Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cordova Bay

I don't know why this day is called Sunday. It makes no sense -- every week, the last day of the weekend comes around and there's no sun. Calling it "Sunday" seems to be a great mistake. It should be called "Cloud Day" or "Dark Day" or "Rain Day." Maybe it should be called "Gloom Day" -- no, that's better suited for Monday.
Anyway, another unsunny Sunday greeted us as we put in to paddle at a new launching point for us, Cordova Bay. The launch was at the end of a steep path, and with the low tide and the sand bar, it was a long way to the water.
This is not on our list of favourite future launch points.

It was Louise, Alison, Dennis, Paula and myself today. Bernie begged off -- something about getting a free hang glider.....

There wasn't much in the way of sea life today, at least at first. Dennis was out in his new Advanced Elements 13' foot inflatable kayak, and his new carbon fiber paddle. It's a shame that Dennis had an accident on this trip. Strangely, although his body was never found, all his new gear was recovered intact....
But seriously, Dennis really likes his new boat. And if he gets into the trouble on the water, rescuers can be told to look for the giant inflatable banana. It should be easy to spot.

See what I mean?

We paddled south towards Mount Douglas Park.

Here we pass Cormorant Point, so named for the complete and utter lack of cormorants adorning it. Undoubtedly it was named by the same guy who came up with "Sunday."
Around the Rock

We passed a small island and turned around. That's when Louise started calling out. "Hey! Hey guys! There's something under my boat!" We had just been watching some of Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" programs and no doubt this was going through her mind as some sort of sneaky shadowy shape slowly slipped stealthily under her boat.
"Shark Week" crossed my mind too, and I whipped my camera out! I wonder what they'd pay for pictures of a shark attacking a kayak?

The shadowy shape turned out to be a baby seal that took an interest in Louise and her kayak. We didn't see mommy seal anywhere, much to Louise's relief, as mommy would probably not be pleased that Junior was hanging out so close to humans.
Louise reports:
"We went around the point and into a bit of a bay with lovely houses. As we paddled by the point a couple told us they had just seen a young seal swim away.
We reached a little formation of rocks and started to turn around, I was a bit a head of Allison and Dennis with John and Paula still coming along to turn around. I looked down into the water and saw this strange "rock". It wasn't a rock at all! The next thing I knew a seal pup was beside my boat and I was looking down into its eyes. It swam under the kayak and came up on the other side, swam around to the back and then came along side me again. This time it barked at me and stayed for a few minutes. By this time everyone else had caught up to me and it swam behind Allison's kayak for a bit, then came back to me, but upon realizing there were a lot more people it swam off. I only hope it has found its mother as we couldn't see any other seals around.
John tried several times to get a photo of it as it was around my kayak for some time. He thought he hadn't captured it but in fact he had!!"

Baby Seal
It moved off after a few minutes. Hopefully Junior and Mom got together again.

We returned past Non-Cormorant Point.

Dennis was waaaaay too relaxed in his new boat.
Relaxed to the Max

As we loaded up the kayaks, I spotted a deer across the road.

The End!

John's photos are here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's Official: The Weather Sucks - Addendum

As noted in a previous blog entry, the weather sucks.
After our record-setting all-time warm day on July 11 (36.3 Celius), yesterday we set another dubious record. We had some rain yesterday. Not much rain, but enough to make it the first July ever when Victoria has recorded rain for seven straight days.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thetis Lake Paddle Fun Day

We've had four days of cloudy and rainy days no doubt due to my having four days off. I'm sure when I go back to work on Tuesday, the sun will be shining and it will be a warm and wonderful day. But today was cloudy though the rain held off, so we're off to Thetis Lake.

Bernie make fire....and sausages....

...and Alison, Paula and Louise enjoy breakfast.

The distraction of a hot breakfast on the beach allowed me a chance to get on the water first. (I've never been distracted by food. Really.)

As we headed out, there were a lot of swimmers in the water. "It's sad," Bernie noted, "that some people just can't afford kayaks."

We found some lilies.

We had a nice quiet paddle around the lake.
Across the Lake

Bernie thought he saw a turtle swimming underwater. I saw a glimpse of a mink or an otter. We also saw some turtles on the same log that we did last year. But this time, the turtles scrambled into the water long before we got within camera range. We also fished a few pop and beer cans out of the water, but I found the strangest item of all under the water: a purse with a rock in it. Clearly someone didn't want it found, and a trip to the local police to turn it in after our paddle was added to the agenda.

