CackleTV images

Recent Posts

New Cackle TV blog & website

January rolling practice

"This is canoeing" cover done!!

Esquif & Kokatat sponsor "This is Canoeing"

Skiing...... in Wales!!

Original art

Snowy Snowdon horseshoe

Sunny Snowy Wales

Fifth Award for "South island circumnavigation"

Festive paddle

On The Web

Body Boat Blade

Keirron's Blog

Derrick's Blog

December 2004

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

Current Posts

 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


From Orcas to Victoria
Saturday, August 18, 2007

It's nearly time for me to go home to Wales so i've been busy making the most of being in the Pacific Northwest. On Tuesday I joined Shawna & Leon on an overnight trip to Sucia island with 5 clients on a 5-day course. I arrived just as the sun set on a beautiful calm evening with a stunning sunset, just in time to help them eat dinner & chat over a fire! The next morning I left early to paddle to Victoria on Vancouver island to catch up with Alex Mathews and his wife Rochelle ( and I better not forget their cat Simon !) It was a gorgeous paddle in calm seas with a huge push from the ebb tide. I covered the first 13 nautical miles in less than 2 hours which was very exciting - i was flying along at an average speed of over 6 knots! Once I started to head south i had less tide and found myself saying 'oh damn, I'm ONLY travelling at 5.5 knots" Of course I had to pinch myself and remember that 5.5 knots is still pretty good in a seakayak! Finally after 30 nautical miles in 5 hours 15mins I pulled in at Gordon Head - i'd been feeling really strong and fit the whole way across but as I got out of the flow and into an eddy, I began to feel tired. Typically, the coastline here consists of steep cliffs with lovely houses perched on top - each one with a thin steep set of steps leading up from the beach. There was no way I could carry my kayak up those and I paddled south for another mile or 2. Finally I came across a beach with loads of people on it. A very kind man helped me carry the kayak up the steep narrow steps and Alex came to pick me up.

I met Alex & Rochelle briefly at the West Coast seakayaking symposium a few years ago and Alex foolishly said 'If you're ever in Victoria, come and visit'! He writes lots of magazine articles, especially for Wavelength and Adventure Kayak magazines. He's also recently written a book called 'Rough water seakayaking' ( publised by Heliconia press), so I was interested to chat to him. We had a lovely evening, ( which involved lots of nice food and taking Simon the cat for a walk along the seafront!). The next morning Alex and I went paddling to Baynes channel - a tidal race very near to Victoria. It was lots of fun with some good rides. Alex and I paddled around nearby Chatham and Discovery islands, then he paddled back home and I carried on back to Orcas island. I didn't have quite so much tide with me on the way back, and I wasn't feeling quite so mighty so it took me a bit longer - 24.5 miles in 4hours 45 minutes - still an average of almost 5 knots though and another beautiful day. coming through Cattle Pass at over 10knots was a highlight! I landed in Deer Harbour and Leon came and picked me up.

Tomorrow ( Saturday ) I'm giving a talk at Eco-Marine in Vancouver, then I fly home on Sunday. There will just be time tomorrow morning to squeeze in a final paddle at Deception Pass with Matt & Djuna from Body Boat Blade, and Michael Callahan from EcoMarine!

Deception Pass and Combat kayaking with Dubside!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

That a long title to this blog, but I've had a busy couple of days! I spent yesterday filming Dubside, Warren Williamson, Mathew and Tom Sharp ripping it up in Deception Pass with their seakayaks and greenland style blades. Warren has been paddling almost exclusively at Deception Pass for 7 years and it shows as he slides his boat effortlessly into frightening looking whirlpools and then does a roll on a turbulent eddy line, just for fun. His favourite trick seemed to be floating downstream through swirling whitewater with his boat upside down and only his face out of the water on one side. I've seen people in this position before, but only in moments of panic. In contrast, Warren could have been whistling his favourite song he looked so relaxed! Towards the end of the session he wasn't wasting energy playing in the waves unless a boat sped past adding a bit more excitement with it's wake! It's only Dubside's 3rd or 4th time at Deception Pass but he also looked great snaking up the eddylines and spinning in the whirlpools and he certainly wan't afraid of being capsized as he could just call up one of his 30 or so different rolls.

I also filmed Dubside doing some of his rope tricks - there wasn't time for me to have a go - luckily as I certainly couldn't have pulled my body over the top of a high rope using only 2 fingers!

Today I tagged along with Dubside in Everett where he lives doing his favourite thing - Comando kayaking. Dressed all in black and pulling a small black troley containing his feathercraft folding kayak he surepticiously catches a bus across town. He blends in perfectly which is his aim, but if you look very closely you'll see the black wetsuit boots and the zip of the farmer john wetsuit under his black jacket. If he's careless you might spot an ankle length dreadlock poking out from the bottom of his trousers - although he refused to let me film this - "It's not about the dreadlocks!".

