Monday, February 27, 2012

And Now... Something Completely Different

For the past several years Robyn and I have made the trip to Kamloops on this weekend each year to participate in the e-FLY Indoor Electric R/C event held inside the Tournament Capital Centre Field House. With 65,000 square feet of space this indoor facility is the perfect venue to host Precision Aerobatics, Freestyle (to music) and the popular Extreme Obstacle Championships. 

Most airplanes flown indoors these days are very sophisticated in terms of technology utilizing high speed digital servos, brushless motors and very powerful lithium polymer battery packs all flown with 2.4 GHz radio systems. The airplanes themselves are made from foam or specifically Depron Foam which is used as hardwood floor under lay in Europe. With a total flying weight of under 6 oz and a thrust to weight ratio of around 5 to 1 it makes for some really interesting flight characteristics.

The first video was taken while I was wearing my GoPro Hero 2 creating that "first person" view so that basically you get to see what I saw while I was flying. In this video am I competing in the Extreme Obstacle event and this is my first of two flights with the lowest flight time of the two used to determine placings. The objective is to fly under and between the pylons (neon pink sticks) while not hitting them or crashing into the ground.

The next video was also taken with a GoPro but mounted on a quad-copter like this one. With stabilizing gyros, upgradable GPS and altitude hold capability it is the perfect platform for capturing aerial pictures and video. Hummm...... just maybe I can use this while on the water in the kayak. ;-)

A great weekend flying with the boys from around BC. Kinda felt weird leaving the kayaks home all alone by themselves. Back on the water this weekend!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Little Bit Of Everything

After spending a soggy Saturday at the Victoria Tea Festival we were anxious to see if the weather man might be wrong about his Sunday forecast of rain and wind not really suited for kayaking. Sleeping in until 07:30 which is very rare for me I woke up to overcast skies with the sun trying its darnest to break through. Naw.... the weather man is always right isn't he???

Powering up the laptop I pondered what type Keurig java I would need to kick start this morning while trying to make a decision whether to take in a yoga practice or load the kayaks for a day on the water. Checking all my favourite internet sources for marine weather and wind / current forecasts suggested that we just might be able to get in a few hours of exploring so it was time to wake up my paddling buddy and get suited up for another day on the water.

A few weeks back we explored some of the small islands just north of Sidney with the SISKA paddlers and with only a 40% chance of showers and winds predicted to be around 15 knots SW swinging to SE later in the day, we decided to do some more exploring of the area. The SISKA "Energizer" paddle was also somewhere in the area but we didn't see them from our Ardwell Ave. put in location. Crossing Tsehum Harbour we only encountered a few sail boats heading out to catch the winds in the Sidney Channel and we were assisted by a noticeable flood current on our outbound track and a slight breeze on our backs.

Making our way past Canoe Bay we entered Iroquois Passage with the goal of checking out the public dock in Swartz bay. It was also a great opportunity to see the BC Ferries from the water as the Coastal and Spirit ships came by.  

Heading around the northern end of Goudge Island into John Passage the SW winds swung around to SE as predicted with a rain squall following closely behind. As we rounded the southern end of Goudge, whitecaps started showing themselves between Tsehum Harbour and Little Shell Island so we detoured between Fernie Island and into the sheltered waters of Canoe Bay. After spending a few minutes exploring Canoe Cove Marina we started heading back along the protected shoreline into Tsehum Harbour. 

In close formation with Geocko Paddler #1 (LOL) as we transit under the docks

The squall gradually passed and the winds started to fall as rapidly as they began and we stopped for lunch at the public beach where we had been with SISKA a few weeks back. We both brought a thermos of hot tea made from our purchases at the Tea Festrival and it was the perfect warm-me-up before we headed back onto the water.

Our plan was to further explore deeper into Tsehum Harbour but the once again the SE winds started to rise and whitecaps started forming pretty easily so we decided it was time to head back towards Roberts Bay  where we left just over 3 hours earlier. Working our way through a good chop to Armstrong Point I looked to my left and behold a flotilla of kayaks were making their way across the harbour on an intersecting course as ours. The SISKA "Energizer" paddlers closed rapidly and we joined up with them to exchange a few hellos  and to continue the transit past the point with them. Great timing for my GoPro to run out of memory as it would have made for great pictures of us joining the group. Can't wait for that Wi-Fi BacPac to become available!

