Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Drone of Orcas

Drones are just about everywhere, and I don't mean just the drone of me snoring.
Last August, researchers from the Vancouver Aquarium and NOAA used a custom-built hexacopter to photograph and track the local resident orca pods. Researches were trying to determine how low salmon stocks affect the health of the local resident orcas. The locals, which are considered endangered, stick to diet of salmon, while transient orcas will go after seals, dolphins or whatever's around, and so the locals' health depend on the health of the salmon stocks. If salmon stocks are low, the locals will go hungry. It's hard to tell if an orca is getting thin with only a side view from a boat as an orca will only appear skinny from the side once it is serverly malnourished. But from above, it is much easier to get a sense of an orca's health, particularly whether or not it is getting enough to eat as its girth is easier to make out from above.
Using their drone and looking down from above, the researchers followed some of the northern resident orcas to get a sense of their health. The good news is that because of a large chinook run, most of the northern residents looked robust and well-fed; the bad news was that some of the orcas were not doing as well and two of them disappeared and were presumed to have died during the course of the study.
You can read the whole story here (and look at some cool pictures as well), and you can also check out the embedded video below:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum

A couple of weeks ago, Louise and I found ourselves travelling through Portland, Oregon. Even though we were following a map, somehow we zigged when we should have zagged, and ended up where we didn't want to be, but in a happy happenstance we stumbled upon the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum.
The museum was closed -- it's only offically open Wednesday evenings or by appointment -- but we could see through the window that there were at least a couple of dozen old skin on frame Inuit-styled kayaks. In fact, the museum houses almost 60 full-size kayaks, as well as nearly 50 models. Most of the full-size kayaks are replicas, but there are a couple of originals in the collection, and it's touted as being one of the world's largest collections of traditional Arctic-styled kayaks. Sadly, we couldn't wait around for opening time, but maybe next time we are down that way, we will make sure we have a Wednesday evening free to stop by.
The Musuem is on Facebook -- check out its page for photos of the collection.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

coureurs de bois

Remember learning about the coureurs de bois and the fur trade in Canadian History class? Here's an image of their voyageur canoes from the Canadiana website.

Their caption reads:
The Spring Brigade leaves Montreal for the West
Franklin Arbuckle
Reproduced with the permission of the Hudson’s Bay Company From the HBC Corporate Collection

When many fur traders traveled together, it was called a “brigade.” The brigades would leave in the spring and return in the fall, their canoes heavy with furs.

And here's a comment from an anonymous coureur-de-bois quoted by a Hudson's Bay Co. historian:

For 24 years I was a light canoeman. I required but little sleep, but sometimes got less than I required. No portage was too long for me; all portages were alike. My end of the canoe never touched the ground 'til I saw the end of it. Fifty songs a day were nothing to me. I could carry, paddle, walk and sing with any man I ever saw... I pushed on - over rapids, over cascades, over chutes; all were the same to me. No water, no weather ever stopped the paddle or the song... There is no life so happy as a voyageur's life; none so independent; no place where a man enjoys so much variety and freedom as in the Indian country. Huzza, huzza pour le pays sauvage!

Ben and the boat with mussels

Another note from Ben, who has spent the late summer exploring rivers and streams in the Okanagan valley, when not picking fruit. He reports that Fish and Wildlife officers have politely asked him to not fish for salmon this year because the spawn is depleted and they want the ceremonial allowances not to come up short. Any first nations traditional harvest feeds the community in lots of ways, Ben knows, and so do at least some fisheries workers -- at least enough of them to actively recommend he eat trout instead.
Ben went on to add:
ben: I met a couple modern day vikings who want to kayak the northwest passage. A Finnish guy and his half Aleutian wife.
We met when an American tourist pulled in at a gas station pulling a boat that had mussels on the hull. We had a short talk with him.
 me:  mussels on the hull? Bad boat hygiene!
That's how zebra mussels end up in lakes!
 ben:  precisely. We mentioned the concern, the extreme fines levied over such problems, and his licenseplate. The couple gave him a card for a local marina service that cleans and inspects. 
Glad to hear that Ben and his viking friends were good neighbours, with practical advice for the dirty boat owner. It's so important for us small boat users to clean our boats well. There's really no excuse for letting our boats carry kingsfoil weeds or zebra mussels into all the lakes we visit, y'know?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Whale on a SUP

Okay, so the whale is not on an SUP, but a guy off of Malibu was on an SUP when he was overtaken by a couple of whales. I'm thinking humpbacks, but what do I know from whales? And of course, he had a GoPro with him. Check out the video below:

Whales go where they want, of course. But how close is too close?
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.
What you should do if you see a whale? You can get more info from Be Whale Wise.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Over The Sambaa Deh Falls

A kayaking couple from Colorado think they may have been the first to kayak over the Sambaa Deh Falls in the Northwest Territories last month. Leif and Natalie Anderson did a whitewater kayaking tour of the NWT and northern BC this summer, but describe their plunge down Sambaa Deh, a Class V, as a highlinght. Leif told the CBC, ​"It sort of drops into this mini gorge that's about 10 feet deep, 10 feet wide and you have to navigate a couple of bends there — a couple of S-turn kind of moves. Then it speeds up and opens up into this big fan and there's one particular spot that we wanted to hit on the righthand side there and you just drop into the fan and speed up."
A CBC report is embedded below and is worth watching, if only for Leif's awesome mullet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Keep an eye out for a whale!

