2011 Atlantic Paddle Symposium
ECO Guides, Kirk, Eleanor and I had the opportunity to attend the 2011 Atlantic Paddle Symposium up in Tera Nova National Park Newfoundland. We set out from Nova Scotia a few days early with the hopes of catching some icebergs off of twillingate. Kirk had been keeping an eye on www.icebergfinder.com for the few weeks leading up to our trip. Unfortunately we had a few days of offshore winds right before we arrived keeping the icebergs far enough offshore to make them difficult to reach by kayak. That didn’t stop us from trying. After landing in Port aux Basque, NL we drove up to twillingate where we ran into Mark Scriver in the hotel lobby. We discussed our plan with Mark and he was keen to join, if he was able to get enough work done. Sure enough the next morning just as we were gearing up Mark pulled up, and headed out on the water with us. After a fun filled three hour paddle with a slick three point turn performed by the amazing Mark Scriver we headed back. I put together a quick video of the paddle; check it out!
After the amazing paddle in Twillingate we continued our journey to Tera Nova National Park. The Symposium started on a cold note. The first day saw < 6C air temperature with 25-35knot winds. Combined with the ~3-4C water it made for a long cold day. Cold we may have been, but miserable were were not. I attended an awesome Forward Stroke clinic put on by Graham of Paddle Canada. I learned a few really good teaching techniques, and had the opportunity to try to fine tune my forward stroke. We also were lucky enough to have time to visit an amazing Sea Cave with a waterfall. Having my helmet on I backed through the waterfall. I have to say this was one of the coolest experiences, being on the water in a cave... and paddling through a waterfall. Amazing. My afternoon session was Advanced Rescues with Richard Alexander, an awesome coach with some very interesting approaches to advanced rescues. After around six hours on the water I headed back to our cabin and went right to sleep.
Day two saw lighter winds and a hint of sun. The warmer temperatures were definitely welcome! Kirk and I started the morning in the Blending strokes class with Alan Stanley. Kirk and I had the opportunity to demo some P&H Delphins for this mornings session. Interesting boats, the shorter waterline let them turn on a dime, but at the same time they seemed to have no trouble tracking. I did notice a speed difference between it and my 17′ Baffin which is to be expected considering the shorter waterline. We did have the opportunity to try surfing them on some wind waves, and I was quite impressed a few short paddle bursts and the boat would click into the wave and go. The Delphin is definitely a great surfing boat, it’s shorter length would make longer multi-day trips less fun then with a more conventional touring boat. Definitely a great short-mid range all around boat, and an awesome play boat. The Afternoon session was out in Salvage, a beautiful little fishing village. When we arrived we were greeted by a wonderful local who became our parking attendant/coordinator. Definitely some wonderful Newfoundland hospitality! That afternoons advanced rock hopping session was taught by Christopher Lockyer. We had a surprise attendance by Clifton Pratt who had been doing the whitewater instructors course most of the weekend. It was a great session with some surfs, rock kissing, advanced in surf rescues and roll practice. To top it off we were treated to a special appearance by the sun!
The third and final day of the symposium was the best weather wise. The sun was out, the wind had died down. We headed out Matt for some surfing. There were quite a few sweet surfs, rock hops and general shenninagans. The epic surf/hit of the day was the very last one. After running a specific surge between two large rocks a few times I decided to head out for just one more ride. It was a larger then normal wave, and I was slightly out of position when I started. Rather then getting pushed through the gap, I was on the wrong side of the wave and kerplowie! Bow to rock hit, causing the boat to come to a full stop, from Kirks perspective behind the wave it looks like my boat was ejected from the wave. I waited for the water to settle then rolled up to find that my boat was a little shorter then it had been when I started the surf. The impact had smashed in the front of the bow, and separated the seem. Luckily, the hole was above the waterline. The hit also flexed the boat and drove three bolts from the skeg control into my knee ripping through my dry suit and taking a chunk of my knee with it. An expensive last surf. The good news is I’ve managed to repair the boat using G-Flex epoxy and the dry suit is back with Level Six for repair.
All in all it was an amazing trip. I had the opportunity to paddle with some incredible paddlers and that alone made everything, even the damaged boat worth it. I can’t wait to go back next year and have some more fun. Hopefully this time without the final kerplowie.