Monday, June 24, 2013

Nanaimo's East Sooke

Yesterday I joined the Nanaimo Paddlers for an outing along East Sooke Park playing in the rock gardens.  Robyn unfortunately couldn't make the paddle due to attending a bridal shower but being a guy I wasn't required to attend. LOL Sorry Honey :-)

I was eager to get back on the water after sort of being "beached" by the doc for a couple of weeks. I can't remember when I (we) didn't take to the water for this long and it was refreshing to get back into the cockpit again to see if my "tingling" feet would resurface again.

I met the other 10 kayakers at Whiffen Spit for an 11:00am OTW time but due to various pieces of mandatory equipment "forgets" the paddle didn't get underway until around 11:30 when replacements were found at the local kayak shop for rent. Actually it was quite funny as not only were a few PFD's were missing but also shoes and a helmet too! Some familiar faces were in the group as it was great to see Patti and Yves of Go Kayak just out for a day of fun as well.

Of course with the "Super" full moon this weekend that meant for super tides and you guessed it right by the picture below ..... the tide was waaaaaaaay out there when we put in. Although the forecast was for 5 - 15 from the west (which it didn't) with cloudy conditions with a chance of showers (which it did) it was actually pretty humid when we got under way. Only for the fact that we were rock gardening I chose my dry suit just in case that I ended up in the water seeking the edge of my sense of humour challenge.

It's not often that I have launched from the second kelp bed at Whiffen Spit LOL

The group crossed the entrance to the Sooke Basin and we casually started to explore some of the nooks and crannies that the low tide had to offer. There were several really good challenges available but due to the low tide it would have meant portaging them and that's not we came out for. Still it was a good time working on some of the stroke skills that I learned during a busy period of training in May and June.

The one thing about East Sooke Park is the limited number of places with a beach that is easy to land upon especially with the number of kayaks we had on the  paddle. Since we launched a little bit late we decided to stop at Iron Mine Bay on the tombolo between the little island just off shore. Robyn and I have been here once before while hiking the park trail and located the geocache that is on top of the island. I took the opportunity this time to get a few pictures of the group from high above during the lunch break. 

From the top of the island there was a great view of Secretary Island which we decided to head towards on the way back to Whiffen Spit.

Secretary Island in the distance.

After lunch we headed east exploring some of the shutes and exposed islets that became our "fun zone" for the day. There wasn't much of a surge happening but every once and a while the waves from a passing boat created a bit more fun for the group.

On the way back to Whiffen Spit we decided to paddle out to Secretary Island as the flood was just starting to show itself in the form of tide rips on the east side of the island. As we got closer to the island we noticed a number of whale watching boats very close by and sure enough there were orca in the area. Having fished in this area, the flood tide rip on the SE side of Secretary can really churn up the sea and the orca looked to be hunting for salmon on the eddy line on the far side from us.

Yves and Michael decided that it was time to surf the tide race and they had a blast while I watched them and the orca in the distance. I had my GoPro recording during the whole time hoping the orca would cross the tide rip towards us but they stayed on the outside. I did however get some video with glimpses of dorsal fins and a few full breeches but nothing worth posting here. Still on the bucket list .... kayaking with orcas real close up!

Heading back around Secretary towards the Sooke Basin there was a smaller tide rip that allowed for a few minutes of challenging water and surf waves to ride on before heading to the shoreline. Yves just couldn't resist the urge to head back to the larger rip with Patti and Reale for a second run. I stayed back and waited for them while the rest of the group made the crossing to the put in location. By the time the surfers came back to me the flood was almost over which made for landing back at the beach much better at high tide. Oh yeah .... note to self. When beaching my kayak make sure it is level otherwise I'll end up in the water like I did. Good thing I had my dry suit on. Sense of humor failure! LOL

2013 Paddle #39 - Nanaimo Paddlers East Sooke
Distance:  7.45 nm (13.79 km)
YTD:  212.63 nm (393.79 km)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SISKA Relaxed Evening Paddle #2

Blog post by Robyn

Tuesday evening was a SISKA 'Very Relaxed Paddle' hosted by Mike Jackson. Eighteen paddlers met at Cadboro Bay beach and headed counter-clockwise around the bay. It was a bit breezy to start but the sun was out so that warmed it up. We meandered through the marina and poked our kayaks into little bays until we reached Cattle Point.

