The Urban Oarsman Rows Gwragedd Annwn off the chart Exploring the North Alouette River.

The October 27, 2014 Row.  Up The Alouette, the North Alouette, Blaney Creek and beyond Codd Island.The Urban Oarsman Explores the Alouette River

 I have read WoodenBoat issue #240.  There are two articles on rowing, “The Thames Waterman’s Stroke” and “The Geometry of Rowing“.  Both articles stress the importance of foot braces.   To quote from “The Thames Waterman’s Stroke“: To row powerfully, you have to brace your feet against something solid.  A low cleat on the floorboards won’t do the trick.  A footboard or a  stretcher across the balls of your feet allows you to engage your calf muscles and the power of the rest of your body.   “The Geometry of Rowing”  article echoes the sentiment: “Footbraces are absolutely essential in good rowing craft for transferring power.  If you don’t have them, you’re actually transferring your forward thrust to the boat through the friction of your posterior on the thwart-which is as uncormfortable and as inefficient as it sounds…“. Gwragedd Annwn does not have  footbraces, so, I install one to see if it improves anything. 

Foot brace for Gwragedd Annwn

Gwragedd Annwn’s “test-of-concept” footbrace.


North Alouette River RowThe waterlevel at the launching ramp  is quite high, the highest I have rowed in.


North Alouette River RowGwragedd Annwn at the dock, ready to row.  The black rowing cushion with the holes in it is another suggestion from “The Thames Waterman’s Stroke” article: “Firm foam padding will help. You may want to simulate a racing-shell seat by cutting the foam to make two holes for your sit bones and a notch for your tailbone.”  


North Alouette River RowAn eagle watches me Row up river.


North Alouette River RowI missed this snag, it was high enough out of the water for me to see with my mirrors.  The current is actually going up river.  The tide is still rising.  


North Alouette River RowOld Red seems to be listing a little more with the higher water.


North Alouette River RowA bit of fall colour on the piling.


North Alouette River RowThe water level is very high.  This is the first time that I have seen the “No Power-Driven Vessels” sign awash.


North Alouette River RowThere is at least two, maybe three feet more water than on the “Past the Neaves Road Bridge” Row.


North Alouette River RowI am going to row closer to the Gauge for a better look.


North Alouette River RowI believe this to be the Alouette River Gauge.   The roof of the pump house is barely visible just behind the dike.


North Alouette River Row  My GPS shows the upstream current at the confluence.  It has taken me almost 50 minutes of rowing to get here.  


North Alouette River RowA cobbled together picture of the Neaves Road Bridge over the North Alouette River and Blaney Creek.


North Alouette River RowBlaney Creek runs West, straight along the dike.  


North Alouette River RowLeaving the Neaves Road Bridge over Balney Creek Behind.


North Alouette River RowI do not know what this float is for…Perhaps a gauge of some sort?  The weeds around it  show a slight downstream current.


North Alouette River RowDoes the weed on top of the float mean that it is anchored to the bottom?  If you look to the right, you can see a cable coiled on a post.  What is this float for?


North Alouette River RowThe coiled cable on the shore next to the float.


North Alouette River RowBlaney Creek, Codd Island is the treed area to Starboard.


North Alouette River RowGoing past Codd Island.


North Alouette River RowThe water is murky enough here that I cannot see the bottom.  My “Depth-Sounder” oars report that there is more than 24″ of water under the keel.


North Alouette River RowA canoe on the shore.  The topo map shows two houses on the other side of the dike.


North Alouette River RowLooking down Blaney Creek.  Codd Island is the dark treed area on the left.


North Alouette River RowThe McKenzie Creek channel is to Port.  Blaney Creek continues to Starboard.  


North Alouette River RowMcKenzie Creek flows down from Cranberry Lake and enters midway along the channel.  This agrees with chart #3062, Pitt River and/et Pitt Lake.


North Alouette River RowMy topo map shows McKenzie Creek should enter at the far end of this channel.  It does not.  The chart (#3062) was correct.


North Alouette River RowIn some places the trees over grow the channel.  Many of the branches have been chewed off by Beavers.


North Alouette River RowYou can see the grass poking out of the water.  It looks like it could be a grass Beaver Dam.


North Alouette River RowThe grass is just below the surface.  Good thing that the water level is high or I would not be able to go over it. 



North Alouette River RowLeaving the dam behind.


