Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012.20.244 - Rolling Clinic

Tonight Louise and I zipped down to Thetis Lake after work for a rolling clinic with Yves of Go Kayak.
Louise has never felt terribly comfortable if her kayak was anything but upside-up, but she certainly gave it her all.
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Yves was a terrific teacher, and we learned a lot. Now that Louise has a boat that she really likes, it's time to get a little more serious about practicing again, and this was a good way to start.

Trip Length: .23 km
YTD: 153.34 km
More pictures are here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012.19.244 - Kayak For A Cure

The blazing sun of the last week gave way to clouds this morning as Louise and I headed down to Willows Beach for this year's Kayak For A Cure. We were worried about conditions as we knew there would be a number of newbie and inexperienced paddlers taking part and higher winds were supposed to be blowing in later in the day. But the winds never arrived.
We hit the beach at Willows ready to paddle. The route was from Willows Beach to Cadboro Bay, a short paddle we've done numerous times, but usually we go from Cadboro to Willows and back. I don't think we've ever done it the other way.
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After the pre-paddle ceremonies and safety talk....
...and the official portrait (taken by Gwen Ewart)...
....44 paddlers hit the water. Many were cancer survivors or cancer patients.
Louise and I have never paddled in a group this big. Herding kayakers makes herding cats look easy.

A little while later we hit the beach at Cadboro Bay where everyone abandoned their kayaks and headed straight to the washrooms.
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Well, no, not really. But somehow I managed to get a shot of all the kayaks with no one in them.

Returning, everyone tried to raft up so a photographer on our accompanying safety boat could get some group shots. I go back to my earlier "herding cats" comment.
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After the paddle, we joined our fellow kayakers for a barbecue lunch.

We didn't paddle just for the burgers, although they were really, really good.
We didn't paddle just to raise money, although this year's event raised over $21,000.

We paddled for Sam, Jaan and Bobby.

Trip Length: 7.11
YTD: 153.11 km
More pictures are here.
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Friday, September 7, 2012

2012.18.243 - Gorge@Dusk

Another warm late summer day here on the We(s)t Coast, but a change in the weather is coming, so Louise and I invited Paula to a dusk paddle on The Gorge tonight.

We launched at high tide slack. The Gorge was the smoothest we've ever seen it.

It was so calm that we paddled under the Tillicum Bridge, not something that can be done all the time. Often it's a bubbling rapid, but today it was flat and gentle.
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We puttered up The Gorge towards Portage Inlet, past a heron looking for a late evening snack.
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In Portage Inlet, the water was dead flat. The only other time we've seen it this flat was when it was frozen over.

We watched the sun go down, then we headed back.

Trip Length: 6.25
YTD: 146.00 km
More pictures are here.
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Thursday, September 6, 2012

2012.17.242 - Esquimalt Shores

It might very well be summer's last gasp, but you wouldn't know it from the sunny weather this week. Today's daytime high temperature was a smidge off the record, but we'll get another crack at it tomorrow. Then we'll cool off to more normal temperature readings over the weekend. That figures.
Louise and I are also enjoying our last gasp of vacation time and today we headed out from Albert Head, one of our favourite launch points. Usually we head southwest along the coast towards to Witty's Lagoon, but today we decided to head northeast towards Esquimalt Harbour.
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But before we headed that way, we watched an otter family playing in the water.
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The otters finally noticed us and swam away. It was only then that we realized that one of the otters was actually a small baby seal. It nervously checked out Louise's boat before sliding beneath the surface and swimming away.

A couple of seals watched us from shore.
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We discovered what the otters were fishing for. No, not the jellyfish, although that was pretty cool, but the little fish. The little cove was swarming with them. No wonder the otters were out!

The otters climbed the rocks headed into the brush. We think there were five of them in all.
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From there, we began our paddle towards Esquimalt in earnest. Mind you, we had to paddle past a few seals first.
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The shoreline is mostly a long pebbly beach. Eventually the shoreline behind the beach gives way to Esquimalt Lagoon, and across the lagoon is world-famous Hatley Castle, which you may recognize as Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men films.

