Monday, November 12, 2007

Winter Is Here

Today we are getting pummelled by the second big winter storm of the year. High winds and rain. The ferries aren't running today and nearly 200,000 people are without power. It's starting to sound just like last winter.
Yesterday, before the storm blew in, we'd thought we'd put in for a practice session at Cadboro Bay. Do some rescue practice, towing practice, and try out any tricks new we've read about.
So we were dressed for a dunking which was a good thing, because the winds preceding today's storm arrived at the beach before we did.
Rough Morning

So with one-foot waves lapping on the shore, we altered the plan and decided to use the occasion to gain more confidence paddling in rougher water. Bernie was so excited to go that he wouldn't even stop to get his picture taken.
To the Beach

Here's what the well-dressed kayaking couples are wearing these days....
What The Well-Dressed Kayaking Couples are Wearing This Season

...and their photographer is equally well-groomed.
Ready for Action

It was just Paula, Bernie and myself today (everyone else was either wimpier or smarter than us. I'll let you decide which.) Here they are launching....
Off We Go

....which didn't go exactly as planned.
A Failed Launch

If we were doing an "actual" paddle today, we probably wouldn't have gone out. But we decided that we were only going to go out a hundred metres or so. We set the moored boat as out limit. That way if something happened and one of us ended up in the water, we could probably walk back in if we had to. Also, both the wind and current were pushing into shore so we felt reasonable assured that we would be okay should some disaster strike.

And in fact once we got out a bit, it wasn't too bad at all. The wind seemed a little less than it was on shore, and the water was a little flatter than it was near the beach. Still, the wind and the waves were pushing us around a bit, so we had to keep our wits about us.
I Could Use Some Hot Chocolate

Bernie is hooked on his homemade Greenland paddle.....
Rough Water Bernie

...and Paula continues to sing the praises of her pink Eliza.
Paddlin' Paula

Any day on the water is a good day.

John's photos are here.


  1. Congrats on braving the nutty storm front! Looked like a great day out around the inner harbour (looks pretty bumpy even in the bay(!!) from the looks of the pictures). Did you guys manage to do any emergency practice or was it mostly just trying to fight the whitecaps, launchings and landings? I was down by fisherman's wharf on Sunday trying to photograph seals and birds, and it was calm as could be. The wind started coming in that evening (c-c--cold) then next think I knew, my patio furniture was on the street :P stupid winter. hopefully it will continue to stay pretty mild outside.

    On gear notes: how the heck is that greenland paddle treating you? did you fashion it (did you fashion your boat?) - I love the look of them. The hatch covers on the new boat are pretty intense too - first time I've seen clear photos of them.

    If you guys haven't been watching Freya Hoffmeister's crazy trip around new zealand, you should go there and see the crap she's launching into - I'm guessing if your boat cocked in that noise, you'd be "fairly unlucky" :)
    Great pics this round by the way. I love the angry seas and skys - really dramatic!

  2. We tried some towing practice which was interesting. Paula was towing me, but I kept swinging wide and passing her -- Bernie called it the "water-skier effect."
    But mainly we played in the waves, and there was a lot of woo-hooing and yee-hawing!
    I saw the photo of the seal on flickr -- that was a great shoot. Was that down by Barb's Fish and Chips?

  3. That must have been exceptionally fun to do while madly weathercocking and going over chop. Last time I tried towing the same thing happened to me - I'd just sail on by the person towing.. maybe it's just a brain thing? I kept having to change my cadence to keep the rope tight enough so I'd be towed and not towing the other person off course instead.
    Yeah, the Pics were shot on fisherman's wharf right next to barb's - you'll know you're there when you see 20-30 tourists ;/ . They get quite a gathering of harbour seals (and a resident Heron up on the far end of the parking lot). I just couldn't stop snapping pics of them and had to narrow down just a few keepers. the tourists kept buying fish which kept them looking more like tame lapdogs than harbour seals.

