Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cape Broyle and the convalescent couch

I believe I found the end of the Internet. My living room end table laid strewn with Saline nasal mist, cough syrups, books, magazines, and various boxes that once held medicine. The couch back rest cushions laid on the floor; blankets piled to one side of the couch.

I caught up on the idiot box (television) news which repeats itself every 5 minutes. Shows that repeat what happened before the commerical break; as if viewers had a amnesia episode during the commerical break slowly drove me insane. So sick. If I stayed stoic on that couch one more day I would bludgeon myself to death with one of the 1000 Thomas trains. Which I find embedded in my back, armpit, and face awakening from lucid "all in one" medicine induced sleep. 

After pouring over maps, confirming weather and radar data I figured Cape Broyle would make for a nice paddle. Within an hour drive of the city I was unloading on the wharf in quick order. The winds were gusting to 25 knots however the high hills surrounding this quaint beautiful fishing village abated much of the gust inside the inner harbour. Two old skippers came to have a chat as I offloaded my kayak. I cherish any moment to talk to locals. It's there sometimes you learn things you'll never find in the "Official guide book". Their Irish prosody danced on their tongues as we talked about what most men talk about here at home; Weather and fishing. Great guys.

First stop was into a small cove; perpendicular walls etched into grey and purple stone. Purple stone which at one time was a piece of what is today Morroco . Cliffs covered in mussels fed by the constant organic material from the torrant of fresh water.

Rainbows danced in it's mist and I was exausted. My mind wanted to get some good paddling in; yet my body was just disconnected from those thoughts. I took a little breather after a mere km paddle drifting in relaxation slowly drifting counterclockwise around this etched in cove. Alone with my thoughts and resonance of falling water.

I decided to cross the harbour to paddle in the shadow of the hills. The sun now sitting very low in the fall afternoon sky. I hoped some cool air would refresh me on this 9 degree day. The swell was minimal once exposed to the Atlantic. Small 1 and 2 m waves pushed slowly into the harbour; crashing slowly upon the rocks. I had hoped to come play around in the caves; I had hoped I would feel a little less under the weather as I went along. Stopping by Gallows cove I drank some juice and water....nothing. Coffee...nothing. As many a man; I was finished at Gallows cove. Luckily for me I would be able to paddle back from this execution site; maybe. Another juice box and reluctantly I was on my way.

As expected the wind had picked up and what was a light 15 knots felt more like 200 to my tired body.  I crossed over the harbour again to follow the shoreline back to the take out. Kid's laughed and played on a vat cover in Admirals cove; waving and shouting "hello" as I passed. It was so great to see outport kids doing outport things. Having done the same thing growing up myself; it was real nice to just see kids being kids. No texting. No mall. Just a broken vat cover and some wind waves. It really made my day.

I pulled into a destroyed fishing room onto a slipway constructed of discarded pieces of our British gauge railway that once crossed the country and province of Newfoundland.

The abandoned "Room" held relics of another time in Newfoundland's not so distant past. Skeletons of boats hidden in scurvy grass; evergreens taking over where flakes once laid. The winch which pulled in boats at the end of the season; disintegrating into seasons ends that no longer require it.

A crib and shed which had given in to time and tide hangs on the high tide mark. Its slipway and bridge long ago destroyed. Death or a shift in the markets. Lack of a family member to continue; a family move to a new land to make a living. A cove of  inadvertence. A biography. A chronicle of a cove.

A NAFEL 100lb box for salt cod fish sits still among the tools of the trade. Faded and worn.

The sun was setting as I explored; walking over old stone walls and concrete structures. During my convalescent couch time I'd lost over 20 minutes of sunlight from my normal day. I also knew solar noon was at 40 degrees today. In my conquest to "google" everything that crossed my mind  in between coughing.......40 degree solar noon stuck in there for some reason...whatever that means. ;0)

While far from a spectacular paddle, it was a afternoon on the water none the less. My nostrils seemed to have cleared from the free "saline spray" of the North Atlantic. My lungs cleared somewhat with the mild exercise. At the take out I really wished I had a expedition crew to carry my kayak and me up the launch and remove my drysuit for me. Alas I was forced to do it myself; after much inner bickering.

Revisiting cape Broyle in the near future is a must. With a plan, some drive, and a clean bill of health.

