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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Aquafort Back At Ya"

Sometimes paddles are exhilirating and you need to recant or decant a little more. A bit more from Sunday.

Paddling out of Aquafort Harbour was like a scene out of Sea Kayaker or Ocean Paddler magazine. It made you want to be there. I was lucky to be!

I love paddling with people who thoroughly enjoy it. I think all in our group fit that mold. Clyde here sure does as he feels a little current leaving the launch site.

Gary passes by the fishing boats at dock. I never tire of seeing them. They complete the imagery of what a coast means to me.

The other thing I like about the coastline are the docks, the shacks, the sheds and the walkways. Sometimes they just look so unfinished but no matter how they look they all fit in and add so much to the feel of a paddle along our shorelines. They are so acceptable. Bit of paint here, a dab there. You have to love it.

A Dory. I really don't need to say anything more!

We love our boats, kayakers do. I like including mine in scenery shots sometimes just so people can get a glimpse of what is possible by such a simple craft.

Oh yes, some in our crowd like Nordkapps. It doesn't matter to us if you don't own one but ya gotta like the looks of 'em.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Aquafort Newfoundland"

Aquafort to Ferryland and Back.

Aquafort has a long harbour and it is one of those spots you paddle when seeking shelter from northerly or southerly winds. Yesterday was one of those times. A group of us got together for a very nice Sunday paddle and what started as an overcast drizzly day turned out to be one with sun and blue skies. Just as forecast. The harbour pretty much heads due east when you are paddling out. Enough fetch to be nasty with a true easterly for sure.

Railing the north shore as we build up a cadence for the rest of the trip. Probably about 18-20km total.

Located on the north side of the harbour is a waterfall that was bustling with energy as remnants of rainfall from the hurricane Igor were thundering down through its banks. Here we are jockeying for position and opposing the current flowing out from the base.

It looks like we may be in ice but not so just lots of froth from the fresh water smacking the seawater below the falls.

Well if you are going to paddle upon the likes of this you definitely have to stop and play. We had a grand time mucking around in the waters here that were more fresh than salt.

Some of the rocky groves were narrow to get through but the waters very calm to allow for close single file exploration.

Eugene is crossing into Ferryland territory heading for Crow Island.

Taking out at Freshwater beach looking back from hence we came, Aquafort.

In Ferryland is an old archaeology dig known as the Colony of Avalon. I guess because that is what it was called in the early 1600's when it was settled. There are unearthed many stone walls and rock partitions that delineate where black smiths, homes, and barns once existed. We decided to walk over to this site for a bit of a nostalgic bite to eat.

Of course the ever present wind kind of intensified so we walked until we found a bit of shelter from it and sat to enjoy our lunches in the light drizzle we are always accustomed to on our outings and the setting of the Colony of Avalon. Just across the road from where we ate the stone walls unearthed from the 1600's extend out into the harbour now. Times and tides have changed indeed. The spot looked directly into Ferryland.

After our bellies were full we packed up and headed for Burns Head which has the Ferryland Lighthouse. In the summer months you can enjoy a gourmet picnic served out of the lighthouse where everything is made on site. Very delicious but no landing spots when trying to access it by boat.

We had a mixture of sea states but for the most part the waters were easy to navigate. A bit of swell and wind waves rounding Burns Head though.

When you round Burns Head there are two huge rock promontories called "Hares Ears". The water was very chaotic around here but nice and tranquil in between so we jotted through having played in the chop for a while then headed back near Freshwater.

On the way back the weather changed as forecast. The sun came out the wind dropped off and the clouds started to file out of the sky in a very layered fashion. Like peeling the covers of a bed.

This is Clyde and Dean passing freshwater on the way back. So guys thanks to the other members, Gary, Eugene and Tony for a grand old paddle in an old environment recently unearthed and laid bare for modern explorers all within an hours drive of St. John's.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Hurricane Igor Takes A Bite Out Of Newfoundland"

"And Bite He Did"

Read On for a tale.

"A long Tale"

"A Tale Of Two Anchors"

Well I drove by this boat at dock in St. John's harbour yesterday. Hurricane Igor was unleashing it's wrath on our city, our province. The anchor looked peculiar not because it wasn't hauled all the way in but because it looked like it had another anchor on it. This is the bow of a Portuguese fishing trawler. Four of them were docked this day weathering out the storm I suspected. They are big boats, what we call factory ships where fish is caught and processed all on the boat. No returning to fish plants in Portugal to unload catches. There has always been s slight bit of animosity I think since the cod moratorium was imposed on Newfoundlanders some years ago yet these boats can fish just outside the 200 mile limit around our coast and catch the cod. Known for also darting inside it and back out. Several captains have been fined over the years but they show no shame. This is all another story.

