Thursday, January 29, 2009

Becher Bay Jan 28 09

Wednesday was a magical day. One of those days with three seasons packed into it, sun wind rain, cold, more wind, more rain, and more sun. Sort of fall, winter, and spring in just a few short hours. I had the pleasure of spending this day with two of my fine friends John L and Dan G.

The only down side was that Heike could not join us. He was tucked in safe at home recovering from a unplanned conjoining of his bike with the front bumper of a car. You were missed Heike.

Our arrival at the marina was perfectly timed with a spring like rain shower. Just enough rain fell to ensure everything got wet. Once launched and out beyond the slips the cold wind hit us and as we slipped across Becher Bay I pulled the pokies out. Our plan was to traverse out along the more interesting east shore of Becher Bay and make our way east to Shelter Island in Whirl Bay. this area is just west of Race Rocks in Juan de Fuca strait.

Even with the rock hoping it was not long until we were passing Large Bedford Island. Unable to cross the tumbo due to the low water we retreated and circumnavigated the island. Out at the mouth of the bay the South west winds coming down Juan de Fuca Strait picked up. We cut between Large and South Bedford to avoid the full exposure tothe swells and wind in Juan de Fuca Strait.

Once in the lee of Large Bedford, John tuned into the weather channel and we rafted up to listen to the weather update. I was concerned and didn't want to round Church Point without a report from Race Rocks. While rafted up and waiting for the report we were making 2.5 knots against the ebbing current. The swell coming in against the ebb backed by the wind was worrisome. Sure enough at Race Rocks the wind was blowing 25 and gusting to 30 knots. We turned back toward Large Bedford that was now well behind us.

Splashing about in the swell and surf I put the camera on auto and fired off some photos as we made our way back to the tumbo for tea. After tea we made our way out to West Bedford and got into some good sized five and six foot waves. Unfortunately I inadvertently shut the camera off and missed photos from the most dramatic part of the trip.

Dan thought John was going to do a 360 spin at one point. I was a little worried for a few moments but once we moved inside things settled down. After a short lunch we headed back to the launch site.

It was a short but intense day with lots of fun. Total distance was only 6.72 knots the moving average was 2.4 and my max speed was 5.5 knots, paddling time was 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Race Rocks and Baynes Channel Trips

This past week I managed to get in on a couple of club paddles. the first one out to Race Rocks on what turned out to be one of the flattest days, water wise, that I have experienced at RR. I followed that up with a lumpy crossing of Baynes Channel off Oak Bay yesterday.

Saturday in Baynes was a cold day with winds from the NE from 10 12 knots but it was a lot of fun. The waves were just at that size to keep things interesting not to large, not to small, just right. The less experienced had fun while the jaded and twisted were kept amused.

The beach talk got kind of animated as the leader for the days paddle chose to split the group into those who wanted to stay inshore and those who wanted to challenge themselves in potentially rougher water. It was policy versus flexibility. Thankfully flexibility won the day but perhaps not the battle.

Wednesday at RR was a much larger paddle 13 in total made the crossing there and back. As there was little current at the rocks we detoured and slipped down the coast to the Bedford Islets before doubling back to Pedder Bay.

Brown Ale! IPA!, Brown, IPA and the debate goes on and on...

Around the corner from Rocky Point the military boys had the red danger flag up as they were playing with high explosives under water. Which curtailed any opportunity to go rock hopping in one of the best areas along that coast. In all the years I've paddled here that was the first time I'd seen the warning flag flying. Truth is I missed it entirely until it was pointed out.

Between the paddles I attended a very informative workshop on how to use your GPS. Finially I'm now on the cusp of being able to use the GPS for something more then a paper weight. Here's some numbers from Saturday trip 7.44Nm, Moving time 3hr07min, Max Spd 6.9 (surfing) Moving avg 2.4 overall av 1.8 Soon I'll have some charts an will be able to plot routes, trips and stuff. Wow! Here's a link to a short slide show of Baynes Channel with little current and winds from the NE at 10 to 12 knots.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Steve Pelton

Steve Pelton 1942 - 2009

Good by old friend.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Buddy System Indeed!

Mike O'Connor in Baynes Channel on a 3.75 knot ebb, zero winds Feb. 09. 2008

On a group excursion into an active Baynes Channel Tide Race last week I enjoyed some interesting group dynamics.

