Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kayak Polo at Thetis Lake - 1974

Here's another blast from the past, but this time with a personal twist. A few nights ago my sister and I were going through my father's old slides. Suddenly, this one popped up.
What the heck? My father didn't kayak. What's going on here?
A look at my father's notes reveals that he took a couple of pictures of a bunch of guys playing kayak polo in nearby Thetis Lake in 1974. If you look carefully in the middle of the picture below, you can see one of the kayakers striking an orange ball in the air with his paddle. You can also see that all the paddles have holes in them to catch and throw the ball, unlike modern kayak polo where the ball is thrown with the hand.
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Of course, kayakers use Thetis Lake all the time as it's a great place to practice or to have a quiet and leisurely protected paddle,and there have been organized kayak polo teams in the city in the past, but I've never heard of kayak polo being played at the lake.
So, anyone out there know what the story is here? Was this a one-off gathering? Was Thetis Lake once home to marauding bands of kayak polo-ists? And, perhaps most importantly, is polo-ist even a proper word?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Two Lucky Fellows

Two kayakers were rescued from Georgia Strait near Nanaimo yesterday after flipping their double kayak. Luckily for them, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue units were training in the same area and were able to respond quickly. The kayakers were wearing PFDs, but were not dressed for immersion as they were dressed only in street clothes. They were in the water for only 20 minutes but were already showing signs of hypothermia when they were rescued.
According to Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue's Facebook page (where the rescue picture is from), "The consequences might have been deadly if these Stations had not been training in that area at that time! Response time would have been 30 plus minutes from Ladysmith or Nanaimo. Met by the ambulance at Boat Harbour, these were two lucky fellows."
No word on the conditions at the time, or how the kayakers ended up swimming.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Elk Lake Has the Blues

Just received a press release from CRD Parks, with a warning about one of the local lakes. Over a million people make use of Elk/Beaver Lake Park during the year. If you're planning to enjoy a quiet winter day paddling here, check out the news from Anne-Marie Marchi:

CRD Parks:

625 Fisgard Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1R7
Public Service Announcement
For Immediate Release
January 18, 2013

Blue Green Algae Bloom Advisory at Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park

CRD Regional Parks is advising park visitors of the presence of blue-green algae bloom at Elk and Beaver lakes. Visitors are advised to avoid areas near the visible blue-green sheen, which appears as surface scum. Pet owners are advised to keep animals on a leash and prevent them from drinking or swimming in either lake. Please visit for updates or contact our office at 250.478.3344.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Behold! The Terror of the Snow Shark!

Actually, it's Graham Walker/Storm Walker of the Birmingham Canoe Club having a bit of winter fun from Canoe England's Facebook page.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Australian Collision with a Kayak

John found this interesting article, which you can read here. Summed up: a kayaker who chats on the Australian Kayak Fishing Forum under the name Spottymac reported that his kayak was hit by a powerboat.
Not just any ol' powerboat, either. A 40 ft flybridge cruiser. Apparently it was on autopilot and the skipper was inattentive.
The kayaker wasn't hurt. At the last moment before collision, he rolled off his sit-on-top away from the cruiser as it reached him. Yes, he went under the cruiser. Yes, he felt like he was in a washing machine as the propeller churned past him. But the kayak took the beating from the propeller blades, and Spottymac came to the surface with all his limbs still attached.

Check out the photo posted at the Kayak Angler website. There are at least five evenly-spaced slices through the plastic shell of the kayak at about the point where Spottymac would have been sitting... oog.
It's worth another reminder to our paddling friends -- remember that in our small boats, we are almost invisible to other boaters! Wearing bright colours and paddling together isn't enough to ensure that the skipper of a yacht or a powerboat will see us small boaters.
Our paddle group has verified that even on a sunny, calm, clear day in familiar waters, a kayaker wearing orange while paddling a yellow and blue kayak is INVISIBLE at three hundred yards, even when being sought by a friend who watched her paddle away. That's right, John watched me paddle away, blinked, and suddenly couldn't see me and my bright little inflatable kayak silhouetted against the gray stone shoreline. Even the photographs of that moment don't show my colourful figure against the rocks.
We at Kayak Yak are trying to remember our invisibility when paddling near other boaters. We try to stay out of the way of other boats. So far, no near-misses or collisions... but we have been swept by the wakes from powerboaters who probably didn't know we were there or would be affected.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