When we got back to shore, we were met by the Keetley Krew: Leslie, Darren, Thomas and Jeffrey.

Leslie decided to embark on her own personal Paddlefest. Here, she tries Louise's boat.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey found a way to get rid of his brother. And Bernie.

Later, Jeffrey got rid of his body and became just a floating head.

Then Leslie headed out in Bernie's boat....

....and then she tried Alison's boat. She tried every boat on the beach, including some that didn't belong to us. But I won't include any pictures of that -- I don't want to embarrass her.

She would have tried Paula's boat, but Paula was practicing a two-person rescue with me.

Another fun and wet day.

My photos are here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Random Local Stuff

The Iron Matron, a local newpaper columist, goes kayaking for the first time in this article.
And here's a story about a local "Crazy Kayaker" who decided to paddle the length of the Mississippi.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tuesday Evening

..was a lovely evening for a paddle. So Paula, Dennis , and I headed out from Cadboro Bay to Cattle Point. Not just for the joy of the paddle, but Dennis wanted to test drive his new 4 metre Advanced Elements Expedition...and I wanted a somewhat longer test paddle of my now-floating Cape Charles.
Okay, mine doesn't look like that one from the CLC Boats website, being as mine is bright yellow, among other differences, but there you go.
Once out at Cattle Point, Paula headed back to the entrance to Cadboro Bay, while Dennis and I headed out to the lighthouse between Cattle Point and Great Chain in order to try our boats in currents and in the wakes of passing ships--just to see how they handled it all. And both boats passed with flying colours. Well, colour, as both boats are yellow....
Then it was back in to meet Paula and head back to the beach. About an hour or so on a lovely quiet evening that left my butt very soar from sitting on an unpadded seat. Lessons learned? Well, Dennis discovered that he needs to be a bit more careful during setup while installing the keel bar in his Expedition (it was slightly askew, leaving his boat to pull to the right during the paddle), and I really need to work on the seating in the Cape Charles. And maybe I should paddle it with a lot of gear in it....

Kayak With a Propeller For Sale

Clearly, this is a kayak made for Vancouver Island. The ad says:
I bought a kayak off the police auction in saanich and don't have the time to do the work I'd like to do to it. It had a propellor attached so it could deliver some goods to our friends in the U.S. (True Story) It does need a bit of work to get the toggle box out of the cockpit or you can leave it in and rewire for the propellor and use it for fishing or whatever. It's about 14 ft and cockpit between 25 and 30 inches, I forget.

So if you're looking for a little help with your part-time delivery job, this could be the kayak for you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's Official: The Weather Sucks

We've found ourselves thinking that the weather this year has been worse for kayaking than last year. We all recall a great spring for paddling in 2006, with nary a cloudy day.
We have had some great weather this year. A week ago today was the warmest day ever recorded in Victoria, but on the other hand our planned paddle only three days previous to that was cancelled due to rainy weather. And on the gripping hand, most of the good days have seemed to have come during the week, while the weekend weather has turned bad. And weekday paddles don't work for all of us -- some of us have to work for a living.
So with our planned trip to Discovery Island this Saturday possibly threatened because of a forecast of heavy rain, I decided to check the facts. I consulted our past blog entries to see if our memories are valid. In terms of weather, was last year a better paddling year?

I returned to paddling on April 8 this year after recovering from my accident, so I compared the paddles from April 8 to July 18 in both years. As it turns out, in each year there were 20 paddles documented in the blog during this period.
The Results:

2006 paddles (Apr 8 - July 18)
55% - cloudy
5% - cloudy and rainy
10% - foggy
25% - sunny
5% - cancelled due to bad weather

2007 paddles (Apr 8 - July 18)
45% - cloudy
15% - cloudy and rainy
25% - sunny
15% - cancelled due to bad weather