The group working our way single file through the marina

As there were some new faces in the crowd, Mike took the time to point out various locations and let us know the origin of their names.  We crossed over from Cattle Point to Flower Island with the wind at our back which made for a nice surfy ride. As this was my first time paddling the Delphin for any length of time I took full advantage of the plastic hull to scrape some rocks and practice all the maneuvering I learned over the past few weeks. I quite enjoyed the Delphin and think I may have to paddle it more often!!

Chatham and Discovery Islands in the background made for a great scenic paddle

Mark was delegated as 'sweep' for this paddle so he followed behind the group in his Delta. I think he wanted to come and play with me!!

Mark & Gary provide "sweep" coverage keeping an eye on the paddlers.

After returning to the beach and loading up the kayaks, a bunch of us headed over to the pub for a late dinner. This was the second SISKA evening paddle and they sure seem to be popular. I really enjoy going out in my kayak after working all day. A great way to unwind.

2013 Paddle #38 - SISKA Evening Paddle #2
Distance:  6.71 km (3.62 nm)
YTD:  380.00km (205.18 nm)

Monday, June 10, 2013

SISKA Sooke River Campout

The annual SISKA Campout was held at the Sooke River Campground this past weekend and the focus was on a relaxed social gathering with clinics designed for the attendees. Most of the campers arrived on Friday afternoon and our RV sort of became the SISKA hospitality site for the weekend.

Lucky us that our truck driver side window was down when the power motor failed. It figures huh?  ...... wait my sister lives in Sooke! After a 5 minute drive to her house my brother in law (Dean) let me borrow some tools so that I could remove the regulator assembly and duct tape the window into the up position for the weekend. No paddling on Friday afternoon but man did the Dark Matter taste great!

After the coffee urn was turned on at 06:00 on Saturday morning for the paddlers,  I headed to work.

On Saturday morning, Sheila Porteous (President) and Gary Allen (Past President) made opening remarks to the 25 participants before the clinics started up for the day. Wayne Horodowich of USK (University of Sea Kayaking) returned as the special guest coach and he conducted bracing and paddle strokes clinics on Saturday. Wayne's unique sense of humour especially combined with his affection of being 6.6 feet tall kept the paddlers entertained throughout the weekend.

The Saturday morning briefing by Sheila and Gary 

The SISKA Instructor team also conducted a number of clinics throughout the day based upon what skills the members wanted to try or learn. There was a little bit of almost everything for the offering which made the day super laid back.

Robyn and I took Wayne's morning class to tune up some of our basic paddling skills and it's amazing that no matter what you think you know, there is always an opportunity for improvement or refinement of those skills.

Wayne describing a skill with the Sooke River bridge in the background

Once again I was pushing my personal envelope a bit just doing a simple stopping maneuver and ..... had another Sense of Humour Failure. LOL  I seem to be having a number of these lately in the Delphin but that's OK as gives me a great opportunity to self rescue myself either with a roll attempt or in this case a cowboy rescue. Somebody has to keep the group entertained right? LOL

In the afternoon while Robyn started the preparations for the BBQ, I practiced some of my rolls and paddled around to see what the various groups were working on. Sheila was conducting an introduction to rolling clinic as I played around with my new tow system and found a kayak (Sheila's) to haul around.

Trying my new tow system. Hummm... Sheila's kayak will work as a test. LOL

Mike Jackson lead a kayak sailing clinic with Peter, Wynne and Mike (Miles). Boy a kayak under sail really moves! 

Back at camp the dinner preparations were well under way as Robyn guided her volunteer crew to get everything ready while Alan Campbell and myself prepared the BBQ's for the burgers (beef, salmon and veggie). Right on schedule, dinner started getting dished up at 6:00pm and by how fast the food went it looked like everyone enjoyed themselves.

After dinner a number of off water clinics got underway including charts  lead by Sheila, a couple of knots and tarps clinics lead by Mike Miles and anyone who wanted to assist. Dorothea did her magic with refurbishing the club Greenland Paddle while teaching how to lay out a new one on a fresh cedar plank. For me, all I wanted to do was figure out how to take my 50 feet of tow line and daisy chain it into a more manageable length. Gary Allen gave me some pointers and before I knew it my 50 feet of line was now only about 6 feet long. Sweet!!

The propane gas fire was also a topic for discussion amongst the paddling group but it was a welcome addition to the evening as the sun went down.

