Monday, December 29, 2008

In praise of heavy kayaks and mittens

Yesterday was my first time out in neoprene mittens. They promised to be warmer than the gloves I have been using, and sure enough, my fingers weren't cold at all! I must admit it was 45 degrees warmer than last week. We'll have to see how they work in more seasonal weather.

The reason it was so warm was strong southerly wind, so the 55 degrees here was probably the same as it was in Virginia the day before. My sponge was encased in a 10 pound block of ice from last week, but at least it could be removed from the boat. Dave had his Kevlar (lightweight) kayak on the concrete boat ramp and it blew right over to the rocks on the side, and eventually onto the lake. Fortunately I was standing close by and already suited up so I could jump in and grab it.

We took off pretty much into the teeth of the wind, catching a little lee here and there from an island or point. Chris and I hit land somewhere around Gross Point and since the other 2 had turned back, figured we would go no further. The wind had diet, but came up again more from the west. That brought some short lived rain, and meant that we were going just a bit down wind instead of straight downwind. The fetch was now only about a mile, so the waves were considerably smaller. A bit of boost, not enough to beat us up, warm wind in the hair, what more could you ask? We almost caught up with Dave and Tom, getting to the ramp just a couple of minutes after them.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Saturday seemed like a great day for kayaking. Sunny, calm. Just have to shovel out from Friday night's snow storm. The others want to go Sunday. Oh, yes, the first day of winter.

For some reason it's become traditional to roll on the Solstice. I'm not sure why.. maybe getting closer to the bottom of the world where the sun is hiding?

The first day of winter turned out to be the real deal. 10 degrees and snowing heavily.

The new camera doesn't seem as water resistant (or maybe it's just the "new" part.) I'm not eager to use it with wet neoprene gloves, so there's just a shore shot.

If "2 day delivery" included Saturday, or the local shop hadn't sold the last pair of "large" the day before I went in, I'd have mittens by now, but that's a different story (maybe the same story.. if the mittens are easier to get off and on I may be back to taking on-water photos.)

My official Solstice roll came immediately after seal launching off the pier as the stern landed on the edge of some ice and flipped me.

It was a slow day for the Coast Guard (where we launched.) There were a couple of guys out knocking ice off their boats. They asked if we all had drysuits and how long we'd be out, and warned of the bad visibility.

We took off upwind (North) staying in sight of shore. There were thin sheets of ice in some sheltered areas, and lots of pizza size slush bunnies. About the time we turned around, the wind did too, so we had snow in our faces both ways.

I was starting to emit creaking ice sounds with each stroke. The loom of the paddle had hanging icicles, and the gloves had a hard layer of ice that cracked if I straightened my fingers. Inside the neoprene and Goretex, all was good.

Sunday, December 14, 2008





I detect a trend!

What were the implications for the winter kayaker?

1) Excitement
2) Maybe not going so fast upwind.
3) Plenty fast downwind.
4) Launching into the wind from a concrete ramp didn't look inviting, so we seal-launched off a snow covered dock.
5) Kayaks blow across the parking lot unless you set them between 2 cars.
6) It takes 3 people to put a boat on the roof rack. Two to hold it down while the 3rd straps it on.
7) The plowed road into the Coast Guard station was drifted over with snow when we left. Good thing I got the snow tires on last week.
8) Wind-chill was strong enough that "de-icing" rolls seemed to just pack more ice on the PFD zipper. I ended up driving home in the full gear (drysuit, tuiliq, and PFD)
and finally hosed the zipper with the hot water spray at the kitchen sink to get it undone.