Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Paddling Weather Stats


62 paddles were documented on the blog in 2010. The weather stats break down like this:
36% of our paddles were on sunny days;
17% were on cloudy days;
17% were on rainy/stormy days;
and 10% were canceled due to bad weather

As we can see, sunny days were down, and thus cloudy and stormy paddling days were up. Or was it the other way around? Either way, the weather took a bit of a dip this year, let's hope it's better in 2011.
Happy paddlin'!

Hope Your Year Went Better Than It Did For These Kayakers....

Let's end the year with some videos of kayakers who ought to make retiring from the sport their New Year's Resolution:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Remembering "Paddle To The Sea"

Today a tickling cough kept me off the water. I don't want this symptom to progress to a bad cold or 'flu. Even so, I wrapped up warmly in a sweater and parka and twice walked down through Gyro Park to look at the shoreline, once in the morning, once in the afternoon. There was beautiful clear light, for much of the day.
Holed up with my computer in the middle of the day, I missed the sounds of heavy equipment in the parking lot. Saanich workers spread a couple of yards of gravel over the entrance to the parking lot. The potholes that had been showing in the morning were covered smoothly by 3:30 pm. It takes a lot of maintenance to keep these high-traffic areas in good repair, or moderately good repair. That's worth remembering, for those of us who aren't kayaking in a trackless wilderness.
I also found myself remembering "Paddle To The Sea" -- a short film made by the National Film Board in 1966. Maybe I'm just nostalgic for this and many NFB short films. I like remembering this little film, and I like knowing that many schoolkids across Canada saw it in their classrooms as I did in mine.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sea Monster?

The weather was great today, especially for December! Early this afternoon, I got out in my little inflatable and went out to Flower Island and Evans Rock. A good time on the water, even if it was much like any of several dozen times I've been out in a kayak. Same old same old is more than good enough.
But hey, it's not good enough for writing. And it doesn't do justice to how nice today was, even if it was the same kind of nice that I enjoy many days. And having nice days is worth celebrating with more than a flippant note.
So, to start again: Here on the south end of Vancouver Island, we're leading a charmed life. The same weather fronts that bring heaps of snow or inches of rain to nearby places bring us showers, or pass us by. While the rest of Canada is labouring to clear snow or re-direct the runoff from abundant rain, we've had some nice mild days this holiday season. And today, the sky was bright and blue, with enough clouds at the horizon to show the next weather front advancing past the Olympic Mountains, and the previous front still blowing away from the Coast Range. It was so bright, there were mirages making the Chain Islets look like they were floating above the water.
Cold weather is no problem if you're wearing the right gear, as Brian Henry of Ocean River has been heard to say. This was the first day this winter that I had to put on my cold weather cap. Boy, is this cap a handy thing! Most of the year it's buckled around the strap of my PFD and tucked inside, to wear if I get dunked and chilled. Today it kept my head warm, even if the chin strap meant that the cap covered my ears as well.
I meant to go around Flower in a clockwise direction today, but as I approached the channel between the point and the island, there were otters bobbing in the channel. They really have the right-of-way, y'know. So for today, I avoided the channel and went 'round in the island widdershins, till I got to the end with Evans Rock offshore.
It was great to be there today. For anyone who doesn't believe we lead a charmed life here on the Saanich Peninsula, the sight of San Juan Island just across Haro Strait was a bright sign of local weather variations. San Juan Island was dusted with snow, and the big sandy cliff was all white. So bright on this sunny day! It was cold here last night, but no snow fell for us.
Whenever I go to Evans Rock, I always remember the sea monsters that I've seen here. So far, Cadborosaurus has not been photographed and identified by one of the Kayak Yak paddlers. But as well as the otters and harbour seals that may have been mis-identified by some people as a Cadborosaurus, there are other great beasts. There were elephant seals in the area on the day that I was floating here, fish-watching in my Eliza, and got chased away. There was a gray whale that hung around the Victoria shoreline for weeks, and one day I hid among the wet rocks and watched it pass back and forth. If you see big animals like this, particularly if they look injured, or any sea turtle, there's a place to report them with the Department of Fisheries.
Most days, the sea monsters that are all over Cadboro Bay are humans, as I've noted before. We humans do some pretty monstrous things: noise, smell, pollution in the air and water. I realized today that though I was in a boat that was almost silent, trailing no oil or grease or exhaust in the air and water, I was the monster today.
Yup, I looked pretty much like a monster. Shiny sunglasses made my eyes into glaring bug-eyes that I had to turn away from the herons I passed. Anything that has ever been chased by a predator knows what it means when two eyes on the front of a face are both pointed in their direction. When looking at shorebirds like herons, or oystercatchers, I sneak sidelong peeks at them without turning my face towards them.
Inside my wetsuit and PFD, my human shape was padded and bulging. My fingertips looked like pale claws sticking out of my short-fingered gloves. But it wasn't those things that were scaring my animal neighbours -- bufflehead ducks and plovers and otters -- it was the fact that I was there at all. To the shoreline animals, the presence of any human is something to be feared.
Realizing that I was feared by them was sobering. I made my way back to the beach, avoiding otters and birds.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Quote For the Day

