Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Annual Weather Stats

And now it's our annual paddling day weather stats wrap up. This year I eliminated the "cancelled due to bad weather" category, so the weather category percentages have been tweaked a bit from previous years.
What can we glean from this? Well, first we can see that Google Docs makes some neat-o charts. Second, we can see that over the six years we have been paddling that the percentage of sunny days has gone up over this time, perhaps something that should not be unexpected as we enter our future of human-caused climate change, although this is clearly not a scientific study by any means as no doubt we are self-selecting which days to paddle on. Still, it's an illuminating if anecdotal look at how our planet is changing right before our eyes.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011.27.225 - Thetis Lake

Hard to believe it's been a month since we were last on the water. Life is like that sometimes.
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Even though it was a brisk 1 degree as we headed out in the morning, the sun was occasionally poking through the clouds and the cool air certainly woke us up.
Our friend Alison is back in town for a visit. She's been post some great paddle reports of her kayaking adventures in Montreal, but she's here in town for a few days visiting her kayak and giving it a little workout.
Unfortunately, Alison suddenly realized that's she'd forgotten to renew her driver's license before visiting, limiting her options for moving her kayak to put ins. And with Paula limited to commando kayaking on public transit today, a tense two-hour negotiating session ended with the decision to paddle Thetis Lake today. (If David Stern needs help with the NBA lockout, tell him to give us a call. After this, we can negotiate anything.)

Louise and I put in with Alison....
....and caught up with Paula at a different part of the lake.
Checking my records, I see that this is our first paddle this year at the lake. How the heck did that happen?
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Not only is this a great place to paddle, but it's a great place to do some rescue and paddle practice, but no one felt like doing that today. That water was cold!

So we spent a couple of hours meandering around the lake....
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...and then spent a couple of hours warming up afterwards!

But before we could imbibe some warm beverages, we passed a bluff on the shore where a photographer took some snaps of us. We bumped into him later in the parking lot and he graciously emailed us the photos. Thanks for these pictures, Erik!

Trip Length: 7.55 km
YTD: 214.59 km
More pictures are here.

2011-11-06 Thetis Lake

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011.26.224 - Lila and Yves

The seasons are changing, the proof being in the gloomy skies and cool air. As Louise and I waited on the Cadboro Bay beach for our co-paddlers, the sun was hidden behind puffy grey clouds. We could see off-shore showers on the horizon, and a soft by cool breeze foreshadowed the stronger winds predicted to come later in the day.

But we weren't planning a long paddle today. In fact today's would be rather short and safe. We were being joined by Paula, as well as her daughter Lila and her new husband Yves who are visiting from Edmonton. Neither are experienced kayakers, in fact this was Yves' first time in a kayak and he is not a good swimmer, so we were going to stick close to shore. Also, we didn't have a lot of time to paddle as Yves wanted to attend pirate school later in the day.

And off we went. Paula put her herself and Yves into her inflatable....
....while Lila went out in the Pamlico.

Louise and I in our Delta sea kayaks kept the lead, usually without even trying. Seals were popping up here and there, but they were very shy and unapproachable.

I managed to sneak off and take and watch some cormorants.

And after a quick trip to the point and back, we were done.

Trip Length: 3.90 km
YTD: 207.04 km
More pictures are here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011.25.223 - Seagull With A Mohawk

Louise has family visiting in town this in town this week, so she and I could only sneak away for a quick paddle up The Gorge today.

We rolled the kayaks down the hill, entered at the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club launch point, and we were off. The tide was flooding under the Tillicum Bridge so we went for a quick look and saw a lone seal, far away from the open ocean, enjoying a playful ride in the current.
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A few minutes later we discovered one of the more interesting seagulls we've seen. May I present Seagull With A Mohawk.
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We first noticed him as he flew to the shore carrying some sort of shell. We thought that it may have been a crab shell, or maybe a clam. (I don't do shellfish, a shell is a shell.) Anyway, he landed on shore and spent a few minutes eating whatever was on the inside of the shell, then looked up and saw that there was another seagull on the beach a few metres away. This second seagull was paying no attention to Mohawk (or his lovely breakfast) but clearly Mohawk was feeling threatened so he dropped his meal and ran up to the other seagull and did a bit wing-flapping and squawking. He returned to his meal, but seagull #2 didn't get the hint, and Mohawk ran up and squawked again. He didn't take "no" for an answer and forced seagull #2 off the beach and into the air. Mohawk pursued him into the air, hoping to get the point across that he was not welcome. Louise and I watched the aerial dogfight, the two seagulls swooping and diving over our heads. Also watching were two crows that had sneaked up to Mohawk's dropped meal and finished it off. Mohawk returned to his empty shell, sighed (really! I swear he did!) and flew off.
A moment later....
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...he had dredged up another shell and was finishing off the insides.

