granola bar, have a look around, and drink some not-quite-hot tea. Then back into the boats and back, landing about 12:30 pm. A most excellent paddle, and Rudlin Bay will make a great place for an overnight trip. The distance from Cadboro Bay park to Discovery and back is about the same as from Cadboro point to Darcy Island, or even to the south end of Sidney Island--making a trip from Cadboro Bay to Discovery, Discovery to Sidney, and Sidney to Prevost and back to Sidney (or Cadboro) a distinct possibility. Three or four nights long, and in reasonably protected waters the whole way.
So, quite a week of paddling. Wish more people could have been there.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Waves Hit Bernie

I'm continuing to play with some old pictures from past paddles. Here's Bernie hitting the waves... or is that the waves hitting Bernie?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Long Recovery Week 12

This was a week of firsts.
Monday, I had my first bath. I decided that it was time to try to get in and out of the tub. Getting in was okay, but getting out still remains a little haphazard. However, I didn't fall, and it was very relaxing. Heck, I may even have another one tonight. (Long-time followers of my misadventure will recall that due to the tinyness of my bathroom and the awkwardness of my injury, I was forced to pee in the sink for a short while after my release from the hospital. I would like to state for the record that for some time I have been able to pee in the usual manner and into the usual bathroom fixture, although I still occasionally pee into the sink because I am a lazy and gross bastard.)
Tuesday, I tied my shoelaces for the first time in three months. After getting home from my accident, the first phone call I made was to my niece who works in a discount shoe store to ask her if they had any sneakers with velcro instead of laces. And lo, they did, and they were delivered unto me, and I've been wearing them ever since. But after a recent long walk, I discovered that discount shoes aren't designed to be walked in over a lengthy distance, and since my plan is to walk home when I return to work, it was time for more comfy (and more expensive) shoes. And so it was that on Tuesday morn, I took my old expensive sneaks out of the closet, placed them on my feet and tied the laces with no discomfort in my battered left shoulder. Huzzah, huzzah.
And today another first: my first day back at work. What a, er, um, thrill it was to be back. Makes one hanker for the days when I could just sit home, rest, watch tv and get paid. And that was just last week!
Actually, it felt good to be back, if for no other reason than it represents another small step along The Long Road Back. The shoulder seemed to survive the day fairly well. And when I did my exercises in the evening, it seemed a lot less tighter than usual. Perhaps being back at work did it some good.
I stuck up a copy of my x-ray in my cubicle. Most people were shocked at the amount of metal in my arm.
"Is that permanent?" they gasped.
"Yes," I replied, "until someone figures that the going rate for titanium is worth digging up my cold and rotting corpse for."
I walked home, as per my plan, and although I was jealous of every bike rider that passed me and every kayaker in the harbour (there was only one, and he had to be crazy to be out on a stormy day like today), at the end of the day I feel a little more confident that one day soon I'll be back on my bike and in my kayak.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Long Recovery Week 10

It's funny how I can suddenly discover that I can do something without even thinking about it, or that I can still find that there are very simple tasks that I cannot do.
For instance, last week after physio, I ran for the bus. Not that the running itself was a surprising thing -- I'm not much of a jogger, but up until my accident I was riding my bike five days a week, so I was in shape enough to run if need be -- but the fact that I was running and my shoulder seemed pretty okay with it was an unexpected surprise. It wasn't until I got on the bus that I realized that I had run a couple of hundred metres with little discomfort.
Mind you, later that day I couldn't get my socks off. As I stood in front of the laundry hamper, I decided that the socks I was currently wearing were due a wash. So, still standing, I bent my left knee, lifted my left foot, reached down with my right hand and pulled my sock off. After lowering my left foot, I lifted my right foot and without thinking reached down with my left hand and did not have the strength to take off my right sock.

The good news is that I am feeling more and more human and I'm venturing out more. Here's me last week at Gyro Park. Dig the "physio beard."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Free Plug

Time for a free plug.
Check out Northern Wave Kayak in Sidney, if for no other reason than the fact that the big picture on the home page of their website is one that I took of Louise off of Telegraph Bay.
And they gave me a free hat, too.