Rockwood conservation authority

I’ve seen people talking about Rockwood conservation authority and seen the pics on conservation authority’s web site and thought it looked like a neat place to check out. The beautiful cliffs are particularly inviting

They do rent canoes and 1 or two person kayaks (as well as paddle boats). They are a bit pricey, the kayak was $20 an hour. We fussed with where to launch. If you park it’s a pretty long hike from the parking lot to the beach. So I asked for a suggestion and they said I should launch near the end of the beach. We were able to drive right up near the water, take the boats and our stuff out and then put the car back in the parking lot. This saved a lot of hassle. This allowed us to have a nice sandy beach side launch. Worked out perfect. And the rentals were right near there so it worked out well (we were renting one boat). You could also launch at the Harris Mill ruins where there is limited parking, and a rockier place to launch … But that would be an option as well.

We were off to the races, and started up towards the dam/mill.

As you can see the entire paddle is relatively small at only 2.9KM all the way around. We did a little extra and stretched it out to 3.8KM.

Rockwood is very pretty, but it can also be VERY busy.

Fortunately there are no motor boats, just canoes, kayakers, swimmers and paddle boats. There was surprisingly little wild life with a lot of Canada geese, the occasional turtle, fish and other birds. The usual herons, egrets, cormorants and the like I am use to were either hiding or not there. Up near the top of the row we came upon the Haris Mill ruins.

Followed by a small water fall you can kayak almost right up to.

You can portage around the dam, it’s a couple hundred meters. Sadly you don’t get far before it gets shallow and you have to get out and lift over. Then your off again for another short period of time before you come to the furthest you can get. The portage would add at most another 600 meters to your paddle, but this part is completely empty as people don’t bother. We didn’t, and frankly I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Rockwood is a perfect place for beginners, no wind, no chop, shores are close enough to swim to, and lots of lovely cliffs to see.
Map of the row on Garmin.
And once your done you can also do a hike all the way around the river, which we did. There are some spectacular views from the hike which a few of the pics above are from. There’s also a small cave you can checkout.

You can also swim (if your brave enough to ignore the floating patches of green) and dive off the cliffs.
Map of the hike on Garmin
Distance: 2.9Km for a lap around the river
Difficulty: Very easy gentle paddle

Lake on the Mountain (Prince Edward county)

I was looking for a gentle easy paddle to finish off our time in Prince Edward county and this place always fascinated me, so on we went! Finding a place to launch wasn’t easy. So we decided to just pull up along side Lake on the mountain resort and walk our boats to the small boardwark there that is part of the provincial park, or what it ought to be called is a parkette 🙂 Getting into the boat was easy enough from here and off we went.

The water was super clear and it was a very gentle paddle. There was lots of fish around as well as wild life. We had one of the most memorable experiences when a pair of loons got up nice and close to us. We just stayed still and they went about their day fishing, magical!

All in all it was a lovely place to paddle!

Map of the row.

Distance 4.9KM
Difficulty: Gentle easy paddle
Start/End: here

Weller’s Bay paddle (Prince Edward County)

As part of our recent road trip I decided we’d stop off in Prince Edward County. I haven’t visited the wine scene there since 2009 and so it was time. And of course, what better thing to do but find a nice place to paddle. We both now have Advanced elements AE1012 inflatable kayaks and they are a dream to travel with. No roof racks or straps to mess with. They inflate in about 10 minutes and away you go.

We were looking for a place to paddle and had this one suggested to us on the Kayak Ontario’s facebook page. We launched at Weller’s bay boat launch which had a nice dock and ample parking. The water was calm and clear. We paddled over to the shoal and didn’t quite make it to the Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area. Instead we came back and paddled around a bog area down to the south on the map below and found a lot more easily seen wildlife. This was a lovely gentle relaxing paddle. It was super hot but that didn’t deter us!

Garmin Map of the row.

Distance: 8.7 km in 3.17 hrs
Difficulty: easy/protected
Start/End: Weller’s bay boat launch

Rideau River paddle (mini post)

I had done all the research for a Rideau river paddle, but we didn’t actually do it, I decided on a down day after our brisk Ottawa river paddle. We did do a hike in the same area so I can share some of that anyway … The easiest place to launch would be the Rideau river provincial park. They have a launching ramp right in the middle of the park, right on the river.

There’s a small hike here as well, but honestly, skip the hike. It’s teeny, little to see, and the bugs are VORACIOUS … The Rideau river at this point is quite busy with motor boats, quite weedy, and it can be quite windy. The day we were there it would have been quite a challenge to row it, but I guess that all depends on what your looking for … From the shore we didn’t see a lot of wildlife, which is one of the things I look for in a paddle …

They do rent both canoes and kayaks at the provincial park, and they seemed like Ok boats …

Ottawa river paddle

As part of a road trip we checked out a few places to paddle on our way. While not GTA related, I thought I’d share anyway. I put out a post onKayak Ontario’s facebook page looking for a place to paddle in Ottawa and got this one back. We launched at Shirley Bay boat launch. This had lots of parking and easy access to the Ottawa River. We paddled around to the back of a shoal to find a nice protected inner harbor. Neither Google maps nor Garmin maps showed this very well. Oddly Strava did. Around the back we found some fishermen in hip waders talking about GarPike. I honestly though they were nuts. Well, low and behold we found loads of them, everywhere. Some quite large. There spots were quite noticeable in the water.

