Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Record Kayak Plunge

Last Tuesday, Tyler Bradt took his kayak over Palouse Falls in southeast Washington State, a drop of 180 feet, shattering the previous record of 127 feet set just last month. He hasn't released any photos yet, but he filmed the drop for a film called Dream Result. He was only slightly injured, suffering just a sprained wrist. Next, he's off to Norway and Iceland. There's a lot of waterfalls in Iceland, he says. Dream Result is planned for a 2010 release.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beware of Falling Bridges

Okay, here's one you don't hear about every day.
A kayaker in Arden, North Carolina escaped serious injury when a piece of metal fell off the bridge he was kayaking under. His kayak was pierced by a piece of metal about two feet long, and the kayaker suffered a cut on his foot requiring six stitches.
The bridge is under construction and work crews were apparently cheering the kayaker on before the accident occurred, and they delivered first aid to the injured paddler.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Winding Our Way to Witty's Lagoon

Albert Head Pano

A warm, sunny and calm Sunday morning greeted Louise and I as we arrived at Albert Head Regional Park. After what has been months of below seasonal temperatures and a cool Spring, the warm weather finally has arrived. How long it stays is another question of course, as rain is in the forecast for later in the week, but today's weather is about as spectacular as it can get in April. We put in and headed out around the point for Witty's Lagoon.
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 058

Even before we started, we thought we were going to have a good day for spotting seals. As we prepared our kayaks for launch, we could see that the rocks about 350m away were covered in seals. But they were a little shy and as soon as we hit the water, they dove off the rocks even though we were still a third of a kilometre away. So we paddled past the little gray heads bobbing in the water along the eastern side of Albert Head. It didn't take long for another photographic opportunity to present itself. I whipped out my camera....
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 111

...and got a picture of....well, I don't know what exactly. All I know is that it was enormous, so I suspect it's a young eagle.
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 019
And a couple trees over this pair of eagles sat watching it. Perhaps the proud parents?
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 023

We continued around the point...
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 068
...and found some more seals. This group dove into the water quickly as well, even though we were quite a distance away. We were a little surprised by how jumpy they were -- usually, they are a little more calmer than they appeared to be today. We started to wonder if our (relatively) new red boats were scaring them off. Our previous boats were blue -- maybe to the seals we blended with the water better in blue boats?
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 027

While we pondered the reactions to the seals on our left, we stumbled upon a baby seal off to our right. He didn't seem the least bit worried about what colour our kayaks were, but that gave us another theory. If there were lots of baby seals about, maybe the seals were being a little extra cautious. The pictures of the baby seal didn't turn out, but beside the seal was this seagull which was eating something.
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 030
Frankly, it looks like an avocado, but I doubt that's what it was. Another seagull had one, too. Clearly neither had ever read any books by B.Kliban.

We passed by this eagle nest...
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 034
...and stopped to explore the rocks outside Witty's Lagoon. We arrived at an extremely low tide, so we knew we'd never get into the lagoon itself, and even outside the lagoon passages that were normally passable like this one were blocked.
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 070

Finally, we found some seals that didn't seem to mind the colour red. Louise drifted by these ones...
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 050
...and I found a fellow who seemed quite happy to pose for a few minutes.
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 047

It was time to head back and we caught the incoming tide, which if my GPS can be trusted, pushed us along at 8 kmh for a good chunk of time.
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 186

This is one of my favourite paddle routes: easy to get to, the conditions always seem great, and there is always something to see.
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 079

And what about seals and red kayaks? Well, it turns out that the colour of your kayak shouldn't make any difference at all because seals are colourblind.

