Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010.16.185 - Chatham Island Deer Crossing

Paula joined Louise and I for a paddle this morning from Cadboro Bay out to Chatham Island.
2010-06-20 Chatham Island 001
Once we got ourselves squeezed into our kayaks, we headed out under cloudy skies. The weather was generally calm, but winds were forecast to pick up in the afternoon, so we wanted to make an early start and make our crossing quickly just in case the weatherman turned out to be right for once.
2010-06-20 Chatham Island 006

As we made our way down Cadboro Bay, we paddled through an area with a light sheen of oil on the water. It gave us pause to reflect on the terrible disaster going on in the Gulf of Mexico, and how lucky we are it hasn't happened here.
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At Jemmy Jones Island, we paused to asses the Chatham Crossing. Conditions looked good, so we quickly skedaddled on our way....
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...letting this seal take the lead.
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He pretty much followed us the whole way across, and hung around as we did a quick exploration of a small bay on Chatham.
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He popped up for a quick good-bye, and then he was off...
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...and so were we. Mind you, we had to wait for the geese to cross the passage at Flower Island.
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And another paddling day is done!
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Of course, it was after the paddle that we saw the most wildlife. Driving back through the University of Victoria, we saw a pair of deer happily munching away on whatever greenery the rabbits haven't eaten yet.
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2010-06-20 Chatham Island
Trip Length: 9.54 km
YTD: 102.37 km
More pictures are here (including more deer pictures).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

2010.15.184 - Strokes Course

I have no way of checking this for sure (actually, I do have a way -- it's called the Internet. Maybe you've heard of it? The awful truth is that I'm too lazy to check), but it seems like this is the first day in three months when the high temperature for the day has been above normal. Gorgeous and sunny for a change.
And so on this sunny day, Louise and I made our way to Cadboro Bay for a course called Maneuverability and Agility, put on by the fine folks from Ocean River Sports.
2010-06-12 Ocean River Strokes Course 005

It was a small class; the students were just myself, Louise and a young lady named Alex. She was paddling this beautiful skin-on-frame boat that she had just finished building a few days ago.
2010-06-12 Ocean River Strokes Course 001
What a sweet looking boat. Out on the water, she quickly discovered that her boat could, as Bernie would say, turn on a dime and give seven cents change.
There was also an instructor -- that goes without saying -- but also an instructor-in-training, so basically we had two instructors for three students which means we all got a lot of attention.

We weren't the only paddlers in the water -- an outrigger race was taking place...
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...and there was a slight breeze, so some sailboaters headed out as well.
2010-06-12 Ocean River Strokes Course 007

The course involved tuning up our sweeps, edging and low brace turns, and moving onto high brace turns, stern draws, bow rudders, and then putting them altogether. I've never had my boat as far on edge as I had it today. I mean apart from when I've tipped over.
Speaking of tipping over, we were encouraged by the instructors to really let it all hang out when we were edging. Push it to the edge, as it were. And Louise did...
2010-06-12 Ocean River Strokes Course 009
...and over she went. We were in shallow water, so not really a rescue issue (although I do recall shouting "Don't save her yet -- I need to get a picture!" at some point).
But after a moment to regroup, she was back in her boat and back at it.
2010-06-12 Ocean River Strokes Course 019
We had a great time and learned lots. One of the things the instructor said as we practiced our strokes was not to think of the paddle moving around the kayak, but the kayak moving around the paddle. That was a very inspiring (and inspired) visualization that really helped me. That's why he's the teacher and I'm just the student!

2010-06-12 Ocean River Strokes Course
The red track is the morning session, the green the afternoon session. Note how far the tide came in during the day. It was an exceptionally low tide when we started in the morning.
Trip Length: 4.75 km
YTD: 92.83 km
More pictures are here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

2010.14.183 - Shell Games

2010-06-07 Thetis Lake 001
Okay, forget what I said Saturday about the fact that maybe Summer was finally here. It isn't. Maybe soon, but not yet anyway. Yesterday, we were hoping to possibly head to Sidney for a paddle, but, no, we had rain instead. And today, it was blowing a stiff breeze. So Louise and I decided to head to the shelter of Thetis Lake. As least we'd get some paddling in this weekend!
2010-06-07 Thetis Lake 026

Sheltered on the lake, we didn't feel the wind very much, although occasionally it swept little ripples along the water. I was hoping to see an eagle or two today, but wasn't having luck. But quickly it became obvious that I should be looking down instead of up.
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As we paddled down one of the arms of the lake, a saw a lump on a log. As I moved closer, the lump turned out to be a turtle, most likely a Slider and probably a former pet turtle released into the wild. (And if you're a hardcore turtle fan, you can click here and find a survey prepared for local municipal governments on the Western Painted Turtles habitats in local parks.)
The turtle was camera shy and disappeared, but these otters weren't the least bit put off by my camera.
2010-06-07 Thetis Lake 038 copy

