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Friday, May 21, 2010

"A St. Philip's Trek"

Stroking against the wind on our weekly outings on Thursdays in St. Philip's.

"Main Thorough Fair"

As you can tell by the backdrop, same spot different paddlers. Clyde above and Tony below.

This spot goes down the guts of Conception Bay, Bell Island Tickle, or St. Philip's. However you frame it the waters are shared and shared by kayakers alike.

"St. Philip's Or Bust"

Waves for everyone. Hard not to smile when gliding on their tops.

"Paddling Modes"

I just thought I'd follow Sean a bit on our outing in St. Philip's on Thursday Night. The wind was howling and gusting up to about 30kt SW. A land breeze I guess. We were just exercise paddling I think. Exerting energy for the fun of it. Practising squares, triangles and every other angle into the malestrom. Sometimes even paddling backward gave better progress. Go figure!

Sometimes dipping in troughs....

executing extended paddle turns in the wind.....

my stealthy presence goes undetected. I certainly could not be heard, the wind was too loud for that. It was just sweet to be on the water no matter what was flying in our faces.

"Another Day"

We shall be back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Gullfeather Bows"

Viewing a sun room down on the shore  from my kayak. Whomever owns this land has a spectacular view of the entrance to Witless Bay and all the boat traffic that comes and goes. As well they would be entertained by the yearly immigration of Humped Back Whales that frequent these waters and love to play in this area. No doubt this landowner has wicked photos.

Archiving this image that was in my header to my blog. This image was taken as we rounded Horse's Back Point and seeking a bit of rest and shelter from a southwest wind. Sure didn't find it here and we knew we wouldn't. Just out around to the left of this headland the waves were big and breaking as the area was shallow and the termination point for the waves and wind being blown over the long fetch from the south. Needless to say we made it back to our lunch stop in no time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Over and Back"

On the way to Green Island on Sunday. Clyde and Tony after we had our bite to eat and heading down the south coast of Witless Bay for a small crossing to Green Island. The waters actually turned out to be kind of gnarly over there and we realized that Clyde's' day hatch cover had popped off some where so we headed back. Interesting enough when I was trying out Malcolm's Nordkapp before I bought mine, I forgot to put the day hatch cover on after a short break. We then paddled out into some gnarly conditions, then too, and realized the cover was off but it was tethered and the hacth filled to the top with water. I didn't even know the hatch cover was off til Tony pointed it out. Nordkapps I find, and I discovered this at the pool last week with a cockpit full of water, remain remarkably stable with water in them. I don't recommend paddling that way but good to know when in a bind. As compared to other boats I've paddled with water in them, the Nordkapp is by far more stable. This may be true to a point but one must understand that once sloshing for whatever reason starts to happen inside the boat you can be rest assured that the stability will change for the worst drastically.

Returning from Green Island. Clyde, the distant kayak, paddled across without hatch cover in place but when we hit shore on the other side he did a nifty jerryrig on the hatch by rearranging the gear inside and inserting his inflateable paddle float in the hatch, with the valve sticking out and inflating it to make a tight seal on the hatch opening until we returned to our takeout. Pretty cool I thought.

"Paddle Tale"

You've often heard the phrase ,"if only those walls could talk". So, I wandered what my paddles would say. Their most significant tale might be.......

From The Left:

Werner Ikelos: Graphite
Would probably relate how it came apart on an unsuccessful roll I attempted in a sea cave where I was pitched over by incoming waves from both ends and thrashed around in a little rock garden in the black of day. It was an experience I shall never forget and the only time I had to be rescued by another kayaker. Luckily I was with two very skilled paddlers at the time. I had a two piece dry suit on and it filled with water. The gaskets at the ankles held the water in. I was like an anchored buoy in the ocean unable to get back in the boat. The paddle separated probably because my hand went over the release button on the shaft. This was before Werner came out with the fix and button cover. I put a lot of miles and rolls since on that paddle here in Newfoundland. It is a bent shaft and ,well, one of my favorites.

