Friday, February 27, 2015

Kayak Spock

Leonard Nimoy, who played Star Trek's Mr. Spock, passed away today at the age of 83. He lived long, and he prospered.

Ever wondered what you would get if you typed "kayak spock" into Google? Turns out, you get this:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Kayaking Calm Before the Storm

From British Pathé comes this 1938 kayaking clip from Germany. Breslau High School apparently won a championship on River Wiese. How disconcerting it is to see swastika pennants on some of the kayaks. And I'd swear they cut away from the children on the riverbank just as they raise their arms in a Hitler salute around the 35 second mark. But I digress. There is some nice scenery in this short clip. Check it out embedded below:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

GSA news and Boat Show

For paddlers in the greater Victoria area, here's a couple of news items to think about this weekend.

The first is the Victoria Boat and Fishing Show, taking place this weekend at the Pearkes Recreation Centre by Tillicum Mall.

And the other is the latest promo from Georgia Strait Alliance, with plenty of news for people who take an interest in caring for our coastal waters. Be sure to read the latest issue of their newsletter, which you can find at this link. There are terrific photos of people using small boats and enjoying shoreline activities!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Reef-net Between Two Canoes

Traditional fishing methods are not only the use of a simple hook and line, or tickling fish in a stream. There are surprisingly effective technologies for catching fish, technologies that were used traditionally by First Nations people, and some of these methods relied on the use of small boats. Saltwater fishing techniques were developed to a science by the Coast Salish people.
But the use of Salish reef-nets fell out of practise when these nets were banned by the Canadian government over a hundred years ago. It was only through the efforts of several people living on the Saanich peninsula (in and near the city of Victoria, BC) that the first reef-net in a hundred years has been built and put to use, supported by two traditional sea-going canoes.
Leading their project is Nick Claxton (XEMŦOLTW̱), a member of the Tsawout community and a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. He worked with a local school and members of the W̱SÁNEĆ nation to build a model of a traditional reef-net. Then, with the help of relatives from the Lummi Nation just across the border in Washington state, Nick and his associates built a reef-net in the traditional style. They put it to use on August 9, 2014, at a hereditary fishing location off Pender Island, as shown in this video they posted on YouTube.

Both of the sea-going canoes shown in this video are marvellously stable craft. It's interesting to see different elements of design in the bows and keels of these small boats! And though the paddlers in these traditional-style boats are not wearing life jackets, at least there are PFDs visible inside the boats for the paddlers to kneel on.
If you're wondering what's so different about one net compared to another, well, there can be a lot of differences! This isn't a little net held and retrieved by one person. A reef-net is suspended between two large canoes. The upper part of the net is attached to floats, and the lower part is held down by weights.
If the video of this net being used doesn't load on your screen, you can click here to see a six-minute video, showing the project and the reef net being deployed between the canoes.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How It Used to Be Done

Courtesy of British Pathé comes an undated collection of footage of a waterwater kayak event at Westphalia. Check out the embedded video below:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hitchin' A Ride

A family who rented a kayak for an outing in Santa Barbara, California on the weekend didn't realize they were also eligible for the Free Sea Lion Pup Bonus Package. As they paddled around near a dock, a sea lion pup hopped up onto their kayak to also enjoy the ride. Check out the video (embedded below), and some pictures here.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Back In the Paddle Again

For a kayaking blog, Louise and I haven't done a lot of kayaking lately. In fact, we haven't been on the water since last July. And the fault is mine, or rather my right knee's. After stoically braving chronic pain and stiffness for some months (I call it "stoically braving" -- others may call it "living in denial"), I finally sought out medical advice. I could not fully extend my knee, nor could I fully bend it without extreme pain. Sometimes I could barely bend it at all. While some days I could walk on it fairly comfortably, on others I was reduced to dragging my leg behind me seemingly in a vain attempt to impersonate Charles Laughton. Paddling my kayak wasn't so bad, but it became quite a struggle to get in and out of my boat, never mind the travails of loading, unloading and carrying it around.
Last July, my knee finally reached its metaphorical breaking point, and clearly brave stoicism was not getting me very far. After an assessment with a physiotherapist, I was diagnosed with patella dislocation. Basically, this means that my kneecap was not resting correctly in the patellofemoral groove at the end of the thigh bone. While generally an injury that is the result of a sudden impact or twist, it can be the result of a chronic muscle imbalance, and that appears to have been the case for me. There had not been any sudden impacts on my knee, but there had been a slow decrease of function and increase in discomfort going back years. I first dismissed this as simply a sign of the aches and pains of an aging body, but now, after a few months of physio and more months of near normal function, it appears that I was mistaken.
The obvious question is what sent my knee down this road. Was there an incident that injured my knee just enough to create a minor injury that at first was an unnoticed inconvenience but without treatment developed into near-debilitating aggravation? Or is this the result of a long-untreated residual injury from my bike accident? Or just a chronic slight misalignment of parts that finally became unbearable?
That is an unanswerable question. But at least now I can walk around free of pain while I think about it.

