Sunday, August 31, 2014

Citizen Science for Paddlers and Beachcombers!

Science is done not only in labs by people with white coats and clipboards, but also in the field. And "in the field" can mean on the water, and on the beach. So paddlers and beach-walkers can keep your eyes open this month for some citizen science opportunities on the Salish Sea!
These opportunities aren't as high-tech as the Neptune and Venus projects off-shore on the continental shelf. I've written about those before on the Sci/Why blog. Nor are they as specialized as the clam gardens research done on Quadra Island that was noted on the Kayak Yak blog, too. Nope, these current opportunities for ordinary citizens to participate in a science project involve picking up cards.
This photo is from the Raincoast Conservation Federation website.
 That doesn't sound very science-y at first. It doesn't sound like it has anything to do with kayaks, either. But hang on. These yellow cards are biodegradable plywood cards with detailed labelling, and they're being released at particular locations on the Salish Sea. If you find one while you're out in a boat or on a beach, pick it up and contact the scientists, who are part of a team involving the City of Vancouver, the Raincoast Conservation Federation, and the Georgia Strait Alliance. You will have helped track the way that floating items drift in real-life, real-time conditions.
There's an article about this drift card release on the CBC website at this link, and another more detailed article on the Vancouver Observer website at this link. You can also go to the website for the Salish Sea Spill Map, where the locations of card releases and recoveries are being tagged on a map. Is your home base on this map? Maybe you're planning a paddling trip and want to look up that location. Maybe you're thinking about what could happen if, instead of cards, there were other things released such as fossil fuels from a tanker? And now, this project makes a little more sense.
A close-up of one of the cards, from the Vancouver Observer article.
 Citizen science is not only about allowing ordinary untrained people to participate in projects by real scientists. It can be about seeing real science in use in the lives of ordinary citizens. We paddlers get to interact with the environment when we're out on the water in our small boats. We can gather data in many more places than a scientist could ever get funding to cover. We get to be part of the community of learning.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Rescue on the Churchill

The news from the Churchill River tells of a Saskatchewan paddler who has been rescued, eight days after the death of her partner and loss of all their canoeing and camping gear. You can read about the incident here in the National Post.

Bottom line is, anyone -- even these experienced campers -- can have an accident while on a wilderness trip. (Heck, it's possible to have an accident in Oak Bay a hundred yards from The Esplanade, but five dog-walking seniors will see it happen and you will be soooooo embarrassed.) This pair of adventurers had a satellite tracking device and the search began on the day they went missing. It simply took eight days for the survivor to be found.

Memo to self: when camping, there's gotta be a knife, a space blanket, and firestarting kit on me, not just in the boat. Always.
Anyone who doesn't know what a space blanket is, go to this link to read about it, and then get someone to take you to an outdoor sports supply store. There's one in my dunk bag, one in my day pack, another in my purse... one year at Christmas I put little space blanket bundles on presents instead of bows.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Canoe Beaver Dam Ramp Fail

Exactly what the title says. Check out the embedded video below:

Frankly I was expecting the canoe to just snap in half.

Sometimes You're the Windshield....

....sometimes you're the bug.
Might've helped if he'd put his PFD on first, instead of leaving it sitting on the dock.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Small Boat and Lighthouse Keepers

If you're one of the people who believe, like some members of the federal government, that lighthouse keepers are no longer needed in this day and age, you need to look at this story from CHEK-TV on Vancouver Island. There was a small boat sinking off Nanaimo Harbour yesterday. Nine people were rescued by the lighthouse keepers at Entrance Island. The two keepers had only a small open boat, but they got the people out of the cold water and helped get them warm. Can't get a daring rescue out of an automated lighthouse!
We've paddled at Nanaimo, and you can read about those days here on the blog. Here's hoping that there will be lighthouse keepers at Entrance Island in perpetuity!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Close Encounter of the Whale Kind

Last month, a kayaker in Monterey Bay, California was almost hit in the face by the tail of a humpback whale. It's hard to tell from the video if the kayakers were committing the no-no of approaching the whale, or if the whale came up upon them. Let's face it, the whale will go where the whale wants to go.
Check out the video below:

How close is too close when encountering whales?
Fisheries and Environment Canada recommend that vessels (and that includes kayaks) should stay a minimum 100 metres away from whales. Don't approach from in front or behind, only from the sides.

Friday, August 22, 2014


You want an example of the power of nature? Check out the video embedded below.
Tourists on a fishing boat in Alaska discovered a sea lion hiding under their boat from an orca. As the boat pulled away, the seal gave chase to the boat, but the orca gave chase to the seal. And tossed the the 200 to 300 kilogram sea lion ten meters into the air with a single flick of its tail.
The sea lion appeared to survive its flying lesson, but it's not known whether it escaped from the orca.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kayak Race

Didn't know that Jimmy Fallon or Cameron Diaz were into kayak racing, but here they are on the set of the Tonight Show. Click here for the video!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Canoe Art

Found on Facebook by friend and fellow writer Alyx Dellamonica:

And then, just when you think you have seen it all, canoe sculpture.
— at Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dragon Boat winner!

Just a quick note to share the news from the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival on the weekend. Our paddling friend Ryan Ovens and his team from Victoria Youth Paddling Club took first place in the Platinum Final B level! Their time was 1.59.76.

Friends in Kananaskis

Our friend Tom Jacklin has just shared some photos of his time paddling on Upper Kananaskis Lake with Tanya White. There's a lot to enjoy in the Kananaskis area and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta: mountains to hike and climb, mountain bike trails, deep snow in winter, some accessible picnicking places, and plenty of paddling opportunities. Look at that skyline!

