Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lost Our Ground Crew

I am sorry to report that one of our paddle group's ground crew, Joe Johanson, passed away quietly this morning. He had been in hospital and long-term care since a stroke in November. With the good care of his nurses, Joe was as well as possible for as long as possible, and had even recovered the ability to speak and swallow with the help of his wife.
After a long career in marine electronics, Joe was an attentive ground crew member for the Kayak Yak paddlers. He paid attention to our boats and gear, and advised us to be careful in changing weather conditions. On his advice, we invested in SPOT devices to communicate messages such as OK, Come Get Me, or SOS!911! Even so, he found it hard to know when we were paddling on open water. If we told him we were launching at Albert Lagoon and going around Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon, he would fret about us till we called to say we were done for the day, and he'd remember every tugboat captain who ever told him a story about rough weather off Albert Head. Or Sooke Harbour. Or anywhere else around our home waters, for that matter.
Thank you, Joe.

Monday, May 27, 2013

PFD For The Win! at an Island Siesta

Another guest post from our friend Joseph MacLean! He's making Powell River sound like THE place to be if you are a small boat enthusiast or a hiker.  His note is accompanied by a photo of his and Katie's darling, garbed appropriately for time on the water.
Parents of small kids who are trying to think how to get their own offspring to wear lifejackets or PFDs should take special note of Joseph's tactics...

Note that the collar on a kid's lifejacket can cushion the little head during a nap!

May 26 (2013)
Island siesta. Today we loaded up the canoe and drove to Inland Lake, accompanied by a very dubious toddler. "No tanoe, walk walk," he called sadly from the back seat. Watching us tie the ungainly vessel to the roof, Ryan had decided that canoes were inherently boring things. So he muttered and complained all the way to the lake, right up until his gigantic life jacket was introduced. It was a critical moment, since to kids these are essentially buoyant straitjackets of doom. "Ryan," I said, measuring my words, "this jacket makes you look like a fire truck." And then we cast off, and my proud fire truck knelt in the prow of our boat, staring raptly ahead, as silent as the sun. Around him the lake moved, sparkles dancing on the waves. He was speechless, absolutely amazed. And 30 minutes later he was asleep, so much so that when we made landfall, I had to carry him bodily ashore like a shipwreck survivor. I propped my guy up on a log, and there the nap continued. Nobody does rockabye like a boat in motion.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

On The Ferry Route

Making up for not being out in my kayak this morning is the fact that we're on the water anyway -- on a vessel rated to carry tons instead of the 1 or 2 passengers of our kayaks. Bernie and I are on the ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawassen, going to meet his dad on the mainland for the day. Walked on, carrying a little bag each, and now we're set up with a newspaper, computer, cookies from home and our hot drink mugs.
It's just a day trip, not a grand adventure. But as I sit at a carrel and swivel to look out the port side windows and the starboard windows, I can see Russell Island between me and Fulford Harbour on SaltSpring Island on one side, and Portland Island on the other side. These two little islands are gems in the chain that is the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
Some people save up all year to take this trip. Some people read magazines and dream about paddling here. Bernie and I are lucky enough to be here, on a grey day with the clouds socking in around Mount Tuam and the sea the colour of steel. There are seals on the rocks at the shore of Portland, and a dozen beaches along the SaltSpring shore ...
There's Ganges Harbour, where we have to paddle again. Soon we'll pass Prevost Island, and go into Active Pass. I'm so full of plans for paddling this summer. Day trips, eh? and maybe an overnight on Galiano at Montague Harbour. Meanwhile, this gray day is a great day even though the water is too far away to touch.
Excellent meeting on the mainland -- everybody happy enough that this carbon-expensive day was more than worth it.
On the way back through Active Pass, Bernie saw a large seal and I saw four sea kayaks close to Miners Bay on the Mayne Island side. Hope it was a safe paddle for them!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hey! New issue of Georgia Strait Alliance newsletter

Y'know, I figured that nobody really wants to hear again about me scooting around inside Cadboro Bay. I get to do it so often, and at times of day when other people are stuck indoors for things like jobs or appointments. No one needs another "freelance writers work long hours so we can take looooong coffee breaks in a kayak" post today, not when our pals Robyn and Mark are writing about a wonderful kayak camping trip they just took through the DeCoursey group of islands to Valdez for five nights. Check it out here, for photos of their boats and the shores, wildlife & float planes.
Maybe you'll wonder, like me, about how their buddy got a full-sized axe inside his kayak... I'm guessing it's handy when chopping driftwood for a camping fire, but ooo, not so much fun if he happens to roll his kayak.
Instead, I'll post a link to the latest issue of the Georgia Strait Alliance's newsletter. Hot damn, this is an active group, with connections to all sorts of groups in this area and info on what matters to bring to the attention of your local government, your MLA, and MP. If you're a paddler in the Salish Sea, whether year-round or on vacation, you can find out how to turn your interest into socially-responsible activities that support small boat users and the environment. Go here for the GSA's website with links to its online atlas and other resources.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Go Pro In A Bear