So having been off the water for over seven months, this was really nothing more than let's-get-reacquainted-with-paddling paddle. Working out the kinks, seeing if everything still works, and trying to remember all the little details. Where's my paddle? Did I remember my waterbottle? Where did I put my lucky kayaking underwear? Am I the only paddler who wears lucky kayaking underwear?
One thing we suddenly remembered was that the last time we went out paddling, Louise blew out the knee seam of her neoprene pants. Clearly, that might have been an issue for a long day of paddling on the ocean, but not so much for our little jaunt in The Gorge. But Louise came up with a great idea -- she put a piece of duct tape on the inside of her neoprene covering the hole. Not a permanent solution, but it worked for today.

So we wheeled the kayaks down the hill and put in at The Gorge. Although quite mild for February, it was still a bit cool overall, but I was hoping the sun would be enough to keep us warm.

And we're on our way!

I took along a new piece of gear, a selfie stick. I was hoping to try and get something other than the same old kayaking camera angles. A bit of a work in progress, I think.

We headed under the Craigflower Bridge....
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...and into Portage Inlet.

Louise was starting to feel the brisk air. Fooled by the bright sun, she was wearing thin gloves instead of her Hot Shots paddling mitts and the cold was getting to her. We turned to head back as we weren't planning to stay out long anyway.
We saw a hawk fly by, but not much else. But as we began our turn around, I saw a heron in a tree. Then another. Then another....
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Twelve herons in all. Do we have a new heron rookery in Portage Inlet?
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We'll have to check it out next time we're out here. In the meantime, Louise needs some hot tea!
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Trip length: 4.95 km
YTD: 4.95 km
More pictures are here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Two Volcano Day!

It's so nice to have a two volcano day on the water, when both volcanoes are conveniently visible in the cloudy weather. Rainier peeked in and out of the low cloud as I was paddling away from the beach at Gyro Park, so I went out around Flower Island and edged over to Evans Rock to see if Baker was visible as well. Yup, Baker was shouldering aside clouds out its way.
Amazing to live in such a beautiful place, with wonders like this accessible in my kayak. As well as big wonders, there were small ones here too: merganser ducks and surf scoters flying, little Mama Seal nosing up to look at me before dipping down, and the astonishingly clear water.  Sadly, there are no visible starfish crawling around where I can see them right now.
It's convenient living near a few dormant volcanoes. There are others along the coast, and some emit steam and vapours from time to time, but we don't seem likely to have another big blast like Mt Saint Helens did a few years ago down in Oregon. I wouldn't mind a little eruption, though -- just enough to remind the city planners in Vancouver, Victoria, and Seattle that we in big cities really gotta plan what to do when the environment shakes things up. Our padding friend Rich used to say that he figured he'd be on the water when the big earthquake comes or a volcano erupts, and he would ride the wave.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Retro Boat Racing

I've really been grooving on retro paddling styles, from old kayak videos that John finds, to old canoe photos in the Royal BC Museum archives, to boat racing in Victoria's Inner Harbour and on the Gorge.
On Facebook's Old Victoria page, Brad Rogers posted an old photo he found:

It looks much like another photo in the Royal BC Museum archives, and posted on their page about Songhees canoes. Click here for their page -- it's good reading and terrific photos. I like the discussion about how the style of boats being used here changes over time.

Here's an interesting old photo from the City of Vancouver Archives, of longboat racing in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Rowboats are cool, even if they're not kayaks. This photo dates back to 1895!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Snowy Fields, A Kayak, and an ATV: What Could Go Wrong....?

What to do when you're a kayaker in the middle of the snowy prairie? Hook it up to an ATV, of course!
Check this out:

Thanks to Dave Panchyk for sending this my way.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Vintage Whitewater

Embedded below is a clip from British Pathé featuring some river canoeing and kayaking near Treignac, France. The footage is undated.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Whale video from Discovery Islands

Saw on CTV's website a marvelous video from the Discovery Islands up-Coast a little ways from where we usually paddle. You don't often get to see orcas coming to rub on the pebbly beach like these ones do!
While we have seen whales from our boats, it's important to follow the rules and keep plenty of room between humans and marine mammals. Looks like these whales saw the people on shore and didn't mind being close.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Amphibious Kayaking

Tired of wheeling your kayak down to the launching point and dealing with your kayak wheels? Some kayaks, like my Delta 18.5, have plenty of cargo space to pack away wheels, but not all kayaks do. Wouldn't it be great if you could just leave your wheels on the boat when you hit the water?
Randy Ridings came up with the perfect solution, what he calls a "quayak", a pedal-powered amphibious kayak. Check out the clip below:

Of course, he's not the only person to try something like this. In 2008, engineering students from the University of Southampton build an amphibious bicycle:

Here's another style":

Then there's this thing which appears to be a combination surf board bicycle:

The WaveBike! Combination bicycle and surfski: