Bruce in kayak.

"We specialize in small group travel, which minimizes environmental impact, increases safety standards and allows for personalized, enriching and authentic experiences."

— Bruce Smith, founder and owner, Seascape Kayak Tours Inc.

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Ebb and FlowSeptember 21st, 2009

Today’s blog and accompanying photography are by Laurice D. Nemetz, who works as a yoga teacher and dance/movement therapist throughout Westchester County in New York. Lauri was the instructor on El Espiritu del Mar, Seacape’s pilot yoga and paddling trip in Costa Rica, and on Ebb and Flow, the first yoga/kayak combo on Deer Island in the Bay of Fundy. We are planning yoga and sea kayaking trips with her for 2010: January 9-17 and May 14-22 in Costa Rica, and August 6-9 in New Brunswick.

Held in the lovely waters off of Deer Island earlier this summer, the Ebb and Flow trip was our second yoga and sea kayaking collaboration, the first having been El Espiritu del Mar, set in Costa Rica. Our summer group consisted of an Ossining, New York contingent that I pulled up to Canada (Beth, Steve, Tony and Eve) and a return yoga and kayak participant, Wendy, from Lakeland, Ontario. For those of you familiar with Bruce’s shop, the space was opened up even more to allow us to use it as a yoga studio morning and night.

The Seascape shop converts into a lovely yoga space.

THE SEASCAPE SHOP CONVERTS TO A LOVELY YOGA SPACE

Our weather brought some challenges as we had a cool and wet beginning of the trip, much like our past spring up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Our Friday evening began with many of the group happily eating the wonderful local food, but wondering where the island began or finished in the thick, wet fog. A leap of faith to come to a new place and to trust the environment around.

I began each morning sweeping the floors meticulously in the shop (we are barefoot!) and laying out yoga straps and mats. As everyone arrived I guided each of the group in working through the tightness of travel, and returning at the end of the day to balance paddling muscles.

Our first paddle was assisted by the ever lovely Guy who, like Bruce, instills a sense of calm on the waters. We layered in wool hats, fisherman rain hats, fleece layers, more waterproof layers and then organized ourselves into the kayaks in the pouring rain.

Paddling with a partner in a stable tandem kayak makes for a relaxing trip, even in fog or rain.

PADDLING IN SEASCAPE'S RAIN GEAR MAKES FOR A COMFORTABLE TRIP IN ANY CONDITIONS.

Bruce thinks I bring rain to the island, but truly, all my paddles around Deer Island have been 50/50 – either misty rain or glowing sunshine. I like the contrast quite a bit, as there is something so magical about approaching the zen-like scribbles of the fishing weirs as they rise up like calligraphy out of the fog and the rain. It is truly about letting go. Although Guy and Bruce know exactly where we are, and I’m gaining a sense of direction around the Bay of Fundy, in fog there is both sensory quiet and heightened awareness all at the same time.

In our final relaxation in yoga, in savasana, we experience quite the same thing.  It is active relaxation – letting go of thoughts, worries and of all concerns, but being awake to the present moment. I think that is why so many of us found yoga or “yuj” – the sense of union – whether on the water or in a yoga pose. When we are connected, we are aware of the environment around us and our “regular” concerns become small.

The first Ebb and Flow group enjoying the Bay of Fundy sunshine.

THE FIRST EBB AND FLOW GROUP ENJOYING FUNDY SUN.

Sunday, appropriately named, did bring in brilliant sunshine, and we saw this magical world again in a different way with the vast expanses of land and sea around us. We discussed the concept of “santosha” or contentment, of riding the waves of everything. Like a paddle over rough waters, we do quite a lot better when we let ourselves be content; it isn’t about denying our ups and downs, but being at one with the ride. When we respond thoughtfully to the world around us, the paddle is indeed sweet.


Signature MomentSeptember 2nd, 2009

This time of year is spectacular for wildlife viewing in the Bay of Fundy. Butterflies are careening around the rose bushes outside my window as I write this and I can hear an osprey’s warning cry overhead. Not only are huge pods of Harbour Porpoises circling our groups daily, as if on cue, but whale sightings by paddlers not too far from our base are becoming less and less rare. I was recently assigned to write about Seascape’s “signature moment” for a new program called “Inner Journeys” that we were invited to be a part of by New Brunswick Tourism and Parks. I think wildlife lovers anywhere will enjoy the result.

The Seascape residence and paddle shop look out over Northwest Harbour on the Bay of Fundy, from which the Deer Island kayak trips begin. Twice a day, the water comes right up to the rack where stable fiberglass tandem kayaks are housed, and then several hours later, recedes 26 feet or more, revealing rock formations, seaweed and hardy intertidal invertebrates. Vacationers coming into this environment, with its dramatic tides, have the opportunity to experience a unique ecosystem that supports over 2,000 species of plants and animals.

KATINKA POSTMA WATCHED A FIN WHALE NEAR DEER ISLAND. PHOTO BY FRANK POSTMA.

KATINKA POSTMA WATCHED A FIN WHALE NEAR DEER ISLAND. PHOTO BY FRANK POSTMA.

