Sunday, September 27, 2009

The First and Possibly Last Paddle of Fall [Leslie Spit]

Red Sky at Morning, originally uploaded by Michael Mitchener.

Date: September 27, 2009
Time: ~6:15 AM to ~9:30 AM
Launch Point: Cherry Beach
Destination: Western shore of Leslie Spit
Passengers: William Self & Michael Mitchener
Conditions: Light winds with a slight chop.
Sightings: A few birds, one otter, one guy standing on surfboard crossing the bay using a kayak paddle, a Degrassi High film crew, a lone fisherman, and of course a few dogs on the beach.
Bill and I headed out for a paddle on Saturday knowing there might not be many more opportunities this year with fall upon us. Despite a pretty good wind when we arrived on the beach, the chop was light and once we headed out into the water, the Spit protected us from much of the wind.

A Buoy's Life, originally uploaded by Michael Mitchener.

We were both surprised at how many stars and planets were visible as we paddled towards the Outer Harbour Marina. It wasn't long before the sky had brightened and we were treated to an amazing sunrise with lots of variations of light and colour. It was the type of sunrise that presents many photographic opportunities and different moods and views from well before sunrise to some time after the sun was comfortably above the horizon. To think I sleep through this show most mornings.

The morning was a good balance of seriously paddling with many breaks for pictures. We toured the Outer Harbour Marina and then headed south to the next marina near the red pedestrian bridge. It really sunk in to me that summer is over when we noticed that practically all of the creepy cormorants are gone and the Spit was strangely silent. We saw a few early morning joggers and cyclists out on the Spit and a lone fisherman nestled in the reeds near the red bridge, otherwise we had the place to ourselves. My first reaction to the sight of the fisherman was that he must be crazy to be out here this early but then I reminded myself that we were in the same boat.

William Self, Canoeist, originally uploaded by Michael Mitchener.

It was a great morning and we covered extra "ground" knowing we might not get out again until the spring but we did note that there are a fair number of deciduous trees on the Spit and we hope to make at least one more trip once the leaves change colour if the marine forecast cooperates. It was really great to get the canoe out so many times this year and I thank my regular paddling partner, William Self, for the many early morning trips.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Suitable For Most Marine Activities [Leslie Spit]

Date: September 6, 2009
Time: ~6:00 AM to ~9:30 AM
Launch Point: Cherry Beach
Destination: Leslie Spit
Passengers: Kashmera Self, William Self & Michael Mitchener
Light winds with a slight chop, small short period wind waves, suitable for most marine activities.
Sightings: One otter, several beavers, many cormorants, ducks, mosquitoes, irritating little flies, one rower and two boatloads of dragonboaters.

After our last paddle in fairly choppy conditions, I decided to do a bit more research into marine forecasting and found a good website that said this past Sunday was going to be "suitable for most marine activities". Given this positive prediction, William Self, his wife Kashmera and I decided to take an early morning trip. This was Kashmera's first trip with us and she was keen to see what could possibly motivate Bill to get up at an insane hour to paddle around one of the Great Lakes.

With the shorter days upon us, we decided to sleep in and head out at 5:45 AM rather than our typical 5:30 AM leave the house time. Even still, it was decidedly dim when we placed the canoe in the lake beside the lifeguard hut at Cherry Beach. With the sky lightening in the east, we pushed off into the calm lake. It's beautiful being on the lake this time of day with the sleeping city glittering across the water to the north, the near full moon shining over Toronto Islands to the west, the dark Leslie Street Spit getting closer ahead of us as we paddled to the south, and the sun just below the horizon to the east.
Our destination today was the south end of the Spit out towards the lighthouse. We spent our time wandering the different bays on the west side of the Spit, watching the wakening wildlife including one very brave otter who was perched on the edge of the shore and allowed us to get within a few feet of him to take pictures. Notable as well was a colony of beavers we saw in one of the bays that swam around the canoe and smacked their tails on the water as they dived (a well known beaver expletive). They escorted us out of the bay once we had our fill of watching them and taking pictures. Damn paparazzi.

At one point, we "hit bottom" on a sand bar and William and Kashmera gamely agreed to walk the canoe to deeper waters. William knows I like to keep the canoe on water and always force passengers to step into the cold lake to board the canoe. I guess scratches are a part of life for a canoe and I should get over it but it's very hard to let go.

We eventually reached the lighthouse after many pictures and many laughs and decided that our collective caffeine levels were reaching dangerously low levels and proceeded back to the mainland. It was a great morning on the water with Bill and Kashmera and ended with a coffee and industrial "have you had these before?" muffin at Red Rocket Coffee. Thanks for a great day to the both of you (and thanks for listening to our geeky camera chatter Kashmera).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Not To Be Confused With A Log Canoe

A good friend of mine, William Self, suggested on our last canoe trip that it would be great to have a canoe log to record conditions, routes, sightings, misadventures, etc. I thought it was one of his better ideas and wished it was something we had started at the beginning of the summer as it has been an eventful canoe season with many interesting trips.

With visions of picking up a blank book from Office Depot before our next paddle to faithfully record trips by hand, I suddenly realized this would be a good opportunity to learn more about blogging by creating an online canoe log. Also, it would widen the audience beyond my desk drawer and allow for posting of photos which is a big part of our canoe experience.

Thanks William for the idea. I look forward to documenting future trips in this blog and I hope others are willing to contribute as well. Rest assured that the next time we rescue a dog, play chicken with a freighter, spot a vicious otter or startle a pair of randy teenagers, you'll be the first to read about it on this blog so hurry back.