Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Little Group

Unlike yesterday when the weather played out almost exactly as the weatherman predicted, today the weatherman's prognostications were less than stellar. It was supposed to be mostly clear this morning, sunny in fact. But as we arrived at our launch point in Roberts Bay in Sidney, it was lightly raining and clearly not, er, clear.

But we kayakers are hardy souls, so we headed out with a wary eye on the uncertain weather. It was Richard, Alison, Paula, Louise and myself today.

We passed by this marker that was festooned with cormorants. One provided a little comedy relief as he must have thought that I was venturing too close. He jumped off the marker and landed in the water to escape, but he was paying so much attention to me that he didn't notice that he had in landed in the water dead center in the middle of five kayaks. After a moment he suddenly realized that he had indeed jumped from the frying pan and into the fire, and he took off quickly!

We headed out towards what we call amongst ourselves the Sidney Islands, but are really called The Little Group. It's a small archipelago that can be used as a stepping stone to the islands that are further out. We had been thinking about going around Coal Island -- the currents weren't particularly strong today -- but we really weren't too sure about the weather, so we thought it best to save that for another day.

These two guys didn't mind the weather...

...but it was sure concerning us. It didn't seem to be getting any worse, but it wasn't getting any better, either. We were getting some light squalls and dark clouds passing us. At least we didn't get much in the way of wind.

After we explored The Little Group a bit, we decided to cross to Coal Island. The weather was clearing a bit now, but there was some *ahem* spirited discussion before we made the crossing. You can see that it's not terribly warm out. There's snow in them thar hills.

The crossing to Coal went well and we paddled along the shore for a bit, past this old boathouse.

We crossed back to the mainland and checked out a harbour.

A heron posed for me....

...and a goose, too.

These homes are on pilings. They may survive the rise of the oceans due to climate change, but I sure wouldn't want to be around them when the Big Earthquake hits.

A blustery but fun day on the water.

Trip length: 10.7 km
John's photo's are here.
Richard's photo's are here.
Richard's blog report is here.
Post #300 on this blog. Woo hoo!

Not being sheepish...

March 15 2008 was Ocean River's Gear Sale (see here) and Paula, Richard, John and I decided to do some shopping. I knew I was going to get a carbon shaft paddle on sale for $98.99 as the price was too good to pass.
Icebreaker is a company that makes merino wool clothing items. Mention the word wool to me and I start itching. However, I was guaranteed this would not itch and I would be surprised at how soft it was. Other paddlers tell me they wear only Icebreaker now and won't ever wear polyester or spandex blends. From the piles of boxes I saw some people carrying to the cash I was becoming convinced to buy an item myself. Although on sale, the top I purchased was approximately $62 and I had to remember, this was going to last a long long time.
And....I am surprised! I've worn my top every time I've kayaked as a layer under my fleece jacket with my paddle jacket on top. I'm warm, neither too hot nor really cold either. I wore the top to the gym and did an hour workout in it. I was amazed that unlike my cotton tshirts I was dry and after stuffing it into my backpack, going home, putting it into the laundry basket for a day and on laundry day when I went to wash it, the top still didn't stink. I haven't broken out in hives or itched either. I'm saving to purchase more Icebreaker at the next Gear Sale.....some colder weather weight pieces would round out my paddling wardrobe.

Looking around ... from the shelter of Coal Island

"No current," said Richard, reading the tide tables. We in turn told him about the other times we went out and around the Sidney Islands. But we kept peering around those little islands looking for the ribbon of choppy water that signifies interesting times ahead, and being disappointed. The weather, however, was capricious, with shifting winds up to 15 km forecast, and off and on rain, so although we'd started out with the notion of circumnavigating Coal Island, and had made it all the way out to visit the Northern Sphinx, we took the better part of valour and stayed on the near side of Coal. While the gang (Paula, John, Richard, and Louise) discussed their favourite Optimum bar, I bobbed gently in the non-current and panned as far as I could twist. Double Take, it seems, has a limit: it positively refused to add the last two images. The tip of Coal Island is on the left, the mainland on the right. 

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Around Ten Mile Point

It was a small group today, just Louise, Richard and myself. The weather outlook gave us about a two-three hour window of good weather before another front came in so we headed to Cadboro Bay for a paddle around Ten Mile Point.

It was almost a flat calm as we headed out under a mostly sunny sky.

The water was smooth as a mirror in Cadboro Bay.

