Monday, December 31, 2012

What A Way To Send Out 2012 .. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Facebook ….. some love it, some can’t stand it. For us, it is our #1 way of letting our friends and family know what we are up to and also a great way to share ideas such as making paddling plans like the one we did today.

Last night Kari Challenger invited us (via FB) to paddle with her and Joanne Nicolson to Race Rocks from our base camp at Weir’s Beach. Although our paddling skills are far enough advanced (we think) that making the trip to Race Rocks by ourselves is doable, we liked the opportunity to join Kari and Jo today. Safety with numbers we think.

The weather?? Same as yesterday but colder (3 degrees) with a constant rain and the forecasted 10 knot NE winds showing themselves early. The gear?? Thank god we have dry suits and for the first time I used full finger gloves and pogies.

Leaving the put in location we made our way around William Head and started to see the effects of the NE winds on the water. Although not roaring with white caps the best way to describe the sea state is simply sloppy. The currents for making the trip were in our favour as we were on the last of the ebb, which pulled us along towards Race Rocks. But there is always the trip back that I had in the back of my mind.

After crossing Pedder Bay we changed direction towards the lighthouse on Race Rocks when Jo called out “ORCA”!! Sure enough, a massive pod of Resident Orca was about ¼ mile on our port side making their way towards Victoria. Our first sighting of Orca by kayak and it sure had the WOW factor. ( Sorry No Pictures :-(  ) For us another “Kayaking Bucket List” crossed off and what better way to close out 2012.

Arriving at Race Rocks the first thing we noticed was the very low numbers of sea lions present. When we were last here in the summer every rocky islet was covered with California or Steller sea lions but today only a single islet was covered with the massive mammals. Keeping our distance we navigated around the islets before heading back towards Eemdyck Passage for our rest stop.

Leaving our rest stop we headed towards Pedder Bay and it was a bit of a slog with the wind blowing straight in our face but thankfully we were in the midst of the slack tide. Making our way around William Head it seemed that the wind had started to back off with the final push into Parry Bay put in location was very relaxing.

After 4 hours on the water we were all starting to feel the effects of the cold but it sure was a gratifying last paddle of 2012. Thanks Kari & Jo for letting us tag along. 

Paddle # 81 - 15.69 km
Total Distance (2012) 715.85 km
That's All Folks!!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

By The Numbers

One sure thing about living on the west coast is that the weather forecast can change overnight (also hour to hour) and so was the case this morning. Instead of waking up to sunny skies and little wind it was just another day of clouds (although a bit colder) and the threat of 10 – 15 knot easterlies. Why would we want a perfect December day to paddle in anyway????

We decided to watch the Canadian Jr. hockey game against U.S.A. before making a move to head out on the water. Our boys did well and so it was time to go put in some kilometres from our base camp at Weir’s Beach (Parker Bay) in hopes of reaching the 700 km mark for 2012. The easterlies were starting to show themselves which we enjoyed as we had to work a bit to maintain our speed and track towards William Head.

Playing in the rock gardens we paddled into Quarantine Cove to get a better view of William Head Federal Penitentiary. Situated on the tip of William Head the prison is pretty much surrounded by water so escape by sea would be a foolish option considering how cold the water is and the speed of which the currents run by. 

In realty I would think that there are worst places to serve time and from an outsiders view William Head has sort of a country club appearance of open expansive grounds. Still …. It’s good to be on the outside looking in.

Many times over the past year we had paddled out of Pedder Bay, which is on the opposite side of William Head from our campsite. Today we really wanted to get a view of our Pedder Bay playgrounds so we continued on towards Ned Point where we were able to see Race Rocks and the DND islands at the tip of Rocky Point. A couple of sea lions were playing close by but they were very shy about getting their pictures taken. Today we wouldn’t be making the transit across Pedder Bay as the easterlies would simply be not in our favour on the trip back. In fact the idea of landing in Pedder Bay and walking balk for our truck just didn’t work for us today but it would have made for an interesting story.

Keeping a close watch on our track distance we headed back across the front of the campsite and towards an elusive Geocache that we have been trying to get to for the past year. Although one can reach the cache location at low tide by walking a fair distance along the rocky shoreline we have been pondering a water approach every time we have paddled by. Today was “go” day and Robyn made a landing just below the step cliffs where the cache was reported to be hidden. 