I took the picture just because it was unusual to see the anchor(s) like that. And went on my way. But I knew there was probably a story there I would never hear of.

I received a phone call at about 8pm that evening as some of the storm had relented. It was my nephew who landed in St. John's for a crew change of the Coast Guard boat he is on and waiting to fly out the next day. He said they were holed up at a hotel downtown drinking, playing guitars and having what sounded like lots of fun. Come on down Uncle Stan he said. So I did. They were all in full swing when I arrived and singing that song "Rock Me Baby Like A  Wagon Wheel" at the top of their lungs. What a time. I mentioned to Greg about the Portuguese boats in the harbour. He asked if I saw the anchor of one of them holding another anchor. I said well what a coincidence as I took a picture of it earlier in the day.

He said that boat was entering the harbour the night before and he was up in the wheel house of the Coast Guard Boat he was on when it was refused entry because there was no pilot boat to bring it in. They were to wait for daylight in the bay the next day. The captain fearing the weather of Igor the next day refused to comply. He said he was coming in. He felt responsible for his crew he said. The boat was still told not to enter the harbour. He came in with his boat anyway. When he tried to dock at the wharf Ocean Harbour security met them and refused them a tie up birth and told them to anchor in the harbour because they did not comply with the demands made by the Coast Guard earlier. This boat apparently, as a second hand story goes, had a bit of a rowdy crew last time visiting St. John's. Very second hand stuff. However, the Portuguese boat did anchor in the harbour that evening and the next day as Igor was nearing St. John's they were allowed to pull anchor and dock and face whatever repercussions of their evening decisions may have landed them.

So when they were hauling up their anchor from the harbour they snagged another anchor that was on the bottom where they had spent the night. I knew there was a story there. I never in a million years thought I'd get to hear it though. The neat thing is, Portuguese sailors use to often frequent St. John's years ago when the ships were made of wood and under sail and plenty of cod for everyone. Who knows? They may have even hauled up an anchor from one of those old ships that may even have belonged to an old Portuguese fishing boat from years past. Now what a coincidence that would be. I wonder though, only because my nephew called me down for a good by sing along before they flew home to Nova Scotia. A picture, as I always have felt, has a story and at least a thousand words to go along with it. I was tickled to have heard the whole story when at one point during the day I was just wondering like crazy how that other anchor got caught in the main one hanging from the bow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eastern Evening Sky Of St. John's

Memorial University Campus in the foreground and Signal Hill, The Rooms, The Basilica and St. John's Bay in the background.

There are trails all over St. John's Newfoundland. This vantage point is up behind the Health Science Center, the hospital where I work. It meanders around the edge of the MUN campus and up into the hills hugging Mt. Scio road and twisting near Oxen Pond and back to campus. In the evening you get to see the sky to the east sort of the mirror of the sun sinking in the sky in the west.
Hurricane Igor comes tonight and strong winds and rain forecast for tomorrow. Still lots of green but as the walk on the trail proved the colors of autumn are seeping into the environment.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

"The Edge Of The World........Cape Spear Light Paddle"

Well it is no secret now that Cape Spear is the most easterly location in North America. This is neat for two reasons for me. One, I can and have seen the sun rise first before anyone else in North America and Two, it is a romantic coastal spot. Great for viewing storms, really great for hanging out in fog (real thick fog taking pics), spectacular view atop high cliffs, nice hiking trails and well you can paddle it.
Today was one of those paddle days around the Cape, around the edge of North America.

Same thing only different. Clyde and Gary are putting in on the opposite side of the wharf here.

Chris and I got here early and decided to put in on this ground ramp with a nice view of Quidi Vidi harbour and its' Brewery.

Joined later by Hazen we are off down Quidi Vidi Harbour.

At the exit of the harbour is its narrowing called The Gut where cement wall and rock on one side and solid rock on the other provide an exit from the harbour and the entrance to St. John's Bay. Hang a sharp right and we are on our way to Cape Spear.

