Sunday, May 29, 2011

2011.11.209 - Caddy 2 Willows

I'm cautiously optimistic that summer weather might actually be here. A warm and sunny morning washed over our launch point at Cadboro Bay, but before our official paddle, Paula quickly gave the small kayak she won a couple of weeks ago its inaugural paddle.
2011-05-29 Cadboro to Willows_0002

There was a lot of action of the beach today. A large group from the South Island Sea Kayaking Association had gathered for a clinic with Wayne Horodowitch of the University of Sea Kayaking, and later in the day Nick Castro of Active Sea Kayaking gave a lesson to a smaller group. And there were the occasional free-lancers like Louise, Paula and myself.

Perhaps the most unusual event that occurred today is that I got on the water first for once! No, really! I have photographic evidence to prove it:
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I had done a ton of work in our yard the day before, and I just didn't feel like I had a long paddle in me, so we decided to meander along the coast from Cadboro Bay to Willows Beach and back. As we paddled along the southern edge of the bay, we saw the result of a recent landslide.
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Paula believed that the slide is fairly new, perhaps only a month or two old. She was surprised to see it, as she assumed that the cliff was rocky as opposed to its obviously sandy composition. It looked as if the top of the slide was right up against the back deck of the house, something that I'm sure is giving the owner some worry with the rainy season just a few months away.

Someone not worried about another slide is this heron, who was blissfully unaware of the situation above him as he hunted for his breakfast.
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We decided to sneak through the yacht club...
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...but things got a little narrower than we expected.
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As we neared Cattle Point, we passed some geese.
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We figured that there would be lots of eagles about, considering that its baby bird season. But we really didn't see any until this one alighted in a tree.
"The eagle has landed!" I shouted.
Paula and Louise groaned.
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(Despite the rumour, I can assure you that the picture of the eagle landing was not faked on a Hollywood sound stage.)

We turned around at Mary Tod Island and passed some seals enjoying the morning....
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...and then we returned to our put in, another paddle done.

Trip Length: 8.52 km
YTD: 88.56 km
More pictures are here.
2011-05-29 Cadboro to Willows

Monday, May 23, 2011

2011.10.208 - The Gorge

Louise and I have been under the weather for a few days, some sort of miserable Spring cold that just won't let up. Which is ironic considering that weather-wise we've had a miserably cold Spring that just won't let up. This morning was actually clear and sunny, but still a few degrees cooler than normal.
We weren't feeling up to a long paddle today, so a quick trip around our home waters of The Gorge seemed like exactly the thing to do. We headed over to look at the sculpture we've dubbed The Iron Man...
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...but these days he's starting to look a little like the The Rust Man.
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From there we paddled slowly against the current, up to a tree I call Cormorant Tree because there's always cormorants in it. Except for today, apparently. I was wondering if we'd hit the water too early today as there did not seem to be any birds about. But I was so busy looking up for the cormorants, that I wasn't looking down and almost missed this heron.
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Continuing on, we soon found plenty of birds as this flock of geese went by. There were eight adults, so I'm assuming four families were travelling together. We've seen this sort of behaviour before, so it seems that geese don't mind travelling in large groups with other families. 18 goslings by my count.
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Under the bridge and into Portage Inlet, and we started looking for the local swans. We spotted them near their nest and we cruised in a little closer to see if their were any swanlings this year.
There appeared to be only one...
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...unless there were still some in her nest. But that didn't seem likely.

Still, we felt like drinking a toast to all the new life we were seeing, and it was just our good fortune that a bottle of red wine floated past us.
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It was empty, alas.

The forecast cool southerly breeze that was supposed to kick in during the afternoon arrived a little earlier than forecast, so we headed back...
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...and saw that the swans had hunkered down in their nest against front that was coming in.
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We passed by the geese again as well. They'd landed to enjoy a meal of fresh grass and plants.
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And soon, we also landed, just as the wind and clouds moved in. Perfect timing..
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Trip Length: 7.67 km
YTD: 80.04 km
More pictures are here.
2011-05-23 The Gorge

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2011.09.207 - 2011 Vancouver Island Paddlefest

It's not like I want to whine about the weather in every blog post I write, but this spring sucks. Seriously. The growing season is about four weeks behind normal, temperatures are also below normal and rain was due in today, the first of four or five days of it. Yay.
Today was also the first day of the 2011 Vancouver Island Paddlefest in Ladysmith. Louise and I headed up island watching the clouds which looked like they were going to start dumping on us at any moment.
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Almost immediately on our arrival, we bumped into Mark from Delta Kayaks. After years of whining and cajoling he finally came through and got us each a Delta Kayak baseball cap, and we'd just like to take this opportunity to publicly...thank wearing?
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That's a Delta Kayaks t-shirt! Aw, man! Now we have to start whining again! How many years is this gonna take?

