Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Mario for Kayakers

Looking for a gift for the kayaker in your life who is also a gamer? Look no father than this new Mario Bros. kayaking adventure, as seen in the video below. However, you may want to waterproof your X-Box before playing....

Monday, November 09, 2015

Sarah Outen Around the World!

Kudos to Sarah Outen for completing her circumnavigation of the world! She rowed across oceans and kayaked many waters, and cycled across North America on her four-and-a-half-year journey. Check out her website (where we borrowed this excellent photo) and read about her inspiring trip, which began and ended in London, England.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Canoe paintings by Winslow Homer

I've been wanting to do some visual art that connects with what it feels like to go out in small boats and explore the waters around me. Recently I learned of a celebrated watercolour artist called Winslow Homer (1836-1910), whose work was strongly inspired by canoeing.

This painting, from a private collection, is called Canoes in the Rapids, Saguenay River.

Check out the website for Winslow Homer's art, where you'll find over 500 images of his paintings. There are small boats of many kinds to admire here, from sloops to adirondack flat-bottom boats and many canoes..

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Messing About in Boats

"Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats…In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?"
~ from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, illustration by E.H. Shepard. Click here for a link to Project Gutenberg's free download of the classic book!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Under the Bridge -- a canoe trip on CBC Radio

Check out this link to the CBC Radio website, to see an article about a terrific piece of radio programming: a documentary on a canoe trip from Reindeer Lake, Saskatchewan to Baker Lake, Manitoba -- and the people who have never forgotten their trip even  28 years later.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Heroic rescues at Tofino whale watching accident

There's more news from Tofino about the accident that saw the sinking of Leviathan II, a 20-metre -long vessel used for whale watching. At least five people have been confirmed dead, and the search continues for a sixth who is presumed dead in the cold waters off Vancouver Island.
The only boat to see a signal flare from the accident site was a fishing boat with Ken Brown and Clarence Smith. These Ahousaht fishermen rushed to the scene and put out the call for help on their radio. CBC has an article here about the rescue.

updated later:

CTV's 11:00pm report on Tuesday pointed out that with the closure of Uclulet's Coast Guard base, the Coast Guard base at Powell River is responsible for the whole west coast. The rock where passengers were clinging is known locally to fishermen as "Bare Rock" but it's not labelled that on official charts. Only someone with local knowledge would know where that little islet actually was. Luckily, some of the Tofino Coast Guard were able to receive the radio call from Clarence Smith, CTV reported.

Or were they? An in-depth article from Ha-Shilth-Sa website has even more to say about the rescue. When Clarence Smith couldn't make himself understood to Tofino Coast Guard on Channel 16, he switched over to the radio frequency used by Ahousaht First Nation. Reception was good, and boats were there in minutes.

This incident is a real reminder to all small boat users to be prepared with your own boat's safety gear. It's easy to feel strong and capable and in control of my boat, but no one controls the weather or a rogue wave. It's been a while since our paddle group did safety practise, towing each other and practising wet re-entries and more. We'll have to at least do knot practise while watching a video, and learn more about search-and-rescue procedure.

The incident is also a reminder for paddlers to write to their newly-elected MPs (no postage stamp needed!) to call for support and restoring of Coast Guard services that have been closed or under-supplied.

Woodstock on the Water -- in Rolling Stone

Apparently there's a paddling race called Paddlequest that's also a live action role-playing game taking place over a couple of days in August for the last 14 years. Check out the article in Rolling Stone's website to understand a little more about this odd water event.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tofino Whale Watching Accident

The CBC has news from Tofino today (Sunday Oct 25) that a whale watching boat sank off Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Four people are reported dead, others are in hospital. Click here for a link to the story on CBC's website.
Here's another link to the story on CTV, which reports many people in the community were quick to respond to the tragedy with help as it was needed -- Ahousaht First Nations people in boats, other whale-watching boats, and also local residents opening their homes to shelter those who were hurt or chilled in the cold water.
Global News had a breaking report on the news late Sunday afternoon.

Update on Monday:
The CBC has an update confirming the deaths of five British people during the sinking of MV Leviathan II about four pm on Sunday October 25. The local boat users searched long after darkness fell, because another person is still missing. You can read their article here, including some short video clips and statements from people in Tofino.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Kayaking Helmet

Whitewater kayakers wear helmets to protect their heads from collisions with river rocks. I hadn't realized until recently that Aleut sea kayakers in the Aleutian islands of what is now Alaska would traditionally wear a kind of helmet. Their style of helmet was more for protecting their eyes from glare and spray.

Here's a photo from the British Museum's website of an 18th-century Aleut hunting helmet worn while kayaking. The style was far more practical than it might seem at first glance. The description on the web page explains something of how the materials could have cultural significance as well as usefulness.
I don't like the thought of the cultural imperialism shown by the 'collectors' who brought this helmet and other cultural artifacts around the world to the British Museum... but I do find the online resources are at least making images of these items available for people to see and learn.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Paddlers alert -- Public forum Oct 29 on the future of Elk and Beaver Lake

We at Kayak Yak have had a press release forwarded to us from the Capital Regional District, the Gorge Waterway Initiative, and the Victoria Golden Rods and Reel Society.

Mark your calendars for the evening of Thursday October 29! Paddlers of all kinds who use local lakes will be interested in this upcoming free public forum on the health and future of Elk/Beaver Lake. Details below:

Elk/Beaver Lake “A Tale of Two Lakes”— Can aging lakes be rejuvenated?
Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, 7 pm – 9 pm  Law Lecture Theatre 159, Fraser Building, University of Victoria
- Dr. Rick Nordin, BC Lake Stewardship Society: What’s Going On Inside Elk/Beaver Lake?
- Erin Gray, JD, Articled Student, Environmental Law Centre: Best Case Practices in Lakes Management
- Michelle Hawryluk, BSc. ES, BC Ministry of Environment: Progress Report on Remediation Options

Here's a map of the UVic campus with the Fraser building marked in red.

What will the evening look like?

