Sunday, July 27, 2008
I can see why fellow kayakers enjoy the videotape feature. Fooling
around with this little Canon cybershot provides a bit of a sense of what is happening, particularly the sounds. Coming close to Great Island the bird calls are
quite amazing and unrelenting. If I can get handy with it for more than 40 seconds I could be on to something. Some days it is hard enough to paddle, keeping a small video camera in line adds a new dimension to the trip.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
You would think a rock feature like the upper part of a skull would be a deterrent to entering a cave that is the orbit of an eye, but that hasn't been the case.
With care and the right conditions, especially a healthy respect for the swell - you can enter quite safely.
Keep your hat on and don't look up - the sea birds seem to have an uncanny accuracy for hitting visitors with guano bombs.
A number of us made our way to Great Island yesterday. Conditions were ideal - leaving Bauline East we made our way out to the island. The waves from the inside of the island gave us a clue that there would be a greater swell on the east side but the wind was low and there was no sign of fog. The puffins as always were in amazing abundance and continued to skim the surface, bobbing up and surfacing close to our boats.
The video gives a small glimpse into one of the orbits of the Devil's Throat. The deep sea caves were accessible but we were constantly bombarded with droppings from all the birds. At one time I had to drop the camera briefly to resume paddling against the wave action.
We made our way out around the outside of the island - spectacular views, and quite a rolling swell. At varying times it seemed we were ascending small hills. The refraction from the island itself contributed another set of interesting conditions as we paddled to and beyond the Arch. An incredible feature that I avoided photographing at the time, perceiving I needed to be paddling to stay upright.
The island is a protected bird sanctuary and even if you wanted to land there is no safe place to do so on the outside.
Arriving around the south end of the island it seems we startled another younger group of puffins(even though we were quite a distance from shore) and when one group launched another flapped their wings madly waiting for some prearranged bird signal at which time they left, and this repeated itself several times.
This is a great destination but some caution has to be kept in mind particularly with the tendency for the fog to roll in a moment's notice. A compass is essential equipment.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Andrew and I took a leisurely drive out to Mobile yesterday and launched from the beach at Mobile. This is a section of the beach that is linked to the East Coast trail. Occasionally this launch site is difficult due to the surf but this morning it was quiet. We expected to join up with a number of kayakers but there was no formal trip planned. We paddled up the shore of the harbour then into the middle of
activity. A small group of us had gathered in almost a semi-circle and two whales seemed to be investigating us rather than the other way around.
Tony managed to get extraordinary video which he has shared on the KNL link.
There was a sense of amazement but at the same time nervousness because even after a number of sightings, encounters of whales this was one of the closest a number of us had been.
The pictures and video were great but the combination of seeing, hearing combined with the smells go beyond what can be described. You had to be there.
The Iles de la Madeleine were a challenge to reach, but an incredible unique island combination - five hours or so from the east coast of PEI. The toughest part of the drive for us was getting through the wreckhouse region of western newfoundland.
If you are bilingual you will fit right in - for those of us with less than stellar french conversation skills, we were accomodated expertly by the residents and the folks at stores and camping grounds. We managed to discover quite a bit about the islands as well as get out on the water as much as we could.
We stayed at Parc de Gros Cap where we met Danielle and Frederick who led the sea kayak tours plus provided information on winds, other paddling locations and snorkeling spots.
The best way to appreciate the fragile coast is to see the cliffs from the water - the layering provides a clue to the at risk areas of erosion, the more the layers the greatest risk. Some even recall major losses, in 2002 a huge arch collapsed leading to the formation of one of the stacks outside of Gros de cap.
We found nests of kingfishers and of black guillemots. Black guillemots are related to the puffin. They lay eggs on the cliffside but lay an odd shaped egg that won't roll off the edge of the rocky ledge.
The dunes are incredible. In addition, numerous artisans work on the islands for most of the year - traveling and showing in other loactions between November and March.
A good base for making the trip is Souris PEI - there are often houses for rent in the area or Red Point Provincial park is ten minutes from the ferry. Basin Head just beyond Red Point is a great area for swimming, beaches and away from the traditional tourist areas in PEI.