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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"First Paddle Of The Year"


Though it was the first paddle of the year for me and for about a year actually, it sure was good to be back on the water. Gary here ready to go with gear organized boat ready. I was a little slow getting started today. Gasket gone in wrist of dry suit, forgot water at shuttle point, skeg cable busted (i knew this ahead of time), waterproof camera dead, battery in spare camera dead and the list went on. I had the essentials to paddle but man oh man I have some on shore work ahead of me to prepare for the next paddle.


Tobias a regular paddler with this group stopped by at the put-in with his daughter of 3 years to have a chat. Dean and Tony in the pic getting a shot of Tobias and daughter.


Had some good chats with Clyde along the way and made me reminisce about those nice ole kayak paddle chats that I have been missing for so long. With both cameras on the blink these were the only shots of the trip....the preparation before launch. 

It was nice to see all the gang again and to share in the camaraderie of a decent paddle. Brian is making his way to the waterfront and his craft. I believed he paddled one of his own fiberglass boats he made,  today. 

It was about a 19km paddle later told to me by Tony at our take-out in Quidi-Vidi. Lots of small caves along the way to explore and coastline that looked liked it was serrated with a band saw all the way along as the cliff's jagged edges etched to their bases appearing to grind the waters below.

We were also accompanied by Sean a glimpse of him in the header photo who paddled in a kayak crafted by his own hands as well. Lots of paddling talent not only in on water kayak skills but kayak construction as well.

We stopped and had a nice break at the Ocean Science Centre on our way to QV. It was an interesting landing spot with some as interesting launches after we ate. All in good humour and fun. All along the route I was lulled by the swell of the ocean and the good spirits of all on the trip, which reenforced even more vividly what I had been missing for sometime now.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"I love Taking Lanscape Photos, I like shapes, Like Curves, Angles and Arches."


Well, where do I begin?  Though  I have not been kayaking I have been doing lots of hiking and photography on land. I sure do love to deviate as my passion and curiosity takes me. I've developed a love for this magnificent creature in our backyard during the summer months. The Humpback whale is an amazing docile sea mammal.......in my experience, and I have had some encounters that have yet to be topped by any human being I know. Awe we'll just put landscapes aside for now. I want to share some of the more intimate interactions over the last year or so.




 We rented zodiacs about four times last summer. 3 photographers, a kindling passion, a keen since of kinship and a love of pictures. This kindling passion ignites with a such a thunderous roar inside your chest the moment one breaks the surface you start to try and break your captivation so as to start shooting and sometimes I miss shots because I just want to see it all before it quickly disappears. Content to sail away knowing that i may not have a photo but I sure do have the image imprinted on my mind and I can go back to that anytime. But you do get shots. This fin is huge, some measure 6-8 feet or longer I've seen. I like the barnacles clinging to the outer edges glistening gold in the late evening sun.



 I was also captivated by this, lobbing! Humpbacks like to smack their tails on the surface sometimes and it is very loud. This went on for about 5-8 minutes and the columns of water being released by the tail flicking motion sprayed seawater for feet, into the air. We give them the right of way and our encounters are respectful. Our boat guide and learned captain keeps track of the whales that visit by collecting photos from people who shoot the whales and he identifies them individually ( based on their tail markings, much like they identify Orcas) to see which ones return each year. 




 This guy was so gorged from the kapelin they come to Newfoundland to feed on in summer months that I was surprised to see him setting up for a deep dive. You can tell he is going deep by the almost vertical angle of his tail. We never did find this fellow again. It was loppy. It is a whale tale though! The one that got away I guess  : ).



The Humpback in the foreground is a baby. You can tell by his smaller dorsal fins and blowhole and well just his obvious smaller size. He was jumping around frantically when we first encountered the three of them. Two parents I am assuming and the little one. I thought at first he was playing but when I got home I zoomed in on my shots and I saw that he was obviously attacked. There were literally huge chunks missing everywhere but he was a trooper and moved around with what looked like ease but a bit wildly and I am thinking that perhaps the air felt good on some of his wounds. When they were leaving the area they all merged together and majestically swam away into their briny world.

