Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Surfing and saints

 After poking my nose out of St. Philips hr I weighed my comfort against the wind and confused seas. I retreated back into the harbour doing a few rolls before calling it a day...On the way back in I was accelerated quickly into the protected hr on some small swell . being somewhat child like...this turned into a hour long game.

The avocet seems to just stick to the waves. My laughter and speedy entrance into the harbour quickly drew attention. Out of nowhere an audience of cars and walkers had amassed. That was my cue to exit stage left! 

A very short day on the water; but on the water none the less.
The car smelt of something wet...and old... I gotta find that piece of paddling gear that smells that bad soon. Salt stains ran down the windsheild driving home. Sawdust from picking up lumber decorated the dash. My buddy Rob had laughed as I loaded lumber right inside my little Kia rondo. "My wife would kill me". I laughed...in the big picture of stuff I do the sawdust wasn't a huge deal.

My wifes vacuum became a impromptu "shop vac" last week.

The bath tub a place to soak wood.

And in between the salt and the dishes sat clamps and a piece of broken rib.

She my friends is a saint.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

St Philips

Watching and waiting had ceased. Warm comfort exchanged for the coolness; as the Atlantic quickly radiated through my kayak. Hail danced on the three winds of the day. Loud on my hood and deck on the S wind; then suddenly stinging my eyes and cheeks on a NE gust. Squinting I pulled up my face mask and wished I had brought sun glasses...... In my defense I didn't think sunglasses would be required.

  The air fresh. The sea aerated itself into a light blue along the shore. Dislodged icicles thumped off the hull; as fog danced above to the uncertain and ever changing winds. The weather reports had of course announced these winds and conditions. However it was the things they left out that had me here.

They didn't mention the ice covered pebbles that slid my craft ashore for a coffee. They had warned about the traffic collisions; yet didn't mention how walls of mist would be blowing out Conception bay along the southerly gusts. While tragedy and peril broadcasted elsewhere on repeat; I had tuned out. My legs twitched in the cold; I stuck one arm inside my PFD next to the warmth of my body. No peril or tragedy to be found.

Roe poured out of a old spineless green urchin I smashed on a rock. A meal I have been meaning to have. Aside from throwing them at each other as children we never did bother with them otherwise. It was virtually unknown as a food source at that time. A meal to try later.

A culture of fear exist on newscasts. Full of warnings and foreshadowing to a climax of nothingness. 
No weather forecast would ever describe the sounds and feelings of these minutes. The seconds between the hail. The soundtrack of roaring waves and howling wind.

Tomorrow is beautiful.

Friday, February 24, 2012

SOF Build part deux

I helped sweep up the mound of sawdust that has accumulated in Rob's garage. We had made a quick pop down the road to an actual lumber mill that had been sitting right under our noses. I picked up enough green spruce 2x4's for both Rob's and my kayak ribs. Again Rob's table sang out across Kilbride as the baywops got to work. 

The white spruce just did not seem to like bending. Way too many knots and imperfections denied the forces exerted.  I ended up switching to some kiln dried pine I had on hand; which bent really nice.

Depth difference between aft and stern is something I had failed to decipher from all the material online and books during my last build. Ribs currently all match up providing a sharp nose and rear; yet flatten out to provide a sharp yet stable craft. 

My oldest came poking around once he heard the circular saw screaming from the den. After being shown only once he proceeded to tie in the stem. "Maybe I'll show my kid's one day fadder". He's an old soul. I smiled.

Stringers ready. All ribs finally pegged and sewn in.

I'm hoping to get back on the water tomorrow. Other aspects of living have really gotten in the way lately..time to reengage the ocean.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tippik time

5-7m meter seas. Seemed like a great day to stay home and occasionally pick at the kayak. 

Securing deck beams was something I had forgot to do last time. Can only make her stronger.

Black spruce which had been soaking for a week bent really well. However many pieces had small knots and of course broke off. Will get some new rib stock tomorrow.

Last build I added the ribs first before adding the keel. I ended up with a mess of fairing blocks to cut.

Pushing them up on the inside of the gunwales and clamping them in lace worked really well.

Everything is beginning to line up! 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday floated past

"It's Friday, Friday......gotta get down on Friday."
-Rebecca Black

St. Philips harbour.

The weather seemed like the pits. Gusting winds and minus degree weather chilled me without even leaving my abode. I stayed glued to the couch aside from a few impromptu wrestling/tickling matches with my two little ones. The only drive I had in the AM was pushing a bus along the edge of our coffee table. Producing traffic noises and using a deep voice depicting  how a bus would talk in my cranium. I stepped outside around 2 and was surprised at just how nice it was out. The ever expanding daylight could afforded me a few hours....... Into the car and off for a short paddle.  

