Sunday, August 28, 2011

landed upon a fine litle Iland 1612

October 23th

"In the morninge the wind at southwest faire sune shining all the daie untill night. The night the wind at weste verie faire weather."

"This daye in the morninge we went at the mouth of Mountte Eagell Baie and landed upon a fine litle Iland which [has] excellent good ground and grasse upon it and ther we gathered store of scurvy grasse. Allso ... we found that ther had ben great store of birdes had haunted."

October 24

"In the morninge the wind at south east verie faire sune shininge weather untill night and calme."

"This morninge we departed out of Mountte Eagell Baye coastinge towards the bottom of Trinitie Baye ...."

Hopeall Trinity bay once known as Mount Eagle Bay is my birthplace and true home. This weekend I slid my kayak into the bay in front of my land and paddled to the "fine litle iland." "Mount eagle" now known as Hopeall head can be seen in the distance in the picture above. It is still thankfully home to many bald eagles...and me.

“Occurrents in Newfoundland”

Excerpts from Henry Crout’s Weather Diary Kept at
Cupers Cove, Newfoundland from September 1, 1612 to May 13, 1613
Aboard the Endeavor

Friday, August 26, 2011

Gull Island Witless bay eco reserve

The hardwood floor was cool on my face. Occasionally being stepped on by a 45 lb 5 year old and 22 lb 2 year old, crawled on, kissed; and anything else my wife directed them to do aside from their usual picky demeanour's. I was exhausted. All week I've had no energy to do anything outside the realm of work. Eating supper was even a chore. Lying there on the floor in what was a failed attempt to play dinkies with my youngest; I just wanted to go to bed.

Getting continuous kisses on my head then a curious 2 yr old found my freshly grown in hair on my bald head felt weird on his tongue. Thus provoking him to lick it. My 5 yr old began running and trying to jump the whole length of my body. It was only a matter of time before I received broken ribs and had a soaked head...I forced myself to my feet.

I was off.

Aerosmith "Sweet emotion" came on the radio as I drove down the southern shore highway. Not a car on the road and driving a little too fast under the spell of music; I arrived at witless bay.


The paddle out to Gull island is a direct 7km and I had picked a pretty awesome day. Light winds at 15 knot's and aside from a nice rolling swell it was as calm as it gets out here. The islands are home to over 260 000 pairs of Atlantic puffins our provincial bird.  Kittiwakes, storm petrels, Turr's, and Sterins nested among the rocks here as well in the Eco reserve founded back in the 1960's. Gull island appeared to shimmer in the distance ; alive with life.

I've never seen so many puffins in one place. I tried to avoid them and let them do their thing; yet at some point's you just had to pick "the path of least puffins" and approach slowly.

The sound of swells crushing into the island and the sky alive with the sound of kittiwakes. I approached "long gulch" with the hope of not disturbing the nesting animals along the cliffs. Motor boats are restricted to 50M off shore; yet the only regulations on kayakers is not to land on the island. Still keep in mind what your presence is doing to the animals and back off if required.

Then I seen it. Cave number 1!! There is something about caves that I just enjoy a little too much. I sat outside and watched for a few minutes to see how the swell interacted inside. Deeming it fairly safe I approached with caution into it. I was excited to see that this cave had an entrance and exit opening into a inner chamber; and quickly paddled out to enter from the other side.

As I paddled into the darker side I could feel the over pressurisation as the swell roared in the back of the cave. I think I may have to come back here when the swell is up; as I believe it may produce some awesome kick back as the cave in Trinity bay did last year.
A young kittiwakes unable to fly swam around me without care. He would most likely meet the faith of the other dead floating seabirds who made an unfortunate move; hurling them off their perilous ledge dwellings into the Atlantic. In all I counted 37 young dead kittiwakes along the shore of the island throughout the day.


The colours of the rocks here are truly something else. Described as simply "red" or "green" just does not do it justice. Words alone couldn't.
"Long point cove" had a series of small caves that were not worth entering. A large Squid Squaw threw me for a loop as to what the fuck it was. Seeing a skin type colour from afar, I half expected to find a bloated body. And of course was happy to find a bloated medusa. Being a child I poked it with my paddle.
As I rounded long point the roar of a small swell, cool mist, and literally thousands of puffins. Then I seen it. The mother on all caves!

This thing was really amazing. It extended a good 75 meters in and to date is the largest I have paddled in. As I entered the cave I was attacked by a saddle back seagull; thankfully he only made one smack at my head. More dead kittiwakes littered the water.

I practiced some rolls out on the open side of the island where some kickback was making the water a little interesting. The sun now low in the sky was non existent as I paddled along.

