Sunday, February 25, 2007

Feb 2007, the streak lives!

The streak lives.

Thankfully, today was a remarkably fair paddling day our part of Nova Scotia. Temperature was right around freezing, and winds were moderate WNW according to the real-time observations online. I say thankfully because this is the last weekend in February and I have not paddled since early January, jeopardizing a six-year monthly paddling streak begun in 2000. Proper safety gear, a dry suit and good communications equipment have allowed me to paddle year ‘round even in the harsh Canadian winter, as has repeated self-rescue practice.

At the launch site, a decidedly unfriendly locale rife with the detritus of heavy industry, the winds were actually NNE and whipping the waters of Big Gut into wads of brownish foam that skittered across the shore ice. With drysuit and mukluks, I waded out into the water to get a feel for the conditions, and was not impressed. The wind off the Harbour was bitingly icy, prompting me to go ashore and don a Kokatat Goretex Pac-Lite storm cag and a neoprene helmet with snowboard goggles.
After careful consideration I unloaded my gear and got set to go, perched on a handy ice shelf overhanging the waves. As I knuckled forward, the shelf collapsed under me depositing my kayak neatly in the current. I fought my way out through the piled wind waves jostling under a large lift bridge, and emerged into the no-less nasty chop on Big Gut. The chop was not big, but fast and brutally slab-sided. Turning was simply not an option until I gained the lee of Green’s Point, where I rested and took time to watch the resident over-wintering geese and ducks struggling to get airborne without being torn apart by the gusts.

Reluctant to disturb the wildlife any further, I headed back into the fetch and surfed wildly back across the gut, squirting under the lift bridge into the shelter of a small cove. With one wary eye on the harbour pack ice being driven along behind me, I paddled as far as the point in the estuary where the relative calm and lack of salinity allowed the water to freeze into a solid jumble of piled ice cakes. Turning, I struggled back against the blow to my put-in spot, grateful for the wind-breaking capabilities of the Kokatat storm cag. A very tricky landing put me back onto the shore ice, where I dragged my boat to solid ground and turned to look wistfully back at the churning water.
The streak continues.


Blogger Wendy Killoran said...

Way to go Glenn! I'm restless to get on the water, but there's only ice.

7:57 p.m.  

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