1/ people encouraged to park in Parking Lot 8 from 6pm when the evening rate of $2.50 starts.
      ( Carpool, friends! Or take any of several buses to UVic. There's a bike rack at the building.)
2/ people visit at the stakeholders booths from 6pm to 7pm
3/ from 7pm to 9pm there are three speakers and question and answer periods.

The following organizations have confirmed their booth spaces to date:

  • Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC
  • Habitat Acquisition Trust 
  •  Camosun College Environmental Technology Program
  • Peninsula Streams Society
  • Victoria Rowing Society
  • Victoria Golden Rods and Reels Society
  •  Gorge Waterway Initiative

Reminder: The CRD Regional Parks Committee has included Elk/Beaver Lake as a strategic priority in its Service Plan for 2016-2019.
Subject to CRD Board approval, a half time co-ordinator for Elk/ Beaver Lake remediation  will be included in the Service Plan for 2016 to 2019 renewable annually. The Committee also voted to purchase a new weed harvester.

Dr. Rick Nordin’s June 2015 water quality report can be accessed through this link and is hosted at the Gorge Waterway Initiative website.

If you have any questions please contact either of the names below. Your assistance in helping to publicize this event is greatly appreciated.

Mick Collins
Co-chair, Elk/Beaver Lake Initiative, Victoria Golden Rods & Reels Society 
Phone 250-598-3294    
Kitty Lloyd
Gorge Waterway initiative Coordinator

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Canoeing In Ontario -- 1930s Style

Here's an old film by Reg Blomfield dating back to the mid-1930s. Shot on Stoney Lake, Ontario, Reg, aholder of International, Canadian and American Championships demonstrates some of the things that can be done in a canoe. He paddles about the lake, and does some seriously cool tricks. All in glorious fuzzy black and white.

If you like, here's a shorter version with just the tricks:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kayaking Mitts

When kayaking in the winter, it's good to have a pair of mitts or pogies to cover your hands. Pogies are big enough to fasten around the paddle, and let the paddler wear paddling gloves as well. That's particularly nice since my paddling gloves have just short fingers in a cut-off style. They were a gift from my daughter Lila and have been worn for 5 winters, while the pogies were used twice and have been put away for the next time Lila is paddling here. Her hands get chilled even more easily than Louise's hands! It's important to keep warm while paddling, since the ocean is cold here year-round.
Here's a traditional style of kayaking mitts from Greenland which are called aaqqatit. I found a photo from the British Museum website, with a description of these sealskin mitts in their collection. The mitts are distinct in that they have two thumbs. No, Greenlanders do NOT have two-thumbed hands! This design allows a padder to turn a mitt around if it becomes too slippery.

This photo is from the British Museum website

This two-thumbed style of mitt is well-suited to cold water paddlesports, and to fishermen on the North Sea, who traditionally wore a version knitted of wool. The style also makes a lot of sense to anyone who has ever worn mitts or gloves while working outdoors. For one thing, the mitt on your dominant hand wears out much more quickly than the other mitt. For another, it's far too easy to lose one of a pair. And when you live out in the boonies there is no handy store like Ocean River Sports or Capitol Iron just around the corner for picking up a new pair. The upshot is, any outdoor worker ends up with a few odd gloves or mitts.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New Book from Jennifer Kingsley

A year ago, we carried a book review here on Kayak Yak -- a review of Jennifer Kingsley's wonderful book Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild. Sure, her paddling adventures on the Back River in Canada's far north were amazing, but what's she been doing lately? Why, another book on paddling in the far north.
Here's a guest post today on Kayak Yak, written by Helaine Becker for Sci/Why, a blog by Canadian writers of science books for children. She's graciously allowed us to borrow this post!

Meet The North 
posted by Helaine Becker

Paddling North
I recently had the good fortune to meet author Jennifer Kingsley at the Lakefield Literary Festival. I was completely taken with her, and with her story of her current project: circumnavigating the Arctic via word of mouth. She'd talk to someone, who would tell her about someone else in the north she should meet, go see that person, talk to them and get another recommendation, and so on. How fabulous, I thought! How brilliant a demo of the science of communication, in action!

Jennifer Kingsley
I asked Jennifer if she'd talk to Sci-Why, and she very graciously agreed. She sent me her answers to my questions from Greenland, where she is now deep in her project.

Here is the interview:

1. Tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do and how you get started on the Meet the North Project.
I'm a Canadian who loves the outdoors, and I express that in two different ways. One: I'm a guide and naturalist, and I work on sailboats and ships in different parts of the world, primarily the Arctic. Two: I'm a writer and radio producer always looking for ways to bring stories and sounds out of remote regions and into the imaginations of my audience.
My first book is called Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild, and it's about a 54-day canoe expedition across the Canadian Arctic.
2. Paddlenorth  is terrific. I was so intrigued by your presentation at the Lakefield Festival, I got the book right away! It's full of adventure, of course. But also heart. And there's some serious drama and mystery too. Heart-thumping, page-turning mystery.

Now, you've embarked on a new adventure! Can you describe the Meet the North project for our readers?
Meet the North is my personal journey from WHAT is the Arctic to WHO is the Arctic. It's a project I created, and it's sponsored by Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic.
Here's the skinny about Meet the North from the project web site

#meetthenorth is a project about the lives of northerners from
Svalbard to Greenland, Iceland, the Canadian Arctic, and beyond.
These are among the most remarkable places on Earth, and the
best way to understand them is to ask those who know them best.
This project gets its direction from the people of the north.
Their ideas set our path; we listen, and we follow their lead.
By meeting one person at a time, and by asking that person to
introduce us to someone new, we are getting to know the
Arctic community, and we are sharing our journey with you.

Join the adventure on Instagram at #meetthenorth 

and by following @meetthenorth. Follow the
stories on this website too.

