2009-07-11 49 -123
Kayak hash in the Burrard Inlet! Possibly even a transit-kayak hash!
 The Sailboat Expedition (Plypkie, Yangman and Elbie)
Plypkie and Yangman met up at 10:30ish, and rode their bikes across town to jericho beach. They met Elbie there and rigged up a small sailboat from the sailing club (a Vanguard 420).
We then set out to sail across the bay. The winds were great, and it seemed like we'd make great time. Somewhere near Stanley Park we ran into an area with very little wind, and slowly made our way the rest of the way toward north van where the others were.
When we were almost across, we started looking around for the inflatable yellow kayaks of Xore and Rhonda, but we couldn't see them anywhere. We then received a phone call from Xore and headed straight toward the beach where they were inflating said kayaks. On the way, we spotted what looked like a kayaker and someone rowing an inflatable dinghy (while towing a large inflatable toy of some sort). As we got closer, we realized that the inflatable toy was a large airplane, and the "kayaker" was actually paddling a raft of logs. We decided we had certainly found Robyn. Elbie stood up and waved, but no response was observed.
Before we could reach them, however, a boat came speeding up with flashing lights on top. The coast guard arrived and began talking very sternly to Robyn and Wade. We kept our distance and pretended we didn't know them ;). At that point, ANOTHER coast guard boat sped in and also began talking with them, and eventually escorted them back to shore. It turns out they were in the shipping lane, and there was an enormous freighter about 5 minutes away and coming in fast. The hash point was right in the freighter's path.
After the crisis was averted, we all gathered on the beach. The three of us set off again in the sailboat to attempt to hit the hashpoint on the way back across the bay, with Xore and Rhonda quickly catching up in the kayaks. There was still very little wind there, so we mostly bobbed around and watched Xore and Rhonda paddle happily away. They reached the hashpoint while we bobbed uselessly a few meters away. Wanting to get there too, we had them ram our boat with their kayaks so that we would drift in the right direction.
Once the festivities were over, Xore and Rhonda returned to the beach while the three of us...stayed in the same spot for a long time. We eventually flagged down a passing power boat and got them to tow us out of the shipping lane. We briefly found some wind...and then lost it again...and then got some more!...and then lost it again. We ended up calling for help from the sailing club at the beach, and they sent a zodiac out to rescue us. Several times Plypkie was sternly talked to, although for some reason the nice people did not charge him the rescue fee. \o/
Elbie quickly left, horribly late for her evening plans (sorry :( ), while Yangman and Plypkie sat around in the shade going "zomg" for a while. Eventually tacos and tequila were had, and thus ended an exciting adventure.
 The Raft Expedition (Robyn & Wade)
Ever since the invention of the MacGyver achievement Robyn had pictured the ideal conditions for this achievement. It would be in the water off Ambleside Beach, which was "her" beach when she was a kid. When the conditions were right, she would construct a sailboat out of beach materials and sail out to get to the geohash. It would be epic. And then it occurred.
Wade accepted Robyn's invitation to build a pirate ship on the beach. Robyn had figured a nine in the morning start would be sufficient to produce a driftwood pirate raft with a precariously stepped driftwood mast, a tarpaulin sail, a rudder with a tiller, just like her imagination. The meetup was moved back in time from four to one p.m. so that was asking for compromise. And then the day before, Wade declared an intention to sleep in until nine. So we hit the beach at ten-thirty, with a launch deadline of noon. It wasn't going to be quite as good a driftwood boat, but it would be a boat. MacGyver had to compromise sometimes, too.
Construction equipment consisted of everything that was lying around in the garage when we packed the car. Specifically: lots of nylon webbing and polypropylene rope, two worn out bicycle tires, a punctured air mattress, an inflatable Boeing 747 ("to be used only under competent supervision"), a hammer, a tarpaulin, an old bedsheet, a leatherman, several rolls of duct tape, plus of course anything we could find on the beach.
