Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kids and Dogs

Had time this morning for a quick paddle with friends. Darren came by to pick up a barbecue from Bernie, and brought his sons Jeffrey and Thomas and their dog along. This was a recipe for a good summer morning!

When they arrived, I had both my inflatable and the Mini-Tripper waiting on the lawn, with all the gear needed.  While the dog ran around and renewed its acquaintance with the landlady's dog, the boys carried the green boat to shore behind me. Cadboro Bay was calm and bright and summer-warm.

It's good to see people in the Mini-Tripper who are the right size for it! This is definitely a boat for a kid. At eleven and nine, these boys are the right size. Since we won this boat in a raffle at the Paddlefest two years ago, it's been nice to have around for kids to take out in quiet conditions.

We noodled along the shore for about half an hour, while the dogs splashed in the shallows and Bernie & Darren solved a few of the world's problems. Good times. Next time, we'll bring more boats to the shore, so both boys can paddle at the same time as their dad and me.

Friday, June 28, 2013

New Vancouver Island Circumnavigation Record Attempt Ends

I'm a little behind the curve on this piece of news but Jerome Truran, who left Port Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver Island on June 12 in an attempt to break the Vancouver Island Circumnavigation speed record, ended his journey a week ago today, nine days into his attempt. He had traveled as far as Ucluelet on the west coast of the island, but as he explained on his blog, he was battling blisters, cold winds, and a headwind forecast that made breaking the record an impossibility.
The current circumnavigation record is 15 days, 11 hours and 27 minutes set in a rowing rig by adventurer Colin Angus in 2011. The speed record for circumnavigating Vancouver Island in a kayak is 16 days, 12 hours and 14 minutes set by Joe O'Blenis in 2010.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Small Boat Rescuers in India Flood

The flooding in BC and Alberta has dominated Canadian news for days now, crowding out much mention of flooding on rivers in India happening at the same time. While there are few reports of missing or dead people in Canada, there's at least an entire village swept away in India.
On Facebook, there's news of small boat users bringing needed supplies to villagers trapped where bridges are washed out. Check out the video at this link!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

School of calm

It was a calm morning when I went out in my little inflatable, a mild muggy day with bright overcast and occasional little pattering rain squalls. The best thing about any sign of rain is how there are fewer people on the beach! And with no wind, I could follow the few gentle ripples on the water across the bay all the way from the yacht club or from the little rock garden.
Once I was some thirty yards offshore from the beach, I could see a pair of rippled patches on the water that were drifting my way. I thought one was caused by a big duck, but it turned out that he was carefully paddling his webbed feet to keep up with the rippled patch. And he was ducking down from time to time, then swimming at the surface to keep up.
Bingo! The duck was fishing, in a little school of fish. This and the other patch of little ripples were caused by hundreds of little fish shoaling together. And now I could see a couple more of these patterns on the water, a couple of hundred yards away. So I headed in that direction, lined up my kayak, and let it drift to meet the ripples that were drifting slowly in my direction.
Yup. There were the fish, calm as I approached. Maybe they thought my kayak was a floating log, or bundle of seaweed. Down deeper, close to the sandy bottom some nine or ten feet down were slim fish about as long as my hand. Up near the surface were tiny fish no longer than my fingers. All were dark like the tangles of kelp, but as the tiny fish moved, they would flicker with a sudden bright flare. It looked almost like the fish were lighting up and glowing, but it must have been reflections off their shiny bellies.
The school of little fish moved on. I floated there for a while, and another came past. There were more of them -- six, nine, or more of these tumbling masses of fish. Who knew there were this many fish in the bay? There were thousands, tens of thousands. They must be herring and sticklebacks... shall look them up online.
I know that the ducks will eat many of these little fish. Herons will take their share, and the otters too. A pair of seagulls were trying for their own meal as I went back to the beach. These schools of fish will feed many animals in and around the bay, and the survivors will flit around under my kayak for the rest of the year.
Some of my kayaking friends have had challenging paddle trips and wonderful adventures on the water this year. Today I drifted quietly, about a kilometre all told, learning about calm waters from a good school.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When seal launches go wrong....