And So It Begins

We almost started off the kayaking year last Sunday morning, but two things stopped us. One, Louise had a slight ankle injury and wanted to rest it for a day or two, and two, the weather at our proposed launch time was -2, cloudy and breezy. For some reason, relaxing on the couch in our pajamas enjoying scrambled eggs while three furry cats snuggled up to us seemed liked a much better idea than being out on the cold Gorge in below-zero temps cracking through the ice like little icebreakers.
Yes, we're wimpy kayakers. We've told you that before.
But we could find no excuses to not kayak today, especially when the conditions at launch time were expected to be sunny and warming up quickly. Louise and I dragged the kayaks down to Cadboro Bay for a quick paddle around the bay to get our sea legs back after our long lay off. Paula was supposed to join us, but she was not to be seen on the beach.
Look at that sunshine! Sure looks warm, doesn't it? As it turned out the weathermen underestimated the cool breeze blowing in and how long it would take the cloud to burn off.
We bundled up, and the cool morning gave Louise a chance to try her new Hot Shot paddling gloves, which she liked a lot. On the other hand, I somehow managed to bring two right-handed gloves which made for an, um, interesting fit on my left hand.

Off we paddled, puttering along the south shore of Ten Mile Point.
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Louise paddled past some geese that were not the least bit interested in us...
IMG_1267 copy we moved into Sheep Cove.

A pair of merganser ducks watched us paddle by.
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We paddled past the expensive homes and wondered why you would want a home with a multi-million dollar view, only to keep all your blinds closed.
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We returned along the far side of Flower Island....
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...and discovered we weren't the only people out on the water today.

Another merganser was hanging out with some harlequin ducks...
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...while a black and white goose stood guard.
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Heading back to the beach, we saw Mike Jackson and some friends heading out for a paddle around Discovery Island.
Then we saw Paula padding towards us in the little green play boat she acquired last year. (Or did she steal it from Mike? After all, his name is all over it.)
Paddle number one for the year is in the books!

Trip length: 4.19 km
YTD: 4.19 km
More pictures are here.
2013-01-20 Caddy Bay

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Camera I - Random Stuff

I've decided that I should inflect upon the readers of this blog show off more of my off-water photographs on the blog. And what better time to start then the slow kayaking off-season. So as the rain and wind swoop around our house, take a gander at this and see if it doesn't warm your heart.

Long-time readers will recognize this as Parker, one of our three cats. A few days ago, he was sitting on a chair in the living room, caught perfectly by the cloudy light coming in through the living room window. I told him to stay while I grabbed my camera out of the office, and he actually did, sitting patiently for my return. Parker seems to sense something about cameras, and he will pose for you, tilting his head, lifting his chin, making subtle adjustments to his posture while we snap away. He must spend his time watching the fashion programs on tv when we are out of the house.

Over Christmas, I picked up a used Canon 100-400 4.5-5.6 L IS USM lens from eBay. Oh my, I love this lens. I haven't had many chances to use it yet, but we did take out to Esquimalt Lagoon for a couple of hours, resulting in this photograph.
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It was one of those situations when you're just sort of snapping madly around at something. The duck took off, and I just kept panning with it. I wasn't close to being centered on it, so I cropped it so that it was in the corner, rule of thirds and all that, and it seemed to work best in black & white.

I've joined a weekly photo challenge group on flickr. The first week's challenge was "Sillouhettes" and here's mine.
And no, it's no a Dalek, as one comment suggested. It's really the giant watering can at Beacon Hill Park.

One last one. Louise and I spent some time Christmas Eve hanging around the BC Legislature taking pictures of The Ledge done up in Christmas lights. I'll save most of those for next Christmas. (Foreshadowing: your clue to quality blogging.) But here's one to keep you going until then. It's from behind The Ledge, through a portico, and out towards the lighted tree on the front lawn.
Pretty impressive shot, I think. Almost as impressive as the fact that I used the word "portico" in a sentence.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Here's a stunning little kayak film called Cascada by Forge Motion Pictures. Not only is it full of astonishing visuals of kayakers going headlong over giant waterfalls in Mexico, it offers a bit of a behind the scenes glimpse of how those shots were achieved. Check out the embed below:

CASCADA from NRS Films on Vimeo.

