Adventures on the Blue


It's always neat to see hobbies cross over, and today Paula introduced me to a couple of new boats that may bring me one step closer to finding a kayak that fits on the scooter. For those whe don't know me, I own a couple of motorscooters, a 1975 Lambretta LI150 and a Vespa GT200. I've sort of been thinking how neat it would be if I could just get all my paddling gear and kayak on the bike. Today I found a kayak that fits perfectly on the GT's floorboards, but doesn't really fit me.


Paula's conducting a fun focus group to throw what we've got at two new Advanced Elements inflatable kayak models. She absolutely loves her Advanced Elements Firefly - it's allowed her to get on the water virtually car free and she finds that tremendously liberating. She even took it to Toronto during a book conference last summer - read about it here. She's pretty passionate about these boats and wanted me to try one out for myself for an article she's writing. Both boats were 13' models and they're fantastically innovative and tough. The Expedition model fit on my shoulder with little effort and weighs considerably less than my long boat. The build quality is fairly good despite a few oversights in water tightness seat comfort, but hey.. I'm a big guy so I'll cut them some slack, it's a boat designed for someone else.


These little boats are all filled with air and take a bit of pumping to get full. Paula noted that the expedition model I took out was a little under inflated once she saw me in it - and pointed - and laughed, but the straight edge sit on top model was taught. If you're a heavy dude, fill it all the way - with Paula sitting in the under inflated boat, it was perfectly flat in the water and she also said it felt much more able to cut the waves than the SOT. The cockpit is fairly roomy and the sponson/gunwales stretch out to infinity on either side. These things are very wide and stable and Paula tells me they're loved by the fishing crowd for sneaking up on their favorite catch.


Speaking of catch, and there's one invariably, at 255 lbs 6'4" and size 14s, this is yet another boat that is simply not going to be a comfortable boat for me beyond a few km. Comfort's pretty much the oversight of both boats I tried - The deck leaks quite a bit of water through a foredeck zipper on the Expedition model, which quickly dropped right onto my crotch. The straightedge's hull slaps roughly on even small waves and I couldn't find a way to get my big self into a comfortable seating position no matter how I squirmed around. But hey, we got out on the water and had a beautiful paddle to flower island. The novelty of the boats fitting on my scoot is awesome, but the boat is just not the one for this kayaker. I'd say these kayaks are probably more fun on flat water and with a considerably smaller person sitting in them - definitely even better if that person doesn't have a car, space or wants a neat scooter accessory. Between my timbuk2 bag the under seat storage, I was able to pack all my kayaking gear to and from the beach - now I just have to continue the quest for a boat that will fit the scoot and my butt.

Trip Distance: 4km

YTD: 94km

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Friday, March 27, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments


Today was one of the longer days I've been out sailing so far. Poor wind conditions made it more motoring than anything else, though. So most of the interesting parts of the day surrounded maneuvering and sailing under power. Today we left poor Red Current at the dock due to some unfortunate starting trouble, her outboard just wouldn't come to life. After Aaron and I scraped up our knuckles enough on the pull-start, we put her back to bed and hopped onto Snow Bird for the first time.


Snow Bird is another Cal 20 that's part of the club sail program at Oak Bay marina. She's rigged a little differently and has a better (longer reach) motor for a sailboat. The only small issue is she has a tear in her mainsail near the batten housing. We wouldn't really get to see if this was a performance loss of not today, because the winds were variable and very light.


One thing that's always scared us off about Snow Bird is that she's in a strange mooring situation. in order to get her off the dock, you have to spin the bow 90 degrees and the quickly buzz the motor to get enough speed for steerage. It's a bit hair raising, but this was my first successful launch in a while. It was the moment we got out of the marina, Aaron realized he'd left his backpack with all his belongings on the dock. I'd passed the point of no return for docking in the first set of slips, so I got us into a free slip a few fingers down. Docking this boat is quite nice and Snow Bird feels much tighter for maneuvering.


Aaron ran and grabbed his stuff and hurried back. We cast off and thanks to the little bit of extra room, we were able to leave the slip with no problems or Rich-cowardice. Once free of the marina, we looked for wind.... none found... anywhere. The water was still a bit swelly from a system that had moved though, but there just wasn't wind for the catching. The motor stayed down and running while we put up the sails just in case. We navigated easily out to Trial Island and then watched other sailors, hoping someone had an idea of where to go. There was wind out by Brotchie Ledge and out in Baynes channel, but nowhere else close by.


The current made our decision an easy one. With a reduced horsepower motor, no wind and a fairly strong ebb coming, it would be better to circumnavigate Chatham/Discovery looking for wind - The destination is always upwind, right? We watched a few other boats beating up a light easterly wind, but their sails luffed and the short burst of wind was gone. The closer we got to Discovery, the bigger a Chinese freighter was getting on the horizon. We had changed course a little to avoid some fishing vessels and as we saw the giant container vessel fly past us, it actually motored right through the path of the fishermen's boats. Maybe they're just used to it by now?


Approaching the lighthouse on Discovery Island, we felt a little breeze and throttled back the motor to attempt to sail a little, but it really was no use, the light puffs of wind meeting the small swell echoing through the water was just throwing the boom to and fro and getting us nowhere. After a few minutes trying to get the boat to sail, we throttled back up and waved to the other boats in the vicinity. One boat was flying a spinnaker in the opposite direction and was getting a tiny bit out of the way, but the others we passed were slowly drifting backward.