Louise wasted no time in taking a Delta Sixteen for a whirl.
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She loves this boat, and she seemed quite fond of this new green colour, too.

After that, we headed up the beach and tried the Boreal Design Epsilon. Louise went out in the C200, while I was in the larger C300.
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We both liked these boats, and quickly noticed how, well, quickly these boats can accelerate. They look as if they could be a lot of fun and we have them on our lists of boats to thoroughly test when the day comes for new boats. You know, when our lottery retirement plan kicks in.

Next, I took a Current Design Solstice GT out for a spin.
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Like all Current Design boats, it's a well-made and kitted-out craft. Out of the three boats I tired, I liked this one the least, but they were all very close in comparison.

Finally, we tried a couple of Wilderness Systems boats.
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Louise took a Tsunami 165, while I was in was in a Tempest 180.

After that we changed into our street duds, and checked out some of the kayaking goodies on offer. First up, we found the Wind Paddle sail. This looked really cool.
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I particularly like how it comes with its own wind.

Next we checked out some custom-built kayaks from 8 Dragon Kayaks.
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These boats are gorgeous and pictures don't do them justice at all.

While we were exploring on the land, a fleet was assembling on the water....
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...for the official opening of the BC Marine Trails Network. When completed, the trail will comprise 22,000 km of BC coastline.
Michael Pardy led the flotilla in to shore....
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...where he ceremonially asked Stz’uminus First Nation Chief John Elliot for permission to visit their ancestral lands.
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With that, the Trail was declared open, and celebratory rolls were performed.
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Finally it was time to leave. After all, people were waiting for us at home.
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Trip Length: 1.47 km
YTD: 72.37 km
More pictures are here.
And check out some local media coverage by the Ladysmith Chronicle.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

2011.08.206 - Jellyfish Jellyfest

On this moderately sunny Sunday, Louise and I headed up to Brentwood Bay for paddle.
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We hadn't been out this way since the fall of 2009, but there's been little change. The one thing we did notice was the work being done on the ferry dock beside where we put in.
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That's because the long-serving MV Mill Bay, which has serviced this route since being built in 1956, was retired at the beginning of this month to be replaced by the larger MV Klitsa, necessitating renovations to the dock. (And from the Useless Movie Trivia File, the Mill Bay terminal was used for a scene during the filming of the 1970 movie Five Easy Pieces that starred Jack Nicholson and Karen Black.) So with the ferry out of service for the moment, that's one less bit of marine traffic we needed to look out for.
Clearly this heron wasn't worried about other traffic as he groomed himself.
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We crossed over to 15 Minute Island. It's actually called Senanus Island, but we refer to is as 15 Minute Island because the first time we approached the island from the north, Bernie kept saying it looked only 15 minutes away. And after we'd paddled for an hour, his opinion had not changed -- it still looked 15 minutes away.
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Today we were approaching from the south, and for the record it was a 20 minute crossing.

Once at the island, we found a lot of geese honking up a storm...
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...probably because eagles were around and undoubtedly hunting for goslings.
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Fortunately for this guy, oysercatchers didn't seem to be on the eagles' menu.
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After we paddled around the island, we crossed back to the shore went into Tod Inlet, and Gowlland Tod Provincial Park.
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Tod Inlet is a gorgeous place to paddle, very sheltered and usually brimming with aquatic life, and today was no exception, although we were a bit surprised to find the inlet full of jellyfish.
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It was a jellyfish jellyfest! Although the heron didn't seem particularly impressed.
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Trip Length: 10.67 km
YTD: 70.90 km
More pictures are here.
2011-05-08 Brentwood Bay