Tanya took this photo showing Tom and some of the mountains surrounding the lake.

Here's Tanya in the red kayak, with lush second-growth timber behind her, decades after some of the area was logged. Tom took this photo as they were approaching a little island in the lake.

Tom says: "These photos were taken of a spring bubbling up from a small island on the edge of Upper Kananaskis Lake. A HUGE spring, probably the largest I have ever seen. It was bubbling up in an island in the lake 3-4 feet above the lake level!A cold water spring..."

 Looks like a terrific time on the water. Thanks for sharing, Tom and Tanya!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Spiral Jetty

Never been to Utah... but apparently at Great Salt Lake the thing to look for is Spiral Jetty. The little kayak beside it here looks contemplative.

Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake Utah, 1970. Photograph: John Cliett.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kayakers spot sea otter!

Bernie spotted news of a sighting of a sea otter at Ten Mile Point! Two kayakers found a sea otter playing near their launch point.

Photo by Cheryl Alexander from the CBC News website
There are plenty of river otters to be seen along either side of Ten Mile Point and along much of the shoreline of southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. When you see otter photos here on Kayak Yak, it's usually John's pictures of river otters. But sea otters are very rare here since the fur trade took every otter south of northern Alaska. A few sea otters have been re-introduced to Tofino and Oregon because these mammals are an important part of the seashore environment. There are sometimes a few that visit Sooke but they don't often come further along the coast than that. Here's a link to the Department of Fisheries website's page on sea otters, and other pages on their distribution and re-introductions.

The CBC News article is here, complete with a video of the otter looking completely friendly and adorable.
If you too can figure out from the video exactly where this sea otter has been hanging out, please keep the secret! Let the otter have a chance for some quiet time away from us noisy humans.

If the otter approaches your kayak, give it plenty of room. The DFO in Canada and the Fish & Wildlife Department in the USA both say don't approach sea mammals and they have numbers to call in an emergency. Here in the Salish Sea near Victoria we'd call the Marine Mammal Incident Reporting Network toll-free to report any marine mammal in distress.
Just in case anybody's thinking of petting this adorable, friendly-looking animal, here are two quick reminders: it is a wild animal with sharp teeth, and even if it doesn't bite you, you could end up hurting it accidentally. We don't want to get this sea otter used to people touching or feeding it -- if you really want to feed a sea animal go to Fisherman's Wharf to feed the big one-eyed harbour seal (and DON'T pet him either). 

Talk the talk, paddle the paddle

With all the news about Grace Islet these days, it's important to notice the good news too surrounding this little island in Ganges Harbour of SaltSpring Island. While construction of a private home over the First Nations burial sites continues, there is at least some good news. Several times, there have been peaceful demonstrations on the water around Grace Island, with people in kayaks and canoes and other small boats.
I've just learned that Island Escapades, a kayak rental business right at the water's edge in Ganges, has been loaning the use of its boats for these orderly and non-violent demonstrations. Kudos for being a conscientious local business!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

1969 World Canoe and Kayak Championship

Here's some British Pathé footage of the 1969 World Canoe and Kayak Championship embedded below:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


There's a whole lotta ouch in this whitewater video embedded below. Check it out....if you dare!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Why we do safety practise

Saw a video today, forwarded by Kayak Angler Magazine and Adventure Kayak Magazine. The guy in it knows nothing of how to rescue himself after tipping over his kayak. He is insanely embarrassed, but not hurt, so we get to mock him as we watch him wail and flail ineffectively.
Check out the video below:

Always worth a reminder, as the summertime paddlers get out on the water, that nobody knows everything and it's fun to learn from safety practise. Be safe on the water!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Kayak Asshole

Possibly the greatest music video in the history of everything:

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Down the Slide at 72 kmh

Last fall, we shared a video of Ben Marr and some buddies kayaking down the Lion's Bay Slide, hitting speeds of nearly 60 kmh. And boy, that looked like fun.
This year, Ben and Rush Sturges gave the Slide another go, this time hitting an estimated speed 72 kmh. And this outing was a little more hairy as both kayakers had trouble controlling their boats in the narrow confines of the drainage ditch. But all's well that ends well, and boy, it still looks like fun.
Check out the embedded video below:

Ramp It Up

Riding a canoe down a whitewater kayak ramp may not have been the brightest idea. Check out the video below:

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Hawaii Rescue - Update

To update Bernie's initial post below, a 21-foot boat travelling from Moloki to Oahu began taking on water in rough seas on Sunday. One quick-thinking person untied the three kayaks aboard the boat as the crew and passengers jumped into the water. The Coast Guard was alerted and everyone was out of the water quickly. All of them are fine; all were wearing PFDs. But one person was also wearing a GoPro and caught the whole thing on video.
Check out the embed video below:

Hawaii Rescue

Image via CBC

The CBC is hosting a short piece of video they call "high seas rescue on cam" (embedding is unavailable). They don't identify anything or anyone in the video, or even the location other than to place it somewhere around Hawaii. But what is clear from the minute long video is that a group of tourists headed out on a batch of sit-on-top kayaks. One of them got into trouble (CBC calls it a "sinking vessel") but the group were all wearing PFDs and called for help. Although edited, the footage is an interesting first-person view of what it's like to be rescued by a SAR helicopter.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Cave Kayaking

Embedded below is video of a kayaker exploring a huge cave at Down Patrick Head, Ireland.