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PostPosted: December 5th, 2007, 5:47 pm 
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George Luste wrote:
SGrant wrote:

.....
A shoal may remain unseen below the surface during a set of minor or average waves. Then, the arrival of larger waves, with deeper troughs, can suddenly expose the reef in a boiling morass of tumbling water. They are called "boomers", and require a lot of vigilance to detect so you don't get capsized by the water or by being dropped on the rock. Paddlers typically travel close to shore where these things are most common. Watching for these things far ahead increases your chances of seeing them until you're in danger.

......

Excellent text !!!

I too have enjoyed ocean paddling (in the north Atlantic, the Arctic coast and some Pacific) - in a canoe with a good spray cover.

I thought I might add a bit on the above text.

A related issue is that in tidal waters (like Ungava Bay where the tides are 25 to 30 ft or so) - as the tides go out and you are paddling with ocean swells - you can get what I call "exploding rocks" on some submerged rock, which as the water level goes down are suddenly prone to a "boomer" for the first time. The worry is that one might encounter one of these without warning because there was no prior shallow depth to cause it
But by all means always scan the horizon as far ahead as possible looking for any clue that might suggest danger or caution.


Hi George

I dont normally advise paddling during outgoing tides, at all... but i confess
most of my experience with this is the Cook Strait, or West Coast... never Ungava.

I normally timed for Incoming and laid low with Outgoing??
Is Ungava not particularly raw, in your opinion, so as to require such a downtime?

I hear precisely what you are saying about "falling into the breech"... which is
a massively valid point, of course... but the surf i am familiar with would run
a great chance of dragging you to an unforseen destination. Just curious?

Thanks

Sundown


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PostPosted: December 5th, 2007, 6:29 pm 
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Get the most detailed, CHS charts you can --- expensive but worth it. Google earth images are good, but only proper CHS charts show things like underwater contours, which way the currents go on both ebb and flood tides, where tide rips and overfalls are, lights, the names of all the points and channels and islands (essential for reporting your position in an emergency),etc, etc. Regular sized paper charts are a little bulky. You can get pre-laminated ones for ten dollars extra. If you can, get CHS charts on CD and then print out what you need for the trip and put the print-outs in a watertight, ziplock freezer bag --- that's the best method I've come across although the CD's aren't cheap.

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2007, 1:44 am 
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Marine charts show information needed to determine the depth of boomers relative to the tide. So with the chart, and tide tables, and factoring in swell and wave height, you can determine if any particular rock will be a boomer. Rather than do all this, it's easier to give them a wide berth if possible.

The previous posts bring up another subject I didn't get into, which is the combination of tides and vast flatish foreshores, such as in James Bay. These are extremely hazardous places.

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2007, 12:09 pm 
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Speaking of flat, muddy areas --- I ran into some shallow mud once after following the wrong channel on Wigeon Slough, ran aground, and thought, "No problem, I'll just get out and pull the inflatable along." I guess I was thinking the bottom was sand or gravel or something. Long story short, it was mud but not the super-bad kind --- it was possible (barely) to lift one foot without driving the other one in so deep it'd never come out but only because there was a few inches of water and you could work the water in and around one foot and slowly loosen and lift it --- without the water, I'd have been well and truly stuck. After a 30 minute slog I just managed to get the 35 feet to deeper water before collapsing exhausted and this made me realize something. Flat muddy areas can kill you.
There was a plane crash near Vancouver airport that came to rest on the mud flats. People climbed off the wreck, thinking they could walk to shore. It was sticky mud. Other's waded in to try to save them and also got stuck. Then the tide came in and they drowned. How horrible is that? The tide only rises at most a few feet per hour. This is why the coasties got that big hovercraft. I never really understood how those deaths occurred until that day in Wigeon Slough --- Steve is right about how dangerous those flat, muddy areas are, and why CHS charts are a worthwhile investment because they show the type of bottom, where the flats are, and at what stage of the tide they're submerged.

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2007, 3:47 pm 
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Sundown wrote:
[Hi George

I dont normally advise paddling during outgoing tides, at all... but i confess
most of my experience with this is the Cook Strait, or West Coast... never Ungava.

