Solo Stoke

Sunday October 10, 12021 HE

Last week I went out on the water for a leisurely paddle with several of my work colleagues at Fit To Train. The conditions were overcast, but the wind was light, and the water was relatively calm. It was a perfect novice social paddle to share the stoke.

The forecast for today was much different, with winds ranging from 20-40 km/hr or 10-20 knots in the morning. And with the wind comes some waves. The forecast called for 1.1 metres in the morning. For Vancouver, that is about as big as you’ll get. Time for a Span-Kit Run!

Here are the wind and wave forecasts from Windy.com.

Wind.

Screenshot of the wind forecast from Windy.com.

And waves.

Screenshot of the wave forecast from Windy.com.

Today I was riding solo. A one-way trip riding the westerly wind from the Spanish Banks East Concession to Kitsilano Beach (X̱epx̱páy̓em), or nearby, and then take an Evo Car Share back to my vehicle. I made my way down to the concession area and arrived at 06:30. Nautical twilight was from 06:17 to 06:54 this morning, with the civil twilight running from then until 07:26, and then daylight thereafter. With a slow setup of my kit, I was ready to be on the water just before 07:00. The shot below is my board from near the parking area in the nautical twilight.

Board twilight.

With my kit in order, I made my way down to the water. Here is the view northwestward from the beach.

Looking northwestward from Spanish Banks.

And the view northeastward toward the city.

Looking northeastward from Spanish Banks.

And below is a quick survey of the water to give you a sense of the surroundings.

Surveying the waters from the shoreline.

The conditions on the shoreline were noticeably different from last week. There were even some small waves breaking on the shore.

Span-Kit Run shoreline shot.

The sunrise had a spectacular spectrum of shades.

A Span-Kit Run sunrise.

The wind gusts were brisk and as I stood on the shoreline making my final preparations, I started to second guess my choice of no toque. Too late now, I thought to myself as I made the last-minute adjustments to my kit and went through a safety/preparation mental checklist. Leash? Check. PFD? Check. Gloves? Check. Drysuit zipper fully closed? Check. GPS activity tracker? Check. Speaking of GPS tracking…

Until recently, I was using Google Fit to track my SUP activity. But over the last few weeks, it has given me trouble. My real-time position appears to be inaccurate, and my routes end up being point A to B straight line summaries between my start/finish and waypoints. Rather than accurate descriptions of where I have actually travelled.

I have kept an eye on the release of GEOSUP for Android devices. GEOSUP is a SUP-specific activity tracker. Currently, it is only available for iPhone. So, in the meantime, while waiting for the Android release, I decided to go back to using Strava. And so far, I have been pleased with the caveat that I am not asking for much. All I want is a GPS tracker that tracks you throughout the recording. Not just when you start and stop. All I want is an accurate account of my position incrementally over time. I am sure there is a minor setting change that would correct my issue with Google Fit, but so far, I haven’t been able to determine what that is. And now I am just fed up with it. So below is the route that I took recorded from Strava.

Screenshot of my route on Strava.

I made my way out into the waves. They were easy enough to go over, but the water was chaotic. In the shallow water, the westerly wind waves were morphing into groundswell coming from the north-northwest. I paddled north, riding over the groundswell. Every so often, stronger waves coming from the west would wash over my board and torque me starboard. I had an old cellphone mounted on the rear of my paddleboard to use as a video camera. The video below is a short sample of the action launching.

Launching from Spanish Banks.

After I felt that I was far enough offshore to evade the onshore waves forcing me toward the Jericho Pier, I let the now westerly swell turn me downwind to head east. I was struck by how low the sun was and how far east it appeared. Hello fall and bye-bye summer. The image below is focused on my board and leg but gives you a sense of the morning scenery in the background.

An out of focus sunrise.

The video clip below is the start of my downwind as I turn to head eastward to ride with the wind and waves.

Heading east from Spanish Banks.

It was early enough that I was the only one out on the water by paddle craft. At least from what I could see. Later, when I was picking up my car back at Spanish Banks, an SUV passed by loaded with surf skis. They looked to be heading for a more westerly launch.

I settled into a groove catching the chaotic bumps as I sang songs by The Tragically Hip in my head and at times out loud. I had about five great runs that were long enough to feel like I was surfing. It is that floating feeling of riding on the tail end of the board as the nose hovers speedily over the water in front of you. I am still refining my skillset and trying to figure out how best to connect bump to bump. But I could feel that it was much easier to stay on board and recover my balance when off-balance. The video tries to capture the moment but falls short. The sun is rising over the city skyline in the background as I peacefully pseudo-surf toward it all. Talk about giving thanks. Not a bad Thanksgiving Sunday to remind me how much I have to be thankful for in my life. A serene SUP sail was just one of many things I am thankful for.

Catching some bumps in Burrard Inlet (Səl̓ilw̓ət).

Forty minutes later I sailed into Kitsilano Beach (X̱epx̱páy̓em), booked an Evo, and then made my way back to Spanish Banks.

We spent the rest of the alluring autumn day as a family in North Vancouver at my in-laws’ place. After having a sumptuous turkey dinner at my oldest brother’s house the night before and plans to visit the pumpkin patch Monday, it was shaping up to be an outstanding Thanksgiving weekend.

I was happy to have an accurate recording of my paddle statistics at the end of my trip. One more thing to be thankful for. I am still curious about getting a hardboard and what that would mean for the ease of catching bumps and my top speed. Perhaps that will be a future reward that I can be thankful for yet once more.

Screenshot of my paddle statistics from Strava.

I made a timelapse video of my paddle. It is set to some tracks by The Tragically Hip to reflect what was going on in my mind at the time.

The Span-Kit Run time-lapsed. The music is “Scared”, “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)”, and “Little Bones” performed by The Tragically Hip from the albums Day for Night, Fully Completely, and Road Apples, respectively.

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