"If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most."
-- E. B. White

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Season's greetings to all!
I was one of the lucky ones who had time to go out in a kayak on Christmas Day. It was a good moment of peace, between the rush of Christmas morning and the over-eating of Christmas dinner. There was a short window of opportunity, and I was glad to take advantage. The weather hasn't allowed for much paddling for the last couple of weeks. My time has been occupied, too. But I did get on the water twice this week. It took threading my way through a new tangle of logs on the shore at Cadboro Bay's Gyro Park. The winter storms often toss logs across the sandy boat ramp at one end of the park. This year, it looks like waves and logs have been beating on the little seawalls for the houses along the shoreline.
People walking along the beach in winter always stop to watch me launch, and shudder when I wade out to stand ankle-deep next to my boat. Piffle. The water isn't much colder in December than it is in August. Well, the air is colder. On mild winter days, it's hard to tell that it's actually winter. It could be almost any month of the year, when I look at the shoreline of trees that are mostly Douglas fir and pine... it would be a very cold August, but the weather on Christmas Day was nothing to complain about.
Reading the weather is something that gets easier to do with practise. And the practise gives me more chances to learn what generally works when reading the weather. When the trees are dancing in the wind outside my windows, I know that the breeze out on the bay is too stiff for a relaxed solo paddle in my little inflatable. But in winter, the trees have no leaves to catch the wind. They may be deceptively still. In winter, it's better to go outside and feel the breeze than try to guess by looking through the window.
Rain means less than it might when I'm trying to decide whether a day is good weather for paddling. It's less fun to go kayaking in the rain -- it's no fun when the rain is slanted sideways by a strong, cold wind! There are enough times that the rain starts when we're already on the water, or launching at a beach we don't often visit. I paddle in the rain often enough that I don't need to launch at my home beach on a day that rain is pounding down.
I read the weather by looking down at the bay when coming back from somewhere else. Both of the major roads leading back home from downtown or the University are steeply slanted, downhill to the bay. Blue water is a cheerful reminder that there's plenty of daylight left to get on the water. Grey water might still be worth paddling -- or there might be a storm coming.
I know all the shores of the bay, so the sight of waves breaking against rocks tells me the direction of the wind, and its intensity. Whitecaps in the middle of the bay are something else that catches my attention, too!
After a series of days with so much wind that there were whitecaps even on the water that rises around the concrete octopus in Gyro Park, it was great to get out on Thursday and again on Christmas Day. Got to see the neighbours again: people walking dogs and grandchildren, ducks quacking quietly to each other in mellow conversations about how they really didn't need to migrate any farther south this winter, and otters tumbling in Sheep Cove. The ducks were many and various, from buffleheads to ruddy ducks and I think mergansers as well. The herons don't mind me paddling past, but whenever I've stopped to take a photo of one, it has squawked and flown away. So I let them be for a while.
I let the otters be, too, when I came on them feeding in Sheep Cove. The otters aren't usually out & about at high tide -- usually it's low tide when they are ducking down and coming up with something to eat. It's possible they were waiting out a windstorm, and glad for some calm weather to look for food in peace. They didn't need me hanging around to cramp their style.
Instead, I went back to the beach, and ran into Mike Jackson. He was out in the sweet handmade kayak he owns, the one that looks like canvas sewed over a thin wooden frame. With his Greenland paddle, this is a very Inuit look! By contrast, my multi-coloured inflatable and old round-bladed paddle have a very commercial look. Still, we were both enjoying the day as we should.
The day ended well, with a family dinner complete with all the trimmings. And with good wishes for a new year, with many more paddle outings, in familiar places and the new ones we've dreamed of visiting.

Happy Boxing Day

It's Boxing Day again! And time for our annual round-up of snow kayaking clips!
But first, a word from our sponsor:

And now back to our regularly scheduled snow kayaking mayhem:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sorry... Where's the Brake on This Thing Again...?

Louise got this Christmas card from a co-worker and it's a heckuva nice shot!
It's called "James Fredericks, First Descent, Tumalo Creek, Oregon" and taken by Mark Gamba.
You can order copies from Palm Press should you feel inclined.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Information Than You Could Ever Possibly Require

Google launched its latest gadget a while ago, the Google Ngram Viewer. Using the viewer, you can compare the frequency of word usage on Google Books. For instance, want to see how often the word "kayak" was in used in books during the time from 1900 to present? Just stick in the word "kayak" and ta-da!
We can see that usage of the word kayak has gone up over the last 20 years or so, not a surprise since the usage of actual kayaks has increased over that time. Interestingly, there's quite a big spike in usage in the mid-1930s as well. And if we go back another century as per the graph below...
...we can see large spikes in usage around 1870 and 1895.
The first usage seems to be around 1817. My guess is the first usage was either a typo or was a writer trying to describe the sound a cat makes when it coughs up a hairball.
How does "kayak" compare with other phrases or words? I chose another word and phrase at random, and the results are below.

Not surprisingly "kayak" rated higher than "aardvark," but interestingly "kayak" rated much higher than "Captain Kirk." Perhaps most shocking of all, it took "Captain Kirk" until the mid-1980s to pass "aardvark" in usage.
And I know what you're all wondering so here it is. Wonder no more.

Son of Mega-Yacht Marina Proposed for Victoria Harbour Episode Two: Attack of the Zones (as in Zoning Bylaws... okay, yeah, an unwiedly post title, I admit it...)

....but we couldn't end the year without having another post about the mega-yacht marina proposed for Victoria's Inner Harbour, could we?
The new marina proposal is now before Transport Canada and the deadline for submitting comments to them is December 27, 2010. While the new design is signicantly smaller than the previous version, the Save Victoria Harbour coalition stills finds much at fault. Their website says, "Although the footprint of the marina has been reduced, other than viewscapes, none of the serious safety and operational issues associated with the marina have been eliminated. The meagre information provided so far indicates that the layout may not conform to the zoning restrictions. The layout violates the intent, if not the letter of the new zoning...The profile shown raises even more safety worries for paddlers and, in fact, the plans do not appear to satisfy the conditions of the Navigable Waters Act permit which was granted earlier this year."
After a year of protests by kayakers, other paddlers, and other interested groups, Victoria city council to voted to amend zoning bylaws regarding the proposed site earlier this year. However, the developer has vowed to carry forward with his plan, despite the pollution and congestion it will cause in the harbour.
Help stop the marina, click here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Logging to Begin Next Year on Flores Island? WTF??

Spotted this post today over at Active Sea Kayaking concerning the jewel of the old-growth forest of Clayoquot Sound. Nick at Active Sea Kayaking rightly says of Flores Island,  "If you are a paddler on Vancouver Island and you have not been there yet, trust me you will. And that day will be one of the most beautiful of your life…. "
But according to the Friends of Clayquot Sound, logging companies are doing some prep work in advance of possible logging operations in the pristine forests of Flores Island beginning next year. According to their website:
"One or more intact (unlogged) old-growth valleys on Flores Island are being surveyed, and road-building and logging could begin early next year. Flores is Clayoquot Sound's largest island and is 96% intact.
"This is a hugely significant development. For the first time Iisaak Forest Resources is deliberately breaking its 1999 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a coalition of conservation groups. The MOU states that the unlogged watersheds of Clayoquot Sound, including Flores Island, would be off limits to logging. At the time, the MOU was billed as a peace treaty in the "war in the woods" — a peace that has held for 11 years.
"With the world climate and biodiversity crises, every untouched valley is increasingly precious. Write or email the minister now and ask that no road or cut permits be issued for any intact areas in Clayoquot Sound's globally rare, ancient temperate rainforest."
Want to take some action to help stop this? Sign an online petition, or send an email to the provincial and federal ministers responsible.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quick March of the Penguins

An aquiantence recently returned from a tour of Antarctica. And to answer your question, no, she was not on that cruise ship that ran into trouble, but she was on the cruise ship that responded to the mayday, so she's got quite a story to tell. In addition to that, she went kayaking with penguins and she's promised to provide some pictures and do a write-up for the blog, and there's nothing like making a promise public to put the pressure on to make sure it gets done.
To whet your appetite in the meantime, here's a video I found on youtube showing what happenes when kayaking in Antarctica when a giant glacier calves right in front of you. Here's a hint: If the penguins are running away, you run faster!
Check it out:

