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