Sunday, April 26, 2009

2009.07.138 - Winding Our Way to Witty's Lagoon

Albert Head Pano

A warm, sunny and calm Sunday morning greeted Louise and I as we arrived at Albert Head Regional Park. After what has been months of below seasonal temperatures and a cool Spring, the warm weather finally has arrived. How long it stays is another question of course, as rain is in the forecast for later in the week, but today's weather is about as spectacular as it can get in April. We put in and headed out around the point for Witty's Lagoon.
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Even before we started, we thought we were going to have a good day for spotting seals. As we prepared our kayaks for launch, we could see that the rocks about 350m away were covered in seals. But they were a little shy and as soon as we hit the water, they dove off the rocks even though we were still a third of a kilometre away. So we paddled past the little gray heads bobbing in the water along the eastern side of Albert Head. It didn't take long for another photographic opportunity to present itself. I whipped out my camera....
2009-04-26 Albert Head to Witty's Lagoon 111

...and got a picture of....well, I don't know what exactly. All I know is that it was enormous, so I suspect it's a young eagle.
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And a couple trees over this pair of eagles sat watching it. Perhaps the proud parents?
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We continued around the point...
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...and found some more seals. This group dove into the water quickly as well, even though we were quite a distance away. We were a little surprised by how jumpy they were -- usually, they are a little more calmer than they appeared to be today. We started to wonder if our (relatively) new red boats were scaring them off. Our previous boats were blue -- maybe to the seals we blended with the water better in blue boats?
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While we pondered the reactions to the seals on our left, we stumbled upon a baby seal off to our right. He didn't seem the least bit worried about what colour our kayaks were, but that gave us another theory. If there were lots of baby seals about, maybe the seals were being a little extra cautious. The pictures of the baby seal didn't turn out, but beside the seal was this seagull which was eating something.
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Frankly, it looks like an avocado, but I doubt that's what it was. Another seagull had one, too. Clearly neither had ever read any books by B.Kliban.

We passed by this eagle nest...
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...and stopped to explore the rocks outside Witty's Lagoon. We arrived at an extremely low tide, so we knew we'd never get into the lagoon itself, and even outside the lagoon passages that were normally passable like this one were blocked.
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Finally, we found some seals that didn't seem to mind the colour red. Louise drifted by these ones...
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...and I found a fellow who seemed quite happy to pose for a few minutes.
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It was time to head back and we caught the incoming tide, which if my GPS can be trusted, pushed us along at 8 kmh for a good chunk of time.
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This is one of my favourite paddle routes: easy to get to, the conditions always seem great, and there is always something to see.
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And what about seals and red kayaks? Well, it turns out that the colour of your kayak shouldn't make any difference at all because seals are colourblind.

2009-04-26 Wittys Lagoon

Trip Length: 8.79 km
YTD: 45.74
My pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009.06.137 - Thetis Lake Trials


Although forecast to be an iffy kind of weather day, sun was bursting through the clouds on this fine spring morning. After five months of below seasonal temperatures, we are finally starting to see some warmer weather. It's still cooler than normal, but at least it's pleasant and sunny as apposed to cloudy and miserable.
Paula wanted to have another group paddle with her Advanced Element kayaks that she was given to test. She, Louise and I headed to Thetis Lake where we met kayak novices Jon and Cat. It was a perfect opportunity to give the kayaks to total rookies and see if they liked them. And if we brought two more over to The Dark Side, so much the better.

Louise got in the small Dragonfly, while I took out the Expedition. We loaded Cat and Jon into the Straitedge2...
...and got them in the water. They were really struggling and had a very difficult time controlling the boat. They seemed to end up mostly going in circles.

Maybe putting two rookies in the same boat wasn't wasn't such a good idea after all. We quickly put in to shore and Jon and I traded places. He took off like a rocket in the Expedition, while Cat and I followed in the Straitedge. It still wanted to turn a lot, far more than when I was in it with Lila a couple of weeks ago. Still, I managed to keep it on a steady course and Cat was finally able to enjoy the ride.
We switched around again, this time giving Cat a solo paddle in the Expedition, and she took off like a rocket, too.

For my part, I tried the Expedition solo, and the Straitedge both as a tandem and solo. I paid more attention to the seat adjustments than I did last time out and that did make for a more comfortable ride. Cat and Jon enjoyed their first kayaking experience as we spent a few hours lazily paddling on a sunny day.

Trip length: 4.51 km
YTD: 36.95 km
My pictures are here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

2009.05.136 - Good Friday Paddle

Any Friday that you can paddle is a good Friday as far as I'm concerned. And today the church of Gaia was open for business.

It was a cloudy morning, but the rain for the day had already fallen. The sun occasionally tried to poke through, but for the most part we faced a solidly cloudy day. But it was calm and the sea was flat.
Today Lila joined us in the red Pamlico. She's only been in a kayak a few times so Louise, Paula and I knew we would be sticking close to shore today. We decided to try a trip down to Cattle Point again, the same route that we abandoned in the wind a few days ago.