An evening wasted on youtube for me results in a couple of quick video distractions for you.
Check out the embeds below:

Hummingbird! and Heron Diva

This weekend I kept out of the way of the stand-up-paddleboard race in Cadboro Bay's Gyro Park, and took my little inflatable over by the yacht club. It was a good opportunity to check out the yachts, which apparently multiply in summer weather. I guess a number of people get their boats out of the yard, or maybe come along to this bay from other places now that it's summer.
Low tide was really low on Saturday... but hey, that's what's going to happen when the full moon comes close to the summer solstice. It was a good opportunity for me to go along the shoreline looking for stone bowls. There are plenty of bowls at a Willows Beach site, but so far I haven't found any in Cadboro Bay along the intertidal rocks.
A hummingbird did come by, though, and buzz around the wet rocks for a while. I've never seen one over the water before. There's nothing for hummingbirds to eat for several yards along the Uplands shoreline, but there are flowers in the gardens. That must be where the bird flitted away to.
Back at the beach, there was a photographer with a large-lensed camera on a tripod, carefully taking photos of a great blue heron. The bird was elegantly stalking along, hunting the little stickleback fingerling fishes that darted around in the shallows. It became apparent that the heron was well aware of the photographer, and "working" the camera with all the aplomb of a high-fashion model. Stride, stride, vogue, stride, pose. Herons don't have a good side -- they look fabulous from every angle.
Another pleasant paddle outing on an ordinary day -- with birds.

Friday, June 21, 2013

High Water in High River, AB and elsewhere

Weather reports are making it clear that pretty much all the streams and rivers in the Kootenays and in Southern Alberta are swollen with rain. Be careful, people! For the next few days, it's going to be really dangerous to kayak on streams and rivers that were previously safe for paddling. And even though the floodwater around houses and streets might not be roaring and rushing, in some places this water is really dirty.
CBC Radio had a brief interview this afternoon with freelance photographer Jordan Verlage who took an amazing series of photos in High River, showing Kevan Yeats escaping from a pick-up truck's rear window with his cat Momo. Here's the CBC's link to the photos, which are available at many other sites. Cutting to the chase, the photographer confirmed that there were volunteers who held onto the pick-up truck for as long as they could, and who helped the cat and man as soon as they got to shore. And the cat got to shore first, the photographer was relieved to say.

High Water

While at least one gentleman appears to be enjoying himself (as seen in this photo by Jordan Verlage), we want to give a quick shout-out of support to readers, friends and family in Alberta who are currently in a midst of a flood disaster. I've been looking at pictures posted yesterday by a friend in Canmore, and they're stunning, as is the news today out of Calgary. Louise and I were actually planning to drive to Banff in a few days, but now those plans are up in the air as many sections of the mountain highways have been blocked and towns are cut off.
Stay safe, people!

The North Ontario experience

Black flies are apparently the big thing in June in North Ontario! Check out this cheerful blog by a kayaker in North Ontario who is as big a fan of his inflatable kayak as I am of mine... and who has some interesting photos of the unique rocks he encounters.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The SUP Race in Cadboro Bay is coming!

Check out the SUP Race coming this Saturday in Cadboro Bay at Gyro Park Beach! You can read about the event here on Facebook. Competitors can sign up for the race at this link.
People wanting to get to Gyro Park on Cadboro Bay can arrive by bus -- take the #11 from downtown or from the University, and get off at the corner of Cadboro Bay Road and Sinclair Road by Pepper's grocery store.
Taking the bus is a smart idea because on Saturdays the parking lot at Gyro Park gets pretty full. Taking the bus with a stand-up paddleboard is inconvenient -- unless you're carrying one of the four models of inflatable boards from Advanced Elements. These boards fold up neatly into carrying bags that can fit into cars or be carried on the bus.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SUP crosses the Strait of Georgia

Latest madcap adventure in the Salish Sea -- a paddler took his stand-up paddleboard across the Strait of Georgia from Steveston to Victoria. There was a terrific photo of Bruce Kirby on the front page of the Victoria Times-Colonist and a great follow-up article on page 3 with another photo. With six weeks of training, Kirby went from a brand-new paddleboarder based in Kimberly BC to doing a challenging four-day ocean expedition sponsored by Mountain Equipment Co-op.
"The trip, supported by Mountain Equipment Co-op, is raising awareness and funds for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s campaign for a national marine conservation area to protect the busy southern Strait of Georgia," wrote Times-Colonist reporter Judith Lavoie.

