Canadian Canoe Routes

The Jelly Fish "Incident" - Paddling "flat" tidal waters
Page 1 of 1

Author:  jedi jeffi [ July 12th, 2016, 5:56 pm ]
Post subject:  The Jelly Fish "Incident" - Paddling "flat" tidal waters

Dear Mods:

I am hoping you leave this here since we don’t have a forum topic on flat water skills development technique.
I have met a lot of paddlers over the years who are resistant to developing skills for harsh conditions which can really put damper on where you can paddle.
Besides you gotta love the title.... 8)

The Jelly Fish “Incident”

Well I am hoping this will inspire those that only do “flat water” to go out and develop their skills, especially if you intend to head out and paddle tidal waters.
Nothing bad happened but it did test my skill set.

I have paddled and played the Skookumchuk Narrows in BC (google that one), paddled with the icebergs in Newfoundland and paddled/played in the ocean before so I am not “green” to the tidal environment.

In the lead up for this East Coast trip I have not paddled this much since I gave up coaching in the mid 90’s so I had well over 1,000k’s in both WW and flat water, and that is due to the luxury of retirement!

In the days leading up to the “incident” I also had a chance to paddle the tidal flats in Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick and paddled the various tidal paths mostly against the currents into a sustained 50kph wind with stronger gusts so it was a good workout. It took me several hours to do the 4 km back to the camp and half way through I was tempted to sit on a sand bar and wait for the tide to start coming back in.

Well enough prelude….. This was going to be our last full day in Forillion National Park, Gaspe region, Quebec, and we where going to paddle somewhere in the area, and weather would be the deciding force as there is some more protected waters in the area. But today was a great sunny, relatively calm day with the marine forecast of wind gust to 20kph which you know will be out of whack a bit because you are paddling along the mountains and the winds can do weird things.
We chose to depart as the tides were returning so we would have the winds at are back to get there and the tide currents to bring us back.

So we started with very calm, lake like conditions with only a very small and gentle swell lapping on the beaches and cliff faces.


On our first full day in the park we hiked into the Light House at Cap Gaspe and the observation deck at Bout Du Monde (Lands End) So besides seals we got a good look at the conditions of the Cape.
(even though you are looking from a pretty good height)
From the image you can make out the tidal current line (flow right to left) and the meeting of the waters coming in from the north side, which is why we chose tide coming in, hoping it would make for a little easier conditions. You can also see the swells are very steep at the meeting of the currents and reefs. So at least I had a good idea that this could be a tricky spot.


The park info warns that conditions can change very rapidly so be prepared, so we had a couple of small dry bags of clothes and rain gear, extra water, tarp and ropes and of course a compass should the fog roll in. It was amazing calm and was only about 4 km to our destination. We followed the shore and it was a really pleasant float.
About 1 km we saw our first up close seal and now we were excited and getting to the Cape were we had seen quite a few before.

At 500m you could see there was “white” on the Cape, even though at this point it was still very calm and the swells still small and well spaced.

At 250m you could now see a lot of white water and the swells coming at us were now about one half metre and still well spaced. From this distance I assumed wrongly that the white water was being caused by the wind coming off the cliffs from the north side and breaking across the reef.

At 100m I realized I was wrong, the swells had quickly grown to over 1m high at this point and I could see that a very strong current was taking us into the white water where this current, and the current coming from the north were meeting along the shallows of the reef.
I would describe it as a river Class III and should we drift in to the breaking waves there would have been a good chance of swamping.
The whole scenario is actually quite complicated and these maps should help explain, but in a tiny area there was a lot of “stuff” happening.

“A” was our entrance and the line to “B” was the reef and the current went from “A” to “B” along the reef.
“C” to “D” was the wind and current direction along the north side cliff face.

Map 1


On map 2 we add in the swells of over 1m coming in from “E” to “F” with the swells being much steeper as you got closer to the reef.

Map 2


On map 3 we add the currents coming in from the south “G” to “H” with the breaking wave trains just to the right of “H” marked by the straight lines.
The Dark line is the approx. route out, except with a little more of a “dip” past “H” towards the standing breakers….

Map 3


At the start of the line of route on map 3 I had accessed it was too rough to turn right and go along the shore with waves and currents so I immediately set the angle to go right with a long reached draw into a strong “C” stoke so the boats momentum would continue out away from the breakers. (I paddle right side so all was good! ) :o

At approx. “H” my wife sees a jelly fish float… (very quickly in the current we were in…. ) under and by the canoe…. at which point she stops paddling and puts the paddle in the water (this is actually a good thing for stability) but it acted like a sea anchor and the canoe immediately started to go towards the breaking waves (Did I mention the current was real strong….. ) :o :o :o
She said “OHHHHH did you see the Jelly fish……”
To which I errr ahhhh “replied” “Forget the freaking jelly fish! we have to get out of here! (I am sure I handled that in a good manly way ) :thumbup:

We then reset the angle and basically did a river ferry to takes us away from the waves.

Once we got out far enough she took some pics with her phone and I just used our point and shoot, but you can tell by the first pic the swells were still big, but nice and gentle.



After the pics we kept an angle to the waves and shoreline to make sure we did not surf any of the swells on the way back in.
After we were 250m back up along the shore you would never know how rough it was out on the Cape.
As you can tell Anne seems pretty happy with the adventure…
Which will now be forever known as the

“Jelly Fish Incident”
:roll: :oops: :oops:


Epilog -
I am just glad I had so much paddling prep this year.
I just want to show that even though the conditions were incredibly calm for the most part, in a tight area the conditions were pretty extreme and developing your skills can save you a lot of grief.


Album link
Maps can be viewed large here. ... directlink

Author:  littleredcanoe [ July 13th, 2016, 7:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Jelly Fish "Incident" - Paddling "flat" tidal waters

Illustrates why points are so dangerous even on smaller lakes

I pretty much learned to paddle on tidal waters and the skills have served me well

For Anne from Terra Nova NP


Author:  jedi jeffi [ July 13th, 2016, 9:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Jelly Fish "Incident" - Paddling "flat" tidal waters

Thanks for the Pics! LRC! :thumbup:

I was hoping with the tide coming in the current at the reef line would be a little different from when we saw it a few days before with the tide going out.

I was still expecting there to be some turbulence there, but not as big as it was considering the overall calm conditions.
That tiny pocket packed in a lot of skill usage.
Paddling to the point and back was like paddling on any small lake.
We spent over 3 hrs just enjoying the float, watching a few seals, a very unique shoreline and birds on the cliffs.
If I had been in a kayak I am sure I would have played in the waves and rollers there.

Author:  wotrock [ July 15th, 2016, 4:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Jelly Fish "Incident" - Paddling "flat" tidal waters

You could have gotten some nasty stings had you dumped among those jellyfish!

Author:  Mike McCrea [ July 25th, 2016, 11:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Jelly Fish "Incident" - Paddling "flat" tidal waters

wotrock wrote:
You could have gotten some nasty stings had you dumped among those jellyfish!

That brought back a stupid kids incident from my youth.

A group of us were hiking the beachfront shelf below Calvert Cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay, looking for fossils, sharks teeth and arrowheads.

This was successful, including finding a chunk of fossilized whale baleen. I remember several friends remarking that the further we hiked the narrower the beach became. Even at 16 you might think someone would have maybe considered “rising tide”.

Yeah, the beach became progressively narrower as we turned and hiked back, until the waves were lapping at the edge of the cliffs. The jellyfish laden waves.

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC - 5 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group