3. Sooooo coool! To my mind, your project is science in action, in that through your project, you are demonstrating and investigating human communication. Do you agree? Can you elaborate?
Meet the North is absolutely about human communication. It's about having a strong vision . . . but not much of a plan. I let the people that I meet set my path, so it's not until they introduce me to someone new that I know where I am going next. I think you could call it social science; it's similar to Snowball Sampling, which is used by some anthropologists.
I think what makes this project valuable and different is that it values the contribution of each individual. It's not about mapping the entire fabric; it's about finding one true thread.
4. It seems to me your project will provide valuable scientific data for use in other fields. Can you elaborate on that?
I believe that this project, and it's method, will help to uncover ideas and topics that would not be discovered otherwise. If I really want to know what is important to someone, I have to be very open. It doesn't serve me to come in with preconceived ideas, nor can I open with directive questions.
In this way, I think Meet the North could help fill out the picture painted by other work in other fields. It gives a human face to the data others are collecting. 
5. Can you describe one encounter you have already had, and what it revealed/meant to you?
I just got home from Iceland, and at the beginning of my time there, I had one meeting set up. That one meeting led me, through a series of introductions, to the far east corner of the country which has been, perhaps, the least impacted by the recent tourism boom. By making personal connections to a very out of the way place, I discovered a project I would never have heard about otherwise.

Way out there, in a municipality of 500 people, there is a movement afoot to turn a fjord into a container port. This will only make sense more than a decade from now, if sea ice melts in a certain way and if global politics take a certain turn. It's an attempt to involve Iceland in the evolving Arctic economy, when many Icelanders are opening guest houses and selling souvenirs. It was a whiff of the change in the air - still faint but indicative of big changes ahead. So we interviewed the man spearheading this initiative, out in the middle of the heath. Who knows what will be there 10 years from now.

 Thanks, Jennifer! Good luck with your project, and please keep us posted!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Good Bait

I went to Kemp Lake today. It was a good day for commando kayaking: good weather and lots of room on the little community bus. There was someone out on the water in a canoe when I got there.  I began setting up my little inflatable kayak, as the canoeist turned toward shore. As he grounded, the canoeist put aside his fishing rod and began throwing stones onshore. Big stones, head-sized, that were in the bow of his canoe. He had like five of them.
"Nice day for fishing," I said.
"Yup!" he said cheerfully. "I had lots of action."
Dunno what bait he was using to get rocks that size, but it sure worked.
He dragged his canoe up to his truck, tied it down quickly, and drove away as a little car arrived. Out popped a mother and two little boys, who stared bright-eyed at my inflated kayak. Yes, it looks really cool, and has go-faster stripes. "Would you like to float in my boat while I hold the rope so it stays close to shore?" I asked.
Of course they would! And their mother was pleased. One boy popped in to the kayak and I took hold of the painter, which is a line about 15 feet long. I walked along a little dock as he paddled gently, thrilled to be in a real kayak. Then his little brother took a turn. During the summer I saw a trout here, but today we didn't see any fish around the dock, what with all the paddling and talking.
Dunno what I was trollng for, but I had good bait.
We waved cheerful goodbyes as I finally got into my boat and set off to circle the lake. Here's a link showing my location part-way 'round. It's not too big. I took about an hour to make a leisurely circuit complete with pauses to eat a snack and drift peacefully.
As I came ashore, a couple was arriving for their turn at the lake. If I'd known there'd be this much traffic on a Thursday in October, I'd have made a reservation. They pulled two Pelican kayaks out of their van and set up their fishing gear. The couple had many good things to say about their Pelicans, as very stable and practical boats. I am not convinced, as without bulkheads or flotation devices these are not ideal for safety. "No, they're stable and safe, we've had 'em out in waves this high," insisted the husband, but he admitted: "Once you get water in 'em, you can't empty it out. They don't really sink, they just stay there under the surface."
Yeah. I let it go, didn't take the bait, and packed up my boat. Time for a commando departure as I headed to the bus stop. There I ate another snack, while keeping an eye out for bears. I have no interest in bringing a bear out of the forest to find my smoked cheese or candy. There have been fifty bear sightings a month since summer in this area, and that's not an unusual number. Funny, how kayakers have to think about bears AND car traffic on the same day trip. And so, home for a lovely dinner made by my spouse. All in all, caught a good day.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Charles Lindbergh in a Kayak

Did you ever want to see a clip of Charles Lindbergh in a kayak? If you did, you've come to the right place.
He and his wife were surveying air routes in the Arctic in 1933, six years after his record-making solo flight across the Atlantic. Stopping in Greenland, they are greeted by some locals, then try their hand at kayaking. Lucky Lindy's technique needs some work at first, but it does improve over time. Check out the clip below:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An English Paddling Opportunity

Wouldn't a paddling holiday in England be nice? One day I'd like to paddle the Thames. Or this lovely canal nearl Leeds and Liverpool.

There's a new route just opening up to paddlers:  east coast to west coast across England via rivers and canals. Check it out here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Paddle to Quinault video

The other day I came across some striking videos of the Paddle to Quinault gathering in Washington State, on the Olympic Peninsula. In August 2013 there were several First Nations groups paddling traditional-style wooden canoes to this gathering.

Here's one of the videos I found on YouTube. If you click on this link, you can see the above video there where it's posted. There are other videos leading up to the gathering, and the arrival of boats on the beach. Nice for armchair paddling!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Czech Out This Kayaking Clip

Here's a vintage clip of some crazy kayak action in the former Czechoslovkia from 1961. Check it out embedded below:

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Kayak Wrestling

Because what's the point of being in a kayak with your sister if you both can't get drunk and try to beat the crap out of each other, right?
Check out the video below:

Monday, October 05, 2015

News from Sarah Outen

Sarah Outen has been on the road and in her boats most of the last four years in a human-powered circumnavigation of the world. Her journey has been suspended for now, as a hurricane has halted her progress across the North Atlantic ocean. Read more about her amazing journey at this link!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Vintage Whitewater Clip

Embedded below is a clip of whitewater kayaking racing in a German stream from 1956. Actually, it's more like a clip of people swimming through rapids trying to hang onto their kayaks. Check it out:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bear-Proof Kayaks