It's a pity there wasn't a photo of his escort boat crew -- a two-person film crew in a kayak. One of those paddlers was 18-year-old Kalum Ko, on his first time in an ocean kayak. These boat-users were careful, and attentive to the weather... but OMG guys, please keep safety in mind. Also -- experience and training help us have more fun as well as be safe!
Already this summer there are people suffering injuries or dying in summer sports activities on lakes, rivers, and ocean settings. Let's be careful out there. Safety equipment is for everyone. Keep track of the weather and water conditions! Accidents happen, but fewer accidents happen to people who are prepared.
At least Bruce Kirby knew to wrap tinfoil around his toque to make himself a better target for marine radar for the ferries and other vessels. My dad was a marine electronics technologist -- he gave us good advice about being visible on radar, but mostly he said to keep our kayaks out of the way of other boats.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Vancouver Island Circumnavigation Record Attempt

57 year-old Jerome Truran left Port Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver Island on Wednesday as he began his attempt to set a new Vancouver Island circumnavigation speed record. The current circumnavigation record is 15 days, 11 hours and 27 minutes set in a rowing rig by adventurer Colin Angus in 2011. The speed record for circumnavigating Vancouver Island in a kayak is 16 days, 12 hours and 14 minutes set by Joe O'Blenis in 2010
Truran has already passed the tricky Brooks Peninsula on the outside of the island as he continues south on his unsupported expedition. You can follow along on his blog.

Beaver Lake again!

It's been a while since I last took a kayak to Beaver Lake or Elk Lake. This kind-of hourglass-shaped lake is a sheltered place to paddle, and it's pretty popular in summer. That makes it a good winter paddle for our group. The other times I come here is on days that I'm volunteering as a naturalist in the Nature Centre. It's nice to show up early with a little inflatable and spend an hour noodling around the lake before opening the Nature Centre.
Today I saw more boats on the lake than ducks -- and that counts the mallard with her nine fuzzy baby ducklings. There were sit-on-top kayaks, Pelicans, a couple of canoes, and some short recreational kayaks, all buzzing around the lake. Most fun of all was seeing a truck in the parking lot with the back full of boat -- two short rec kayaks pointing backwards and one sea kayak pointing forward to the sky over the truck cab.
So it was definitely summer at Beaver Lake: lots of boats, people picnicking, and other people running through the beach area on the jogging trail. Also, the water was green with a bit of an algae bloom.
Before going on the lake, I sent a SPOT ok message while talking about my gear with a jogger. It was a good day! And the Nature Centre has a new exhibit... a river otter, stuffed and mounted. Nice to get a close-up look at an otter.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Close Encounter

Andrew Peacock, a doctor from Queensland, Australia, was working on a yacht during recent expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, when he spotted a 20 ft minke whale in the area. Later, while kayaking, the whale returned and he took this remarkable photo.
"I was awestruck to be in such close proximity to such a beautiful, elegant ocean mammal," he said. "Being in a kayak made the encounter seem that much more personal. Initially I didn't trust that the whale could detect the exact boundaries of my kayak. I was certainly feeling vulnerable and quite nervous that I could end up in the freezing water."
Wow, what an amazing encounter. Check out more of Andrew's photos here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thetis Island The Hard Way

Last Saturday, Louise and I went to visit friends on Thetis Island. Although we have kayaked at Thetis before, we didn't bring our kayaks along on this trip. The island is about a half-hour ferry ride off the coast of Vancouver Island, and as we sailed across, we saw a group of three kayakers also making the crossing.

