Thursday, December 02, 2010

Deer hunting for college students

My daughter is a student at Vermont Tech in Randolph. She tells me that many of the rules for dorm life stem from behavior that has caused problems in the past.
One such rule in the manual is you can’t hang a deer carcass in the shower. This wasn’t because of one deer, but on one occasion ALL the showers in a dorm had deer hanging.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Not quite a festival, but a long GP weekend

Our local club just had a full weekend of classes with Turner Wilson, Cheri Perry, and their intern (not sure that's the right term, maybe touring partner?) Adam Hansen from Greenland.

There's been a surge interest for skill development since that squall hit a club trip a few posts back.  "Hmmmm.... maybe all that rolling, heavy bracing and such aren't just parlor tricks for those boyz in the hoodz!"
So the classes (rolling and strokes, both days) were fully booked, largely with folks from the club, plus a contingent who came down from Montreal, and a few of the already-converted who wanted to move further or just refresh.

Saturday night Adam gave a slide show on growing up in Greenland, and Turner gave one on the kayaking championship they went to a few years ago.

Sunday, Adam demoed and talked us through a few moves of rope gymnastics, which I'd never tried or seen other than pictures.

My role was mostly spotting people while they practiced, and herding avatuks (floats used to practice, and they blow away easily)

Initial demonstration, note the black avatuk:

From Kayak2010

Tom gets his forward butterfly roll:

Strokes in the afternoon:

Adam demonstrating a sweep turn.

Student trying a low brace.  Ideally her body should be rotated towards the paddle, but she was watching Turner's demo while doing it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Oswegatchie Canoe Trip

Last week a friend asked if I wanted to go camping, maybe a backpack in the Adirondacks to get away from everyone, catch some solitude.

I figured there wouldn't be much solitude on any of the normal backpack routes on Labor Day weekend, so I suggested a water trip.  Once you get to a pond with no road access (have to carry your boat from another pond) the crowds thin out pretty fast.  Besides, the weather's been in the 80-90 range so water would be good on that count as well.

With portages in the plans, a canoe sounded simpler than kayaks.  Less boats, you can have all your stuff in backpacks without worrying about bags that fit through a small hatch. Besides, I hadn't been on a real canoe trip in 10 years or more.

By the time Friday rolled around, so did Earl.  Not a direct threat, but he was still messing with the weather.  Forcast was winds ~20 and likely rain.
As a backup plan to canoeing an open lake with big waves we printed off some info on the Oswegatchie River, which feeds Cranberry Lake.

Even though the Adirondack Park is only about 10 miles from my house, the lake district is on the western side.  With the ferry it took about 4 hours, an hour longer than driving from Albany would.  Put the boat on the car, put the car on another boat:

On the way, every lake we saw was showing bigger waves than you'd want with a canoe, so we did opt for the river trip. We finally arrived at the launch point for a "Crack of noon" start.

We headed upstream and upwind, though on this type of river, you will be paddling in any direction to the compass with turns up to 270 degrees followed by one in the opposite direction. The wind and current like to work together to push you into the bushes. That got better once I got my "river sense" back and gave a quick lesson in cross-bow maneuvers.

A blue heron flying upriver.

Morning misty view from our campsite:

I think we saw more people than we would on a carry-in pond, but the campsites were about a mile apart, and it seemed like somewhat less than half were occupied. A few have lean-to's but most are just a clearing with a fireplace. Overnight I heard owl, loon, and coyotes, but all were pretty far away.  Given the on and off rain, we decided to just day-trip on Sunday and not move camp, rather than go for maximum distance.

There was also some quality "wait out the rain" time.

One of the straighter sections.  We had the best weather on our way out

On the way home we stopped at the Natural History Museum in Tupper Lake, aka the Wild Center.  I recommend  it if you are in the area with a few hours available.  Lots of indoor and outdoor exhibits, films, and guided tours.

In the cafe, the pond is right at your elbow.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Earlybird special

Every year Burlington celebrates the 4th of July on the 3rd.  Apparently that gives them a better price on the fireworks, which are set off from a barge in the harbor.

Waterfront restaurants start the party with bands etc in the afternoon, and carnival rides are running in the park. Before it gets dark there's a stunt plane act that does loops, hammerheads, etc while streaming colored smoke
I haven't seen any people estimate for this year, but in the past numbers in the 70,000 range have been bandied.  For a city with a population around half that, it means the waterfront is gridlocked.   The best way to get from one band to the next is by small boat... like a kayak.

There's also lots of boat candy either on rented moorings in the harbor (runs $70 for the night I hear) or on their own anchor outside the harbor. A few were flying flags that could almost double as sails.

So we spent some time paddling upwind then drifting down a row of boats just checking them out.  It looked like half the boats were Canadian, but hey, it's a party!

At one point I heard my name and it turned out to be a couple on a sailboat I knew from college but haven't seen in almost a decade. She saw a bunch of kayaks going by and based on nothing more than knowing that I lived in Burlington shouted my name figuring that if I was there I'd look around. Well, it worked! That got us an invite on board for the show, plus a fancier spread than the PB and J sandwich I'd packed.