When we got to Baynes, we found sweet, wonderful wind and killed the motor immediately. The current was faithful to the prediction and helped us speed down Baynes. The few moments without the motor purring along were really nice, but all good things come to an end. We were feeling a bit creative, so we tested our mettle at buoyage and tried a different return route to the marina. We were able to find a quicker way back to the marina which is good news for those days when the north route is calling. We docked the boat like a couple of old salts, a perfect maneuver took us back into the tricky docking situation and stunned the onlookers who didn't think we'd fit. Despite the little wind issue, today was a great day to visit the ocean and to realize how little I want a motorboat.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009 Leave a Comment 2 comments

It's coming, folks.. Ocean river's gear up sale! This weekend: March 21 & 22

Location: Ocean River Sports & Robbins parking lot

Time: The rope drops at 10:00 am both days

"Ocean River's infamous (ed: uhhh - wrong word .. see me after class) sale is here once again! This is the one to get you all geared-up for the upcoming season of warm weather paddling and outdoor adventures! As always we will will tons of fantastic deals gear & clothing brought in specially for the sale, and as always you won't know what's there is until the day of! More exclamation points!!!"

Ocean River Sale Here
Thursday, March 19, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments


Right after my last kayaking trip I threw all my gear in the van, strapped the boat to the roof and tore out of gyro park. Today was definitely sailing weather and I was totally psyched to get out into oak bay with the conditions. I had to run home to grab my GPS and change. I got back down to Oak Bay moments later and Aaron couldn't find the key for the boat, so we got back in the car and headed out to find the key. Half way out, Aaron found the key in his backpack so we turned around and headed back to the marina again.


When we got back down to the water, there was a long and low snow cloud on the eastern horizon. The wind had increased to about 15 knots from the northeast. We got the boat all set up and I goofed the exit again - I'm just being too timid and not giving enough throttle for steerage, so the boat kidn of lazily turn swhen it feels like it. The area to pull out in this part of the marina is just tiny, so I'll have to keep working on the undocking.


Once we got out past the breakwater, we got the sails up and pleasantly powered up. Today was some of our best sailing yet. The nice wind made navigation fairly explanatory and we were able to keep Red Current on a nice reach all the way out to great chain island. The boat powered up even more once we started our way down Plumper Passage. The tide was just right for getting around the reefy parts of the chain islands and we were saying hello to the bottom of Chatham Island in no time. We're getting a whole lot better at knowing when to tack and where it's going to take us.


The middle of Baynes channel had some strange local flood currents going on and the wind had veered down to full easterlies. When the current met the wind we faced some pretty large swell and chop but only for a few minutes. The giant black cloud over San Juan island lazily moved off to the south reveling a snow covered southern headland. With the sudden veer changing our trim, the lost a bit of power heading straight up into the freight train (the standing waves at the mouth of Baynes), so Cadboro point was where we turned around to take advantage of a broad reach home.


The current on the way back was close to slack so we were able to navigate right through Baynes and Mayor channel. We got to see a bunch of sea birds out on the chains and the wind calmed down to about 5 knots to deliver us quietly back to the marina slip.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments


On Sunday Mar 8, I got a quick little burn out to 10 mile point after emptying my kayak of friggin' ice again. The warm weather still isn't quite here yet. I headed out to Cadboro Bay expecting to meet some friends and no one was there but the wind. :)


I got to the beach at Cadboro bay and emptied out all the water from my boat after a strange cold snap brought lots of rain and ice. I got the boat all geared up, put it in the water, put my foot in it and ended up on the other side of it, sitting in the ocean. so much for keeping dry.


The morning was pretty damned nice except for a howling wind gusting 15 knots out by Cadboro and Ten Mile point. Sailboats were totally loving the conditions, though. I followed a group of them out and they disappeared around ten mile point into some stern north easterly winds. Once I got to Ten Mile point, I was facing 2-3 foot seas and a fairly strong current, so I turned around and visited the eagles on Jemmy Jones.


The wind was increasing as I crossed the mouth of Cadboro bay, and I was coming up to my deadline for being totally off the water by 11:30 (about those priorities in my next post). I got up close to cattle point and meandered back down the south side of the bay along the rock gardens and then past the RVYC marina. I land safe and sound on the beach, looked at my watch and realized I was running a bit late. Threw the boat on the car and tore home to change for sailing.

Trip Distance: 8km

YTD: 90km

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments


So I missed another blog entry :) I'm a busy guy lately. A couple of weeks ago, I met Paula for a nice little paddle around Oak Bay. Paula was still working on beating a bug that she had for pretty much the last month. I Hadn't paddled in a couple weeks, so I was getting a little antsy to get back out in my boat. The water was alright with a pretty good Northeast wind howling down bay. We put in at Cadboro bay and had a headed toward Flower island.


The currents were calm and the sun was out and the wind wasn't affecting the shore. the paddle was pretty good, so we headed toward the Cadboro Point to have a look at the what the wind was doing to the east shore. Out at 10 mile point the water was full of whitecaps and crashing on the rocks. We decided not to try going any further around the point.


Paula and I headed back to Jemmy Jones island and the wind had started to chop up the water a bit. Paula got a little off kilter and decided to call it a day, so we parted ways and I headed off to Oak Bay. The Water was getting a bit choppier still and the wind kept creeping East as the morning progressed.


I passed Mike Jackson and friends on the way out to the marina. I had a hard time recognizing him at first.. turns out I _do_ need glasses - $4 Hawaiian shades ain't gonna cut it, sadly. :) I paddled into oak bay marina to oogle boats and turned around to find oak bay had become rather full of whitecaps. :P The wind had increased a bit, so it was time for me to head in.


I slogged against the wind on the way back home and got a pretty good workout for the distance. Where there's wind, all the sailboats are out with full sails! I took some photos of the boats going by and then made a B-line for gyro park. Got off the water all cold and called up Paula for a coffee. We had a gander at a nice little kayaking atlas, by the one and only John Kimantas, and planned some of our summer fun.

Trip Distance: 11km

YTD: 82km

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Monday, March 9, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments
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