After rounding Armstrong Point together we left the SISKA paddlers as they were heading towards Amherst Beach just beyond Roberts Point. The water in that direction didn't look friendly at all (+ 15 knot wind) but I did notice the group tighten their formation before reaching the point as they paddled out of view. During our load up back at the beach we kept looking back to Roberts Point where the breakers seemed to get larger. At the end of the day, we got to experience  a variety weather and sea conditions and by using good judgement and common sense during the trip we further explored our personal comfort zones. All in all..... a great day on the water!    

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

GoPro Hero 2 About To Go Wireless

Great news from GoPro at the CES in Las Vegas for us GoPro Hero 2 owners! The much anticipated Wi-Fi backpack will be released near the end of March and will be able to control up to 50 individual GoPro cameras at the same time for those serious gear heads! Honey..... I need another Hero 2!!

Why such a big deal?? If you are like me, your GoPro might be mounted on your kayak and the only way to access the controls is while you are not in the cockpit. This means that what ever mode (video, pictures etc.) you have selected at the start of your paddle that's it unless your paddling buddy triggers the controls for you or you exit your kayak either on a beach or (not recommended) performing a wet exit to change the camera options. :-)

I like the convenient wrist band remote which can be also be attached to your PFD or any other convenient location within reach while you are in the cockpit. Another great option is that you will be able to control your Hero 2 by your smartphone via the WiFi BacPac and stream video directly to the web. So in effect your GoPro Hero 2 can be used as a HD mobile web cam. One thing not mentioned in the video clip is that battery / memory usage should be more efficiently utilized resulting in less editing at the end of a day and more quality pictures  / video captured.

Price?? As mentioned in the video the Wi-Fi backpack combo will retail at $99 US so if you are like me that will run about $120 Canadian before taxes. Is it worth it? I think it is a must for any GoPro Hero 2 owner to fully take advantage of all of the options that this great little camera has to offer. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Introductory Rescues

Saturday night Robyn and I spent the evening at the Crystal Pool in Victoria participating in the Ocean River Introductory Rescues course. Our main goal this evening was to learn how to self rescue ourselves with our new paddle floats in the event that we should capsize out in the elements.  Looking back to our first introductory course last October we sure have come a long way in terms of equipment and the number of times we have been on the water since then. This being our last introductory course in the series we felt very prepared for the course using our own boats and equipment.

After checking with our instructor (Janette) and the other 3 students in the class, I mounted our GoPro Hero 2 with the suction cup on the front decking of my kayak (tethered) with the lens pointed at my cockpit. I thought it would be a great opportunity to check out the video capabilities of the camera as well as capturing the underwater footage of my wet exits. Stopping and starting the camera a few times during the course I managed to get some really good video.

The video clip is 6:43 minutes long and I start my capsize at around the 2:00 minute mark. For you seasoned kayakers do you see what I did wrong in this wet exit?? Sure I got back in the kayak but watch what happens when I'm upside down. You know that handle which I call the "Holy Crap" handle? It works better if you actually pull it before trying to exit the kayak!  LOL

After using a trial version of Sony's Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 software, I purchased the full blown package this morning on line and downloaded it to my computer ready to use in less than 10 minutes. Isn't technology wonderful?? I'm not the greatest techno gearhead and it took me a bit to figure out how to "trim" a clip so that I could post it on the blog. Looks like I have a bit of research to do to really understand what this software can do for me. 

What a great way to capture our kayaking adventures

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Two For Two And I Don't Know What Time It Is!

Sunday awoke with the promise to be much like Saturday's great day of sun and we loaded the kayaks for a quick trip to Cadboro Bay to meet up with the folks of Kayak Yak. For the past few months we have been following the blog entries of John, Louise and Paula and through Facebook we planned an outing with them from Gyro Park. We have paddled here once before and it is such a diverse location for either the beginner all the way up to the well seasoned tide race sea kayaker.