Rain had pounded the Avalon over the past two weeks. Constant freezing rain mixed with torrential downpours. 140mm had embraced the soil so far this month. Having no groundhogs in Newfoundland we didn't receive concrete evidence of 6 more weeks of winter on it`s way as the rest of Canada had. Aside from where snow shovels had strained to pile the mountains of January's snow; it was beginning to look a lot like spring. 

 The SD card I grabbed was stuck in "write protected" mode..... with the little switch broken off. Leaving me just the ability to take 10 pictures on the internal memory. 10 pictures to capture the day. The "teeth" of winter seemed to be retracting back into the rocks; changing from K-9`s to molars as time marched forward.

Almost 365 days had marched past since I was falling through the slowly thawing ice in the Ottawa valley. Shuffling 100m out into the current of the Ottawa river to paddle thin channels of open water. 

How different life can be one year from the next. From the frozen Ottawa river to the open expanses of the North Atlantic. Now a year later here I sat; the roar of the water refreshing the air as it crashed into the sea from above. Change can be good. I've made many changes in this past year. Most recently I switched to brushing my teeth with my kid's toothpaste. Seeing that the yummy strawberry flavored paste "makes cavity fighting fun"; and my generic medicine tasting"mint" or "cinnamon" doesn't taste as good..and had no mention of fun....I gave it a go.  My teeth haven't rotted and my mouth isn't tasting like burning cinnamon. Although not exactly "fun" as advertised...it is notably tastier.

Other changes have taken place in my basement. The SOF has been taking a different shape, approach, and method of construction this time around. So far 2 hours and 55 minutes of my time has the keelson on and gauged; ready for stem pieces. A arctic candle I took out of my survival kit set the perfect lines of my kayak against the wall as I studied her tonight playing with some kayaking gear.

A lot of changes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

SOF Build: Redux

8 days ago I launched my newly built SOF kayak into the brine. I believe the major fault was the boat was unhappy being born without a skeg; and thought I should be underwater acting like one. In all seriousness the last kayak was a flop due to MANY of my own design problems. All a learning curve I figure. 

So back on the curve!  

 The "practice build" now sits here to provide support lumber for the new gunwales; and a reminder to slow down.  Mortise all cut, stern and bow risers added took 55 minutes of work over the past few days. Temp forms hold a rough shape tonight.

Rib Stock required to be cut as well. My father and I spent a hour looking around the forest on our land for a older black spruce. I had decided on black spruce due to it being a "softwood" yet grows very slowly. Once harvested I brought the 28 inch junks back to St. Johns where Rob and I milled it up on a tablesaw. We couldn't get over how hard this wood was to cut! The rings are supertight and appears to be great bending stock.

Tomorrow I may get started on the deck beams if the weather is poor. I've poured over internet forums, kayak surveys, my own pictures over the past week. I have my errors mapped into my brain and a few ideas gleaned from online sources. 

A few changes have been made compared to the last already:
- This kayak is 20.5 inches wide compared to 19"
-Gunwales are 2 1/4 inches compared to 3"
-Added deck risers at end of gunwales

This build seems to be less time consuming already.

Onward towards the water!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Harbour main

1508 km of coastline around the Avalon has begged me to see each meter. Progress has however slowed to winter storms and less than ideal weather. With another storm moving back onto the Avalon; I drove out to pick up a small leg I decided to stop drop last visit due to increasing winds. I had a good chat with a gentleman as I prepped my kayak to launch out of Chapel's cove; Conception bay.

Cascades of groundwater rolled down the steps of Red rock cove just outside Chapels cove harbour. Flowing water near muted under thick sheets of ice still a white noise in my left ear.A loud crack of gunfire echoed out the bay from a cove behind me. I flinched as I normally do; my body figuring somehow if I lean forward slightly I wouldn't get shot. Turr Hunters I figured As I paddled along the beautiful red cliffs.

The wind being light (southerly 30-40km/hr) I crossed over to Harbour main Island. Seals and turr's fled my approach. Sizing up the wind I decided I would make the short crossing across the harbour and backtrack around the coast. Using the wind I made the 1km crossing directly over to Ram horn Bight; this would join two previously completed legs in my "expedition". A large dark spot came into focus as a huge cave during the crossing!