Thermoformed plastic kayaks like the Delta kayaks Louise and I paddle have become popular over the last few years. They're tough and strong, and can take a beating. But can they take a bear mauling? A kayaker is Alaska can answer that question after a bear had a go at their kayak. Check out the video below:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Another Piece of Gear

I shouldn't be reading Facebook. It leads me to new websites -- sometimes really interesting ones about kayaking! But some of these websites showcase new pieces of gear that I never knew about, and never would have thought I needed.
Kayak Deck Slates.
Okay, paddlers, who's got a deck slate? Or a set of 'em? Hands up, anybody.
Deck Slates.
Kayak Deck Slates? Yes, slates for your kayak deck. They come in sets of two.
For those who were born after the invention of the file card, let alone the tablet smart phone, a slate is an erasable surface that you can write on. Slates are called that because they used to be made of a thin slice of stone called slate, and people wrote on them with a lead pencil.
These deck slates are a kind of laminated sticker to put on your kayak's front deck near the front end of the coaming, where you can reach them while paddling. They're sold online through Paddling Light and they actually look pretty nifty.
Let me be the first to admit that I've never heard of anyone putting slates on their kayak decks, though this website says they're popular in Britain. And now that I come to think about it, someone who needs more than one slate is doing rather more writing while kayaking than I plan to do. And though I have written while kayaking, I do it on a sheet of paper folded into a mini-notebook, with a pencil stub.
Oh, but apparently only one of these slates is for writing notes. The left-hand slate is set up for writing a tide chart. So I guess I could use the right-hand slate for noting what I saw when I pushed my SPOT OK button, or where I took a photograph, or resolutions to vote in the coming election for a candidate who when elected will lead Parliament to reduce oil tanker traffic making all these wakes in the Juan de Fuca Strait.
The listing for the deck slates is clear-spoken and informative, includes tips for installing the stickers, and points out that the slates are "Good in temperatures ranging from -65°F to 225°F." I'll keep that in mind next time anyone in my paddle group doesn't want to go on the water because the weather is too cold, or too hot.
Kayak Deck Slates. Betcha all the cool paddlers have 'em.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Vintage Kayaking in Austria

Here's a clip of vintage kayak racing on the River Enns in Austria. The clip is from September, 1954. Check it out embedded below:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wiffin Spit!

This morning was bright and sunny, with no wind. A perfect day to check out just how nice Wiffin Spit is for paddling, provided one stays out of the current until ready. I got my little inflatable ready to take on the bus, but Bernie ended up driving me there and taking a walk all along the spit from the parking lot by Sooke Harbour House to the tip where the water rushes around.
He may have seen the whole length of the spit, but I didn't. From the water, it's a bit hard to tell exactly where the narrows is. I went a bit closer to the end than the map at this link shows. I didn't want to find the current suddenly, even if it was expected to be gentle and there is no breeze against it to kick up standing waves.
I took a moment to paddle outside the spit, too, by hopping across the parking lot. A good place for paddling, especially in good weather!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Whitewater Humour

As well as paddling, I'm interested in online comics -- and now, Ben has sent me a link where these two interests overlap! In Jennie Breeden's comic The Devil's Panties, she has four comics in a row about her whitewater boating trip.
borrowed from Jennie Breeden's very funny website for grown-ups

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunbathing Seals

Nice note from friend Claire Eamer on Gabriola Island, who intends to go paddling with us the next time we get into her home waters. She says:

Went for a boat ride yesterday near Silva Bay. We had an audience.

Friday, September 18, 2015

International Coastal Cleanup

It's time again to remind paddlers of the International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday September 19, and its Canadian incarnation, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. This activity is an excellent opportunity for paddlers of all kinds to get together and clean up trash along the shoreline in our home waters. It's a conservation activity initiated by the World Wildlife Federation in partnership with local interests such as the Vancouver Aquarium. Some of the cleaning is done by children walking on beaches, wearing gloves to pick up trash, some is done by boaters with ropes and hooks who can haul shopping carts out of streams and harbours. Some is official, some is very informal.
When does your area have an official cleanup? It might be any time of year. If your community doesn't have an event set up, it's not hard to get one started. There are suggestions and a training presentation for how to organize your own event at the Canadian website link above and here. Last year, over half a million volunteers picked up more than 16 million pounds (about 8 million kilograms) of trash during this cleanup.
Don't let the organizational issues concern you! If all you do is retrieve a few floating beer cans someone left in your favourite lake, you're part of the on-going cleanup. For good ideas on how paddlers can do their own cleanup, check out this link for a toolkit. And here's a page about it on Facebook, for when you come back indoors after going out on the water.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Canoes, Kayaks and Whitewater

Here's a vintage clip of canoe and kayak whitewater racing from 1965 somewhere im Germany. Check out the clip embedded below:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Highly Illogical

Last week, Louise and I spent a few days hanging out with friends at Cox Bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino. We didn't haul the kayaks up, but we did our fair share of boogie boarding in the waves. And our friend Karl decided to try riding something, er, highly unusual in the waves.
_MG_5348 copy
How will did it work? Well, you'll just have to watch his video, embedded below, to find out. I don't want to spoil the ending, but [SPOILER ALERT] the chair worked about as well as you would expect it to.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kalamalka Lake

Whenever I'm on a highway and the road passes a lake, I always want to go down to the water's edge and go swimming or boating. Whenever I can, at least I soak my feet and look around. Talking Bernie into stopping for a few minutes got ever so much easier once he got a fishing rod. On several of our trips between Victoria and Edmonton, we would stop to let the twins run around, but he'd also get out the rod and tackle. Now that I own a little folding inflatable kayak, we take it along on any road trips. He doesn't mind me going out on the water in my boat, and I don't mind him fishing from the shore. Sometimes he takes a turn in the kayak too.
Our grown son Ben is on the way back to Edmonton after building greenhouses, picking fruit and para-sailing in Kelowna. (Whenever I feel like I'm a kick-ass kayaking enthusiast, there's always reminders that other sports like para-sailing are far more enthusiastic.) While on the road, he stopped in Vernon and found free wifi at the public library (LOVE public libraries!), so he sent us this photo taken from Highway 97.

