Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Chapel is Open

This morning was gorgeous: bright, sunny, warm. Winter may be inexorably drawing nearer, but today felt more like a summer day as the sun's warm rays and the clear blue skies made for a perfect paddle day as Louise, Paula and myself put in at Thetis Lake for an early morning paddle and some practice.
They don't call it "Sun" day for nothing.
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We headed out for our paddle, with Paula leading the way in her inflatable...

...and Louise and I followed behind.

It was just perfect on the lake. Flat and glassy as a mist came up.

I'm not much for organized religion, and a quiet paddle like this on a beautiful Sunday morning is as close as I'll ever get to whatever gods may or may not be out there. As Paula said as the light streamed down around her, "The chapel is open."

After our paddle, we practiced near the beach at our launch point. This was a good chance for us to do wet exits, re-entries, and take the obligatory embarrassing pictures of fat neoprene-covered asses crawling awkwardly into their kayaks.

My fat neoprene-covered ass went first.

This was the first time for Louise and I to try re-entries in our new kayaks. One thing I discovered is that this boat sits a little higher in the water then my old boat, making it a little harder to climb in.

But I did it. And so did Louise.

Another great paddle!

John's pictures are here.

Thetis Lake -- the paddle before the wet exit practice

Today it was Paula, John and I out for a paddle on Thetis Lake before practicing wet exits with the new Delta kayaks. Here Paula prepares her inflatable kayak while our Delta's rest on the shore.
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The lake was busy this fine morning with dog walkers, a running group and these two fishermen heading out in their boat powered by an electric motor. A very cool little contraption.
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There was a bit of mist on the lake. Here is Paula enjoying the reflections of the water on the rocks as she heads into the mist.
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And John follows Paula...
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Lucky for Paula this was not Steven King's movie The Mist and she was completely safe. However, due to mist and sun I wasn't really able to see what I was aiming the camera at and could only aim and click. Surprisingly I captured a rather interesting photo of John!
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And another one later where the sun was in my eyes and I just clicked.
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We headed off around the bend to see if we could find any turtles.
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We didn't find any turtles, but as usual Paula is hanging over her boat looking in the water and discovered what "looked like globs of chewed gum." I thought these were probably buds as they were attached to the water lily stalks.
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Finally we headed back from our light paddle to prepare for a dip in the lake.
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Here is John just before he flipped over into Thetis Lake and climbed back into his kayak. See his report for the wet exit practice.
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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gearing Up

Yes, it's time for the Fall Ocean River sale.
...and I...
...headed down to line up early and spend money.
And we certainly did. We stocked up on paddling clothing and a few other things.
Now it's time to start saving for next Spring's sale.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Twilight Zone

Richard proposed an evening paddle on Portage Inlet and Louise and I readily accepted.

The weather was cloudy, so we weren't expecting any sort of gorgeous sunset. Often it seems like Spring and Fall in Victoria only last about two weeks each, a brief transitional buffer between winter and summer, and this week was following suit as clouds, wind and rain greeted the equinox.
Despite the weather, Richard was keen to begin.

We paddled down The Gorge...

...and into Portage Inlet as the sun went down.

I did my bit to keep the waters clean by fishing this bottle out of the Inlet. Dr.McGillicuddy's Fireball Whiskey Shooter. Looks like good stuff.

This was a great paddle! Calm and clear water, gorgeous conditions. We paddled around the Inlet savoring the transition from day to night.

Then the Dr. McGillicuddy's kicked in.

John's pictures are here.

Richard's blog report is here and his pictures are here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Grand Tour