Upon exiting the cockpit of her kayak I saw her franticly search for something in her deck bag and on herself. When I asked what she was looking for I heard the word “GPS” and all I could think of that it was somewhere in the depths of where we had just paddled. As I headed towards the beach Robyn wadded back into the water and below the surface at arms length she spotted her Oregon 550 rolling around on the rocky bottom. Now that is one lucky find!!

After checking to make sure the GPS was still working (it’s water resistant) she locked onto the Geocache location and climbed the rocky cliff to the top and located the treasure. 

While on the cliff she took the following picture of her landing area and the RV camp in the background. We'll look back at this Geocache find with fond memories of not loosing an expensive "finding tupperware in the woods" device not alone our primary electronic navigation tool. LOL

Heading back to the camp we played a bit in the surf breaking around the shoreline as it also allowed us to add a bit of distance to our paddle. 

Remember the target of 700 km? Well, we started the paddle needing 8.92 km and by the time we landed we had covered a distance of 9.08 km today reaching our milestone for 2012. But wait ….. we have one more day left in 2012 which means more adventures and distance to add tomorrow. The pressure is off now!

Paddle # 80 - 9.08 km
Total Distance (2012) 700.16 km

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Heading Towards 2013

Now that the Christmas celebrations are now over for another year we have migrated to Weir’s Beach RV Resort to ride out 2012 and bring in 2013. Yesterday the weather was quite stormy for kayaking so we decided to do a little Geocaching in the hills around Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific. It made for a great hike and I played around with the GoPro with GoPole handle taking video clips of our adventure along the way. No doubt the GoPole will come in handy (pun) when we head DisneyWorld in 19 days.

Our Geocaching Walk-A-Bout yesterday

After over sleeping for the second day straight, we had a quick breakfast while I checked the weather forecast for our planned paddle in the Sooke Basin. For December, anything other than snow is good and today it was going to be a mixed bag of rain, clouds and maybe a peek of sun. Our put in location at Cooper Cove is only about 20 minutes away by vehicle but with the morning drizzle trying to change our minds we put our drysuits on in the RV and headed out for a much needed paddle.

We have paddled in the Sooke Basin a number of times and have found that it is such a tranquil setting especially in the winter season. Today was no different as we had the whole basin to ourselves with only the numerous waterfowl, seals and even a river otter to keep us company. Many times we forget that we are on the ocean as the protected basin can take on the look of a still mountain lake. As we worked off the rust of not being on the water for almost 4 weeks, we simply took in every movement on the surface or the flight path of birds around us.

Other than being on the water we didn't have a destination or paddle plan so we just made up our routing on the fly so to speak and ended up paddling around Billings Spit playing in the gentle flood currents that were trying to take us back towards our put in location. The only thing for certain was that this would be a leisurely paddle and our kayaks would be observation stations for us.

A group of small seals escorted us around the basin and quietly slipped beneath the surface when they got too close to us. Curious little fellows who no doubt were looking for treats. The always nervous Cormorants gave us a wide berth by taking flight while the many different types of ducks just paddled away not really bothered by our presence. Oyster Catchers danced along the logs they were riding on while a couple of majestic bald eagles kept watch of us from the peaks of trees on the Goodridge Islands. 

While exploring the shoreline a lonely river otter spy hopped to get a better look at us before heading back to the bottom in search of lunch. 

Soon we came across a rare sight of a penguin proudly standing guard on a rocky point. He didn't even flinch as we let the current take us close by for a couple of pictures. My guess is that he may be standing guard still …… even at this late hour. ;-)

Heading back towards Cooper Cove the rain started to fall and it had this amazing “singing” tone that made me feel that I was listening to something that I would expect within the Hobbit that I am reading now. One could say that we are fair weather paddlers with the luck we have had avoiding rain over the past year but we also are beginning to understand why paddling in the rain can be so rewarding.

I just couldn't resist this picture....  

Paddle # 79 - 12.51 km
Total Distance (2012) 691.08 km

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December Thoughts

This month has been a whirl wind of paddling related activities but not so much in terms of actually being on the water. Simply put, the weather (wind storms) have kept us ashore from a few planned ocean paddles but we found our "kayak" fixes in other places.

Throughout our lives Robyn and I have always liked to give back in some way to the clubs or organizations that we have been part of. Although we are really newbies on the local paddling scene, both of us have offered our services to two organizations that have become the back bone of our paddling network. 