So we caught 2 busses then pulled our folding kayaks a few hundred meters to a river. Dubside put both kayaks together in less than 30mins and we were ready to go. Far from resenting the several hours taken to cath busses and put the kayaks together, Dubside loves the independance of not needing a car, and has a huge grin on his face as he tells me he can pull his kayak out the water wherever he wants, he doesn't have to come back to the same place - provided there's a bus stop nearby of course! And I have to admit I did find it a little exciting to be on this unusual sort of adventure ( although my bright red clothing didn't quite fit in with the stealth approach!) It was kind of cool to be floating down a river with the current, seeing all the trucks and cars wizz past on bridges above us while watching ospreys interacting on pilings, having seals pop their heads up behind us and a blue heron fly in front of the kayaks. We were in the city but removed from it - observers.

Anyone interested in Dubside should check out his website by clicking here. YOu can also buy DVDs of him rolling or doing his rope tricks. Thanks to Tom Sharp for driving me around and making this filming happen!

Surfing in the San Juan's
Monday, August 13, 2007

Today Matt from Body Boat Blade took me paddling to some of the tide races around the Orcas islands. We took the ferry to Lopez island and had a fun day in the Cattle Pass area. The tide was flowing at 3-4 knots and there was a bit of wind to kick up the waves a bit. We kept moving about to different races, playing at spinning our kayaks on the eddylines and surfing the waves. The best playspot came last as we found a smooth rock platform just below the surface which was really cool to watch underneath the kayaks. The tide rushed down the platform and hit the seabed, slowly the water built up in the bottom until there was enough to form a surging wave rushing forwards against the tide. It was fun and gentle to start with and then the race kicked up a bit giving a wetter ride and some good waves with burried bows! We spent over 3 hours non-stop paddling from race to race and I'm feeling content but a bit tired now!

Tomorrow I'm going to Deception Pass - another place with strong currents and sharp eddylines - to film Dubside and Warren playing in the water with their greenland paddles. I better get some rest!

Shaking hands with Haida Culture
Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I don't have time to reflect too much on the trip yet as we are keeping busy living! It's been a fun few days in Queen Charlotte chatting to people and surrounding ourselves with art, dancing & food, all with a Haida flavour. We went to a great seafood feast at the herritage centre where we were served, amongst other things, herrings eggs on kelp ( I don't think I'll be seeking them out again but I enjoyed trying them!). After dinner we were entertained by Haida dancing, which was really colourful and interesting. We were also lucky enough to chance upon 2 of the artists at the centre who are spending 3 months making 90foot long Haida war canoes - almost the first time theyv'e been made for over 100 years. The only other 'modern' Haida canoe is already at the centre - it was designed and overseen by the famous Haida artist Bill Reid 20 years ago. It's an incrediblly beautiful cedar canoe that is paddled every year in races and to transport important people. I find it amazing that the Haida regularly paddled these canoes over 70km to mainland Canada, raided towns there and paddled back with slaves. We think we're adventurous to kayak in the waters that they paddled in year round just to collect food to live. You gotta admire that!

Shawna later found out that one of the artists carving the canoe also made a limited edition Haida print that she'd just bought.


Yesterday we got the ferry over to Sandspit on Moresby and went to visit the home of Neil & Betty Carey, the couple who built & lived in the cabin at Puffin Cove on the west coast of Moresby that we stayed in. Neil was pleased to invite us in & show us some of their thousands of Japanese glass balls and whale bones that they beachcombed. We could show him a few photos of Puffin Cove and let him know how the place is doing.



Today we hired a car and drove to a few sights, including the location where the famous tree, the Golden Spruce, was cut down in the middle of the night by a logger in 1997. We looked around lots of shops & galleries searching for the perfect piece of Haida jewelry made from argillite, a black shale-like rock that is only found in Haida Gwaii and only Haida people are allowed to carve. Eventually Shawna & I both chose necklaces that we liked, mine was by Myles Edgars & hers was by his daughter Amy. We later drove through Old Masset and stopped at a house which said 'Argillite carvers, visitors welcome'. Incredibly, inside sat Myles & Amy carving away!! So we all had to buy something else directly from the artists! In the shop in Old Masset I fell in love with a beautiful bentwood box ( which had just sold for $18,000 !), 5 mins later the young guy who had carved it walked in the door! I took a photo in case I can ever afford to commission one!