There had been Orca sitings all summer and no doubt they must have encountered one or more. We see the transient Orcas in this part of the world. The ones that travel the oceans in search of prey and feeding grounds.

One of the bigger Humpbacks had sizable bumps and dents. The family in tact they disappeared, but nature can be cruel when you see it in the wild. That, to me you have to understand for what it is in that world......survival of the fittest. It is still out there. Amazingly!!!
I hope to see that little fellow this year though. I have pictures where some of his biggest wounds were and some shots of his tail.......we'll see.




Tail shots are so beautiful when you can get the water flowing of the back fluke and reflecting the falling sun leaving this day. I textured this and tried to create some neat sharp edges on the water spray.
  

 Not much will beat a Humpback breach when you can see and experience it. I still do not have the one I'd like but the sound of them impacting the water when they fall back down is thunderous slapping as their thick outer skin meets the viscosity and surface tension of the ocean water below.



 Sometime they just do not want to fall back with a slap. They will jump spiral and do a shallow dive spraying water in a briny vortex, a miniature hurricane, around them it seems. The shear power and intensity is mammoth in proportion.




 And so every breach is followed by an absolute and unavoidable return even if it was to have a fleeting glimpse of the world above it's true domain.



 Blowholes on Humpbacks are huge and they kind of remind me of the tips of trunks on elephants. They appear very sensitive and very reactive and in motion lots especially , of course,  when surfacing and submerging back down under the water. Observing these holes can give you a little information on what they might be preparing to do next. Some will just come and swim by your boat and observe you for very long minutes at a time. Emerging perpendicular to their long form and spinning with their eyes just above the water.. .....staring at you! 
This was shot head on to a Humpback getting ready to dive with his blowhole closed. I cannot begin to explain to you how wide this whale was and gorged with food. This was shot at the end of their visit to Newfoundland. He was friggin'....friggin' big.

Of course when very close and feeling and smelling their blowhole spray landing all over and all around you, you become very aware of what their last meal was.


Everyone wants to feel safe when on the water. Right? We kayak. We know what it is like to paddle with someone else and in groups. We are very acute to the feeling of safety it brings. Or not. Some just like to paddle alone. 
I'm not sure if this Puffin was thinking safety as much as he may have been thinking near miss. I know that puffins are very familiar with humpbacks even though they seem to be traveling at Mach 1 to be familiar with anything would be nothing short of an accomplishment.
 They know Humpbacks have not much interest in them. Unless they enjoy them flying above their heads  in some natural harmony.


This remains one of my favorite shots of a Humpback as he is yet again about to dive. I have it enlarged in the hallway of our home. The sheath of water rolling off his back, that has to be less than millimeters thin, can be seen cascading down his sides as he goes under.  I just went to have a look again, and you can see the individual folds inside his blowhole that makes the hydro seal he needs upon entering his depths.

Well I had to dust the cobwebs of this blog somehow. 

Time for the water. It's time for the water.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Sea Weed Shoreline, Dildo Run, New World Island Newfoundland"

I love paddling at Low Tide. A lot of the shoreline is exposed and if you are as curious as I am then you like to explore what is revealed once the tides have subsided. It is also a chance to meander around rocks visible and submerged  and practice those nifty little turns that get you in and out of certain spots on a dime.......or not! I don't like the sound of rock on fiberglass but I'm over that now for the most part. I'm more on the other side of that thinking now. Soon got to get mine in for nick, lots of nicks repair.


The other thing I like about low tide is the smell. A low pressure tends to release all those odors hidden in amongst all that shoreline glitter.  But wait now, you gotta be careful, like all things, all that glitters is not necessarily gold. Though I visited many of the communities along the Twillingate, Fogo and New World Island coastlines on this trip, I noticed, many still have raw sewage pumping directly into their waters and in sheltered areas there is no escape. Tidal action can only do so much when the tidal differences are small. Storms help move the literal and figurative "sh&%" along but they too are limited in their action of renewal and recycling on sheltered areas like coves. Areas surrounded by many islands where fetches are small and even wind waves can't flush things out so to speak. Still I love low tide.