Robyn provides bookkeeping services in the Greater Victoria area and and through our contacts at SISKA we learned that the BC Marine Trails Network could use her expertise. So she has been busy assisting the Treasurer with providing volunteer bookkeeping services for a great kayaking resource.

I on the other hand have offered my services to SISKA (South Island Sea Kayaking Association) to assist the club in the role of Secretary until the next AGM in March. We have gained so much from being associated with both of these great organizations that we felt it was the least we could do to give back in some way.

This past Saturday the fifth annual SISKA Christmas Party and Paddle was planned but due to gale force winds the paddle portion was cancelled. We were very excited about participating in the paddle portion as we had all of our decorations ready for the kayaks. It would have been a great picture to see the 30 something paddlers make their way to the 6 Mile Pub by water and then hike up the bank into the pub to join the other 45 paddlers arriving by their land yachts. However we all ended up arriving by land yachts and good times were had by all. Robyn even won a couple of door prizes consisting of dry bags which you can never have enough of.

On Sunday night it was back into the pool for the SISKA Rolling Clinic which was lead by the club president and good friend Sheila Porteous. Having somewhat been able to roll, Sheila asked if I would like to assist her and Joanne with the group of first timers attempting to roll. Yeah ... for sure!!!!  Robyn also was participating in the clinic as a student but I was surprised when Sheila asked me to help two other ladies  who had no idea about rolling instead of working with Robyn.

After a introductory pool side basics session it was time to get into the water and start putting the elements of the roll together with my assigned students. We gradually worked through the bracing elements with a paddle float and then progressed all the way to both of my students completing their first unassisted roll before the end of the session. I by no means are an expert roller (not even close) but for me I found that I was able to relate to their apprehension since I had just gone though a similar learning process.

Taking a few pages from Sheila and Yves (Go Kayak) teaching techniques I simply reassured them that I was there to ensure them that any fear of being "stuck" under water was gone. What better way than to have the students roll onto their side for the first time while I just held them there in the crutch of of my arm. Here they worked of the sweeping motion all the way to rolling onto the back of their kayak. The other thing that I really focused on was getting them to relax through many stages of the roll and build fluidity into the process by letting go of the natural "panic" instincts. I know how both of my students must have felt completing their first roll but I have to admit I was pretty stoked as well. Do I hear a calling to become a PVC Level 1 Instructor in 2013???  ;-)

Next week is that magical time of year and last year my message was pretty simple. So once again it is our wish and we hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday season.

What would this world be like if every day we celebrated peace on earth like we do at this time of year? Even though we are all alone in space, the people of this amazing blue planet somehow manage to put differences aside and show that we care for one another.

Mark & Robyn

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December Double

OK ...... maybe we chewed off too much for one day.

The first day of December and what better way to bring in the Christmas season by planning not one paddle but two all within 12 hours. One could call it testing our stamina but on the other hand one could call it "what were you thinking"?

Our day started by joining the South Island Sea Kayaking Association (SISKA) for a Relaxed Paddle on Saturday morning exploring the Gorge / Portage Inlet system. Joining up with 12 other paddlers our group lead by Gary Allen did what a relaxed paddle is supposed to be which was simply loligagging along the shoreline, playing limbo under gangways and trying to get stuck under low lying trees. No unnecessary waste of energy unless absolutely needed.

The one thing that was great to see was the number of new or relatively low time on the water paddlers come out for this paddle. What better environment to build up time and confidence than the protected waters of the Gorge but mother nature could have cooperated a bit better. The forecast called for periods of rain and right on cue the rain started at the paddle briefing. Although not everyone had dry suits those who didn't came prepared for the possibility of getting wet and they sure did.

Every once and a while the clouds would open up to reveal the sun and a few rainbows were seen around us. Then it was back to performing yoga to clear the gangways our any obstacles that we could challenge us.

I have no idea when I will ever use this paddle skill again but when you have peer pressure ya just have to show how it can be done. LOL

The group explored Craigflower Creek until we came across a dead fall blocking our way. I have heard that at one time you could paddle through a culvert that goes under the Trans Canada Highway not too far from where we had to turn around. Talk about up the creek with lots of paddlers!

Oh yeah .... I forgot to mention that it was high tide in the Gorge which can be a good thing because at low tide there are many places that you get stuck in the silt of Portage Inlet making passage to Colquitz Creek impossible. On the other hand with the rain run off and high tide it made for slim pickings for a rest stop area but we did manage to find one on the Colquitz.