(And a shout out to Blair for passing this along!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kayak Ball

We had some heavy rain over the weekend, causing a lot of flooded basements and a few closed roads. Paula and Bernie's house right beside Cadboro Bay is in danger of floating out to sea. Well, no, not really. But it is surrounded by standing water and if it did float out to sea that wouldn't be a good thing, especially since the sewer outfalls flooded out during the weekend and local beaches including Cadboro Bay have raised pollution counts at the moment.
The rain was so bad on Sunday that even my backyard had some standing water pooled in it, which is something I've never seen before.
Our friends Karl and Stephanie live across from a farm whose field floods every winter. This weekend, it got really flooded! I'll let Karl continue the story:
There was some very heavy rain here. In addition to a partially flooded
basement, there was a well flooded field across the street. Happy for a
kayaking adventure that didn't involve the car's roof racks and tie downs,
we grabbed our kayaks and headed over. In addition to encountering geese,
ducks, gulls and a large blue heron, we found a large ball. This lead to an
impromptu game of Kayak Ball. I expect this will be an Olympic sport for the
Fall 2017 Olympics.
And here's their video:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Best Kayaking Trip Story

The best story I can tell about a kayaking trip is the one about our trip to Horne Lake. For those of you who have never been there, I can advise you that the gravel road from the Island Highway was actually pretty good for the first several miles. The last mile to the campground, however, was awful. And the final half-mile of road to Horne Lake Provincial Park was truly dreadful, with deep ruts and potholes full of rainwater.
So it was a relief to set up our two tents and get out my Advanced Elements inflatable. My daughter got out her photography equipment, and my husband unloaded the newspaper, a book, and a pound of red licorice. We booked a tour in the Horne Lake Caves for the next morning. I paddled on Horne Lake that afternoon with great pleasure, going around the point from the campground.
It was a good day for paddling. I sent several OK messages with my SPOT device. I looked up at the great cliff above the lake, with bent layers of rock in big streaks. I checked out Little Qualicum River, where it was choked with fallen trees. Later in the day, the wind picked up a little, as could be expected. There was a long fetch along the biggest part of the lake. But I only had to work across the wind for part of the way back, and when I got back around the point the wind blew me along and back to the beach where I had launched.
Dinner was more than just red licorice. The best thing about camping on a kayaking trip is that you can bring a lot of tasty, nutritious, heavy food. We ate till we were stuffed, then put the rest of the food back in the car so that raccoons wouldn’t come looking for it. We were all tired, and got into our sleeping bags early that evening.
We’d only been asleep for an hour when we learned the second best thing about camping on a kayaking trip – you can bring your camping gear in your kayak and camp out far away from other people. But we didn’t do that this time: I was paddling out and back each day from the campground. We learned the worst thing about camping – it’s when there are unwanted neighbours. These neighbours had been no problem all afternoon and evening. But at eleven o’clock that night, in a nearby campsite, someone’s car alarm went off. Beep, went the horn. Beep. Beep.
We lay in our sleeping bags, waiting for the owner to turn off the alarm. After a while, my husband whispered, “Who the hell sets their car alarm on a camping trip?”
Beep. Beep. “Someone who doesn’t want the raccoons to break in and steal their food?” I suggested, after several beeps. “Or someone who put something valuable in the car? Like our daughter put her camera equipment in the car.”
“I locked the car,” he said. “What good is a car alarm going to do?”
Beep. Beep. “Must have everybody in the campground awake,” I guessed. “Ooo, somebody’s going to be unpopular.”
“Why the hell haven’t they turned off the alarm?” he whispered.
Beep. Beep. “They’re taking a long time to turn that alarm off,” I said. “Maybe they can’t find the keys.”
“Don’t need keys,” he said. “Give me your pocket knife and a rock.”
Beep. Beep. “Sh. You can’t just break into someone’s car and cut the wires,” I said. Beep. Beep. “Not yet, anyway.” Beep. Beep. “Maybe in a while.” Beep. Beep. “We’d do it together, and talk so the neighbours know we’re not stealing the car.”
“All the neighbours are certainly awake,” he agreed. Beep. Beep.
“Maybe the car owner is in Qualicum Beach, having a beer,” I suggested. “Drove there with a friend.” Beep. Beep. “Won’t be back till later.”
“He’d better be in town, having a beer,” whispered my husband. “If he’s sitting in his campsite listening to this racket, I’d kill him.”
Beep. Beep. “I think you’d have a dozen witnesses to swear that he was hit by a meteor.” Beep. Beep.
“And I’d have help throwing the body into the river,” he whispered. Beep. Beep. Somehow the idea of stuffing the car’s owner into one of the caves never got suggested aloud. Doing such a nasty thing to the perfectly nice caves seemed really wrong.
“Of course, you and the angry mob might run into a handyman with a toolbox and a cooler head, older and wiser, coming to cut the car’s wires,” I pointed out. Beep. Beep.
“A guy like that, he’d know what was going on,” my husband said. Beep. Beep. “He’d figure it out at a glance.” Beep. Beep. “He’d say, You’re gonna want to make it look like an accident.”
“He’d say, I've got a broken kayak paddle you can put with him. But no, they'll never believe the guy was kayaking in those clothes. I’ll go get a fishing rod and some tackle and meet you lot by the river canyon.” Beep. Beep.
“You know, I can hear you,” our daughter said from inside her own little tent next to ours. “Don’t say any more. I need some deniability. How am I supposed to be a plausible alibi for you?” Beep. Beep.
At that point we heard the sound of an ancient Datsun hatchback approaching, making its way along the potholed road. The evening chorus now went: Beep. Rrmmm. Sploosh! Beep. RrRmMmm. Sploosh! Beep. The car eventually came to a halt at a nearby campsite. We could clearly hear three big goons get out of the car, like clowns at a circus. They bumbled around for a few minutes, dropping things and running into each other, before managing to turn off the car alarm.
Blessed silence returned. Well, nearly silence. There was plenty of drunken shushing and giggling for a while. But we were already asleep.
Next morning, I was up and carrying my kayak to the water first thing. On the way, I could see a campsite with an ancient Datsun hatchback parked next to an SUV with three kayaks on the roof, and the hood up, and wires trailing from the engine.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Is The Sea