Baynes Channel off the end of 10 Mile Point in Victoria BC, under the right circumstances, can be a lot of fun as long as you manage the risk. Seldom do I venture into these waters in these conditions with paddlers who's skills I don't know. This was one of the exceptions.

On this occasion I suggested that if anyone lost their boat that we might regroup downstream on Jemmey Jones Island, if we were fortunate to catch up with the kayak, only to be told you can't land there.

Odd that; as I've stood on top of Jemmey Jones in a 45 knot Gale after
landing with five other kayakers. I know this for a fact as my friend Mike Jackson was standing next to me when he measured the wind speed with his nifty wind gauge.

During the shore meeting last weekend one paddler said she didn't want to paddle in the tide race but only on the edge, I then watched her and her "Buddy" paddle strait into the race. I thought that very odd as well.

I concluded either she has a short term memory problem or more likely does not understand the affects of current. Being familiar with the tide race I had suggested either approaching it from the south, (no one wanted to do that) or that we paddle NE on a ferry glide and slide down onto the shoulder of the tide race to surf the outside breaking waves.

This couple paddled ESE and ended up in the tide race at a point where they would have been washed into the rocks at the end of the head land if or should they have the misfortune to capsized.

One of the other kayakers, a professional coach, was also alarmed by this turn of events. Together we attempted to get their attention and encourage them to play in a more risk free area.

Prior to launching I stressed the need to pay close attention to the group dynamics and to be on the lookout for anyone in trouble but that got over ruled by this woman and her close friend who insisted the buddy system was better.

At the end of the day I initiated an impromptu rescue session by coming out of my boat (planned but unanticipated at that particular point) I washed out at the south end of the rocks marked by the 10 Mile Buoy.

There were four kayakers in the immediate area, two came to assist, while the "buddies" never looked around and paddled off to the put in where they pulled their boats out. When we got back they didn't even know that a rescue had taken place. If things had gone badly we could have been in a bit of a spot.
The "Buddy System" should be the beginning of your group awareness not the end
of it.
When the wind is against the ebbing currents surfing waves form just in front of the distant headland. If the wind builds the waves build as well until break on the rocks. At that point you want to be watching, high and dry, from ashore.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Joy of Christmas Gift Giving

This year I consulted my sister in-law regarding a gift that would wow my wife. Together we decided that a second pair of flannel pyjamas and slippers would be just the ticket. It's taken a while for me to wizen up but I'm not a total idiot.

My wife exchanged the pyjama's and slippers yesterday.

I've fired my sister in-law as a consultant and will be approaching sister number two with suggestions for a suitable birthday gift in February, followed by sister number three for Valentine's Day should things not work out with two.

I on the other hand I got two miniature Delft porcelain cats, a sugar bowl and a creamer for Christmas presents from my beloved.

I'll pause while you catch your breath.

Imagine my delight a I placed the cats on the mantel. First I put one at each end, then I tried both in the middle, both to the right, then left, one facing east the other west, both looking at one another, finally exhausted I just left them sitting wily nilly. Such fun.

Turning to the sugar bowl and creamer, I resolved to leave them for another day and walked down to the pub for a pint.

Back to Possession Point

January 2nd burst onto the west coast following a New Year sun that washed the Strait of Juan de Fuca in brilliant sun light.

Brilliant but cold. By 11 AM the temperature had barely reach 3 C. Ice ponds had frozen on the top of my cockpit and hatch covers. Wherever the previous days rain drops had clung to the kayak there was a diamond of ice.

But the sea called, so after an unusual amount of foot dragging I had the boat into the water. The plan was to go out to Possession Point and shoot a series of rapid 10 second photos of the kayak as it shot through the surge channels.

I am such a Luddite. Just to be sure I slipped a spare battery into my jeans pocket before leaving home. Half way out to the Point I pulled out the camera set it up in the suction cup holder on deck and fired off a few photos.

The screen went dark. Dead battery. Spare still in jeans on end of bed at the in-laws. Way to go Homer. I pulled the camera off the deck and decided if there wasn't going to be any photos I might as well play hard in the swell and the rock gardens. The next two hours slide by until I realized I had no feelings in my toes.

I had good wool socks on inside the dry suit but with my feet squeezed into neoprene boots there was little loft in the socks to keep my feet warm. I pulled off the day hatch and dragged out a fresh crab meat sandwich. But once my hands were out of the pokies my fingers froze up like popscycles. It was time to head home. Just over two hours and well under 5 nautical miles but a great beginning to a new year.