I took this picture where it is normally high and dry but not today.

After our lunch break we headed further up the Colquitz until we all pretty much had enough of the rain and decided to head back to our put in location. It was a hardy group of paddlers who came out for a very relaxed paddle and you know something? Paddling in the rain isn't that bad after all.

Paddle #77

But Wait!!!!  There's more.

Robyn and I have been spending a few of our weekend evenings in the Crystal Pool working on our rolling skills and so after a couple hours to relax (nap) we were in the warm pool water at the Ocean River Sports drop in session. Feeling pretty good with our rolling progression we were excited to get back at it again with the GoPro Hero 2 ready to capture our training session.

WRONG!!!!  My first two attempts resulted in really bad timing of the sweep, hip snap, burying the paddle and of course lifting my head way to early. Oh well, I got to practice wet exits with my new Snap Dragon spray skirt. :-)

While I regrouped it was Robyn's turn and bingo .... same results as mine. What the heck???? We could do this a couple weeks ago. So it was back to basics for both of us as we started from scratch assisting each other Go Kayak style and analysed what we were doing wrong. After some more frustrating attempts things started to come together and even though not pretty we managed to get ourselves out of the water. It wasn't pretty and we knew it. :-)

It was during one of my set ups I found myself just leaning forward with my paddle in position and I realized that I simply couldn't think any more. I had no idea what I was going to do next and the only thing that came to mind was that we were told that there would be days like this.

Both of us just didn't feel comfortable in the pool tonight and it really wasn't physical tiredness we were experiencing but more of a mental block was occurring.  As we tried to struggle our way through the evening the physical exhaustion started to set in and we knew that we really weren't progressing tonight as we have in the past.

Lesson learned?  Don't bite off too much that you can chew on.

Oh yeah ...... the GoPro video ain't worth showing!  LOL

Paddle #78 sort of ....
Total Distance (2012) 678.57 km

Monday, November 26, 2012

Figuring Out Discovery Island

Boy, being off the water for 15 days really wears on you but at this time of year the November winds storms sometimes keep you high and dry. You just have play the waiting game but in between weather systems there are windows of opportunities to get out there and become one with the water.

This weekend was one of those opportunities and although Saturday presented many chores to be completed we opted to play on Sunday instead. The marine forecast called for no warnings all around southern Vancouver Island so we really had lots areas to choose from. Keeping in mind that the sun sits lower in the southern skies these days was one of the factors why we chose to make a run over to Chatham and Discovery Island. With the warm sun, the tides and currents were also in our favour allowing us to get a little action crossing Baynes Channel and get some currents practice in as well.

Our put in location was at Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay and to our amazement not another kayaker was in site this morning. It just might have been the fact that we experienced our first frost of the fall over night and there was a definite chill in the air.

SUP's turning back after reaching Jemmy Jones Island. No PFD's or inclement weather wear but the did have day bags?
My guess is that they planned on going to Discovery but saw the rip in Baynes and thought twice. Good decision!!

With a brisk 5 knot NE wind meeting the flood, Baynes was showing a good rip off Strongtide Islet so we crossed over using the radio towers on Vantreight Island to keep our track on course. The goal for today was to explore the many islets that make up the Chatham / Discovery Island chain with a lunch stop at the marine park in Rudlin Bay.

Now which way to go? Hard to believe but this is the slough at high tide and we paddled right through it not knowing.

However, if one doesn't bring a chart ..... trying to find the "slough" becomes a bit of a challenge. DOH!! Yes of all things I forgot to bring was my chart of the islands (oh yeah ... and watch) so we simply started peaking here and there for that narrow play zone that we visited back in July with Yves (Go Kayak) during our currents training. For some reason the seascape totally looked different from our previous trips to the islands and it didn't dawn on me until we got home that we were on a high tide this time. All of our previous trips had been at low tides which expose many narrow passages between the islets.

Making our way south after going through the slough and not recognizing (LOL) it we headed east between Chatham and Discovery Island towards the marine park in Rudlin Bay at the south end of Discovery. This is one of my favourite locations to visit and today we had the whole bay to ourselves. It is one of those magical places that is hard to explain and pictures just don't do it justice. Simply ... you have to see it for yourself to get the feeling that you are so far away from Victoria but yet so close.