Sometimes when I'm out I like to see how well the GPS marking line up with the actual navigational aids on the water. Sometimes I'm amazed how close like this one, and other times they are not even on the GPS. 


Other times I just have questions like, "can I salvage a pot that has been sitting on a rock for what looks like eons?' without fear of the fisheries dudes roughing me up? " MAybe it is best to just leave them there at anyrate and let them decay naturally into the surrounding beauty like they were perhaps supposed to do anyway. Why would I want one? Well that is simple. Because!

Once again I am Canadian. Proud to be and ever so happy to be able to share it with others. If you never have been to Canada you will always be astounded by our beauty from coast to coast. I am always amazed when I go some where new how much land and water there is around us. I hope we keep it as clean as we can for all to share and respect all the creatures big and small we share it with and to that end, I hope you paddle hard and paddle safe.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Dildo Run Provincial Park, New World Island Newfoundland"


 Thought I heard something outside my tent.

Took a trip two weekends ago to Twillingate and Fogo Island areas of Newfoundland for a photo shoot. Took my kayak but it really was not a kayak trip sadly enough because there is lots of excellent kayaking in the area. I did manage to get out one day. It was more of a soul searching trip for me and time needed for self. I guess I just need that sometimes.


 The only iceberg left in the area when I was there and this was at the causeway of Twillingate and New World Islands.


 On my one outing I did have a remarkable encounter with a couple of Osprey and their home. They were about 50 meters away and made me feel very much like prey as I figure I was agitating them with my presence.


I did something I would never usually do and that was find a rock full of seaweed about 5 feet in length which was exposed because of low tide. I got out of my kayak and laid down watching the birds and took out my good camera gear and started shooting off this little roost. One slippery move and $6000.00 worth of camera gear in the dunk. Though I couldn't resist on this outing I probably won't do it again. No wind, no waves no one around at 9am in the morning. It was after all wonderful for the soul.


My launching site in the park with my camp just behind the brush in front of the canoe. Sipping a coffee here reflecting.


A look at my camp with dry suit hanging on the tarp. I haven't kayaked in a while and not done so solo for even longer than not kayaking. It certainly was inspiring to get back at it. The guys are going to Ireland's Eye on a July1 st camping trip and man what a great group it would be to go with. My partner wants me to go to a wedding and then there is our grieving dog. Decisions, decisions. My profile in kayaking has been virtually nonexistent as of late as I have been preoccupied with other issues but I am sure longing to be posting again soon.

If you visit my blog thanks for doing so and look froward to some new material as my summer evolves.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

“Kayaking With Icebergs In Newfoundland"

A road less travelled.


You know what guys? I know what some are saying about “risk” and “risky” it grows old sometimes. When I think of the whitewater first descents done by the boys in that genre I sometimes shake my head and say, “wow, they must be crazy.” Then I think quickly, man I bet that was a rush though. Can you imagine anyone wanting to walk across Niagara falls on a tight-rope. Ever see those skydivers with wings on Youtube ? Can you imagine anyone skiing in wicked powder, off the main course in the backcountry, avalanche country, by themselves. Silly boys/gals!  I’m going south on Monday but I have absolutely no urge to dive with sharks with no cage. Now if there was a cage?????? Can you imagine anyone letting their  kid yacht around the world solo? Can you even picture someone wanting to cross the Atlantic ocean in a row boat? So I guess you kind-of-know what I’m getting at. You can have all the skill and knowledge in the world, and I really believe that is significant for a successful outcome, but let’s face it. If that shark wants to rip your friggin’ face off and you are not in a cage, well I hope you know a good surgeon. 

