A new episode of Ken Whiting's online TV show, Facing Waves just got posted their and this time it focuses on my buddy and fellow team P&H Kayak paddler, Ray Boucher from Wawa, Ontario.

This episode focuses on rougher water paddling on Lake Superior. The cinematography looks great and I think you will agree that the camera really brings out Rays eyes.

Published in General News

Take a look at this crazy photo (shot by Andy Barrow) that my friend, Liz Burnside found while searching through Flickr for Toronto kayaking photos.

She sent it my way and I did a double take when I realized that was a photo of me out paddling during a winter storm last January. I’m not sure where my friends Erik and Rob are but quite likely right in the middle of that mess. Click on the image above for zoomed in version of it.

For those who might be interested, I was testing out a new Greenland blade from Adanac Paddles that day which is part of a long-term gear review of which should be finished up shortly. Spoiler alert: the paddle worked out great.

This photo was taken here right up against the north wall of the Island airport in the Western Gap of Toronto.

Here is also a collection of photos that I took that cold day in January. My photos are not near as big looking as I was way too scared at the time to reach for my camera.

Top Photo credit: Andy Barrow

Published in Photography
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 20:13

Georgian Bay Storm Gathering Recap [Wind]

This past weekend the 4th annual Georgian Bay Storm Gathering took place and once again it was a real blast. You might call me biased (as I’m one of the organizers) but my benchmark for a successful outing with my kids is the lack of crying and tears. Using that metric, I would say that the Gathering was highly successful.

If you have never attended before you will find that it is different then other symposiums in a couple different ways. Firstly, it’s all about having a good time; if you are not having fun then something is wrong. We also work really hard to make the learning sessions as informal as possible. It’s about what you want to learn and your chance to finally work on your rough water “bucket list” of skills.

Over the past several years the weather for the Gathering hasn’t been the best. Typically we would get at least one absolutely calm day where we need to make our own fun pretending we are out in raging surf or sliding down rock faces. This year things turned out to be quite different when a low pressure system formed over the Great Lakes bringing sustained 35 knot (40mph) winds on Friday and 40 knot (46mph) winds for Saturday and Sunday.

Wind and Rain

Of course high winds meant it was difficult to do any teaching as nobody could hear a thing. After a quick survey to see who had paddled in those conditions before (5-6 people), the goal of the morning was to take all who wanted to get out on the water to experience it. We split the group up into smaller working pods and found calmer places in the several different channels along the shoreline. Some of the keener groups jumped in and worked on surfing or boat control around rocks while other groups took their time sticking their nose out in the wind and quickly coming back to the safety of the channel.

At the end of the day it was exactly what the Storm Gathering is about, an opportunity to get paddlers out doing what they always wanted to do in semi-controlled conditions.

Below is a collection of photos I took throughout the weekend:

Thanks to David Unrau for posting the video above.

Published in Events

Storm waves from the October 26-27, 2010 "Land Hurricane." Light is 48 feet above the sea. Photo Credit: Bryan Hansel

The Great Lakes were hard this week by wind. By wind, I mean windy wind. So much wind that the NOAA actually named the storm The North American Extratropical Cyclone of October 26-27, 2010.

Lake Superior got hit the hardest. Friend of the site, Bryan Hansel from paddlinglight.com has been documenting the destruction and awesomeness in Grand Marais, MN so check his flickr page full coverage.

Bryan also tweeted yesterday the following:  “The Rock of Ages observation on Isle Royale, MI recorded a sustained 68 mph wind with gusts to 78 mph. http://bit.ly/dye38s.”

With all that wind, how high were the waves you ask? Well, a buoy on Lake Superior was measuring waves at over 5.7 meters high. For you Americans, that’s 18.7 feet! Remember, that’s freshwater and not the ocean. Let it never be said that the Great Lakes are nothing like the ocean.

