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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"One Day At A Time...."

New Years Eve Day, Wow! Where did it all go? Everywhere I suspect. I don't make New Years resolutions however I do have New Years hopes. I wish that the warmth of these sun's rays could permeate the hearts of the world and stop fighting and killing. I simply can't imagine a day with war in my yard and others can't imagine what it would be like to have a yard without war and terror. I'm beginning to hate land not the beauty it can provide but the "possession" aspect of it all....... the borders. I believe the earth belongs to all of us. I own Africa as much as Africa owns me. We are putting more "dumb" in free-dum, and very much less "free". Where are the lands of "freedoms?" I saw a poster a while back, it was an RCMP officer holding a dead child at a car wreck with beer bottles around the accident scene, the caption, "Who is the Pig now?" What really does it take for people to "get-it"? I know, spoken like someone who has never had a battle in his back yard, but my back yard is yours and even more so as more and more dead Canadians fly home to their families to be entombed in the very soil they fought for from a piece of land as foreign to them as "my Africa" would be to me, and as my son heads for boot camp on January 17th, 2009 in the ROTP of the Canadian Forces, my heart is full of pride and despair, what conflicting emotions! I believe in a new word, "sacrificedom", with sacrificedom there is no hint of reward for having achieved something, like getting your freedom because......every man and woman should be free regardless of the land. Sacrificedom, you may never be free but everything you do every part of everyday is worth something to everyone and it is now... not something you may get in the future like freedom, sacrificedom may set you free but it will reward you in the now, because you know how valuable you are all the time everyday cause sometimes just breathing air when others may be unable a sacrifice.

Which brings me to water. No visible borders or walls, sure they exist in someones mind. Not mine. Kayaking is as close to freedom as I feel I will ever get..... my sacrificedom. To some, how insignificant, self indulgent and non-relevant to the grand scheme of things it must be, whatever the grand scheme of things is......

I know I'm going into the New Year confused but I look forward to finding my way as the year progresses probably depending on many "compasses" to guide me through. One day at a time, one day at a time..........

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Weather In December"

 A bit of a synopsis of what it has been like here in St. John's NL.
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"Over The Horizon"

 Most times when one is out paddling with others you are reasonably well within close formation or hugging the shoreline or at least within earshot.....most times. So you don't get to see fellow paddlers come at you from over the horizon unless of course you land first and paddlers are dallying behind you for whatever reason. It gives a cool perspective when you scan the horizon and see nothing there and then slowly watch a kayak emerge coming at you head on and then another. Kayaks sometimes seem so out of place on such a huge spance of water and most times they look like they belong more than other craft, to me simply because of their ability to go near shallow shoreline waters and deep ocean waters, not many boats can make that claim nor boaters. Have you ever paddled far enough offshore that land disappears? It is as exhilirating as it can be unnerving. When you are able to view kayaks coming over the horizon you can feel that thrill of adventure that courses through you because you know they just came from out of no-where really but somewhere really indeed to them! Holding back the ocean in their wake and looking like torpedos with heads and wings.

Malcolm and Tony were gliding over the wall off the Horizon on one such outing in South Brigus this Fall.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Merry Christmas"

 From our Family to yours. My son and his partner, Matthew and Charlene are missing but next year we hope to be together with all our family. We love and miss you both out there in cold Alberta. You are definitely in our hearts.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


 Contemplation was an important part of the philosophy of Plato and that through it the soul would ascend to knowledge. My idea of contemplation is more connected to meditation or self-reflection. I find that kayaking can for extended periods, put you in a relaxed state of personal blissfulness. Something that more or less transcends the actual mechanical status of motion and propulsion, though these may be useful or perhaps essential to getting to that stage where you seem to not notice you are on the water at all but just somewhere peaceful. Long paddles I find will do that or paddles where the environment is so conducive to distraction that a slide into blissfulness is made that much easier and the deepness of ones thoughts are focused and maintained but in a soothing and calm way and you can sometimes paddle this way and not even notice the distance you have covered or the scenery that has passed you by.

This picture from the end of this summer reminds me of that because it was a paddle with very repetitive coast line, a fine drizzle, fairly calm but getting cool wind and a long stretch of kayaking almost alone. I was lulled, if you would, or lost in my thoughts but I don't think I was thinking, I was just so engrossed in the paddle and surroundings that everything else was literally blocked out and being where you are at that time felt like where you really were supposed to be. So when I left my contemplation the senses were flooded by the colors, the sounds, the touch, the taste and the smells of the water, the air and the sky all around. Serene, peaceful and full of all that is earthly. And of course Tony who's companionship on the water allows for such contemplative moments.
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Monday, December 22, 2008