2009-04-26 Wittys Lagoon

Trip Length: 8.79 km
YTD: 45.74
My pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marina Meeting April 29

The Victoria Harbour Defense Alliance is organizing a meeting to discuss the proposed Mega-Yacht Marine planned for Victoria's Inner Harbour. The meeting, planned for Wednesday April 29, 7:00 PM at Victoria High School, will bring together various interest groups as well as other speakers, including at least two former mayors who have spoken out in opposition to the plan. Long-time mayor Peter Pollen told the Victoria Times-Colonist that the marina proposal is "...just ridiculous. The harbour is crowded already." He also told Monday Magazine:
I think the process of handling this whole thing has been absolutely outrageous, conflicts of interest, absolutely no discussion, it’s gone as far as it has with virtually no notice to the public. The second thing is that it is entirely inappropriate to have 50 mega-yachts owned by mega-yachters buying condominium berths at $50,000 to $80,000 a berth, and they’re going to store these things in our tiny little harbour. It’s just crazy.

Another former mayor David Turner hit the mark when he called the marina "...a private rather than a public facility, catering to the wealthy who own these mega-yachts."
Also, offers a quote from a recent letter from the South Island Sea Kayakers Association to Transportation Minister Ron Cantelon, which also pretty much hits the nail on the head:
The fundamental issue is that if you grant a license of occupation for this water lot, you will be taking an expanse of public waters currently enjoyed by all Victorians, and privatizing those waters for the use of the internationally wealthy. You will also be privatizing irreplaceable viewscapes and the shoreline - shifting them from the shared use of the entire community to the private benefit of a handful of mostly foreign-owned luxury yachts. also reports that local MP Keith Martin has written a letter against the proposal to federal Transport Canada Minister John Baird (the same John Baird who when he was Environment Minister supported "soft" intensity carbon targets instead of a hard cap. But I digress.)
And remember, we are in a provincial election campaign -- make your voices heard and ask your candidates where they stand on this issue.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thetis Lake Trials


Although forecast to be an iffy kind of weather day, sun was bursting through the clouds on this fine spring morning. After five months of below seasonal temperatures, we are finally starting to see some warmer weather. It's still cooler than normal, but at least it's pleasant and sunny as apposed to cloudy and miserable.
Paula wanted to have another group paddle with her Advanced Element kayaks that she was given to test. She, Louise and I headed to Thetis Lake where we met kayak novices Jon and Cat. It was a perfect opportunity to give the kayaks to total rookies and see if they liked them. And if we brought two more over to The Dark Side, so much the better.

Louise got in the small Dragonfly, while I took out the Expedition. We loaded Cat and Jon into the Straitedge2...
...and got them in the water. They were really struggling and had a very difficult time controlling the boat. They seemed to end up mostly going in circles.

Maybe putting two rookies in the same boat wasn't wasn't such a good idea after all. We quickly put in to shore and Jon and I traded places. He took off like a rocket in the Expedition, while Cat and I followed in the Straitedge. It still wanted to turn a lot, far more than when I was in it with Lila a couple of weeks ago. Still, I managed to keep it on a steady course and Cat was finally able to enjoy the ride.
We switched around again, this time giving Cat a solo paddle in the Expedition, and she took off like a rocket, too.

For my part, I tried the Expedition solo, and the Straitedge both as a tandem and solo. I paid more attention to the seat adjustments than I did last time out and that did make for a more comfortable ride. Cat and Jon enjoyed their first kayaking experience as we spent a few hours lazily paddling on a sunny day.

Trip length: 4.51 km
YTD: 36.95 km
My pictures are here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

SISKA Against the Mega-Yacht Marina

The South Island Sea Kayaking Association (SISKA) is keeping the mega-yacht proposal on the front burner in the local media as this morning's Times-Colonist reports that SISKA:
told provincial Agriculture and Lands Minister Ron Cantelon, whose ministry must issue a water lease for the development to go ahead, that the proposed marina would contravene the public interest, the Land Act and common-law rights....The marina must also pass an environmental assessment by Transport Canada, currently accepting public submissions.

The story also quotes Calvin Sandborn, the director of the environmental law clinic at the University of Victoria. He says that:
under the Land Act, Cantelon cannot legally hand over a water lease unless it's in the public interest. Sandborn said kayakers have a legal right to paddle in waters where the marina is planned.