180 degree panoramic of Rudlin Bay. Sea Bird Point on the left and Commodore Point on the right.

Last weekend orcas were seen off Sea Bird Point and the wolf was also spotted but this weekend we were greeted only by seals that call Rudlin Bay home. After a hot lunch of soup and chilli it was time to head back towards civilization but we did a little more exploration and once again found ourselves at the southern end of the slough. With the ebb tide starting to flow, the slough was starting to take on it's more familiar look to us so we rode the downstream :-) current out towards Baynes and made our way across towards 10 Mile Point.

Playing at 10 Mile Point we had some Police boat company coming through Baynes Channel

Before heading back to the put in location we played in the currents running between the islets at 10 Mile Point. This is a great place to work on edging while entering the main currents and back eddies and we must come back here soon when the tide is a bit lower to get a full work out.

Another fantastic day on the water ..... then again ...... isn't every day on the water fantastic??

Paddle #76

Monday, November 12, 2012

Remembering At Weir's Beach

The Remembrance Day long weekend is upon us and although we are spending the time at Weir's Beach, our thoughts are for those who have served this great nation and paid the ultimate sacrifice. As I write this blog entry I think  about members of Canada's armed forces who are stationed around the world protecting people in very tough conditions. Many times we take over service men and women for granted but they are the ones who fight for our freedom at home. Wherever you are ........ Thank You!

Our paddling plans for the weekend really had no plans at all other than check the currents, tides, wind and weather and see where each of those conditions would take us. Yesterday waking up to the first hint of frost after a chilly night we decided to paddle to Albert Head which is about half way to the Victoria inner harbour from our beach. Bundled up in our dry suits, pogies and warm fuzzy hats we headed out in the glorious sunshine.   

The currents and wind were perfect for the paddle especially on the way back when there was very little resistance on our Werner's. With no strokes we managed to do around 4 km/h and with gentle strokes reached over 7 km/h and it made for a nice lazy day outing.

Sunday the predicted 25-30 knot winds and rain played havoc on our paddling plans and although the rain wasn't a concern there was no way we could get out on the water to play in the surf. I keep my kayak ready just in case there was a glimmer of hope and even when Sheila and Neil arrived for dinner it was obvious that  playing on the water was not in the cards.

Of course ..... Monday was time to pack up and leave and the skies were clear and the water dead calm. It figures!!!!  It was still nice to get away and we have booked into the campground right after Christmas to celebrate New Years. The nice thing about Weir's Beach is that it gives us a few options to paddle depending on the weather. To the west is the Sooke Basin and of course Jordan River and to east all of the Victoria waterfront. Either way we are only a short drive to possible put in locations.

Hopefully we can get out on the water next weekend but I have a feeling we are in for a run of bumpy weather typical of this time of year. In the meantime ...... Happy Paddling!!

Paddle #75

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Learning To Love Fascia

I normally don't write about topics that can be construed as my personal viewpoint but after a year of skeletal bliss I just have to share one of the secrets to my kayaking experience.

All my life I have been very active and blessed with the the ability to take on most sporting activities with ease. Once could say that I naturally adapted to any physical activity and enjoyed what it did for my body and mind. However for the past 30 years I also suffered from chronic back related issues that usually took me out of action a couple times a year. You only have to ask Robyn or some of my closest friends and they will tell you of my suffering during these times.

photo courtesy of Anatomy In MotionStarting my kayaking adventure in the fall of 2011 was no different in terms of going "full tilt" into the new past time and right on schedule my back took a turn for the worst around Christmas time. In the past the remedy was muscle relaxants followed by several weeks of allowing my back to stabilize which it really didn't. It was almost like waiting for an earthquake and when the next back event came I would go through hell again. Doing the normal "guy thing" I tried to tell myself that it would get better on its own and only when I couldn't get in or out of my vehicle did I realize that I needed help. 

Robyn suggested that I try her registered massage therapist and not having anything to lose I walked (hobbled) the 1.5 km to the RMT office since I couldn't get into a car. After the consultation, Lisa (also a Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor) went to work on me identifying the epicentre of my troubles. It was while I was on her table that she mentioned to me about trying yoga since my lower back had almost no flexibility and in her terms was "like cement".

