Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Paddling Weather Stats

52 paddles were documented on the blog this year. The weather stats break down like this:
29% of our paddles were on sunny days;
35% were on cloudy days;
17% were on rainy/stormy days;
2% were on foggy days;
2% were on snowy days;
and 15% were cancelled due to bad weather.

Compared to 2006, the amount of cloudy day paddles were nearly identical, but sunny paddle days were down nearly 20%. We also went out on more rainy or stormy days, and cancelled more paddles due to bad weather. Global warming wasn't making it any warmer, however climatologists' predictions that we will would be facing fiercer storms appear to be holding up, at least based on this small and subjective sample size.

For comparison, the 2006 stats broke down like this:
47% of our paddles were on sunny days;
34% were on cloudy days;
6% were on rainy days;
3% were on foggy days;
and 10% were cancelled due to bad weather.

And the 2005 stats were:
43% of our paddles were on sunny days;
50% were on cloudy days;
and 7% were on foggy days.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Swim somewhere else

Just found this at and thought: ooog. He can swim somewhere else.

Simple Sunday Paddle

Just a short paddle today--sneaking some time in between weather fronts. Made it out to the southern-most opening of Cadboro Bay, then defaulted on my original plan of going out to the Chain Islets again, and instead went northeast to jemmy Jones. then back to Flower where I met up with Paula--who was paddling her dragonfly--and back to the beach in the rain. Took as long to set up for paddling as the paddling took. but good to get out on the water again.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Year's Resolution

Well, I really do have to make one. I’ve been pretty uninvolved with posting anything to the kayaking blog(s) I’m part of, so for the new year, I’m figuring to at least post a note about where I’ve gone and what I’ve done each time I’m on the water. John totaled Kayakyak the other day and noted we’d (collectively, though mostly him), had posted about 111 trips over the last two years. pretty much one paddle a week. I may not be on the water every week, but Alison and I are the only members who’ve done any expedition kayaking. I have some vague plans for the next year for some extended trips–now that I have pretty much all my gear, it makes it so much easier. A full drysuit wouldn’t be out of line but I have lots of other places to put that money. the only essential is a new sleeping pad, now that my $2 Slumberjack has finally sprung a seemingly fatal leak. So trips are in the future–if it wasn’t for the 60 – 90 kilometre winds around here, I’d already be camping on Discovery or D’Arcy Island tonight.
This is the path I paddled December 13th from Cadboro Bay out to the Chain Islets (or at least one of them). On the lower right is Discovery Island. While it’s in my own backyard and I’ve made multiple trips out to it to explore, I’ve never actually camped on it. D’Arcy, ~20 km north, is not much different in size, but I camped there last September.
And finally, a photo John Herbert took of me off some beach or other in the last year or so.
I converted it to b&w and simplified it a lot ’cause it looks kind of neat, and I was trying to generate some kayaking clipart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Brown Trousers Time

If it's Sunday, it must be time for another wind storm.
It's a pretty wild day on the water today. I drove by Willows Beach earlier and what is normally a flat and calm bay is today a raging body of water with four-foot waves crashing on the beach almost up to the road. Not even Bernie would venture out today.

Here's a cool picture. According to, researchers from Africa Geogrphic used kayaks as a shark observation platform.

An almost paddle

8:30 this morning, the waves looked quite interesting, but no, we decided to have our breakfast before paddling. But by 9:30 the waves had trebled in height. Still, not so bad, so Paula and I went back up to the house to get geared up and grab the Pamlico so I could indulge in some rough water practice. By the time we made it back to the beach, the waves had doubled again, until they were taller than me. That's a break point for me--waves over my head, maybe I shouldn't paddle. Still, walked out waist deep in them just to get a feel for them. It would have been a perfect day for rough water practice; large waves, sand beach, few rocks and an onshore wind so my bloated corpse wouldn't end up in Port Townsend. Ah well, maybe this afternoon....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wednesday Paddle

Was pretty straightforward, really. Left the beach at Cadboro Bay on a heading of 150° and returned on 330°. Ran straight out to the first of the Chain Islets, said hello to the dozen seals parked on it, and came straight back. 8.3 kilometres, average speed 3.5 knots or 6.6 km/hr. Nice steady 75 minute workout.
Perfect weather--slight breeze on the way back cooled me just enough that I could keep my hat on. Had to keep taking it off on the way out to cool off.

