writer traveler photographer

Paddling woes

The long way home

It’s raining sideways today. There are whitecaps on the river (a rare occurrence.) Puts me in mind of our first canoe trip of the year. It was a fine May morning; I was surprised to hear the weatherman forecast rain, wind and thunder. “The weatherman’s made a mistake,” I said to my husband, Barrie, then added, “Oh well,  even if it rains a bit, we’re not made of sugar.

We met our friends Duncan and Elizabeth at Great Pubnico Lake around 10 a.m., loaded our canoes and set off across Little Bay. I was a bit annoyed with myself for forgetting to pack the topographical map but hey! We weren’t going far; we’d be fine. We’d agreed that we would have lunch on Big Island, estimating we we had about a two-hour paddle. Well, there are a bajillion islands in that lake and a lot of them are big. We paddled until noon and pulled up at a small sandy beach for lunch. It started to rain so we decided to head back.  The wind picked up; we paddled harder. Soon, the rain was pelting sideways and we could hear thunder.

Three hours later we were still looking for familiar land marks. Clearly, we were in deep doodoo. Although we had a compass, it was useless as we had no point of reference. Then, out of nowhere, a camp appeared. We weren’t long scrambling up the bank to check it out.

Serendipity steps in

Not only was the door unlocked, but there was a big topographical  map on the wall. We were on Sheep Island, about as far away as we could get from our starting point. But the best was yet to come. On the kitchen table were several plasticized 12″x18″ maps of the lake with compass readings marking the entire way back.

My mother always said there was a special God for fools.

PS. If you have any paddling stories, do tell!


  1. November 18, 2010    

    Nice website and blog. I enjoyed your paddling story – getting lost in the rain is no fun at all but lucky you found the camp. Here’s a paddling story to share with you from a fellow PWACer.

  2. November 18, 2010    

    Jane, what a gorgeous story (and what a scary one!) Imagine your adrenaline levels were coursing at all-time highs. I’ve never paddled in NL but it’s on my list for next year … Algonquin … and the Magdalene Islands … and, and, and …

    By the way, we have a group of paddlers here in NS who go on many excursions including some women’s-only wilderness paddles. Let me know if you are interested in being on our list. Would love to entice you to this part of the world.

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