If you think you can out run an avalanche once you trigger it, I got a spare pair of poles you can borrow. Not to be snye with euphemisms  but what works for some does not necessarily work for others. Risk calculated or not is risk more sensibly to me is whether you accept it or not. If you do, enjoy, if not, forget about whatever you were thinking of. 


Tony giving a wider perspective and relative size indication of the bergs.


Man we have a rocky coast. ; 0

“A Chance Encounter"

Coming of his surf while Clyde was taking his shots Gerard stopped by to say hello.


Nice control guys.


Chill’in and there was a chill in the air. A berg chill and they smell so nice.


Tobias finding a bit of solitude on the drive home.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

“Icebergs Of Newfoundland and Labrador"

Oh they’re back all right, sneaking in it seems one at a time. Hard to say really if one is one or if one is two. These things may appear to be separate entities from above but more times than not they are connected underwater and when you come back the next day one may indeed be two.


These little delectables are in St. John’s Bay just outside Quidi Vidi Gut, about a km or so from there actually. They are always in motion and you never quite know where they will be the next time you look for them. That distant headland is Cape Spear in the distance. Sure would be nice to paddle upon these guys.


Low and behold,  a paddler. The guys got it together to go paddling yesterday morning to catch up to these monoliths and pay them a visit. There were seven paddlers and of course I had to be on call so I decided to shoot the guys from land, it was tough….watching and not playin’. 

Tony here is rounding this one, it is the bigger vertically than the others and perhaps they were once all connected, six degrees of separation maybe. The weather was fine the winds were low so you should be on the water. I plan to go sometime this week in the evening if we can get some decent weather. The guys mulled around for a fair bit then some went on to paddle farther up the coast and others beat it back to landlubber stuff.

Me, I just hooked with another photog we talked and then hiked back to our cars planning another visit before they are destroyed by melt and the elements.


If I were a wave I would love to crash into those things. Just splatter myself all over it and taste that thousands of  years old perspiration leaching from their sides and get totally inebriated on the imprisoned air released, finally, from the heat of our time. Perhaps the air the last of the Dinosaurs breathed maybe a Dinosaur fart for all I would know, but whatever it would be, probably a heck of a lot more cleaner than what we have today.


They are a good size and dangerous of course and like everything we hear said every year there is an associated risk. The rest is up to you.


How close you want to get has to be a judgement call if you plan to kayak near them. If you never have you may never understand the allure to do so, but if you have, you will go back every time!


The last ice age occurred during the last years of the Pleistocene some 110,000 to 10,000 years ago. The maximum extent was reached about 18,000 years ago. So some of this ice has been around for quite some time. Icebergs are made entirely of fresh water and Greenland icebergs are thought to be about 15,000 years old which is probably where the ones we see now are coming from.

They say that typically about 1/5 to 1/7th of the iceberg is seen above water so even though these wildly shaped and frozen beasts are entrancing to gaze upon they are probably even more so beneath the surface.


If they are going to be photographed you might as well have a kayaker out there catching the moment, playing it safe or at least as safe as they have chosen.


And make no mistake, they are as dangerous to small craft as they were and are to big. I guess as we draw near to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic that went down at 2:20 am on April 15th during her maiden voyage, we are ever more able to make ourselves acutely aware of the significance of such a tragedy. Who would have thought as she left Southampton England on April 10 th that she would be at rest 5 days later after she set out ,not more than 375 miles off the coast of Newfoundland some 46,328 tons of steel on that cold, cold bottom of the Atlantic.

Belfast has just recently opened a new museum in the shape of part of the hull of the Titanic and hope to educate the world on the significance of, and pride that went into her building. I watch an interesting documentary on the shipyard that built her and the museum is at this very location.


Paddle Hard, Paddle Safe!

Glad you guys all made it out to enjoy the bergs and perhaps I will see some of you one evening this week. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

“It Begins Again"

It’s been a few years since the icebergs have hit St. John’s. One stealthily slunk in one night under the veil of darkness and revealed it’s weathered form as a flat unoffending monolith of frozen water and air from millennia ago. I took this from Signal Hill early Sunday morning when its’ presence was still unknown to most.