At the risk of going on I'll tell you one more story! Earlier in our kayaking trip we camped on the beach outside Old Masset. The next morning a man drove up to the beach and threw away some crab remains. We asked if it was OK that we camped there and he said, "Sure. I don't mind, I just think it's funny that someone is camping in our garbage dump"! It turned out that the man was the famous Haida artist Reg Davidson and we had a great chat with him. We've since seen his artwork and his name in many books & shops. A few weeks later in Rose Harbour, Reg's brother, the even more famous Haida artist, Robert Davidson happened to be there on a charter yacht so we got to chat to him aswell. He told us that the long house we'd spent the night in at Windy Bay on Lyell island was designed by him and painted by his brother Reg!

I really love the fact that we've met so many of the people who are keeping Haida art alive. Art is really important to the Haida as it's an expression of their connection with the land & a huge part of their history. They never used to have a written language so family crests on clothing and on totem poles were used to tell other people about a persons family and status. Most of the crests are of animals, encouraging a respect for the bears, killer whales, eagles and ravens that sustained the Haida, and lived alongside them. Haida art developed over 10,000 years and is really beautiful and sophisticated.

Tomorrow we take the ferry back to Prince Rupert and begin a 4 day journey back to Body Boat Blade.....



Leon's comments on Haida Gwaii
Sunday, August 05, 2007



I learn so much on these trips, both about myself, the world we live in and other cultures. On this trip particularly, I learned a lot about a culture that is still very much alive today, and connects us to the past of this region. The Haida people are doing a great job of educating people about the rich culture of their past and how they are bringing it forward into the future.

I really enjoyed our team, it was strong, competent, and considerate. Life on the water and at camp was fun! Justine always made us laugh, and she always pulled out treats to keep our spirits high. In camp, we had lot’s of time to explore and relax, do Yoga, and Shawna had time to paint in her journal.



These were the highlights of the trip for me:
As we were waiting for humpback whales to pass on a swelly day on the west coast – 5 curious sea lions stopped to play amoungst our boats for 20 minutes. Seeing puffins around Cape St. James, paddling into the house size swell as we rounded Cape Knox looking into the “green rooms” of some very large boomers. Seeing the haida kids after their SOLO rediscovery program, dinner with Susan and her clan at Rose harbor – what a fantastic place!, recovering from illness at Puffin Cove…

I’ve been dreaming of paddling around Haida Gwaii since I lived in Minnesota. Back then, I stored my kayak diagonal across the living room floor, and I drank many cups of coffee sitting in that kayak dreaming of trips. I picked up Joel Rodger’s book “The Hidden Coast” and read about Haida Gwaii, and was immediately drawn to this place.

Thanks to Justine and all of our sponsors for making this trip happen!

I read 2 books on this trip that I highly recommend – The Golden Spruce by John Valliant, and Raven’s Cry by Christie Harris.


Shawna's comments on Haida Gwaii



We have been back for a day now, and I have been in a bit of culture shock all day. The feeling is hard to describe. I’ll start by describing our first full day back in Queen Charlotte City.

We got up late this morning and Leon and I went straight to Queen Bs, a lovely little waterside coffee shop, where Leon got scolded for asking for a Grande – the woman behind the counter was nice about it all but she basically asked him to leave his Starbucks mentality at the door! Anyway, it is nice to have someone make you a cup of coffee in the morning (Leon has finally been given some relief, as he unfailingly brought me a steaming cup of coffee and Justine a cup of tea every morning of the trip!) Then we found Justine who had been trying unsuccessfully to get a flight down to Rose Harbor as she would have loved to get some airiel footage of the south coast of Moresby. From there, we all went to have a wander around in the galleries here in town. We decided to spend the rest of the day at the newly built and impressive Haida Cultural center and Museum in Skidegate. Since we don’t have a car, we have to rely on our thumbs and we hitched a ride from a man visiting from Prince George. The car noises are here intermingled with the sounds of calling eagles and curious ravens everywhere. I went to bed last night thinking this is the first night in about 28 that I could hear a car engine as I started to doze.

The museum was worth the visit, and we got a great tour from Jason who interpreted the 6 totem poles, the Haida War Canoes on display and the walk into history of artefacts and art from long ago. Tommorow night we will return and join in on a special Haida feast, and night of dancing performances!

The strange culture shock feeling started in the morning when I sat up from bed, and put my feet on the wooden floor of the Hostel we are staying in and I wandered down the hall to the indoor bathroom to brush my teeth. When we are not on an expedition, we are inside a lot, and this, after being outside a lot, feels a bit strange and takes some getting used to. I don’t so easily feel the wind, the rain, the sand between my toes, nor the salt on my face.

Having coffee in the shop and wandering around looking at beautiful art and books all tempting us to spend some money was fun, but I was again reminded at how different this day was to the last 30. Out there on the trip, we have nowhere to shop and the exploring we have to do everyday is into the forest or up and down some beautiful stretch of beach. If we find a cool shell or a stone or some scenery – we don’t have to buy them or ask if we can see them.