Cetus refers to a sea monster in Greek Mtyhology. In kayaking it is an ocean kayak made by P & H Kayaks. The name refers to a whale by today's standards I guess. The two Galaxies above however lie in the Constellation Cetus, 900 million light years away from Earth....a lengthy paddle astronomically. These two Galaxies are oriented to mark the number 10 which is ironic because the Hubble was off line for a while and when it came back on in October 2008(tenth month) it snapped this image. Call it alignment, call it all in the stars, or simply call it star gas: there are a few things for sure,1. we are all descendents of stars and you really don't need drugs to realize this; 2. we are insignificant astronomically and if other life exists they probably avoid us for our lack of intelligence; 3. I thnik "Cetus X" would be a good name for a kayak (especially if it was made in October of 2008); 4. There probably isn't such a thing as time and space as we know it; 5. and you think think Black Holes on Earth are bad!; 6. when the spaceman..creature commeth back ...I hope he travels in a kayak and brings us a new composite; 7. if the Hubble continues to Humble will we inevitably see intergallactic first descents?; 8. when will there be a kayaking constellation named....will it be called "Freya"?; 9. are whales really our unknown medium for communicating beyond our planet and if so can kayakers be the "Priests" and purchase kayaks and gear tax-free? and 10. the next time a comet goes by can you stop the world and let me off to catch a ride because there is a methane wave on Europa off Jupiter I haven't surfed yet. And I'll continue to keep my head in the clouds....stars again for next year.

There are unbelieveable pictures from the Hubble Telescope posted on the web by NASA. They are beautiful images of the outer reaches of our universe. When you gaze on them it would be so arrogantly human to suppose we were alone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"On Britches and Gadgets""

My neighbour stopped by today to ask how the cod jigs he sold me had worked this summer, well I said I had not much luck but I don't think it had anything to do with the jig. At any rate he ended up giving me some Cod, must of felt sorry for me, nice guy and probably not.....but I am getting side tracked. When he gave me the cod he also gave me some "britches" to try. My first time and they were delicious. Not familiar to me but delicious, as was the cod. I believe it is the roe of the cod that really is shaped like a pair of "britches". I had to google of course and found that the name also was given to some macaque monkey who was born into a breeding colony at the University of California. The word britches gets around. For example growing up as a child when I got into the odd bit of mischief ;-), my Mom would inevitably say that ,"I was getting too big for my britches". Something more to do with being out of line to put it nicely rather than getting to big for my clothes.

On a kayaking related note the picture is of a new kayak deck spare paddle holder from Northwater called, are you ready? "paddlebritches". If you are or are not familiar with Northwater they produce some very practical kayaking accessories and safety gear. will get you to their site. The kayaking Instructor's Blog gave it a good review. I like gadgets but have not tried this yet. Their peaked deck bag rocks and I use it on every trip as well as their tow and tether lines. The Paddlebritches are made out of a 1000 weight cordura and may be useful for also securing part of a fishing rod which I had a bit of a problem doing during the cod fishery here in Newfoundland. Sort of a two bird with one stone kind-of-a-thing. They retail for $29.95 cdn. Dear me!! Another gadget but I am rationalizing, like a true committer(i know this is not a word yet) to the purchase, that it is very practical, has a few purposes and may even be easy on the kayak deck paint job sliding spare paddles in and out. Ok, I'm convinced....where do I buy

On another note I thought one day when I was over come by waves in following seas how it would be nice to see what was behind me without turning my head in bad conditions. Well this image of a "clamp on paddle mirror" came to mind and I started researching the idea and to see if any suppliers of kayaking gear had actually developed a mirror for a kayak paddle or for the deck of a kayak, nerdy I know and maybe not as practical as "Paddlebritches" but all ideas have an "infancy". What I found much to my astonishment was that someone had already taken out a patent on it. Still haven't seen one for retail though. Just another kayaker on another "pipe" (paddle) dream.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Pool Action"

Wasn't really planning on the pool this evening but it was the last pool session before the new year. There was lots of action. Darren doing playboat flips and Dave doing enders in what looked to me like a slalom boat. Always good to see the talent that our White Water crowd has. For me it was lots of rolling and sculling braces and I am sorry that I missed the opportunity to try Malcolm's fleet of Valley Seas. Another time perhaps. It was Merry Christmas to all and more in the New Year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Distant Kelly's Island"

 It would have been a hard slog in 70km winds today to try and make Kelly's Island. The short session today was merely to say "we could" on this day in December and being outside exercising the lats works for me. I did manage to catch some sweet waves today and some surfs felt like minutes in duration and others just being wasted by the wave's crest sucking you in. Still there were wave walls where the full brunt of the wave hits you square and on one such occaisson tody the force was so great and unexpected that it almost knocked me to the back deck, quickly adjust and snake through the next onslaught.
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"Wave Hoppin'"

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It was pretty much wave hoppin'today in St. Philips winds were about 55-60 km gusting to 70-75. The air temp was a pleasant 13 degrees Celsius but the water was a bit chilly. Tony as always tuned to the task at hand. Not bad for Dec.13th. Maybe there will be more paddling before the year is out.
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"Mummering (Jannying) and The Ugly Stick"

Now it may be hard to seperate me from the ugly stick so I enlarged the Ugly Stick Image. The one with the pretty berrats. Mummering is an old English tradition that lives on in NL at Christmas time. The lower orders ceased work and amused themselves during the season by dressing in fantastic disguises, gaudy clothing with painted faces and pillow cases over the heads, men in women clothes and women in mens. THey paraded the streets, playing practical jokes on each other and passers-by, performing rude dances and soliciting money or grog. They called themselves fools and mummers.