Aqua Bound Seafarer: Carbon Fiber
This one would relate most of my paddles in British Columbia when I lived in Fort St. John. This paddle has been dunked in the Pacific and the Atlantic as well as many rivers and lakes up in Northern BC. It was one of my first paddles. It Also accompanied me when I followed part of a route that Alexander MacKenzie took to find a trading route to the far north. I was the first to solo kayak Williston Lake from the put in at a community called MacKenzie in the Parsnip Reach(after Alexander, I actually put in near a rock he engraved)to the Peace Reach some 150 miles away. I was paddling 30 miles a day and did the paddle in 5 days in June. The weather was unbelievably nice for the whole trip. Williston Lake is actually a huge reservoir backed up by the WAC Bennett Dam on the Peace River. It meanders through the Rocky Mountains and remains one of the best trips I've had to date. The scenery was simply stunning. I saw only one boat on the whole expanse of those waters during my trip. This trip was a fund raiser for the Hospital Foundation of which I was a member at the time. I raised $8000.00 for wheelchairs for our hospital.
I also taught my son to kayak and to roll with this one so it has special meaning draped all over its' surface.

Superior Greenland Stick: Graphite
Is one of my newer paddles I took command of about 3 months ago and haven't used anything since Sunday's past paddle when I used the one I made. I fell immediately in love with this paddle for all it has to offer. The light weight, the buoyancy, the feel, the aesthetic look and the confidence in solid construction with the Lendel paddle lock to keep the two piece paddle solid when on the water. I've put a few miles on this already and I am prepared to add many more. Some of my funnest rolls to date have been with this paddle and I intend to learn many more.

Stan's Greenland Paddle: Wenge Wood, Spruce and Cedar Laminate
This paddle was christened on Sunday Past, May 16th,2010. I was surprised how well it turned out. It did take me a bit longer to carve than expected because I got a cold in the midst of construction and felt like hell. I was determined to finish it though and still have its' sister the storm paddle ready to complete. I gave this paddle a good workout on Sunday. I gave myself a good workout on Sunday. I really put myself, my boat and my paddle in conditions I haven't been in in a while and in conditions I've never been in. This was along the rocky shore of the Avalon Peninsula in Witless Bay. I had tremendous fun and this paddle stood the test that none of the others have ever been put through so I suspect that it should serve me well when I choose to use it. It felt extremely nice in the water with just the occasional flutter.

Seward Saturna: Carbon Fiber
This paddle really only had one major trip by me and that was a week long paddle in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia on a fund raiser with 10 other paddlers for breast cancer. It was one of the paddles in The Paddle To A Cure Campaign put on by The Breast Cancer Foundation In Ontario and sponsored by Seaward KAyaks of LAdysmith on Vancouver Island. That paddle remains one of the most emotional paddles I have ever been on and the most rewarding experience in human nature I could ever have imagined. What I learned about the disease, the people around it and the efforts to fine a cure could not be expressed in such a short note, suffice to say, it has made me a better person inside. I trained two breast cancer survivors from the area I was living in to make the trip. I wasn't totally sure they would go through with it. One was ill the other in remission. One of the ladies passed on one month after we got back. It was sad but she had a picture framed of me fishing off a rock one evening on the trip, I didn't know she took. She gave it to me when we got back and thanked me for one of the most memorial experiences she had in a while. I was humbled and indebted to all the women for what they all had given me, a sense of hope, unconditional kindness and an adventure in the understanding of love and human nature I shall not soon forget. A very special paddle. It has been used as a spare on some trips. But it is close to my heart.

There are many other stories wrapped up in these blades based on comraderie and friendship of those who accompanied me on many trips like my pal Tony Rosetenberg whom has logged many hours and km with me on the water in the past few years. Thanks Tony and you will be pleased to know that you have paddled with four out of the five paddles. lol I'm sure we'll have more.

So I guess every stroke we take has a deeper meaning than sometimes we realize. The motor of our craft, our tool of propulsion our work of ingenuity and in many cases engineering. For me paddles are the lungs that allow me to breath life into my journeys and dreams into my adventures and sometimes hopes into successes. Paddle Safe, Paddle Hard!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Witless Bay"

Well we had overcast skies as we headed out this morning at about 10am. The day proved to be quite an adventure with play time, wave action, gnarly waters, lots of birds, lots of rock gardens and lots of surfing not to mention tons of bracing. A good exercise day.

"Wave Breakers"

Tony and Clyde having at it in the wave break. Many dotted the coast along here and were fun to catch rides and generally dart in and out and around. Just trying to find a little bit of wave action. We had lots today this was fairly benign though.

"Breaking Beach"

So we took one after paddling to Horses Back and back to this beach. Many stops along the way. I was pushing my envelope the whole way. Some close encounters with rocks and such but it sure was exhilarating. Gull Island is in the distance.