After the show we paddled back along the shore about a mile to where we started at Oakledge park.  Paralleling us was a continuous line of lit up bicycles on the rail path heading to the same place.  I was a little surprised to see that the mass of anchored boats also reached Oakledge, and beyond as far as we could see.

We stayed close to shore where it's too shallow for any sizable boat, but it looked like most of them were staying where they were for the night.

Friday, July 02, 2010

It's a twista!

I mean to post about this a while ago, but better late than never!
This was a Wednesday night club trip (read mixed ability) starting at the Sandbar boat launch, at the base of the road causway to South Hero island.

We headed S to Malletts Bay.  At the north end of that bay there's a cliff featuring a peregrine nest, and one of them was flying about.

From Kayak2010

The forecast was for a increasing chance ot T-storms after 8, so some of us thought the group was hanging out a bit too long in Malletts bay. We applied best practice cat herding skills and started back.

Here we see the dark clouds ahead:

It seemed time to step on the gas a bit, and the group made a point of staying fairly close to shore for bail out options.  I mentioned to the 2 guys I was paddling with that this was the motivation for practicing fast and continuous paddling (as opposed to the usual Wednesday 5 minute cycles of paddle and rest)

We started seeing lightning, but don't worry, the strikes are all limited to that area where the cloud dips down in sort of a... uh.. funnel shape.  For our small group, the nearest "land" was a marsh of grass growing up through the water that would prevent us from reaching a solid shore.

Suddenly, literally in about 5 seconds, the wind went from about 5 to 60 or 70 (according to NOAA) with a mix of rain and hail, straight in our faces.  Since there was no solid ground behind, the path was ahead!   We were making progress, and I remember thinking that if it wasn't for the lightning (never very close) and worrying about the others behind, this would be "as good as it gets."

A guy who arrived after we left had just taken a short paddle and had his truck headlights shining to guide us back.
After the storm eased, we could see some boats in the distance.  The others had solid ground at hand and waited the storm out.
One had capsized, bailed out, and made the tactical error of letting go of his kayak, which quickly sailed out of sight.  He got towed back, holding someone's stern grab loop.  One of us took the task of calling the Coast Guard so if the boat was found they wouldn't be out looking for the owner.  In the next week it washed up somewhere and got reunited with the owner.

Later on the news was a report that the same storm generated a tornado somewhere in the middle of the state.  The whole thing was really localized.  The Diamond Island weather station, about 25 miles away, never registered over 8 knots.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Malletts Bay

I got a short notice call from Sam Sunday. He was in the Islands, looking for a paddle on the way home. Winds forecast for South 15-20 kt. Waves should be good around the mouth of the Winooski, but a little complicated to give directions over the phone. Malletts Bay is easier to get to and he'd never been there, so that was settled.

With the short fetch (see map) any kind of southerly isn't going to yield big waves, but we had a good workout on the upwind stretches and a good push downwind on small waves.

From Kayak2010

From Kayak2010

Thursday, May 06, 2010

skinboat awareness, excitement

This weekend was the first back in the skin boat. As I was getting ready a tourist lady (guessing, since she was in a group that was taking pictures of each other with the lake in the background) came over and asked if it was a skin on frame. Then last night, as I was strapping the boat on the car someone rode up on a bike and asked if it was a Greenland kayak, and did I use one of those anarak things with it. Was there some cosmic shift in kayak consciousness I didn't hear about? Not that I'm complaining.

Dave had his stern sink on his stealth roller. When we went over to help there was a big stream of bubbles coming out of the hatch he forgot to tighten. I figured dealing with that would be the high point of weekend excitement, but then on Sunday Phelps was out and found a body floating in the lake. What a shocker! Eventually it was identified as someone missing since March.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Another week, and cold again

Last week it was in the 80's.  Yesterday started with sleet and snow, but cleared up in time for the paddle.
A stiff onshore breeze left me wondering if a seal landing on the road would work.

Starting at Shelburne Farms and heading north, there was a lot of reflected wave action.  Not the most friendly for non-waterproof cameras, but there were a couple of opportunities on the return.
There's really a 15 foot kayak behind this wave:

This is the same stretch as the video, from the water side:

The jinxing power of suggestion: There's been a thread on drysuit vs wetsuit on the qajaqusa forum, so to demonstrate the faults of each, I tore my neck gasket taking off my drysuit after the paddle. Dave (wearing a wetsuit) got knocked over by a wave getting out of his kayak and affirmed that it would be most uncomfortable if he had to stay in the water for more than a few minutes.

Monday, April 05, 2010

One week and 60 degrees warmer

Strong south winds, so what we were breathing was probably in Carolina a couple of days earlier.  80+ degrees and sunny though the water is still in the mid 30's.

5 of us showed at Ferrisburg town beach and headed south before crossing to the NY side  The Palisade on split rock mountain had this waterfall, good for a cool-off.