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre posted this important news yesterday -- kayakers and others be alert on the water:

Alert for anyone on the water around the SW end of Vancouver Island today. A humpback whale is entangled in fishing gear and looks to be in terrible condition. Call the DFO Incident Reporting Line at 1-800-465-4335 to report where you see it and when.

CBC reports: German kayakers reach Bering Sea from Hay River

Bernie spotted this news story on the CBC, reporting that during this summer a pair of German kayakers have made an epic journey from Hay River in the Northwest Territories to the Alaskan shore of the Bering Sea. You can read about their trip here, on the CBC website.

The young men launched on May 14 at Hay River on Great Slave Lake, paddled down the Mackenzie River to the Gwich'in community of Tsiigehtchic at the point where the Arctic's Red River joins the Mackenzie. They then did a 160-kilometre portage through the Richardson Mountain pass to Fort Yukon. Once on the Yukon River, it was all downstream to the coast.
(and now it's time to ask: what did you do on your summer vacation? Suddenly my day paddling on the South Saskatchewan seems so tame :)
This map is from the article on the CBC website. Support your CBC!

Kudos to Janosh Hagen and Jan Kruger! They're high school friends who learned kayaking in order to make this trip. And get this -- not only did they not take longer to complete the journey than expected, they finished ten days ahead of their plans. I don't know what they ate, but I bet it was high-energy food.

The Hurricane Riders: The Art of the Skook

The Hurricane Riders just dropped a new short film. (That's how the kids today say it, right? Dropped?)
Anyway, The Riders were out at the world-famous Skookumchuk tidal race earlier this year and filmed some of their rides on the wave.
Check it out embedded below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A call for Citizen Scientists that suits paddlers well!

Louise spotted this call for volunteer Citizen Scientists, and passed it along to me. It will be of particular interest to paddlers living along Canada's west coast and Haida Gwai, in communities like Hartley Bay.
InFORM is a non-governmental organization of universities, groups, Health Canada, and citizens gathering data on the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan during 2011. They're listed on their website as 
Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) Network: 
A collaborative radiation monitoring network to determine and communicate environmental risks for Canada’s Pacific and Arctic Oceans from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident

I'll just add the note here, if the word "radiation" is giving you the willies, that everything I've heard (from newspapers, science journals, and the University of Victoria) says that while some radiation from Fukushima did reach Canada, it was only in very small amounts, measured and tracked. This call for volunteer Citizen Scientists is part of a program to keep gathering water samples to test. 
It's a great thing to know that our scientists are continuing to measure the tiny amounts of Cesium that drifted across the Pacific. There's not enough radiation to be a threat to our health, so we paddlers can take to the water with confidence.

Shark vs Kayak

Earlier this month, a kayak with two young women in it was attacked by a great white shark off Plymouth, Massachusetts. The shark rose up underneath the kayak, tossing them into the water. According to a report from KFOR:
The two teen girls were in separate kayaks about 110 yards off shore when they saw the fin of the shark. The next thing they knew, the shark’s teeth were just inches away from them.
“We were just talking and paddling. And I look over to talk to her and it came completely out of the water and got the bottom of the boat and flipped her over and knocked my kayak completely over,” said Ida Parker, kayak attacked by shark.
“I saw at least four feet of its head. Four feet of it came up out of the water,” said Ida.
The shark went after Ida and her friend who were out kayaking.
“It bit through the boat, there are bite marks all the way through the bottom of the kayak,” said Ida.
A neighbour heard screaming and called 911. Fortunately, the girls suffered nothing more than a good scare, while their kayak suffered small scratches and holes. One hole, pictured above by the Massachusetts State Marine Fisheries, suggests an exploratory bite by a great white, according to experts. A great white was widely known to be in the area, and the women had decided to paddle out and check the local seal colony, a decision they now admit probaby wasn't the wisest with a great white prowling around.
Apparently, the shark hung around the area for at least a few more days, and it appears to not have developed a taste for plastic.
More pictures are here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kayak Kaddy

A few years ago, Paula posted about the Kayak Kaboose, a device that is essentially a floating extra cargo hatch for your kayak. Attached to the back of your kayak, the kaboose floats behind in carrying your extra gear.
Now, another company has come up with something similar called The Kayak Kaddy. This looks to be a more compact version, and, as seen in the video below, can be towed easily behind a sit-on-top or even a SUP. If you have to take everything with you when you go kayaking, this piece of gear might be just what you need.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kayaker Attacked By A....Cougar?

