Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Cave

On a hike today...yes, I had to work off that huge turkey dinner(thanks Mom!)...Anyway, Boxing day was cool and sunny, perfect for a hike. While on the East Coast trail, I looked a few hundred feet to the cliff below and discovered a sea cave...quite a large one at that. Maybe a hundred feet wide...and judging from the flushing of the ocean waves, maybe a couple of hundred feet in. I wonder what type of sea state day I should look out for to try this one.

I anyways loved to hike by the ocean, so seven years ago when I discovered sea kayaking, I liked it right away....I felt it was just like hiking, but on the other side of the waters edge. I still feel like that today. Often, as I kayak, I look around and realize a new place is where I should return to and try and hike...and as today, while hiking, I discovered a place I should get my kayak to.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2007 Circumnavigation of Newfoundland.

The Israeli team of Hadas Feldman(This is the Sea fame...among other things) and Tomer Sabag will start their Circumnavigation of Newfoundland in May of 2007. They will depart from the capital city of St. John's. They plan to travel 2700-kms in 80 days. That's headland to headland. As the tenth largest island in the world, the actual shore line area is over 9600-kms. It's quite a challenge they've set...as one never really knows what the weather pattern will be from summer to summer. One thing is for sure, while sea kayaking this place...they'll experience their full share of whales, seabirds, seals, surf, fog and gorgeous coastline...maybe some icebergs too. I wish them all the luck in the world. I suspect they will have the time of their lives.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Kayak Model.

A fast, playful boat...and easy to roll.

I was eager to see what Craig of Eastern Island Kayaks would come up with. It's been well over a year now, that he's been promising us a Greenland style kayak. Well he delived...boy, did he ever deliver. So for the first time to the web....here is the Makkovik.

This beautiful little kayak measures 16 feet 7 inches, is 22.5 inches wide and an amazing 12 inches deep. This is the first model made, so future materials will dictate weight....but Craig has a reputation for building strong.

Exquisite lines and finish, with recessed deck fittings and a choice of neoprene/glass hatch covers, or the ever popular Kajak Sport rubber hatches. The attention to detail is obvious. This boat is a beauty to the eye.

One thing I realized as I first viewed this kayak, was how low it's profile was. All good for rolling and especially the wind. But sadly, at 190 pounds, I thought for sure that I'm to heavy for this boat. For any mid to light weight paddlers...and almost all women kayakers, this very well could be one of the best kayaks available today. The women seemed to love it...the guys,?...most of them where about 170lbs or less...Yes, they loved it. Okay, so now the pleasant surprise...even at 190lbs, I actually found it quite good. At 22.5 inches wide, it fit like any other boat. The foot space seemed fine....as for the legs, fit was fine too. However, many of us, both male and female, found the thigh braces to be angled sharply into the legs...but as this is the first model made, Craig can easily correct this. The seat was great for my shape, but he warned us that the present back band was quite simple.

As for shape and performance, please keep in mind that we each only had her for a few minutes in the pool. Still, great to say that we were the first people to ever get the Makkovik wet.

As for my thoughts on the design...with a flare to the bow and v hull, it was actually quite supportive. The centre of gravity seems to be at mid ship. Low back deck for lay back rolls. Just enough rocker to handle any chop and with it's beam, still turn properly on edge. With that said, the Makkovik tracks very straight...so much so, that I would take it without the skeg. It was also a fast boat. Again, these are first impressions...we'll have to wait for spring, or even for the ice on the lakes to melt, for a really full out testing of the metal. On New Years day, it may see the ocean on Alex McGruer's annual sea kayaking on the seas of North America, first of '07..an afternoon outing...If that happens, I'll keep you posted.

Oh,...and as for the name of the kayak....Makkovik is a community about half way up the north coast of Labrador. I have two versions of the spelling....so I'm still waiting an e-mail reply from Craig for correct spelling and his choice of the name. Makkovik sounds good to me. Btw, $3000 or less...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What the?...

Snowstorm one minute, then out in a dress shirt the next.

Just before I left for up north, I thought we must be having record heat days. It was 18 degrees plus for a few days in the last of November...this is a bit odd...but I wasn't complaining. Once I returned however, the weather was more seasonable...or so I thought. After a mild day earlier the week, we ended the night with a snowstorm that dumped twice as much snow as forecast...but, and get this, we had a lighting storm with it..?? Anyway...the next day I headed out for a much needed paddle...snow everywhere...and the lake water started freezing at the shore edges, as I paddling. All fun...I lasted a few hours, it all felt good. Then the weather turned ugly...rained for two days straight. When it ended yesterday evening, the snow had all melted and the temperature had climbed back up to over 11 degrees...a very, very nice evening...No need for a coat. Okay, so I should have gone for the first skiing of the year before that snow melted. But that's the thing...with the ice forming on the ponds a few days ago...I couldn't risk it. Once those lakes freeze over, it's a couple of hours of kayaking, one night a week, at the pool....I don't know if I'm ready for that yet. I can still hope for some weather this winter that includes some calm ocean days for the winds...but I can't bank on it. The reason the weather is fluctuating like it is...well, that's what we get for being on an island way out in the North Atlantic, where the cold Labrador current and the warm Gulf stream meet...Depending on the systems moving through, you never know what you'll get....Twice this week, we had nearly a 20 degree shift in temperature in 24 hours...twice! Yes, today outside my window the thermometer reads -6c. So while the snow is gone, the jacket and gloves are back on. It's amazing we all don't get flues with this treatment. Winter....maybe best to pickle ones self in alcohol. Ha...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Just Back From Labrador

Labrador was wonderful. The weather was cold for the most part...and some winds.. but still sunny and nice for this time of the year. The kids were all excited that the ponds had finally froze over last week, so they could partake in the first ice skating of the year. There are only about sixteen hundred residents alone this vast stretch of the southern Labrador coast. The only high and junior high school has a couple of hundred students total. I got to teach a class of photography to most of them, but I had a core group of junior high students from grade seven to nine. With these sixty core students, divided into three groups, we worked together for sometimes two hours per day. After two weeks they produced an art exhibit of sixty photographs, as well as a slide show presentation of over three hundred images. All the images were beautiful and very unique. Bravo to these students.

Nope....still no known kayakers on this part of the coast. This amazes me, but eventually it will change. As for a boat trip to play with the dolphins...to late...everyone had just pulled up their boats for the winter, in anticipation of the shore line freezing soon. Later on, denser ice packs that have formed in the Labrador sea will drift southward, leaving this coast and the straits completely ice bound until spring.

So...a hike was in order. This is a resettled community called Schooner cove...It is a few kilometers outside of L'Anse-au-Loop. Yes, at least a harp seal was awaiting me, sunning itself on the sandy beach. I'd agree with you if you thought these images where taken by Douglas over in Scotland...To my eyes, this part of Labrador does share a striking resemblance to pictures I've seen lately from Scotland. However, I believe that the light is different, as is the architecture.

I would really like to try and get back this way for some kayaking. A trip up Newfoundland's northern peninsula and then across The Striats....maybe this summer....