At the Fort Rodd Hill lighthouse, we were planning to turn into Esquimalt Harbour....
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...but as I looked across the entrance, I realized that we have never paddled along the Esquimalt shore on the other side. So instead, we crossed the harbour mouth...
...and puttered around some of the small islands on the other side. The water was crystal clear and we watched a seal swim around under our boats.
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We get to check another couple of kilometers of the world's slowest circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

As we headed back....
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...the currents turned right on time. The gentle flood that pushed us out became a gentle ebb that guided us home with some gentle swells that we had fun riding, which was a welcome distraction from the man who was sitting on a log in a secluded area of the beach working on his tan. His "all over" tan.

We pulled in back at Albert Head and looked back and saw Mount Baker rising over the city. Wow.
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Trip Length: 13.65
YTD: 139.75 km
More pictures are here.
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2012.16.241 - Practice Makes Closer to Perfect

This morning Louise and I headed out to Thetis Lake so that she could get a practice session in her new boat under her belt. This meant that we were going to get dunked in the water.
Doesn't she looked thrilled with this idea?
However, I was keen to start.

Before we began our practice in earnest, we went for a quick little jaunt along the shore, and we spotted a heron.
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Since the point of today was to spend more time in the water than on it, I hadn't brought my main camera, only my back-up Pentax Optio W90 which was a shame as this heron was totally calm and unperturbed as I approached. I got in fairly close and would have got some awesome pics with the big camera. Ah, c'est la vie.

First we practiced our edges and bracing....
...then we tried something we saw in Gordon Brown's latest DVD, a balance exercise where the kayaker sits on the deck just behind the cockpit and slowly shuffles themselves around in a circle. Sometime it went well....
....often it didn't.
It is not as easy as it looks. Gordon Brown makes it look easy, but of course he's probably done it 14,000,000 times. One thing we noticed while watching the DVD last night in preparation for today was that his Valley kayak sits a lot lower in the water than out thermoformed Deltas, but that's just the nature of these boats. I presume these sorts of balancing skills are slightly easier in a boat that rides lower in the water, the same with rescue skills. Which isn't to say they are easy.

Then we moved onto rescues as Louise tried to figure out how to get back into her new boat. I have to say the paddle float rescues weren't pretty, but they worked.
We also tried some assisted rescues which went well, then I tried some solo rescues of my own.
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Then, battered and bruised, it was time to get warm. To the coffee shop!

Trip Length: 1.42
YTD: 126.10 km
More pictures are here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

2012.15.240 - James Island

We always seem to forget about kayaking around James Island. Located off a decent launch site up the Saanich Peninsula at Island View Beach, James used to house a munitions plant a century ago. These days it makes an ideal outing for paddlers, not too far from the mainland of Vancouver Island, but far enough that with a little imagination you can get that "we're out in the wilderness" feeling.
However, be warned -- it is a private island. But it is for sale. Start saving.

And so we were off on this bright sunny Sunday. Louise is gaining more experience in her new kayak and she looked forward to the first long paddle in her new ride.

The crossing to the cliffs on James' south shore went reasonably well. We encountered a few patches of slightly confused water...befuddled water might be a good way to describe it. Once we reached the shore, the water calmed down as we paddled along the shore.

Here we saw a young eagle.
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We also saw an otter scampering along the shore. Running away from the eagle? Who knows. He was in a big hurry -- this was the only shot of him I got.
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As we headed up the east side of James, we started to remember what a slog paddling around the island can be. The current never seems to go where it's supposed to, and the wind can come up and down quickly, blowing in from odd directions. Adding to the slogginess of the paddle was the fact that neither of us was feeling very energized today. Louise was really feeling it as her new ergonomic paddle doesn't allow her to cheat, or in other words adjust her grip on the paddle to favour her bad shoulder. In the long run this will help strengthen her bad shoulder; in the short term, her shoulder sometimes becomes very achy when she kayaks.
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We got a reminder of the slog as we turned around the sandbar at the north and an unexpected breeze from the south blew into our faces and against the ebbing tide. We decided to cross back here, a longer crossing but at least we'd be paddling along the mainland shore if the wind got worse. This resulted in a longer paddle, as we now had to go around the large sandbar on the mainland.
But it's still a gorgeous place to paddle.

Trip Length: 15.69
YTD: 124.68 km
More pictures are here.
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