Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kayak Kameraderie

I sometimes forget that there’s more to kayaking than piling on the miles and seeing the sights.

With 16 paddlers out on the windy waters of Antigonish Harbour last Sunday, the emphasis was definitely on getting along rather than getting somewhere. Our cadre of dedicated kayakers has grown together to such an extent that even members who have not paddled with us in quite some time simply blended in to the social fabric when they arrived at our put-in on Town Point.

While the logistics of getting that many paddlers rounded up and convoyed to such a remote location may seem daunting, in actual fact the event went off as smooth as butter.

Many of us met at our usual form-up spot off Exit 25, and we seemed to accumulate more and more kayak-laden vehicles as we traveled North on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Our kind host, Ernie Porter, had hinted in his emails about the “uniqueness” of the new structure we might find on entering his private road to our put-in site, but I was completely unprepared to see a replica of the Cape George lighthouse, built from original plans sitting alongside his driveway. Visible from the water, this structure looks like it has always been there. Well done Ernie!

The aforementioned wind was a bit of a wet blanket on our harbour paddle, so 3 kayakers wisely decided to rest at our lunch site beach near the pretty little hidden cove to which Susan had led us. The rest of us made the crossing to Pomquet Cove, and paddled in relative shelter all the way to South Side Harbour Road.
At lunch, I was bowled over and reduced to stunned silence when the club presented me with a card, a bottle of wine and a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday”. Thanks, folks.

After a nice downwind run to the gypsum caves and then back to our cars, Marc and Susan graciously invited the group back to their place for drinks and snacks on the porch. What a beautiful spot they have, overlooking Antigonish Harbour with Crystal Cliffs, Captain’s Island and Mahoney’s Beach all laid out before us.

On impulse, and at Marc’s suggestion, we decided to drive up the coast in convoy to a fish-and-chip shop in the little fishing cove of Cribbons. A booming business is done at this plain-looking steel arch building easily mistaken for a fishing shack. And no wonder, accommodations were superb and the food fantastic. We commandeered the restaurant’s outdoor gazebo, and very quickly drove off the resident diners with our smelly kayak gear and raucous behavior. The braver members of the group sampled Bill’s Calamari, which he informed us was: “Squid, b’y!” Many lies were told and photos taken.

Thanks to everyone for a great and memorable paddle!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Rocks, trees and Mongolian throat singers

4 of us had a great weekend paddling the Outer Canso Islands, where
the Stan Rogers Folk Festival was taking place. The scenery was
fantastic, the water ice cold and the weather...complicated.

We had a tiny squall follow us around most of Saturday, forcing us to
camp on the mainland instead of our destination, Charity Island. We
had a great site on a sandy beach nonetheless, and in fact got a visit
from the members of Chirgilchin, a Mongolian throat-singing group who
hiked out to the end of Glasgow head between sets at the festival.
Although shy, they were amazed at our kayaks and our gear, and asked
many questions about the boats. Their English was decent, and they had
a Russian interpretor with them as an obvious minder. One of the guys
had on a pair of hand-tooled leather boots with up-turned toes that I
would have given my eye teeth for.

Wayne, Tracy, Pamela and my ownself had a wonderful time. We ate like
royalty, drank... um... responsibly (beer, home-made peach wine,
rum...) and paddled our hearts out all weekend. At night, we were
lulled to sleep by the crystal-clear tunes from the Stanfest several kilometers away,
with distant foghorns filling in the gaps. On Sunday, we were
serenaded by seals at our lunch stop on Sherewink Cove. Their "music"
was not so pleasant, being mostly hoots, howls, growls and grunts. I
was reminded of the later stages of our typical Kayak Pub Nights at
The Dock...

Wildlife was plentiful, and included such rare sightings as the
black-stockinged Tart and several mature chubby-legged strippers.
You'll have to ask Wayne for genus and species info on these rare birds...

Cheers to Wayne for sharing his camping knowledge, Pamela for her
amazing culinary skills, and Tracy for her moxie and delicious peach

Pics are at: http://community.webshots.com/user/magoo_ns under "Canso '07"