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.