I don't know who they are, but they were having as much fun as we were!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Traditional Kayak Clothing

The other day I was looking at my paddle jacket, and feeling unhappy. Water soaks through. The neck and wrist closures are still good, which is nice because Velcro does eventually wear out. The jacket still fits over my head, and over my wetsuit and merino wool shirt, which is good because it means that my waistline hasn't expanded too dreadfully during a semester of fewer paddling sessions. There are no tears in the main fabric of the jacket, though there are some black stained spots; dunno how to remove those speckled stains, but maybe a mild bleach solution will help.
The problem is, water soaks through. Dip an elbow, get a wet and cold elbow.
It's not a surprise. The jacket was second-hand when Tom Jacklin found it and another for Bernie and me in a thrift store, five years ago. I sprayed it then with a water-proofing treatment, and did another coat last year.
Now it's time to do a little triage: is it time to do another coat of waterproofing spray at about $12 a bottle? Or is a dry suit a better investment? I did a little research.
Dry suits are worth the cost, if one can afford it, but it's not in my budget this year. I'd have to get one made to measure, anyway. Waterproofing spray would be the answer to keep a new paddle jacket waterproof, but for this older jacket the sprays are no longer effective. Instead, I'm going to use a waxing technique that I've learned about from some DIY websites... it isn't pretty to smear paraffin wax over a garment, but heck! this garment ain't pretty any more. I'm looking for something to help keep me warmer when I get splashed (not if, but WHEN), and maybe help keep me alive if I tip over during a crossing between islands this summer.
And I'm not going to whine about my paddle jacket. Not after looking at some of the images of traditional Inuit paddle gear, made from gut. You can see and read a little about these gut garments at the Inuvialuit Living History Website. A great website, well worth wandering through at leisure!
Other traditional kayak clothing can be seen in the film People of a FeatherClick here to see the trailer for this terrific documentary, which opens with a scene of a traditional boat in use in Hudson's Bay!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

2013 Pacific Paddling Symposium

None of the Kayak Yak gang were able to attend the first Pacific Paddling Symposium, which from all reports was a spectacular success. And speaking of reports, here's some local blog coverage of the event.

Mike Jackson has a quick report here.

Mark and Robyn from the Gecko Paddler blog had a great time according to their terrific blog report.
Robyn also posted a photo gallery here, and posted a video of some kayak hijinks.

Mark also took a video of more kayak shenanigans:

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Babies On Parade

We haven't had much luck getting organized for paddling so far this year. But today was a beautiful sunny Sunday and Louise and I were able to squeeze in a quick paddle on our home waters of The Gorge today.

And here's the first picture taken with my new GoPro 3 that I got for my birthday present. Thanks everyone for chipping in to help me get it. (You know who you are.)

Actually, it wasn't the first picture taken with the GoPro. Indy was very curious it about when I first turned it on. The first picture is really this one:

Anyway, we put in and with the current approaching a low tide slack...
...we took a little spin on the normally fast-running waters under the Tillicum Bridge. Here we saw a seal head popping up now and then as it hunted for a fishy breakfast.
It can sometimes be total unpassable here as the inlet narrows, bottling up the water when the tide changes, creating thrashing white water and standing waves.

Heading back, we saw a heron taking advantage of all the fish being scared under the bridge by the seal. He wasn't going hungry.

We paddled across to check out what we call The Iron Man, a large sculpture on a dock. We were pleased to see that repairs had made to its wings that received some damage over the winter. We also spotted something else you don't see everyday....
... a heron with a mohawk.
He flew off and landed ahead of us and did some fishing, losing his hairdo as the water slicked her feathers back.
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Further up The Gorge, we paddled by a gaggle of geese, including a few babies.
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I've seen this movie! It's Jurassic Park!
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A pair of swans is nesting nearby and daddy swan decided that the geese were a little to close to the nest. Obviously taking lessons from a cat, he made himself look big...
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...and gave a goose...well, he gave the goose a goose. Mom swan appeared to be nesting nearby on the shore but there were no signs of any baby swans.
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We approached Craigflower Bridge. Or what's left of it. Although many pilings remain, most of the roadbed is gone as the bridge is demolished to make way for a replacement.
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The last remnants of the roadbed are behind Louise.
Two temporary crossing have been built while the bridge is being replaced: a temporary footbridge for pedestrians and a construction bridge. The project is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

We visited another pair of nesting swans. And this time we saw some babies.
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Oh, they're so cute! Squee!

I snapped some pictures, and then we headed back...
...stopping only to admire the baby geese again.
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Trip length: 6.20 km
YTD: 24.42 km
More pictures are here.