Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011.20.218 - A Quickie on The Gorge

Although it was a warm and mostly sunny morning, the currents in our favourite local paddle spots didn't look like they were going to cooperate today, and the weather forecast changed overnight to include some offshore breezes, so Louise and I opted for a quick paddle in our home waters, The Gorge. We rolled the kayaks down the hill, and hit the water early.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0104 copy

We crossed to check out a piece of sculpture on a dock that we call The Iron Man, although we're starting to think that its first name might be Rusty. As we paddled up, we could see that it had attracted the attention of a heron as well.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0148 copy
After a few moments the heron wandered off, apparently not impressed with The Iron Man. Everyone's a critic.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0160 copy

A few minutes later, we spotted a raccoon along the shore.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0172 copy
Raccoons are famous for their cleaning habits, spending hours a day cleaning themselves and their food, and this one was no exception. He was definitely cleaning then taking a bite out of something he had in the water. I never could make out what it was, although I think it may have a clam or an oyster.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0180 copy
Obviously, it was Raccoon Week around here, as three baby raccoons had visited our yard earlier in the week.

Next up, we saw a dogfish.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0112 copy
Sorry. I just couldn't resist that one.
Actually, he was a friendly dog who was very curious about us to the point that he nearly started swimming after us. I don't know how we would have explained that to its owner.

As we rounded the point into Portage Inlet, we realized that the low tide was just a little too low and we wouldn't be able to get all the down before we'd get stuck in the mud and silt. With the tide still on the ebb, the water was going to get shallower still, and we wouldn't get a chance to do a lot of exploring today.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0116

The breeze was picking up a bit, and behind us we saw a front rolling by. We didn't see a whole lot of birds today, and that's generally meant a change in the weather around here.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0108
The clouds took interesting shapes and patterns today.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0191

We spotted an eagle, but he took off quickly. There just wasn't much around here to eat today...
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0193 copy
...although this heron was willing to try his luck at some fishing.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0212 copy

Then we headed for home.
2011-07-31 The Gorge_0114

Trip Length: 7.88 km
YTD: 161.85 km
More pictures are here.
2011-07-31 The Gorge

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2011.19.217 - G-L-O-R-I-OUS Paddle to Discovery Island

G-L-O-R-I-OUS.... Glorious! (with apologies to Van Morrison...)
Readers of the blog this summer (or this non-summer as the case may be) may recall a common theme running through many past posts, mainly me bitching about the weather and The. Summer. That. Never. Arrived. However, summer swept in this weekend in full bloom. A high of 26 of Sunday, and nary a cloud in the sky. Tuesday is forecast to be 10 degrees cooler, but that's like a whole two days away, so let's not worry about that, and instead bask in the glory of today's weather! (Because we all know it's ain't gonna last!)

Louise and I joined Paula for what looked like a perfect day to paddle to Chatham Island. Not only was the weather cooperating, but the currents were expected to be about as favourable as they could possibly be, a long slow flood that would give us enough time to reach our destination and noodle about for a bit.
I didn't get off to a good start as a little scenic detour down a small channel among the islets near our starting point in Cadboro Bay tuned out to be a little shallower than I was expecting. Oops. Love that grinding sound. Not.
2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0088
So much for my short cut. After I caught up, we pressed on across the small straight to Chatham Island.
2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0093 copy
Once there....
2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0104 copy
.... the conditions were idyllic and we decided to take advantage of them and go around both Chatham and Discovery Island. We saw a fair number of seals today, and they seemed extra curious about us. We were constantly shadowed by dark little pairs of eyes that gently rose out of the water then slunk stealthily beneath the surface. We tried to give them their distance as there a lot of momma and baby seals out together, and we didn't want to become the subject of an angry mother's wrath.
2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0002 copy

We headed around the northern shore of Chatham. We'd already seen the occasional eagle flying around, and we'd spotted one upon our arrival at Chatham flying with something in its talons but it was too far away to make out what. Whatever it was, it was clearly not going to have as good a day as we were having.
We spotted another bald eagle landing ahead of us behind some rocks, As we approached, we realized there were two eagles and the younger one on the left was eating something. Could the older eagle have been doing some hunting for the younger one? It never took a bit of lunch, at least not that we saw.
2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0013 copy
As we scooted around the rocks, the older eagle took off but the younger one remained behind and enjoyed its meal.
2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0037 copy
2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0051 copy
At the time we were guessing it was eating a fish, but after looking at the pictures its obviously something else. What, I'm not sure, but the eagle was sure enjoying it.