We found a parking spot, unpacked our construction materials and set to work collecting wood. There is lots of wood on any beach around here because logs break loose from what are called "log booms", giant rafts used to transport the timber to the mills or the market, and branches (and entire trees) fall into the water from shore. We dragged everything right down to the edge of the water and then built it mostly in the water because it might be too heavy to drag after it was complete. We started with your basic raft of two metre chunks of driftwood logs, and lashed those together. Then we had the first buoyancy test. Hmm, needs more wood. Wade designed a raft sandwich with cross pieces and we lashed those on, meanwhile cheerfully proclaiming the incompetence of his knot tying. There was a smooth slice of the outside of a big peeled log for a deck, and we covered that in the uninflatable air mattress as protection from splinters. The bicycle tires went around the whole thing as extra cohesive power, and a base on which to secure hashscot T-Rex and the figurehead B747, with duct tape.
There were many curious onlookers on the beach, and we explained geohashing to anyone who asked. Favourite question, "Did you draw up plans for this?" We're talking about a pile of beach logs held together with bicycle tires and string. Is that something one can plan?
At about eleven o' clock, a sailboat with a pirate flag at the top of the mast showed up near the launch ramp of the nearby sailing club. Plypkie! Robyn called out to the buccaneers on board, "Avast! Are ye from the Internet?"
The reply came back, something like "No, we just go geohashing." I didn't hear it distinctly, but it was definitely something about geohash. That must be plypkie. Splendid. I was a little surprised that they didn't come over to marvel at our boat construction, the way the people who didn't know us were doing, but I guess geohashers place the bar for insanity so high (and I guess he's been expecting me to turn up by parachute), that it didn't faze him. (Note: it wasn't me, but coincidentally it was a friend of mine -Plypkie 17:38, 13 July 2009 (UTC))
The next buoyancy test revealed that we had built a one person raft. But that's okay, because we had brought extra boats. Wade rowed the rubber boat that made its debut at the sunrise water geohash and Robyn would paddle the raft.
 The Journey
At the noon deadline we returned our valuables to the car and posed for a launch photograph (by a spectator named Linda who promises to mail us prints, because it's a film camera), and set off at 12:07. The construction had gone about as planned, and the water was much warmer than expected. The craft was about as easy to paddle as expected, that is, slower than a $20 rubber rowboat. For those of you who remember the sunrise water geohash, now think of that craft being the better of the two vessels. But it did go pretty straight, rode out the waves and didn't fall apart.
Wade was making better progress in the rowboat than Robyn on the raft, so he had the GPS to call off distances. It had been 850 m from the beach. Getting to 400 m to go took just slightly more than half the time, and we were going pretty straight. We reached an odd becalmed strip on the water where there was a lot of floating seaweed and logs bigger than the raft. It was now 12:45 and we expected to start seeing other members of this expedition converging on the point. The pirate-flagged sailboat and another sailboat that appeared to be travelling with it had earlier gone through the approximate location of the geohash several times, but never came over to say hi or see how we were doing and now, fifteen minutes from the meetup, was nowhere to be seen. And where were Rhonda and Xore? They should be at least off the beach by now to reach the geohash, but we didn't see them, anywhere either. There were lots of other sailboats, a guy in a kayak, and a coast guard rescue boat, but not going to the geohash.
Had they changed the time of the meetup after we left, expecting everyone to see it? What was with plypkie and Elbie and yangman that they were ignoring us so thoroughly? Three hundred metres to go! Robyn considered this "almost there." Wade had no comment.
Then not very long after, Wade called off 111 m to go. Sweet! Now we really were almost there. We wouldn't even be that late. The others would surely see us and wait for us. Robyn asked for more frequent updates, and paddled harder. Wade called off 113 metres to go. "Oh, I thought you said it was 111 m, five minutes ago."
He must have read it wrong. And then he called off 150 m to go. "Are you sure we haven't passed it? Robyn asked for a bearing check. Wade gave one and Robyn adjusted her aim point on the horizon. The next distance check was in the vicinity of 200 metres. The geohash was in a strong current. We were making negative progress. Maybe we'd get out of the current. Maybe it was temporary. Maybe we were doomed.
At 300 metres from the geohash the big coast guard boat went by again, and this time they cut their engines and idled towards us. Maybe we were in trouble with the authorites. We weren't strictly in trouble, but they decided to call the smaller coast guard boat over to take us aboard and tow the raft back to shore. The fun of getting to ride in a fancy coast guard boat was dampened by the fact that we were being taken from our goal. (Don't think Robyn didn't try to persuade them to take a 350 metre detour to the geohash).