Kalamalka Lake, taken by Ben
His note reads:
You could be paddling this. Deep, 5 degree water with fish the size of your arm and a million kinds of wildlife scattered along the shore. Next summer maybe?

Gotta say, he knows how to pitch a paddling destination! After some time at Kalamalka Lake, he left Vernon and headed towards Golden. There, he found what he describes as the best swimming hole in the Rockies. Ten feet deep and clear as glass.

When he can't find a boat to borrow, he just swims a little and floats around. Nice.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kayak Expedition 1930s Style

Here's a silent film of a kayaking expedition up the Hudson River, through Lake Champlain and into the St Lawrence River. Check it out, embedded below.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Sea Lion Belly Flop

My only question is how did the sea lion climb the tower in the first place?
Check out the video embedded below:

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Ocean Films

Are paddlers interested in films about living on the ocean? Well, yeah. Vancouver-based paddlers should be aware of the latest news from Georgia Strait Alliance, about the upcoming Vancouver Festival of Ocean Films. It takes place on September 13, at 4pm at Vancity Theatre.
Three great films will be screened, including one about the life of a surfer and environmental activist, another about saving wild salmon runs, and Thule Tuvalu about the effects of climate change in communities as different as Greenland and a South Pacific island. Click here to see the previews and get your tickets.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Scouting East Sooke

Made time this afternoon (Sunday) to head out for paddling. We intended to go to Kemp Lake so Bernie could do some fishing, but had to head the other direction to put some gas in the rattly van. When the pumps had no power at the nearest station, we headed off to another station, and since that one was half-wayu to Roche Cove, we ended up going there.
Roche Cove is a nice little inlet off Sooke Basin, and we've been there only one time. That day I was paddling with John and Louise, and we did not linger! Recently I rode a little local bus to see East Sooke, and there was the bridge at the mouth of Roche Cove. That's when I got the idea it would be nice to paddle inside the cove and avoid the currents at the mouth entirely. But where to launch in this shoreline park?
Bernie stopped the van in a parking lot big enough for 8 or 9 cars, and we investigated the park. Nice sign, bench, bike rack, and pit toilets suitable for changing clothes! I'd had a good look at a CRD pamphlet, and there's the same image online at the link above. On the map, it looked like along the Galloping Goose trail about 300 yards would be a level area between the trail and shore. The pamphlet spoke of a sandy beach, and said "Picnic at the protected cove after an easy walk from the parking area."
Bernie insisted we walk along the trail to the beach first, and then come back for the boats.
We had quite a nice level walk along the trail. It would be a good place to bring someone who wanted to look at cliffs and bluffs but couldn't climb them. The only problem was that we didn't come to a beach in 300 metres, or 600 metres, or even a kilometre as I'd expected based on the map. There were steep drops to water at those points, not level ground. Oops. There was a footpath down to the end of the cove, with a sheltered shore that showed rocks, not sand.
While it would be possible to portage small boats a kilometre along the trail and then carefully down the footpath, we decided to press on instead of paddling today. Bernie headed us towards Anderson Cove.
That's part of East Sooke Park. From the bus, I'd seen two places for pulling a small car off the road and walking a few steps down a slope to the sheltered water of the cove. Bernie found a small parking lot for 6 or so cars up a short but steep lane from the road -- hard to see from a vehicle as you go past. Here was another sign and pit toilets again. If we were going to launch here, we'd prefer to have rollers for the boats.

So we headed for home. No actual paddling today, but we scouted two places. Now Bernie will know where I'm going when I hop on a bus to Anderson Cove. Now we know that Roche Cove isn't well-suited for paddling, but it's not impossible, and we had a nice walk along the trail. Not bad.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

New Rope!

Just bought some new gear. Well, something to make new gear. Well, I bought some rope.
That might not be exciting for any real hardbody adventure kayakers, but hey! I get kayak excitement where I can. Sometimes that means making gear. And the materials don't have to come from high end stores selling kayaks and canoes, even though Ocean River is a great store. Often I find useful material at hardware stores.
The rope I bought was too interesting to leave behind. It had a reflective thread woven in with the bright yellow strands, which caught my attention. And a note on the label says "floats" so that made me think of ways I could use floating rope.
Got this rope at Home Depot!
I've checked the hardware store's website for info on this rope. Apparently the 80lbs capacity which is noted on the rope's label isn't the only limiting feature. It also stretches over time, and when compared with other synthetic ropes it's poor at holding knots or resisting abrasion. That means it is NOT good for rock-climbing and probably not a substitute for a proper tow line system from North Water. I wonder if the affordable throw bags I bought a couple of years ago have better rope... certainly that rope is softer and more flexible.
I'm going to try using this new rope for deck line. And my new inflatable Lagoon needs a tender, or a line that stays attached to the bow handle. Oh, the ideas that are milling in my brain!


Friday, September 04, 2015

Patron Saint of Canadian travel by water

Just reading Stephen Hume's fascinating book Simon Fraser: In Search of Modern British Columbia. Among the interesting details that make this book so fascinating are facts about the fur trade in North America. When Fraser set out from Montreal and Lachine on his journey west, the end of the first day's easy paddle was a tiny community called Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. This place is at the narrows of the Saint Lawrence river where canoes turn west to travel up the Ottawa river. There was a small, windowless stone church dedicated to Saint Anne, described by Hume as the patroness of the Canadians in all their travels by water.
Nice to know we paddlers have a patron saint.
Paddlers looking for a good read will enjoy a little armchair paddling with Hume's book in hand! He describes in detail the birchbark canoes of First Nations and voyageurs, and their river routes. The history of travel by water in Canada is described with as much immediacy as Hume's own times on the rivers and lakes.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


Okay, the small boat in use in this video has a motor but I still think catfishing is of interest to paddlers.

Check out this video posted on YouTube if the embedded version below doesn't show for you.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Is It Possible to Canoe Over a Car?

