Kayak on the water, paddling trips

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Clean Cormorant

Weather : Sunny
Wind (km/h) : S 11, SW 15, SSW 11, SW 8
Temperature : 24 - 27 °C

Location : Parc national des îles-de-Boucherville, Québec, Canada

Double-crested cormorant, Common terns, Ringed plovers, limicoles

Another perfect day, water level slightly lower than yesterday. Water clear, green and clear. We headed straight for the River, a youthful western wind blowing in our face. It was barely 12h00 and the blubbers had not all arrived yet. Witnessed an unintentional kayak roll, fascinating to see biped helplessly and inexorably roll over onto his side, like a dying red beluga. Plouff! Kayak 1 Biped 0.

The conditions were ideal for the sail to lead us to the Varennes Islands... And we sailed between a nesting area of 3 huge cargo ships. We sailed and paddled through the channel, looking 360° to spot the speedboat. As they whizzed by us, large waves would form in their wake and we would use those to push Libellule. As JF declared, "we got us a 3rd paddler". Verily, he spoke the truth. Libellule was burning "rubber". Large and long fishes jumped out of the water as we sailed by.

We landed on a little islet, scores of canadian geese, duck families and plovers everywhere. As we stepped out to investigate the place, we came across an eroding coastline within the layers of dried clay, swallows had made their nests... even noticed 2 fly out. A large partially decomposed eel-like fish lay rotting in the hot sun, a strong stench surrounding it. As the terrain rose a little we noticed a field with some sort of crop growing on it. Some thistles were growing but they weren't all in bloom yet. Just their spiky shiny darky leaves on display.

Observed many piles of feces. Not human. Small and dark brown. Curious, what animal laid these?

Being the ever-anxious partner, I wondered if I was hallucinating the stronger wind, an increase in small speedboats and a slight fatigue. JF sketched out the plan and I willingly obliged. As we set about crossing the wide and populated channel we paddled with the islet as a barrier against the wind. No boats ventured this close because of the thick forest of seaweeds, big rocks and low water levels. Perfect terrain for a kayak. So we startled birds and studied the waves generated by the speeders using the momentum to get us across quicker. As we approached the border, a young male buck raised an inquisitive head.

We entered the marshes. A double-crested cormorant was perched on a post used by the hunters to reserve their place in season. We stopped paddling and Libellule inched closer to the cormorant. The cormorant slowly realized that something was amiss, couldn't quite figure it out... then he shat, a strong jet of milky bird shit flew out of his butt. He arose into the air, then plummeted back in the water, butt first, then bounced his butt 3 times on and into the water and became airborne. From this event, I deduce that Cormorants like to clean their ass after taking a shit. Not unlike most people I know.

The arms were now beginning to feel warm and tired. The wind however, was not having it and steadily blew in our faces. As soon as we stopped paddling it didn't take long for Libellule to begin going backwards. Cpt. JF chose a large slab of marshes as a shield and we greedily ate and drank sweet sugary stuff. With the extra energy we undertook the zig-zaggy path towards what we hoped would be a little sailing back to land.

As we out maneouvred several kayaks, we paddled through the marshes carefully anticipating the curves. The water level had definitely lowered since yesterday and the marshes seemed even taller. As we arrived into the last stretch, we realised the wind would not be doing any favours and we paddled through the rows of parked boats with their blubbery brown people.

We happened upon an overturned canoe and offered to help them. They declined and continued to swim with their canoe towards the shore. We landed smoothly and slide back into landlife.

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