 The Ignominious Return
They called in their current task to dispatch, noting that we were not in distress and that they had the vessel under tow. That was probably the best part, having the Coast Guard refer to our craft as a vessel. Not even a "vessel." There was no irony or air quotes in the designation. They wrote down our names and addresses. They saw how disappointed I was and put off some of the blame for being a killjoy onto someone else. Apparently a concerned citizen had called from the beach because they were worried about us.
They took us up to the vicinity of the boat ramp and then let us paddle in on our own. By this time Rhonda and Xore were there preparing their kayaks, and Elbie, yangman and plypkie were there on a completely different sailboat than the one that had been ignoring us. So we at least got to see everyone for a successful Saturday meetup.
The raft had to be disassembled and the parts dragged back above the high tide line so the wood wouldn't be any more of a threat to boats than it had been when we found it. It didn't take long and it was remarkable how soon it went from a beloved boat to there being almost no sign of its ever having existed.
Rhonda and Xore offered to wait for me to inflate my kayak, but I was afraid that the current would still be there and that the coastguard would come back and recognize me and that then there would be real trouble, so I backed out. After Rhonda and Xore returned from their successful expedition the pirate-flagged sailboat returned. I asked the about their response to my question and they turned out to be geocachers who had though being "from the Internet" sounded familiar as a designation for their sport. So it turns out that we need a recognition code more distinctive than "Are you from the Internet?" And it must be one that can be yelled intelligibly between boats, over forest cliffs, and while buzzing by in a home made hovercraft.
Robyn is disappointed by so many things about this expedition ...
- I didn't make it to the geohash at all.
- we missed the MacGyver achievement by 111 metres.
- I didn't take my inflatable kayak (which was in the car) and make a second attempt with Rhonda and Xore.
- we encumbered the busy Coast Guard with an unnecessary task.
- I don't have a photograph of T-Rex as the sole occupant of the raft, securely duct taped to the thwart and essentially waterskiing behind the coast guart boat. He looked as if he was having so much fun.
- I was fixating on the pirate-flagged sailboat, so failed to notice Elbie waving.
- other members of the flotilla weren't nearby at the appointed hour so we could at least meet them at sea, if not exactly at the geohash
- I never even went swimming.
But the worst disappointment of all, that will lay heavily on my heart for all of my geohashing days, is the bitter, bitter disappointment that when the Coast Guard told us to come onto their boat while they towed the raft to shore, we completely neglected to wield our plastic cutlasses menacingly and cry out "Prepare to be boarded, ye scurvy dogs!" as we leapt aboard. It would have made up for all the rest.
The tracklog shows quite clearly that we were making good progress and then suddenly we were going the other way. The point we got in the Coastguard boat is not where the path reverses, but rather just before the speed changes.
 The Kayak Expedition (Rhonda & Xore)
 Getting There
Fortuitously, on the day before, Canadian Tire phoned Xore to tell him that the kayak he ordered had arrived. Instead of sailing out with Plypkie, he was going kayaking!
In the morning, he joined Rhonda in an expedition about Vancouver to pick up a number of odds and ends, including a stop at Canadian Tire to pick up his kayak and some kayaking essentials, and Mountain Equipment Co-op to pick up some waterproof bags for storing things in the kayak while out on the water.
Running short on time, our heroes opted to drive out to the beach rather than take transit, only to discover that the beach was covered with large barnacle-crusted rocks that were unsafe for inflating and launching the kayaks on. A friendly passerby directed them several blocks east, where the beaches were sandier, and there were boat launches near a yacht club. Yacht club? Xore had a friend who had access to that yacht club. Interesting. As they approached the boat launch with kayaks and paddles in hand, our heroes spotted a boat bearing a pirate flag. Could this be Plypkie and crew? Rhonda ran ahead to check, but the boat sailed out before she could tell for certain.
Settling onto the beach around 1:00, they started to inflate their kayaks, only to discover that Xore's kayak wouldn't inflate properly, one of the air bladders kept twisting around inconveniently so that the inflation valve was pressed against the outer hull instead of accessible from the inboard side. Xore phoned out to Plypkie to tell him they would be late, after much confusion it was determined that they hadn't reached the hash point (without a GPS) and would instead sail to the beach and meet up before heading for the point.
Xore's kayak was eventually inflated after untying the air bladder internally and rotating it in place. It wasn't set properly and was visibly lopsided, but it was good enough to get to the hash point and back.
