Sunday, June 20, 12021 HE
Okay so maybe epic is a bit bold of use of the term. Though if you take the definition of a hero as “a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal” (Dictionary.com) then I guess you just may have to ask the right person. And since it is Father’s Day I am going to pull my dad card and poll my kids for the heroic win.
The forecast was calling for westerly wind earlier in the week for Sunday, which was both the first day of summer and Father’s Day this year. My boys had made some craft gifts that we were all keen on opening in the morning. And last week, on Monday, I had ordered a new paddle. Annie had then suggested that I should wait until Father’s Day to receive it. I couldn’t really argue with that logic as it made more sense than the random gift to myself plan I was currently going with. I had ordered a Black Project Lava paddle after it received a great review on SUPboarder‘s three-piece all-around paddle comparison.
So after opening four excellent gifts from my boys they brought down the over-length box that had been sitting beside our bed for the last two weeks. I had assumed that the box was so long, 2.13 meters (7 feet), because BP had shipped the three-piece paddle assembled. But it turns out that either I ordered the wrong paddle or they sent me the wrong one. It was an adjustable rather than a three-piece (on review of the buying site options I don’t see a drop-down option for three-piece which explains the error). In hindsight, I am happier with the adjustable shaft as I already have two three-piece paddles. There was one included with each of my boards. The Lava paddle is much lighter than my current paddles. Black Project’s site lists a weight of 456 grams (15.7 oz) for a fixed paddle length of 191 cm (75 inches). SUPboarder’s comparison listed the three-piece paddles dry weight at 635 grams. Therefore my two-piece adjustable paddle’s weight was somewhere in-between. It felt light in my hands in my living room, so I was keen to get out and test it on the water!
I had sent out a feeler the night before to see if any other of the papa paddlers would be able to get out on the water. It turned out that Trevor was owed some non-familial afternoon solitude from an exchange he made on a special weekend in May. Thankfully he was happy to spend the afternoon on the water with me.
Soon after Annie got home from her work shift I was off to meet Trevor at Vanier Park to set up our ride logistics for a Span-Kit Downwinder Run. Though I guess this technically would be a Span-Van Run. Below is the forecasted wind and waves for Sunday afternoon from Windy.com. Nothing huge with 0.8 m waves but there would be a long line of them.
The beaches were busy but thankfully there were spots available at the Vanier Park parking lot. We switched over the necessary kit to my vehicle then made our way to Spanish Banks making sure to pay for our parking (I have been burned in the past where I have forgotten to pay for parking before embarking on a paddle). We hoped that there would be parking at the Off Leash Dog Area as there is often a higher vehicle turnover there. As we wound our way past Locarno Beach it was looking grim. There was a tonne of traffic and lots of people waiting for parking spots. We needed to get through all that for our chance at a spot. When we finally did we were grace by the parking gods and were able to roll right into a vacated spot without any waiting.
Then it was time to gear up or perhaps better said, gear down. It was hot out! Here is a shot from the parking lot with my Lava locked and loaded.
Wil was out on his boat with his family and was hoping to catch sight of us. Unfortunately, by the time we were getting out on the water he was heading in. It was turbulent out there and he gave us warning.
Here is the view from the shoreline looking northwest with Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast in the background. There is a dog in view also braving the waters. Though we hoped to spend more time on the high side and dry side of our boards.
From the shoreline, we planned to paddle out northwest into the wind to get away from the chop of the mixing groundswell and shoreline rebound. Then we could turn east to ride the bumps back to Vanier. The wind was quite strong and I found it tough getting my legs and used to my new paddle. The smaller blade and different handle felt unfamiliar. But the reduced weight, though foreign, was welcomed. Thankfully, I was able to stay up on my board. It is always demoralizing to take an early dip even before you get into the downwind. Not to mention the internal ego bruise the would accompany the onshore onlookers’ object of ridicule.
Once we were out on the water the wind swell was more southwesterly than northwesterly. We decided to turn before we had cleared the land shelf as the waves would be pushing us offshore rather than onshore.
Here is the view just as we are facing up to go downwind and I started my camera recording.
And below is Trevor off and away into the bumps.
The swells were of a decent size but pretty chaotic with the mixing of the wind waves with the groundswell and rebound. With my camera mounted at board level, the waves look bigger than they actually were at times. Like in this GIF below where Trevor disappears behind a wave.
There were plenty of other ocean sportspeople out on the water and we were going to need to pass through sail central. Dotted with kiteboarders, windsurfers, and sailboats, we would need to keep our wits about to avoid any collisions or cut-offs.
This windsurfer gave me a close buzz as he pumped himself past me.
There was a fleet of lasers heading northwest taking part in either a race or a course that we needed to cross paths with. You can see the line of sails approaching us in the image below. We decided to take a break from paddling to let them pass before continuing. I have never sailed a laser but as they speed across in front and behind us I wondered how much control you have on one to either steer or slow, as a stop is not an option.