.....


Hi:
I must defer to you west coast paddlers on ocean paddling since it's clear you have far more experience overall than I ever will have. I sort of did it as an afterthought.

My background is that I did a lot of river and lake paddling before I ventured on salt water. This means I was not always totally aware of the new dangers I might encounter in ocean and tidal waters. And then I almost always only used topo maps as I was used to them - which of course have serious limitations in coastal paddling.

With hindsight I think I was very lucky (or had the good fortune to not experience bad luck) in some of the open sea canoeing I've done --
this includes the northern Labrador coastline 3 times, in and around Ungava Bay 3 times, southern Labrador coast once, Hudson Bay coastlines 3 times, the Arctic coast from Bathurst Inlet to Kugluktuk once and down to the southern tip on the Queen Charlottes once.
Some very varied and fascinating coastlines. I sure wish I was still young and so could repeat some of those trips.

George


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2007, 3:58 pm 
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George Luste wrote:
Sundown wrote:
[Hi George

I dont normally advise paddling during outgoing tides, at all... but i confess
most of my experience with this is the Cook Strait, or West Coast... never Ungava.

.....


Hi:
I must defer to you west coast paddlers on ocean paddling since it's clear you have far more experience overall than I ever will have. I sort of did it as an afterthought.

My background is that I did a lot of river and lake paddling before I ventured on salt water. This means I was not always totally aware of the new dangers I might encounter in ocean and tidal waters. And then I almost always only used topo maps as I was used to them - which of course have serious limitations in coastal paddling.

With hindsight I think I was very lucky (or had the good fortune to not experience bad luck) in some of the open sea canoeing I've done --
this includes the northern Labrador coastline 3 times, in and around Ungava Bay 3 times, southern Labrador coast once, Hudson Bay coastlines 3 times, the Arctic coast from Bathurst Inlet to Kugluktuk once and down to the southern tip on the Queen Charlottes once.
Some very varied and fascinating coastlines. I sure wish I was still young and so could repeat some of those trips.

George


George,

I must apologize... especially given your most gracious reply... given that
I assumed when I asked my question, that your experience in North American
waters vastly exceeded mine... which was why i requested your assistance.

The Cook Strait, and the West Coast I was referring to are New Zealand waters. I've never had the pleasure of yet touching either of our own Oceans,
East or West, except often in the USA, and to the north have only experienced James/Hudson Bays. I ought to have specified more clearly...

Did you encounter large offshore-rips on your trips?
In NZ we used to avoid those outflows religiously.

Regards

Sundown


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2007, 4:26 pm 
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That's a good question about paddling on an ebb tide vs flood tide, and which is safer. In some cases it's smoother on an ebb, other times on the flood. When the current (whether ebb or flood) is going the opposite direction to the prevailing wind the waves will be much taller, shorter and choppier.
Speaking of outflows, I nearly came to grief on the infamous Slingsby Channel Rip myself. This part of the coast is on the mainland and far enough north that the large pacific groundswells come in unimpeded by Vancouver Island. There is a large network of inland waterways (Seymour Inlet) that drains into the Pacific through a couple small, narrow channels, and on a large tidal exchange the outflow current reaches seven knots easily. What happens is the large oceanic groundswells run into this outflow and they become very short and steep and breaking and deadly. Many mariners simply refuse to pass off Slingsby Channel on an ebb tide. Here's a jpg of it:

Image

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2007, 4:36 pm 
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SGrant wrote:
The previous posts bring up another subject I didn't get into, which is the combination of tides and vast flatish foreshores, such as in James Bay. These are extremely hazardous places.


This is very true.

My one trip on the west coast of Hudson Bay was south of Arviat (used to be called Eskimo Point ). Very unnerving and hazardous when the weather is less than ideal. Several miles of offshore flats at low tide are a serious problem.

I was solo and so reluctant to leave my canoe on the flats while I made 3 trips portaging gear and canoe a mile over the flats to a possible campsite. Hard to find enough high ground to camp. Not having experience made my imagination think of all sorts of worst case scenario possibilities.