On Sunday morning a few clinics got underway after the yoga session. Robyn headed onto the water with Sheila's Introduction to Rolling Clinic and I tagged along as an assistant. As it turned out we had a couple of new members who needed work on their self rescue skills and I was only happy to assist Sheila in this role. It wasn't long before both of them were doing paddle float rescues and their confidence started to increase. For me it was a really rewarding experience that only confirms my desire to become an instructor next year.

Robyn and Kari Challenger were getting some assistance from Sheila with their rolls. It was Robyn's first time in the Delphin trying a roll and she did quite well. So much that I think I might have a hard time getting to use the Delphin in the future. LOL

Here is Robyn setting up for a roll with Sheila giving last minute instructions.
Paddle in a good position with her body crunched forward.

Starting the process of rotating her core while keeping the paddle flat on top of the water.

A little bit of the head sneaking a peak on the other side but Robyn gets her body on the back deck of the kayak with a little muscle help.
 Up and out of the water! Nice
Yeah baby!!! That's the way to do it!

Just before calling it a day, Sheila, Kari, Robyn and I had a little session of kayak games trying to upend each other. Sometimes it worked but for the most of the time we ended up in the water and it was a good chance to practice our cowboy reentry and even changing kayaks.

Robyn and I exchanging kayaks without getting wet. It didn't take long but we figured it out.

After doing a couple of right side up cowboy reentries in the Delphin and Robyn's Delta I decided to try and "cowboy" the Delphin upside down. If you have never tried to scramble on top of an overturned kayak and paddle it to shore ya just gotta try it. It's way harder than I thought it would be as the bottom of the kayak is really slick and hard to stay on.

A cowboy reentry is supposed to be done with the kayak right side up. I decided to try it while it was upside down.

The whole Campout Committee and volunteer crew did an amazing job on making the weekend so enjoyable for everyone. We are already looking forward to next year!

2013 Paddle #37 - SISKA Sooke River 
Distance:  Who knows - we played around in the river building skills. GPS not required.  LOL 
YTD: 373.29 km (201.56 nm)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Pacific Paddling Symposium

This past weekend Robyn and I participated in the first ever Pacific Paddling Symposium that was held at the Lester B. Pearson United World College, set on the wooded shores of the Pacific Ocean. The location provides easy access to diverse paddling environments, from the protected waters of Pedder Bay to the challenging tidal currents of Race Passage.

Many of you know from previous blog posts that we spend a lot of time at the Pedder Bay Marina and RV Resort while kayaking and the area has become our playground of sorts. Although most of the symposium participants stayed at the college for the weekend, Robyn and I set up camp at the RV park and simply commuted each day (less than 5 minutes) by kayak. Our entry package included 2 full days of instruction, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners and we were excited and honoured to be part of what would be a fantastic weekend.

Instead of waiting until the end of this post, I think it is fitting to give the PPS Committee, Coaches, Volunteers and the College a much deserved THANK YOU. They made the weekend extremely successful for everyone and for a first year event all I can say is WOW!! Awesome job everyone!

Arriving at the college for registration on Friday afternoon in our civies we had our own private dock to park our yaks. 

After setting up camp we paddled over to the college to check in and get ready for dinner which was followed by guest speakers and presentations. But first the coaches were returning from their day on the water and some had unique methods of coming ashore.

On our way to the registration area I spotted Michael Pardy with a brand new P&H Hammer that he was going to use for the weekend courtesy of MEC. I was really excited to see it in person for the first time but I have to admit it really didn't get my "gearhead" senses going. Coming in at around 13.75 feet it has the look of a hybrid whitewater boat / sea kayak that is specifically designed to 'play the sea' as P&H describes it.

I have always believed that if you serve great food at events like this then the rest just falls into place. So was the case at the symposium with awesome food throughout the weekend. After dinner on Friday we headed to the Max Bell Hall for presentations from the college and the BC Marine Trails Network. After a long day, we then paddled back to our camp and hit the hay to get rested for a busy couple of days on the water.

On Saturday morning we commuted :-) back over to the college, had a great breakfast, picked up our
prepared lunch boxes and went to the 09:00 briefing to meet our coaches for the day.

Kate Hives of the THR was busy capturing the event and took this picture of the 09:00 briefing.

Robyn and I were in similar all day clinics but for the first time in our paddling adventure we would not be together. I was taking the Intermediate / Advanced Currents clinic run by Rowan Gloag, Costain Leonard of The Hurricane Riders and Greg Mason from Ontario. Robyn was taking the Novice / Intermediate Currents clinic run by Matt Nelson of Body Boat Blade and Chris Ladner who is the owner of Ecomarine.