Cormorant Tree, often covered in cormorants, held only one today.
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We continued on into Portage Inlet where the herons were out in force today.
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Mohawk wasn't the only bird having good luck with food.
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I thought I was cleverly sneaking up on this heron from behind. No such luck -- he knew I was there.
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We also saw a few of the gelatinous egg sacks that we see in the waters here every fall. They seem to be a few weeks behind, but then everything is behind after the lousy spring.
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The egg sack is the little round thing in the middle. The other brown lumpy things are sponges.

There's a lot of geese around now. They know winter is coming and so are heading south and using the parks in the area as a rest area.
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With only limited time today, we quickly turned back.
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Trip Length: 7.30 km
YTD: 202.14 km
More pictures are here.
2011-09-05 The Gorge

Sunday, September 4, 2011

2011.24.222 - Tired

It's September and the mornings have a chilly fall edge to them now. So how lousy was our summer? We didn't have a single day over 30 degrees. In fact, we only had two days where we hit 27 degrees, one in July and one in August. Mind you, we had a nice streak of weather at the end of August that is going to continue into the first part of this month and we had a shot of getting another 27 degree day this weekend. (In the end, it didn't happen -- only a high of 24 today.)
Although she looks wide awake, Louise and a terrible bout of insomnia last night. She was operating on only about two hours' sleep as she headed out with Paula and myself from Cadboro Bay.
We had intended to cross to Chatham Island this morning, but as we slowly island-hopped out to the final crossing, Louise was yawing up a storm, her mouth a vast chasm of tiredness. As we made our final "go/no go" decision, she said, "Guys, I am falling asleep in my boat," and we decided a sleeping kayaker was not the best thing to deal with on this crossing. Mind you, a good dunking might have woken her up. So we decided to have a short paddle and poke around the Uplands rocks instead.

This seal wasn't thrilled with our new paddle plan as we went by him a few times.
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Actually, Paula said he's been camped out on this rock for a few days now. It seems to be his favourite spot.

The new route wasn't a total waste. Paula found a package of kale floating by. She considered taking it home to cook, but eventually decided that it might be too salty.
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Everyone was on the water yesterday. In the bay we had to avoid the racing sail boats....
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..and on the beach when we landed we had to avoid the racing stand-up paddlers!
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Trip Length: 7.46 km
YTD: 194.84 km
More pictures are here.
2011-09-04 Cadboro Bay

Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011.23.221 - Fish heads. Eat Them Up. Yum.

So let's be clear about this. I don't do hot. And as we head into the last weekend of August, we've experiencing our first real long stretch of summer weather, and after weeks of complaining about it being too cool and too cloudy, now it's too bright and too hot. I'm thinking of changing my names to Goldilocks. On this hot Sunday we had no real desire to wrap ourselves up in a drysuit or neoprene, or to be broiled outside during the forecast blaze of midday, so we went for an early morning quickie up the Gorge. Of course, before we began, we had our traditional pre-paddle round of charades. Today's topic was music albums, and Paula and Louise did their best impression of Devo's New Traditionalists cover.
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Paula, in her Advanced Elements inflatable joined Louise and I in our Deltas and we headed out into the windless morning.
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It wasn't long until we kayaked by this seagull who clearly was having trouble eating his breakfast.
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That fish head is bigger than his head! Clearly this violate the B.Kliban rule.
From there, we meandered in to Portage Inlet....
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...but we were soon reminded that even under such benign conditions and so close to home, you're still on the water, and medical emergencies, even minor ones, suddenly become a whole extra level of difficult. One of Louise's eyes started burning, and she couldn't keep it open.
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Paula and I came along side and we helped flush her eye. Fortunately we had plenty of water with us. We suspect that a ball of sweat rolled down her face and took some sunscreen along for the ride into her eye. She didn't seem to have anything in it, and it was only slightly red. A few washings and she was able to continue, but we decided to head back.

As we headed back, we saw the local swans. We didn't get to see the baby swans this year, so we're not sure how many babies they started with, but at least one made it near-adulthood, and that's a good thing.
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We ran one final gauntlet of geese and we were done.
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Trip Length: 7.25 km
YTD: 187.38 km
More pictures are here.

It has come to my attention that Louise somehow escaped her formative years without being exposed to the song Fish Heads by Barnes and Barnes, and thus had no pop-cultural reference for the blog post title. Just a blank stare that seemed to say, "What kind of crazy are you now?" I get that a lot.
It seems inconceivable to me that someone as literate and well-educated as Louise could have gone this far in life without hearing this song. Clearly, those noisy right-wingers must be correct about the state of our education system!
To rectify that, here's Barnes and Barnes' website. And for all you trivia masters out there, one half of Barnes and Barnes is actor Bill Mumy who played Will Robinson on the original Lost in Space and Lennier on Babylon 5! Who says you don't learn anything in the blogisphere!
At least I didn't have to explain who Devo is.
2011-08-28 The Gorge