Monday, April 14, 2014

2014.03.256 - Thetis Lake

Thetis 2
This morning, Louise and I headed down to Thetis Lake so that Louise could try a dry-suit for the first time. Up to this time, Louise has used various combinations of neoprene pieces and paddling jackets. However, her main paddling jacket is in need of replacement and we've been discussing the pros and cons of a dry-suit as a replacement. Personally, I don't see any cons to a dry-suit -- except maybe the cost -- but until now Louise has remained unconvinced. We borrowed a dry-suit from another local paddler, but when she put it on we quickly discovered that Louise suffers from "clothestropohbia" -- a fear of confined clothing.

Our plan today was to paddle around the lake, then play in the water a bit so that Louise could get an idea of what a dry-suit is like.
We were about to hit the water when we suddenly realized that in our concern over getting the dry-suit ready for Louise, we'd forgotten out PFDs! Whoops!
What to do? If we were launching into the ocean without out PFDs, well, we wouldn't. But this being a lake we decided that sticking close to the shore should be safe enough. Thetis Lake is actually a deceptively deep lake; many a poor swimmer has encountered serious, in some cases fatal, trouble by walking out into the water from shore not realizing that the bottom drops off sharply and unexpectedly.

So, carefully, off we went.
Thetis 1

Soon we found some trash floating near the main beach.
I'm not sure what it is -- a floating drink tray? Summer is starting early in the park! We put it ashore near a garbage can.

We continued on.
IMGP0331 copy

Among the trees and bushes along the shore I thought I saw a giant turtle. All I saw was a round shiny back, so my first thought was turtle, since we know there are turtles in the park. Then I saw it again, and it was definitely not a turtle. Too fast for one thing. Moving between the trees, it waddled along. Otter, maybe? We have seen those here, too.
But then I noticed the tree it walked by.
IMG_2113 copy
I'm pretty sure that otters don't eat trees.
So, a beaver then? Maybe, especially because Louise pointed out the large beaver mound behind the tree.
IMG_2115 copy

We moved into an arm of the lake that we know has turtles in it...
...and sure enough, there were two.
IMG_2128 copy

Soon it was time to head back. Louise has promised to report on her dry-suit experience.
IMGP0338 copy

Trip length: 6.04 km
YTD: 18.75 km
More pictures are Trip here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014.02.255 - Inner Harbour

The forecast was for fog, not cloud. Fog burns off, cloud not so much sometimes. But not this morning. Cool and cloudy. Despite that, Louise and I headed down to the harbour to kayak from downtown up The Gorge.
Louise looks thrilled, don't she?

As we were readying to launch, the nearby Johnson Street Bridge went up.
Venerable old "Big Blue" is being replaced late next year and part of the rail portion of the bridge has already been removed (as we reported here.)
Here on the southern side, construction is not obvious....
...but once we go under the bridge and look at the north side...
G0030399 is well under way.
IMGP0315 copy
Not being a bridge construction engineer, I'm not sure what we're looking out, but I'm guessing this is a temporary construction platform that's being used to sink the pilings.

The Inner Harbour is a working harbour. As we paddled past a tied-up fishing boat...
...a pair of eyes studied us carefully.
IMGP0301 copy

As we paddled by the Point Hope Shipyard....
....we saw the remains of the Undersea Gardens.
The Undersea Gardens was a long-time tourist attraction in the harbour. It's a 150-foot purpose built vessel where, according to Wikipedia, visitors "....descended 15 feet (4.6 m) beneath the ocean surface to look through the many viewing windows of the aquariums that surrounded the vessel and see the various marine life of coastal British Columbia, in their natural and protected environment." It was originally opened at the Oak Bay Marina in 1964, then it was towed to the Inner Harbour in 1969.
My dad took the picture below in 1971, showing the Undersea Gardens in its prime. I love that sign!
1971 Inner Harbour Victoria
The Gardens closed late last year and was towed here where it waits to be scrapped or sold.

Under the Bay Street Bridge...
IMGP0305 copy
...then under the Selkirk Bridge...
...and we were paddling up The Gorge.