I was really excited to be able to learn from a Rowan and Costain and hear about their passion for big currents and dynamic water conditions. I didn't know too much about Greg but as the session went on I soon learned that his technical knowledge was amazing and was just what I needed. My goal for the day was really simple .... learn how to use the P&H Delphin in current conditions and see how far I could push my own personal performance envelope.

Leaving the confined waters of Pedder Bay we practiced a number of different rudder strokes in combination to allow our kayaks to hug the rocky shoreline. After a quick lunch stop on Bentinck Island we headed out to the western islets of Race Rocks in search of the predicted 3.9 knot ebb currents. Although the workable current was only present for a short period of time we practiced leaving the back eddies into the main current flow allowing our kayak to edge as far as possible.
Trying to find the edge point of no return while entering the main current from a back eddy. 

As the current started to diminish, the group as a whole decided to head to Eemdyck Passage to see if there were any current flows that we could practice in.

Rowan demonstrates "head freeze" in the sun. LOL Actually I think it was just a squinting technique he uses.

It was pretty quiet so Rowan, Costain and Greg decided to conduct an on land stern rudder lesson to better show how to use the core muscles to move the kayak with our legs. Start by sitting on the sand like you are in your kayak, turn your core and complete a stern rudder by driving blade into the sand to create a firm anchor (like on a moving wave), lift your hip on the side of the paddle as in an edge and use your core muscle to swing your knees and legs towards your paddle. Repeat on the the other side. For carving a big wave simply lift your hip on the opposite side of the paddle. We then headed out onto the water and practiced these new rudder turns gradually increasing forward speed to feel how effective the technique was. I was pretty amazed with how effective the stern rudder responded when I engaged my core muscles. I think the term Rowan used was that you get 'feedback' through the paddle and kayak which in turn allows you to make necessary adjustments.

Rowan demonstrates how he uses his stern or pry rudder in combination with his legs to carve on the Skook 

We spent a little bit of time on the way back towards Pedder Bay playing in a current flow and I decided to try and roll in the middle of edging into the flow. Now my roll(s) have been pretty reliable but in a current I soon learned that I needed to let my kayak settle before attempting to roll upright and that I needed to roll into the direction of current flow. Looking back at my video I could see my kayak stalling before it got perfectly flat on the water and I attempted the first roll which failed. I reset and tried again but this time the flow of the current built up on my top deck as I got about 3/4 of the way upright and back in I went. It was time for a wet exit followed by a successful cowboy reentry which went pretty good. The best part was that Robyn's group was just coming up on ours and she saw me bobbing down the channel with my kayak. I bet she was so proud!

Everything going wrong on a current roll. Maybe not .... I learned what didn't work.

Robyn Comments: My first course at the PPS was a full-day "Introduction to Tidal Currents" with Matt Nelson and Chris Ladner.  There were 12 of us in the course.  After staging our kayaks in the parking lot (tennis courts) we finally had our turn to launch and we all headed across the bay to a secluded spot.  Matt got us working on our edging right away and we slowly made our way out of Pedder Bay. We stopped on little beach where Matt and Chris used the hull of a kayak (as a chalkboard) and a tarp (to imitate moving water) to help us understand the effect the currents have on our kayaks.

Lots of theory here - winds, tides, land masses, etc.  We all jumped back into the kayaks and headed out to Bentinck Island where we stopped for a great box lunch courtesy of PPS.

After lunch we headed around Bentinck Island and into the currents (what little there was).  We practiced entering and exiting the eddy lines and ferrying.  The currents were a bit stronger between Bentinck and Rocky Point but not enough that we really had to paddle hard.  We could see a big group of kayakers ahead of us and I guessed it must be Mark's course.  As we got closer I saw an capsized lava colored Delphin and a red helmet, just like Mark's, floating down the middle of the channel.  Sure enough, it was my hubby, practicing rolling in currents.

So after Robyn arrived back at our camp from her clinic we decided to walk the trail between the RV park and the college to go for dinner. We headed back up to the Max Bell Hall for the evening activities and I think there was a lot of droopy eyelids from a busy day on the water. James Manke teased us with a 6 minute clip from his epic Grand Canyon paddle that was done over the 2012 Christmas / New Years holidays. Everyone wanted more and it looks like a full featured film will be coming out in the fall sometime. Keynote speaker Ginni Callahan also did a great job keeping us awake with a slide presentation of her sailing / kayak trip from Mexico to New Zealand. It was around 10pm when we walked through the dark forest trail back to the RV. What a great first day!!