The waterfall water was somewhat warm, but the lake is still 35ish, so still dry or wetsuit weather.  That came off at the lunch stop.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More signs of spring

Chives are up, and Molokai racers come out to train. It's still below freezing though.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day

A few years ago I was making pancakes and had no buttermilk, so looking in the fridge, blueberry yogurt was the closest substitute.  The blueberry juice and yellow cornmeal combined to make green, to the amusement of all.  We did a repeat of that for St. Patrick's day, and have ever since.

Today I had them with some just-made maple syrup from the backyard tree.

Some maple trivia:
In the early colonial era most maple was made into hard sugar, until white cane sugar became available (plus jugs that could hold syrup were expensive).

In pre-civil war era maple sugar had a resurgence in popularity as a protest against cane sugar which relied heavily on slave labor.

There's a French Canadian phrase for the not-so-real maple flavored pancake syrup that roughly translates to telephone pole syrup.

A lot of people who tap trees also drink the sap just as it comes from the tree, only about 2% as strong as standard syrup. There's also a company that sells it as seltzer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Signs of spring

  • The sap is running
  • 3 trucks/cars  fell through the ice on Schroon Lake.
  • People who've been skiing and ice biking all winter showed up to paddle.

Monday, March 08, 2010

WHere's my sap?

Freezing nights, 40 degree days.  That should be ideal for sugaring, but I tapped my one maple tree and the hole is totally dry.  Consolation prize... also great paddling weather.

This has been the least frozen winter I've seen. We haven't had to go far afield to find open water at all this winter. Oakledge is the closest of our normal summer launch points and was looking pretty accessible this week. Just a little jumble of chunks to get through. Uh Oh... no lifeguard?

From Kayak2010

Tom decided it was time to get back to skinboat season. I can't fit in mine with mukluks.. maybe next week?

We headed into Shelburne bay. The warm weather had hikers at the overlook in Red Rocks watching the rolls

Then we went out into the main lake, south almost to Shelburne town beach, and rode some light waves & tailwind back.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

America's Cup

No kayaking likely this week.  One of the regulars is sick, another has to work.  There is a pool session tonight, but I'm going to see the Capitol Steps.

Meanwhile, the America's cup series is going on now in Valencia.  2 multihulls, both roughly 100 feet long.  Apparently both teams have spent more on lawyers than the boats.  Can't we all just get along?


Sunday, January 31, 2010

More pool

Another pool session this week. Have to get back out in the lake!
The people that wanted to learn to roll sea kayaks did come this week. While they were learning some stretches I got to use Dave's stealth roller (pictured below.) Maple roll worked well, and did a few hand rolls. Back in my own boat I worked on various off side things, upside down paddline, and managed to get a few breaths with the Petrusian maneuver (boat upside down, you slide partway out enough to reach the surface and breath without popping the seal on your skirt/tuiliq.)

The new guys got to try bracing etc with an avatuk.

From Kayak2010

By the time we left, the temperature was below zero, reminding me that whether paddling in the lake or a pool in winter, the coldest part is getting the boat on the car.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Maple roll

The local (mostly) whitewater club has started their pool sessions and word was a couple of sea kayakers had asked about learning to roll, so 3 of us "boyz in the hoodz" (Greenland types) went to help out and try to turn them to the skinny paddle side.

Turns out the couple got the time wrong and showed up just about when it was over... maybe this week.

It was a chance to get back in my skin boat, which is too tight to use with my cold water footwear. I also got to try a "maple roll." One learning technique for Greenland rolling is to use a float called an Avatuk made from a seal bladder (or neoprene these days). This being Vermont I figured a maple syrup jug would lend a local flavor. I had a half gallon jug on hand (much smaller than an avatuk) and managed both brace and roll.

Usually we're the biggest boats in the pool, but this time there were a couple of WW canoes working on rolls.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

This arrived around 10 Saturday:
"Perkins Pier Paddle and Roll Fest
Noon Saturday Jan 16th!!"

A bit short notice, but it was sent from a phone the day before.. pony express email!

I was the first one there, so had a bit of time to wander the pier. The canal schooner Lois McClure has sprouted a greenhouse for the winter.. maybe picking up a little extra by growing some tomatoes?

From Kayak2010

Not much in the way of wind, but it's supposed to be from the south, so we head way on the hope that it will kick up for the return.

We stopped for a while on the south side of Queneska Island for water play.

And during that break the wind DID kick up, but from the north, so the return was into the wind.

Back into the harbor

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Years

A cold had me out of commission, at least wrt kayaking for a while in December. Missed the solstice, missed going out on the lake to watch them blow up the Crown Point Bridge.
I saw that on TV, but the broadcast did no justice to the reported 130 dB "BOOM". In this day of HD and all they SHOULD have had it in 5 channel surround sound, but the TV crew at the minimum 1000 feet just gave us a little thud. This (clearly) amateur vid on youtube had a lot better sound.

Meanwhile, back to New Years. The weather was favorable, even above freezing. 3 of us went out for a couple of hours from Coast Guard south to Red Rocks and got in our first rolls of the year.