Why, yes. Yes, it is. Especially if you tie your canoe to a second car. Alcohol is recommended before trying this, and you should never actually try it. Just stick to the alcohol.
Check out the video embedded below:

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Your Squee! For the Day

Rosie the kitten was just three weeks old when she was found abandoned and sick earlier this year. Her rescuers were not sure she would survive unless they found a surrogate mother, and they found an unlikely one in Lilo the husky dog. It was all the more unexpected because Lilo had never had puppies of her own but Rosie clearly brought out Lilo's mothering instinct. Rosie eventually was adopted by the whole pack of huskies, becoming a bit of an Internet thing a couple of months ago.
Rosie's latest adventure with her new pack is to enjoy kayaking and paddleboarding. That cat gets on the water more than I do.

And of course, there's a video:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Google Kayak Maps

Unless Google Translate is playing a joke on me, this article is describing the Google camera being used on a kayak. The kayaker paddled 1500 kms around the coast of Malaysia, all the while with the Google Maps camera strapped on its back. Check out the results on Google Maps.

Clover Point Wastewater Discharge

Paddlers wanting to launch near Clover Point should take notice! Word has come from the Capital Regional District about an untreated sewage spill at Clover Point on Saturday, August 29.
Here's a quote from the CRD notice on their website pages:

For Immediate Release
August 29, 2015
Clover Point Wastewater Discharge Notice
Victoria, BC
Signs have been posted as a precautionary measure due to a wastewater discharge at
Clover Point on the afternoon of Saturday, August 29, 2015.
Approximately 900 m3 of unscreened wastewater was discharged through the Clover Point pumpstation short outfall as a result of a mechanical equipment failure. The failure has since been corrected and the pumpstation is operating as it should.
In consultation with Island Health, water sampling at locations along the beaches near Clover Point will take place this weekend and public health advisory signs have been posted at all beach access points in the Ross Bay
and Clover Point areas. Lab results from the weekend samples should be available early
next week and if enterococci levels are below the 70CFU/100mL recreational limit the signage will be
For media inquiries please contact:
Ted Robbins, General Manager,
CRD Integrated Water Service
Office 250.360.3061

Big ol' fish and good ol' boys

The winds yesterday were done today. Time for another short paddle on Poirier Lake, a pleasant little lake. There were intermittent flashes of sunshine breaking through the clouds, but a patter of rain started just as Bernie carried the red Pamlico down to the brand-new boat dock. It was a nice warm rain shower, off and on for the next hour, as I paddled in lazy circuits round the little lake.
Bernie walked to the brand-new fishing dock and set up his rod and reel. Before long he waved me over to the dock. "My line is caught on that sunken log again," he said. "First cast!" It wasn't hard to free the hook so he could cast again.
Twice I saw a fish break the surface, several minutes apart, and not a little tiny fish. Once the water was disturbed near enough that I could see the white shape of a fish that looked about two feet long. It was probably smaller, but it sure seemed like a big ol' fish.
Drifted and paddled some more, listening to white guy funky rock on a radio outside a house at one end of the lake. A very retro station. Then back to shore and home to the little house.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Seriously equipped

What a day! after weeks of sunshine, it's raining in squalls. The wind blows in gusts... first nothing, then a breeze, and suddenly the trees are thrashing and then still. With the weather forecast saying "be careful out there" I did NOT go out paddling today. Instead I checked that my kayaking gear is packed just fine under the deck. Now the rain is pounding down in sheets.
Wonder how a family I saw the other day is doing on their camping trip. Their RV was waiting at a traffic light as Bernie and I walked past and saw the family's big smiles and their arms resting on the open windows. On the roof of their RV was tied a big ol' red canoe, the type that I think nearly everyone has paddled for their first time in a boat. Behind the RV was their boat trailer with a powerboat much like a nice Bayliner. And a Zodiac inflatable was tied upside-down on top of the powerboat, with a smaller motor of its own.
"When you're taking THREE boats on your trip," said Bernie, "you are SERIOUSLY equipped."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vintage Spanish Kayaking

Here's a vintage clip of a kayak race in Spain's Sella River on August 26, 1957.
I like the standing (sitting?) start on the beach. The race was apparently won by a pair from Belgium. Check out the clip embedded below:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hutchison Cove

Had a good time on the water on Saturday. Bernie and I launched at Cooper's Cove and headed into Hutchison Cove. Both coves are part of Sooke Basin, where we've paddled before several times!

We ate a ripe blackberry each as we walked from the van to shore with our boats. No lingering to harvest blackberries! Today was just a short day. If I'd thought about driving to water, I'd have taken my 13-foot Expedition inflatable kayak, but the little 8'6" Lagoon is still so new that I'm practically carrying it to the grocery store and everywhere. I was in the Lagoon and Bernie in the red Pamlico when we set off. By the time I hit the water -- a bare six minutes after leaving the van, I might add, which is a terrific inflation/set-up time for any folding kayak!-- Bernie was drifting back from the middle of the cove with a smug smile.

"I've already caught a crab," he said. "And a fish. Well, the fish struck at the blackberry seed I spit out of my teeth. And I've seen a turkey vulture soaring overhead. My day is complete." Congratulations were in order, even when he admitted that the crab had been thumb-sized, floating, and already released, and the fish was a tiny fingerling.

Most of the sea life we noted after that was a series of jellyfish. Moon jellies were floating all around. We paddled past the bluffs and into the mouth of Hutchison Cove, where we drifted for a while and contemplated an immensely large house visible on the shore. Here's a SPOT signal showing our location on our way back.

We followed along the Goodridge Peninsula on the outside of Cooper Cove and then on the inside, contemplating the geology and the wear-and-tear on this little peninsula. It formed after the end of the last Ice Age, and most of the sediments we can see above the waterline piled up in the last 10,000 years. There are clamshells and black earth here, which apparently means the ashes and shells from First Nations middens. It would have been a nice place for clams and ducks. A hundred years ago it was a site for construction of concrete tunnel sections to convey water from Sooke Lake reservoir to Victoria, so the site saw some pretty rough use. Now it's recovering and looks like a park. Part of the Cove is a sanctuary for migrating birds.