Well, here's a new one. A kayaker was attacked by a cougar on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Kyuquot Sound last week. According to this report from 2Day FM 99.7 radio, the lone kayaker was attacked near Rugged Point Marine Park. He needed assistance from a nearby boat, and was airlifted to hospital and released the next day.
You can listen to some audio reports on the incident here, and here is a CTV news report with an embedded video.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Deer Canoe

Nope, this isn't another post about seeing deer in the water when we're out in our boats. Instead, here's today's question for those unlucky enough to be at a computer instead of on the water: Have you ever wondered what to do with your old, old canoe?
I'm talking a canoe that is unrepairable after years of service during which it has been patched and re-patched until it's plaid instead of red or blue. There's a whole park system in Toronto where worn-out canoes are used for planters to make people smile. With that garden use in mind, here's a canoe photo and note quoted from the Facebook page for CBC Radio One's show North by Northwest:

Thanks to Doreen Ball from Pender Island for sending this! She had been trying to grow a bulb garden in this old canoe, but it became a deer bed instead!

1938 Stockholm Kayak Racing

Embedded below is a short series of clips, courtesy of British Pathé, from a 1938 kayak race in Stockholm, Sweden.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Happy Grandparents' Day

Last year, Ben Marr set the Internet's pulse racing with his crazy video of himself and some friends kayaking down The Lion's Bay Slide, and hitting speeds of close to 60 kmh.
Now he's made the Internet's heart beat all-a-twitter with a video showing him running some rapids on the Ottawa River. With his grandmother. Did I mention she's 83 years old?
Check out the clip embedded below:

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Orange is the New Yellow

Louise and I had a busy day, so we didn't get down to the annual Fall Ocean River Sports Gear Grab sale until late in the day after the crowds had thinned out.

This year, a pool was set up in the middle of the parking lot. It's not every paddler who can say he's done a successful roll in a parking lot.

We didn't have a lot of time to check things out, but we did discover something we liked at the Delta Kayak display: orange.
Chatting with the Delta rep, we discovered that for 2015 Delta is retiring their yellow colour and replacing it with orange. Wait -- what's that I hear? Is it the sound of next year's tax refund being spent?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

New Use for StraitEdge2

Well, well. There is a purpose to surfing the review forums online for reviews of kayaks and canoes. It's not just that I'm jonesing to get out in one of my boats.

Hello. My name is Paula, and I am a kayaker. It's been three weeks since I last took a boat out on the water. No, wait -- I was on a ferry between Swartz Bay and Tsawassen and that counts because I went out on deck and named all the islands and remembered every place I've paddled as we went past. And I was on a beach with Bernie, relaxing and thinking about the times we'd paddled past that spot.
An old panorama shot by Alison off Cordova Bay showing Pkols/Mount Douglas
Lest anyone think that I've given up paddling or have an injury or lost my boats or am just grumpy, rest assured that I'm travelling and fine and for all but the last handful of days there has been a kayak right at hand. But the accessible water at each of three locations available to me has been icky.
That's the technical term. The Sturgeon River had a thick algae bloom. Lake Beaumaris is posted Do Not Swim or Boat (it's a storm drain runoff lagoon, not a lake). And now False Creek in Vancouver has levels of E. coli bacteria so high that the dragonboaters and kayak rental place have shut down til the weekend. Alas.
But I digress.

Photo is from the Advanced Elements website page for the StraitEdge2!

I was going to say that on a review forum I found a new use for the StraitEdge2, a tandem sit-on-top kayak made by Advanced Elements. You can read about this model of kayak here at their website, where I borrowed the above image showing this fine inflatable kayak in use. The new use I learned for this multi-functional boat is as a bathtub.
Yup, a tub. I'd already figured out that it made a great bed with snug sides. It's really comfortable to lie down inside it, on or off the water. But a tub?
No kidding. One yachter uses his StraitEdge2 as a tender to go to shore, or as a fishing boat. He discovered that if he lets all the air out of the inflated floor, closes the valves, then opens the scuppers, the boat fills with water between the big pontoons. Instant floating bathtub, heavy and low in the water once he gets in. He attaches both bow and stern to his sailboat, then gets in for a relaxing soak. "Grab a cool drink, soak, and watch the sunset," he says in his review which you can click here and scroll down to read. "Very civilized after a hard day of paddling."
I bet that it would also work on land, with warm water. Deflate the floor, close the valves and scuppers, and then fill the boat with warm water for a nice warm soak and a chance to rinse out the sand that can collect in the nooks and crannies.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Equipped on the water

A colourful summer photo of Lila's and Yves's friend Rina kayaking with a pal on Lac Sainte Anne on Saturday of the Labour Day weekend:

Rina and her pal were enjoying a drink to celebrate her friend's first paddle in her brand new kayak (same as the one Rina is in, but red instead of yellow). Getting a kayak the same as a buddy's boat makes sense -- they'll go similar places at similar speeds, and gear for one will fit on the other even if the colours are different.
The weather looks gorgeous after days of smoky haze or sunny heat waves. It's clear that Rina & co. were having a good time! Can anybody spot any ways they might have had a safer (and therefore even better) time on the water?
Paddle on, Rina!