There was a motorboat leading the charge of the lasers toward their turn buoy.
A little while we would cross paths with another slightly smaller group of lasers heading southwest. Here is Trevor heading toward the city just before our next laser crossing. It was this next section that had some of the best runs of the day. The swell and bumps between the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and Point Grey Park were so fun!
We took a short pause just offshore from Point Grey Park to check the time. We decided to top up our parking at Vanier Park as we were having so much fun. That way we could do a few upwind/downwind exchanges to get extra runs in before reaching False Creek. You have to love the convenience of PayByPhone.
It was a nice preview of normalcy to see how many people were taking advantage of the good weather. The return of crowds, albeit outdoors. There is definitely some pent-up pandemic demand for normality and socialization. Though the pessimistic realist in me still believes that we are a long way away from a true return to normal. Regionally and nationally I think this return will come sooner, but for the global stage, I still think the pandemic is closer to the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end.
The image below is the view northeasterly as we make our way out across the swell to get out to eventually get around Kits Point.
Here is the red buoy looking a little more pleasant than my weekend vTNR paddle.
And just to get artistic, here is a water crown in the foreground of a bokeh Vancouver cityscape.
A GIF of coming into False Creek.
I had noticed the half-mast flying of the Canadian flag at Vanier Park on the weekend after our TNR#10 paddle. I had erroneously assumed it to be a commemoration of the lives lost due to Covid-19. But Wil corrected me, informing me that it was an acknowledgment and commemoration to the recently discovered mass grave found at a residential school site in Kamloops.
The image below is a fitting contradiction. The red and white colours of the half-mast flag stand out in the image and I couldn’t help but pity the irony of the symbolism given the recent events. Here is a half-mast flag as a commemoration of the lives lost that stands on sacred ancestral lands. If I was of indigenous heritage I would be thinking, thank you for the gesture and acknowledgement, but what I really want would be concrete actions and solutions to the plight of my peoples. Or my damn land back. 😛
Vanier Park or Sen̓áḵw is the ancestral land of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish people). And according to this post the birthplace of chief August Jack Khatsahlano, of whom the Kitsilano neighbourhood is named after. In my mind, the Canadian flag at Vanier Park can be seen as a symbolic land claim. And the layers of symbolism abound. In the image, the stark contrast of colours between Canada’s national colours of red and white and the mundane colours of the water, sky, and foliage magnify the juxtaposition. The flag to the settled is an overt tribute to colonialism, both past, and present in its prominent presence on the ancestral land.
And, if most Canadians are like me, I suspect they do not know the history of the colour selection for Canada’s modern flag. There is the obvious association of the red to blood, bravery, and valour. And in fact, the red and white trace their origins back to the historic flags of France and England. The origin before that being the Saint George’s Cross that marked the Republic of Genoa during the First Crusade. Another parallel to both colonialism and the Catholic Church. Colonialism is generally more associated with the European colonial period around the 15th century. But in my eyes, the crusades were nothing more than an earlier brand of colonialism, albeit steeped in a little bit more religion than the more modern version.
And the role of the Catholic Church appears in both the narrative of the crusades and residential schools in both bankrolling and organizing these enterprises. I found the Catholic Church’s omission of a clear apology for its role in the residential school program both surprising and appalling. My initial thought was that they didn’t want to be financially responsible for any reparations through the admission of guilt with a formal apology. But after speaking with my dad about it, who was an ordained Catholic priest in the 1960s and 70s, he explained the absence of the apology from a religious perspective. For the faithful the Church represents an embodiment of Christ and as such is infallible or cannot commit sins in the modern doctrine. Some of this in my understanding stems back to the Nicene Creed in 325 HE, where Christ is declared to be the son of God. As such, an admission of guilt in the church’s role in the residential schools would be an admission of Christ sinning, a doctrinal impossibility. Hence, no admission of guilt nor apology. My dad eventually absolved himself of his clerical duty when it became clear that some of the burgeoning religious reform that he was hoping for was not going to take place under the newly appointed Pope Paul VI. But his understanding of the faith provides a useful insight.
It is not my stance, but I can see how to an indigenous person the flag at Vanier Park stands up like a middle finger to indigenous ancestry and heritage. Much in the same way that the southern United States of America is adorned with tributes to the Confederate Army. A fuck you to the victors of the American Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Abolitionist Movement, and the Black Americans. For a nation couched in hubris the irony that a significant number of its inhabitants pay tribute to the losers of the American Civil War begs deep questions.
My stance is that we should all strive to have a better understanding of history so that we can better understand the present. You can’t change the past, but understanding it can help you in the present.
Scientia est potentia. Knowledge is power.
That was a bit heavy as it should be. But on a much lighter note, below is a composition of a few clips from our downwinder.
And below is the route that we took tracked with Google Fit.
And our statistics from Google Fit.