What a treat it was to re-acquaint myself with this DVD, the first in Justine Curgenven’s This is the Sea series. After a slightly cheeky introduction, she introduces us to a championship paddler from Greenland, and that’s quickly followed by profiles of well-known paddlers such as Nigel Foster, Chris Duff, Shawna Franklin and Leon Sommé, and Greg Stamer.
Then we travel the world for brief tours of exciting paddling locations from the craggy caves and arches off Sonoma, California, to paddling with manatees with Florida, and to Greenland and paddling with icebergs. Also included are stops in at the San Juan islands and Deception Pass in Washington state, and some crazy playtime at Penryn Mawr tidal race in Wales.
Some of the segments are very brief, but the highlight is a longer segment detailing a kayaking expedition by Justine and a friend in Kamchatka, Russia. They must bring a Russian guide with them into what is formidable paddling country, but the problem is that their guide has never kayaked before. Hilarity ensues, especially when the Russian Army gets involved. I've always enjoyed the longer expedition segments of the This is the Sea series the most and this segment is no exception. Alternating between breathtaking scenery and crazy surf launches and landings, you really get the sense that you were part of the expedition. If I hadn’t been warm, dry and eating popcorn in a big comfy chair, I’d swear I was right there with them.
If you’ve never checked out this great series of DVDs, you should. And this first one is great place to start.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Amazon Extreme

It’s sounds like a disaster waiting to happen: three young men, thousands of miles of the Amazon River, and one rubber raft. And in Amazon Extreme, Colin Angus’s telling of the tale, many times it nearly was.
Colin and two buddies, Ben Kozel and Scott Borthwick, embarked on an adventure to paddle down the entire length of the Amazon, but to do this they must hike (with all their gear) through the Peruvian Andes mountains to the source of the Amazon. From there, facing mosquitoes, gunmen, and some of the most dangerous rapids on earth, this trio of adventurers embark on a five journey down the mightiest river on earth. Did I mention the rapids?
Angus relates this rollicking tale with wit and enthusiasm. Fans of adventure writing will enjoy this story.

Monday, December 06, 2010

It's not the (lack of) heat, it's the wind!

The forecast for Sunday morning was a cold and windy day, so the planned outing to the Chathams was postponed. Still, during breakfast as I looked out the windows in the kitchen and front room (yes, the Beach House has an ocean view even if the room we rent in it doesn't) the morning looked pretty good. Not good enough for a trip across Baynes Channel, but good enough for noodling around in the bay. The big willow tree was waving its fronds only a little.
It took only a few minutes to get into my gear. I spent more time looking for my neoprene cold water cap, in fact. This time, I made sure to tell Bernie (my ground crew) that I would go along the shore to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, instead of the opposite shore along the point where I usually paddle. Wrapped up warmly, I puffed up my little inflatable and carried it to the beach.
The light breeze was a bit stronger now. It blew me over to the Yacht Club in less time than I expected, where I made a quick inspection of a large square barge with a crane on it. I'd thought of going into little Loon Bay on the other side of all the yachts, but the breeze was stiff enough not to be fun.
I turned back, feathered my paddle, and worked out on "the treadmill" for a while, making my way back. It's especially important to watch weather changing, and learn how it feels, so that maybe it won't catch me unprepared one day. The weather can change in less than half an hour here, and today I could watch gusts of wind approaching me across the bay.
Eventually I made it back to the boat launch at Gyro Park and got out. Wearing paddle shoes and doing careful launch and landing meant I had dry feet the whole time! That was very nice for the walk back to the Beach House.
So, it was a short time on the water, but still worth it. And there was plenty of time to work on some writing projects before meeting several paddlers for coffee. Hours of talking later, I took a horizontal break wrapped up in a winter-weight sleeping bag before hanging out at the Cadboro Bay carol singing. Hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts, and a cheerful crowd. Cold isn't a problem when you have the right gear -- parkas and toques on the people, and canopies set up in case of rain like last year. I don't put the big portable propane heaters in the same category of "right gear" even though they felt nice to stand under. Heating the great outdoors is one of the ways we are wasting resources. Climate change is happening because of a whole bunch of wasteful choices like outdoor heaters!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Quiz Time!

Okay, it's quiz time. Here's a picture of a guy standing beside a couple of kayak hulls. Can you guess what kind of kayaks they are?

Give up? Well, I'm not surprised that you didn't get that one -- it's a trick question. They're not kayak hulls at all, it's the skull of a blue whale.
And as they said over at boing-boing where I found this, enjoy a moment of "woah."

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sea Kayaker: Deep Trouble

I received this book as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and I knew right away it would be an interesting read. During the evening’s celebrations, I randomly flipped open the book and the first sentence I read was, “Mike watches as a huge great white shark lunges up through the surface, latches it jaws around the kayak, just behind me, and then blasts more than half of its giant bulk out of the water.” Clearly, this is my kind of book!
But seriously, this book by Matt Broze and George Gronseth is based on the accident report feature in Sea Kayaker magazine. Each chapter of the book is organized similarly to the feature in the magazine: an incident report, followed by a “lesson learned” conclusion. This is my favourite section of the magazine -- informative, educational, and even entertaining if your tastes include a touch of schadenfreude -- and the stories culled for the book fit also that description. Apart from the above-mention shark attack, there’s a number of similar themes that run through the stories: weather that unexpectedly turned bad, novice kayakers that get in over their heads in rough conditions (some of them literally), and experienced kayakers underestimating calm conditions and forgetting their usual safety routines and equipment. And not all the stories end happily.
The book also features a large section on kayak safety and numerous sidebars discussing skills, gear and techniques. Highly entertaining and highly recommended. (You can read it along with the folks at Paddler's Book Club who are currently dissecting it chapter by chapter.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Brooks Point Regional Park

Hey, another press release came my way today from the Capital Regional District. Kayakers who are looking for park beaches on South Pender Island will be glad to hear about Brooks Point Regional Park! Here's the press release:

Media Release
For Immediate Release November 30, 2010
Victoria, BC - The Capital Regional District and The Land Conservancy of British Columbia are pleased to announce a land acquisition of 1.17 hectares to complete Brooks Point Regional Park on South Pender Island.
“This parcel of land has been high on the CR Regional Parks’ priority list for a decade,” said CRD Board Chair Geoff Young. “Purchasing the parcel takes advantage of a prime opportunity to join two park segments that were separated by private property.”
CRD and TLC have partnered to purchase the parcel. Under the agreement, the CRD will borrow $1,650,000 and pay the principal back over five years. TLC will pay the interest costs estimated to be $2166,525 and are currently looking for conservation donors, buyers or investors to help cover the price. The CRD will need to borrow funds because financial resources in theLand Acquisition Fund were committed to the $15.8 million purchase of the Western Forest Products land in Jordan River and the Sooke Hills in March 2010.
“With this acquisition we are adding some of the most spectacular and beautiful waterfront in the Gulf Islands to the Regional Park system. The park provides beach access, amazing marine views, and an abundance of wildflowers,” said TLC Executive Director Bill Turner.
In approving the acquisition the CRD Board indicated that its intent, if possible, is to recover all or a portion of the purchase price by selling a portion of the property after the Regional Parks’ goal of linking the two existing parcels is secured. CRD and TLC will work with the Pender Island community to explore options to raise funds to cover the net purchase cost of the property.
Brooks Point Regional Park is an oceanfront park featuring an intertidal rocky shore and beach, meadows and commanding views of Boundary Pass and the San Juan Islands. The CRD, TLC, Pender community and other partners raised funds to purchase the original 4.8 hectares, including Gowlland Point, in 1998 and 2000.