The North American Extratropical Cyclone. Image Credit: NOAA
So what happened? The short story is that a low pressure system formed but kept getting deeper and deeper and turned into a very rare overland cyclone. If you are interested in the science of the weather system, the NOAA website for Duluth, MN has a great summary of the whole thing. According to the web page they set a record pressure low of 955.2 millibars for Minnesota. My guess is that all the senior homes in the area were filled with people with painful knee joints for the past couple of days…

Lake Ontario was on the outer fringes of the weather system so we didn’t have the same high wind or waves compared to Lake Superior but they were big enough for sure! Wind waves larger then 6ft are just too scary for me.

Here in Toronto we couldn’t pass up on such a good opportunity to get out and play so yesterday I went to work early and also worked over lunch so I could duck out early before closing time.

My paddling partner Erik and I headed out from the Toronto Harbour to the Western Gap and fooled around there. The Western Gap is a great training ground in rough water as the water bounces around and quickly turns into clapotis waves. I have written about the Western Gap before as a great training ground before. With all the clapotis wave action in that area, it isn’t uncommon for the water to fall out from under you and drop 3-4 feet with no warning. It’s worse then a rollercoaster because if you don’t see it coming it can be a little unnerving.

Kayak Bow in the Western Gap. Photo Credit: David Johnston

Once we got bored of the wave elevator ride we headed off south around the point to the “clothing optional” beach for some fantastic surfing in the consistent 6 foot swells that were forming. After a couple of runs we had to head out pretty quick as our path home took us back through the Western Gap chaos and needed to get through before we lost all our light. Now that would have been scary!

Below is a small collection of photos that I took. These were taken in conditions weren’t as rough as the bigger stuff made me to scared to haul out the camera and get a steady shot. That being said, it reminds me of a fisherman’s tale, “I could only take one photo and decided to take a photo of the smallest fish I caught…”

For reference, the breakwall you can see in a couple of photos is six feet out of the water.

[flickr set=72157625256907178]

On a completely different yet similar note, my friend Mike sent me a link last night of crazy boogie boarders playing around in a clapotis wave refracting off the sea wall.

This just in: My friend Megan from Naturally Superior Adventures on Lake Superior just sent me this report of the gang out surfing. Sounds mental. If you hurry today you might still catch some of the action on their live webcam. Megan also posted a great collection of storm photos on the NSA blog. The lightstand in the photo below is 20 feet high.

The gang came back at lunch and said that it was a bit intense.  One report was that Ray was completely vertical and yet his whole hull was still on the wave.  Another was that Ray did a surf ender where his bow just stayed under the water while he got surfed in.  He said he didn't feel too heroic afterwards just trying to breathe.

They think the river mouth might be a bit too big of this afternoon but were just going to check it out.  They might go back to Sandy or try Celery Beach.  I might go out and take some pics later but wish that the sun would at least try to show up.  Super grey here.


NSA Surf. Photo Credit: Megan Gamble

Lighthouse Photo Credit (Top): Bryan Hansel
Lightstand Photo Credit (Bottom): Megan Gamble

Published in General News
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 11:00

Lumpy Waters Symposium Caving Day [Video]

Friend of the site and fellow P&H Kayaks Team Paddler, Christopher Lockyer put together this great looking video from the Lumpy Waters Symposium which was held in Oregon a couple of weekends ago.

Nice rock hopping footage but really the video it's all about playing around in the many caves along the coastline of Oregon.

Jealous I am.

Published in Video

Surfing in Toronto. Flickr Credit: akasharkbow

Taken by myself one day out surfing in Toronto. Taken from our Flickr pool, "Sea Kayak Canada"

Do you have cool Canadian sea kayak photos you want to see here? Add it to our Flickr pool.

Published in Photography
Monday, 06 September 2010 23:02

Video: Sea Kayak End Over End

Posted without comment.

Update: Just found out that this is Ray from Naturally Superior Adventures in Wawa coming back from a trip so yes, this is a fully loaded boat.

Published in Video
Thursday, 29 July 2010 22:50

Sea Kayak Reverse Endo [Video]

No comment needed on its awesomeness.

Thanks Gnarlydog!

Published in Video

Check out this amazing big water sea kayak video that was just posted to the old YouTube by MrSpikekayak. He is the lead designer for Necky Kayaks, Ocean Kayak and Old Town Canoe/Kayak and runs the always interesting blog, Kayak Noise.

Published in Video

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