Sunday, September 28, 2008

This weekend I went to New Hampshire to help close down an AMC camp for the season. Putting boats under cover, bagging mattresses so they don't turn into mouse nests etc etc.

I had to leave early Sunday because this closing weekend coincided with the only time Cheri & Turner could come to Burlington for a rolling class. I got there when they were doing lunch between the morning and afternoon sessions.

One thing I noticed in the afternoon session was that there wasn't a factory built boat in the group. 3 of us had skin-on-frame's and the rest appeared to be stitch-and-glue plywood.

I remembered that last year's class involved a lot of standing in the water spotting a buddy, and the water is 6 or 7 degrees colder than last year, so I broke out the dry suit. It turns out that we spent pretty much the whole time in our boats, so just a tuiliq would have done fine, but you might as well be comfortable. It wast the first time I'd worn a dry suit with the new boat (the brown one in foreground) and it was actually easier to get out, more like extracting a wine cork than a wisdom tooth.

I can't say I had any great breakthroughs, but I improved my form on forward finishing rolls, can manage a static back balance brace (a bit of buoyancy from the neoprene tuiliq helped) and have stuff to work on.

I was hoping I or someone could take some shots of the actual class, but nobody had the downtime.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Not Valcour

Email said "the gang" was going from White's beach to Valcour Island Saturday. The weather service's prediction tool was saying that stretch of lake was likely to have South winds at 25 and 4 foot waves. Maybe this isn't the best day to take the low volume SOF that would rather spike through waves than climb over them, given that we may do 20 miles. So it's the Gulfstream. I'm not used to having to choose which kayak to take.

At the beach were a collection of opportunistic fans of wind on water. Windsurfers were unpacking their stuff, and a kiteboarder was zipping around offshore.

Kiteboarding on Lake Champlain
Logging air time

The paddlers were mumbling something about Valcour maybe being too ambitious. The consensus finally settled on going upwind out of the bay then surfing downwind to the boat ramp north of the ferry terminal (total about 12 miles). So, first thing, car shuttle.

I had a good hunch that the camera wouldn't come out of the drybox at any time on the water, so there's just one shot of the launch:

As we left the shelter of the bay the waves got a lot bigger. I realized I was spending a lot of time looking up at water. To demonstrate the power of fetch, the waves near Charlotte (30 miles upwind) were only a foot and a half. We regrouped in the lee of Carlton's Prize (picture isn't from this trip!)

The downwind run was entertaining. 2 combat rolls! I instinctively came up with laybacks, then decided I ought do a few storm rolls to see if they work any better. I can see that the storm roll leaves you in a more stable position, but it didn't seem to make much practical difference in these waves.

As usual, going downwind in waves is faster, but no easier, than going upwind. You are constantly either sprinting to catch a wave, or you're on one and trying to stay pointed in the right direction.

The landing was uneventful.. no onshore waves trying to drop us on a concrete ramp.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The new ride

This must be the season for new kayaks. Tom got his Rapier over the weekend. Last night I test-drove a used SOF, a sleek 18 inches wide by 18 feet long. I used the same boat in a rolling class last year and correctly remembered it as a tight squeeze to get in and out but a nice boat to roll & paddle once I'm in.

We did a loop of about 8 miles in 15 kt wind. Compared to my Gulfstream, less windage. Going upwind it tends to go through waves instead of over (low volume and little rocker). Cross wave you hardly notice them between the narrow hull and v bottom (that is to say it's no less stable than on flat water.)

From SOF

Worst case fit adjustment will mean a new masik (and reskin), but I'll try shaving a bit here and there (masik, 1st rear deck beam) first. Or maybe shave a bit off my heels and modify the knees to hyperextend a little.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

LCMM challenge

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum had their challenge race Saturday. Originally scheduled in July, it was postponed due to thunderstorms. We gave Tom no end of grief because he's been practicing with a wing paddle on his kajaksport and ordered a racing boat. Now on the 1 day a year with a local opportunity to race, he was off in New Hampshire picking up the new boat.

The race is for any human powered boat, and there were 4 of us in "single men's recreational kayak"
There were also 4 or 5 of these longboats which were made at the museum by high school kids, starting from trees:

From Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

and a couple of Adirondack guideboats:
From Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

I'm not sure who got best time on this 3 mile course. It was either the fastest longboat, or a guy in an outrigger canoe.. both far enough ahead that I couldn't tell! The second longboat, a guy in a Hobie pedal drive, and I were all pretty close, but in different classes. Next time, depending on the weather, I might ditch the PFD. It was *slightly* restrictive for taking deep breaths, and hot. I had to stop paddling a bunch of times to scoop a hatfull of water on my head and rollled just past the finish line.

My local high school finished a few minutes later:

Sunday there was a new boat to try. We launched from Leddy Beach and pretty much stayed in that bay going up, down, and cross wind for 3 or 4 hours. Tom's Rapier only LOOKS twice as long as Jamie's Explorer
From Kayak2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

No Wind

A good crowd of 7 turned out at the Converse Bay boat launch Wednesday. Tom and I got there early for some rolling. He showed me a "storm roll," and I got it the first time. It's supposed to leave you in a more stable position than the more common layback roll. I'll have to try it in a storm sometime.

Certainly no storm last night.. more like not a breath of wind. We decided to cross the lake to Split Rock.

About when we got there we saw a rowboat following us. From a distance it looked like one of those sliding-seat wherries, which we've seen a couple of in the area. When it arrived it proved to be something larger, a combo rowboat/sailboat. LIke I said, no wind, so just a rowboat for now.

From Kayak2008

I think this style is called a Peapod.

A couple of our party know the owner, so we talked for a bit. He'd recently taken the boat to Maine. Wonder if he went to that "Small Reach" wood boat regatta.

On the far side of the split we ran into a couple of kayaks from Essex (NY) who were curious about the skinny stick paddles.

Sunsets are coming earlier! When this one showed, we figured we better skedaddle back home, tempting as it was to sit and watch it play out.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Another "What?" rescue, this one in New York City
(NY Post, 8/31)
Danziger, a corporate headhunter from the Upper East Side, was taking kayaking lessons with wife Ellen at 3:30 p.m. near Pier 61 when he toppled out of his craft.

Fortunately, the crew of the passing ferry spotted him and pulled him to safety.

"He was in the water for 17 minutes. Another minute or two and he would have been finished," said crewman James Canham, a retired firefighter who dived in to pull Danziger out.

First question: If he was in the middle of a lesson, where was the teacher, who could presumably use this opportunity to teach how to empty the boat and reenter?
Second question: 17 minutes in the water in August puts you within a couple of minutes of death? Don't people voluntarily go in the water in August for hours at a time? OK, maybe not in traffic, but am I assuming too much that the rescuer was referring to hypothermia?

Closer to home:

On Sunday we went north, leaving from the west side of Grand Isle and going to Point au Roche state part in NY. There was a lot more motor traffic than we've seen all summer.. I guess partly the holiday weekend, and part that the price of gas fell a bit.

We stopped for lunch in a small bay near the campground. It would have had a spectacular view but for a large raft-up of tall powerboats about 10 yards off shore. So we got a view of transoms.

We didn't have to go far into the lake before it was a straight downwind run to the starting point. It wasn't exciting surf, but a noticeable speed boost. The new whiz-bang wave/wind tool on the noaa site says that part of the lake had 15 knots and 1.4 foot waves (precise!) for the run home.

Who says we don't let Euro-paddles or rudders on our trips?
(to be fair, I don't think he used the rudder at all)