"Witless Bay Coast"

A wicked day on the North Atlantic Ocean.

"Green Island"

Green Island in Witless Bay.

"Green Island"

We paddled over to Green Island after a lunch break. It is an Ecological Bird Sanctuary. From where we ate you could see the birds circling the island round and round like a huge swarm of bees.

"19.3 km"

Tony packing up after our jaunt today on the water in Witless Bay NL about a 40 min drive from St.John's to the southern shore. I had a great paddle today. Felt in good health and had lots of energy. Been lots of cold bugs going around as of late and while most were at home complaining how crappy the weather has been (myself included) we were enjoying every ounce of it. Like Tony says on his blog, I was in some knarly spots today but it felt good to be there.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Guess What?"

I'm Done!

What a treat to be finished and what a good feeling to have almost what I wanted in terms of shape and color. She's done byes and the Tung Oil is drying. Observations: Having worked with stain before I should have used a cloth instead of brush for a more smooth and gradual transition to the tone I was looking for. I like the final result and it kind of has a burnt look about it. I can live with that. The tips came out really nice and are solid. The Tung oil went of well and I have buffed the surfaces twice now and will let dry for a final oiling tomorrow.

My Superior paddle is ,well, superior, but they seem to complement each other and I can't wait to christen my new blade. They both feel spectacular in my hands and I think that should mean something.

"Grain Stain"

The side of the paddles really stained nicely and exposed well after much sanding, rubbing with felt and the final application of Tung oil.

Good to be finished the project started almost three weeks ago. I achieved the burnt look of the wood with dark tips and fairly much got what I set out to achieve.I could have stained a bit different but originally I put it on thick and had to sand lots off and didn't really want to mess with it any more after all it is a paddle, a propulsion device. I think Gullfeather will be happy though. I am!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Bientot Finis"

Well tonight I was able to get to the finishing of my paddle I started a few weeks back. I love using the spoke shave that you see here, Neil taught me how to use it properly. I marked the blade last week and got to shave it to dimensions. Took it home and tonight instead of being on the water with the guys I too advantage of the sun and went to work on the deck. I set up my Black and Decker work bench and started the finishing trim work and then started sanding.

My homemade paddle I can honestly say is not totally symmetrical as I was just using my eye and sense of touch, getting that "organic feel" that Chuck Holst spoke about in his directions. I was looking forward to that part of the construction as I got to influence more and more the final shape by sanding and a few more spoke shaves. The paddle when it was done and my tips "rasped" and sanded, man oh man, did it feel good. My paddle started out a bit warped and it took me a while to get the markings down to try and get some of it out. In the end I was very pleased. For my first one I'd give me a 6 out of ten because I can see lots of things I would do differently next time. First and for most I would make the strips extend from blade to blade, not just glue a bunch at the blades and a few at the loom. See previous posts. I think this would help with two things: the warp, if the Wood is a bit wet at the beginning the solid strips going the length of the paddle for a laminate construction, I think might help with that somewhat (better to start with very dry wood, Dah!)secondly that type of laminating would also allow you to cut out the shoulders of the paddle better which I found because of the awkwardness of the blade laminations, was unable to get the perfect shape during the cut. Now that was just probably me. Just my observations!

She is a beaut. To me.

All I have left to do is to bring out the grain with a wet down. Chuck suggests showering with it if you are not near a lake. So tomorrow morning I have my first shower with a paddle. I know I'm leaving myself open here but this is a time of "firsts".lol I also went and bought some ebony stain that I intend to apply lightly with intermittent fine grain sanding, 220 grit sandpaper and then after a few stains to taste I will apply Tung Oil that I also purchased this evening. I am hoping that the ebony stain will add a nice match to the chocolate brown partridge pattern of the Wenge Wood tips of the Congo, hoping not to mask too much of the grain from the cedar and spruce laminate strips. Voila! The final product in a few days. OOPs! THe pictures are in reverse order. The picture in the header is of the sky the last evening I was at Neil's shaping and planing the paddle. What a beautiful view he has in Flatrock and like he says, "I love to watch the changing moods of the ocean". He can do that very well by day and by evening he can watch the changing moods of the sky. Thanks Neil that whole experience was good for the soul!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

"Looking Trapped"

