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

Bringing New Meaning to the Term "Sit On Top"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tree Appreciation Day Coming Up

Dear Kayak Yak:
I feel guilty for my carbon footprint. Kayaking puts me in touch with nature, but it's hard to get my boat to water without using a car. I tried growing a tree to offset my carbon footprint, but the tree isn't getting very big in its pot on my balcony. What can I do?
Tree Wannabe

Dear Tree Wannabe:
There are several alternatives that can help you.
One alternative to using a car is using a set of wheels and taking your kayak for a walk. Works for us at a couple of our usual launch places! Not a bad idea if the walk is through a quiet neighbourhood.
Another alternative is keeping your kayak (or one of your kayaks if you are lucky enough to have more than one) at or near the launch place. Works for me!
Want to plant a tree but don't have any room in your yard for it -- or even a yard? Come on out to Tree Appreciation Day and help Saanich Municipality plant native trees and shrubs in two parks.
One park is Cuthbert Holmes Park, where Colquitz Creek wanders before draining into Portage Inlet. If you look back through the blog, you'll see we have paddled right under the bridge where volunteers will be gathering, and right past one of the two areas to be restored in that park. The other park is Mount Douglas Park, and we've paddled along that park's open shoreline in Cordova Bay a couple of times -- once when Alison and I were on our way to Island View Beach. Both of the parks for planting are accessible by a short walk from a bus, and have ample parking.

Here's the notice that the municipality of Saanich posted on its website at Take a look:
Tree Appreciation DayThe 17th annual Tree Appreciation Day will be November 7, 2010 from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm.
At Cuthbert Holmes Park (CHP), Saanich is partnering with the Gorge Tillicum Community Association (GTCA) and the Friends of Cuthbert Holmes Park to plant native trees and shrubs. The Friends of CHP along with GTCA in partnership with Saanich Parks have been actively removing invasive species within CHP over the past few years. These native trees and shrubs will help restore areas where the invasive species has been removed. We invite community and school groups to participate in this event. Groups will gather at the staging area as indicated in the attached map. Parking is available in Tillicum Mall by Silver City, at the rear of Pearkes Arena, and in the parking lot off admirals Road. And signs will direct you to the staging area.
Marian McCoy, Natural Areas Technician for Saanich Parks, along with members of the Friends of Cuthbert Holmes Park, invite you to participate in a interpretive walk through the restoration area.
At Mount Douglas Park, Saanich is partnering with the Friends of Mount Douglas Park (FOMD) to plant native trees along sections off the Whittaker, Norn and Irvine trails. Groups will gather in the parking lot at the base of Churchill Drive.
We will also be hosting a native tree and shrub planting event in Mount Douglas Park along the banks of Douglas Creek. Groups for this planting will gather in the main parking lot off Mount Douglas Parkway by the washroom building.
Please contact Saanich Parks if you have any questions regarding Tree Appreciation Events or visit for updates on Tree Appreciation Day.
Volunteers are asked to dress appropriately for any weather event as Tree Appreciation Day will proceed regardless of the weather.
A limited amount of shovels will be provided, volunteers are asked to bring along their own planting tools if possible.
Refreshments and light snacks will be provided.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

This 'n' That

No, we didn't suddenly fall off the face of the earth and forget about kayaking. Mind you, we're having trouble remembering what those long and narrow red things are in the basement.
While the weather in September was often conducive to kayaking, it just wasn't so on days when we were available to get out. C'est la vie. But it looks looking like we and the weather may finally get together in a few days.
And we haven't forgotten about the blog either. Behind the scenes, we've been lining up some DVD and book reviews to run over the winter. Look for those to start appearing later in the fall.

Our favourite local kayak store, Ocean River, was recently profiled on a Seattle TV magazine show. Here's the vid:

Ocean River has their own YouTube channel -- check out all their videos here.

And finally, Happy Birthday to the late and great Dr. Winston O'Boogie.
The world misses you.
We surely do.