Sunday, April 27, 2008

Paddling Come Rain or... er... um... Rain

We knew that the rain was coming. A front was going to pass through sometime around noon and bring with it some showers, so we weren't sure how long a paddle we were going to get before the rain. But we decided to go for it. We're kayakers, after all -- we dress to get wet.
So under cloudy skies, we put in at Telegraph Bay. It was Louise, Alison, Paula and myself today.
Telegraph Bay

I'm using a new piece of gear for my deck camera. I've been using a Sticky Pod suction cup to mount my deck cam onto my boat and it mostly works pretty well, but it does have its drawbacks. It's really meant for a flat surface and of course kayaks aren't flat, so you've really got to find the sweet spot on the deck where it will stick, otherwise your camera goes swimming. Also, after a few hours the Sticky Pad does have a tendency to pop off. So I was thinking what I needed was something that was curved, yet has a flat top to mount a camera on. As it happened, I was surfing the online MEC catalogue and saw they had these things on clearance. This is actually the attaching stand for a kayak sail, but it works great as a camera mount, and all the hardware from the Sticky Pod fits it perfectly. There have been some rough water days that I haven't bothered with the deck camera, because I knew it was going to get swept off, but this should be nice and steady on those days.
Picture 323

Before we even got in the boats and started paddling, I was taking pictures. An otter swam by, and although I tried I never got a good shot of him. But there was a heron who was watching us launch.
Picture 360

Soon we were off and on our way. Every time we paddle here, we pass this tree and there's always an eagle in it. Today was no exception.
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We were supposed to be paddling against a slight ebbing current, and if there was a current, it was very slight indeed. The water was calm and flat, and the rain seemed to be holding off. We proceeded west towards Mount Douglas Park.
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We paddled into a small cove behind Queen Alexandria Hospital. We've never poked around in it before, but today seemed like a good day to noodle between the rocks. It was a good thing we went in, because we saw this heron doing a little fishing.
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Picture 379

We continued on under the gaze of some deer. There were three of them looking down on us as they calmly enjoyed Sunday brunch.
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After we passed the deer, we played in the cave.
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Well, we call it a cave, but really it's a very small rocky cove. But it's a fun little place to poke around in.
Picture 345

We headed back, and again passed under the watchful eyes of the deer.
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Finally, the rain hit. We also caught a couple of wakes to play in on the way back to end a great paddle.
Picture 283

Telegraph Bay
Trip length: 8.5 km

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weather or Not

It's been Crazy Weather Week.
This part of the world is suffering through its coolest spring in 40 years. We actually got some snow the last couple of days here in Victoria. Just a sprinkling, though, nothing compared to the 24cm of snow the mid-Island got on Friday, shattering all sorts of late spring snowfall records.
The outlook for today was not promising. Snow was not in the forecast, although winds and rain were, and it was going to be cool. So -- and there's no nice way to say it -- so we wimped out. It turned out to be a pretty nice day: cool, but sunny, and the wind never turned up. It would have been a good day on the water. Oh, well.
But at least we didn't have to worry about any hitchhikers, unlike this guy:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Breaking New Ground

We were dubious about a paddle as the morning broke. Depsite a total absence of rain in the forecast for today, we were encountering drizzle as we loaded up and headed out to Brentwood Bay. But the drizzle soon stopped, and it looked like we were going to have a great paddle day.
It was Louise, Richard, Paula, Alison and myself today. The plan was to cross Saanich Inlet and see how far down the Inlet we could get. About a decade ago, Louise took a kayaking course and they paddled down to a waterfall where they put in and had a break. Today we're going to seek out this mythical waterfall.
Brentwood Bay Launch

We headed out and crossed the Inlet without incident. Alison and Paula lead the way...
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...but their path crossed mine, and I had them in my sights. In naval combat, this is called Crossing the T.
Ready...aim....
Ready...Aim...

Actually, the crossing wasn't totally event-free. We found ourselves being tailed by over a dozen seals. This has happened before when we've crossed over south of Bamberton. I tried to get some pictures of them, but none turned out. But we did see this fellow sunning himself as we paddled down the shore.
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An eagle relaxed in a tree.
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While Alison and I were distracted by the eagle, the rest of the group drifted by the next point. As we paddled slowly to catch up, Richard looked like he was doing a "shush" motion and Paula was pointing at the far side of the point. We realized that something was there and as we drifted around, there were two baby seals on the rock.
We were probably closer than we should have been, but we just drifted slowly by and tried not to disturb them too much.
Baby Seals

Then we came upon the ruins of Minus Tirith.
Okay, maybe not that exactly, but there was a stone staircase that went from the shoreline to nowhere.
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We never made it into Finlayson Arm. We ended up just going down a part called Squally Reach. That's where we found Louise's waterfall.
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There was a small beach there to put in, but we decided to keep on paddling. We crossed, then put in for a rest and a snack at McKenzie Bight.
Snacks at McKenzie Bight

Then we started the final leg back to Brentwood.
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We had a great time and were out on the water for about four and a half hours. What a fun paddle!
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Brentwood Bay
Trip length: 15.6 km

John's pictures are here.
Richard's blog entry is here.
Richard's pictures are here.

Good current

Saturday April 12, Richard and I went out from Cadboro Bay around Ten Mile Point. We missed slack or it never went slack, so we went against a slight outbound tide at Cadboro Point, then there was current with swells at Ten Mile Point. There were about two dozen little yachts going out when we did, passing between Flower Island and Jemmy Jones Island.
We watched the yachts playing at the edge of Haro Strait. A good moment riding the swells at the bouncy place off the point!
Then back, with the current but still not fast enough... getting a wish for speed and current. Must be careful with that.
Going around Jemmy Jones Island, we saw an eagle taking off from behind a rock just above the water. Tried to investigate, but couldn't see what it had been doing down there. Was it tearing at something dead? Maybe, because another bird was there, and this one looked like a turkey vulture. Hard to be sure. As it dipped behind the rock, an otter climbed up the rock behind and got lost. Something's happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear... isn't Nature wonderful?
Saw oystercatchers, too, which was good as it wasn't nesting time yet.
All in all, a good chance to paddle against and with a gentle current, and to paddle into the wind for a better workout and good training.

Richard's Blog report is here.
Richard's pictures are here.

Monday, April 07, 2008

MEC Paddlefest at Cadboro Bay - June 15

Mountain Equipment Co-op will host another paddlefest at Cadboro Bay this year.
Demos and classes will take place on the beach and in the water. Try out some of those boats you've always wanted to try. Details are just a click away.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Non-Paddle Sunday

So we decided not to paddle today. Various factors led to this decision: Alison was busy, Bernie was repairing his kayak, Richard was out of town, and Paula was without wheels. Perhaps the most important factor in our decision was that the weatherman was predicting showers for today.
Ha! That's the last time we'll ever listen to him!
As it turned out Richard's travel plans changed and he was in town after all, and the weather was good enough to have gone for a paddle. Oh, well.
However, we did meet and plan a few more paddles. Hopefully we'll get off to a better start than these two guys.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dear Kayak Yak - Paddles

Dear Kayak Yak

I'm new to kayaking and I get confused by all the different kinds of paddles and blades. Can you offer a short paddle primer?

Yours,
Baffled in Banff

Dear Baffled
One paddle primer coming up!


This is what a conventional paddle looks like. While there is some variation in the blade shape, most paddles look like this. Some expedition paddlers prefer longer and thinner blades, while some whitewater paddlers like shorter and wider blades.
There can be even more variation, like this wing paddle...


...but most conventional paddles have the same basic look.

Then there's the more traditional Greenland paddle.


This paddle is usually made from wood and features a long but very thin blade. Generally shorter than a conventional paddle, it is surprisingly efficient. Many Greenland paddlers swear by them and would never go back to a conventional paddle.

Then there's the Canadian paddle.


This paddle is similar to the Greenland paddle in that it is made from wood (although new versions made from graphite are now on the market). The hook of the blade allows for more efficient paddling, and should allow for a harder shot from the point and more goal scoring.


Happy paddling!