For further information, please contact:
Laurie Sthamann,
Communications Coordinator CRD Regional Parks
Tel: 250.360.3332 cell: 250.889.8030
Bill Turner Executive Director,
The Land Conservancy of British Columbia
Tel: 250.479.8053 cell:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Make Kayaking Affordable

It's come to mind that a lot of what we talk about on Kayak Yak -- our boats -- can be described as expensive toys. Well, compared to a basketball or to a baseball glove, yeah, a kayak is a pretty expensive piece of sports equipment.
I'm not talking about the ultra-high quality kayaks that are meant for professionals and specialty paddlers. Of course those are expensive, and cost more than three times the price of the kayaks we paddle. I'm also not talking about the little short rec kayaks sold in Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart for $100 -- the ones we call "drowning boats" because they have no flotation or bulkheads. (There are some in the Christmas flyers this week... Please, please do NOT buy a cheap plastic bubble and let your kids play in it unsupervised. Those cheap things are just enough like a boat to get a beginner into trouble REAL fast. You should always get a beginner lesson when you buy a kayak! Safety means wearing life jackets or PFDs, having ropes and pumps, and practicing wet exits and recoveries with friends in safe conditions. End of rant.)
Nope, the high-end and low-end prices aren't what I'm talking about. An ordinary kayak sells for somewhere between $500 and $2500. You can buy a lot of Frisbee throwing disks or soccer balls or running shoes for that kind of money.
But it might be more fair to compare the cost of a kayak to a year's gym membership. Or maybe to the cost of hockey equipment (pads, stick, skates, helmet) and the fees for playing in a league. Don't forget to add in the cost of getting to the gym or arena, by car or bus! Now, the price of a kayak seems more like the cost of many athletic activities.
There are ways of bringing the cost of kayaking into the affordable range. We use several of these alternatives. Maybe one will work for you.
1. Buy a second-hand boat.
This is a sensible alternative to buying a new boat. Of course you'll need to inspect the boat first. Many people sell a used kayak for half or two-thirds the price originally paid. My Necky Eliza was used for a summer by Ocean River as a rental boat, then sold at a discount after only four months -- and it was in terrific condition. Check with local kayak & canoe stores to see what price they put on rental boats.
2. Carpool.
There's a reason for buying good roof racks -- they can hold two boats instead of one. (The person always getting the ride should remember it's good manners to give the driver gas money or snacks or useful gear like a good Thermos flask.)
3. Keep a boat at the beach or within a short walk of the beach, maybe at a friend's house.
This works, but is usually good only for launching at one beach. I'm lucky that there are two beaches within a short walk of my place. I also keep an inflatable at my friends' house, for paddling on The Gorge.
4. Make your own boat.
There are many designs available! Making a kayak can be simple, or complicated. It can be a way to afford owning a beautiful, hand-made and specialized design. It can also be a way to afford owning a simple, hand-made recreational kayak to use in quiet, safe conditions.
Bernie made a terrific kayak. If you look back through Kayak Yak photos, when you see him with a yellow kayak, that's his 17' Chesapeake Light Craft.
There are simple and cheap alternatives, too. I love to go looking for them online. Look at this link to see a kayak made from green willow branches and a blue tarp. It cost about $25 and took four hours to make. There's lots of twigs that blew out of the big willow tree this week and are laying all over the front yard... I think I'll make a little model kayak, like the designer suggests, to try this method.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ice Ice Baby

Yeah, it's been a while since we hit the water, not counting our pool session a couple of weeks ago. I blame the weather. The weather was actually quite nice in October, milder and drier than normal, at least anecdotally. But we actually believed the weatherman when he said that most paddling days would have bad weather. And that was a mistake, of course, because generally the weather was good when the weatherman was calling for bad, but we, trusting souls that we are, had already made other plans for those days that were forecast to have sucky weather. You see where this is going, right?
This past week brought us our first real dose of winter this year, three snowstorms in five days. The snow might be mostly gone now, but it was still darn cold this morning. Despite this, Louise and I rolled our kayaks down the hill to go for a paddle on The Gorge.

It was cool, maybe about 1 degree when we started out, but it was forecast to be a sunny day and we were sure hoping the sun was going to poke through the clouds quickly and start warming things up. There was still a bit of snow left on the ground from the past week's snowfalls.

We paddled over to Gorge-Kinsmen Park hoping to spot the two swans that have been hanging around there the last few days, but they weren't there this morning. We were starting to wonder if all we were going to see was a few cormorants up a tree.
But after we passed under the bridge and into Portage Inlet....
...and passed the phalanx of geese....
...we spotted the swans. Or rather, they spotted us and headed right for us.
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They showed no fear of us. Clearly this pair have had plenty of contact with humans.
Finally after a few minutes of swimming around us, they went on their way....
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...and we went on ours.

I was hoping that we'd be able to get into the Western arm of Portage Inlet and up to the tunnel on Craigflower Creek, but as we approached the entrance to the arm Louise and I both had the sensation that paddling suddenly became a little harder as if the water had become thicker. And as I looked ahead I could see that the water had not only become thick, it had become solid. The way was blocked by ice.
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We'd encountered ice here once before, but that was really just a thin layer on the surface. This time, we were dealing with some solid ice, maybe a half inch thick or more.
At first we thought we could break the ice but we were finding spots that were so thick that the kayaks weren't sinking through it, nor could we break it with our paddles. Flipping over in this could really ruin your day. We tried sneaking around through the thin ice near shore, but that proved to be futile as there wasn't nearly enough of it for us to pass. The whole western arm was frozen up as well as the northern shore, so we decided to head east and follow the outline of the ice.
Which didn't mean that we didn't occasionally try to be an ice breaker....

As we paddled along three or four seals kept up with us and checked us out. Here's one sizing up Louise....
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...and I was so busy taking that picture of Louise and the seal that I didn't notice until I checked my pictures later that another seal that had popped up right in front of me.

