Sunday, January 22, 2012

Howling a Gale

No paddling this morning for us! We woke up to gale force winds. The website for BigWaveDave reported at 10:00am that the winds were at 49 knots, with gusts of 59 knots. Woo-hoo!
Now sure, that kind of weather might see the likes of Leon and Shawna of Body Boat Blade heading out to practice their rough water paddling. They've done it before, when visiting Victoria and a windstorm struck. But then, they're the kind of professional sea kayaking guides who take time to paddle a circumnavigation of Iceland -- and another of Haida Gwaii -- during the peak summer seasons for their business. Oi.
The wind may have kept us off the water, but it didn't keep Bernie from walking the landlady's dogs in Gyro Park. And it didn't keep us off the promenade along the shore of Cadboro Bay, in the spray of the pounding waves. Funny, this morning the usual weekend walkers were sparse. There were only a few die-hards out getting salt and sand in our teeth.
The big rollers coming in pounded driftwood logs along the shore. It was great to watch the birds in the wind and waves! Cormorants and seagulls faced into the wind and waves, wings cupped to ride air currents up over a crest and then down, darting to the water. Maybe they were snatching little fish once in a while, though there was more rising and bobbing than snatching. It looked like surfing, honestly.
A few little round ducks rode the surface, tucking their wings and heads in till they looked like black footballs. There's no telling what their webbed feet were doing under the surface, paddling frantically, but the ducks rode up and over big swells and kept heading out to the break, not pushed in to the shore.
There were a couple of deadhead logs bobbing in the water, turning in the waves so that a branch would look for a moment like an arm. We had to look carefully to be sure that yep, it was a log bobbing vertically. And as we came close to the storm drain outfall, there was a river otter tumbling in the surf.
Honestly! He was out in a howling gale, with pounding surf all along the bay. I thought the otters who live around the bay would be holed up in the shrubbery along the rocky part of the shore or maybe in the thick bushes on Flower Island. But no, here was an otter, gamboling in waves that rose higher than his length from nose to tail-tip.
And just as Bernie was saying, "Where did you see it? Are you sure?" a new wave crashed. Three otters tumbled in the foam. They didn't come out of the water, just turned in those liquid moves they do and dove back under the thrashing surface.
Maybe they were catching fish driven into the shallows near shore by the waves. Maybe they were playing a little, too, letting the waves push them under water.
I hope the pictures turned out. If you want to see some photos of otters that are even clearer than the great ones that John has put here on Kayak Yak, check out The Marine Detective blog for some images of otters on docks.
Oh, and just to make it clear -- there are no cars in the parking lot with kayak racks this morning, and no kayaks visible in the bay. So it's not just me staying off the water, eh? And some of the sailboats in the Cadboro Bay Sailing Association yard are rocking. One of the catamarans in the UVic sailing club yard almost flipped in a gust of wind as we walked past.


  1. And your camera was where exactly....? :)

  2. In Bernie's hands, as he took photos!
    The camera batteries are being recharged. When Bernie uploads his photos to me, I'll post 'em!