Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Level 2 Experience!

Last July was my first real sea kayaking experience.  Since then I've been in a decent range of different situations and conditions, so I said to myself that the next opportunity I have to participate in a level 2 course I'm going to take it.
The Newfoundland Kayak Company and PNL came together and put off a level 2 course the weekends of the 17th-18th and 24th-25th.
On the 17th we spent the morning in class going over the theory part of the course like navigation, weather, currents, and map reading.  In the afternoon we headed to Gull Pond for a few hours to go over some of the basic stokes we are expected to know for the course, and to refine what we have already practiced on our own.
On the 18th we met at 8:00a.m. at the TCH Irving and headed off to Placentia.  When we got to Placentia and got all geared up and on the water we immediately headed over to play in the eddies created by the tail end of the flood tide.  When that fun tapered off we headed up to a little cove to practice a few more of our strokes, where again the instructors, Richard and Neil, did an excellent job fine tuning our work.  We found a perfect little clearing inside the cove where we pulled up and had a rest, few laughs, and a lunch.  When we got back on the water we were facing a decent headwind, so Richard wanted us to guess the distance across the arm and the time it would take us to get there.  Fun little exercise.  Not to proud of my guess so no point in going into details here. ;)
When we reached the other side it was time to have some fun doing a bit of rolling.  I had taken the rolling instructors course with Richard earlier this year, so myself and Dave helped out Richard and Neil as best we could with teaching the much sought-after roll.
Thanks for coming up Roy,  you made it look like I knew what I was doing...lol
When we finished up with the rolling practice we all had a turn going through the strokes we learned while Richard recorded us so we could go back and look at what we were doing.  Excellent learning tool!  By the time we finished our demos the tide began to ebb, so we were back over practicing our low brace turns, s turns, and rescues in the current.  I've been to Placentia 4 times this year and each time I go I enjoy it more than the last.  It's perfect practice for breaking in and out of eddies, ferry gliding, rolling, and if you time it right and really want to test your skills, head out and play in the tide race! 
The second weekend was our camping trip.  We had an excellent time on this trip!  We met at the TCH Irving again and all headed out to Colinet to spend the night at Pinchgut.

We're all gear up and ready to go while Richard gives us our pre-game chat on tow lines and DOT required equipment, and Neil runs through how to best back a kayak with gear.

All ready to get the boats in the water and get this thing started!

Richard, Neil, and Jenn were the instructors so all of us split into 3 groups to head to our campsite for the weekend.  Our group was Richard, Cathy, Wilma, and me.  Richard put our navigation skills to the test as we took turns leading the pack.  Unfortunately I bombed this exercise....BUT I redeemed myself shortly after so Richard decided not to fail me and give me a second chance...j/k ;)

My redemption!  We all took a bearing to practice our dead reckoning navigation, but one reading was different than the others.  After a closer look one protractor was flipped giving the off bearing.  This is a perfect example of why everyone should take a bearing and compare, and not just rely on one person. 

And with the skill of 4 of the best navigation experts in the province we made it to Pinchgut!

First thing we did was set up our tents.  Then we changed into our camp clothes and had some lunch.
The NKC provided the main meals for the trip and I gotta say they were AWESOME!!!
For lunch we had chicken and ham wraps with fresh peppers...Delicious!

Myself and Roy shared a tent on the trip as this was his first camping trip and he didn't have a tent.  Funny thing is this was my first camping trip last year and I also had to share accommodations.
I took a page out of ol' Neville's book and put up a clothes line to hang our drysuits on.

Richard, Neil, and Jenn gave us a basic camp tutorial on things like how to light a stove, make coffee, use and sharpen an axe...

After lunch we went on the hunt for tarp poles and firewood.  Didn't take long before we had our poles cut and a pile of firewood ready to go.

This is kind of a simple little exercise but it was fun all the same, and it just goes to show the effort the NKC puts into their courses.  There were 5 or 6 main categories and each person got 3 cards with different camp scenarios.  The idea was to talk through each situation and decide on the appropriate category.
After we finished up with this we got dressed and back on the water to go through some of the more challenging strokes like the bow rudder, hanging draw, high brace turn, and my personal favorite..."the newfie swirl"
Richard, Neil, and Jenn did and excellent job once again fine tuning out strokes.  I never thought such slight changes could make that much difference.

Beautiful picture of our kayaks lined up the beach.

Bobby took a nice picture of me so I thought that I would add it as proof I was here and I'm not making this up ;)

I always have a favorite picture from all my trips and this one wins the prize for this trip.
Pretty sure this one will be hung on my wall sometime soon.


 Richard outdid himself on this one... Marinated beef tenderloin grilled on a campfire... Best steak I think I ever had.  Grilled peppers and Garlic mashed potatoes! ...and not that powdered crap.  Real roasted garlic, mashed in with boiled potatoes made fresh!

