Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Put the glass insert in the storm door, drain the water system, set up the heat tape on the water takeoff pipe we use for our very occasional "check-the-place-out" overnight visits thru the winter. Stash the kayaks that don't overwinter outdoors in the basement. Sweep it out, and antifreeze the toilet and the sinks. Fill the tub with "first-flush" water, and lay out the hose from basement to bathroom for additional supplies. Check the doors, windows and heaters one last time.
Head for home, and pray for spring.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Check it out at http://www.cansolair.com/
Monday, October 29, 2007
Hope to get to Eastport the Nov. 11th weekend to shut the cabin down for the winter - put a couple of kayaks away, drain the water system, set up the heat worm on the water intake pipe and bring back one of the VKs against the opportunity to get out on the water during the coming weeks - a dream, maybe, but dreams are what get you thru the doldrums...
Monday, October 22, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
Keels is one of those magical places that strikes you immediately as the very heart and soul of Newfoundland's northeast coast. Situated at the extreme end of a rocky peninsula dividing two arms of Bonavista Bay, a corner of the tiny harbour is well sheltered, with reefs and offfshore sunkers blocking the swells and waves.
Fishing boats are hauled up on the slipway and beach, which is a very good thing; it's a sure sign of a healthy inshore fishery, something that's been mournfully lacking in all too many small outports since the '92 groundfish moratorium forced a stop to fishing on the tattered remains of the 2J3KL codstock, once the largest free-swimming stock of protein in the oceans.
Behind them the houses and other buildings lie nestled in nooks and hollows amongst the rocks with no discernable pattern, save for that dictated by the needs of an owner and his neighbors; this place was settled and grown old long before municipal planners were even dreamed of.
The observant eye can see the age of this place - the stacked, flat stone foundations beneath houses, the elaborate fretwork around windows and doors, the steeply sloped rear roofs facing the ocean- it all hints of the fact that Keels has been here since the 1700's.
It can and does, of course, get rough here: outside the harbour's shelter, it's the open North Atlantic, with nothing between you and Europe but light and air and water. Not a place for small paddlecraft in anything but perfect weather and highly skilled hands.
Some folks would look around Keels and see nothing isolation, exposure, the pure bald rocky headland nature of this place. To me, tho, that's Newfoundland, that's what this island and these people are all about.
St. John's, for all its glories, could really be McCity, Pop. 135,000, Anywhere - the same malls, the same buses, the same crowds. Keels is Keels, has been for hundreds of years, and will remain so into the future.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Located on the north side of the Bonavista peninsula, the tiny community clings to the side of a steep hill overlooking the bay. Below, waves roll across the waters, and mackeral create 'boils' on the surface as they school around just off the rocks. Earlier, whales regularly appeared just below the house, feeding and breaching in the cold waters.
After lunch, we decide to literally take a hike - there's a short walking trail that leads to a lighthouse a few communities away. Two cameras and two dogs are loaded, and we set out for Kings Cove - Knights Cove. Park near the church, and then start out on the short but scenic trail.
The view across the bay is spectacular - deep blue water, dark green hills, explosions of white surf fringing the points, despite the fact that there's virtually no wind. It reminds one that this is indeed Bonavista Bay - exposed to the North Atlantic, and the swells that roll in relentlessly from the open ocean.
Seen from here, Upper Amherst Cove is just a sprinkle of white cubes dotting the hillside, a tiny splash of humanity imposed on the otherwise empty landscape.
A few minutes along the trail, the unmanned lighthouse is perched atop a rocky little cliff, it's riveted curved iron panels unlike anything we've seen before.
As we gaze upward at the light's lens, an osprey soars along high above. When you look down, the breakers along the shoreline show you exactly what hazards the lighthouse signals for night-time mariners.
The trail circles back thru the woods, rejoining the original path just a few hundred meters before the church parking lot. Nice short walk, beautiful scenery, a unique lighthouse, and a lovely view coming back...definitely worth the hour it's taken us.
Then it's back to the Zuk, and off to see one of the most magical places I've ever seen - Keels, Bonavista Bay. Stay tuned for story and photos.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Forecast - light winds, going SW 20 gusting 30 in the afternoon. A group of nine boats assembles at Colinet, St. Mary's Bay, launches around 10:45a.m., and proceeds over glass-smooth waters the seven kms. to and thru Pinchgut Tickle. The Tickle lies between the main shore and Pinchgut Island - quite sheltered for its three-kilometer length, and very shallow for the most part. At the far end, the remains of a single house still stand, tho the barn alongside has fallen in.
Along the other side of the Tickle, grassy clearings mark where other families once lived, close to the fishing grounds that sustained all of coastal Newfoundland in those years.We land, and head out to the barachoix beach for lunch and the naming ceremony for a brand spanking new Current Designs FG single, complete with champagne! I manage to miss most of that, since I'd ambled along the beach's steeply-raked seaward tide-line collecting bric-a-brac - heavily coralled mussel shells, bits of driftwood and the like. We head back to the old house, which proves less uninhabited than it seemed.
Sharp eyes spot something perching on the frame of one of the long-gone windows - a bird, a big bird, a great horned owl in fact, in broad daylight! As we gather to view it, it moves to a side window, then back again, watchful but not unduly alarmed. People ooh! and ahh!, cameras click, and the owl just swivels its head to keep an eye on the lot of us, until we've had our fill and grow tired of watching it.