This is a cool paddle because you pas by some significant St. John's landmarks like the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill shown here where the first transatlantic cable message was once sent. Hazen floats calmly by the rocky cliffs.

another landmark is the Fort Amherst Light where old cannon emplacements are bunkered into the cliffs with wearing aged cement and iron stains from the old guns themselves. Now a watchful beacon guarding the entrance to St. John's Harbour and the Narrows' eentrance.

Gary and Clyde pass by the Narrows Entrance to the harbour which for years plied it's trade in salt cod and other sundries from far away and close lands. A busy sea port that now also has a container shipping pier and receives goods from all over the world.

Gary, Clyde, Chris and Hazen the other members of the trip passing by the cliffs of Fort Amherst.

When ever we head to the Cape we always pay a visit to Freshwater Bay which Clyde is heading for now.

In Freshwater Bay you can look back and see the distant Cabot Tower on Signal Hill.

When you leave freshwater Bay and continue east you round Spriggs Point which is an interesting outcropping of rock with various rock entities scattered in front of and behind it that can provide some interesting rock hopping if you are so inclined. Today we were not except for Clyde. He goes everywhere.

Chris is gun bound for the Cape. Chris is from central Newfoundland and has never paddled out to the Cape so today was a day of firsts for him. I believe he thoroughly enjoyed himself and he was a great addition to our little adventure today. Chris made his boat and his Greenland paddles and what fine workmanship they all are. Some people are just gifted like that.

Well if you are going to paddle round the Cape you got to stop and be awe inspired and then later enjoy the swell, the sun and just the moment.

Clyde finishing up with his exploits plots a course for the other direction back to Blackhead Cove. Cape Spear Light gleams solidly above him

Nearing Blackhead and enjoying the swell and clapotis of the cliffs.

Once at Blackhead we have our traditional paddle lunch and share stories of the recent excursion and enjoy the tales and laugh or two or three or...., of the group.

Even from Blackhead Cove you can see back to St. John's Narrows and Signal Hill.

Chris races under Signal Hill yet once again for the entrance to The Gut in the distance. Now we were encountering a bit more chop from the predicted increase in southwesterly winds and enjoyed the push back to our takeout.

 Ready to enter The Gut a Quid Vidi it is clear to me that Gary, from Manchester England, has enjoyed the jaunt as well.

So finally having reached our end point we do a few rolls to cool off and listen to the harking of the gulls as we watch them take flight on the sunny Saturday afternoon in Newfoundland.

Ferryland Head

Ferryland Head

Ferryland Head and not HDR nor the one that follows. Can you figure what was used?

Friday, September 03, 2010


"Inching My Way To The Water"
Innukshuk At Ferryland

As I inch my way to the water I visit it frequently. I've been on vacation for two weeks now and as it winds down I am readying for my kayak outing. It has been a month since I've been in one and well I've just been preoccupied with other things , namely photography and relatives and such. It was a nice hiatus but I must get back into the boat and one such outing that had me drooling to be there , was a picnic in Ferryland on the south coast of the Avalon Peninsula.

I encourage you to visit the lighthouse their and go on a gourmet picnic offered during the summer months. It was $55.00 for two people. It included a basket with picnic blanket and gourmet sandwiches that included curried chicken in a magnificent sauce on homemade brown bread and a seafood sandwich with shrimp, scallops and such also on homemade bread, two lemonades freshly squeezed, and two desserts of spice cake with ginger cinnamon sauce and a type of pound cake with another sauce that was to die for. The quintessential thing about all this is that every piece of food has the most delicious unique taste. Hmmmm, hmmm. Maybe back again before it shuts down. The view is spectacular at Ferryland head and the lighthouse there provides an ambiance of coastal eloquence and charm nestled with the ferocity of the open North Atlantic waters with seaside smells and flavors to tantalize not only the taste buds but all yar senses.

Sit beneath this lighthouse and be enchanted with the charm that is the Southern Shore of the Avalon Peninsula.

Ferryland Head and Ferryland Light

Thursday, September 02, 2010

"What's On Your Sprayskirt Clothes Line?"

Everyone who kayaks probably has one. Mine changes by my mood and the skirts function. I have a few ideas on what would be my ideal skirt and one day I may exact that to reality. For today however I'll enjoy the hard work of others and their ingenuity based on most likely some kayaking happenstance they have been in at one time or another and twigged a moment of revelation that made them put their thoughts and interpretation to function. Sprayskirt makers around the world we as kayakers enjoy the friuts of your labour.