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!  :-)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pedder Bay With Pedder The Seal

Another glorious weekend on the west coast and who would have thought we could hit 20C temperatures in October??? Enjoying this extended summer we spent the weekend with Dave & Kelly Reaville at the Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina. This is one of our favourite camping locations as it just 30 minutes from home if you don't stop at Costco and spend $300!!  LOL 

Saturday morning Dave & Kelly rented kayaks and we headed out into Pedder Bay to do a little sightseeing and put out our crab trap in hopes of a little seafood to go with our steaks over the weekend.

I also decided to try a bit of fishing on this paddle and soon found out how cumbersome the fishing rod can be if you  don't have a dedicate rod holder. I found that the best place to put the rod end was between my back and PFD but even so it was a bit of a struggle to reach it. As much as I would like to fish from my kayak, I'm not in favour of drilling holes to mount a rod holder. Looks like I need to a bit more research on this topic.

We have tried our Jolly Good kayak crab trap before without any success so we took it with us and dropped it near all the other crab traps out towards the DND jetty. This time we had frozen salmon heads for bait and I was optimistic that this weekend might show some results. In the picture my deckhand (Robyn) ..... wait a second, me the deckhand prepares the pot while the captain (Robyn) watches. LOL

Once the trap drop was completed we did a little exploring of rock gardens and the girls disappeared into a small cove.  After about 10 minutes I went to find out what they were up to and discovered that a little seal was playing with them. Robyn also had been trying her hand at crabbing and netted a legal Red Rock crab which we threw back since it was too small for any feast.

As I glided into the little bay I turned on the GoPro Hero 2 that I had mounted on my helmet and boy was I ever so glad that I made that decision today.

We have seen many seals on our kayaking adventures but never one that was so curious about us. This little seal which we nicknamed "Pedder", checked out each of our kayaks and was really interested with our rudders and paddles in particular. A number of times he swam right up to our cockpit and we were glad that he didn't decide to try and jump up onto the decks. This was such a great experience but we decided it was time to to leave "Pedder" and head back on our exploration of the rock gardens.

Later in the afternoon while the Reaville's were preparing Thanksgiving dinner Robyn and I went out to check our crab trap. Promising results as there were a couple small Red Rock crab in the trap so we decided to relocate the trap and then check to see if Pedder was still around in the cove. Sure enough he was there and Robyn took probably our favourite picture of him. It was such a special encounter but once again time to leave the little seal to his natural environment.

Sunday morning we all headed out on a shoreline tour of Pedder Bay and I set up my GoPro Hero 2 with the Dive Housing. This paddle would be it's first real test to see how much of a difference the Dive Housing would be under water in an ocean environment. Playing in the rock gardens I lowered the GoPro into the water on my custom PVC wand and let the GoPro do the rest. Checking my videos later I was amazed at the quality that the Dive Housing produced over the standard housing. Maybe one day it might capture an Orca on video. Now that would be cool!

It was time to check the crab trap to see what an overnight soak had produced. Kelly was my support team as I hauled the trap up from the depths. I think to everyone's surprise, there was actually crabs in the trap!! A couple of small Red Rock and a single under size female Dungeness crabs were in the trap!!! Oh well, maybe next time.

We decided to see if Pedder might still be around and maybe get some under water video of him. As we entered the little cove that he was in yesterday,  we found no signs of him.

Another great weekend on the water and we are really happy that Dave & Kelly could share the experience with us. They even suggested that maybe.... just maybe they should think about getting some small yaks for themselves. Nice!!!