Y'know that GoPro camera John uses for some of the great photos he posts here on the Kayak Yak blog? He's not the only one using these portable sport-y cameras.
Biologist Brad Josephs put a GoPro out in an Alaskan river to get some photos of grizzly bears fishing. Got a little more than that -- one bear tried to eat the camera. Amazing images. I had no idea that bears' palates had such deep ridges!
Check out his video!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Ship Cadboro

The bay where Bernie and I live and usually take our kayaks has an odd name. It's easy to pronounce and easy to spell, and isn't a familar or ordinary word. It's Cadboro.
The bay was named after a ship built in the shipyard at Rye in England for the Hudson's Bay Company in 1824, the brigantine Cadborough, later known as the Cadboro. The "borough" part is a familiar English word, and though it used to be pronounced Cad-bor-ufhh ending with a rough gutteral sound like the -ch in the Scottish word loch, it seems that the ship's name was pronounced Cad-bor-ow by the time the Cadboro arrived here on the West Coast in 1827.
Here's a photo of the bay from a high point on the bluff.
I found a photo of the bay at Saanich Parks' website, on their page about Gyro Park on the Cadboro Bay shoreline. Check it out here, or another page here.

It's interesting to paddle here and learn a little about the recent boating history of the area, and the ship for which the bay was named. This brigantine was a fairly light and small ship with two masts and several sails, 56 feet long with a beam of 17 feet at its widest point. That's pretty big when compared with the many yachts at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club here in the bay, but not big at all when compared to the mega-yachts that will berth new marina proposed for Victoria harbour. When the Cadboro was travelling along the Coast, there were many First Nations canoes that were both longer and higher above the waterline.

The name Cadborough has been sticking in my mind, though, after finding references to the Cadboro in Nancy Marguerite Anderson's interesting book, The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson's Journeys in the West. So I looked the word up online, and found a book of local history by Danda Humphrey -- On The Street Where You Live, Volume 3: Sailors, Solicitors, and Stargazers of Early Victoria. Here's a link to an excerpt from Humphrey's book, where you can see some photos of the bay pre-1900 and a drawing of the ship.

I also found some references to Cadborough, which is a town in East Sussex, England, part of Rye where the ship was built. There's even a place that rents out holiday cottages, called Cadborough Farm.

The upshot of all this Cadborough talk for kayakers is a confirmation that while Cadboro Bay is a great place to paddle, and apparently has been since the end of the Ice Age, plan to keep your kayak out of the parking lot at Cadboro-Gyro Park on August 11, 2013. That's the day of the summer festival in the park, which will have the parking lot crammed. Both the beach and the picnicking area will be full of people having fun.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Line 'Em Up!

Got out on the water with my friend Nicole the other day. This wasn't her first time in a kayak, if you count paddling round a quiet lake (and yup, I count it!) at her family cabin. But it was her first time on salt water, and she hadn't been in a canoe or kayak for a long while, so we took out my double kayak.
Okay, it's a sit-on-top, not a sea kayak, but it's still a nice ride when I'm not sure how hard the bow paddler wants to work after the first half hour. The StraitEdge2 is a good, stable ride on flat water... and one day our paddle group will have to take it out on a day that's bumpy. Or maybe we'll take it down a Class 1 river.

This tough inflatable is holding up well, even though it is no longer new.
This day was a nice quiet day on Cadboro Bay, with barely any breeze or ripples on the water. Nicole and I carried the boat to shore, followed the beach along to the cliffs on the east shore, and began seeing a marvelous line-up of wildlife.
First were the sea anemones. There are a lot more of the white and brown sea anemones living along this rocky shore now than there were five years ago. Since the tide was out, there were several places where anemones were only five or six feet down. It was easy to find them! Nicole was charmed to get a good look at the cauliflower-shaped anemones, and even more when we found sea stars clinging to some rocks. These were ochre stars, in their purple colour phase.
As we went along the shore, past Stein Island and around Flower Island, we saw more sea stars than I've seen before along this shore. That was pretty neat for Nicole's first time kayaking in the bay. Even better was when she turned round and spotted the head of a little harbour seal bobbing behind us. Could this be Mama Seal who comes out often when I'm paddling here? I think so: slim, grey, and spotted.
With almost no breeze, it was a good day to go round Flower Island. Though we didn't spot any otters today, their little trails were visible in the brush under the trees. It was while drifting along here that we saw the biggest animal in the day's wildlife line-up. A splash just offshore in the current told us that a big seal was fishing. It came up, and looped back down again, showing an impressive length of brown flank. A sea-lion! We don't see those every day, but it was far too large to be a harbour seal. It could even have been a young elephant seal, but that was less likely than a sea-lion.

Coming back, I sent a SPOT message so that it could be forwarded to Nicole later. Herons flew past as we returned to the beach, and the day looked a little brighter than it had when we set out. All in all, good time on the water and good hot chocolate at Olive Olio's afterward.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Happy Star Wars Day

Even Imperial Stormtroopers like to go paddling....

Happy Star Wars Day. May The Fourth Be With You.

Post #1300 on the blog! W00t!