After the introductions we got our rides down to the sandy beach and met up with Paula who was already at the launch point site since she practically lives on the park. The plan was to head over to Chatham Island via Flower and Jemmy Jones Islands checking the conditions at each point to decide if Chatham was possible today.  

On our way to Flower Island we spotted a Sea Otter playing like a cat who had just woken up and was scratching his back on the logs. It was quite a sight to see him go through the morning stretch routine and he didn't mind us taking a few photos. What a great way to start the paddle!  

As we came to Flower Island we spotted a bald eagle sunning himself with his feathers ruffled by the winds.  The wind forecast for the day was 10 knots from the NE so we needed to be sure that the transit would be safe for our group. Heading round the island we started the transit to Jemmy Jones and noticed the winds had come up a fair bit more than predicted. Looking past Cadboro Point into Baynes Channel I could see the white caps ripping pretty good. Chatham was going to be out of the question for our group today so we headed back to Flower Island where the bald eagle had been joined by its mate. 

We decided to head up to the navigation light at Cadboro Point along the coastline. As we rounded the point we were slightly sheltered from the wind by the small islets but some of the choppy waves were making their way between them. Awesome!!! My first opportunity to play in some waves so I gradually paddled my way in between a couple islets and had a few minutes extending my comfort zone while trying to read the on coming waves. Pretty cool!

Heading back to Gyro Park we explored the nooks and crannies of the coastline and then made our landing back where the day began. We joined John and Louise at the local coffee shop and enjoyed a warm beverage in the sunshine while learning a bit more about each other. It was then time to head home and wash down our rides but ........ I discovered upon arriving at home that I lost my economical waterproof sports watch somewhere at Gyro Park. I seem to have problems with watches and the ocean as this watch was the one that I bought in the Caribbean when my Timex Expedition disappeared while I was body surfing (I call it that). Good thing that I didn't have my expensive Blue Angels Eco-Drive on today!   

Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Of Two Spring Days

Heading into the weekend we knew that it was going to be a couple of great days of kayaking with the amazing spring forecast of warm sunshine and light winds. After not getting on the water during the month of January we were eager to take part in our first South Island Sea Kayaking Association (SISKA) Relaxed Paddle on Saturday. The group of 29 paddlers met up at Amherst Beach for a 09:30 briefing to discuss the plan for the day and identify the pace setter, port and starboard guides and our paddle leader Jennie following in behind to keep the group together while on the water. 
We were really impressed with the planning for the day and with such a large number of kayaks it was really important to keep together while crossing some of the potentially busy channels. This was done with VHF radios and so it was my first chance to try our ICOM IC-M72  radio and listen to the group leaders communicate to each other along the way.

This was also my first opportunity to try out my GoPro Hero 2 camera which I mounted on my deck bag for easy access and to view the pictures being captured. For this trip I set the camera to take a 11mp picture automatically every 5 seconds and let it do its thing while I focused on keeping pace with the group. Over all I took 1,075 pictures during the 4 hour trip stopping and starting the camera along the way to preserve battery and SD card space.

One of the many pictures taken by the GoPro Hero 2. Amazing quality for such a small camera!

After rounding the north end of Goudge Island we headed south through a small gap between Johnson and Fernie Islands and learned that this was a favourite transit of our group leader Jennie. So from this point on we will probably just call it "Jennie's Gap" when paddling through it.

Entering "Jennie's Gap"... a pretty special place to visit.

Stopping for lunch in Teaseum Harbour it was a pretty cool sight to see all of our rides beached while we enjoyed lunch in the sunshine. It was was great to meet so many people that have the same passion for kayaking.

Can you count all the kayaks?? 29 happy paddlers enjoying lunch

Here is a short video taken with the GoPro leaving the beach after lunch

It was a short transition back through the harbour past all the "blingy" yachts and to our starting point and all done in around 4 hours. A great first trip with the SISKA group and we look forward to participating in future paddles.

SISKA Feb 4th Relaxed Paddle Track