As we followed the ice, we noticed a strange line in the water. You can see it just to the left of my kayak.
It followed the contours of the ice. Was it some sort of boundary layer either between temperature zones, or between salinity zones? The Gorge at one end of Portage Inlet is ocean salt water, but the Inlet is also fed by fresh water creeks, so they've got to meet somewhere.

We got as far as Colquitz Creek, then decided to head back because the sun never did come out for more than a couple of minutes and suddenly a cup of hot chocolate seemed like a really good idea.

Trip Length: 8.02 km
YTD: 228.10 km
More pictures are here.
2010-11-28 The Gorge

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why I Don't Usually Carry a Camera

Everyone who freaked out at the actual winter weather this week woke up this morning and looked out the window with relief. Most of the snow was gone -- certainly here in Cadboro Bay it was. The weather was great for walking from the library back to the bay... I stopped at St George's Christmas Fair and saw Steph's family trooping out from the tearoom.
Down to the beach then with my little inflatable. This time I brought along the waterproof camera John handed down a couple months ago. I got some shots while paddling my usual route along the shore to Flower Island.
Well, I tried to get some shots. You might notice that there are no photos displayed on this post. That's because so far all the photos I take are kind of tippy, with interesting things in the distance or just flying out of frame. Like the photo I took on the far side of Flower of a beautiful Great Blue Heron.
Sure, the heron was beautifully posed as I came around the little island. But by the time I back-paddled, pulled out the camera, found and pushed the ON button (which chimes MUCH LOUDER on the water than it does onshore) the heron startled, glared at my yellow-and-blue inflatable, and started flapping its wings. Eventually I pushed the shutter hard enough not just to make the picture freeze, but to take a photo. I think it may show one heron foot dangling down into view.
I'm not anti-camera. Lord knows, I like the photos that other people take and post on Kayak Yak. I may even take photos while paddling and post some someday. But not today!
Even with some sucky quality photos, the real focus of the time on the water was the weather. Nicely chill, slight breeze. As long as I kept paddling, I didn't feel cold. There were several little sailboats out for lessons again, but many more birds.
Birds! The Canada geese were sitting on rocks looking like they were reconsidering the decision not to migrate. Sure, this week's snow had melted, but would there be any more snow? There were floating gangs of bufflehead ducks, and some loons, and little black coots, and pipers checking out the shoreline rocks.
Best of all (I thought) were the oystercatchers. Bright bright red beaks and eyes, standing out sharply against their black feathers. Drab little legs poking out like pallid sticks. Loud squeaking clearly audible as I paddled away. Not as loud, though, as the two birds that were even more striking -- two kingfishers darting and scolding each other.
I like paddling in winter. The water's so clear, even though it's cold. And the beach is less crowded. Bring on winter! And soon in December, we'll have an evening paddle on the Gorge to look at Christmas lights.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Without a Paddle

Journalist Warren Richey, newly divorced and having a mid-life crisis, decided almost on a whim to enter a kayak race circumnavigating Florida. This would require Richey to paddle at least 65 km a day for 30 straight days, as well as endure a gruelling 100 km portage.
It’s not just a race around Florida, it’s a tour through Richey’s life as he faces the unexpected turns in both the coastline and his life. He begins the journey with an injured shoulder and the ghosts of his failed marriage, and travels almost 2000 km around the state, reliving the highs and low of both his career and his personal life, and as he keeps up a punishing paddling rate of 18 to 20 hours of paddling a day.
Not only does Richey gives us a descriptive and interesting narrative of his race around Florida, he also offers up engaging vignettes from his life as he recalls his adventures in the Middle East and his journalistic career. When he's not thoroughly confused from lack of sleep, he reflects on his life's choices, and a debates another life-altering choice he's considering making when the race is over. Entertaining and heartfelt, Richey's is a journey that is well worth taking with him.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On Celtic Tides

In 1996, Chris Duff kayaked around Ireland. On Celtic Tides is a terrific account of his twelve-hundred mile journey around the Emerald Isle. Duff documents with rich prose the sweeping cliffs and snarling waters he encountered, as well as his encounters with various folk who invariably ask when told that Duff is planning to paddle around Ireland, “In that little boat? Are you mad?”
He may not have been mad, but the idea of kayaking solo around Ireland in three months is a daunting one, and Duff’s narrative takes us into the quaint villages along the coast, the ancient ruins and castles that dot the shore, and the blistering storms and waves that batter the western shore.
It’s a wonderful read, taking us from moments of quiet introspection as Duff visits ancient pagan ruins, to moments of exhilaration and terror as Duff battles surging tides and waves along the battered open coastline. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rolling a Triple Kayak

According to the info on youtube, "Agustin, Macana y Maxi (yo), roleando un triple en Tigre, Argentina." In other words, three guys from Argentina roll a triple kayak. A cool little clip:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crab Dream

Sunday was a great, grey morning. I got up and made breakfast, thinking about the lingering images from my dream: a big crab scrabbling around the floor and somehow losing its long legs and claws. It rolled on its tummy and scuttled away on little legs like my fingers. Odd dream.
A quick hour in the little Dragonfly inflatable took me to see the familiar places along the east shore. The kingfisher was calling again, there were harlequin ducks and mallards and coots drifting along the glassy water.
Maybe I should have been practising speed over distance, but when a family of otters climbed half-way up a rocky slope, that was my cue to drift for a while and watch them gambol and tumble. One of them was gnawing on a mussel shell, and prying at it to get the meat out.
Coming back, I passed the little rock garden and saw some splashing to my left. It looked a little as if several small fishes about the size of my fingers were struggling at the surface. I paddled a little closer and saw it wasn't a fish.
It was a crab, lying on its back on the surface and thrashing its legs wildly. A second later it rolled onto its tummy and sank, moving its legs as if it were swimming down. "Wait a minute," I said, looking down into the winter-clear water as the crab sank to the bottom ten feet down. "Crabs don't swim UP at the surface. How did you get up here, Brother Crab?" And as it scuttled away, I saw that it was missing a claw. Maybe both.
Did an otter bring the crab up and struggle with it before swimming away? Odd, but as the crab scuttled away it looked like the one in my dream.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Gray Zone

