The St. Philips- Portugal cove paddle route is a very popular day paddle among local paddlers here. I tend to paddle here when the weather is too bad to go elsewhere; or when I'm stuck in the city as was the case. I launched from St.Philips late in the afternoon onto a very calm water. After a long week bound to shore by weather and commitments; it felt great to be back on the ocean.
Arriving at Portugal cove a few km up the coastline I waited for the Bell Island ferries to rumble past before crossing. I always skip over the actual harbour portion and head for the beautiful uninhabitant zone of cliff to the north. It crossed my mind that all the times that I have paddled here; I have yet to poke my nose into the community. With only a hour or so to paddle I figured a trip inside the shallow harbour seemed like a good turn around spot.
Reaching the opposite side of the harbour I came across a cave hidden behind a cliff that I normally paddle past. Of course I had to land and check it out. Entering the tall narrow cavern my eyes began to adjust to the darkness as football sized objects began to fly at my head. I danced with a mixture of covering my head to arms extending in every direction to prevent the unknown objects from removing eyes. A previously unknown natural reaction to things flying at my head in a dark cave. The flapping stopped as the last of about 30 pigeons exited their dwelling. Already covered in excrement from flailing about onto the cave walls I decided my dry suit really couldnt get covered in more shit so inside to explore I went! The cave extended in a good 30 feet; however with a colony of pigeons...not such a great place to hang out for a coffee.
After washing off my drysuit I was off to explore the rest of the harbour. I decided to stop for a coffee at what appeared to be a nice little beach on the southern side of the harbour. A very steep embankment along the roadside made this place kind of inaccessible; at least undesirable compared to the other beaches. I hauled out my coffee and walked up to the top of the beach to sit and relax. Garbage bags, dish racks, bleach bottles, doll arms, balls, buckets, cigarette packs,PET everywhere.
A water ront of 20 meters unfortunately filled my kayak with PET bottles. 8 dollars worth of waste infact. I was "lucky" enough to find a slimy empty garbage bag under kelp to help ferry the bottles back to the kayak. The high water mark where plovers and sand pipers eat; a mat of waste among this life sustaining driftwood and kelp bed.
I truly believe as kayakers we should take a heavily vested interest in this brine we play on and enjoy. Our kayaks provides us with access to places people usually don't frequent. Empty hatches on day trips sit ready to take this stuff back to the marina dumpster or to our home garbage or recycling center. A handful picked up during a lunch or coffee stop is a huge help to keeping our places of sanctity pristine.
We must take Stewardship of our places.