Robyn's track from her currents clinic. My clinic was much the same except we made it out to Race Rocks to play a while.

2013 Paddle #34 - PPS Saturday currents Course
Distance: 15.15 km (8.18 nm)

On Sunday morning we decided to drive our kayaks over to the PPS since I was going to be heading off site on a Rock Gardens & Surge Channel clinic. We packed our gear for the day and headed over to the college for an early breakfast and once there we got to see a little hijinks between some of the coaches.

It looks just like my Delphin but it's not. Turns out it belonged to SKILS coach JF Marleau

It turned out that JF Marleau's P&H Delphin was strung up about 30 feet above the water by the yet to be named. JF has a pretty good idea who he, she or maybe a combination of both might have been responsible and I'm sure payback is going to be sweet.

After the release we headed to the briefing area to meet our coaches for the day. I was taking the full day Rock Gardens & Surge Channels clinic for Intermediate / Advanced kayakers and was just a little bit apprehensive about this session. Our group headed off site by vehicle to Whiffin Spit just outside of the Sooke Basin and from there we launched over towards Possession Point to explore some of the rock features that would be our playground for the day.

Although I had done some rock gardens work in the past I really didn't know what to expect but the session coaches Michael Pardy, Greg Mason and Costain Leonard were really great in gradually introducing stroke techniques during warm up exercises in some of the smaller rock gardens. It turns out that a number of the maneuvering strokes that I had been working with the weekend before and on Saturday were put to good use on Sunday. It wasn't long before my apprehension started to fade away.

Warming up through the smaller rock gardens with a little wave surge.

We stopped for lunch in a small cove and the water was absolutely crystal clear. The restroom area was just off to the right and you can see Michael Pardy heading there to get the paddle. The rule was that you took the paddle with you to the restroom. No paddle leaning against the rocks meant it was occupied, paddle leaning against the rocks meant it was available. I never thought kayakers were that smart to come up with such and easy system. LOL

After lunch we practiced some towing techniques which also involved a simulated kayaker in the water. The 3 person team that I was on decided to make the practice as realistic as possible so Reale Emond headed into one of the finger channels cut through the rock and literally became the swimmer. I had the task of going in to retrieve her while the third member of our group went in to retrieve Reale's kayak. It was the first time that I got to use a tow system and I was pretty amazed how effectively it worked. So much that I now have my own system that will be put to use this coming weekend.

On the way back to Whiffin Spit we played a bit more in the nooks and crannies and I began to feel really comfortable with my ability of move my kayak in the tight confined areas of the rock gardens. Having Costain and Greg as coaches for a second day in a row was a huge benefit and it seemed that they pushed me a bit to get results. I was really grateful for that as I like a 'Get It Done' type of coaching.

Arriving back at the college I tracked Robyn down in the pool just finishing her afternoon session. I'll let her take over from here with a few comments of her day.

Sunday I had two half-day courses.  In the morning I did a "Maneuvering and Edging" course with Wayne Horodowich.  This was more of a refresher course for me (which is always a good thing).  We stayed right in the bay and got lots of pointers on edging, bow draw turns, bracing and stern rudder turns.

After a quick lunch in the dining hall I had a "Balance & Bracing" course with Gary Doran in the pool!  (Yes, there's a nice warm indoor pool at Pearson College).  We practiced edging our kayaks to the point of capsizing before performing a brace to recover.  It was lots of fun and everybody got wet.  We also did static braces which is really fun once I learned to relax.

All-in-all a great weekend.  The most important thing I learned was that I need to start taking more advanced courses!  I still consider myself a 'novice' but I realize now that I need to challenge myself more.  I got lots of great compliments from my instructors and it really made me believe that I actually knew what I was doing and was capable of lots more.

My Sunday Rock Garden & Surge Channel track. You can see how far in some of the finger channels go.

2013 Paddle #35 - East Sooke Rock Gardens
Distance: 7.68 km (4.15 nm)
YTD: 373.29 km (201.56 nm)

We decided to spend an extra night at the RV resort and boy are we glad. We were totally beat after the great weekend of instruction we received. My word of recommendation  .... if you missed the 2013 PPS, don't miss the 2014 event!

NEXT UP: SISKA Campout / Clinics at Sooke River this coming weekend.