I like to think I'm amazing at BBQ so I wasted no time volunteering to cook the steaks.
Picture compliments of Jenn :)
This was one of the best parts of the night...between cooking my favorite meal and Roy feeding me ice cold beer...whats not to love?!?!?!

For dessert Julie made us brownies, and they were DELICIOUS!

Happy hour!  Listening to music, telling jokes, and having a laugh!
This is my favorite part of the camping trips!

Always try to get a good fire shot in.

Sunday morning view from my tent!

Everyone cleaning up and packing up camp after a pancake breakfast with fresh blueberry sauce from the berries we picked that morning.

Just a few shots from the beach.

Really like this picture too.

We packed up camp and got all of our gear loaded into our kayaks and before we set off back to the launch Richard went over some boat designs, boat handling, and paddling styles.
We had a quick lunch and then headed out!

Richard front and center!

Our Level 2 Group 2016!

After Richard bugging me all weekend to use my new GP I finally caved... look at the smile!!! he's hooked ;)

We had some fun with rescues on the way back.  One person fell over with a dislocated shoulder where a scoop rescue and a tow worked well.  The other was a person fell out of their boat with no whistle to call for help.  Once we all got sorted we grouped up to talk about what happened and how we could have done things better.  I love learning this kind of stuff! A lot of fun!!

Rounding the south end of Pinchgut Island heading home.

When we got back to the launch we did a few self rescues and a bit more rolling practice.  Very pleased to say that with this only being Roy's second weekend learning the roll he had 5 successful rolls!!!  Great job buddy!
We all helped each other unload and pack all the gear into the cars.

Richard wrapping up the weekend and everyone saying what they thought of the weekend in one word... mine was FUN!

We all passed and earned our Level 2 Sea Kayaking Certification!
Great Job guys its well deserved!

I wasn't sure what to expect from this course in the beginning, but from the start in the classroom learning about navigation and weather, to rescues in the current in Placentia, and how to be a team player and make camp life a blast for everyone, this was an AWESOME experience and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do this course with The NKC and some of my good paddling friends!
Thanks Richard and The NKC and thanks PNL!!
And thanks to Neil and Jenn for all your help!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Chance Cove Surfing!

Last week Brian sent out an email to see if there was any interest in going to Chance Cove to try a bit of surfing.  I've been waiting for this for months so I said yes right away and Cathy, Gary, and Dave joined in as well.
It's a 2 hour drive so our plan was to drive out late Saturday afternoon, set up camp, then have the night to cook supper and relax.  Worked out perfectly we had a great night and you could see every star in the sky.

First things first...set up camp.
Brian is going on a trip late this week so he had his camper in the back of his truck.
I set up my hammock on prime real estate.
I finally figured out my set up that gives me plenty of room for cooking and changing.

Unfortunately for Brian the park was full and the event of the night/morning was Karaoke.
Us tucked away in the woods didn't get to hear too much of that.
Slept like a baby!

After we had our tents set up we went for a little walk down the beach while we waited for Brian's charcoal bbq to be ready.

Really nice park here! The view is excellent.

 This is the lake side of the beach.

Looking at the smaller waves and getting excited about what we will get tomorrow!

Little shot of Brian walking down the trail.

Cathy and Gary showed up just as we were bring our food up to cook.  They already ate so me and Brian carried on while they set up their tent.
Myself and Brian both had homemade burgers for supper.  Brian brought along a little charcoal grill that worked out perfect.

Brians Burger:

And mine:

Brian gave me a beer to wash it all down!
Perfect camp supper!

After supper we just enjoyed a few drinks and relaxed by the fire.
Million dollar view from my Ocean front property!

Not a "Roestenberg Special", but it did the trick all the same ;-)

I was up fairly early and just relaxed in my hammock and listened to music while I waited for the others to start moving around.

We all got up and took our time with breakfast and around 9:30 we noticed things looked like they were getting interesting on the water.  That was it we packed up our camping gear and started to get ready to play.  Dave showed up just in time. 
We carried our boats down then got our gear on and hit the water!
I used my Karma RG for the majority of the day and it was AWESOME!!!  If I only use this boat a few times a year just for surfing its worth it!
I tried my Nordkapp RM too but it was very difficult to control.  I only used it for maybe an hour and don't get me wrong I love my Nordkapp...but it cant touch the RG for surfing fun.
I put together a little video of some of the fun we had.  I missed a lot due to a full memory card but you'll get the idea.
What an perfect day!  One of the funnest times I've had in a kayak.
Thanks for getting this on the go Brian!
Everyone on the trip...I had a blast as always!  Can't wait till our next adventure!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tacks Beach!

We have had a trip to Tacks Beach planned now for well over a month and last week the time came to get the trip underway.  Thursday morning I checked and rechecked my gear to be sure I wasn't missing any key items.  When I was sure I had what I needed to get me through 4 days of camping I loaded my car and took off to our rendezvous point at the TCH Irving.  We left as a group to drive to Davis cove which took us about 3 hours.