Coming back, dark was falling. the light flashing on my stern that had seemed so meaningless on the way out was pretty much necessary on the way back. And, in a big difference from the summer, I only saw one other boat. The water was quiet in pretty much every sense of the word. Even down to the motion-blurred lights reflecting on the water as I came back to the beach. Perfect paddle, really.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kayaker Saves Cat!

According to this CBC story, a cat that had been missing from home for 26 days was spotted stranded on a cliff and rescued by a passing kayaker. The considerably thinner cat has been happily reunited with its family.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

32.61 metres in a 2.6 metre boat - The Video

Not that I want to turn the blog into a series of YouTube clips, but a few weeks ago Bernie noted that a couple of "crazy-ass motherfuckers" went over Alexander Falls in the NWT in a kayak.
Guess what I found?

I Want to Do This

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Weather Sucks - Continuum

Having set some dubious weather records this year (including the first July ever with seven straight days of rain, and the hottest day ever recorded here -- also in July) Victoria set another one yesterday.
It was the wettest day ever in Victoria -- a one-day rainfall record of 80.6 mm.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Good Morning Paddlers!

This is your wake-up call! Contrary to John's post below, Paula and I were on the water just after 7:00 this morning. So while John was posting that no one was paddling, we were paddling.
The water at 6:30 was beautiful--almost glassy smooth. By the time I got Paula up and we got our gear on and were down at the water, there were already some slightly larger waves and the wind had picked up. We paddled across Cadboro bay to the south and looked at the boats, as I'm still trying to figure out what to build this winter (how long, keeled or unkeeled, etc). While we were poking about, Paula had a coot surface about 30 cm (~ 1 foot) off her bow. She'd been paddling so quietly that it hadn't know she was there until it came up and there was this five metre pink shark about to grab it. It had a coot-sized freakout when it's partner came up off Paula's left side so close she could have petted it, and it was clearly asking the first one what all the noise was about. Until it too saw the pink shark. Then we had two coot-sized freakouts on our hands.
By the time we got out to the mouth of the bay, the wind was well and truly up and the waves had increased in size quite a bit. As Paula would ride over a wave, her stern and rudder (on the boat! Geez...) would come completely out of the water and have plenty of time to drip dry. It had also begun to rain, and as forward progress was pretty slow, it was a good time to turn around.
Heading back, the waves were up to a half metre in height, making paddling in a following sea a pain in the ass. My boat really likes to weathercock at these times and it takes a lot of sweeps to keep the bow headed in the right direction. Into the weather, no problem; the boat takes the waves and cheerfully soldiers on. Following sea, not so much. Paula, on the other hand, didn’t mind the following sea so much, not having to work as hard to remain properly oriented. The big waves picking her up, on the other hand, were making her a bit queasy.
So by 9:00, we were back in the house, gear away, and were eating breakfast. A nice morning paddle (okay, I might have kept going had I been alone. I was enjoying the bad weather) that didn't last too long. Contrary to published reports....

If It's Snowing, It Must Be December

Yes Virginia, it does snow in Victoria.
This is what it looked like yesterday morning. It was all gone by mid-afternoon, but we, like most of this vast country, are in the midst of some wild winter weather. Yesterday we had colds temps hovering around zero and snow. Tomorrow and Tuesday, it's going to warm up, but the warm temps will bring strong winds and lots and lots of rain as The Pineapple Express rolls in. Today, we are on the back end of the snow system and the start of the rain system.
So needless to say, we didn't paddle this weekend. Welcome to a we(s)t coast winter.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pacific Horizons

Long-time reader Richard H. passed on the link for this trailer for Pacific Horizons, a DVD about kayaking in the Pacific Northwest and the west coast of BC.

Pacific Horizons has a blog (with some great pictures) and the DVD can be ordered there, too.

Prairie Kayaking

Got this photo from Rick, who usually paddles an inflatable at Alberta Beach west of Edmonton. The caption, if you can't read it, says "Garth Hobden paddles Tuesday on the North Saskatchewan River, which prompted motorists to call the fire department. Hobden says it's his favourite time of the year, because he likes facing the icy obstacles along the water."
I just want to say "Go Garth!" It looks like fun and is a whole lot cheaper than a flight to Tuk. But what I really love is the motorists calling the fire department--he doesn't look like he's on fire.....
Plus, it kind of puts our Sunday paddle in perspective, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

111 and Counting...