A seal or two popped up behind our boats and watched us before dipping down again. We weren't on the water long, but it always feels like the right place to be.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Duke Kahanamoku's Birthday!

Hey paddlers! Particularly surfers and stand-up-paddleboarders! Today is the 125th anniversary of Duke Kahanamou's birthday. Check out today's Google doodle.
If you don't know who this legendary surfer and Olympian was, here's a website summing up many interesting things about his life, and the Wikipedia page. Or you could start at this link and have some happy reading. Among his many achievements, he made use of a longboard for lifesaving.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kayak Robot

Artist Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk made this model robot, which is one of a series she is making. She says:
Here's a commission I did a couple of months ago titled "Kayak Bot." He's made from a cocktail shaker, some cheese slicers, an old film can and other bits. He was quite a challenge but it was fun to stretch a bit out of my comfort zone.

Check out her Facebook page for more robot models!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Whale Of A Tail

Kayakers in Alaska answering the call of the wild experienced the spalsh of the wild as a humpback whale came in close and dove under one of their kayaks. They got splashed, and also a video that we can all enjoy. Check it out below:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Old-Timey White Water Kayaking

Here's a clip of vintage white-water kayaking in the Eifel mountain area of Europe in 1964.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Incredible compact packing

There are few kayaks better for travelling than a folding or a folding inflatable kayak. There are few ways to camp that are better than paddling, if you like comforts and not having to carry everything on your back all day long as you hike. Now I've just seen a page online posted by a kayak camper who has got compact packing of his folding inflatable kayak down to a science. Check this link for photos and a quick summary of all the gear that gets tucked neatly inside an Advanced Elements model called the Fusion, with two small bags on deck. Thirteen feet of slim boat that can be taken on an airplane or train or bus, packed with camping gear and all in a load that didn't break that paddler's back on the trip. Salute!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Most Dangerous Game

Heard a story from Ben about another of his canoeing trips, this one with his friend Danny. While paddling in the Okanagan valley in central British Columbia, Ben and Danny took a canoe up one of the feeder creeks.

I'll pause here to note that Ben's never actually purchased a good canoe. He's always just found a canoe, in a friend's back yard or on Kajiji or sunk in a bay. These aren't good canoes. Usually if a person owns it, he or she says "It's got a big crack in it, but you can have it if you want it." Ben gets to work with a container of Epoxy or something, and voila! a floating boat that he can use for a summer and then give to someone with room to keep a canoe. Often it ends up as a planter or else gathers dust till someone else wants to get out on the water.

Two summers ago, one of these rattletrap old canoes took Ben and Danny up a creek for four days of minimalist camping. When they paused to set up camp the first night, Ben assured Danny that they did not want to let the canoe drift away during the night. This mishap had happened to him before on another river camping trip, and he had walked downstream for two days before coming across that canoe stuck on a sandbar. Never again! Danny could go right ahead and set his sleeping bag on the bank above the creek, but Ben intended to sleep inside the canoe under a bit of tarp with at least one of the paddles. That way, even if the canoe drifted away, at least he wouldn't lose it -- and he'd be able to steer.

I'll pause here again to wonder why the guys didn't just tie the canoe to a tree. Camping on Quadra Island, I lifted the small boats onto the bank above the shore. Also, I tied my inflatable kayak to trees while camping on the Red Deer river, because weather changes in Alberta can be sudden and strong, causing rivers to rise or winds to blow strongly enough to roll canoes and kayaks. Maybe there weren't any trees along that Okanagan creek, and maybe the bank was very steep.
I'm also wondering whether Ben has ever awakened in a canoe that is unexpectedly bobbing downstream without a paddle. There are some things a mother just doesn't want to know.

But I digress. When we left our story, our intrepid adventurers were settling down for the night. In the morning, Danny woke first, sat up, and had a terrific view of the creek and the canoe and the tarp-draped shape that was Ben. Abruptly, Ben snorted and sat up, clawing the tarp away and grunting. Unfortunately, he wasn't alone on the edge of the creek. A Canada goose had curled up there as well.

Found this photo of a Canada goose in attack mode in an article online.
Big bird, so it and Ben were sitting up looking at each other eye-to-eye.
Startled, the goose panicked and screamed a loud hooonnk. It struck out at the sudden movement of this noisy, hairy creature. And it didn't just punch him with its hard beak, which I can assure you (as the veteran of goose battles on the farm) leaves one bruised and bleeding. Nope. It slammed both wings forward hard against Ben's head and boxed his ears. He went down like he'd been hit by a bus. 
Now it was Ben's turn to scream. By the time he kicked off the tarp, his ears were bleeding, he had an instant thunderclap of a migraine, and his head was ringing like a gong. The goose made a hasty and noisy retreat.
Meanwhile, Danny laughed hard enough to roll off the creek bank.
"I'm deaf!" screamed Ben. He added some choice words about the evil bird that stayed just out of reach as Ben fell out of the canoe and flailed about on the shore.
Danny couldn't stop laughing.
Ben had some more choice words about evil companions.
By the time they set out downstream, Ben had enough of Danny's laughter. Since Ben's head felt vile and he could barely move, he decreed that Danny could make up for laughing by doing all the paddling.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rivers of Gold

It makes for a gorgeous picture (photo credit: Jerry McBride/PA Wire/Zuma Press), but it's a disaster. Last week, at least two groups of kayakers on the Animes River in Colorado discovered that the water was no longer, well, water-coloured, but instead had turned orange. They decided to run the river anyway, correctly guessing that the strange colour was due to something happening at the abandoned Gold King Mine upriver. What they didn't realize was that the river was now full of toxic wastewater containing high levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum. The colour is actually caused by the disturbance of the sediments, not by the toxic elements. Just how toxic the river is has yet to determined.
It turns out that an Environmental Protection Agency crew were digging around the abandoned gold mine in an effort to investigate leaks. The mine's plug burst, and the small, intermittent leak became a fast moving wave of disaster.
The sludge is making its way towards the Colorado River, and local residents and businesses have been warned to avoid drinking, swimming and paddling in the area. Paddlesports companies in the area are taking a hit. “It’s a total disaster for us,” says Matt Wilson, owner of 4Corners Riversports in Durango told Canoe and Kayak. “The river has been closed since Thursday and I’ve lost over $15,000 in cancellations already. The poor Animas River took a major hit and we still haven’t heard from the EPA as to what the exact dangers of the toxins are.”