There was a reasonable amount of wild life around from Snowy egrets, to terns, to turtles. The inner harbor was a gentle easy paddle.

When it came time to head back we realized the wind had really kicked up and the paddle back was quite an energetic one 🙂 Not rough perse, just took some energy. All in all it was a lovely paddle and I would easily recommend this one! Very little motor boat traffic (where we were anyway), and no rapids or rough water.

Strava caught the paddle the best (exported from Garmin):

Garmin Map of the row.

Distance: 8.3Km in about 2.3 hours
Level: Moderately energetic based on wind
Start/End: Shirley Bay boat launch

15 Mile Pond in Jordan

I’ve been breaking in a new GF who has been breaking in a new boat … so we have been hitting a number of places I’ve already been, thus no new posts lately. So it was time to knock one off the todo list …

In the immediate area in Niagara there are three bodies of water, that caught my attention.

First up was Jordan Harbour that I previously explored. Next up I decided to try 15 Mile pond. With Kayak Ontario’s guide as well as advice from the Hamilton Kayak club on facebook I was able to find a place to launch. Right off the bat I could see this was going to be a weedy/dirty body of water.

A short trip up stream (0.7km) and we quickly ran into a log block that was impassible. I tried going up on shore to see if we go around it, or climb over it … no joy. I’m told this is common …

This was even long before we got to the tunnel of love

Disappointed we headed back up stream. This was on July 5/2018 … The air was positively stagnant and heat levels were almost unbearable 41C. On the positive side the water lilies were in full bloom. There were some lovely herons, swallows and the like around. There were loads of fish everywhere. Not long after heading up stream we ended up in an absolutely impassible (again) bog of water lilies and weeds. Every paddle was a HUGE effort and we were getting no where. I kept telling myself just around the bend and we will get into the clear. The weeds kept grabbing the paddle on every stroke. The map showed a wider spot. Well the wider spot ended up shallower, the weeds and lilies got thicker.

Eventually we gave up and tuned around and called it a day. We were unable to get to the lake, and unable to get to the tunnel of love. All in all, sadly I can not recommend this as a good place to paddle. Or even a good place to see wild life. 😦 I’ve seen a lot more in more accessible places like the Humber, 16 mile creek etc. Given the trek for me to get here … skip this! I’m told this can be different at other times of the year …

Map of the row

Distance: 4.8KM and couldn’t go any further in either distance 2.1 hr
Difficulty level easy as long as you weren’t in the weeds or water Lilly bog 🙂
Start/end point

Using a DSLR camera in a kayak

Ever since I started kayaking I realized you are in a target rich, beautiful place to take pictures, BUT you are also in a place (water) that’s not all that friendly to electronics … So at first I started using an old digital camera. But this didn’t cut it. I then bought a Nikon Coolpix AW120 waterproof camera. I bought it on Kijiji for a very good price. They are normally more expensive than I would be willing to spend.

This removed the worry of the camera getting wet and the camera is always readily available quickly to take a shot. The camera even comes with a float that ensures even if it ends up in the water it will not sink. At 5X optical zoom, not uncommon in this space the camera’s limited in getting far away pics of nature. And nature often doesn’t let you get too close. So this was only a partial solution. Inspired and motivated by some other folks amazing pics from kayaks I finally got on with figuring out how to solve this dilemma. The main issue, is finding a solution I can live with. So I zeroed in on wanting to buy a hard, waterproof camera case that I would mount on the deck of the kayak. My kayak is an inflatable so this made it both easier and harder. There are tie downs to attach to so at least there’s that. I first looked into Pelican and Nanuk cases but neither had easy ways to lash the case to the deck. So then I looked at Amazon basic cases. They have a nice big rib that would be easy to drill to make lash points.

I found straps on Amazon, as well as straps at Canadian tire and Carbiners on Amazon and I was able to lash the case down to the deck. Getting the straps just right was more challenging than one might otherwise imagine. You need to be able to reasonably easily remove the case from the deck since it’s inflatable and folds up.

The Amazon cases like the Pelican and Nanuk cases have a pick and pluck system. To customize it you trace around the item you want to fit with something like a sharpie. In my case it was the digital camera with the zoom lens. Then you roughly can cut it out with a knife. And then pick and pluck to make a firm edge.

The wrist strap on the camera makes it easy to remove the camera from the case. Placing the camera back into the case is equally easy. The clips on the front of the case were easy to open/close pretty quickly. In rough water like in the lake you can put the camera in and out. In calmer waters you can leave it on your lap in between pics. I kept making the opening a little bigger until the camera slipped in and out easily.

I did find a bit of a problem with the foam coming out of the case, there’s no way to secure the foam to the case. I bought some velcro at Canadian tire and that helped.

Now it’s worth pointing out the obvious, the camera if were to end up in the water is going to the bottom of the water and is dead, even if you do retrieve it.

The Amazon case came with absolutely no instructions. There’s even some slots in the case I have no idea what they are for. Amazon really could do to add some simple instructions.

The difference in quality at a distance between a decent DSLR and zoom lens and a point and shoot is night and day. Here are some pics I was able to get with the DLSR in a kayak.