Suddenly to the left, a splash!
The culprit? An otter, that sought cover under a dock after being surprised by a pair of kayakers on his morning swim.

We spotted something in the water ahead of us.
Anybody want a slightly used Zodiac?
I did my best to push onto the shore. Hopefully someone will come and collect it.

After that, it was time to head back.
The cormorant pointed the way.
IMG_2071 copy

Trip length: 6.66 km
YTD: 12.71 km
More pictures are here.
2014-03-23 Inner Harbour

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014.01.254 - The Gorge

Louise and I decided to get the paddling season started this morning with a quick little jaunt down in The Gorge. We didn't want to do a long paddle; this was more of a "work out the kinks" paddle, both in our gear and ourselves. We've been off the water for a few months, and have had a pretty lazy winter so far, so we wanted to go slow and easy the first time out.
And besides, who doesn't like to go paddling in the fog?

We've been socked in the past couple of days, sometimes about as thick as it ever gets around here. It looked like it had backed off a bit as we were getting ready to launch, but then it suddenly rolled in like thick pea soup. I tried to take a picture of Louise a couple of metres away from me on the shore but as you can see, it was so think the camera couldn't make anything out.
Which is too bad, because as Louise was standing there a Sasquatch ran by, almost knocking down Brad Pitt and Robert Downey Jr. as they signed autographs for Elvis who was piloting a flying saucer. Jeez, I wish that that picture had turned out!

Yes, I'm kidding. But if you didn't like that joke, don't worry the rest aren't any worse than that one.
In reality, the foggy shroud was starting to back off as we put in.

Either a small piece of Esquimalt was ceded to Italy over the winter, or someone is starting his World Cup cheering early.
IMGP0225 copy

We kayaked by the local pair of swans....
IMG_1992 they practiced for the new Olympic Sport, Synchronized Underwater Grazing. I think they're going to do quite well.
IMG_1989 copy

Long-time readers will recall that the demolition and rebuilding of the Craigflower Bridge on Admirals Road began last year. It was supposed to be finished by Christmas, however a steel shortage delayed the project, as drivers in the area have no doubt noticed.
IMGP0229 copy
The latest estimate is that the bridge should be done by the end of March.

The fog began to burn off, but the temperature remained cool. Warm drinks began to call us from our kitchen, and we responded to their siren call.
IMGP0240 copy
The first paddle of the year is in the books!

Trip length: 6.05 km
YTD: 6.05 km
More pictures are here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2013.09.253 - Kayak for a Cure 2013

Louise and I hit Willows Beach early this morning to join the 2013 edition of Kayak For A Cure. About 50 kayakers by my guess hit the water, some old hands at kayaking, but others were first-time newbies, and many were cancer survivors so it's a short, easy paddle to Cadboro Bay and back.

But first things first. And first I get my picture taken with Marty the Marmot, the hardest working marmot is show business.
IMG_1943 copy

But when our thoughts turned to kayaking, conditions were beautiful on the beach...
IMG_1920 copy
...but there were some big thick clouds of fog here and there offshore and down towards the south.

Soon, we were off. Herding cats is probably easier.
IMGP0185 copy

I wasn't expecting to see much in the way of wildlife today, the wildlife generally hides when a fleet, is in the water, but a heron kept watch as we paddled by.
IMG_1954 copy

We rounded Cattle Point...
...and into Cadboro Bay...
IMGP0194 copy
...where Paula paddled out to briefly join us.
IMGP0197 copy

A quick stop under wispy fog at Cadboro Bay beach...
IMGP0201 copy
...and then we returned to Willows Beach...
IMGP0204 copy
...for munchies.

Donations received from the Victoria event go towards the local InspireHealth Integrated Cancer Care centre, and today we raised over $22,000.
It's not too late to help -- you can still donate by clicking here.

In support of Bobby, Ann, and Karen.
In memory of Pauline, Jaan, and Sam.

Trip length: 6.98 km
YTD: 48.64 km
More pictures are here.