From there we headed into the bay at the north end of Chatham.
2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0112 copy
If you time it right at a high tide, the small channel in the end of the bay fills up and a small island named Cactus Island can be circumnavigated, but the tide wasn't high enough yet. We jumped out for a quick stretch and some snacks.
2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0061

On our way again, we made our way out of the bay and down the eastern shore of Chatham towards Discovery.
2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0111 copy

2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0113 copy

2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0132 copy

It's very important to make sure to roll over when you're tanning to get that "all-over" tan.
2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0073 copy

Paula found this round formation in the rocks on the far side of Discovery, probably erosion caused by wave action. Upon further investigation, it was not as deep as it looked only 30cm or so, but still quite interesting.
2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0133

2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0063 copy

As we headed back, the breeze picked up a bit. We were treated to mirror-flat waters on the east side of Discovery, but the water was a little bumpier as we headed back along its southern shore.
2011-07-24 Discovery Island_0134 copy

After we crossed back to Flower Island near the mainland, we saw an otter playing in the water. It paid no attention to us as it did some fishing. Why should the eagles have all the fun and get all the eats?
2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0078 copy

And finally, one last surprise. As we sat down for coffee after the paddle, our kayaking buddy Richard suddenly appeared, his appearance all the more surprising because he moved to Vancouver a number of months ago. He was in town for the day and by happenstance was in the area as he saw us drive by with our kayaks. A perfect capper to a great day!
2011-07-24 - Discovery Island_0079

Trip Length: 16.96 km
YTD: 153.97 km
More pictures are here.
2011-07-24 Discovery Island

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011.18.216 - It's A Gas

Louise and I met Paula at Brentwood Bay for a quick paddle.

Paula was in her inflatable today, so we thought we'd stick close to shore and meander down into Tod Inlet. From our put-in beside the ferry terminal we turned to the south and crossed towards the Inlet.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0060
Someone followed us for a while.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0062 copy

As we entered Tod Inlet, and Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, Paula put ashore for some adjustments to her boat....
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0064
...while this heron enjoyed a little breakfast.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0030 copy

As we paddled down the inlet, we saw many sail boats and cabin cruisers that had moored for the night.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0069

But as we paddled by this eagle....
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0036
...we realized that we were paddling through a slick of oil or gas on the surface on the water.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0073
It wasn't very thick, nothing more than a thin skin on the surface, but it was everywhere. The whole southern end was covered in it, and occasionally Paula and Louise would gag when the wind shifted and they inhaled a lungful of fumes.
We initially assumed that one or more of the boats moored in the inlet had had a fuel spill, but then we recalled that there had been a major fuel spill into Goldstream River a couple of months ago. Goldstream River does not connect directly with Tod Inlet but it does with nearby Saanich Inlet. Could tidal action have pushed the fuel out of Saanich Inlet into Tod Inlet where there it sits, slowly evaporating?
It was a depressing thought that the fuel in the water that was spoiling the inlet was not being attended to, no matter how it got there. The only upside was that the animals did seem to be avoiding the area.

We turned around and headed back...
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0078 copy
....and watched a heron cruise in for a landing.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0039 copy
He got into a staring contest with us.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0046
I think he won.

Louise checked out some sea stars...
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0084 copy
...and then it was time to head back.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet_0070

Trip Length: 6.08 km
YTD: 137.01 km
More pictures are here.
2011-07-10 Tod Inlet

Friday, July 1, 2011

2011.17.215 - Canada Day Paddle on the Gorge

Happy Birthday to us!
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0011 copy
The sky was a cloudy grey as we wheeled our kayaks down the hill for our annual Canada Day paddle on the Gorge. Although not called for in the forecast, the sky had that look and feel of imminent rain. Gorge Road was closed to traffic as it is every Canada Day for a giant 1.5 km long block party. So instead of worrying about taking our kayaks across traffic to reach the water, we had to with contend dozens of pedestrians.
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0006
But no worries. Politeness reigned supreme. This is Canada after all, eh?

As we paddled down The Gorge, we saw crowds gathering and checking out the artisan booths and food tents.
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0083 copy

At Admirals Road, the pancake breakfast was in full swing, as was the live music, although it was jazz not swing. The Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club was offering the public trips in their dragon boats.
Canada Day 2

We weren't expecting to see much in the way of wildlife, as we thought that the noise and the crowds would keep them in hiding. And we were right -- the only animal we had seen up to this point was Marty the Marmot when we were taking our kayaks to the launch point.
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0051

The good news was that the clouds had broken and the sun finally shone through, the warming air taking the edge of the morning's cool breeze. We continued on past The Gorge and into Portage Inlet.
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0089 copy
In fact, we continued all the way to Denmark.
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0091
And it turns out that the lost city of Atlantis was in Copenhagen! Who knew?

We meandered up Colquitz Creek...
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0105 copy
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0100
...and on the way back we paddled past a couple of baby ducks.
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0015 copy
I stopped to take a couple of quick pictures of them, then I turned any attention to packing my camera back into its dry bag. When I was done, I grabbed my paddle, ready to resume paddling, but the ducklings had paddled away from mom and right up beside my kayak! I was so startled that I almost dropped my paddle on top of them. Mom quickly swam up behind them, and led them away.

Back in the Inlet, Louise saw an opportunity for a flag-waving shot...
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0026 copy
...while I noticed a couple of deer on the shore.
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0017 copy
They were absolutely still as I snapped away.
"They're not real!" said Louise.
"What do you mean they're not real?"
"They haven't moved!"
She was right -- they hadn't budged an inch or twitched a muscle. You can buy plastic faux deer. Had I been duped?
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0024 copy
Apparently not, as they turned away and continued on their journey.

We crossed back across the Inlet and headed back down the Gorge....
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0111 that we could join the festivities on the street. After all, what could be more Canadian than eating some beaver tail?
2011-07-01 Canada Day_0067

Trip Length: 8.94 km
YTD: 130.93 km
More pictures are here.
2011-07-01 Canada Day Route