Candlebox Kayaking’s fall paddling tips

img_2400Fall is here. For many of us this means sneaking out on the warmer days to extend our summer paddling season. There’s no better way to enjoy the fall colours, after all, than from a kayak. For others, the cooler temps mean it’s time to put away gear until next season. Whatever the situation for yourself, here’s a few tips to keep in mind.

For myself, since moving back to Nova Scotia two years ago and working predominantly as a sea kayak guide in the summer months, fall is the time to catch up on personal paddling. Autumn storms bring great surf to our coasts. Surfing whitewater kayaks, and later sea kayaks, really drew me into the sport. We have many great surf kayaking beaches in Shelburne and Yarmouth counties. Important to remember is to get some training prior to venturing out. Candlebox Kayaking offers introductory and intermediate surf kayaking clinics. Paddling with others is also a must as surf is dynamic and powerful. Immersion gear (either a drysuit or wetsuit/dry top combo) is necessary. I’d argue a helmet is also mandatory, along with all other standard safety gear (paddling specific PFD, neoprene spay skirt, and anything else we need individually to keep us warm when wet). A decent, but not always 100% accurate, measure of surf is the website Magicseaweed. It gives a general picture of whether or not the surf is building in Southwestern Nova Scotia. Personally, I’ve found predictions for the Summerville area provide paddlers with a general idea of whether or not surf may be forming in areas such as Lockeport or Cape Sable Island.

Often fall storms bring  heavy rainfall (much needed in this end of the province this year). Since our rivers are rain dependant, a great resource for us as paddlers is the Government of Canada’s Water Office. The site lists the real time water levels of many rivers in the province. If ideal levels are known based on previous experience, paddlers can easily track their river of choice to figure out when best to paddle. My home river, the Roseway, is ideal (for me) at levels above 2.3m. And I know that I enjoy it best at or above 2.85m. Here’s a short video of what it’s like at these levels (the Roseway is featured in the first half of the video).

Fall 2016 is experiencing spring tides like the region has not experienced in many years. Spring tides are the period in the tide cycle just after the full or new moon when the difference between high and low tide is the greatest. The effect of the full moon in November will be felt on the 15th and will give the greatest tidal range of the year.  I’ve read that the moon won’t come this close again until the full moon at the end of November, 2034. Check out a video on the tidal wave on the Argyle River from the spring tides in September of this year.

If paddling dynamic conditions isn’t your thing and you’re putting gear away for the season make sure gear is clean and dry. Storing boats inside is best. Take the hatch covers off and apply 303 Protectant to help prolong their lifespan. Resting the boat hull up, with the weight supported at the front and rear hatch rims gives me the peace of mind that the hull won’t warp and that the boat is resting on a part that is sturdy. If you’re hanging a kayak, again upside down is best with the weight supported at the hatch rims or bulkheads.

Our 2017 schedule of tours and coaching will be out soon. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for details.

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Candlebox Kayaking’s top picks

Welcome to the Candlebox Kayaking blog. We’re excited to begin our first season in our new hometown of Shelburne, NS. We hope to use this blog to share a little about ourselves as well as lots of great paddling tips. Yarmouth and Shelburne counties provide endless possibilities for recreational paddling. Pictured above are some of our top picks for coastal and whitewater kayaking. Some of the spots require advanced paddling skills while others can be enjoyed with basic safety skills. As always, it’s best to seek the proper training, experience, and equipment to safely enjoy the areas we recreate in. Without further ado, starting with the pic in the top left corner (and working clockwise from there), here are some of our top picks for paddling in Southwestern Nova Scotia.

The Blanche peninsula/The Salvages, and Cape Negro Island (first two pics). Suitable for paddlers with training in navigation, rough water, and rescue skills this coastal area between Shelburne and Barrington is a coastal explorers paradise. The aquamarine water at the southern end of the Blanche peninsula is clear and could easily be mistaken for waters in the tropics. The Salvages, a small and mysterious group of rocks and islets just south of the peninsula  provide an interesting maze for paddlers to navigate. Cape Negro Island has a rich history as a fishing outpost and like many offshore islands in southern NS is home to a large herd of sheep. East Cove on Cape Negro Island also has a beautiful white sand beach.

The Roseway river. This river provides the most accessible whitewater in Southwestern Nova Scotia through the fall, winter, and spring months. The best class 3 whitewater sections of the river are a 5min drive from downtown Shelburne. The pool/drop run includes multiple standing waves including “Cottage Wave” (pictured) located at Roseway River Cottages. Click here for a short video with some of the best sections of the river at the beginning of the vid. For intermediate to advanced whitewater kayakers with training in swift water rescue, the river provides endless opportunities for paddlers to develop skills and techniques that can also be applied to intermediate to advanced coastal kayaking.

Shelburne Harbour. Sheltered from ocean swell, Shelburne Harbour is a great place for new paddlers to become comfortable paddling on the ocean. The prevailing afternoon westerlies can often be avoided by morning or evening paddles or by launching from Islands Provincial Park. The western side of the harbour (from the inner harbour to Hartz Point), provides relatively sheltered paddling among large boulders and an undeveloped coastline. The view from the water of the historic Shelburne waterfront is one of the best in the province.

Tusket Islands. The Tusket Islands are a mix of forested and denuded islands south of Comeau’s Hill. Suitable for paddlers with advanced training in navigation and currents, this area is rich in history. The outer islands were once declared it’s own micro nation (The Principality of Outer Baldonia) complete with it’s own capital and currency. The strong currents that run between the islands can be used to a paddlers advantage to navigate from one area to another, as well as providing excellent tide races for advanced paddlers to challenge themselves. Camping on some of the islands, like Peases Island, pictured above, provides opportunities for breathtaking ocean views and unforgettable sunsets.

If you’re interested in learning the skills necessary to safely and confidently paddle some of these areas, drop us a line and we’ll let you know of any upcoming training opportunities.