(And I saw a wandering polar bear in the distance. I only caried a noise maker and pepper spray.)

I never tried a repeat. :o

George


Last edited by George Luste on December 6th, 2007, 4:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2007, 4:54 pm 
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Sundown wrote:
[Did you encounter large offshore-rips on your trips?
In NZ we used to avoid those outflows religiously.

Regards

Sundown


I don't think so.

The most serious 'rip" I had to deal with was on the canoe trip from Kuujjuaq to Nain, via McLellan Strait at the northern tip of Labrador. You can get really fierce currents in the narrow strait. The Atlantic side of the strait has 7 ft tides and the Ungava side of the strait has 25 ft tides. The literature talks of 12 knot currents at times in the strait. We camped the first night at one end and studied it for a cycle. Then paddled it next day at what we thought was 'slack'. But it was never really totally slack. Very unstable waters for a small craft. Currents in the middle in one direction and on shore in the opposite - with some small whirlpools at the eddy lines.

We made it ok without incident. But one had the worry "what if there is a surprise?" . And I was much younger then.

George


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PostPosted: December 7th, 2007, 12:38 am 
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Tom H wrote:
Speaking of flat, muddy areas --- I ran into some shallow mud once after following the wrong channel on Wigeon Slough, ran aground, and thought, "No problem, I'll just get out and pull the inflatable along." I guess I was thinking the bottom was sand or gravel or something. Long story short, it was mud but not the super-bad kind --- it was possible (barely) to lift one foot without driving the other one in so deep it'd never come out but only because there was a few inches of water and you could work the water in and around one foot and slowly loosen and lift it --- without the water, I'd have been well and truly stuck. After a 30 minute slog I just managed to get the 35 feet to deeper water before collapsing exhausted and this made me realize something. Flat muddy areas can kill you.
There was a plane crash near Vancouver airport that came to rest on the mud flats. People climbed off the wreck, thinking they could walk to shore. It was sticky mud. Other's waded in to try to save them and also got stuck. Then the tide came in and they drowned. How horrible is that? The tide only rises at most a few feet per hour. This is why the coasties got that big hovercraft. I never really understood how those deaths occurred until that day in Wigeon Slough --- Steve is right about how dangerous those flat, muddy areas are, and why CHS charts are a worthwhile investment because they show the type of bottom, where the flats are, and at what stage of the tide they're submerged.


Any idea what year the mudflats plane crash was? Certainly the Georgia Strait end of YVR's runways face extensive mudflats.

In your misadventure at Widgeon, did you try crawling? It may have helped. But obviously an incoming tide will drown you sooner than if you were on foot.

Thanks for the point about the mud. Actually I was considering something different.

I understand that there are vast areas in James Bay where the tide line can go several km's between shore and deep water very quickly. You can't walk your gear fast enough to stay ahead of the incoming tide, or keep up with an outgoing tide. Worse, the waves can be breaking so badly in the shallow water that you will capsize, hit rocks etc. if you try to paddle. So you're basically screwed. I understand James Bay is on one of the cross-Canada routes, and entire parties have died there due to this circumstance.

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PostPosted: December 7th, 2007, 9:05 am 
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SGrant wrote:
I understand that there are vast areas in James Bay where the tide line can go several km's between shore and deep water very quickly. You can't walk your gear fast enough to stay ahead of the incoming tide, or keep up with an outgoing tide. Worse, the waves can be breaking so badly in the shallow water that you will capsize, hit rocks etc. if you try to paddle. So you're basically screwed. I understand James Bay is on one of the cross-Canada routes, and entire parties have died there due to this circumstance.

Yes very dangerous but not on the usual cross-Canada route via Lake Superior. James Bay is the southern tip of Hudson Bay.

In addition to breaking waves, an inshore wind can raise the water level, extending your effort to get to dry land, and the water is ice cold.