Coming Soon

Justine Curgenven posted an update about her upcoming kayaking DVD This is the Sea 5. It should be released sometime in March and promises to be another excellent entry in this great series. It's now available to pre-order, and you may salivate over the cover while you wait for its release.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


If you've been following Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on Twitter as he orbits the Earth as the upcoming commander of the International Space Station, you'll know he's been tweeting up a storm up there. Between his humourous banter with fellow-Canadian "space man" William Shatner and the hundreds of pictures of the planet he's taken and tweeted, it's a wonder he's got time to do anything else. You know, like science and stuff. But an hour ago he tweeted back a picture really hit close to home:
It strikes close to home because it is home -- Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula from space. I can easily see the area where I live, and many of the places we frequently kayak. From this vantage point, paddles that take us hours and seem so very long when sloggling through waves really aren't very long at all.
And I'm reminded again how small and fragile our home really is.

Vicarious Videos

Kayaking videos are a vicarious way of enjoying other people's paddle outings. Maybe they are in a place I'll never visit. Maybe they use a boat I'm unlikely to own or borrow or rent. Maybe they're nuts enough to go over a waterfall or cross an ocean or paddle among croccodiles... Lots of paddlers do things that I'm not likely to do.
But hey, I'm out in my boat a lot. Even this winter, when most of my paddling time has been spent on a bus going to or from my hospital room, I've been out on the water. And not just any dull place, either! People have saved up all year to come here to paddle for a week in the places my paddling group just casually goes on a weekend. Today it's not the ice on the puddles keeping me out of my boat, it's the need to finish my writing projects before taking the bus.
I've had fun on the water, but all the videos of me having fun have been taken by other people. John has several vids here on Kayak Yak.  There are several videos taken by Bernie here at this link -- check them out, and his other kayaking videos, and some he's taken at Idle No More and still other videos.
There's also a fun video below, uploaded by a creekboater we've never met, who was reviewing his new Karma from Jackson Kayaks. I found it a good reminder of why river kayakers wear helmets...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Boat Fire Video

Caught a video this morning that my brother sent to our firefighting friend Monica. It showcases a nifty way to put out a boat fire...

Dunno how often there will be a handy powerboat around at the right moment, though.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Coolest Night Paddling

Okay, so we've been on several evening paddles. And Alison has paddled after dark in Sooke Basin.
But now I know what I want for the next time we go paddling at dusk. I want my kayak to light up on the inside, like the new folding kayaks made out of coroplast (corugated plastic). Oru Kayak makes them, and I can't wait to see one at the next paddlefest...

But then I found these other guys do even cooler paddling in the dark -- they've got lights under the hulls of their stand-up paddleboards. Check them out!
Is that cool?
Now I am *so* going to find a way to install lights on the hull of my kayak. On the outside and inside. And on top on the deck. And on my hat. And maybe one on a line that I can lower into the water and watch it sink.

Friday, January 04, 2013

And the Grinch Strikes Again...

Our pal Richard with whom we've shared many a kayak adventure with has had his kayak stolen off his vehicle in Vancouver. As he reports on his blog:
"My kayak has been stolen from my car :(( It was stolen around 7-10pm on Thursday, January 3 from the 1000 block of Pacific Street in Vancouver. It's a mango deck Nimbus Telkwa. I'm totally stunned - somehow they got through the lock and straps on a very busy main road in Vancouver. They busted up one side of my roof rack doing it too! Who the hell steals a kayak anyway. I'm super bummed - screw 2013 already."
It's hard to imagine someone carting off his kayak -- it's 18 and a half feet long! But someone did exactly that. If you see Richard's kayak, call Vancouver police and let them know.
Here's a picture of Richard and his kayak from a paddle with us from a couple of years ago.
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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Encounters From a Kayak

It's a little too late for Christmas 2012, but it's never too early start thinking of gift ideas for Christmas 2013. And the favourite kayaker on your list would probably enjoy the latest book by Nigel Foster, Encounters From a Kayak.
A collection of Foster's past articles recalling many of his kayaking adventures from around the world, Foster is at ease retelling stories ranging from bluffing Chinese police so he could kayak a river in Shanghai, to eating buried shark in Iceland (and yes, that will make sense when you read the book).
So get an early start on next year's shopping. Remember: there's only 356 shopping days to go.