It might have been the last day of summer, but this morning we were dressed like it was the first day of winter. The weather reports were a little confusing. Some were issuing small craft and gale warnings; others were calling for just a slight breeze. We had one thing going for us; the currents should be relatively light and easy to deal with.
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It was Richard, Louise, Paula and myself today. Our plan was to take advantage of the weak currents and give Louise's and my new Delta kayaks their first trip into more open water, and head over to Discovery Island. Considering the forecast, we decided to be a little cautious so first we paddled over to Flower Island at the end of Ten Mile Point.
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From there, we paddled another half km or so to Jemmy Jones Island. Here I started laughing. We'd reached Jemmy Jones in only 20 minutes, when back in the day when all we had were 10' playboats, this was a day's paddle!
We could see the occasional squall passing off to the east of us behind Discovery Island. The currents were slow as predicted, and there seemed to be no sign of the wind. So we pressed on and made the 1 km crossing to Chatham Island.
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Last week, we couldn't spit without hitting a heron. This week, the seals were everywhere. These two fellows were relaxing on the rocky shore of Chatham Island.
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From Chatham, we paddled towards its neighbour, Discovery Island. Once again, just about every rock had a seal on it. And it stank of dead fish and seal poo.
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At Discovery, the wind still had not come up and so we decided to alter the plan and do "The Grand Tour," and cross over to the Chain Islands. There we saw -- wow, what a surprise -- more seals! (And yes, this islet is totally covered in seagull droppings.)
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Richard crept in close to this seal.
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We said goodbye to the seals, and crossed back to the mainland.
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Once back along the shore, we headed south in the direction of Trial Island. We poked our noses out around Gonzales Point and found ourselves in some waves. This is the demarcation between Haro and Juan de Fuca Straits and can make for a bad day for the unaware and illprepared kayaker. Today, it was just fun. Louise and I were impressed with our new boats. We had huge smiles all day as the boats effortlessly cut through chop, wake and waves. We love our new boats!
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We headed back north up the coast our launch point at Cadboro Bay. We weren't the only people who enjoyed a great day on the water.
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The Grand Tour

Trip length: 14.91 km
John's photos are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

Richard's photos are here.
His blog report is here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

MEC Gear Swap

MEC is hosting a Gear Swap.
It's on Sunday, October 19, from 12-4 pm at James Bay Community School Centre, 140 Oswego Street.
Let's hope it's raining and stormy that day, so we're not out paddling and can attend. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When It All Goes Very Very Wrong....

The National Geographic channel is running a documentary about Andrew McAuley's ill-fated attempt to kayak solo from Australia to New Zealand in January, 2007 called Solo: Lost at Sea. He was attmpting to paddle 1600 km across the Tasman Sea. 29 days after he set out, 80 km from completing his voyage, he broadcast a distress call. The next day, his empty kayak was found floating within sight of land. His body was never found.
The trailer for this documentary is one the most heart-wrenching pieces of film I've ever seen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

When It All Goes Very Wrong....

A kayaker who became trapped under his boat in the remote Australian outback was forced to break his own leg in a bid to save his life, it has emerged.
This is from The Telegraph website:

The 38-year-old was among a group of six adventurers who trekked into the bush to go white water rafting on the West Kiewa River in the state of Victoria.
But as they travelled through an area of fast-flowing water on Sunday, the man's kayak overturned and became stuck under a fallen tree. Since his leg was trapped, his only form of escape was to twist it violently.In the process, he broke it in two places, but was able to wrench himself free.
He was pulled out by friends and spent a painful night in the river gorge with a doctor in the expedition party, while others hiked to find help.

Monday, September 15, 2008

An Afternoon Quickie

Louise and I have had our new kayaks for only three days and already we've taken them out twice. Not bad, eh? Somehow I think Louise really likes her new ride.
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We're thinking of heading for Chatham/Discovery Islands next Sunday, so we wanted to get a little more time under our belts in the new boats before then. Today we joined Paula for an afternoon quickie in Cadboro Bay.
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I explored a rock garden on the south shore of Ten Mile Point and stumbled upon this heron that was so close I could have patted him on the head. He decided that his admiring public was a little too close and took off, his wings rustling as he took flight. (Not a great photo, though. Oh, well.)
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We saw the occasional seal pop up, and a family of otters scurry over Jemmy Jones Island, but it was the herons who were out in full force today. We passed this one just a few minutes later.
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I don't think that we had intended to head this way, but we ended up out at Jemmy Jones Island, and Chatham Island was beyond that, beckoning us. The currents looked doable and we could have easily made a quick dash there and back, but we had a limited time today as we were meeting friends for coffee afterward. It was a tough call -- Chatham was pulling hard.
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So we headed back, where we saw a heron up in a tree doing his best eagle impression.
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And soon we were home. We'll see you next weekend, Chatham Island!

Cadboro Bay to Jemmy Jones ISland
Trip length: 5.69 km
John's pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.