Crashing swell producing frigorific mist cool enough for me to see my breath. As I rounded The Saddle I was treated to an awesome sunset.

Which increased in beauty along the paddle

Until finally darkness overran me like a quickly approaching storm.

The 237th day of 2011 was complete. What a great day it had been. In a Eco reserve alone. Threading lightly, thinking wildly, and in awe beyond words.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Today was a great day to be alive. After attempt 3 we finally arrived to the takeout with all my kayak gear. Our attempts to organise allowed too many hands into my kayak kit; putting paddles behind coats and PFD hung up on a hanger. Either way it was a great respite with my oldest as mom ran back the first time. Needless to say I was very angry loading up my kayak after the paddles were AWOL. Headed home for lunch before a successful launch on attempt 3.  .

I paddled out of the harbour with "God guard thee Newfoundland" being sung from tops of boats and in an adjacent field. Petty hr days had begun and it was great to hear the national anthem being sung again. It's been a while since I had.

I was still singing the third round of the anthem as I turned into 22knot wind and 2-3m swells. I was surprised to see fishing boats loaded with people pulling up on my port and starboard side; which quickly awoke me from my slumber. We took pictures of each other between the swells. The "A.M Star" passed by and I could hear a gentleman exclaim "look at that half fucked fool; must wanna go for a swim." I waved; they waved back. I smiled to myself....he had no idea...

The Ellesmere loaded full felt really good in the water. She felt stable, yet turned on a dime. I had been finding my hips doing a little extra work when I was taking pictures. A bit of ballast seems to have corrected the annoyance.

Bus sized swells pushed into the shore in rolling waves. Sometimes I avoided them..

Sometimes I went for it.

Seals and Sea otters played in the surf; keeping their distance from my ancient hunting craft.

Making it to Motion head clouds had been forming that I really didn't like the looks of. A few cumulonimbus were climbing into anvil shapes; a good sign to get off the water.

While the swells at motion head was huge; the wind outside was increasing. My planned trip to Bay bulls would have to wait. Battling a already heavy headwind  with a front approaching was sign enough that this was my limit of exploitation today.

Having too much energy left, I explored Motion bay. Small 1m swell  made for fun rock hopping. Hikers on the east coast trail stopped to watch me play in the surf.
Heading back along the shore towards petty hr poking into caves along the way.

Paintings of life decorated the walls inside.

Sheltered coves are minimal here along this coast. I debated staying for supper; however my new BBQ was calling me at home. Besides...I have to save my meal packets for my upcoming long weekend trip....yet to be determined.


The blurred line of breath and swell. Veil between blood and ocean. Brushes of capacious blue lines across the easel; colour of veins. Skin the shade of shoreline; hair windswept evergreen, bending to the momentum of life. Salt stained lips akin shorelines. Angry sweep`s. Saving grace. A neutral observer . A sunset. Night has spoken. We close our eyes to the shimmering lights. We have taken life and we have given it. Unknown ; our purpose or direction. It concern us none. I am the shadow of the sea.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Home port

A day, a week, a month. It's fleetness seems to increase by the second here in Nfld. There never seems enough time to complete the multitude of paddles I wanna do. I found myself again "dreaming" my life away; having a total lack of sentience. I grabbed my paddle and put "expenditure contracting 101 book of bullshit" aside; time to grasp reality again.
I love Newfoundland and "my" people. Newfoundlanders are kind to a fault; shirt of their back kind. However.... man.... can they complain about anything and everything!! Weather is usually top of the list around here. We don't have 50 degree heatwaves, wildfires ,tornado's or massive flooding. We have cool weather with rain. Yet the colourful complaints about the weather fly into my ears every step of my day.

"Mom's 87 and she said this is the worst summer she ever saw"

"Newfoundland is the only place you can buy SPF 1 sunscreen"

"Tis is some spring were havin iddinit?"

"I'm gonna murder the weather man if 'e calls for rain tis weekend"

Even on a official station emails!! The base chief commented on a "glowing object" in the sky and gave forces member the afternoon off to go find out what the object was.

If Newfoundlanders weren't so colourful and nice; it would be depressing to listen to all the negativity!
Either way again I found myself alone on the North Atlantic on a beautiful cool rainy day.

Petty Hr has become my "home port" of sorts since I moved here. Theres never any traffic launching there...even during the food fishery. The fishing boats lining the wharfs are great to see as I paddle to the open Ocean. Reminds me of outport Nfld; and a different way of life in the not too long ago past.

....even old Newfoundland politics exist. And no doubt discussions of who is best suited for the post lingers among the smell of beer, tobaccco, saltwater and twine. Men sitting on mooring ropes and grapelins in twine lofts that dot the shoreline.