 To the Hashpoint
Just as they were about ready to get out onto the water, Plypkie and crew sailed in, just ahead of Robyn and Wade being hauled in by the coast guard. Stories were swapped, and eventually Plypkie and crew set out with Xore's GPS, with the hopes of getting back to their launch point via the geohash in time for Elbie to meet prior engagements.
After discussing whether or not Robyn would join them in her inflatable kayak (she decided not to), Rhonda and Xore set out onto the water. Quickly overtaking the sailboat, they paddled in circles around the floundering vessel then set out to get to the point. After a few failed attempts at getting the GPS to show the correct coordinates long enough to take a picture, our heroes paddled *past* the hash point and let the current push them through the point, with enough time to pull the camera out of the watertight bag and get a snapshot.
Heading back to the windless sailboat, Xore and Rhonda engaged in a series of multicraft naval collisions in an attempt to get the boat pointed and moving in the right direction, with limited success on the actual moving part. They decided to head back to shore, where they met up with Robyn and Wade who were still on the beach. On the way, Rhonda successfully retrieved some garbage from the water, engaging in the first known water geotrash geohash.
 The Accidental Participant (Lumy)
YAAAARRR. I be the one in the pirate ship!
This geohash was a comedy of missing communications for me. I've been following the geohashing since it began and know many of the other people who participated in this geohash (Xore, yangman and Plypkie). However, I didn't check the geohash before I met and hadn't explicitly talked to any of these people before I left for my normal Saturday sail.
 First Missed Communication: Robyn
So, there I am, having just launched my boat (a Fireball) from the Hollyburn Sailing Club, and from the shore I hear "Avast! Are ye from the Internet?". I was totally caught off guard, not expecting someone from the internet to be standing on Amblside beach, and the only thing I could think of to respond with was "Sure. Where is the geohash." (note: if this happens again, I'm going to ask if the person has stairs in their house) I then got approving nods from the people on shore. I just assumed this was a satisfactory "he is from the internet too" nod and thought no more of it. Little did I know....
 Second Missed Communication: Plypkie, Yangman and Elbie
So, I almost always sail with a pirate flag and often get people yelling "Yaaar" across the water at us. Sailors tend to be a friendly bunch and I usualy just repsond in kind and think little more of it. So when Plypkie yelled "Yaaaar" at us, I just assumed it was another friendly sailor and continued with my sailing. (For note, at the time I had two first time sailors in my boat (Ryan and Michelle Upton) so I was mostly paying attention to their instruction and not investigating various pirate yells)
 Third Missed Communication: Xore
Later in the afternoon, we were sailing along and one of my crew, Ryan, mentioned, "Hey, that looks a lot like Rob". Me, thinking it extremely unlikely I would run into someone I know out sailing shrugged it off, but Ryan was no so easily dissuaded. He yells out "Rob!?" as loud as he can... No reply... Ah, well... guess it isn't him and we continue on with our sail.
 Fourth Missed Communication: Robyn again
My father had also come out sailing on Saturday, testing out his home designed / built boat for the second time. Being an experienced sailor, he was keeping an eye on all the other traffic on the water. After noticing 2 wayward rafters slowly getting dragged into the No Sail Zone, he went to investigate. Someone else will have to fill in what transcribed out there, but the summary I got later was "Those people looked awfully young and shouldn't have gotten themselves into the shipping lanes". (Note for the future: There is a No Sail Zone in the inlet. It is outlined here: No Sail Zone. No one without a motor is supposed to venture into this area for safety reasons. This is the area where the container ships are unable to manuver and would have little chance at avoiding a vessel unable to move itself. I recommend against attempting Geohashes in this area without the assistance of a motor boat.)
If there is another Geohash in the inlet, drop me a line at andy.lumb -at- gmail.com and I may be able to afford a few people a lift out to the geohash.
So after a day of just barely missing all of you I left having no idea how close I had gotten to running into you. On a side note, I suspect I got within 100m of the geohash without having any idea it was there. Is there a ribbon for accidental geohashing?
| plypkie, Elbie, and yangman earned the Water geohash achievement
| Rhonda and Xore earned the Water geohash achievement
| Robyn and Wade earned the Police Geohash Achievement
| Rhonda earned the GeoTrash Geohash Achievement