Friday, September 28, 2012

A Little Less Long in the Tooth

I don't think we'll be hitting the water this weekend. I had two wisdom teeth pulled this morning. My plan for the next little while is to sit in a chair and whimper quietly while the freezing wears off.
But the Internet must be fed. So here's a picture of a cat. There can never be enough cat pictures on the Internet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Calling All Kayakers, Be On The Lookout....

The next time someone offers you a deal on a kayak, it might really be a steal.
Helen Wilson and Mark Tozar had two kayaks stolen off their car. She writes on Facebook, "‎2 Tahe Greenland kayaks stolen from the roof of our car in Surrey, B.C. One black with Tahe marine expedition on the side, the other white deck, black hull. Both carbon, Kevlar, glass blend. Both have keel strips Please spread the word in Canada and the U.S." She comments further on her blog here.
Helen and Mark can be contacted here.

Meanwhile, Seaward Kayaks also took to Facebook to report a kayak robbery at their factory in Chemanius, BC. They write, "Well, Seaward kayaks was broken into & robbed at the weekend. We have two separate fences, outer & inner, with barbed wire on them. Our compound is not easily accessed & is highly visible.
5 kayaks were stolen - all new thermoform kayaks:
Intrigue - Mango - QKN03465 I 212
Intrigue - Red - QKN03466 I 212
Halo 130 - Yellow - QKN03420 G 212
Compass 140 - Mango - QKN03461 I 212
Compass 140 - Mango - QKN03405 G 212
So, if you are offered a new thermoform Seaward Kayak, please let us know - we'd appreciated it!"
Seaward Kayaks can be contacted here.
And the RCMP might like to hear any information that you may have as well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ocean River Gear Grab

Life can be full of tragic ironies, the latest one being that less than a week after taking part in the local Kayak For a Cure paddle a close member of Louise's family has been stricken with cancer. There are no words that fully express the feelings of moments like this. “This really sucks” can only come so close. We offer our hope, our encouragement, our thanks, and our love.
This really sucks.

So we enter a period of time where our plans can only be made day by day. And today, with Autumn mere hours old, Louise and I went to Ocean River for their Fall Gear Grab.

And they're off! I headed straight for the Icebreaker table...
...while Louise headed right for the free food.

Stand Up Paddleboarding continues to be the big thing.
This Boardworks board has a beautiful Raven inlay on it.

This kayak rack system from Malone caught our attention.
Using it, Louise was able to load the kayak all by herself.
Louise and Mike Jackson discussed the merits of various rack systems. Then they got into a staring contest.

We escaped lightly this fall, as I made our only purchase, a pair of Icebreaker briefs. Now the countdown is on to next Spring's sale!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kayaking Down An Arctic Glacier...While We Still Can

Last month, Ben Stookesberry kayaked down a glacial waterfall at the edge of the Braswell Glacier shelf. Check out the photos here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


The September 1974 issue of Popular Mechanics featured a story of a sit-on-top surfing kayak called a Royak.
Royaks are still in production today -- check out their website.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rolling Clinic

Louise and I zipped down to Thetis Lake after work last night for a rolling clinic with Yves of Go Kayak.
Louise has never felt terribly comfortable if her kayak was anything but upside-up, but she certainly gave it her all.
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Yves was a terrific teacher, and we learned a lot. Now that Louise has a boat that she really likes, it's time to get a little more serious about practicing again, and this was a good way to start.

Trip Length: .23 km
YTD: 153.34 km
More pictures are here.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

2012 Kayak For a Cure

The blazing sun of the last week gave way to clouds this morning as Louise and I headed down to Willows Beach for this year's Kayak For A Cure. We were worried about conditions as we knew there would be a number of newbie and inexperienced paddlers taking part and higher winds were supposed to be blowing in later in the day. But the winds never arrived.
We hit the beach at Willows ready to paddle. The route was from Willows Beach to Cadboro Bay, a short paddle we've done numerous times, but usually we go from Cadboro to Willows and back. I don't think we've ever done it the other way.
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After the pre-paddle ceremonies and safety talk....
...and the official portrait (taken by Gwen Ewart)...
....44 paddlers hit the water. Many were cancer survivors or cancer patients.
Louise and I have never paddled in a group this big. Herding kayakers makes herding cats look easy.

A little while later we hit the beach at Cadboro Bay where everyone abandoned their kayaks and headed straight to the washrooms.
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Well, no, not really. But somehow I managed to get a shot of all the kayaks with no one in them.

Returning, everyone tried to raft up so a photographer on our accompanying safety boat could get some group shots. I go back to my earlier "herding cats" comment.
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Local media covered the final landing. Check out the video embedded at the end of this post. Look carefully, you can see Louise and I three different times in the piece. After the paddle, we joined our fellow kayakers for a barbecue lunch.

Louise and I didn't paddle just for the burgers, although they were really, really good.
We didn't paddle just to raise money, although this year's event raised over $21,000.

