Sunday, March 29, 2009

Finally, it could happen to me...

Yes, it's a lovely sunny day and after Paula got in from her paddle, we were cleaning up the yard. Pretty much on the spur of the moment, we decided to put the creek boat out at the road with a for sale sign on it. Within the hour, a young man named Joel had stopped to enquire about it. I took him down to the beach and put him behind the paddle while his mother and I watched, and he LOVED the boat. And, I must say, it seemed to love him back. He's in his early teens, so the boat really suited him--good initial stability without sacrificing much in the way of manoeuvrability. It even decided to track nicely for him! So his dad's on the way with $50 and a truck, and it looks like the paddling community has a new member.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Eastern Horizons Viewing Party

What better way to spend an evening than with good friends, good food, and a great new kayaking DVD?
Bryan Smith's Eastern Horizons starts off in Newfoundland with his group of paddlers doing something I've always wanted to do: paddle with icebergs. Man, that looked awesome. In fact, the whole film is awesome. I particularly enjoyed the segments on the New York Downtown Boathouse, and paddling along the sandstone cliffs on the Magdaline Islands.
Check out this DVD, it's terrific.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A New Vancouver Island Record Attempt in 2009

Joe O'Blenis, the former record holder for circumnavigating Vancouver Island in a kayak, is going after the record of 17 days and 4 hours and 49 minutes days set last fall by Sean Morley. Joe is setting his sight on making the trip in 16 days. He's planning to make the attempt in September. Follow his attempt on his Vancouver Island 2009 blog.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring's Here -- and So's the Sale

If it's mid-March, it must be time for Ocean River's Spring Gear Up Sale.
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009

Every year, Ocean River takes over the parking lot across the street from the store and celebrates the unofficial start of the paddling season by separating kayakers from their money. And they do a darn fine job of it, too.
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009

I arrived first, looking about as white as I feel as I'm now into day 10 of this rotten cold that I can't get rid off.
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009

couldn't come -- she had previously booked a hair appointment. You gotta look good in your kayak, right? But Paula and Richard were there...
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009
...and Bernie, too. He's coping a feel on a Current Design Libra XT. This is the boat Bernie and Paula took out -- or at least tried to take out -- on a blustery day a couple of weeks ago.
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009

Over at the Delta Kayaks area, they had their new 16' model on display (That's it on the bottom.)
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009
The hatches on the new 16' are held in place by small twist-locks.
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009
The 16' has two small day hatches as well as two regular hatches and Mark from Delta says they're going to start putting a day hatch into their 18' model. He even said that they could probably retro fit a day hatch into my 18'. I'd be up for that. (And I still want a hat, Mark!)

Ocean River has started carrying Tahe Marine kayaks. These Greenland-style kayaks are made in Estonia and looked really nice. They seem well-built and stylish, and the store reps said they are great.
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009

Miraculously I escaped mostly unscathed, spending only $30 for a couple of drybags.
Ocean River Gear Up March 2009
See you next spring!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Real Reason That I Love to Kayak

This is an old Douglas Borgstedt cartoon from the 9/21/1935 issue of the New Yorker, and passed on to me from Robert Runté. Be sure to check his blog. You won't find much there about kayaking, but it's still highly entertaining.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Island Eagle Nest Cams

It's spring, and that means that Vancouver Island's Eagle Nest Cams are back in action.
As reported by the Times-Colonist, several eagle pairs have nested and laid eggs, and they are visible with just a few mouse clicks 24/7. (Except at night, of course. It's dark, not much to see, really. But you can listen to them. And that's pretty cool, too.)
This is the nest cam for a pair of eagles that have nested in the same area just north of Victoria for the last 20 years. They've produced 17 eaglets in that time, but not all have survived.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Another Baby Orca in J Pod

Another new baby orca has been spotted among the local resident orca pods. This is the second new calf in seen J Pod this year, and the third new calf seen in the three local pods this spring.
Infant mortality rates in the local resident pods are about 40-50%, however this year's infant orcas all look well and healthy.
Last year, seven orcas including two newborns died, and the local resident groups are considered endangered.

