Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Paddling Weather Statistics

61 paddles were documented on the blog in 2009. The weather stats break down like this:
60% of our paddles were on sunny days;
20% were on cloudy days;
12% were on rainy/stormy days;
3% were on foggy days;
and 5% were canceled due to bad weather.

Here's how this year compares to past years (in percentage of paddling days):

Some things to note:
- It was a sunnier year, up 15% from last year and double the sunshine of the crappy weather year we had in 2007.
- Interestingly, days that are just cloudy show a decidedly downward trend. Of course, that shouldn't be a surprise this year with all the sunshine, but interestingly this trend occurred doing years when sunshine was down.
- Weather-related cancellations were down this year probably for a couple of reasons. First, as we have gained experience we have ventured out into weather conditions that we might not have before, and we've been become a little more adept at planning safer Plan B paddles when the weather forecasts aren't looking so good. Second, my definition of a weather-related cancellation for this chart is if we'd made plans to paddle, and on the day of the paddle we've decided the conditions weren't acceptable. This year we changed tactics slightly and didn't even bother making plans some weekends based on the forecast. So those occasions wouldn't have counted as cancellations and that may have skewed the figures a bit. (The decision to cancel a paddle can be made at the launch site, or in while still in bed under the blankets and listening to the radio. Many a paddle has been cancelled this way. Especially in December. But I digress.)

None of this is terribly scientific of course, but it is interesting to see long term trends, even if they are as subjective as this.

I hit the water 38 times this year. Not as much as I would have liked, as I was held off the water by eye surgery at the start of the year, and some minor back issues at the end of the year, as well as the van blowing up, essentially leaving us vehicle-less for kayaking purposes. Still, not a bad total as some unlucky people never get on the water.
image (3)

You may well be asking yourself just how far I've paddled over my short paddling career. Or you may well be asking yourself if you want a cheese sandwich. Actually, I really don't know what you're asking yourself -- what am I, a mind reader?
The answer to how far I've paddled is 1162 km. You can see the yearly breakdown on this handy dandy chart:
image (2)

Now it's time to see about getting some wheels so we can get those kayaks back in the water. However you are on your own for that cheese sandwich.

Who was that zooming paddler?

Augh, technology sometimes hiccups. And yesterday this note got posted with just a title and the text deleted.
As it turns out, the person who commented was, in fact, the zooming paddler, Mike Jackson.
Y'see, Wednesday 9:00 am saw me out on the water with Richard, both of us setting a nice modest pace on the very gradual swells. There was a breeze as we set out from Cadboro Bay's Gyro Park towards Willows Beach, but it didn't pick up while we were out.
The swells did pick up a bit around Cattle Point, but that's always a place where the water moves in funny ways. It evened out on Oak Bay, and roughed up a little on the outside of Mary Tod Island, but still nothing much. That's where we saw half a dozen paddlers setting out towards the Chain Islets.
On our way back across Oak Bay is when Rich noticed the kayaker heading out from Cadboro Bay at a good speed. Gotta say, nice cadence, nice form, and though he didn't look like he was sprinting he kept up a speed more like MY sprinting speed than what I was doing then... Who was that zooming paddler? Rich kept looking for the hidden motor.
We figured it might be Mike Jackson, and sure enough, it was. Later that evening I checked Mike's blog (one of many listed over on the right hand column of our blog) and it turns out that was him. His GPS tracking says he was doing only about 5 km/hr between the Uplands and the Chains, but I think it was more like 7.
But that was later. Rich and I kept up our leisurely pace, enjoying the swells, and talked our way through solving several of the world's problems. Back on shore, we went for coffee with Bernie, talked about family and the Christmas season. Then it was time for the library.
Gotta say, this was a good winter day. Hope the new year holds many good days for all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It's always nice to get out on the water during a cold winter day. For one thing, if it's sunny and bright the day doesn't feel clammy and chill. For another, odds are it's been cold and rainy for the last while, so getting out is a nice change. And the bottom line is, paddling is a nice change from trying to bake Christmas cookies that just haven't been working out right this year.
The other day, sometime before Christmas, I looked out the window and saw there was little or no breeze disturbing the big willow tree in the front yard. Moments later, I was in my wetsuit and paddle jacket, pumping up my Dragonfly inflatable kayak.
Once down on Cadboro Bay beach, I looked out at the Chain Islets... or tried to. The horizon looked a little funny. Though the tide was not all the way in, the little islets were invisible, something that shouldn't happen when I'm standing on the shore. Great Chain didn't appear as big as it usually does. I squinted at the horizon, launched my kayak, and squinted at the horizon again from this new angle, eyes only about two feet above the water. It must have been a mirage! Usually when a mirage happens around here, on a bright day, the effect makes little rocks and islands on the horizon look taller, not shorter. Sometimes the horizon stretches to absurd amounts, or there are upside-down images of sailboats merrily sailing along on top of the real ones. But not this day; objects along the horizon were compressed and obscured instead.
I paddled along the shore past the little rock garden, Sheep Cove and Stein Island and out to Flower. Through the channel I could feel a breeze that had been blocked by the long bulk of the point, and I could see the light at Cadboro Point. The freight train was running, as the tide was coming in.
Hoo doggies, was the freight train running! There were standing waves visible here, four or five hundred metres away. I could see the waves curling and frothing, and it looked like they were about half a meter high. But wait a minute... that couldn't be right. Standing waves wouldn't normally be that high unless there was a much stronger wind than this breeze, blowing against the current.
It took a minute to remember the odd mirage I'd seen at the shoreline. This was another mirage! But now, it was acting more like the usual mirage, stretching an image at the horizon so the standing waves looked much higher than they actually were.
Probably. I wasn't about to paddle over there and have a good look from close up, not in my 8 1/2 foot inflatable when I was out on my own, no matter how good the weather. That was enough of an outing for one day, so I went back to shore. Made another batch of cookies that just didn't work right -- dry and hard -- but heck, it was still the holiday season, even so. Peace on Earth, goodwill to all.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day

Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit more than snow kayaking videos! Okay, too much turkey and my sister's mysterious potato dish also help.
Enjoy these crazy snow paddlers!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sea Lion Rescue

A stellar sea lion got an early Christmas present last week as it was rescued after being entangled in a rope at Race Rocks south of Victoria.
The seal's flipper was somehow entangled in the rope which was anchored to the rocks. The seal was able to get in the water, but could only swim in a very small area and was unable to feed. Martin Haulena, a veterinarian with the Vancouver Aquarium said, “The really great part here for us — not for the animal, obviously — was the animal was tethered to the rock. We thought it was one of the best chances we’ve had in a long time for disentangling a large Steller sea lion.” The sea lion had to be tranquilized, and obviously the great danger in tranquilizing an animal in the matter in that they will stop swimming and drown, but in this case the sea lion was able to keep its head above water while the rope was cut free from its flipper. The sea lion swam away, a little dopey from the drugs, but with an excellent chance to recover.
The Department of Fisheries shot some video of the sea lion struggling before the rescue:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Nations traditional names for places we paddle

Ever notice that on a map or a chart, there are some places that have a different name for every cove and point of land along a shore? Those are the maps that show where people live and use those places in lots of ways. For a while now, I've been wondering what the traditional names are for the places that our paddle group has been kayaking. The Salish people have lived in this area for some 4000 years, and they have lots of names for local bays and points and islands of interest to kayakers. If you look around at a good beach for launching or landing, or an estuary with birds and fish, well, since the glaciers retreated it's been a good place to paddle in a small boat.

Sometimes the traditional name, or an attempt to pronounce or spell it in English, is the one on the map. Sometimes the traditional name is way more colourful and interesting and appropriate than any English name. Well, it's hard to beat Quick's Bottom, but it can be done.

Check out this page from a website for the Songhees Nation, and scroll down to a list of fourteen interesting names for places that have all been mentioned on the Kayakyak blog. Cool!

And take some time to read this page from a website on First Nations: Land Rights and Environmentalism in British Columbia. I did an internet search for camas, the blue flowers that bloom on Flower Island where I love to paddle, and this website came up. It's not an easy read.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Northwest Pasage By Kayak

Sometime next year, The Inukshuk Expedition will set out in an attempt to become the first kayakers to paddle the 4000 km Northwest Passage in one season.
They plan to start at Inuvik and arrive 85 days later on Pond Inlet on Baffin Island, and according to the website the expedition will "contribute to the state of knowledge regarding the amount, timing, and salinity of fresh water that fluxes from the Arctic Ocean through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago towards the North Atlantic...This is a topical subject and the data collected during the expedition will help marine scientists gauge the effects of the ongoing change in the ocean/sea-ice/atmosphere system, its impact on the global climate and Arctic indigenous peoples who depend on the ecosystem for subsistence."
Indeed, it is because of climate change and the warming of the Arctic regions that the Passage will be ice-free long enough to attempt the voyage in one season.
Their website is here, and their Facebook page is here.
And below is a video of them checking out their new kayaks:

Freya Has Earned Her Christmas Vacation

As reported here, here, here, here and here, Freya Hoffmeister became the first woman and only the second person ever to kayak around Australia. She did it in 332 days, beating Paul Caffyn's mark of 361 days set in 1982. Congratulations, Freya!

