Recently, I’ve been contemplating this 1556 map of New France by Giacomo Gastaldi. It’s based on work by Jacques Cartier and other explorers of the time. Canada may be turning 150 this year but its European roots go back almost 500 years. What preparations were undertaken for Cartier’s journey? What surprises did they encounter along the way? And what about the map construction projects! As our launch date of August 11 rapidly approaches in less than 60 days, my excitement of getting better acquainted with New Scotland in 2017 steadily increases.
Ed Martin is already on his first adventure of the season, sailing from his home in Falmouth UK to the Faroe Islands. This archipelago, with a population of about 50,000 people, is 320km NNW of Scotland — roughly halfway between Norway and Iceland. After spending the weekend in Stornoway, Scotland, Ed and his crew of two friends have just started their traverse of the open ocean. Many Canadians will recognize Stornaway as the name of the official Ottawa residence of the Leader of the Opposition in Canada. Ed will complete his round trip in July, returning to Falmouth briefly before he and his 3-piece Rockpool Taran join me in Nova Scotia in early August.
I’m excited to announce that I’m working with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. During my trip around the province this summer, I’ll be sharing stories through social media about the importance of land conservation. I’m also raising donations for the Nature Trust to help make conservation happen in Nova Scotia. My fundraising goal is $5,000 — just a hundred dollars for each day of the trip.
Here’s what else I’ve been up to recently…
ROUTE – I’ve made a return visit to my put-in spot at the top of Bay of Fundy to determine suitability for launching at a high neap tide — the lowest high-water mark of the tidal cycle. I was delighted to find an entirely accessible bit of shoreline where I will need it. The open questions related to route choice are coming swiftly to resolution.
MAPS – I will carry a GPS on the trip but I don’t plan to use it for navigational purposes. I much prefer to rely on paper and compass. I have proper nautical charts for most of the places I go boating regularly but the prospect of expanding my collection for the purposes of this trip was decidedly cost-prohibitive. Not only would the charts amount to a small fortune but I’d end up with a considerable volume of paper containing open ocean, which is useless to sea kayakers. Topographic maps for the entire province would also cost a lot and burden me with pages with useless swaths of land.
My requirements are rather specific: the coastline; the bays for open crossings; and some larger-scale maps for areas of particular interest. So I constructed my own set of maps for the entire coastline of Nova Scotia with scales ranging from 15000:1 to 45000:1, depending on requirements for particular bits of the coast. I’ve plotted all of my prospective camping spots and locations of interest directly on the maps so I doubt I will need the GPS at all. Thanks to Michael Embree for the seeds that got me started in his blog entry.
I did manage to do a practice pack this weekend, by which I’ve identified a few suboptimal choices. Terrestrial clothing, which I believe is already reasonably minimal, still needs to be broken up into smaller drybags for more efficient use of hatch space. I also need to downgrade from my -9C sleeping bag to something smaller and more compact. Even unseasonably cool nights in September won’t demand thermal insulation better than zero and I can always wear my clothes to bed in a pinch.
BLADE – There is so much I want to try but the prospect of evaluating quality paddles here in Nova Scotia pales in comparison to more densely populated parts of Canada, the US, and the UK. There isn’t a retailer in Atlantic Canada where you can buy a wing blade, for example. After my exhausting trial of the Epic mid-wing, and based on the encouragement of some experienced long-distance paddlers whom I trust, I’ve decided to try the smallest wing I can find. I have a promising new candidate en route this week!
FOOD – Dehydrated camping food experiments have been a regular part of our diet this spring. The results have been overwhelmingly positive with any mild disappointments easily worked around with additional flavourful ingredients like dehydrated salsa. Eating in the outdoors after a hard day of work always enhances the flavour of food in any case.
TRAINING – After months of the high-volume, 8×8 endurance regime I was following through the winter into the early spring, my trainer, Ben, took me back to a strength development phase based on heavy 5×5 lifts. We also introduced progressions for one-armed pushups, one-armed pullups, and pistols (one-legged squats). My final training phase before the trip includes high volumes (4×15) of lighter weight and bodyweight combined with mobility work.
WHAT’S KEEPING ME UP AT NIGHT?
Juggling many balls. Although I’ve been super productive with my trip planning, I wish I had more time to invest in experiencing the new boat. Between work (my paid job) and Fernwood Plant Nursery (my unpaid job), there have been a lot of special projects and other demands on my time. There’s also a certain amount of focused attention that’s required before I disappear for a couple of months.
As soon as my new paddle arrives, I’ll do a trip from Hubbards to Blandford to evaluate performance over a half-day run. This month I’ll amp up the on-water training to full days with a loaded boat. I also need to test dragging a loaded boat around by trolley. So I’ll walk my boat from home to Hubbards Cove one day as another test.
Now that launching into the Bay of Fundy is coming clearly into focus, the next question is: where can I get out at low tide? We have to get out of the Cumberland Basin, past Joggins, into the deeper part of Chignecto Bay before leaving the moonscape beaches behind. I’ve got a run planned soon to check out the upper part of Cape Chignecto to evaluate candidate camp sites at low tide.
Food preparation starts now. I’m going to start preparing all of the non-seasonal ingredients (meat, eggs, frozen vegetables, etc.) now so that I have time and capacity to process fresh Nova Scotia produce as it comes available later this summer.