This sub The Corner Brook is docked downtown St. John's. It is causing quite a stir. When I looked at it this early morning it reminded me of a trapped sea animal. We've been hearing lots lately about trapped whales, beached whales, and other sea animals in despair as their habitats are reaped and decimated. The oil spill in the Gulf being a fine example. The sun was rising as I pretty much was too and after a week of a head cold it was good to get out in some early morning sunshine. Took some shots downtown of the sub and some out at Cape Spear trying out some filters. Can see some results at

My uncle was a submariner on the HMS Okanagan. He use to take me on it when I was a kid. I was fascinated. I was surprised also that the bunks were up with the torpedo's. I got to see them and the torpedo tubes. I remember it being kind of fun trying to get up and down the sail and checking out the periscope. What I think at the time I was most fascinated with was the pop machine that was directly in front of the landing immediately below tower in the sub, it dispensed beer for 25 cents. If I recall correctly those sailors had jingly pockets. lol True Story though!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Bay Bulls Put-In

On Sunday past a group of us got together for a paddle. A bountiful paddle indeed.

The Kayaker.......The Kayak

Ralph like a few of us on the Island, like our Nordkapps. They paddle nicely and fair well in conditions we like to be in. A reliable craft that has held the test of time in many areas including performance and seaworthiness as far as I am concerned.

May #2

Call it May Day, call it another kayak trip. Call it both. The first paddle of May and it was beautiful weather, well there were 15-20kt northerlies, but we were sheltered as we made our way up the north side of Bay Bulls on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland. Where else should one be. This is a half hour drive from St. Johns and the paddle can give you exposure to both protected and shelterd waters in a short jaunt from your put-in. Boat tours of all types seem to be offered out of here.

Being There

Sometimes just being there is fulfilment enough for a journey. This Sunday in Bay Bulls was one of those moments. The sun was unexpectedly out for the trip and the waters were reflecting the light like the paparazzi at a red carpet shake down. Easy to be in any moment at this point.

Emerald Waters

Robert gliding in the waters of the North Shore of Bay Bulls.

``Bay Bulls, Well....Bay``

Sean and Clyde with the community of Bay Bulls as a backdrop for their stop.


Visitors from Toronto were on the water as well with one of our own paddlers guiding, Gerard Keough. Gerard looked happy to be on the water as usual. I paddled that double last year on a weekend trip and it is a tub of a boat but excellent stability for the waters they were in and a sure way t give a Torontonian a thrill in Bay Bulls.


I guess we are pretty close to Gras Cove here getting ready to round Columbine Point. The northerly winds that were predicted were being felt and the swell 2-3 m from the open ocean wrapping around the point into the Bay was also starting to intensify. As we like to do, you got to take a peek. We rounded the head and paddled north into the wind and waves to just about level with the light there. I took pictures but of course the settings were messed so the light didn`t get photographed. We turned around and headed back for the south side in a nice following sea.

``A Raft``

A raft by any other name could be a stable platform in sloppy water.Sometime you just have to raft up even if it is to thoroughly clean your camera. Our group is like that. They don`t mind lending a hand when on the water. Dean was doing such a great job I figured I had another photo op. lol.


Everybody seems to have one of these from time to time or at the very least be in one. There are a bunch of definitions for zones. I like "a region or area set of as distinct from surrounding or adjoining parts". I liken this to the term "being in a zone" as in mentally isolated to a task or deep thought. As we returned from the North side of Bay Bulls after rounding Columbine Head in gnarly waves we were blown across the Bay to the south side pretty much and had an opportunity to feel the surf. I kind of figured Tony and Ralph were in their own zones I could tell.

After reading an article Saturday night in Ocean Paddler by Aled Williams, of Rockpool Kayak fame and many more I am sure, in his article titled 'A feel For The Boat Part 3", I decided to employ some of what he was trying to relate and man I really felt like I achieved something on this paddle. I liked specifically: Restrict your actions only to perform the minimum necessary actions and movement. This gives you time to listen to the boat and reduces unwanted 'noise'.

Also Quoted by Aled: Focus on each feedback zone in turn: feet, knees, seat and hands. Isolate the feedback zones while keeping a visual overview of your position. As I focused on these tasks in following seas I gained a better feel for my Nordkapp and began to isolate things I thought I could improve or tweak and I felt that I was 'mentally" in the zone, with my boat. After all she was one year old today and I thought it was time to make sure we are on the same keel and get to know her even better. This was made all the more satisfying in the morning sun. It was actually sunny today.