It didn't take long until I spotted...
...a heron.
In fact the herons were out in force today. You pretty much couldn't spit without hitting a heron, although spitting at herons is not really recommended.
It seemed like there was a heron hiding behind every rock.

And there were a lot of harlequin ducks out, too.

As we headed back, we encountered a group of four ducks swimming along. They looked they might have been fishing. Here's one diving in front of me.
But when they surfaced, they headed towards Louise and Paula and began squawking and quacking. Their quacks sounded just like they were saying, "Redrum! Redrum! Redrum!" We found that very disconcerting, and gave them a lot of extra room, just in case one of them had an axe.

And after we passed by the sailboats we were home again.

Trip length: 8.47 km
YTD: 32.44
My photos are here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

2009.04.135 - No Line on the Horizon

We hit the rocky beach at Telegraph Bay early on Monday, hoping that the wind would not be quite as strong as yesterday. Today we're going for a three-fer -- three paddles in three days. While it was a bit breezy on our arrival, by the time we got in the water the wind was gone and we were in a flat calm. The sun quickly burned off the the thin cloud cover and we were in paddling heaven. Another perfect day on The We(s)t Coast. I'm almost starting to be convinced that winter just might be over.

But before we even started, something caught our eye on the beach. The seagulls were enjoying a meal.
Paula decided to investigate...
...and discovered that the gulls were feasting on a halibut. It was impossible for us to guess its size (there wasn't much left) but we guessed that it must have been dragged up here by a large seal, or the resident area sea lion. It certainly wasn't something the seagulls would have caught!

It was just the three of us today -- Paula in her pink Necky Eliza and Louise and I in our red Deltas.

It was just gorgeous on the water -- dead flat, no wind. You couldn't ask for better conditions.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that every time we paddle here, we pass by one specific tree that always has an eagle in it. And today was no exception.

We saw a few eagles flying around, and a number of otters scrambling along the rocky shore and one that was happily swimming along.
We found the little cave and had a look around.

We carried on around the point. These rocks are usually covered in seals, but this time of year they are off some place else a little more private making baby seals. So the birds took over the rocks, and here we found a flock of sand pipers enjoying the day.

Too soon, it was time to head back.
No Line on the Horizon

Telegraph Bay 2009-04-06

Trip Length: 8.94
YTD: 23.77
My photos are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

2009.03.134 - Windswept

Occasionally, some paddles end up being exercises in frustration. Like today's, for instance. It was a sunny day, but unexpectedly breezy so we decided not to head out to Discovery and just putter around from Cadboro Bay to Cattle Point.

I stole this idea from Paddling With a Camera. By using an upturned monopod attached to a kayak sail base at the rear of my Delta Eighteen5, I hoped to get some shots from a new angle.

And that's when the frustration started. For some reason I couldn't get the camera to work. After a few minutes of pressing buttons and the camera bleeping and blooping, I discovered that the problem was operator error.
So I got the camera figured out and launched. Then my GPS crapped out on me. (I'm hoping it's just the batteries.) The paddle was not off to an auspicious start.

Louise was in her Delta Seventeen, while Paula took her Advanced Element AdvancedEdge that she is testing as she wanted to try it in windy conditions.

We headed out of Cadboro Bay towards Cattle Point.

I didn't get a lot of pictures today because the winds were just blowing us around. Anytime I stopped to take a picture with my big camera, the wind would sweep me away before I could get the shot.

As we explored the rock garden along the coast, Paula moved ahead to scout out whether the tide was high enough to allow us through the small channels. She shouted back that one looked too shallow to pass, but that was exactly what I was looking for at that moment. A heron had alighted and I thought if I grounded in the shallow channel, I would be stable enough to get a few shots. I snuck up to the heron and, as Paula thought, I grounded. Louise was coming behind me, and a sudden violent gust spun her sideways and into my stern. She pushed me over the bump I was on, and we both went sideways down the little channel, Louise trying to gain control of her boat, while I had no control as I quickly tried to stash my camera.
In the end, no harm done, but the wind was rising and we were all feeling a little frustrated. Paula was holding her own in an unfamiliar kayak, but we were all feeling like there wasn't much "fun" going on.
My camera mount was also leaning over precariously, the end result being a lot of pictures that looked like this:
The suction cups were giving way and I'm not sure why. Was it behaving like a sail in the wind? Or did I just raise it too high and make it unstable? The theory of the camera mount worked, it just needs to be refined. But with it leaning off to the side, it was in danger of leaning over too far and dragging in the water and that would have no fun on a calm day, let alone a stormy day like today. My paddle partners re-attached it and we headed back.
And, naturally, as soon as we packed up our boats, the wind died off.
And so it goes.

Trip length: 4km
YTD: 14.83 km
My pictures are here.