Sunday, December 30, 2007

Reverse wind chill, or "still warm"

You know how on weather reports in the winter they always hit you with the wind chill, "but with the wind it feels like -10!"

Many around here take the opposite approach. There's usually some sort of breeze, so that really is what the temperature feels like. If not, then you might say, "It's zero out, but there's no wind so it feels like 30!"

Today it was low 30ish, no wind, and some good sun. It felt maybe mid 50's. I wouldn't go out in a T-shirt, but hood down felt good (more on that later.) Those snowy hills are about 20 miles away on the New York side.

The ducks were soaking it up at the Coast Guard ramp.

We headed north from the Coast Guard station in downtown Burlington and stopped near North Beach to do some rolls. Someone had the idea to do Christmas theme synchronized rolls, where we all go over together, then roll up one at a time saying "HO!". Of course, I was at the end of the line. I was wearing a neoprene hood that flairs out over the shoulders. It turns out that if you stay in for a while it doesn't really keep the water out, and when you roll up it works great to keep it in; your own personal quart or so of ice water puddled around your ears and neck. It isn't just that it feels cold, though it sure does. There's also a kind of ache from all the neck muscles tensing, plus the brain freeze thing. So I pulled the hood down and the water poured out and my head got warmed by the sun and I left the hood down the rest of the trip.

North of Burlington there's a section of cliff that has soft shale at lake level, and harder Dolomite limestone higher up. Occasionally (in geologic time frame) the shale erodes to the point where it is undercut, and a chunk of the limestone layer falls in the lake. I think I have that story right, but anyway, here's a chunk.

We got about as far as Leddy Park before turning back.. a little short for my taste, but the good part is there's a second trip this week. New Year's day we're going to Lake George.

Just as we came around the Coast Guard breakwater there were some people on the bike path taking pictures of us. It was probably picturesque with the inner and outer breakwaters, and likely this lighthouse in the background.

So we did what any kayaker would when confronted with tourists... some photo-op rolls.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It got warm!

It got warm! The news has been full of high wind advisories from the south once you have any kind of elevation. So all this air was in like Carolina yesterday and it got up to around 45 degrees (mind you, the water is still 36.) The lake forecast looked a little tamer, but still a good breeze with scattered showers.

Sam was going this week. He lives an hour and a half south of Burlington, so he lobbied for starting somewhere in between and we settled on Converse Bay. This time we headed south into the wind. Once we got past the protection of an island we got the full 30 knots complete with some waves that slap you in the face and some that you teeter-totter over the crest. We had the occasional respite of some shoreline curved the right way.

At one point the other 2, Chris and Sam, beached to dig out some anti-fogging goop for their glasses while I took a few rolls to cool off.

This dock has been removed for the winter, but you can see the fire escape scheme people use to get down the cliff to their dock. This one is hanging off the cliff, and has a nice rack of icicles. The second is supported by a concrete pad at the bottom.

Sam tries out his new carbon Greenland paddle. I think he's still a Euro-paddler at heart as he used that for most of the trip.

They wait while I bail out my skirt leakage from rolling before we leave a sheltered spot.

By the time we got to Long Point, the wind had shifted a bit west, so we crossed almost to the New York shore for the downwind ride back.
The wind and waves had also slacked off a bit so it wasn't exciting surf, but still in the range where I find I have to work harder going downwind than up, between digging to catch a wave when you see the bow go down and paddling to keep the kayak from swinging sideways just when the wave has you going way too fast for that.

Back at the boat ramp, between the onshore wind (which had picked up again), being tired, and the fact that my thighs are longer than the cockpit opening, it was awkward getting out of the boat. In this case "awkward" means falling out while trying to step out. The dry suit worked, so it wasn't a big deal.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

But the water's fine!

We were all set to set off at noon Sunday. It was snowing hard, so more entertainment value.. and maybe make a point to stay in sight of shore.

Around 9 I get an email that one of the guys is trying to get his car out of a ditch.
The other one doesn't have snow tires for his trailer, and lives on a steep hill. Ah, well... got my exercise for the day by shoveling, and got some time to work on my tuilik project.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A couple of milestones this week in the seasonal progression wrt paddling. To quote the weather service lake forecast,


There's nothing magic about dipping below 40 and into the same 10 degree bracket as freezing, it is just an artifact of what we as decimal number users see as round numbers, and measuring the temp in degrees Fahrenheit. But 39 degrees is a little bit special because that's where fresh water reaches its highest density. Below that and the molecules are starting to think about moving into the crystalline structure of ice and water starts getting less dense. The significance of that is that from here on the coldest water can stay on the surface instead of sinking. (As far as convection is concerned. Wind and waves can still mix things up)

The other thing is the air temp was in the teens. Ice builds up on things like your paddle, your boat, yourself. I could see that Dave's spare paddle was frozen to the deck. For now the best way to deice is to roll over and give the whole topside a rinse in that warm 39 degree water. This process will be a bit slower as the water gets down closer to 32.