We paddled for Sam, Jaan and Bobby.

Trip Length: 7.11
YTD: 153.11 km
More pictures are here.
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Kayak for a Cure!

There was good weather today for the Kayak for a Cure paddle, from Willows Beach to Cadboro Bay and back. Unfortunately, when I took some time away from the computer the flotilla hadn't arrived yet in the bay. I hung around Spurn Head for a while, looking at the sea and sky, with a harbour seal looking at me. The wind picked up a little when I turned back to shore and got back to writing.

Friday, September 07, 2012


Another warm late summer day here on the We(s)t Coast, but a change in the weather is coming, so Louise and I invited Paula to a dusk paddle on The Gorge tonight.

We launched at high tide slack. The Gorge was the smoothest we've ever seen it.

It was so calm that we paddled under the Tillicum Bridge, not something that can be done all the time. Often it's a bubbling rapid, but today it was flat and gentle.
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We puttered up The Gorge towards Portage Inlet, past a heron looking for a late evening snack.
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In Portage Inlet, the water was dead flat. The only other time we've seen it this flat was when it was frozen over.

We watched the sun go down, then we headed back.

Trip Length: 6.25
YTD: 146.00 km
More pictures are here.
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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Esquimalt Shores

It might very well be summer's last gasp, but you wouldn't know it from the sunny weather this week. Today's daytime high temperature was a smidge off the record, but we'll get another crack at it tomorrow. Then we'll cool off to more normal temperature readings over the weekend. That figures.
Louise and I are also enjoying our last gasp of vacation time and today we headed out from Albert Head, one of our favourite launch points. Usually we head southwest along the coast towards to Witty's Lagoon, but today we decided to head northeast towards Esquimalt Harbour.
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But before we headed that way, we watched an otter family playing in the water.
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The otters finally noticed us and swam away. It was only then that we realized that one of the otters was actually a small baby seal. It nervously checked out Louise's boat before sliding beneath the surface and swimming away.

A couple of seals watched us from shore.
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We discovered what the otters were fishing for. No, not the jellyfish, although that was pretty cool, but the little fish. The little cove was swarming with them. No wonder the otters were out!

The otters climbed the rocks headed into the brush. We think there were five of them in all.
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From there, we began our paddle towards Esquimalt in earnest. Mind you, we had to paddle past a few seals first.
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The shoreline is mostly a long pebbly beach. Eventually the shoreline behind the beach gives way to Esquimalt Lagoon, and across the lagoon is world-famous Hatley Castle, which you may recognize as Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men films.

At the Fort Rodd Hill lighthouse, we were planning to turn into Esquimalt Harbour....
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...but as I looked across the entrance, I realized that we have never paddled along the Esquimalt shore on the other side. So instead, we crossed the harbour mouth...
...and puttered around some of the small islands on the other side. The water was crystal clear and we watched a seal swim around under our boats.
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We get to check another couple of kilometers of the world's slowest circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

As we headed back....
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...the currents turned right on time. The gentle flood that pushed us out became a gentle ebb that guided us home with some gentle swells that we had fun riding, which was a welcome distraction from the man who was sitting on a log in a secluded area of the beach working on his tan. His "all over" tan.

We pulled in back at Albert Head and looked back and saw Mount Baker rising over the city. Wow.
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Trip Length: 13.65
YTD: 139.75 km
More pictures are here.
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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Practice Makes Closer to Perfect

This morning Louise and I headed out to Thetis Lake so that she could get a practice session in her new boat under her belt. This meant that we were going to get dunked in the water.
Doesn't she looked thrilled with this idea?
However, I was keen to start.

Before we began our practice in earnest, we went for a quick little jaunt along the shore, and we spotted a heron.
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Since the point of today was to spend more time in the water than on it, I hadn't brought my main camera, only my back-up Pentax Optio W90 which was a shame as this heron was totally calm and unperturbed as I approached. I got in fairly close and would have got some awesome pics with the big camera. Ah, c'est la vie.

First we practiced our edges and bracing....
...then we tried something we saw in Gordon Brown's latest DVD, a balance exercise where the kayaker sits on the deck just behind the cockpit and slowly shuffles themselves around in a circle. Sometime it went well....
....often it didn't.
It is not as easy as it looks. Gordon Brown makes it look easy, but of course he's probably done it 14,000,000 times. One thing we noticed while watching the DVD last night in preparation for today was that his Valley kayak sits a lot lower in the water than our thermoformed Deltas, but that's just the nature of these boats. I presume these sorts of balancing skills are slightly easier in a boat that rides lower in the water, the same with rescue skills. Which isn't to say they are easy.

Then we moved onto rescues as Louise tried to figure out how to get back into her new boat. I have to say the paddle float rescues weren't pretty, but they worked.
We also tried some assisted rescues which went well, then I tried some solo rescues of my own.
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Then, battered and bruised, it was time to get warm. To the coffee shop!

Trip Length: 1.42
YTD: 126.10 km
More pictures are here.