In between my RMT sessions Robyn and I enrolled in a 4 week Yoga 101 course at Breathing Space Mind & Body. Although my back was relatively tender I immediately found that doing the yoga asanas on my terms started to improve the flexibility not only in my back but throughout my whole body. In particular I learned that the fascia (connective tissue that covers our muscles) was one of the sources of my problems for being so tight and injuring myself. Just like in an earthquake when the pressure builds up something has to give and in my case the muscle structure in my back was a series of fault lines.

Over the past year yoga has become a regular part of my life whether it is a formal practice at the studio or an early morning (05:00) home practice that prepares my body for the coming day. Now that I am performing more advanced kayak skills such as rolling, I think back to how inflexible I was and realize that there is no way on earth that I could be enjoying kayaking as much as I am now.

There are many variants of yoga practice and each has pros and cons but it comes down to personal preference. Robyn and I practice mostly Yin Yoga that focuses on the fascia connective tissue including ligaments and tendons of the spine and joints. During Yin Yoga the asana (pose or posture) are held usually for a duration of 3 to 5 minutes or even longer. We have found that Yin is the perfect way to recover from a weekend of kayaking especially after completing long distance paddles.

Like with all yoga practices, focusing on the breath is key to  performing Yin asanas which allow for a deeper stretch to occur without experiencing pain or sharp electrical sensations. With regular practice Yin yoga can actually lengthen the connective tissues while increasing the range of motion which we have found especially beneficial for all aspects of our kayaking adventure.

Yoga.... is it for you? Only you can answer that question. Namaste :-)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Relaxing With A Little Help From Our Friends

Living in one of Canada's premier kayaking destinations has many advantages. The south coast climate of British Columbia allows us to be on the water all year and there is no shortage of kayakers with the same passion as ours. Even with the possibility of rain showers and increasing winds, South Island Sea Kayaking Association members along with a number of guests took part in the Relaxed Paddle along the Saanich and Oak Bay shorelines.

A Relaxed Paddle is just what it means (an easy and informal manner) of exploration for the kayaker in the environment. No real goals, no real timelines, and no cares about what is happening beyond the shoreline we have just left behind. Simply all shared by friends who care about nothing but just being there.

Robyn goes "Camel" under the gangway ......
Under the guidance and watchful eyes of Lynn Baier (paddle leader) and Gary Jacek (pace setter) the group paddled through the Royal Victoria Yacht Club playing limbo under the gangways.

....... and back upright. Thanks yoga for making that happen! :-)
What better way to to avoid contact with the gangway structure than to perform a yoga asana of  forward folds or a version of camel. Everyone in their own way navigated the challenges of the marina kayak playground before heading towards towards the Oak Bay Marina.

Rock gardens for kayakers is not what it sounds like. It's just a term that associates us playing within the shoreline rocky outcrops that are influenced by the waves. Many times the passages are well defined and many times there is only a hint of ripples indicating the underwater jagged barnacle covered obstacles that make playing in "our" gardens challenging.

One of our paddlers today summed it up pretty well saying that "if you want to play in the rock gardens.... don't use a new boat".

Sooner or later it is going to happen and when it does the new boat (and owner) becomes officially christened after hearing that first scrape. Today my experience in the rock gardens went a little further as I saw white curly shavings from my hull float to the surface ........ it won't be the last time I think. I did happen to find a Castaway star in one of the rock garden crevices though ..... WILSON!!!!! 

After touring the Oak Bay Marina we paddled our way to Willows Beach which was our lunch stop destination. I love seeing a row of kayaks on a beach during a rest stop and today was no different other than Delta Kayaks full colors of the rainbow were displayed proudly by their owners. New paddler Ginny Glover fresh from her Go Kayak lesson the day before came along for the paddle in her green Delta 16.

Savasana in the rain after lunch :-)

After a refreshing lunch of tomato soup it was time to head back out towards our put in location and just in time as the rain started to fall. It's hard to believe but during the past year we have never paddled in the rain. Really!! I have heard that there is something special about paddling on a dead calm sea in the rain. Of course being in a dry suit helps with the experience but when the only sound you hear are the raindrops on the water the calming effect that it has on you is pretty special.  

Heading back towards our put in location the group crossed Cadboro Bay over to Flower Island for a lazy paddle on the east side of the bay back to the beach. One of the many benefits of a Relaxed Paddle is that attention to the water is not so critical (because of the calm conditions) which allows the paddlers interact with each other on a personal level. Many great friendships are formed this way and strengthens the bonds formed in a group like SISKA.

