Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010.12.181 - Over and Out

So the last time I took a rolling lesson, the instructor kept reminding us to be careful in our technique lest we dislocate our shoulders. Less than 24 hours later, I did all that and more to my left shoulder after taking a tumble on my bike.
Broke the arm in three places, broke a bone in the shoulder, assorted muscle and tendon damage, and, oh yes, dislocated the shoulder as well. Four hours of surgery.
To answer your question, it did hurt as bad as sounds.
But that was some time ago now, and I really should learn to roll one of these days.
And today was that day, as I headed down to Crystal Pool for a rolling lesson from the fine folks at Ocean River Sports.
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Louise was manning the camera as my three classmates and I hit the water. Unfortunately we'd all forgotten to bring kayaks. So instead we practiced some paddle fu.
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Well, no, I'm kidding we did bring kayaks. Our instructor began by demonstrating a couple of rolls, then we practiced some paddle strokes and grips that we would need for the roll. Then we finally entered our kayaks and practiced our hip flicks on the side of the pool.
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The roll we were being taught was the Pawlata Roll also known as the Extended Roll, and I found this to be an interesting choice. There certainly doesn't seem to be any consistency in terms of what roll a newbie roller should learn first. The first rolling DVD I watched taught the sweep roll, the aforementioned lesson I previously took taught the C and C. (And now I can quite confidently say that I can do them all equally badly. Which is to say, hardly at all.)
Being upside can makes things very confusing. Here I confirm with the instructor which way is up.
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This attempt didn't go so well...
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...but this one got me out of the water. (Although the pictured roll attempt was not one of my best efforts, it was one of the best pictures. And yes, I noticed a lot of flex in that blade when I saw the picture, and that certainly isn't what should be happening.)
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After numerous attempts, I'd say that I only landed a couple of rolls, and I know I didn't score any style points. But I did gain some experience with another type of roll, and I certainly got a sense of the technique involved. I was certainly able to tell during the course of a roll attempt when it was going well, and when it was going badly, and I was surprised how early on in an attempt that that distinction could be made. Clearly, it is a precise maneuver and that, as opposed to brute strength, is what will get you and your kayak upside right when you've both gone upside wrong. More practice is needed. Thetis Lake, anyone?

Monday, May 24, 2010

2010.11.180 - Green. But Not Necessarily With Envy.

Look, if you don't like pictures of fuzzy little baby geese, you might as well stop now. If your cuteness absorption system is over saturated, just turn off the computer and walk away.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

On this fine and lovely Victoria Day, Louise, Paula and I put in for a jaunt around Telegraph Bay. Although skies looking somewhat threatening to the east, the weather forecasters were assuring all that there would be no rain to spoil the parade (when you live in a city called Victoria, there has to be a parade on Victoria Day), and weather that's good enough for parade watchers is good enough for kayakers as well.
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We checked out the geese on the beach as we loaded up...
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...and headed out.
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Almost immediately, Louise began to complain about the seat in her Delta. She'd wanted to make some adjustments to it before we launched but had forgotten, and she was having trouble making any adjustments now that we were underway. But she gamely pressed on.
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We were being pushed along by a flood tide and a slight breeze, nothing crazy or severe but we were noticing that the water was getting a little squirrelly here, as if it didn't know which way to go. We have encountered odd wave action along this shore before. We surmise that as the current comes around Ten Mile Point behind us on a flood, it must bounce off the rocks and reflect back on itself somehow, just enough to sometimes not feel quite right.
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Just ahead of me, Louise and Paula were heading for a small beach nestled in a rocky cove. I thought that Louise had finally had enough of her misbehaving seat and was going to put in and make some quick repairs or adjustments, but as I beached beside her I saw that see was a slight shade of jade, while Paula was positively emerald.
Louise said she was more or less okay, but Paula was not doing as well. And so while Louise and I futzed with her seat, Paula quietly excused herself and yakked into the surf.
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After a few moments for recovery, we tried to figure out what was going on. Paula's inner ear had gone wonky (a chronic condition) in the oddly churning water. Louise had also felt unsure in the conditions, and said she'd been shaking by the time she hit the beach. To be sure, it was confused water, but it certainly wasn't very rough. We've paddled rougher water in this very spot. But somehow the conditions, a seemingly innocuous following tide with a slight swell and a breeze, were just right to hit the sweet spot in Paula's and Louise's nausea controls. (Or the un-sweet spot, I guess.) "Chittering," was the word Paula used to describe it, "the water was chittering about, just sort of vibrating and not sure where it wanted to go."
We carefully headed out, and the water seemed a little calmer as we made the return trip.
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But as we returned to slowly to the beach we had launched from...
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...came the part you were warned about: baby geese!
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Three families of geese were all over our exit point, so we happily drifted for a few minutes, cameras snapping away.
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Finally, the geese started giving us the evil eye. That means it's time to go!
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2010-05-24 Telegraph Bay

Trip Length: 6.75 km
YTD: 79.86 km
More pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

Bonus Quiz!
One of These Birds Doesn't Belong!
Can You Guess Which One?
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

2010.10.179 - Warning: Cuteness Quotient Exceeded

Louise and I wheeled our kayaks down the hill for a quick Sunday paddle up The Gorge this morning.
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Our plan was to go into Portage Inlet and discover if the swans we saw nesting last month have had their eggs hatch yet, and discover if there were any little baby swans swimming around.
But first, only minutes after we put in, this heron posed for us.
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A few minutes later, we saw our first signs that were baby birds around. You can see a the back of a baby goose as it has its head down in the lawn.
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We passed another heron. No, he's not drunk -- he's hunting. Some birds with eyes on either side on their head turn their head to one side if they are intently watching something. In his case, he was intently watching his breakfast-to-be.
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In Portage Inlet, we passed by the nesting swans. Mom was still hunkered down while dad kept watch, so not much change from when we last checked in with them a month ago. It's possible the chicks had hatched and were under mom, but clearly this was something that we were not going to try to find out.
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But we were starting to wonder about the geese. Last year by this time we had seen tons of baby geese but with the exception of our sighting earlier in the paddle, we hadn't seen any at all this year. We've seen the occasional one doing yoga...
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...but so far very babies. We were wondering if the late spring had had some effect on goose birth rates, but we soon realized we had nothing to worry about. We paddled into a small estuary...
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...and found where the baby geese were.
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It looked like lots of baby geese were around, and some baby ducks as well. Better still, we didn't spot any eagles, which sucked for me as an amateur photographer, but was good news for all the feathered families in the estuary.