Hope you enjoyed!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Children are disease sponges. We send them off every morning with a smile as they soak up any influenza virus you haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet to bring home for a play date.

I have been sick (and whiny) all weekend.

I managed to get out today with a bottle of cloraseptic in my coat pocket (totally ignoring the fact I can't use it every 5 seconds as directed on the bottle) for a walk into a pond behind my house with my little one. Anyway I'm far too sick to attempt to write anything; and will let the pic's speak for themselves.

Home sweet home

Friday, September 23, 2011

Camping interupted

A camping trip was contrived as I wrote the previous post. Of course a early morning packing of kit was in order. By noon I was paddling down Witless bay Brook into the beginnings of my trip; which truthfully had the same amount of planning as a car accident. A draconian wind from the west constantly increasing was a welcomed aide; propelling me out of witless bay to continue my open ended trip south.

As I checked my map along route I was a little concerned with the effect the surrounding land would have on this wind pushing off the shore. Few things inimitate me more than the thought of being pushed out into a restless sea in a wind stronger than my paddle stroke.

Sizing up my map I decided I would round Breaking point and onto Witless point; only if this wind abated or I seen a way to get through the surf zone. The breaking 2-3m waves were looking very predictable; yet between Green island and breaking point was all rolling and breaking waves combined with a off shore wind. I took cover behind some shoals to reconnitre if a way around would be safe or not.

Sizing up the scene; the waves sets remained the same after 5 minutes of watching.  I decided there was a good path through the breakers where a shoal dichotomized the waves. Off I went. As I paddled through the relativly small breaking surf edging towards the shoals my kayak suddenly nosed into a wall of roaring water..and it was cresting down on me. I braced myself into the 5m bohemioth and was flipped stem to stern; then tossed strait up into the air.Mid air I caught my breath as the nose dove back into the water. Upon landing I managed to roll up. My skirt had imploded under the pressure of the wave; and another huge wave spun me upside down in the roaring white mist. I became seperated from my kayak and was sucked out on the outgoing surf. I grabbed my kayak just as another monster picked me up and tossed me forward.  This unforseen set of three subsided and the waves crashing were much smaller.  I decided that flipping the kayak right side up would end up filling the kayak full of water in the breaking waves. Which would make her too heavy to lift onto shore if I didnt have time to empty it between the crushing rollers. A damaged kayak was not a option. A short swim using the surf pushing my kayak ahead of me got me back behind the shoals; still in white water but manageable.
 I strattled the kayak with my legs dangling in the water and had a drink of water and a good laugh. After washing the copous amounts of snot off my face, I dumped out my kayak and headed back to Breaking beach.. The sea had given this solo paddler a "time out".

Out here solo your responsiable for one person; and only answer to him as well.  You also decide if your ever gonna tell anyone about your indescretions. I made the short paddle back to breaking beach to check over my body and most importantly my kayak. As a pair my kayak came out on top as my ribs and back hurt quite a bit. Yet here I was dead tired, coughing up seawater and smiling from ear to ear. I lifted my fully loaded kayak onto my shoulder and got above the high tide mark.  I took off my drysuit; lying on the warm beach rocks coughing up what salt water remained in my lungs.

A quick moving system which must have been pushing the wind ahead of it ripped through shortly after I landed on the shore. I fired up my stove and cooked up a quick meal. So exausted. The adrenaline dump flattened the world that was moments before vibrant and exciting. The dump felt equally as nice.

As this front pushed through I had plenty of time for introspection about what had happened. Moments to disect what went wrong and what went well. The unexpected had happened; a rogue set of 3 waves from a differnt direction than expected. I had reconntred the area for a good 5 minutes before deciding if it was a go or no go. Should I have stopped right there as I was paddling solo? Should having to make a decision on safety dictate that it would be an automatic "no go" solo? Many questions and many differnt angles crossed my coincience as I ate wild cranberries along the beach.

I came to the conclusion that....IT WAS A FREAKIN BLAST!!! And I wouldnt change anything. Sure  I ended up swimming in a surf zone; and sure my ribs hurt even though I didnt recall hitting them. The feeling of self accomplishment felt great; one of the main reasons I paddle solo most of the time. My roll proved to be bomb proof in that white water with no skirt. Alas the wave was ripping me out weither I liked it or not.
I had the tools and used them to get myself out of the situation. It was a great learning experience for me. Regardless of how prepared we are or how certain we become; the unexpected still lies in waiting somedays. And today the unexpected kicked my butt!