Remember last week was my first ocean roll? Practice make perfect they say so I gave it another go today before landing on the beach. The first roll was pretty good and the "head freeze" wasn't too bad either. Tempting fate I decided (urged by the onlookers) LOL to try another. It was all good until 3/4 of the way up I buried my paddle instead of continuing with the sweep. Yes it's all on video and NO.... you don't get to see that one either.  Besides ...... I needed to practice my wet exit anyway!!!  LOL

Next weekend is the Remembrance Day long weekend and we'll be based at Weir's Beach RV Campground. Lots of options depending on the weather but secretly we both want to do a little surfing right outside of the campground ;-)

Paddle #74

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bucket List

As promised last week, this weekend our paddle plans involved pool training on Saturday night and then a SISKA Energizer paddle on Sunday morning. All completed in less than 18 hours it made for a good test of our conditioning and a couple of kayaking bucket list items were crossed off along the way.

Over the past couple of months Robyn and I have been working on our rolling skills and we have migrated into the Crystal Pool as the winter weather starts to take hold. Although I have figured out how to roll and can do them 9 out of 10 times, I still have a lot of refining to do to bring more fluidity into them. Robyn has been my on the water critique and her desire to roll has also increased dramatically. This was really evident on Saturday after I completed one of my better ones and she turned to me and said "I want to do that!"  :-)

For this training session I decided to mount the GoPro on Robyn's kayak so that we could later review her technique and steepen the learning curve a bit. Using the training methods that we learned from Yves of Go Kayak, I took on the roll (pun) of instructor stood beside her in the pool as we gradually added elements to her training. At the beginning of this session we picked up where we left off from our last pool session with Robyn's head just under the surface. On my signal (bang on bottom of the kayak) she performed the required knee drop, sweep of her paddle, hip snap all in perfect timing (almost) while keeping her head low (sometimes) resulting in her torso rolling onto the back deck of the kayak and completing the roll. Easy Peasy !!

Gradually throughout the next couple of hours I lowered Robyn further into the water to the point that she was completely upside down in the water and she completed the process again. Here she learned that being "explosive" with her paddle stroke and hip snap were keys to the success she was experiencing. Easy Peasy!!

The next step was for Robyn to fully set up for the roll on her own, roll her kayak the opposite direction of me lowering her upside down. Just another element added to the process and like most first attempts she made it 3/4 out of the water only to experience burying her paddle, wrong timing of the hip snap and of course the dreaded head trying to come out of the water too soon. Easy Peasy!!   :-)

We spent the next few minutes talking about the elements that she experienced and when I asked her what went wrong she pointed out what I mentioned above. Brilliant !! At least she knew what the issues were and that is half of the training, the rest is just execution.

Setting up for her second attempt I stood by to make sure her paddle blade angle was correct and just like in the Batman TV sitcom ...... KAPOW, SWOOSH, SPLOOSH ....... Robyn was upright sitting in her kayak like a true superhero. Making sure that the roll was just wasn't a lucky one, Robyn quickly set up and completed her second roll unassisted all recorded on the GoPro. Easy Peasy!!!  

Having recently gone through the first roll experience myself, I know how Robyn must have felt after the pool session. There is something about completing your first roll that is almost like remembering your first bike ride without training wheels. The best part .... you just want to do more rolling and Robyn was no different. In fact on Monday morning I got a text from her asking when the next pool session was as she wants to roll more!!  LOL  My response ..... "take it to the ocean now".  A kayaking "Bucket List" item crossed off.

Getting home late on Saturday and attempting to dry out some of our gear, the Sunday morning alarm came way too soon as it was time to head back out to participate in the SISKA Energizer Paddle from Whiffen Spit to Otter Point. At least the the weather gods were looking over the group with the sun trying peak through the clouds and only a respectable 5-10 knot wind present.

Preparing our rides at Whiffen Spit in Sooke

This paddle was an inter-club event of sorts as some of the Nanaimo Paddlers joined the group and it was great to have them along. A total of 27 paddlers took to the water and started the transit towards the west and with the goal of reaching Otter Point. I have only been to Otter Point before while on our fishing boat and I knew that this paddle could and did live up to the "Energizer" name.

With the wind picking up slightly there was a stiff breeze in our faces as the group worked it's way along the shoreline past the sand bluffs and towards the old log sort. Keeping close to the shoreline also allowed us to get out of the direct influence of the wind until we rounded Otter Point. It also allowed us to play in some of the rock gardens and take advantage of the swells coming off Juan De Fuca Straight.