In 1984 a party of four canoeists perished while paddling south from the mouth of the Albany River to Moosonee and the railroad. (I don't believe the bodies were ever recovered - only the empty canoes were.) They were: Sandy Host (1954-1984), Betty Eamer (1961-1984), George Landon Grinnell (1962-1984), and Andrew Preble Grinnell (1968-1984).

I think there must be other tragedies along this route but I don't know about them.


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PostPosted: December 7th, 2007, 10:38 am 
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Steve, I just googled around a bit and couldn't find out when that YVR crash happened so it was probably quite some time ago --- pre-jet age I would imagine, perhaps in the 50's. And yes, the mud flats off the west end of the runway was where it happened. It was supposedly so traumatic because the victims were very close and yet nothing could be done for them.
Did I try crawling on Wigeon --- no, because I was able to make some progress just by slowly wiggling one foot free at a time in the water, why, does that work? I guess as long as you can lift one leg free and move it forward, you'll move, perhaps slowly, but you will move.
I'm not sure I understand this other hazard you're talking about relating to flats --- if it's because of surf, wouldn't the dangerous, breaking-wave area be limited to where the bottom rises?
I read a book by a guy who paddled along the arctic ocean (and very nearly died doing it). He said the worst thing was the very slowly deepening bottom --- he was forever running aground and having to backtrack into deeper water. But he didn't describe it as hazardous, just a royal pain in the behind.
He ran into a polar bear once --- the way he described it stuck in my mind. He said he noticed an odd blob of snow/ice floating in the water. It seemed to be moving by itself, and when he altered course to go around it, it seemed to move in front of him. All of a sudden he realized it was a polar bear's head! The race was on, he paddled like a madman and slowly pulled away, but it was close. Polar bears can swim quite quickly. He could hear it snorting and breathing heavily as it tried to catch up with him. Wow. What an experience.

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Mariners must navigate these waters the same way a mouse negotiates a kitchen patrolled by cats: by darting furtively from one hiding place to the next.
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PostPosted: December 7th, 2007, 11:19 am 
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Tom H wrote:
I read a book by a guy who paddled along the arctic ocean (and very nearly died doing it). He said the worst thing was the very slowly deepening bottom --- he was forever running aground and having to backtrack into deeper water. But he didn't describe it as hazardous, just a royal pain in the behind.

I wonder if this was Don Starkell's "Paddle to the Arctic" book
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Pad ... -item.html

For another view of this fellow you should read Victoria Jason's "Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak"
see http://photo.net/webtravel/kabloona

Victoria spoke at our Toronto Symposium many years ago and struck me as an exceptional and generous individual
see http://www.pellybay.com/inuitkayakingvictoriajason.htm


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PostPosted: December 7th, 2007, 11:32 am 
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George, yes, I think that was it --- Don Starkell.
I just looked at the map of Victoria's epic journey --- wow, what a journey! Good for her. There's not enough female paddlers, we need more of them.

Yeah, it was just by an incredible stroke of luck that the pilot even saw him. It wasn't him that initially attracted his attention but the depression made in the snow by his yak the night before. Once they realized it was just a depression in the snow he almost flew on but thought he saw tracks and followed them to Don. A very close thing because even though he could see the lights of Tuk, the last few km are a tough go and lots of people have died within sight of the town.

You guys probably already know about these folks, but here's an example of ocean canoeists who paddled where even kayakers hesitate to go --- around Cape Caution:

http://www.canoeacrosscanada.ca/

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Mariners must navigate these waters the same way a mouse negotiates a kitchen patrolled by cats: by darting furtively from one hiding place to the next.
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PostPosted: December 20th, 2014, 10:19 pm 
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Good topic, enjoyed reading it. Those of you who know me, you may be aware of some of my paddling background, such as setting a speed record for sea kayaking around Vancouver Island twice (broken last year after 4 years) and of a 6000 km solo canoe trip I did in 2004.
Right now I find myself exploring the options of some long distance canoe tripping on the BC Coast, things such as a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island by solo canoe as well as exploring the outer coastal islands as well as the Inside Passage and many of the longer inlets.
Whenever I get the urge for some canoe tripping, i always love coming to this site!!

Cheers... Joe O'

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