The unexpected had changed my trip plans. However it had landed me here on this beach for a very relaxing day. The wind didnt seem like it was gonna coorporate to tolerate paddling around the point again. I took a hike though the woods to pass some time. The sun directed orange light through the forest as it hugged the western horision.  I decided as I strolled along I would cancel my camping plan and attempt to pull off a trip next week. I dont like camping so close to home.
Packed up after a great day of relaxation and a little exilleration. The best part of this whole situation? I had been humbled by the sea.

A person can achieve everything by being simple and humble.”-rig veda



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indiana Jones stars in: Witless bay and the Breaking point.


A summer furlough was not on the books this year during the usual July-Aug time frame. However as the cool air filled my lungs as I paddle out into the evening air; this fall time off work seemed like a great idea.

While the waves were tiny swell coming in from the Atlantic; the low tide made for some great "rock gardening". Nothing too strenuous; just a bit of fun playing about along the shore of Witless bay.

I was very surprised to not find any large caves as is the norm along this rugged coast. Aside from one nice gate to paddle through the coast had not given in to the constant erosion.

As I rounded breaking point I was a little disappointed to find only a few rolling waves; and not much happening out to sea. A real nice calm day. Watching the paths through the rocks I practiced some boat control among the white capped swell and rock.

Gull island in the distance; I stopped for a short break on breaking beach. It's a awesome camping place aside from the east coast trail which delivers people to it's shore via a nice groomed path.Today I was lucky to have it to myself.

A clear fresh water brook babbles over the polished beach rocks into the sea; making for easy resupply of water while in camp. Summer`s gifts made the cool air smell sweet.

Much like my ancestors; mollusk clinging to a rock trying their best to survive.

As the sun set behind the evergreens and hills of the point; I suddenly remembered an obligation to be somewhere shortly after dark. Whatever. Drank another coffee watching the steam dance in my cup.

I played cat and mouse with some sandpipers and plovers on the way home. Beautiful little animals and very cagey to get close to. And then I seen it. A moose? The large brown creature cracked through the bushes above.
Then Indiana Jones stumbled; caught themselves and appeared with two huskies. At first I wasn't going to mention this on my blog..but. During moose season dressing as Indiana Jones in the woods around Newfoundland is a really dumb thing to do.  And while it may be a new fall trend in St.Johns to dress as Indiana Jones (Sping fashion here was dressing as you were attempting to summit Everest while walking up New Gower Street) wearing brown crashing through the woods during moose hunting season is not only dumb..... it's plain stupid. Having already found the "temple of doom" or whatever she was looking for; she safely made it back to her SUV and left. While I know hunters will not take the shot until certain; add 1 really stupid hunter and Darwinisms occurs. I always meet interesting characters along my journeys...but not one quite this stupid.

A wonderful day full of rock gardens beautiful beaches and 1 really really dumb person.

***Authors note: I just decided about 5 minutes ago that I'm heading out for a camping trip tomorrow. No real plans yet...I'll fill you all in when I get back!!***

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Outer cove Newfoundland

Outercove circa 1954

They came from Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford and Cork. looking for a new start, adventure, running from the past, or in desperate need to have something in this world. The landed in Outer cove to excellent fishing rooms and good land to farm.

Stages and dory's are replaced with a older gentleman with binoculars and a massive DSLR birding along the shore. High end SUV's sit where horses once stood to bring the fishermen back to their houses. City kids joke and play where once women and children worked like dogs to dry the catch.

I play among outstretched fingers clawing at granite walls.

Where treachery and beauty meet.

I climb rock walls over white capped waves.
(any good waves I rode required two hands on the paddle and not on the camera!)

 I eat where many have felt the pangs of hunger. My stove I have on loan to trial; boils supper. It blows out over and over. I've decided that while the pot/pressure cooker is awesome the stove is not one I would use kayaking. The reactor from MSR gets a thumbs down from me. The pot however would go great with my old trusty Coleman one burner. Not to mention using these fuel canisters is just not my style.

I push myself from Outercove exhausted and full of confidence after playing in some great surf.