Monday, February 18, 2008

Charlotte Beach


This week's trip started at the Charlotte town beach. Charlotte is one of 3 towns in Vermont named for women. The others being Sharon and Cabot. OK, that last one is tricky since it was the woman's last name.

When I arrived there were a bunch of birders. They were starting to pack up so I didn't get a picture. I took this one a couple of years ago when a rare asian gull was hanging out locally. Just imagine there's snow. The attractions this time were mergansers and goldeneyes (both ducks)

We put in off to the side in a rather tame seal launch.

I jokingly suggested going down the steep stairs to the summer swimming area. More of a bobsled launch.

Once out of this sheltered area we were in real wind & waves. Gotta get a waterproof camera sometime...

We went south (upwind) as far as Converse Bay to see how the ice was doing there. It looked like the wind has swept it pretty clear. About that time it peaked at around 30 knots. Fast waves were bouncing off the cliff creating a confused zone with waves going in multiple directions. WHen they ran into each other water spurted up ~5 feet in the air. If they ran into each other under your kayak you didn't go that high, but there was a definite elevator feeling.

It would have been a great day for our big wild weather fans, Sam and Chris. Sam was skiing and Chris is off kayaking the Yangtze River for a few weeks.

From there we went a few minutes out into the lake to get a clear surf ride back.

That strong south wind has given us a thaw today (57F in the southern part of the state) and the Plattsburg Ferry is closed because all the ice blew up to the north end of the lake.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Post Penguin Plunge Paddle

No pictures this week, at least none of mine. A late night and early start meant I left home without the camera box again, plus the visibility in snow wasn't so hot.

This week's trip started with me being tasked with checking out the Coast Guard launch on Saturday to see if it was clear of ice. It turns out the place was all under crowd control and I couldn't get in there unless I was somehow involved in the Penguin Plunge (one of those polar-bear-dip things for charity).

Photo used under Creative Commons license thanks to Flickr user BostonTX:

We showed up Sunday and found out the good part is that a lot of ice had been removed so the swimmers wouldn't just bounce off and there was clear water for about 50 feet. Then about another hundred feet of ice before getting to the big open water of the lake. So we had enough room to get up speed and run up onto the ice, then use nailboards to push over that into the big water.

Understandably, once those Penguin Plungers get in the water, their first priority is getting out. A lot of miscellaneous junk ended up being left behind, either on the bottom or floating around the open water. I scooped up some and decided a Mardi-Gras style necklace was worth bringing home for my kid.

We paddled down to Red Rocks in pretty calm conditions. Some hikers were on the scenic overlook and asked if were were cold, so Tom yells back that we were hot and we all rolled.

On the way back it started sleeting and wind up to 20 knots, so sunglasses were needed just to keep the stinging sleet out of the eyes. Then the wind died back down and precip changed to big puffy snow. When we ran up onto that ice barrier at the end a couple of inches of that sticky snow meant that our neoprene gloves got pretty good traction without the nail boards, but the kayak hulls were also sticking so you kind of had to push down hard enough to take your weight off the snow while pushing forward. That's what I did anyway, the others just got out and walked across.

Back at the boat ramp I was somewhat lacking in flexibility due to some positive air pressure in the drysuit and ended up falling out of the boat instead of stepping out. That's happened before and like last time the only downside was a little icewater got inside the mukluks.