This goose was enjoying the heavenly sunshine.

Richard just got a new camera, a Optio W30, the same as mine, and he spent a lot of time taking pictures, so I ended up with a lot of pictures of Richard taking pictures. The Olympic Mountains in Washington State are in the background.

We paddled around Ten Mile Point and headed towards Telegraph Bay. The tide was ebbing and the current was deceptive here. Louise and I stopped for a moment and you can see quite clearly on the GPS track how far we drifted backwards in the short time we paused. Richard's boat seemed to glide over the surface and he pulled quite a bit ahead of us. It wasn't from the lack of us trying to keep up!
Louise found this cloud to be very amusing for some reason.

As we headed back we found our old friend the eagle on a rock. Actually, I'm not sure if he's the same one that we often see or not, as the markings although similar don't look quite the same.

He was very patient with us and posed for us for a few minutes. Then we headed back to shore just as the clouds and the rain came in. As soon as we got ashore, packed up and entered a nearby coffee shop, the hail started. Perfect timing!

Trip length: 9km
John's pictures are here.
Richard's blog report is here.
Richard's pictures are here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Five by Five

Great long weekend. The weather, though cool for March, was good much of the time; good enough that I paddled five times in five days. Okay, seven times in eight days. Only possible because of Bernie carrying my Eliza to the beach for me FIVE of those seven outings. Yay Bernie! Every paddle group should have one.
But on the five days of this long Easter weekend, Thursday afternoon Alison in her Kestrel and I in my Eliza went out to salute the Buddha, play in the rock garden and commute to Flower Island in Cadboro Bay. Twas the usual afternoon paddle that I'd been missing the first two weeks of March, and glad to get back to!
Good Friday morning I went out with John, Louise and Richard from Cadboro Bay over to Mary Tod Island in Oak Bay, where we administered the Bernie lecture to Richard: "Yes, you were perfectly fine. But we couldn't SEE you. You were a dot. Don't scare us!" Amazing how perspective is goofy on the water. We thought he was going out in the currents near Trial Islands, but he was fine, of course.
Saturday morning we were joined at Cadboro Bay by a couple of friends who had never been kayaking before. Bernie got them into the Pamlico and my inflatable Dragonfly, and gave them a good beginner's lesson, and when it was going good, Richard in his Telkwa and I in my Eliza zoomed ahead, past Flower Island out to the light on Cadboro Point. There we played in the ebb current between the rocks, and I got pinned against a rock briefly. We listened to the Freight Train of standing waves, which Rich finally saw. Then back to meet Bernie with Diane and BK out near Flower in the bathtub-calm water. There were lots of herons to spot, which was nice for their first time in kayaks, as we leisurely made our way back to shore.
Easter Sunday morning Bernie loaded my Eliza on Alison's car, and I paddled Thetis Lake on the Day Of Arguing Geese. A very reverent paddle except for the geese ranking out on each other...
And on the Monday afternoon I went out in my Dragonfly to salute the Buddha, play in the rock garden and commute to Flower Island once again. Saw otters looking marvellously healthy and limber, and a seal came up behind me twice, slapping the water the second time so I would turn round. Nice to get out and see the neighbours.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thetis Lake

We weren't sure about the weather today. Like Friday, it was going to be unsettled today. But there was supposed to be a window of a few hours between rain showers, so we made a quick trip for a paddle on Thetis Lake. (We heard later that it was quite stormy off our regular haunt at Cadboro Bay. Apparently, rescue boats were pulling people out of Baynes Channel, so it looks like we made a good decision to hit the lake instead.)

It was Louise, Paula, Alison, Richard and myself on the water today. It was quite the little traffic jam.

We paddled by this pair of geese. The geese were acting strange today. A few minutes after we passed these two, a third goose flew by and these two starting chasing him. In fact, they practically forced him down on the lake. And they did it two or three more times during the paddle. Suddenly there would be some ungodly loud goose-honking and the geese would fly by and one of them would get forced down into the lake. We assume it was a territorial struggle of some sort, and the geese were taking it very seriously.

A few minutes later, we had a serious emergency as Paula found a spider crawling on her kayak. Luckily, Paula did not panic too much, and she was able to put the spider ashore.

A peaceful paddle on a quiet lake. Too bad it had to end.

Trip length: 5.5km.