  4. Yeah, it's hard to resist those seals at Barb's, those very well-fed seals... :)

  5. Richard: no I didn't make this Greenland paddle. I made a previous one --which I destroyed while trying to thin it out. But this one is just whittled out of a spruce 50 x 100 (or 2 x 4 for those still mired in Imperial measure). I find that the paddling is very natural, less strain on your shoulders, and there are things I can do with it that just don't happen with a European paddle. For example, if I want a strong turn, I can shift my hand to the end of the paddle and extend it out almost 2.5 metres out the other side and gain tremendous leverage. You can do this with a European paddle, but I find it neither as easy nor as natural a movement.
    the hatch covers are still a work in progress--the rear one is not as watertight as I would like. But I cut the hole to allow me to fit a single burner butane stove (one of the "Stormbuster" ones from Capital Iron that they sell for $20). It's part of our emergency preparedness kit, but I figured I may as well be able to use it camping as well as when the power is out. And if I really need the room, I can always use my Whisperlite stove instead....

  6. I hear you on the covers.. having them watertight is really important out in the more surfy exploits - but then again, you were out there in a boat with no bulkeads, so I'm sure you're totally in control of a bit of seepage ;). Where you're storing the stove, is there a combing or is it just a flat cut and the hatch cover fits up against it?

    I've always kind of wondered about the drip factor on greenland paddles. Do they tend to drip down your arm pretty bad, or is this euro paddle thinking? I really like the fact that you don't have to flip it over after a recorvery as both sides are the same, and you make a good point about how it's presented to the water. less impulse trying to move forward and a wayyy wider sweep stroke. I couldn't imagine holding onto the end of a euro blade it's too thin and flexible for my skill level. This is something I'll have to look into further ;) Thanks for the info!

  7. As I say, the hatches are a work in progress. The rear hatch has a raised coaming around it, and the cover has a (mostly) matching lip.The front cover is a scrap of ply with a bit of weatherstripping around the perimeter and small blocks along the long sides to help hold the matching curve to the deck. The front one works pretty well actually, considering it's just jury-rigged. The back one doesn't yet work as well as I hoped.
    The Greenland does drip a fair bit--there are no drip rings on it--but as I wear the heavy neoprene paddling/cycling gloves from MEC year 'round, it doesn't really bother me.
    And who says I don't have bulkheads? 6mm maple ply with a double coating of epoxy for waterproofing. All joints sealed with either thickened epoxy or fairing compound. Boat be SAFE, bro! Imperfect maybe, and an ongoing project certainly, but certainly safe and watertight(ish).

  8. Oh hehe.. the bulkeads thing: I was making reference to the pamlico which you took out on the big ocean - I can see the ones in your new boat and they look sturdy :). I guess you'd just get float bags or something like that for the pamlico though.

    I was going to ask if you could make drip rings for when you're on a cold lake or something, but thinking about it, having drip rings on a greenland paddle would make it harder to slide back and forth for various strokes, so gloves and a hiked up sprayskirt should sort it out. It's definitely something I'll have to try one day.

  9. The Pamlico 100 does have a bulkhead. Bernie and I put it in (well, he did nearly everything but I held the light and played the role of a human-sized vise holding the boat in various positions). Then he cut out the hatch and added the hatch cover we bought at Pacifica Paddlesports.
    For the front flotation, he sprayed a full can of insulation foam into the bow (me holding the boat again).It slumped a bit while curing, but it fills the bow so that there's a good big foam piece there for flotation.
    When the Pamlico is flipped and fills with water, it now floats higher than it used to. With no real flotation, it "floated" just under the surface. This bulkhead and improvised front flotation foam is way, way more safe than the standard.

  10. Nice work! :) That's quite the dedication to a Pamlico. 'Anything that gets you on the water' is a good mantra after all.

  11. ...and you can find pictures of Bernie's handiwork here

  12. Darn right, "anything that gets you on the water" is a good mantra! We usually phrase it as a question, when looking at river runners, surf playboats, folding or inflatable kayaks, doubles, surf skis, touring boats and all the other varieties of kayak for many purposes. Will it get you on the water? Will you go out on the water more because of this boat? Will it take you the places you want to go?
    I find the Pamlico 100 is a good kayak for lots of purposes. Especially stable for beginners! But the 120 is longer and comes with bulkheads in place.