In Newfoundland it begins with a harsh knock on the back door and everyone standing ready to extend a welcome to the comic characters draped in funny clothes and veiled in funny masks. Inside they seat themselves in the kitchen there is lots of conversation in the strangest tones trying to find out who is who. Some love the detection and others resent it. Naturally they ask for Christmas cake and something strong to drink with it, grog (rum),everyone accepts this sweet request and the glasses are handed round. There is raucous and dance in rubber boots on the wrong feet harmonica in the mouth and an accordian in the hands. Fun moments are head and then the Mummers move on. Of course there is the Mummers song and sometimes they bring their own instruments.

The Ugly stick is one such Mummers music letting tool. It consists of a braided mop with hair berrats, and spikes with flattened beer caps for a tambourine effect and of course the base board for the tapping of the stick while on the floor there is also a tuning rod or "bow" of sorts that is corrugated and rubbed against the decorated mop handle or banged against it while tapping the mop on the base board on the floor and all in tune to the Mummering song we were attempting to play. All in fun and laughter and all in the spirit of the season.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


 Ritual is a set of actions often thought to have symbolic values, the performance of which , says wikipedia, is usually prescribed by a religion or by the tradition of a community by religious or political laws. Perhaps being part of something bigger than ourselves. Tony and I have a "ritual" when we paddle out of St. Philips and that is after the paddle,we clean ourselves of salt water in the stream that runs down to the ocean side and pools in a small cove. The salt and the fresh water blend but the further up the stream you go the more fresh water obviously. It is in essence a part of the paddle we look forward to because we clean the nasty salt water from ourselves and our things so as to prevent it's destructive corrosive forces from reeking havoc on our gear and boats. It is contemplative time as we engross ourselves in the task but also reflective as we discuss the days paddle. It is convenient for sure and usually the outside bay offers enough challenges for a days outing.

Rituals can be thought of as a sort of compliance to ideals, satisfaction of emotional needs, strengthening of social bonds, demonstration of respect or sometimes just obtaining social acceptance or approval and sometimes just for the ritual itself. If kayaking were a religion, I more times than not think it may be, then our fresh water cleansing would be one of its rituals for all the reasons mentioned. It is ironic that it in someways may mimic those of a religious religion. I am certainly not religious in the since of the God implications and traditional religions, but can honestly find spirituality in kayaking.

Kayaking continues, in my experience, to bring people together in such a positive way and for such a positive purpose, which may be very individualized depending on the person but that is the beauty of it all, you can still maintain your own individual kayaking mentality but still belong or be part of the "kayaking community". I know I express my skills differently than the next kayaker but there still has to be basic similarities because that is the nature of the sport itself there are still rules and laws that involve organization as much as it does physics and, humanity as much as it does the environment and psychology.

So as I put lights on my Christmas Tree as part of yearly ritual owning in itself to a religion of which I have long since been removed, I feel somewhat hypocritical, but at the same time enlightened in knowing that a kayaking "religion" of sorts I have made over the years for myself may as well be celebrated and seek thanks to the kayaking Gods for providing me and my good friend Tony, and all kayakers in our community, with another safe paddling year. Joyous Kayak! This is a shot of Tony heading for our paddling ritual. The beauty of the spot lends itself to the fulfilment of the task.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"Pool Yaks"

 Well tonight these boats can be called pool kayaks I guess. I just think kayaks look so sleek and esthetically pleasing to the eye. Of course it is always a treat to try different boats but it is also nice to see how each boater handles his kayak. Not only the skills that one draws on, excuse the pun, when on the water but the affirmation that this is "my" boat and it is my toy of sorts and one we can own as adults or at least appreciate as adults to a degree maybe not there when we are young. Maybe it is just possession of a material good and a a carnal knowledge that , yes I can control one of these. Maybe it is just the dream state you lapse into when you stare upon one for any length of time when you imagine the trips you've had or the trips yet to be taken. It could be the anticipation of adventure that rips thru your skull when those deck colors gleam at you or maybe it is just the peace you feel when you loath for that next escape from everything but the quiet sound of paddle through water and the receding drops down the shaft of the paddle and the odd drop that hits your brow and you know that you are where you are supposed to be.
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