18/100 March 22, 2008

Out for a nice paddle today with a couple from South Korea. Paula and I met them on the bus a couple of weeks back, and we got a call from them Friday night and I took them out for their first ever paddle Saturday morning. Paula and Richard were heading out to play around Cadboro Point, and the three of us followed behind them. We paddled up the north shore of Cadboro, taking the time to check out the birds, clams, sea stars, and various seaweeds. It really was a float of a morning, but it was interesting to visit with some serious newbies–neither had paddled anything before. the weather was perfect; a bit cool, but the water was glass-flat in the bay. A slight breeze came up, and we soon after came off the water, ceding the bay to the sailing club regatta.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Caddy Bay

Any day on the water is a good day, and on this Good Friday, Louise, Paula, Richard and myself went for a paddle from Cadboro Bay to Willows Beach.

We paddled out alongside the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, and checked out the boats.

We found this aluminum cat, and Richard checked it out. We figured that you could paint it black and use it in the new Batman movie.

Soon after we saw a heron hanging out on a rock.

We followed him from rock to rock, but finally he got bored with us and took off.

The weather was a little iffy. At some times, we thought we were about to get rained on as we watched squalls pass around us. But we never got rained on and when the sun did occasionally poke through the clouds, it was gorgeous.

Trip length: 9.9 km

Monday, March 17, 2008

17/100 - 09 March 2008

A trip so unremarkable that it’s taken me a week to post it. Out to Flower, across to Willows Beach, and then back. I’ve kind of stalled out since. I need desperately to work on my boat; the back-strap keeps cutting off the circulation from my lumbar vertebrae on down, making life quite miserable. the boat also needs a paint job and other work done to it. But without a bike trailer or vehicle, the boat is here and my (borrowed/begged) workspace is a few miles away. So I’m feeling a bit trapped.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Opus 100

Today's paddle is a momentous paddle. It's lifetime paddle number 100! Not bad for someone who took up this sport only two and a half years ago, and spent six months of that on the disabled list.
My personal stats break down like this:
15 paddles in 2005;
50 paddles in the first 11 months of 2006 before my bike accident;
29 paddles the last 9 months of 2007 after recovering from my bike accident;
and 7 paddles so far this year.

Paula, Louise and I returned to Ocean River to do some demo paddles.
Louise and I both tried the 17' Delta. She was in the Sport version, and I was in the Expedition model which is one inch deeper. Unlike the 14' Deltas that we currently own, this model has a harder chime and is a little narrower, so it was a little woobly at first. (Yes, "woobly" is a technical kayaking term. Or so I was told.) But it didn't take long for that feeling to pass, and the Delta gave us a smooth and fast ride.

We joined Mark from Delta Kayaks and some other Delta paddlers for a jaunt around the harbour.

Paula had to be different and she went out in a composite Eliza.

We both enjoyed the 17' Delta a lot. It tracks and turns very well and was very nimble. It went right to the top of Louise's list for a new boat. I enjoyed it, and I found that I had more knee room than in my current 14' Delta, and that was nice, but the cockpit is a little smaller and that made it a little tougher for me to get out with my bad shoulder. I also found my feet were in cramped quarters at the end of the cockpit (but I was wearing sneakers instead of my paddling boots, so that didn't help). It may not be the boat for me, but I can't say anything bad about it -- it was a sweet ride. I will try one again before trading up.
Will we see Louise in her own 17' one day? Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ocean River Gear Up Sale

It was a cloudy but beautiful morning that greeted us on our latest paddle.

We put in at the Ocean River parking lot for their annual spring Gear Up sale. It was Louise, Richard, Paula and myself today.

Louise immediately began checking out some of the sights.

Here she checks out the new 17 foot Delta kayak. She asked Mark of Delta Kayaks if he was giving away any free sample kayaks. Sadly, he forgot them again this year.

I circled around this Current Design Solstice for quite a while before it finally got away from me.

From Ocean River, we made our way south. We could have taken the more scenic sidewalk route, but we felt our skills have improved enough that we could try the more dangerous parking lot crossing. Fortunately the wind wasn't blowing hard and the pavement is usually calm this time of year.

We made our way to Mountain Equipment Co-op. Once inside, conditions were very dangerous but we escaped with both ourselves and our wallets intact.

From there, we headed straight north to Pacifica Paddlesports (this is known as the Great Circle Route). Again, it was another close call, but our bank accounts survived.

Trip length: 2.42 km
Average speed: .9 kmh