The swell was as minimal as it gets out here. Anywhere from 1-2 m with a few peaking and breaking along the shoreline, and over reef's close to shore. The fog held it's distance a km off shore while it caressed the heights of ___- hill with it's fingers.

Small coves carved out from uninterrupted pounding of this ocean made for little respites along the short paddle. I stuck close to shore to ride the larger of the waves and take in the scenery; rock hopping when I could.

A short paddle but a paddle none the less. Back into home port at civil twilight. So many things feel so right here. 
I was never meant to live anywhere else.....and doubt I ever will again.


I'm currently packing for next weekend and a longer paddle for tomorrow. Here's a panoramic I shot at the cape today. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Avondale anniversary

Sunday being my 7th wedding anniversary; we again took to the water of a good paddle. I had attempted to buy her a good drysuit at the outfitters in St.Johns, but they didn't have anything we wanted. Sans le drysuit I decided Conception Hr to Avondale would be a great protected paddle where she could risk being without her drysuit

The wind's light and the sky blue we couldn't have asked for a nicer day for a relaxing paddle. I tried to "coach" my wife's forward stroke without becoming a dick. I wanted her to enjoy the paddle and not worry too much about. This was my wife's first attempt in the Valley Avocet and she really liked the feel of it. Edging to turn and practicing ruddering and stern drawls; she really impressed me.

We had decided we would go check out the old copper mine in Avondale; a short 4 km from conception hr. Large bald eagles and sea otters made brief appearances.

Being 20 degree's out we landed after 4km overheated from being overdressed. We stripped down to bare "civilised" essentials and strolled across the beach enjoying some ice cold bottles of coke. Picking uprocks and shells my wife came across one metallic rock which is something I've never seen before. If someone can help me out please drop me a line. A great anniversary gift none the less.

We tucked into the treeline passing aside an old wooden fence once claiming property rights to a beautiful little waterfall under the shade of large birch. No matter who has paper to claim this land it always goes back to it's wild state. Like a slow bulldozer; nature waits at your created boundaries of grass and fence lines. Trimming it back, weeding the lawn, and finally getting too old to carry out the necessary slips back under the forward push of nature or begins a new battle against a new "land owners".

Megan seemed hesitant on finally making our trek into the mine shaft. She took 30 minutes to walk back up the beach and messed with things in her kayak. My prodding of What was wrong was met with a calm defiant "Oh....nothing hunny". Even though she knows my sick ability to read people.

Soon enough a scared Megan holding my hand a little too tight was descending below the Earth in a mine hand dug in the 1880's. The darkness ate up our lights quickly as we crossed into a bend which blocked the small beam of light from the mines entrance.The cool wet air make our breath visiable. Every step echoed down and back the cavern. Echoing like high heels of a praying widow walking out of an old empty church . Plop's of surface water dripping into the flooded portions of the floor.

Numbers lined the walls denoting yards in. The ever increasing grip on my hand was only abated as I took pictures; which thentransferred a death grip to my shirt.  I began videotaping our anniversary celebration... which I vowed I never will disclose to the public......

She made it to the 90 yard mark before her fear whispered a " ok lets turn around here". I don't let people quit. People who quit are facing a fear. Being defeated by feelings AND not by a situation is the worse thing a person can allow to happen to themselves. Knowing the situation was for her to put one foot in front of the other, the situation was an easy one. She would not fail.

At the 115 yard mark the cave stopped. A broken beer bottle lay on the stone floor. She stood scared to death. I turned off my headlamp to reveal the sheer darkness. Not a ounce of light. She didn't like that
much. However the walk back out she seemed more relaxed and I had hoped I had shown her what he had with our lights, and that we would be ok even without it.

Once she seen the first shimmer of light off in the distance, a pixel of white in a black world; she relaxed.

As we walked the last 5 feet we felt the warm summer air and squinted as we came out onto the surface.

She finally verbally admitted just how scared she was. She also mused that she thinks she may be claustrophobic. Her chest was tight, cold sweats and full of panic. She hadn't felt like that since she was hauled out of her marine firefighter training in a panic; while in her full fire suit and oxygen mask. She admitted how she relaxed once she had seen the glow of the outside ahead. I suggested we make the cave decent a annual tradition she laughed in a way to say "no fucking way". She had made it. She faced fear and conquered the situation. We relaxed on the beach for a half hour before taking back to the water.

 In the past 7 years she's conquered 3 postings to new provinces, me away for 210 days out of a year, me deployed as a combat soldier to Afghanistan while she sat home for 9 months of pregnancy alone. Battled meningitis and won, and been a great mother, wife , and friend through out it all.

And not a bad kayaking partner.

And theres something about a girl in a kayak.....