Normally, I'm not the kind of guy who would spend an evening hunched over his computer counting posts in one of his blogs, but I did discover that we have posted 111 paddle reports on this blog in slightly over two years.
And that doesn't count boat demo posts, Paddlefest reports or even the occasional fake paddle reports that we have snuck in here.
We must really like this kayaking jazz!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Breaking the Ice

It's a cold Sunday morning, maybe only a degree or so above zero, but we're here on The Gorge for a paddle into Portage Inlet.

Toques and gloves are in order today as we get ourselves ready. It's a large crew today: Karl, Stephanie, Bernie, Paula, Louise and myself.

We're launching at the the top end of The Gorge (#1) and paddling in Portage Inlet. At the far end of the Inlet (#2), we're going to head up Craigflower Creek. We've heard that the creek can be paddled up under the Trans-Canada Highway and up in behind Victoria General Hospital (#3). We're going to find out for ourselves.

No sooner did we start than we saw something cool. This homeowener has recently installed a bank of photovoltaic solar cells. That's the way of the future, we've got to get off the grid.

As we rounded the first point, Paula was ahead of us. Suddenly, she started whooping and shouting. "Ice!" she cried. Ahead of us, the Inlet had a thin sheen of ice on top. Paula had barrelled into it and soon the rest of us were into the icefield. Six little ice breakers.
Paddling Through the Ice 3

The ice was very thin, maybe 5mm if that, although there seemed to be the occasional section that was a little thicker. What an odd sensation to paddle through ice. We often joke about the water getting thicker when we paddle, but this water was solid! One expects to hear a splash when one's paddle hits the water, but all we heard was a crunch.
Stroke. Crunch. Stroke. Crunch.
We were also scaring all the birds away. Our six kayaks plowing through ice were making quite a racket as we cracked the ice around us, sending flocks of birds hundreds of metres away into frenzied flight. No doubt they thought the demons of hell were almost upon them.
Paddling through the Ice 2

We knew it was cold, but we never thought we'd be out breaking the ice. Karl figured that there must be a small layer of fresh water on top of the saltier Inlet water.

We found a lot of ice fields in the Inlet, and I'd guess that we spent about a third of our time in the Inlet paddling through ice.

We turned into Craigflower Creek and headed up. As you can see, we found some ice here. too.

We crossed under Helmcken Road.

This was a beautiful and quiet little river. Although we were sneaking through subdivisions, it was very easy to imagine that we were in the backwoods somewhere. There was one tricky spot, as a fallen tree had blocked most of the river. But there was a small channel, and Karl gave it a try.

It was tricky, but he made it.

Louise made it through, too.

Soon, we reached the Trans-Canada Highway. Here, the creek entered a tunnel.
Into the Tunnel

Ooooh, it's pretty scary, eh kids?

The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. As we left the tunnel, we discovered that there were a lot of rocks in the water here, so we had to be careful. We made it through, but it took a little maneuvering.

The navigable portion of the creek ended just beyond the tunnel and the rocks. Bernie got out to see if we could go any further, but this was pretty much the end of the line.

So there was nothing to do but turn around and head back through the tunnel. There was a bit of a bottle-neck as we entered....
In The Tunnel

...but it was a perfect time to practice some doo-wop.
Head For the Light

We ended up singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The Tokens have nothing to worry about.
In The Tunnel
In The Tunnel

Back in the light of day, we had to get past that fallen log again.

Karl and I were lagging behind the others when he pointed to his right. "Hey, is that a hawk in the tree?"

And there he was, a small hawk that didn't seem the least bit worried about or interested in us.

Then we were back in the Inlet and paddling though the ice.

And eventually, all good things must come to an end.

John's pictures are here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Loop De Loops

If you ever thought that you were just going around in circles, check these guys out:

This guy probably didn't want to do a loop:

And this guy probably didn't know how lucky he was until he saw the video later:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Long Recovery - Week 52

A year ago on this day, I fell off my bike. I dislocated my left arm, fractured it in three places, broke another bone in my left shoulder, and suffered associated muscle and soft tissue damage. The next day, I had four hours of surgery as a plate and ten pins were inserted to repair my arm which was then re-located into the shoulder and held in place by a strip of muscle that was sown across the socket. Damaged muscle was also reattached. This was followed by five months of physiotherapy.