Then we passed by another heron.
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But was it really a different heron? Heck, for all I know it could have been the same heron following us the whole day!

Finally we discovered this seagull, who clearly wanted to be the captain of his own destiny. Either that or he was tired of flying.
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2010-05-16 The Gorge
Trip length: 9.15 km
YTD: 73.11
More pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

2010.09.178 - Vancouver Island Paddlefest

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A warm sunny day today -- a perfect day to head up to Ladysmith for the 2010 version of Vancouver Island Paddlefest, an annual celebration of paddling and spending money on gear.
Louise, Marlene and I drove up from Victoria, while Paula and Bernie planned to take the train up. Tracy was up island on other kayak-related business, so she drove down and spent some time at Paddlefest as well. Richard was busy elsewhere this weekend, so it gave us a good chance to talk about him behind his back.

Paddlefest Pano 1
Almost as soon as we arrived, however, the day turned surreal and amazing. As we stepped out of the car and began walking towards the beach, the couple in the next car stopped us. "Excuse me, are you John?" they asked. When I replied that I was, they said that they recognized my voice from the videos posted here on the blog! Holy smokes -- our first encounter with fans! And me without my stack of 8x10 autographed glossies! As it turns out they were from Medicine Hat but they used to live in Victoria (in fact, not far from where Louise and I live now) and they like to read the blog to keep up on kayaking activities in their old home town. (They also follow Richard's blog but they noted that he seems to disappear for weeks at a time. See? I told you we were talking Richard behind his back.)
We bid them adieu and began our initial reconnoiter of the beach. The first thing we saw were these amazing wooden kayaks....
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...built by 8 Dragon kayaks on Gabriola Island. Gorgeous boats. My pictures do not do them justice.

Next we checked out Delta Kayak's new rotomolded twin-hulled sit-on-top, the Catfish.
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By this time Paula, Bernie and Tracy had arrived. We told them about the couple from Medicine Hat as everyone gave the Catfish a good grope.
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After that, it was time to hit the water and try boats!
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Paula, as usual, was first in the water.
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At first, Louise and I took out some Current Design boats, trying various permutations of the Solstice family, the GTS, the GT and the GT Titan. (I made a big list of about 20 boats I was hoping to try -- the Solstice was the only one on my list on the beach.)
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They didn't make any really impression on us. Not to say they were bad boats -- they're clearly not, they're well made and kitted out -- but they just weren't the boats for us. Louise found that they seemed to hit her in a tender spot in her hips and that made them uncomfortable for her to sit in. I found them acceptable but uninspiring. But that's just us. Your mileage may vary.

Next, she tried a Current Design Storm, while Paula took out a new Advanced Elements model, the Airfushion.
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Louise had wanted to try a Storm for a while now, as she has admired the look of them for many years, but again she found something in the way her hips connected with the boat to very uncomfortable.
Paula on the other hand found the Airfushion quick and sporty, for an inflatable anyway.

Then Louise tried a Valley Aquanaut.
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She liked it, but it was probably too large a model for her to really get a feel on it. I'd wanted to try some Valley kayaks as well but there was a dearth of them on the beach. Next year, more Valley, please!

Then Paula took out an Old Town Vapor, or she jokingly referred to it, The Deathtrap.
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See how dangerous it is? People were falling over just to get out of her way!
Why Paula calls this a "deathtrap" is that the kayak is just sea-worthy enough that she can visualize young or inexperienced paddlers having a lot of fun in this boat up to the point that they get into a lot of trouble in it. (She's the mother of twins. She knows all about this sort of thing.) On the plus side, there is a version of the Vapor that is made from 100% recycled post-industrial plastic.

After watching Mike Jackson and his friend do a rolling demonstration, we tried some Wilderness Systems kayaks.
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I went out in a Tempest 180 Pro, while Louise was in a Zephyr 160 Pro. I gotta say these were the best boats we tried all day. We found them to be quick and nimble, and Louise didn't experience any hip issues, and thought it was the best fit of what we tried.

Having had enough paddling, Louise and I moved out of the water and out of the way of the rolling lesson...
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...and changed back into our dry land clothes, where we caught up with Paula and Bernie who were having a late lunch with the couple from Medicine Hat! It seems that Paula and Bernie got recognized, too!

Soon our attention was drawn to a strange-looking craft in the parking lot....
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...a Huki S1-R Surfiski with Gullwing outriggers. I immediately knew that I needed at least three of these. Why I would need them, I had no idea, except that they are awesome cool looking.

And finally the day drew to a close, and the last thing to do was to win a door prize, something we do every year here. No, really. I kid you not. Our luck with these things here is phenomenal. The last four years we've won hats, t-shirts, a dry bag, and a PFD.
And the streak continued as Louise won a free double kayak rental from Sealegs Kayaking in Ladysmith. So it looks like another trip up here is in the future sometime this summer!
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Trip length: 2.5 km
YTD: 63.96
More pictures are here.