Before we launch to head back, some folks go swimming, a feat that in Newfoundland salt water usually ranks right up there with walking on the stuff. But the Tickle is sheltered and shallow, and its early September, so it's doable and by all reports pleasant. (I, like a true Newfoundlander, risked peeling my drysuit off to waist-level, and letting a warm gentle wind dry my damp thermal undershirt!)
Just as we get rolling again, the promised tailwind wind starts, and quickly settles into a good shove along - about 20-25 kms., just enough to raise a few whitecaps as we scoot back thru the Tickle. Back out in the harbour, the waves are a little bigger, perhaps 18", just enough to get under the stern and promote the occasional short surge forward. By 4:30p.m., we're back ashore, have the boats loaded, and are heading home, our faith on Mother Nature's inherent kindness to paddlers restored.
Sunday - an early a.m. start, this time with two friends in their VOLKSKAYAKs, as my wife had things to do to get ready for the first week of school. Launched at a little slipway in Harbour Main, crossed the harbour, then proceeded seaward over glass-smooth water along one of the most geologically convoluted coastlines I've ever seen.
Sediment layers are jumbled together at all sorts of angles - some straight up and down, some sloped 45 degrees, some folded or fractured, older sediment layers atop newer ones; I wouldn't have wanted to be here when whatever produced this layout was happening! Visiting geologists who get to see this area look like they've entered the Rapture...
Saw birds, too - an osprey who kept skimming back and forth along the cliffs, a kingfisher, gulls, and lots of ducks, one of whom exploded out of the water and took wing right beside my 'yak - hard to tell who got the biggest fright! We went on out about 3 kms., turned the Point, and had a look into Red Rock Cove. Bobbing on a gentle swell, another set of sharp eyes spots a whale feeding off in the distance - too far to ID it, but close enough to see its blow, the dorsal fin and a length of back that makes me glad enough to have lots of searoom.
Back around the Point, land for lunch, then back along the shoreline, pausing to reverse into a little seacave where tiny starfish cling exposed on the rocks just above the waterline, and to eyeball the small cobble beaches we've filed away for future picnic and bonfire excursions. Back to the slip, haul out, load up, and then have my wife join us for an hour's blueberry picking in back of Harbour Main, at the end of road where we lived for 20 years and raised our daughters - then back home, strong coffee while we're cooking up the fresh cod stew for supper, and a fresh-berry blueberry pie with yogourt for dessert. Beats bashing up Bellevue any time.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
Things went fine for most of the run - pretty civil for the downwind run to the beach, about 2 kms. By the time we got there, it had gotten chippier, so we hauled the 'yaks over the beach and paddled to the barachoix entrance from the ocean side - nice flat water, in the shelter of the beach.
Back inside, the wind was still sweeping down the 3 km. length of the barachoix, creating lumpy but readily manageable conditions. We picked our way along, working from point to point to take advantage of whatever lee we could find. By now, the middle stretch of water was starting to show significant whitecaps as we rested behind the last sheltering point before the final crossing of about 1 km. Not great, but hey, as the pic below shows, definitely doable.
And that's where the real fun - if you call it that - started, and continued for the next hour. As we started the crossing, the wind continued to build, creating first continuous whitecaps, then significant waves in the 2 foot+ range, then breaking waves. The boats ahead started hobby-horsing, and waves regularly threw splash up on deck - 15 minutes later, my VOLKSKAYAK was steadily burying its bow to the forward hatch and beyond , and breaking waves were curling back along the sides of the sharply peaked deck (thank you, designer Gerry Gladwin, for that lovely wave-splitting sharp peak!) and dumping in the sides of my skirt.
I've been paddling this kayak since 2001, and that's the first time I've ever seen solid water on deck or taken waves in the skirt. Once again the old sailors adage - the boat can take more than the man can - rang true. While I know it's really hard to estimate wind speed on the water, I'd reckon we had guts hitting 70 kms or more - there were times when it took a fair bit of strength just to keep your paddle in your hands.
The worst thing was the fact that my wife, in her Cape Horn 15, kept falling back - it's just a shorter, slower boat, and I couldn't stop moving completely for her to catch up without risking getting broadside to those breaking waves and broaching. Conditions got bad enough that even trying to look aft to check her position was dicey; wait for a lull, swivel the head, sweep the eyes, there she is - and then, in a heart-stopping moment, no Cape Horn - glance ahead, deal with the oncoming waves, another lull, another look aft, no Cape Horn - just ready to turn back, and I finally, mercifully, catch a glimpse of her battering her way along slowly off to leeward and well behind. That has to be the longest 30 seconds or so I've ever spent in my entire life!
Finally, after a brutal hour of slugging it out dead to windward, we started to pick up the lee of the shore - the waves dropped, my wife caught up with me, and we were able to paddle the last few hundred meters in a relative calm. A motor boat, God bless him, had shadowed the group across much of the worst stretch, and his presence was enormously comforting.
Safely ashore, and bloody well thankful to be there, we loaded boats and gear and headed home, tired and somewhat humbled. Closer inspection at home showed about a liter of water in my forehatch, and perhaps four liters dumped in the cockpit as those boarding waves leaked down around the rear of my skirt. The Cape Horn had about 2 liters in its aft hatch. We'd come thru far rougher weather than we'd ever encountered before, and it's nice to know we can do that, but you certainly won't see us out looking for that sort of trouble in the future.