With one turtle spotted, we wondered if we might find some more. They're fairly rare in this area. We've only seen turtles in the lake a couple of times before, but both times they were on an old fallen tree we call Turtle Log.
The lake's water level was higher than normal, so Turtle Log was under water, but on another fallen tree across from it, we saw another turtle. (That's #2 for those of you counting at home.)
2010-06-07 Thetis Lake 044
This turtle quickly fell into the water, but as I had my video camera out just panning around the trees, Louise called out to me:

The turtle had climbed back on the log, and he was posing.
2010-06-07 Thetis Lake 055 copy

Wow, two turtles, and some otters! We could have gone home at that point and be satisfied with a great paddle. But the turtles had other ideas. We continued down the lake's arm and turtles starting popping up everywhere. (They were popping up slowly, mind you. They are turtles, after all.)
Number three...
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Number four...
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Number five...
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We finally exited the arm, and headed back into the main body of the lake. The sun had come out and the day began to warm.
2010-06-07 Thetis Lake 090 copy

But even here, the turtles were about.
Numbers six and seven...
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...okay, you'll have to trust me about number seven. He jumped off the rock he was sharing with number six before I got the picture.

These turtles were really fuzzy for some reason.
2010-06-07 Thetis Lake 112 copy
The reason is that they were actually goslings, not turtles. Mom and Dad gathered them up and took them on their way.
2010-06-07 Thetis Lake 114 copy

You think we didn't have a good paddle? Check out that smile!
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2010-06-07 Thetis Lake
Trip Length: 6.80 km
YTD: 88.08 km
More pictures are here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

2010.13.182 - Victoria MEC Paddlefest

This time last year, a record-smashing heat-wave had just broken; this year, we've been waiting for Spring to start. We're into our third month of unseasonable cool temperatures. Yes, there's been the odd day when temperatures have climbed into high double digits and a mysterious burning yellow ball has been spotted in the sky, but the last few days, like many before them, ain't been anything special.
But today turned into a bright sunny and warm day. Often in this part of the world it seems like Spring only lasts a couple of weeks and we jump straight from Winter into Summer. This year, we seem to have skipped even that meager portion of Spring altogether, as today -- finally! -- felt like a summer's day. And that made it perfect for Louise and I to go to Cadboro Bay to check out the 2010 edition of the MEC Victoria Paddlefest.
2010-06-05 MEC Paddlefest 002

After we checked out some of the information tents, including the fine folks at Ocean River, Straitwatch, SISKA, and Wavelength Magazine, we pulled on the neoprene and climbed into some demo boats.
After my rolling lesson last week, I couldn't help but notice that my instructor (as well as some of the instructors with SISKA who were sharing the pool with us) were using Valley kayaks. Hey, if they're good enough for the pros, they must be good enough for us pudknockers, eh? I headed out in an Aquanaut HV...
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...while Louise tried a Nordkapp LV.
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We found these boats to pretty well made and a decent ride. We both noticed that they had less initial stability then our much stabler (and wider) Deltas, something which Louise wasn't fond of but I didn't mind too much. I found it to be a bit of a tight fit, but I certainly wouldn't mind giving these boats another try. Louise, not so much.

Next, Louise tried the Delta Sixteen.
2010-06-05 MEC Paddlefest 016
She currently paddles a Delta Seventeen which she really likes, but often feels a twinge of buyer's remorse and wishes she had waited until the Sixteen was available, often saying the the Seventeen is just slightly too big, while the Sixteen fits her like a glove.
Yeah, I know. How often do you hear of a kayaker who wants to trade down?

Then Louise gave the Necky Chatham 16 a whirl.
2010-06-05 MEC Paddlefest 023
She liked it a lot and had it out on the water for a good while. She found it a little snug to get in, "...but once you're in, you're in." She liked it so much she almost flipped it. It's definitely been added to her wish list.

Next we tried the Seaward Infinti. I went out in the 175TX, Louise tried the shorter 155TX.
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No question, this is a fun boat. It carves edges like a knife through low-fat margarine with no Trans Fats. There's no question you could get a lot of play out of this boat.
We tried a few more Seaward boats but with a little less success. I tried to get in to an Ascenté but I got stuck and then my legs started cramping. That wasn't any fun! And too bad, because it's a sweet looking ride.
Louise got into a Legend...
2010-06-05 MEC Paddlefest 031
...and after about 10 seconds on the beach said, "No. I need to get out." Sometimes you just know right away.
But Seaward redeemed itself when Louise and I took out the Passat G3 tandem for a spin.
2010-06-05 MEC Paddlefest 034
This kayak can motor! And fairly responsive for a boat of its size as well. I've never really given much thought to tandems, but this one certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities. Now if I could just stop Louise from splashing me in the face all the time....

2010-06-05 MEC Paddlefest 025
2010-06-05 MEC Paddlefest 012

Trip Length: 1.42 km
YTD: 81.28 km
More pictures are here.