North Alouette River RowA smiling face greets me at the end of the channel.


The face at the end of McKenzie Creek channel. North Alouette River RowClose-up of the smiling face. Better head back.  If the water level drops, I will be stuck behind the grass dam.


North Alouette River RowThe return view.


North Alouette River RowGoing over the grass dam.


North Alouette River RowGoing forward to rock Gwragedd Annwn over the dam.


North Alouette River RowThe technique is to row like crazy, then at the last moment, go to the stern so you run Gwragedd Annwn as far up the dam as possible.  Just before she stops, you go to the bow and slide her down the other side.


North Alouette River RowAcross the barrier.


North Alouette River RowLooking up McKenzie Creek.


North Alouette River RowCodd Island in the distance.


North Alouette River RowBack in Blaney Creek, rowing upstream.  I as starting to be able to see the bottom of the Creek.  The water is clearing up.


North Alouette River RowAn old bridge crosses Blaney Creek.  The road goes from Border Town to a house on Codd Island.


North Alouette River RowThe bridge rests on two big steel I-beams.  Seems as if the West side has settled more that the East side.  Not a lot of clearance under the bridge for Gwragedd Annwn. 


North Alouette River RowThe bridge looks more picturesque on the upstream side. I can see the bottom of the Creek quite easily now.


North Alouette River RowBorder Town.  It is a movie set with it’s own website:

Here is a link to a map showing it and the Codd Wetland Aguilini Reserve(zoom out to see them).:


North Alouette River RowBlaney Creek, looking upstream to the East.


North Alouette River RowA side channel off of Blaney Creek that goes to the West, connecting to The North Alouette River.  


North Alouette River RowA weathered “Trespassers will be Prosecuted” sign.


North Alouette River RowLooking downstream.


North Alouette River RowThe western side channel to The North Alouette.  There is a slight current flowing down the channel.


North Alouette River RowI head up Blaney Creek.


North Alouette River RowThe creek parallels 144th Avenue.


North Alouette River RowA culvert under 144th Avenue.


North Alouette River RowAnother spawned out salmon floating in the Creek.


North Alouette River RowThe high waterline mark is over a foot higher on the Culvert.


North Alouette River RowThe 224th Street Bridge.


North Alouette River RowBlaney Creek is getting too narrow and swift.


North Alouette River RowLooking back at the 224 Street Bridge.  This is about as far as I am going to get.


North Alouette River RowThe current in Blaney Creek is between 1 to 2 knots.  It took me about 3 hours of rowing to get here.  The current is getting too strong and the Creek too narrow for me to row on.  Turn around point.


North Alouette River RowI wonder what pulled this salmon up onto the bank.


North Alouette River RowSwallow nest under the Bridge.  It would be neat to come here when the Swallows are still nesting, but I would not want to disturb them.


North Alouette River RowSwallow nests under the 224 Street Bridge.


North Alouette River RowMaking the turn to go down Blaney Creek.


North Alouette River RowUpstream side of the bridge to Codd Island.  You can see that it has settled more on the West side than the East side.


North Alouette River RowUnderside of the bridge.


North Alouette River RowThis side channel heads East towards Border Town.  I will explore it another day.


North Alouette River RowDown river from the Neaves Road Bridge.


North Alouette River RowGeese flying to the Pitt-Addington Wetlands?


North Alouette River RowThis stump shows the water level drop.


North Alouette River RowThe water level has dropped about a foot during the Row.


North Alouette River RowSpawned out salmon floating down river to the sea.


North Alouette River RowA clinker lifeboat very similar to “Snowdrop” on the hard by the Pitt Meadows Paddling Club.


North Alouette River Row


A partly-submerged log lies across the entrance to the ramp.  I used the run up and slide over technique to get across it.


North Alouette River RowGwragedd Annwn on her trailer.  The water is still quite high.  I believe that the footbrace worked well.  I could row faster with less effort.  5 hours and 36 minutes of rowing to cover 21.6 kilometers at an average speed of approximately 3.8 km/hr.

GPS track of the October 27th, 2014 Row.

GPS track of the October 27th, 2014 Row.

The Alouette River and her tributaries are worth exploring.  There is a lot to see.

River Level chart for the Row:

Alouette River Levels at the gauge.

Alouette River Levels at the gauge.

Happy Rowing,


The Urban Oarsman

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