A Degree of Commitment

I've enjoyed sea kayaking over the last couple of years. I've pushed unsuitable boats out to their limits, built my own boat and paddled it on expeditions, and generally had a pretty good time on the water. I still think that paddling twenty kilometres in a day is a pretty good day. What I have not done is paddle sixty kilometres in a day, and done that for 332 days, completing a 13,790 kilometre trip. But Freya Hoffmeister has.
Some women are remarkable. Some are extraordinary. Freya seems to be in a class by herself. She's a former gymnast, bodybuilder, and skydiver, who started kayaking in 1997.  Over the years, this 45 year old has had a kid, built an chain of seven franchise ice cream cafes, a salad bistro and a Christmas shop, circumnavigated Iceland by kayak, done a solo around New Zealand's South Island, and now has completed the circumnavigation of Australia. Not only has she now completed the trip around Australia in 332 days, she's done it 28 days faster than the only other person to have completed the trip (New Zealander Paul Caffyn made the first circumnavigation in 1982).
Freya hauled between 50 and 100 kilos of gear along with her most of the way, until, a couple of months ago, she met Geoffrey Bethune, who has paralleled her on shore, hauling much of her gear in a van.
The coast of Australia offers some pretty extreme paddling, with a number of different challenges.  Peter Costello, president of the Victoria sea kayakers club, points out;"There are hundreds of kilometres of sheer cliffs without any landing zones, massive surf, exposed crossings, cyclones and tropical heat that take their toll on the body.''
Freya's trip was not without a few moments of startlement. One night in "murky water" off Broome, a shark took a bite out of her kayak, leaving her taking on water and paddling quickly to shore. Once she saw the bite marks, she made the rare to her decision to stay off the water the rest of the night. Thankfully, the attack occurred at a place where there was a landing site.
Freya made it off the water December 15th, looking for a hot meal and a chance to get out of her swimsuit and into dry clothes. An amazing woman, making the extraordinary look, well, ordinary. I'm waiting to see what she decides to do next.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

You're Going to Need a Bigger Kayak

Paul Spathopoulos, of Mentone, Australia, was fishing from his kayak and he was sure that he had hooked a snapper. But after 20 minutes of fighting, the fish jumped out of the water, and he'd realized that he'd hooked a 2.4m thresher shark. After a 90 minutes battle, he finally landed his prize, which apparently made quite a few tasty dinners.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Haida Gwaii -- It's Official

In recent years, there's been a bit of a controversy as to what to call the Queen Charlotte Islands in BC. The name of Haida Gwaii which reflects the islands' Haida heritage has grown more popular in recent years, and using two different names for the islands could result in some confusion. To Gwaii or not to Gwaii?
But today British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell announced that the name of the islands has been officially changed to Haida Gwaii. This change will be applied to maps and other official documents.
The name of Queen Charlotte Islands was originally bestowed upon the islands by Captain George Dixon in 1787, named after one of his ships (the Queen Charlotte), which in turn was named after the wife of King George III. The original Haida name was Xhaaidlagha Gwaayaai ("islands on the boundry between the worlds"), while Haida Gwaii means "islands of the people."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tilt Shift

I played with a Tilt Shift software, and here's some examples. I think the three kayaks on the beach works the best.




Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Two Volcano Day

Here in Victoria we live within sight of not one, but two volcanoes. Well, on a clear day, that is.
Paddling out from Cadboro Bay gives great viewing opportunitites. There was a bright winter afternoon, and the cone of Mount Rainier popped up out of the mists that usually hide it on the far side of Puget Sound. Ya kind of had to know where to look, and what you were seeing, but it was there.
I took the little inflatable kayak out just past Flower Island, just shy of Evans Rock, and there was Mount Baker, no longer obscured by the big bulk of the peninsula that ends in Cadboro Point's tiny light. Fabulous -- a two volcano day!
But it was time to turn around, for in that cold breeze we've been having it isn't wise when I'm paddling alone to take short inflatable rec boats out any further than I'd be willing to swim. Turned out to be good timing anyway, because in Sheep Cove the stream was filling its little basin and washing in & out as the high tide made the basin's opening a reversing falls. I drifted in on the wave and out on the ebb, looking up the tumbling stream past the first bridge to the red Japanese bridge above.
Then on to do figure eights around the little rock garden, and my timing was still good! The otter family was fishing over by the Buddha, flicking eight long, wet tails.
Back to shore with a great feeling of satisfaction, and my feet weren't even cold when Marlene and Glenda Lee pulled into my driveway as I was walking up with the kayak. I changed into fuzzy warm-up clothes in about three minutes. Off for hot chocolate and hummus at Olive Olio's!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Want to Win A Kayak?

Seaward Kayaks has a Name the New Kayak Model Contest going. If they pick your name suggestion for
their new 14.5' kayak, they'll give you one!
Contest info and entry form is here.
I've always thought Bob was a good name for a kayak.... know, Bob. In the water. Bobbing in the water...
....sheeeshh, tough room....

Copenhagen climate change conference: 'Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation'

Editorial logo

Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.
Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.
Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.
The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.
Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.
But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June's UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: "We can go into extra time but we can't afford a replay."
At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.
Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.
Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world's biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.
Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of "exported emissions" so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than "old Europe", must not suffer more than their richer partners.
The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.
Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.
But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.
Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.
Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature".
It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.
The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.
This editorial will be published tomorrow by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. The text was drafted by a Guardian team during more than a month of consultations with editors from more than 20 of the papers involved. Like the Guardian most of the newspapers have taken the unusual step of featuring the editorial on their front page.

This editorial is free to reproduce under Creative Commons

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Full Moon Fever

Tried taking some pictures of the full moon tonight.
Things went well until my tripod broke. :(
PC011121 copy