The proportions of bad weather to sunny weather seems to be about the same; one paddle in four was under sunny skies. But even though there's been the same proportion of unsunny weather this spring, the weather would seem to be have been a little worse as we've cancelled more trips this year and gone out on more rainy days.
So the perception that this year's weather is worse seems to be accurate. Adding to this is the fact that we did have an amazing Spring last year. Out of 13 pre-April 8 trips in 2006, seven were on cloudy days and six were on sunny days, a ratio of nearly 50-50. This year is a little harder to judge as pre-April 8 trips are not as well documented in the blog. However, the three that we have photographic evidence for shows one sunny paddle, one cloudy paddle and one snowy paddle. A small sample size to be sure, but it leans towards to another checkmark in the 2007 Bad Weather column.
Further adding to the perception would be the miserable Fall last year. Prior to my accident in late November, all three of our planned November paddles were wiped out by bad weather, and November, December and January were marked by an incredible series of nearly two dozen fierce and destructive windstorms in the area, and any paddling on those days would have been suicidal. Even Bernie didn't go out. All this makes it seem like it has been a long time without a good run of sunny paddles.
What does this all mean, apart from the fact that I wasted an evening hunched over my keyboard with a Diet Coke figuring this out? Well not much, except that sunny paddles don't come along every day. They come along only one in every four paddling days apparently, so enjoy them when you get them.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Recumbent Kayak

Paula has been thinking out loud about getting herself a recumbent bicycle.
Perhaps she should consider a recumbent kayak.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

MEC Victoria Paddlefest 2007

It's a nice sunny Sunday, and time to get on the water.

A local kayak store held a demo day today, so instead of the usual Sunday paddle, we enjoyed a day of paddling other people's boats.

There were mostly Seaward Kayaks to demo. Louise started off with a Cosma TX, a thermoformed plastic kayak...

...while I started out in a Tyee XT, a longer thermoformed boat. We find them slightly tippy at first but that feeling soon passed. My boat was deep and with a big cockpit, which is something I need due to my shoulder injury. Getting out of a boat can be a bit of a struggle.
Overall, we liked the boats, but we had two big issues. First, the seats suck. We hated 'em. (To be fair, I took it out again later, and was able to adjust the seat so that it was better. Not acceptable, but better.) Also we both noticed the sound of running water while we were paddling, like someone had left a tap open somewhere below the decking. It was very strange and disconcerting.

Paula tried a Silhouette and hated every second she was in it. She truly hated this boat. "Hate" might not even be a strong enough word. "Despise" only begins to broach her feelings about this boat. In fact we didn't notice a single person who liked it. One poor woman spent five minutes trying to get in it (and falling into the water) before giving up on it.

Then Paula tried the Luna which she much preferred.

Meanwhile, Bernie headed out in this Chilco which he enjoyed.

Paula and Louise tried this tandem and loved it. It has a huge storage capacity. They want to take it on an expedition sometime. They figure that it is so fast that they could beat Bernie and I to the landing site, set up the camp, and have food waiting for us by the time Bernie and I arrive. (At least, that's the way I remember hearing it.)

Paula (who tried every boat on the beach at least twice) tried this Ascenté and liked it a lot.

While Bernie was trying this Intrigue, I paddled the fiberglass version of the Tyee that I had tried earlier. What a difference! It paddled like a dream, the seat was comfy and it had great initial stabilization when compared to the thermoformed version. I talked to the Seaward rep about it and he said that he finds that thermoformed are too "slippy" in the water. Now, some slipperyness is a good thing, but he thinks that thermoformed boats go a little too far. Add to that the extra stiffness you get in a fibreglass boat, and he still thinks glass is the way to go.
I'd have to agree that at the very least the fiberglass Tyee gave a much cleaner and stable ride than the thermoformed version. But despite them both being the same model, I had a devil of a time getting out of the fiberglass version. The cockpit seemed just a little smaller, and this was enough to make it a real chore for me to get out of it.

Bernie tried the Silhouette, too. He hated it.

Time to save money! Need more boats!

John's photos are here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Record heat!

According to the Environment Canada website, yesterday's temperature topped out at 36.3°C at the airport. That's just shy of normal body temperature. It was certainly a record for the day, and, based on a Google search, it was an all-time record, the previous record being 35.3°C (96°F) on July 23, 2004. Fool that I was, I did not go kayaking. I will know next time. The alternative is developing a taste for recreational shopping: some of the malls are air-conditioned.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saanich Plaza Tim Horton's Paddle

Another terrific day for paddling! There was no wind or rain at all. Nothing! We were going to be able to paddle for hours under this glorious sunshine!

Today's paddle was going to be a little different. Instead of meeting up in one spot and then going for a kayaking paddle together, we decided to start in different places and end up in one spot. It was a dangerous idea that required split second timing. If we missed our rendezvous, we could could become stranded or lost entirely

Fortunately, we were well-provisioned.

It all worked out okay and we met up safe and sound.

I shared a drink with a new friend that I made. Maybe he'll come paddling next week with his family.