Flat as a pancake I figure we’ll get a chance to survey it more closely this weekend coming as it settles off Freshwater Bay.




Parked off Signal Hill this small berg floats quietly by and even the distant headland of Cape Spear can’t hog the attention from its' presence.


From a distance like the preceding two pictures the berg looked less menacing but a close up reveals that it still has quite a staggering mass. There were four eagles taking in the ride the morning I was out catching my glimpse of the new arrival and I was able to catch this eagle flying by the blue lagoon on the iceberg itself.

I’m hoping there will be more for us to explore in our kayaks as they always generate lots of excitement in the city and neighbouring  communities when a few start trickling in. Tourists as well as locals love the allure they create like staring at a camp fire and being mesmerized, something kind of primeval you just can’t shake.

Monday, March 05, 2012

“Paddling Too in Newfoundland"


I guess when you own a blog and do so many posts about others you sometimes might wonder where the heck is the guy taking the pictures surely he paddles too.



Just getting underway in Cape Broyle a few weeks ago Gerard was nice enough to send me photos he took of myself. Sometimes it is kind of neat to see what “you” look like on the water and see how you fit in your boat.  I was curious if it looked like it felt. In some circumstances I believed it did. A leisurely cadence, I think it felt like that.


A little more aggressive stance and I know it felt like that.


My being awed by nature stance and well…….. it always feels like that. Thanks Gerard for giving me a visual of me on the water.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

“On Deck In Newfoundland"


Like any deck of any vessel the deck is an important aspect of craft construction. Also like most water craft    operators they like to keep the deck as clean or clear as possible. I guess we all have our reasons. I like my fore deck (in front of me) functional. I like my rear deck clear and free because that is where most of my roll terminations are. Therefore having anything impeding my roll to the back deck is a hinderance for me. Now I don’t have to do a roll that ends on my rear deck , that is what I prefer. For some following reasons.


I know there are those staunch purists that like a crisp and clear  fore deck. Not me. Gerard here likes his fore deck clear but I think he would put the right deckbag there if he was so inclined. We had a discussion about that on our last paddle. Some like it simple for navigation items like compass, map case, GPS etc. Some like to have ease of access for a spear paddle unhindered by objects such as deck bags or other paraphernalia. Some will argue that it is simply aesthetically pleasing to the eye and curves of the kayak. Some just think there is not the right conforming deckbag out there suitable for or to its function. Some just want a water bottle on deck, all they need.


I can only report from my personal experience. I love my deck bag where I put it on the deck before every outing. It has become to me as routine as putting on my PFD.  I like the low profile of the one made by Northwater. It is the smaller peaked and wedge shaped one and I have been using  for 5 years now. It straps on with four individual lashings. Two at the front and two at the back. Easily put on and taken off in all conditions. It has two side mesh external pockets that run length wise to the bag itself. In there I keep my GPS tethered to the deckbag of course. I also keep my homemade hatch cover remover (made out of a paint can lid remover) in the side pouch as well as a floating pair of hard plastic pliers, lip balm, nose plugs????? (I think I put them there when surfing one time), and I plastic sealable bag for camera or whatever.

On the top of the deckbag are crisscrossing bungees where I tether things like my GPS, my Greenland paddle wrench (because if I don’t I forget it), and sometimes my waterproof camera all of which will fit nicely in the side pouches. The bungees also serve to secure my OP hat, my noeprene gloves or mitts and on occasion my shades (i’d be very careful about putting those there though because a wave of most any size capable of washing your deck will also wash away your shades). I know.

This particular deckbag opens in the front via a horizontal zipper and the bag is NOT waterproof and is made out of a strong Cordura fabric that so far as proven it’s worth in gold. Inside in plastic baggies are two handheld flares, a lighter and matches, two cliff bars always, my flare gun and cartridge, and my camera from time to time as well as a dry cloth in a bag for wiping sunglasses and camera (very important to me) as long as I can remember to bring a dry one each time : ). Gerard had a micro fleece cloth that was the cats meow and very absorbant so I’ll be getting one of those for next outing I think. 