The Gray Zone. And no, we don't mean some sort of X-Files spin-off where Mulder finally finds out what happened to his long-lost sister while he investigates a conspiracy involving secret government organizations and an extraterrestrial invasion. Instead, we mean the gray zone in a kayak, the space between being upside right, and rightside down.
Louise and I headed to the pool for The Gray Zone course put on by the fine folks at Ocean River Sports.
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During the course we brushed up on our edging, and our low and high braces, and our sculling (that's sculling, not Scully). Here, Louise practices her braces while the instructor stands behind her trying to flip her.
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Then we tried the balance brace (that's when you and your kayak lie on the side and float, also called a static brace in some circles) and sculling for support, which is when you scull to support yourself in the balance brace position. This will take further practice as accomplishing this move requires you to turn body into a pretzel, and my body is more like a cupcake. Mmmmm, cupcake. Sorry, where were we?
We also practiced our sculling brace, and used it in a simulated situation when you may need to rescue someone by carrying them on the back of your kayak. I always thought that when someone was climbing onto your kayak, the proper procedure was to either whack them on the head with your paddle while laughing maniacally, or to attempt to bargain with them: "Throw me the idol, I'll throw you the tow rope! No time to argue!"
But it turns out that by using the sculling brace you can support your kayak while the rescuee scrambles onto to and off of the stern of your kayak, a technique known as the seal carry. Here's Louise trying to carry a fellow student.
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We had a great time, but the thing we learned the most is that we need to practice more!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Virtual Edging

Over at the Canoe and Kayak website, Shawna Franklin and Leon Sommé of Body Boat Blade star in a series of quick instructional videos on edging kayaks produced by Bryan Smith of Pacific Horizons fame. Check them out below:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crossing the Ditch

Imagine that two young Aussie blokes have decided to kayak across one of the roughest stretches of ocean in the world, The Tasman Sea. Imagine that when they begin planning their quest that, although they are adventurers, they have only limited experience in kayaks, yet they plan to paddle an ocean that regularly kicks up two-story waves. Imagine that they will be taking refuge from the frequent and violent storms in a tiny cabin on their specially-built kayak, and that one of them is the claustrophobic while the other is chronically seasick. And imagine that the last person to attempt this crossing was lost at sea.
It sounds pretty crazy and no doubt some will argue that it is, but in January 2008, James Castrission and Justin Jones became the first people to successfully kayak from Australia to New Zealand. Castrission's book, Crossing the Ditch, is a terrifically good read chronicling the two mates' adventure.
From some brief family history, through their decision to undertake the expedition and their many months of preparation, Castrission takes us through the story of design and out-fitting their kayak (named Lot 41), and how it almost sank on their first sea trial. He leads us through his search for a cure to his chronic seasickness, a malady which could have halted the expedition before it even began, and he describes his ever-changing and complex feelings towards Andrew McAuley, who beat them across the Tasman, but was lost within sight of New Zealand.
Castrission's description of the crossing itself is terrific. They reached the halfway point on Day 17; little did they realize that the second half would take them 45 more days as weather and currents forced them to paddle an extra 1100 km on top of the planned distance of 2200 km.
There's also a detailed appendix with stats and info about their kayak, food supply, training regime, and equipment.
A great book, seek it out.
Or if you like to watch moving pictures instead of reading words, watch the companion DVD with the eerily similar title, Crossing the Ditch. James and Justin have assembled a remarkable collection of footage from their crossing and you feel like you are sharing in their adventure, from the cramped quarters of their boat and the fatigue and desperation that set in as the currents held them in a relentless grip, to their relief and joy at completing the voyage.

Canadian Emergency Paddle Roll, Eh?

A couple of years ago, we posted about Paula's attempt to paddle with the quintesstial Canadian-styled paddle blade, more commonly known as a hockey stick.

Of course it was only a matter of time until someone took it to the next level. Cate posted an amusing video of herself rolling using a hockey stick over at Woman on Water.

Cate also reports that the Olympic Kayak Club have done this roll before and dubbed it the Canadian Emergency Paddle Roll. Here's their vid.

Of course, real Canadians can do the Canadian Emergency Paddle Roll while decked in full hockey gear (including goalie pads and mask) while drinking a Tim Horton's double-double. So take off, eh?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Kayak mentioned on adult cartoon!

Turned out it was a good idea leaving the TV on last night when Big Bang Theory ended. There was a mention of kayaks on, of all things, the odd cartoon show called American Dad.

Two of the characters were discussing a third character, Roger, when one said: "A little tough love turned out to be just what he needed."
"We should do something nice for him," said the other character. "Let's get him a kayak."
"That's a great idea!" said the first. "Where is Roger? Let's go tell him we're thinking about getting him a kayak."

It was an unexpected moment, to say the least! You can read a version of the script at

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

If You Suck at Kayaking, You're Not Alone

Let's face it, lots of us suck at kayaking but we don't want to admit it. Here's a video of a few brave paddlers taking that first step of acknowledging that they suck:

Monday, November 01, 2010

Seasons Change

Autumn is a time of year when things change around here. There are a lot more windstorms in October and November than in the late summer and early fall. The wind tends to pick up earlier in the day, too. Add in the chill, and it's understandable that there will be several days where sea kayaking just doesn't happen around here!
But it's still on my mind. If I do a little surfing on the internet, up pops an article in the current issue of SeaKayaker magazine. When I pull on a ball cap, there's a kayaker embroidered on the front. And out at Beaver Lake, there's a nice sheltered lake to paddle and a kettle in the Nature House where I can make hot chocolate. (mmm... hot chocolate...)
And I do get out on the ocean, too. There was a sunny break in the middle of Hallowe'en day, so I got out in the inflatable. There was a visible weather front approaching, so I didn't stay long. But no complaints about weather, since the trick-or-treaters had dry weather until about 8pm when a howling storm blew in.
This week, I'll keep an eye on the sky and get out when I can. Sunday is Tree-Planting Day from 10:00am to 1:00pm in two Saanich municipal parks, at Mount Douglas Park and Cuthbert Holmes Park. That's a good reason not to be on the water. And there'll be hot chocolate after, when I get back to the Beach House.

Beyond the Horizon

Colin Angus is a local fella, but his books and articles go world-wide. One of his books is Beyond the Horizon: the great race to finish the first human-powered circumnavigation of the planet. You can read about it here, on the website set up by Angus and his wife to promote their adventures. Though no kayaks were used in this circumnavigation, two rowboats were used, and that satisfies my interest in small boat adventures.
I have to admit that I'm a real fan of these extreme adventure stories, and this book did not disappoint. There was plenty of insight into the experience, some character development, and I liked the way Angus shows the country through which he moved. It was told in a kind of a rush, though, and made for a quick reading experience. I could have enjoyed reading more about the travel, and would have liked more maps in the book. But it's staying in my memory, and now I'm going to look up all the other books written by Colin and Julie Angus.

