New Years Day Paddle/Levee 2003

The New Years Day Paddle/Levee was both fun and exciting. Six paddlers set out on this adventure. The original plan was to paddle through the Shubie canal system by Shubie park. This did not work though. When we arrived at the park we found that yes there was clear water flowing, but it was on top of some pretty thick ice. No problem, My friends the Gonzos had told me that they were going paddling at the Sackville river about the same time, so we merely switched the sight to Bedford. We were going to paddle to the sea. The six of us arrived at the Great Atlantic Superstore, parked in the lot and prepared to launch our kayaks in the river, but first we had to stop for a photo. See attached. This was half crazy, but that is what New Year's day is all about, taking risks. There we are in our shorts, tank tops, bathing suits and cycling shorts in the mists of all the snow. A passing couple kindly consented to take our photo with our cameras then took one with his. The attached photo was taken with his digital camera and e-mailed to me this morning. Enough for the warm up lets get to business. The three ladies were successfully launched on the river. though they thought that it was a bit scary. Leatherneck was then launched, but he wanted to be launched slower.

Paul maintains that it was the design of his kayak that caused the problem, I do not know, however he did manage to tip over and then swamp. The water at that spot was deeper than expected and a quick rescue was required. We emptied his kayak, he changed his clothes and we launched Paul a second time. This time successfully. Don was launched successfully and finally I got in my Kayak and slid down the snow covered bank into the water. Now I am going to pause for a moment to share the details of this with those that were not there. The way the launching works is that you get into your kayak on the bank of the river. You are about 15 - 20 feet away from the water. The bank has a slope towards the river but it is snow covered. Once you are in your kayak one little push and you slide down the hill and the bow of your kayak goes under the water and you float away. This takes a great deal of courage as you are convinced that the bow will not come up and you are going to be carried away in the cold water.

A lot of nerve or stupidity is required. I jump back to the story. All six of us are now in the water. It was surprising how thick the ice was. We paddled for a while in the area, it was actually quite warm and comfortable, much warmer than last year on the North West Arm, feeling pleased with ourselves we started down the river. I was in the lead and it was a pleasant paddle until we reached the rapids. The first group was not too bad, however the second group was more complex. I thought that I was able to read white water fairly well, however not well enough. I ended up getting caught on some rocks and capsizing. Now the sort of scary part come in. I was actually caught underwater and for a while could not get out of the kayak. Three times I came to the surface and got air, however the kayak was caught on some rocks and would not allow me to turn it over. Finally, I was able to escape and swim/walk to shore. I was festively dressed in my shorts, short sleeve shirt and Canadian Navy sweater now all soaked. I was wearing aqua socks instead of shoes and I did have a life vest on. I walked back to the parking lot and I noticed that the other paddlers had wisely turned around. Just as I arrived at the lot Paul came in his car to pick me up. Together we drove down the river where I was able to retrieve the kayak and Paul the paddle. We loaded these on the cars and returned to the shop to tell lies about the paddle.

At the shop we shared Champagne, Bourbon, Scotch, Coffee, smoked salmon, Cheese and crackers and topped it all off with fruitcake. It was a feast for kings, Queens and Fools. A most enjoyable New Years Day. Now in answer to some of the questions that I am sure you want to ask,

1) Was the water cold? answer Yes

2) Did you really get wet? answer Yes I was under water, completely submerged for quite a while.

3) Would you do it again? answer Yes I would go winter paddling again.

Traditionally, before I take a group paddling I scout the area so that I can warn as to hazards and such. This time I relied and the reports from others. These reports might be accurate but I am sure that they did not correspond to the spot where we were located. The time invested in the reconnaissance is well spent.

By the way the paddlers wereLiz Bell, Katherine Lewis, Peddy Conrad, Don Smith, Paul ( Leatherneck) Laflech and myself, Bryan Darrell. Joining us after for the levee were Peggy Beaton and Donna Smith.