Rounding Otter Point we spotted a nice long beach with a fairly steep landing zone. With the wind blown swells it made landing fun and of course timing just had to be right to avoid being dumped. The group did a great job of making into onto the beach without any in the water experiences and then it was lunch time!

I love these large group photos

As expected, the paddle back to Whiffen Spit was wind and swell aided and I'm pretty sure everyone was pleased with that after a good work out before lunch. Secretly, I also think a bunch of us were hoping for a little more surf action to play through the rock gardens but other than the occasional roller coming ashore there wasn't too many great opportunities to ride the waves.

Making our way back past the sand bluffs several of the group took the opportunity to perform self rescues of different varieties. Remember my comment to Robyn about taking her rolling to the ocean? Well, lead by example I say and so it was my turn to cross off a kayak "Bucket List" item and complete my first ocean roll. More importantly .... to experience the dreaded "Head Freeze" for the first time. So like Rami- BamBam would say "Git Er' Done" and so I did.

Yup .... cold ocean water running into your ear canals is pretty disorientating and the shock of "Head Freeze" was nasty. How nasty? During my second roll attempt I was so confused under water due to the cold that I totally blew the roll. Yeah ..... No you don't get to see that video!   LOL

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Where Has All The Summer Gone

Silence on our part over the past two weeks doesn't mean that we have put the kayaks away for the winter and we are entering hibernation for the next five months. Contrary to the fact, we spent last weekend indoors at the Crystal Pool working on rolling techniques in preparation for our up coming winter kayak season.

Getting it done in the pool

Kayaking in winter you say??? Well, those of you who have been following our adventure know that we started this passion just over a year ago and there wasn't much that stopped us from being on the water even in our wet suits and bundled up to build time on the water.

This weekend we are back at the Pedder Bay RV Resort but what a change in the weather from a couple weeks ago when it was 18C. The much needed rains came to the west coast this past week and with it the beginning of winter arrived with the first wind storm. A lot of things have changed in terms of equipment since last year and today we experienced winter kayaking in our Kokatat dry suits which not only kept us dry but more importantly allowed us to keep nice and toasty on our first winter like paddle.

The weather forecast simply wasn't the greatest but with the possibility of thunder storms, predicted westerly winds of 20 knots on the Juan De Fuca Straight and a 4+ knot ebb running at Race Rocks we headed out into Pedder Bay to do a little exploring. Pedder Bay has become one of our favourite places to paddle as it offers so many different conditions depending on where you go and what the weather is doing. One of our goals for the day was to make it to Bentinck Island and see what the conditions were like for a possible transit into Becher Bay.

As we left the marina the Katabatic like winds were starting to pick up really good but we were bundled up for a brisk day on the water. Robyn was sporting her new "yak hat" that she picked up at the Fulford Harbour ferry terminal on Saltspring Island this past August. We both knew it would come in handy and today she was "stylin". 

Paddling out of the bay we were greeted by the glorious warm sunshine with a view of the snow dusted peaks of the Olympic Mountains across the straight. But that wouldn't last for long as we made our way past the DND jetty and towards Bentinck Island where we became exposed to the westerlies and an approaching front. Entering Enetdyk Pass it was clearly evident that we wouldn't be making it to Becher Bay with the breakers rolling into the west end of the pass.

A little GoPro Hero 2 video in the Pass. Check out the color under water.

Race Rocks Lighthouse just beyond Bentinck Island
Like we have done many times, we reassessed the conditions and decided to head back into Pedder Bay and made the crossing over to William Head.  Half way across the  northerly winds coming out of the bay collided with the westerly winds creating a pretty good wind rip of waves and spray. A good energizer work out for sure.

Reaching William Head we slogged our way back into the bay until the the landscape shielded us from the crazy winds. Being on the water is always special but today when we reached the boat launch it felt so good to take off our dry suits and be perfectly warm and dry. Winter paddling??? Love it!!!

Next weekend we are back in the pool on Saturday night with the folks from Ocean River Sports to work on more rolling techniques. On Sunday we will be participating in the SISKA Energizer Paddle outside the Sooke Basin and maybe play in the waves a bit. Who knows .... maybe I'll even attempt a "head freeze" ocean roll too!  :-)