In town, I do not check the weather report on the VHF, nor do I necessarily know what the tides are doing, and I easily loose track of the phase of the moon. I guess I don’t necessarily need this information to live or to travel here in town, so I get lazy again when I am not on a trip. I feel a bit out of touch with the natural world, and this makes me uneasy, and it is the expedition that has reminded me of this.
On the other hand, on a trip, I feel a bit out of touch with what is happening in the rest of the world and I find myself wondering what changes there have been as I guess I have got used to knowing so easily what the greater world is doing.

Today, I felt a bit caught between two worlds that strangely coexhist together. Life on an expedition makes me appreciative of all that we have at home or in town, and being out there makes me appreciate all the more the raging and complex beauty of the natural world.

The very coolest thing is that I feel like I can go between the two and enjoy both. Haida Gwaii has given us that. This place is magnificent, peaceful, and powerful. I will relish in our memories of this trip for the rest of my life.



Leon and Justine will write their comments over the next few days and we'll post more photos!

30 days, 500 miles... back in Queen Charlotte!
Saturday, August 04, 2007



We MADE IT!! Yeah! And what a fantastic trip in beautiful islands. This morning, we woke up to wonderful sunshine with clear views of the snow patches on the mountain tops. We could tell we were close to town because a steady stream of fishing boats started buzzing past us from about 7am, all heading for the west coast. Their engine noise mixed with the sound of 3 different eagles calling in the trees above. We ate well to the very end and our last breakfast was cheese and onion quesadillas, with the very last of the powered milk in Shawna & Leon’s coffee. We launched around 10am and for once we had wind and tide behind us for almost the whole journey. It was a pleasure to wizz through the ‘East Narrows’ at up to 9 knots having fought against 4 or 5 knots of current last time. At low tide it looked very different from last time when the channel was 5 or 6 times as wide. The sun shone all day and the wind pushed us along between tree-covered islands.
We paddled a touch over 14 nautical miles to arrive back at Queen Charlotte City in three and a half hours. That brings our total mileage for the whole trip to exactly 500.5 nautical miles!!! I think we can round it down to 500 without worrying too much about the extra half! Strictly speaking, we should paddle the last 3 miles to the Skidegate ferry terminal to complete the figure of eight but we’ll save that until the day we catch the ferry home. We were out for 30 days and I felt relaxed and happy for most of it. It’s very peaceful here surrounded by 1,000 metre high mountains with no traffic noise, no street lights, no construction.



It’s 7pm now and I’m sitting in the ‘Premiere Lodge’ hostel now feeling refreshed and happy after a wonderful hot shower (my first wash for 10 days!), and a tasty hot meal in a restaurant (with a cold beer for Shawna and Leon & a margharitta for me!) That was a late lunch… it’s nearly time for dinner! I’ll write more tomorrow and post more photos from the last 18 days around Moresby. Shawna & Leon will also write their impressions of the trip in the next day or two.

Thank you very much to Mike DuPas for writing the blog updates and putting up the photos and maps. Mike told Leon yesterday that we couldn’t thank him because we hadn’t seen what he’d written.. well, we have now so thanks a lot for doing a great job! Thanks also to Kokatat for paying for rental of the sat phone so we could update this, and to Kokatat, the North Face, Snapdragon, Lendal, Werner, Seakayaking UK & Native sunglasses, for sponsoring us with great kit.

A few people have asked me if I’ll be making a DVD of this expedition – YES I will…. But it probably won’t be available for about a year.

9 KNOTS!!!


Downie Island
Friday, August 03, 2007

Leon called last night from their camp at Downie Island in the West Narrows. He didn't say but this days paddle was about 15 nm. On their 6.5 nm crossing of Englefield Bay, Leon said they saw at least 6 humpbacks with some of them splashing their tails. Then near the narrows around Chaatl Island, Leon got his wish and some travelers they met gave them 3 cold beers and some potato chips. Leon said they all felt both sad and happy their trip is nearly completed. I've included the last of the photos I have including a photo of Justine paddling in Skidegate channel, a totem pole from somewhere on Graham island I think and another shot of the 3 of them in Skedans. I look forward to seeing all of Justine's photography and hearing some of their stories. They should be in QC City today.

Denham Point
Thursday, August 02, 2007

Shawna called yesterday after about a 19 nm paddle to Denham Pt. in calm seas and not much swell. It was again a beautiful paddle along the cliffs. With all the cliffs, they couldn't find a place for lunch so they got to practice the 5 star skills of landing and seal launching off of rocks. They are perhaps two days from QC City and I could tell they are getting close because Shawna was asking how their cat Skinny was doing. I've included a photo of Justine dressed for battle and a photo Rowland took of Capt St. James.

 Back To Index