Thursday, March 30, 2006

29 March 2006

Well, out this afternoon at Telegraph Cove. Not so big swells today. We did a bit of coastal cruising....And spotted this big fellow eating something. I managed to get within about 4 or 5 metres of him without scaring him off. I would say, beak to tail, that he was at least a metre long. Big big bird.

Of course there were the obligatory cormorants. But thre were also little fellows that looked like oystercatchers. The day was really quite gorgeous.

We stopped at the shopping centre and found another half-dozen kayaks on top of cars already in the lot! Including this Cape Charles from Cheasapeake Light Craft. The very model I've been planing on building.

Nice way to spend an afternoon.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sombrio - March 25, 2006

Just couldn't resist Somberio Beach. So on Saturday I took off and arrived there early morning and immediately set up camp.

The sky was clear so I went down to the beach to check out the view.

There were about 10 surfers on the water. The waves were on the tame side according to one of them I spoke to.

Still the excitement was too much. I ran back up the hill, inflated my kayak (alias you know who), swung it up on my head and practically ran back down to the beach. She performed better than expected. The waves were much calmer than last October. My first launch was a bit of a disaster as the first, small wave tipped me over and tossed me out. I then figured out how to launch correctly and paddled out in to the blue-green sea.

Below you see a graceful, properly executed entry. Then a rapid paddle before the next incoming waves swamps the kayak.

And that's the trick, folks - get out as fast as you can because the problem is the shallow water.

Second rule: head for the waves and see what happens. No time for unnecessary articles like spray skirts. You simply want meet the waves as far out as you can and just before you do, lean back as far as possible, otherwise the wave will come right over the top the fill the kayak up with water at which point you might as well start over.

For most of the day I paddled from one end of the beach to the other. I ventured into some of the higher waves and found that once you're out far enough the kayak is relatively stable. Only when the wind comes up does water splash over the top. I avoided waves that were large and cresting, but even when I did get caught a few times, I found the kayak again was quite stable. At the south end of the beach there a cove next the ridge which is the beginning of Somberio Point. What's cool about the cove is that the waves reflect back from the massive rock so that the they seem to come from all directions.

In the afternoon I practiced lauching and landing the kayak - the fun part. Surfing the waves is easy if you can keep the kayak at 90 degrees from the wave. It feels like your kayak has just started up its invisible motor and suddenly you're propelled along at a nice clip usually bringing you right up to the beach.

Now I know that many of you are wondering, "who took the pics?" Well, a breath-taking blond in a well-fitted wetsuit just happened to walk by" ... I know - "only in your dreams." Guess I'll have to keep my romantic adventures for a different blog.

It was a tiring day. I dragged Ms. Kayak up to the campsite and took a well-deserved break.

After some hot chocolate and a cimmon flavored granola bark I was back in business - a walk on the beach (with you know who!)

There is a lovely waterfall at the south end of the beach just before the Juan de Fuca trailhead. Luckily there was enough light for a photo.

You would expect Frodo to be hanging out in a spot like this. It is truly magical even if you're not into mushrooms.

The tide was out so I was able to get some of those "teeming with life shots."

The day seemed packed with adventure and the beach is simply beautiful - until the weekend campers arrived with cases of beer, guitars and far too many young girlfriends, but they were very friendly and soon I had neighbours on either side of me. Luckily it rained hard most of the night. The next morning the young campers cleared out as the sky and the sea were gun metal grey with gloomy, dark patches on the horizon as if nature too suffers bouts of depression. The weather changed about every three minutes from rain to moments of sunshine. Finally it was steady rain - so I walked the Juan de Fuca trail for about three hours over slippery rocks and roots and even slipperery stairways. Scenery was dramatic around Somberio Point. By the time I made it back to the tent I was utterly waterlogged. So by late afternoon I packed up and headed back to Victoria.

This place is a total high. It is nature as revelation!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday March 26--Elk Lake

Ah, Elk Lake. The most challenging paddle we ever dare to face. Or, you know, not. The morning was cold, wet, and windy. Yech. But things picked up as we got going.
Paula does like her new boat. As John and I discovered today, she is much faster with less effort than we are going all out.

The Canada Geese were fairly mellow about our presence--I think the fishermen who are on the lake all winter may have something to do with this lack of concern.
I realize that the resolution of my camera leaves a bit to be desired. This was shot between seven and ten metres away....

A Tree full of cormorants. Don't they look like they're just waiting for one of us to sink? Lake buzzards, that's what they are....
It's so rare to see John in a photo not shot by him.
He does seem happy, doesn't he?
Right up until he took this photo of himself upside down. Damn, but that water was cold.

Elk Lake

Today, we returned to Elk Lake for a cold and windy paddle. Unlike the last couple of weeks where we were taking layers off, some of us were adding layers as the paddle went on. (Pay attention to Louise's clothes as the pictures progress.)

Here's Louise, fresh in the water and ready to rock. Paula and Bernie were a little late, so Louise and I had the lake to ourselves for a while. (And Dennis and Alison didn't show at all -- the wimps!)

The lake was windy and choppy. Small squalls were blowling through.

The plan was for a paddle, then some wet exit practise. In this picture, I've just felt the temperature of the water and I'm clearly looking forward to dunking myself.

Here's Paula getting into her kayak. She was obviously having some sort of trouble. I did notice that her middle finger kept going into spasm. Everytime I pointed the camera at her, it extended.

As you can see, Louise is now bundled up like a big pink fluffy big pink something or other. Anyway, now we were ready to start our paddle!

Then my camera batteries died. :(

John's pictures are here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

19 March 2006

Sunday could not have been a more perfect spring day in Victoria. So we left Victoria and went to Sidney to paddle. Thankfully it was a pretty nice day there too.
Getting ready for launch at the park, everyone in our group removed one layer before getting into their boats—this despite having to scrape windows before driving off to Sidney. I was down to a t-shirt and PFD when I set out. Well, and pants....

Due to bad planning (the truck broke down Friday), we weren't able to take both the Pamlico and Adventure out. But on Friday, Paula had stopped by West Marine and picked up an inflatable kayak. So yes, we are now a three kayak couple. So Alison gave us a lift out to Sidney where we set up.

Paula in her inflatable "Skedaddle" (also known as a "Dragonfly")

Alison takes her turn in the new boat.
As you can see below, we shared the water with a large number of large others. Don't exactly know what they were doing, but it seemed to involve a lot of tacking back and forth in a very restricted area. Eventually they headed out to the east, but not very fast—particularly considering the size and speed of some of these boats—and they stayed pretty much clumped together.
Having a waterproof housing for my camera, I thought it might be an idea to give it a trial run. The day was so bright that when I found myself over some rocks (with the tide on the ebb, by the time we came back I couldn't have paddled over these same rocks), I could see bottom some 1 to 2 metres down. So I stuck the camera in the water and pushed the shutter.

There wasn't the plethora of wildlife sightings that we'd had in the Gorge, but Alison and I did stop to look at a half dozen harlequin ducks—so not visible in this photo.

but the most interesting sighting of the day was Dennis doing his best impersonation of Red Green. Need I say more?