Today, the arm feels okay. It is not 100%, and likely never will be. However, it does what I need it to do. I can ride my bike, I can paddle my kayak. I remember sitting in Emergency, doped to the gills on morphine and looking down at my busted shoulder, resigned to the fact that I might never kayak again. I thought that that was a cruel move by fate to let me discover a new sport that I love, only to take it away from me.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. It doesn’t seem to hinder my kayaking at all. In fact, strength and mobility seems quite normal if I keep my arm below shoulder level. It is only when I lift it above shoulder level that mobility issues arise. I can’t lift it straight up over my head anymore. I can only get it to about 75 degrees. I can cheat it, of course, and twist my torso a bit so it looks like I can get full range, but I know I can’t actually achieve it. It doesn’t hurt or anything, it just simply stops and won’t rotate in that direction anymore. My strength has not yet returned to normal. Lifting heavy boxes over my head is an adventure.

Occasionally, I can go for a few hours and forget about it, but most days the shoulder consistently reminds me that it ain’t quite right anymore. It almost constantly feels tight. And it is. It doesn’t sit right in the socket the way it used to and the strip of muscle that was sown across pulls it in hard. If you look carefully, my left shoulder is slightly narrower than my right shoulder. One of the chronic conditions left behind is that I get some slight chafing in my left armpit because the arm is held in so tight. I have to remember to let the arm hang away from my side so the armpit can dry out.

My shoulder gets sore and gets stiff. The muscles, particularly the muscles at the front of my shoulder, are fighting a battle with the stronger muscles of my back. The front muscles, which have all been tightened due to the accident, want to pull my shoulder forward and in, a folded-in slouch in other words, while my back is trying to keep things straight and upright. The front muscles ache fairly regularly, not enough to be painful or debilitating, but enough to remind me that major trauma occurred here. The same is true of the stiffness, which is mostly like a dull background noise, a persistent irritant like a buzzing bee that remains just out of swatting range.

I shouldn’t complain considering that at this time last year my left arm was in four pieces. And I’m not. But sometimes I feel like an alcoholic who faces his recovery every day. I was hoping that after a year I wouldn’t be constantly reminded of my injury, but it looks not to be the case.

But time heals all wounds, and hopefully my shoulder and I still have plenty of time together.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Winter Is Here

Today we are getting pummelled by the second big winter storm of the year. High winds and rain. The ferries aren't running today and nearly 200,000 people are without power. It's starting to sound just like last winter.
Yesterday, before the storm blew in, we'd thought we'd put in for a practice session at Cadboro Bay. Do some rescue practice, towing practice, and try out any tricks new we've read about.
So we were dressed for a dunking which was a good thing, because the winds preceding today's storm arrived at the beach before we did.
Rough Morning

So with one-foot waves lapping on the shore, we altered the plan and decided to use the occasion to gain more confidence paddling in rougher water. Bernie was so excited to go that he wouldn't even stop to get his picture taken.
To the Beach

Here's what the well-dressed kayaking couples are wearing these days....
What The Well-Dressed Kayaking Couples are Wearing This Season

...and their photographer is equally well-groomed.
Ready for Action

It was just Paula, Bernie and myself today (everyone else was either wimpier or smarter than us. I'll let you decide which.) Here they are launching....
Off We Go

....which didn't go exactly as planned.
A Failed Launch

If we were doing an "actual" paddle today, we probably wouldn't have gone out. But we decided that we were only going to go out a hundred metres or so. We set the moored boat as out limit. That way if something happened and one of us ended up in the water, we could probably walk back in if we had to. Also, both the wind and current were pushing into shore so we felt reasonable assured that we would be okay should some disaster strike.

And in fact once we got out a bit, it wasn't too bad at all. The wind seemed a little less than it was on shore, and the water was a little flatter than it was near the beach. Still, the wind and the waves were pushing us around a bit, so we had to keep our wits about us.
I Could Use Some Hot Chocolate

Bernie is hooked on his homemade Greenland paddle.....
Rough Water Bernie

...and Paula continues to sing the praises of her pink Eliza.
Paddlin' Paula

Any day on the water is a good day.

John's photos are here.