Just driving past Swift Current.  I thought the scenery was great here so I took a quick pic on our way through.

After our long drive to Davis Cove we wasted no time loading our kayaks and getting them in the water.  There was no slipway in Davis Cove so we all teamed up and carried our boats down the bank into the water.  I volunteered to go down and tie them all together until we were all ready to go.

Making our crossing was one of my favorite parts of the trip, and that's not something I'll say too often about crossings.  The wind was up and so were the waves!  I think we all enjoyed the trip over but I had a blast climbing the bigger waves, catching a few small surf rides, and rolling all over the place.

After 12km and about 2 1/2 hours we arrived at Tacks Beach.
Our home for the next 4 days!

We pulled our boats up on the beach then everyone started their own routine for setting up camp.
First thing I did was change into some fresh clothes, then myself and Dean headed off to clear a spot to hang our Hammocks.

Yes hammocks are a little extra work to set up, but in my opinion that's part of the whole experience.
Besides that they are WAY more comfortable! ;-)
Here is a shot of my accommodations for the week.  My Hammock with my DIY underquilt which kept me plenty warm for my 3 night stay!

Once our fun was over setting up out hammocks, we just sat around to relax and enjoy a drink or two for a while before starting a small fire for cooking!
I had a New York steak grilled rare over the camp fire, and my god it was delicious!  The best steak I've had so far this year!

Here is a shot of some of the bys tents on the narrow strip of land between the North and South beaches.
Our Hammocks are just 30' up the trail behind those tents.  A local man told us on the 3rd day that the Caribou run down this trail all the time but considering I was furthest up the trail, Dean figured it was safe to stay one more night!

Always look forward to the huge camp fire, a few drinks, and the great laughs and stories!

Now this isn't the best picture because it was taken with my iPhone BUT, this was the best moonrise I have ever seen!!!
We were all just standing there watching the moon rise up over the hill top.  I saw the moon just start to peak over the hill so I pulled out my phone and turned it on, and by the time my phone was ready to take a picture the moon was already half way up over the hill top.
Definitely one of my favorite parts of camping is how clear the sky can get and how well you can see the moon and stars.

The morning routine was to set up my stove and cook my eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns all from the comfort of my hammock.

I like to eat a real breakfast when possible.  Oatmeal just doesn't do it for me. 
Delicious breakfast! 

After my breakfast was gone each morning I'd clean up, take my coffee, and head down to see how everyone was and how the day would shape up.
I didn't get many pictures on the second day, but I got one of our lunch stop by North Tilt Island.

The trip up was calm and easy paced but our trip back wasn't so easy.  We were paddling directly into the 30km/h wind funneling up between the Islands which certainly made for a bit of a workout!

Here is a shot of most of the group.  I believe its only myself and Ryan not in the picture.

Day 3 we took on the South end of the Islands leaving from Tacks Beach, heading in around Broad Cove and crossing over by South Tilt Island to head back up.
Our trip down wasn't too bad paddling into the wind because we were weaving in and around all the little islands giving us some shelter.  We found a little beach to pull in and have a stretch and a snack before heading back up.

Once we crossed over top of South Tilt Island to head back up to Best's Harbour, things got interesting, and by interesting I mean my favorite paddling part of the trip!
The wind was strong at our backs and the waves were big enough to catch some good surf rides.
I have a lot of fun crossing into big waves.  Having the occasional wave big enough to break on you, and playing around with some rolls was for sure the best part. 
Once we turned to make our way back it was all surf rides!  I got my Nordkapp RM up to 15.5 km/h.  There were rumors of Torngat owners getting up to speeds of almost 18/km/h but I think their GPS was faulty... 
A few of the guys went South of South Tilt Island and were well behind us.  The wind had pick up a lot since we got back and the few that took a longer adventure were probably close on 2 hours after us before they got back.
I would say with the conditions and the wind they had no trouble hitting 18km/h... even in their Torngat's and Victory's ;-)
Cathy also did her first roll in bigger conditions which was very impressive consider the size of some of the waves we were dealing with.  Good Job!
On our final day we got up and had our breakfast then everyone got into packing mode to get ready for the crossing back to Davis Cove.  We had fog in the morning so the more experienced guys broke out their map and compass and gave us a bearing to follow.  The conditions weren't quite as big as the way over but still a good bit of fun.  It was a whole new feeling for me to be out in the middle of the ocean and looking around all you can see is fog.  Different feeling for sure and I'm glad that was the situation we had to deal with, but not a situation I'd want to be in alone. lol

I was really looking forward to this trip and I loved every second of it!  For 4 days it was nothing but fun and stress free living!  To everyone who joined in on this trip, I had an awesome time with all of you!  Can't wait until our next trip to do it all over again!

I'll put together a short clip from the trip later this weekend and add the link here.
Thanks again guys!