Sizing up the small swell and winds relation inside the cave I entered the benign environment. The  southerly wind pushed my drysuit tight to my back and neck as I entered the wind tunnel; I could feel goosebumps rising on my neck from the cold. Pulled up my storm hood and drifted towards the end of the cave. I was surprised to see an exit into another cove about 50m inside!

Unfortunately due to the low tide; kelp covered rocks blocked the exit. A HUGE sea otter hopped up on the rock inside the cave and stared at me...then as if it took a minute for his eyes to adjust to the dark of the cave begame pretty irate I was there. A large hissing animal in cave.... I attempted to snap some pics (all are akin to bigfoots blurry shots) and backed out of the cave leaving the guy alone (and myself intact!) 

Using the high water at cliffs edge I stayed close to the shore; using the coves and points to block the headwind. While not very strong it will slowly drain every bit of heat out of you after a full day on the water.

Much like Chapels cove Harbour main is a very tiny town with a few dozen traditional saltbox homes with the largest building being the town church. I paddled in around the head of the harbour where the rugged topography permits a small winding road and cobblestone beaches that once allowed a place for fishermen to salt their catch.

The eastern side of Harbour Main has a few cabins pitched atop the hills but offers many landing opportunities where rivers and cobblestone fill gaps in the stone walls.

Roaring waterfalls produced some of the neatest pieces of art I have ever seen. Frozen flood level water disrupting the waters edge in the river above froze into a rich earthtone along it's sides. The center flow free from the stains of earth was frozen into a mix of blues.

It was civil twilight as I left the cove and landed back to my car. A little chilled I drank a coffee and talked to the same gentleman who I had chatted with earlier that day. The man told me the shot I heard had been an end of a life. One which I would have seen if I had turned right instead of left. Out of respect for the dead and their family I will not get into details. It really gave me things to think about on my long drive back to the city. Fragility of life; and how rapidly it can change. How making a simple decision to go left or right can really change your day. 

 It's amazing the connections and people I've met along this small journey of mine. Unlike a mall or a city street you cant walk past someone on a beach or a wharf without a "hello" or "how are yah doin". The beach and landing spots from the ocean seem to be a place where a person cannot be ignored. I've never entered negative conversation on a beach; and have always walked away with some local knowledge of the area you'll never find in books or online. I learned of the fire that almost destroyed the small community; to the size of sea trout in the pond. I learned of a persons death, and the breif synopsis of this gentleman's life. All said and done I have a open invitation to drop in for a coffee in Chapels cove any time I pass through. 

Where else on earth do strangers act like that? Where else do humans afford each other that kind of respect?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SOF Build: Launch day

It was an exciting drive to the put in at Bay Bull's. Protected from the winds I figured this would be one of the best places to bring my kayak to her sea trials. 

Had a good chat at the wharf with a older gentleman. Apparently Stan Cook who runs a kayak guide had just departed...maybe I could land a job! And who wouldn't want a guy who builds his own kayaks working for them?

They kayak rolled like a dream. Staying upright however was 99% impossible. The closest thing I came to a "paddle" was sculling bracing and rolling....over and over. No matter what I did she was going over. Primary stability was non existent...secondary stability....none. After about 10 minutes of trying to keep the kayak upright and spending most of that time underwater...I pulled the skirt and floated on my back staring up at the thick clouds rolling by. The world deafened by the sound of water in my ears. Disappointment. I couldn't help but think back to a comment on QajaqUSA: 

"That is some extreme deep V...Be ready to roll.. that hull shape is going to have some squirrley pri stability be Safe..."

Only one thing left to do.....

The SOF build was a flop. A huge one.  Now she's back home and scrapped for future projects.  

I do plan on another attempt. Just not right yet. I've been using the boat building as a bit of an avoidance to the cold windy waters. 

The poly Valley is now warming up in the living room for tomorrow morning.

...it's time to get back exploring.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

SOF Build: Ready for launch

After practicing entering and exiting the kayak on dry land; I decided to cut out two ribs that seemed to impede exiting. Suddenly due to the lack of ribs the fabric sagged. No problem...heat gun!!!

It tightened up the fabric perfect; however I unfortunately made a small hole in the side. 3M marine sealant then covered with gun tape and painted. Not the prettiest however I'm certain it will not be her last patch!

Ready to go I fitted her skirt and added some decklines. 

Here she comes!

This was suppose to be a picture on the snow bank. Wind pushed her over and she proceeded to roll 4 times before landing upright like a cat. Tough as nails.

Tonight she rests on the vehicle. Float bags installed; ready for launch tomorrow morning!