Rowboat in a Hurricane

There’s enough adventure in Colin Angus’s human-powered trip around the world for a second book. And lo, it has appeared in the form of Julie Angus’s memoir of the Atlantic rowboat crossing, Rowboat in a Hurricane. While perhaps a bit of a repetition for someone who has already read Colin’s account, Julie’s version of the story is no less exciting and engaging, and it’s always interesting to get a different perspective on events. If your interest lies with just the rowboat crossing then Julie’s book more than covers that adventure, but for the full story of the circumnavigation adventure, you should read both.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


As we go into the Hallowe'en time and beyond, into the dark time of the year, you may notice some loud booming if you're out on the water west of Victoria. Don't panic! The Canadian military is doing some manoeuvres during the first week of November, west of Sooke near Sombrio Beach. They'll be test-firing artillery and many large weapons. So if you hear some unexplained booming when you're paddling at Albert Head or Sooke Basin, don't be alarmed.

And if the booming is more of a rumble from the south-east, it's probably the Growler taking off from the US military base on Whidbey Island, again. We've been hearing it lately around Cadboro Bay and Ten Mile Point, so they must be using the runway that points in our direction.

These noises are just another reminder that human-made noises carry much farther over water (and probably under water as well) than we expect. Certainly, I felt surrounded by a bubble of outboard motor noise when riding in a zodiac for Straitwatch, watching the whale-watching boats. But being in a kayak and hearing zodiacs go by showed me that the bubble of noise is big enough to fill not only the bowl of Cadboro Bay, but all of Oak Bay's big curve as well, echoing off the Chathams and the Chain islets. And that's with my half-deaf ears!
Let's hope that J, K and L pods of orcas are playing in the Gulf Islands instead of hanging out near Jordan River when the Canadian military is on manoeuvres this week. Boom-shaka-laka means something else these days...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Qajaq Boomerang

No, really! If Australia ever invades Greenland, this could become an Olympic sport!
Check out the video below:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Orca Calf Spotted

Following up on Alison's interesting post yesterday about using dogs to track whale scat to determine the health of our local endangered orca pods, the Victoria Times-Colonist reported that L Pod has a new arrival, the first known calf for the mother, L82.
The orca calf mortality rate runs at about 50%, and one calf born earlier this year has already died, as have two older L Pod males, and K11, the 77 year-old matriarch of K Pod. The current number of orcas in J, K and L pods is 87. Historically, the number has been around 120 but decades of hunting and captures reduced that number to 71 in the early 1970s.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sniffing out whale scat, on Radio 4

Came across this on the Radio 4 website: The Dog and the Whale - scientists training dogs to guide them to whale scat, as a source of information about whale health and wellbeing.

Tucker's [the sniffer dog's] work means the scientists can start to piece together an explanation for why a special population of killer whales in North America is at risk of extinction.

This community of orca lives between Vancouver Island and the mainland US Pacific coast. They number about 90 individuals and in recent years they have suffered some terrible times. Two years ago, about one in ten died. Several years earlier, 20% of them were lost.

The program should be available to listen until next Tuesday, 9 pm GMT.

Kayak Chaos

Ever wanted to kayak down a raging river without the inconvenience of lugging around all that equipment and getting wet?
I'm not sure how much of a substitute for the real thing this will be, but SimplyFun games has a board game out called Kayak Chaos. For 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up.
At least you shouldn't have to rinse out your neoprene when you're finished.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pipe Dreams

While we're on the topic of water, a group of kayakers is currently kayaking the length of British Columbia's coast, from Kitimat through the Inside Passage down to Vancouver, in an effort to raise awareness in regards to Enbridge's plan to build an oil pipeline from Alberta's Tar Sands to the west coast, and the possible lifting of the 40 year-old moratorium against oil tanker traffic on the west coast. The three kayakers of the Pipedreams Project are currently approaching Port Neville on the mainland side of the Inside Passage. Follow them on their blog here.


You’d think that water, the topic for Blog Action Day 2010, would be something easy for a kayaker to write about. After all, this is where most kayakers spend a lot of our time, sitting in water. Well, expect for those paddlers in the niche sports of hill kayaking or snow kayaking. Then again, even snow kayakers need water, albeit in a slightly cooler variation.
I’m blessed to live in a part of the world with ample fresh water lakes and a large annual rainfall, and as I sit back drinking my latté at my favourite coffee shop, I undoubtedly take my good fortune for granted.
Did I mention that it takes 240 litres of clean water to make my latté?
That’s 120 large pop bottles worth of water to make one cup of over-priced coffee.
But all this talk about water is making me thirsty. I’ll just grab my bottled water for a cool refresher. Ahhh. That hit the spot.
Did I mention that it takes nearly 16 litres of water to manufacture the plastic for the average bottle of water? How’s that for ironic.
And on average, Americans drink 200 bottles of water per person each year. That’s 3200 litres each, or 995,200,000,000 litres of water for the entire population just to manufacture the bottles they use to drink water. 86 percent of those bottles will never be recycled. 17 million barrels of oil is needed to make all those water bottles, and that’s getting close to a day and a half’s worth of US oil imports.
That 17 million barrels of oil would would be enough to power 1,000,000 cars for a year, not that that’s a particularly good idea either.
In Canada, the percapita water consumption rate is 2,049,000 litres per year. That’s not quite double the world average of 1,243,000 litres per year.
I think I need to rethink how I drink my water.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Switching to Glide

Cadboro Bay Beach
Today was a rare mid-week paddle as Louise, Paula and I met at Cadboro Bay Beach to kayak out to Chatham Island.

Although somewhat overcast and rainfall warnings out for various spots along the coast, we had totally calm conditions. A higher than normal tide had come in and was going to be hanging around for most of the day.
And oddly, even though it was cloudy and hazy, the conditions allowed us the rare treat of seeing all three mainland mountain ranges (The Cascades, The Olympics, and the Coast Range), and two volcanoes. Mount Baker was plainly visible as it often is...
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...but towards the south-east we could barely make out the cone of Mount Rainier about 200 km away.
We paddled out along Ten Mile Point...
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...and out towards Jemmy Jones Island...
...where this eagle watched over our journey.
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As we crossed from Jemmy Jones to Chatham, a couple of Navy ships crossed our path, first the HMCS Cougar...
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...followed a few minutes later by the HMCS Moose.
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These are Orca-class patrol vessels generally used for training and support surveillance. (Destroy these pictures right away, just in case Homeland Security comes knocking.)

At Chatham, we cruised down a channel and quickly discovered where all the seals were hiding.
Even if there isn't much current out in the open water like today, there's always some between the islands that make up the Chatham/Discovery group. We just pulled out our paddles and glided by the seals resting on the small rock outcroppings.
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After puttering around Chatham...
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...we crossed to the Chain Islands....
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...where we found more seals...
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...then reluctantly headed back to shore.

Trip Length: 12.45 km
YTD: 220.08 km
More pictures are here.
2010-10-12 Chatham to Chains