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Buebird of Happiness

I think I saw the Bluebird of Happiness, while paddling on Poirier Lake.
Maybe it was the kingfisher that fluttered out of the trees and swooped low over the water, stooping for a fish. Its big beak is as wide as a grin.
Maybe it was the Steller's Jay that perched in a spruce near where I was marveling at the pedal boats tied up at one dock, and the inflatable lounging raft at another. That blue flicker is brightest in a sunbeam. We don't get mountain bluebirds here, and bluejays are rare.
It might have been one of the blue dragonflies that darted around catching mosquitoes and swirling in pairs. Not sure how big the Bluebird of Happiness is supposed to be. It could be very little.
But when I came along the north shore of the lake as I did a couple of circuits with and against the breeze, as I got closer to the fishing dock there were two fishing lines coming out from behind the bushes along the shore. Gossamer in the sunbeams, the lines moved as unseen hands tugged on them. The sight of them pulled on my heart as if the hooks had set into my own flesh. I came round that shore, swinging wide to avoid crowding the lines or chasing any nearby fish, and saw my partner and our son standing in the shadows on the fishing dock. There was my spouse in faded denim and gray and our son disappearing into the woods in dark colours and khaki. Their strong hands pulled on the lines and I had to look away or the Bluebird was going to pull just a little harder on my heart than I could handle. The kayak bobbed under me and I went to listen to the music playing at the other end of the little lake. "Oh my my, oh hell yes..."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kayak Racing In France

Here's a clip of some vintage white water kayaking in France. Filmed on the Vezere River on July 22, 1953. Cleary, it was a rough day on the water as many kayakers rush by down the river without their kayaks.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Animas River Contaminated with Mine Water

The paddling season on Animas River ended this summer on August 6.
Over three million gallons of wastewater from the Gold King mine has entered the river. The city of Durango, Colorado is on alert, and the river has been closed. Click on this link for photos from the Denver Post, including the local paddle company cleaning their boats and holding a yard sale.
Think about your own home waters in the wake of this incident. How can we make industries safer for the environment? How can we use our rivers and coastal waters safely and sustainably? As the Canadian federal election is ticking through its time, find out how your local candidates and the party of your choice feel about changes to the Navigable Waters Act that formerly protected thousands of lakes and streams.

Free Pump Out Services in False Creek Marinas

Small boat users in False Creek, Vancouver, have had an unhappy time this summer and last. The water has tested as having a lot of E.coli bacteria, due in part to human activities in this busy bay. It's not recommended to paddle in parts of False Creek, and it's no fun paddling when you can't splash and have to clean your boat & gear thoroughly or risk getting sick.
Now the Georgia Strait Alliance is sharing the following press release:
Keep our water clean, pump don't dump

Vancouver Park Board is offering free pump out services to boaters at Burrard & Heather Civic Marinas of False Creek in order to #KeepItClean. Please forward their message to your boating friends!

Keep our water cleanAs we cruise into the much-awaited summer season, the Vancouver Park Board has launched a water quality campaign designed to remind boaters, dog owners and beach goers to keep Vancouver's water clean for the health, safety and enjoyment of everyone.
Vancouver Park Board is doing its part to reduce boat sewage, a source of fecal bacteria in False Creek. You will see reminders to keep our water clean on social media, signs, banners and postcards around Vancouver in the next days.  

In addition, the Board now offers  free pump-out services to all pleasure craft in our waters at Board operated civic marinas (Burrard and Heather Civic Marinas). The service was previously free to marina members, but is now available to the general public to keep our water clean.

Free pump-out service:

Available for pump-outs:

  • 7 am to 6 pm (May long weekend to Labour Day long weekend)
  • 7 am to 4 pm (Labour Day long weekend to May long weekend)

Visit for more information. Remind your friends on social media to keep our water clean by using #KeepItClean.

To find more information about water quality, visit

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Muir Creek paddle and video

In June, I went for a marvelous  paddle, though a short one in the estuary of Muir Creek.

This was a good day to pull the little inflatable kayak out of our van and set it up on the creek bank. There was very little current as the creek nears the ocean, and I drifted about happily crossing from side to side or going upstream without any effort till a few dozen yards above the bridge it was too shallow to go further. The water is low from June to September, but I hear there is much more run-off in rainy months from November to March. I drifted downstream into the brackish, swampy part of the estuary. The other half of the estuary was open to the sea. Linking the two parts was a place that at high tide would be fine for paddling, but I was there at low tide. The link was a pebbly mini-rapid too shallow for even my boat. So I contented myself with exploring this side of the estuary and watching bubbles of swamp gas rise from the muddy bottom.

I can see why artist Jeffrey J. Boron has made a painting of Muir Creek. This place is a good one for a short outing in a sheltered space! It would be even better at high tide. If you click on this link, you can see the location along the shore west of Sooke and east of Sandringham Point. Just after West Coast Road crosses Muir Creek, there's a place to pull off the road and park. Room for half a dozen cars, maybe, but no improvements like you'd expect at a park. That's because it isn't an official park; it's just been treated like one by the local residents and visitors. There's a terrific website about Muir Creek and the many good reasons to make this site a park.

While I was paddling, Bernie went the route marked on this website as he walked along the footpath to the ocean shore and then east on the cobble beach to look for fossils. He found some, of course, from the Sooke formation!

A couple of days later in June, Karl and Stephanie went to Muir Creek  with their dog Isaac. Karl took this video, which he posted on YouTube as part of his series on Great BC Beaches. It looks like the tide was high during their visit.