The marina planners have proposed that a passageway will be built for kayaks and canoes, but the passageway, planned to be only five to eight metres wide, will be too narrow for outrigger canoes. The marina will also add more congestion to an already crowded harbour.
If you want to stop the marina, click here to help. And remember that we're in an election campaign -- ask the candidates in your riding where they stand on this issue!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tour Witty's Lagoon For A Good Cause

Team Witty, one of 2009's Leadership Victoria Community Action groups, is hosting a Forest to Seashore Interperative Tour of Witty's Lagoon Regional Park at 10:00 AM on Sunday, April 19.
Team Witty is constructing a Teaching Shelter at the park, an eco-friendly structure that will be a unique space in the forest where students and families can receive hands-on learning and education about the natural world.
We've kayaked here a few times and the lagoon is a terrific place to explore from the land or sea. This is a great opportunity to learn a little about the lagoon and help a good cause. Check out their website here.
Lunch break

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Paddle

Any Friday that you can paddle is a good Friday as far as I'm concerned. And today the church of Gaia was open for business.

It was a cloudy morning, but the rain for the day had already fallen. The sun occasionally tried to poke through, but for the most part we faced a solidly cloudy day. But it was calm and the sea was flat.
Today Lila joined us in the red Pamlico. She's only been in a kayak a few times so Louise, Paula and I knew we would be sticking close to shore today. We decided to try a trip down to Cattle Point again, the same route that we abandoned in the wind a few days ago.

It didn't take long until I spotted...
...a heron.
In fact the herons were out in force today. You pretty much couldn't spit without hitting a heron, although spitting at herons is not really recommended.
It seemed like there was a heron hiding behind every rock.

And there were a lot of harlequin ducks out, too.

As we headed back, we encountered a group of four ducks swimming along. They looked they might have been fishing. Here's one diving in front of me.
But when they surfaced, they headed towards Louise and Paula and began squawking and quacking. Their quacks sounded just like they were saying, "Redrum! Redrum! Redrum!" We found that very disconcerting, and gave them a lot of extra room, just in case one of them had an axe.

And after we passed by the sailboats we were home again.

Trip length: 8.47 km
YTD: 32.44
My photos are here.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Need a Rez-Q?

Here's something cool. This is the Rez-Q, a rescue kayak designed to be used in post-flood conditions. Once the release lever is triggered, pneumatic cylinders open the kayak. The outrigger doubles as a stretcher and the sail can also be used to protect the occupants from the sun or rain.
More photos and info here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

No Line on the Horizon

We hit the rocky beach at Telegraph Bay early on Monday, hoping that the wind would not be quite as strong as yesterday. Today we're going for a three-fer -- three paddles in three days. While it was a bit breezy on our arrival, by the time we got in the water the wind was gone and we were in a flat calm. The sun quickly burned off the the thin cloud cover and we were in paddling heaven. Another perfect day on The We(s)t Coast. I'm almost starting to be convinced that winter just might be over.

But before we even started, something caught our eye on the beach. The seagulls were enjoying a meal.
Paula decided to investigate...
...and discovered that the gulls were feasting on a halibut. It was impossible for us to guess its size (there wasn't much left) but we guessed that it must have been dragged up here by a large seal, or the resident area sea lion. It certainly wasn't something the seagulls would have caught!

It was just the three of us today -- Paula in her pink Necky Eliza and Louise and I in our red Deltas.

It was just gorgeous on the water -- dead flat, no wind. You couldn't ask for better conditions.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that every time we paddle here, we pass by one specific tree that always has an eagle in it. And today was no exception.

We saw a few eagles flying around, and a number of otters scrambling along the rocky shore and one that was happily swimming along.
We found the little cave and had a look around.

We carried on around the point. These rocks are usually covered in seals, but this time of year they are off some place else a little more private making baby seals. So the birds took over the rocks, and here we found a flock of sand pipers enjoying the day.

Too soon, it was time to head back.
No Line on the Horizon

Telegraph Bay 2009-04-06

Trip Length: 8.94
YTD: 23.77
My photos are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.