Launching from the protection of the harbor, paddlers on Seascape’s day trips are certain to see Bald Eagles that nest on many of the Fundy islands, and groups of curious and playful Harbor Seals and Grey Seals. Most of July through September, sea kayakers also encounter vast pods of Harbor Porpoise, listed as a “species of concern” by the Canadian Government; a prime porpoise nursery is nestled at the mouth of the Head Harbour Passage area. And, during much of the summer, Seascape’s ecotourists are also graced with Finback and Minke Whale sightings; endangered Right Whales may also be seen closer to the end of the summer. All these animals are here to feed on copepods, krill and other planktonic species that comprise a complex food web that supports what scientists have identified as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

Because this special marine environment is so diverse, it needs protection. And that’s why Seascape places a strong emphasis on interpretation of the natural and cultural history of the Quoddy Region – and on its current environmental challenges – during every tour. Seascape’s goal is for each guest to leave with an authentic understanding of the interconnectedness of the living things, both human and animal, in this unique marine ecosystem as this is the only way to engage visitors in its future protection.

SEASCAPE CUSTOMERS ARE SURE TO SEA HARBOUR SEALS LIKE THESE SUNNING ON THE ROCKS OR SWIMMING IN THE BAY. PHOTO BY BRUCE SMITH.

SEASCAPE CUSTOMERS ARE SURE TO SEE HARBOUR SEALS LIKE THESE SUNNING ON THE ROCKS OR SWIMMING IN THE BAY. PHOTO BY BRUCE SMITH.

Usually due to a combination of guide interpretation and direct wildlife encounters, at some point during their trip, each visitor has an “Aha!” moment or “Wow!” experience when he or she fully realizes the fragility and preciousness of the ecosystem they are traveling in – and their connectedness to it. This is the signature Seascape moment.

This Wow! or Aha! moment may happen at the very beginning of the trip when a customer delightedly spots a playful seal in the harbor curiously following their kayak. Or when someone notices a fluffy juvenile Bald Eagle screeching from its nest in anticipation of the food its parent is bringing. It can occur when the group of kayaks is suddenly surrounded by large pod of Harbour Porpoise, and everyone is mesmerized by the magical blowing sounds these smallest of the oceanic cetaceans make as they surface briefly to exhale and take in fresh air. It can happen on a clear, sunny day when a client is fortunate enough to see and hear a Fin, Minke or Right Whale blowing at a distance from their kayak. The realization of our human connectedness to the marine environment can also occur during a guide’s interpretive explanation of a herring weir, a traditional method of fishing traced to the ancient Passamaquoddy Tribe that involves catching herring in a trap made from poles, brush and nets. Or it might occur in foggy conditions when a paddler suddenly feels completely a part of this hushed watery world, caught up in the excitement of what might be encountered in the next few moments.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A BIRDER TO GET EXCITED BY THE VISAGE OF A YOUNG BALD EAGLE JUST OFFSHORE. PHOTO BY FRANK POSTMA.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A BIRDER TO GET EXCITED BY THE VISAGE OF A YOUNG BALD EAGLE JUST OFFSHORE. PHOTO BY FRANK POSTMA.

The enticing journey into these special places, the expectancy of unknown beautiful creatures, the trancelike state produced by one’s own rhythmic paddling – this part of the trip often intrigues and fascinates the youngest and oldest of paddlers the most. And it makes them realize that without their kayak, they could not have experienced the natural world around them in such an intimate way.

Frances


Newfoundland: A favorite kayak tripAugust 10th, 2009

Today’s blog entry is submitted by Jane Touchie of Fredericton, New Brunswick, who participated in a multi-day trip in late June and early July. The photos are submitted by fellow kayaker Roxanne Martel.

TOWARD THE ICEBERG!

TOWARD THE ICEBERG!

I am an experienced kayaker, having done many guided and unguided trips in Newfoundland, the Maritimes, and Maine. My recent trip with Seascape Kayak Tours to the Bay of Exploits has to rank among my favorite kayaking experiences.

Here are some of the aspects of the trip that made it wonderful:

The beauty of the natural landscape, bird life, whales and other marine life in Newfoundland, plus witnessing an enormous iceberg roll over.

Excellent guides who placed safety as the first priority and also fostered comradeship, skill learning and team building. They were always asking and in touch with the clients’ desires for what they wanted from the trip, and on a given day we did a lot of paddling or a little based on what we wanted to achieve that day.

COZY CAMPSITE OVERLOOKING THE BAY

COZY CAMPSITE OVERLOOKING THE BAY

The food was excellent.

The friendliness of the Newfoundlanders was amazing. I had difficulty with the airline getting to Newfoundland, and the Seascape staff supported me through the frustrations of my air plane woe-be-gones with customer service that was exemplary.

Finally, the Seascape kayak experience offers something I have never encountered before. A real reverent relation with the sea, land and wildlife that went beyond “leave no trace” camping. We endeavored to connect to the wild place on a spiritual level. We weren’t just paddling, we were being there, in the moment.

We had lots of fun and just enough challenges. Altogether it was a wonderful experience (except my sunburned hands!) It was well worth the fee and I hope to paddle with Seascape again in the future.

KAYAKS ALONG THE ROCKY COAST

KAYAKS ALONG THE ROCKY COAST