Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hodge's Hill

This past weekend my wife and I, along with our friends Shawn & Carmen, and Colin & Diane did a weekend ski-doo trip in central Newfoundland in the Hodges Hill area. This weekend coming up is Easter, and so far, the forecast calls for +9C for Saturday......I will be on the water for sure.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wigwam Rock

This landmark never gets old for me. No matter how many times I paddle around it, I always have to take a picture. This was from a short solo paddle on Friday from Spread Eagle to Marley's Cove.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Harvey Trail, Isle Aux Morts

Isle Aux Morts, on the southwest corner of Newfoundland, is a small fishing village, just 8kms from where I grew up. The French named the town Deadman's Island (Isle aux Morts): we always said it was 'island of the Dead'. Its got this name from the treacherous coastline that caused many, many shipwrecks over the years.

The Harvey Trail is named after George Harvey, a local hero. He was famous for saving people from shipwrecks along this coast. Two of the most famous, are the Despatch (163 lives) and the Rankin (25 lives). There are interpretative signs on the trail, detailing these events, making it a nice informative walk.

I've walked this trail during the summer, when the seas were calm and there was not a breath of wind.
From Mild.....

And I've also walked this trail during winter, after a big southeaster battered the coast and it looked like this:
......To Wild

I could have stayed there all day watching the waves breaking. This coastline is brutal, and the seas can be very scary at times. I would not want to be bobbing around in my kayak on one of those days. Huge breakers were shooting up everywhere, and its hard to get a scale of how big some of the waves were, but here are some pics.

I took a few photos of some of the signs along the way, if anyone would like to read more about the Harvey family and the shipwrecks along the coast:
Information on George Harvey

Information on shipwrecks in the area

The wreck of the Despatch

The wreck of the Rankin

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kayaking in Croatia: 3 Islands - Ruda, Šipan and Lopud

On our final day of kayaking in Croatia, we did a tour that took us to 3 different islands: Ruda, Sipan and Lopud. It was a full day paddle, departing around 10am and returning at about 6pm. Altogether we paddled 12kms for the day and we joined by another couple, Matt from the UK and Melissa from Australia.
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Angie on the departure beach

This day the weather was a little different. The day before it had been very windy, and the skies looked a little dark and foreboding. The winds were blowing offshore, so I knew the paddle back might be a bit of a struggle, so we opted to take a double instead of 2 singles. First we paddled to Ruda island to visit a small cave.

Marko heading into the cave

Then we paddled to Lopud, to a small village for a short lunch. Lopud is another island that has no roads or cars and is one of the few islands around that have sandy beaches. Apparantly, once a week a policeman visit there on a ferry, and asks the mayor "is everything ok?" Upon hearing there is no news, he returns back to the mainland.

Angie with an old church in the background

Heading into Lopud village

To the beach!

Looking for a lunch spot

A fine crowd! Matt, Mel, Marko and Me

What a place!

Where I want to be

After our lunch we paddled over to Šipan. The paddle over is a bit more open to the Adriatic Sea, and it was easy to tell that the wind had been blowing a lot the day before from the swell. Not enough for any concerns, but enough to have a bit of fun. The Aussies we were paddling with had only paddled once before, so I think they may have been a bit nervous........but not that nervous, as I looked over once and Matt had his snorkel on, and was leaning over the side to look into the water! His girlfriend had no idea that he was doing so and it almost tipped them over! LOL. It was pretty funny. Not a smart thing to do when there is a 1 to 2 metre swell. On the other island there was a really cool sea arch.

Marko under the sea arch

Then things got interesting. The closer we got to the island, the more the waves were banging up against the rocks. Our guide wanted to show us another sea cave that we could snorkel into, but warned us it might be a bit "dodgey" to land and get in there. So we landed on the rocks one at a time and as you can see from the pics it was not easy. But Marko did a great job of getting us out safely. Due to the high water and breaking waves, the entrance to the cave was barely visible. (pic 5435) and in that pic you can see the waves being pushed back out through the narrow opening. Marko explained that we would have to swim about 3ft under water and swim about 10ft in before surfacing inside the cave, or we'd risk getting slammed against the jagged rocks on the roof of the cave. So one by one we jumped into the water and swam into the cave. Matt cut his head on the roof of the cave, but nothing too serious. Angie wouldn't go in and stayed outside treading water. Inside was amazing, it opened up into 2 large rooms, with the water appearing all blue from the sand and sun. Once we got back out of the cave, we had to climb onto the rocks where our boats were in the crashing waves, which managed to knock Angie around like a pinball, suffering some minor scraps and bruises. It was then that Marko informed us that it was too rough to enter our kayaks the normal way, and we'd have to jump back into the water, and swim away from the shoreline and he would launch our kayaks out through the waves to us and we'd have to climb in from out there. Me and Ang have done this before, so it wasn't too bad, but for beginners like Matt and Melissa it was a bit of a struggle, and they almost capsized once, but managed ok in the end. Me and Ang were laughing wondering how the Newfoundland Kayak Club and the coast guard back home would feel about this, lol.

Marko goes in to land

Marko climbing out

Dragging his kayak away from the swell

We are going to snorkel in there???!!

Angie looks eager to land

Team Oz/UK going in to land

Marko gets them to shore safely

After all that excitement, we went to another village on Šipan from another lunch, and then headed back to the beach we departed from for a little snorkeling to finish our last day of paddling in Croatia.

Angie with Ruda in the background

All smiles

Back to the departure beach

Gotta hit the water one more time before we leave

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taking Advantage of Winter

Sometimes, you just have to take what mother nature gives you and get out in the snow and enjoy it. On Saturday my wife and I, along with Trent and Andrea, hit the trails just outside of St John's for a few hours. There is very little snow in Newfoundland this winter compared to most winters, but some parts still have enough to get out and have some fun.