Anyone ever notice how a norsaq looks a lot like a windshield scraper? Coincidence?

With all the snow, I got to do my first "seal launch" where you get in the kayak on land, release the handbrake, and the boat makes like a toboggan towards the lake. Tres cool!

Aside from the temperature novelty, the trip went from the Cedar Beach boat launch in Charlotte north across the ferry route. On the way back we did a close flyby past Sloop Island, a minor mound of rock with just about enough room and trees to hang a hammock.

At the end, there was no need to carry the kayak to the car.. just give it a shove across the packed snow parking lot.

Lesson for next time: Unzip the PFD right after that last deice roll or be prepared to wear it in the car until the heat comes on.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dumb excuses

There's a trial in the news this week. A man is accused of shooting his friend 3 times with a .357 mangum.
He admits to the shooting, but claims he didn't know the gun was loaded.

EXCUSE ME? If that excuse was good for anything, doesn't it kinda run out of steam after the first shot? or is it like: "After the first shot I was pretty sure it was empty, and I'll tell ya I was really surprised when it went off the 3rd time I pulled the trigger!"


Monday, November 26, 2007

Post Thanksgiving on Lake Champlain

Last weekend was the first with a choice between going out on the lake and skiing. The lake won. Most of the rocks and cliffs within splash range of the waves were glazed and hanging with icicles. Winter wonderland is here. We went from downtown Burlington up into Shelburne Bay. Near Red Rocks beach the water district is still working on laying a 4 foot diameter intake pipe over a mile out into the middle of the bay.

No pics for now as it's too hard to work the camera with neoprene gloves, and too hard to take a glove off just for a picture. I'll have to scrounge up some mitts that come off more easily.

BTW, if you miss those ice cream induced Brain Freeze headaches of summer, dunking your head in 42 degree water is a good substitute!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Do it like an Inuit

Sunday (9/23) I took a class on rolling kayaks in the Greenland Inuit style. Considering it was the first day of fall, it was a great day to be out on/in the water.

This was one of those "lost art" things where the Inuit ditched their kayaks in favor of powerboats and by 1983 there were literally only 1 or 2 septuagenarians who still knew the old ways. Then some young Greenlanders, inspired by a museum exhibit, experienced a cultural preservation panic. They sought out those old experts to teach them how to build and use the traditional boats, and spawned a renaissance of interest. Now pretty much every town on the west coast of Greenland has a kayak club and there's a national competition.

Compared to whitewater or a typical "sea kayak" roll, it is more of a balance thing. The more advanced you are, the less strenuous it is and the less you need the paddle. I got up to just holding the paddle in one hand, and have seen video of someone rolling in a straightjacket.

About half the people in the class either built their own kayak or got one second hand from someone who did. In a nod to political correctness, the skin-on-frame kayaks are skinned with nylon instead of seal skin. They came from as far as Quebec City (4 hour drive) so I almost felt guilty only having about a 10 minute drive.... almost.

Facilitators ("We're all learners here") Cheri and Turner pass out clues

Hand roll, no paddle:

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Mustard Belt Returns to America!

The Nathan's famous July 4th hot dog contest was won this year by Joey Chestnut, downing a record 66 hot dogs. 5 time winner Takero "The Tsnunami" Kobayashi managed to beat the old record with 63 despite a sore jaw, but couldn't ketchup to Joey's pace.

In a post contest interview, Kobayashi said, "I lost but this was the most fun I had." "I didn't feel pain but my jaw wasn't moving part way through," he said of his injury.

Sonya Thomas set a new women's record with 39.

Joey with 66 hot dogs, photo from Philadelphia Inquirer story:

Rumored for next year: a division where all hot dogs have to be stolen from someone else who is plannnig to eat it. Getting them served on a platter is for pansies.

A certain seagull who formerly trained at "Beansie's Gym" was spotted yesterday snagging dogs off a hot charcoal grill at Sandbar Beach and practicing defensive moves against a secondary steal by other gulls.

Whitey the seagull, shown munching down a dog with his trainer:

Whitey outside the new training facility in Lake Placid. I think they got a development grant to put it in with the Olympic complex. Its a tourist thing.. after you take the guided ride down the bobsled track, you can buy the same hot dog the professionals eat!

Photo by Heartreef on flickr

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Beansie's patrons safe?

After many complaints of aggressive seagulls at Burlington's Battery Park snatching burgers and peppersteak sandwiches from park visitors who patronize Beansie's Bus, the city is playing a recording of a sick gull to warn them off. Would you go after a sandwich if you heard the last guy losing his lunch behind the bushes?

The humans seem undissuaded.

wcax news article