Also most important to me is the usefulness of an elevated attachment point for my compass. The Nordkapp has ones you can get installed but are so far forward that I cannot see or read the damn thing in bad light or bad weather and it means having a clear viewing area in between so you can see the thing. Not always practical for me because I like having my spare paddle on the fore deck for easy access and because I like my back deck clear for rolling. I know , I know have a few rolls besides the back deck roll because you shouldn’t rely on just one. But if you only have one keep the area clear where you will most likely be forced to go I guess. 

Having a clear back deck also makes rescuing operations and re-entering in assisted rescues easier. Maybe having two clear decks is what you like, and good for you on that. 

Having access to my gadgets, a place for my camera, my snacks and other odds and ends has just proved so utilitarian with this deckbag that it has become one of my favourite purchases to date. Also of note when used during surfing or rolling it has never filled with water. But keeping things in water proof bags will eliminate any problems with that. 

Overall this bag is very aesthetic and streamlined for a Nordkapp deck because of its peak and wedge shape. Provides easy access to essentials at least what I consider essentials and certainly was reasonably priced.

If I’m worried about maps or map bags when on a trip, the deckbag provides excellent attachment points for a map case that allows the map case to sit and fit nicely on the front portion of my sprayskirt for easy viewing. Easy to see compass and easy to see maps, what more do you need?………The Deck Bag!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

“Getting To Lunch -Cape Broyle"


Map of Cape Broyle below.


So of course paddling along the south shore for a bit we stated to get hungry or at least I did. So many distractions though to suppress that growling gut.




Lots of Coves along this short stretch about 10-12 km long depending on how many coves you explore. Costelio Cove Is the first you pass and I also believe there is a rock there of the same name and may be the one below Gerard is paddling near.


Right beside Gallows Cove is Gentleman’s Cove. I guess they thought years ago if you are going to hang someone you can at least be a gentleman about it.


Once past Freshwater Cove you encounter the longest stretch of beach at Lance Cove where some of the more dramatic  frozen waterfalls were clinging to the face of the cliff. Church Cove was lunch stop just before the final tour at The Cathedral sea cave just before Cape Broyle Head on the South side. I love eating outside and when the weather is as nice as it was last Saturday it is as enjoyable as if it were a warm summer day. Gerard had tea and I brought some hot chocolate just to keep the chill at bay.




The Cathedral is huge. Hard to believe you can miss it when paddling though as rock strata can become very familiar or not as you look for an opening that could be shaded as if it were just another small inlet from a small ways off. The header above on my blog shows a frost line on the right wall of the cave as you enter and the icicles hanging from the ceiling so you can feel the temperature shift as you enter much like you would in the warmer months just cooler.

It goes back a fair ways and you could easily fit a huge number of boaters in here at one time therefore a great place to take a touring group.



There were many boats that sailed the water we were playing around in and I guess they took on many shapes and over the years evolved from paddling, to wind, to steam, to diesel and back to paddling again. I love it. Nothing like a 22km paddle to have an excuse for another feed. So we stopped at the delightful restaurant just up the road when we landed.


They had also a model of the RMS Titanic that was intriguing and spooky. Her resting spot and grave not far from the shores we paddled. Well that is a bit of an exaggeration but she rests in the cold Atlantic.




Much to my delight was a small replica of my favourite schooner The Bluenose of Nova Scotia what a fine looking and sailing craft. I was on the Bluenose 11 a few times and sailed on a tour out of Halifax harbour once and what a treat indeed. Bluenose was famous for her speed and dominated the New England coast with her racing times that no one could beat. Actually if you cut the bottom off below the white line of the hull, you are kind of left with the shape of a kayak.


A wonderful place for very generous portions and the best chicken wings with their own secret sauce you will ever have.