Shaun Baker vs. Niagara Falls

Extreme kayaker Shaun Baker is possibly thinking about taking his jet-propelled kayak over one of the most famous waterfalls in the world: Niagara.
According to this story in the Niagara Falls Review, Baker thinks that his jet kayak could launch him clear of the danger zone of churning water at the bottom of the Falls. According to the article:
To take on big waterfalls, stunters need to propel themselves far enough out to clear of the “soft” churning white water. But the danger in going too far is landing in the green water downriver that can be like landing on concrete, he said.
While Baker doesn’t have any immediate plans to take on Niagara, the most famous waterfall in the world, he wouldn’t rule it out completely.
His jet kayak can reach 40 kmh on a flat lake which could be enough speed catapult him a fair distance out of the danger zone. Of course, that's what a jet-ski rider thought in 1995 when he rode over the edge, planning to open a parachute so that he would glide to safety. The parachute never opened.
Another person tried to kayak over the Canadian side of the Falls in 1990. The kayak is now in a local museum. His body was never found.
Performing stunts at the Falls is illegal.
Is Baker really serious about it? Again according to the article, his response is so cryptic that it would make any politician proud: “I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it. I’m certainly not saying I would.”

Sunday, March 08, 2009

See That Dot? That's a Kayak

Last week, Pedro Oliva broke the record for the largest waterfall run in a kayak with a 30-metre free fall over Rio Sacre in Brazil.
The fall took less than 3 seconds and he is believed to have a reached a speed estimated at over 110 kmh during the plunge.

Kayaking Protesters Make the Front Page

Yesterday's protest by local kayakers against the proposed marina for mega-yachts in Victoria's harbour made the front page of the local paper.
While the developers have tried to appease local paddling groups, they haven't succeeded. The marina will offer only a 7.5-to-15-metre wide clearance from the float plane taxiway in the already crowded harbour.
Stay tuned -- this story is not over yet.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Kayakers.....

At the beginning of the year, I set an unspoken goal of breaking my record of 49 paddles in one year and go for the half-century mark of 50 paddles. So far, things have not turned out so well.
January brings storms, of course, and not as many chances to paddle. While I did manage to get in one paddle in mid-January, my elderly mother became gravely ill a few days later. Paddling time became visit the hospital time, and worries over whether I could afford a new paddle gave way to concerns over my mom's health and future. Then in February, I had a second eye operation as the cataract was removed from my left eye, which resulted in another lay-off from paddling.
But that was then. Now, after more than a month my mother has left the hospital after what even the doctors call an amazing recovery, and plans for her future care are in place and in motion. My eye has healed up quite nicely, thank you, and now that both eyes have had their respective cataracts dealt with, I am actually able to see where I'm kayaking (and I might even be able to catch some of thoze speelling mistakez that kreep into the blog with an annoying frequency).
So I happily looked forward to this weekend and to be finally back on the water. Instead, Louise sprained her ankle at the gym, and another winter storm blew in bringing snow, wind and cold temperatures.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Rally at Songhees

Well, the weather blew, it shone and it snowed. And that was before Bernie and I went on the water.
We turned up this afternoon at Ocean River's dock on the Upper Harbour for the rally against the proposed marina for mega-yachts in the Inner Harbour. Yes, Victoria's harbour has a confusing series of names, starting with the Outer Harbour, the Inner Harbour, the Upper Harbour and on through the Selkirk Water and the Gorge to Portage Inlet (which is an odd thing to call a tidal salt-water lake). But I digress.
When Ocean River put out the call to their e-mailing list about the rally, the note included a promise that rental kayaks would be available at no charge for those attending the rally. This was a terrific offer -- I'd recommend that anyone planning to rent a kayak consider renting from Ocean River as a "thank you!" for these free rentals. I booked a double right away, figuring Bernie and Lila would use it and I'd follow along in an inflatable.
But as Bernie and I hopped off the bus and trudged along with two knapsacks full of paddle gear for us and Lila (and the Dragonfly trundling along as well) we felt a distinct chill and a stiff breeze. "Let's go down this way, close to the bridge" Bernie said, "and get a look at the water before we get to Ocean River." We could see whitecaps off our launch beach at Songhees.
Lila doesn't paddle often, and was allowed to back out of paddling this windy day. She became our ground crew instead, guarding the packs and inflatable at a Chinatown restaurant. "No, Mom, you can't take your little boat out there," she insisted. "It will be a balloon." It's so nice when kids grow up and start looking after you...
The Upper Harbour was pretty well sheltered, behind Songhees Point, but it was still choppy. Bernie said the wind was gusting to 40 klicks. We geared up and launched the big Libra XT double, which we'd never tried before. That made today a boat demo as well. It's always interesting to try a new model, and this one had never been rented before.
I don't know if we'll try it again, either. Maybe on a calm day. But it sure wasn't the boat for us on this windy day -- it felt like we were trying to paddle one of the container ships we see going through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Libra XT has a big deck humped high between the paddlers. It felt like it caught every gust of wind.
We couldn't turn that barge for love nor money till the wind faltered for a moment. The Libra came around slowly and reluctantly. It was all we could do to keep from being blown onto the rocky shoreline. When the Libra returned to its dock below Ocean River, we took that as a sign and got out.
So, out of the two dozen or so kayaks we saw gathering for the rally, our part was an abbreviated one, taking in about two hundred yards of conditions we would have enjoyed in our own boats but just couldn't take in this one. I feel like such a jam tart, when others were sporting in the waves and all; but I did hear one paddler in a surf ski comment to her friend about how careful she was being in these conditions.
We weren't the only paddlers who had a brief participation in the water part of the rally. One of the people launching flipped his rental kayak about ten feet off the dock and wet exited. His dignity was harmed more than anything else. Of course it was the only guy wearing blue jeans! But he scrambled onto the dock and was helped into the boatshed immediately, out of the wind.
Mike Jackson has written about the rally as well, on his blog so go there and see the viewpoint of a paddler who actually showed up in his boat as planned.
What a day for a rally scheduled to be on the water! And what better way to celebrate International Women's Day as well, than at a rally speaking out for the environmentally-sustainable use of our Inner Harbour?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Only Seven??!?

Some well-known kayakers (including Doug Alderson, Tim Shuff, and Serge Savard) were asked to name their favourite kayaking spots in Canada. How they whittled it down to seven final choices, I'll never know. They pick some of the usual suspects like the Broken Group Islands and Desolation Sound, but also reach a little further afield for places like Kane Basin, Nunavut, and Burgeo, Newfoundland.
The bad news is that I have never kayaked at any of the chosen locations. The good news is that I have never kayaked at any of the chosen locations, so that means there's plenty more kayaking for me to do. :)

Monday, March 02, 2009


And here I sit, not having seen liquid water for months except when it has had enough salt dumped on it to form a toxic boot-melting slurry. Violating whatever commandment prohibits envy. Gazing longingly at the fishing shows on the TV screens in the gym. Sublimating my water and kayak deprivation by looking at old paddling photos and doodling in 3D ...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Calling All Local Paddlers

Local paddlers are being asked to participate in a rally protesting the new marina for mega-yachts proposed for Vitoria's Inner Harbour. This project is a huge proposal that will drastically re-shape our harbour and curtail all most paddling acticites in the harbour.
Here's the plan via an email for Ocean River:
When: Saturday March 7th 2009, 3:00 PM. Please be sure to meet at the site well before starting time.
Where: We will meet on the water at the proposed Community Marine Concepts Ltd Mega Yacht Marina Location - directly in front of the Songhees Condominiums (see map in the attached PDF file).
Why: To demonstrate the paddling community's profound concern regarding Community Marine Concepts Ltd's Marina proposal, and to show our support for access to shared public waterways - including our Harbour!
Who: Everyone who loves getting on the water in human powered vessels - canoeists (marathon, tripping, voyageur), kayakers, stand-up board paddlers, OC6, OC2, OC1 paddlers, dragon boaters, rowers, surf ski paddlers... All are welcome and encouraged to come paddle with us!
If you can't be there in your boat, an on-land rally will be taking place at the same time on shore.