Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year - New Challenges

(Photo taken during 2007 Watertribe Everglades Challenge)

It was an absolutely beautiful Carolina winter day today, sunny and warm (60 degrees) and with just a slight breeze. Perfect for spending the last day of the year paddling alone in my Kruger Dreamcatcher, reflecting on the past year, and looking forward to the next.

Tomorrow, the first day of the new year will be another perfect day. I'll get in a bike ride in the morning, then spend the afternoon paddling in my NDK Explorer with some of the many new paddling friends I've made from the local kayaking Meetup Group.

I also spent a few minutes today updating my blog. The changes are subtle. I've tried to make it a bit more current, reflecting some of the new goals and challenges planned for this next year.

Life will be a bit crazy, and very busy, just how I like it.

Here's wishing you a Very Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some Things Never Change

Marek's (Mountain Wayfarer) blog post "One Year Ago in Fitness Paddling - December 2006", where he listed his blog postings from last December, seemed an interesting exercise. I too looked back at my previous December posts. Interestingly there were 5 postings, and they are still relevant, a year later.
  1. It's Beginning to Look Like a Boat, was a post about my son Alan and his college friends building their Wa'apa canoes they raced in the 2007 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. Hmmm, here we are December 2007 and Alan is at it again, building a sailboat with Paul for the 2008 EC.

  2. Where are the Women, a post about the lack of women registered in the 2007 EC. Same story for 2008, KiwiBird and I are again the only solo women registered for EC, also SandDollar in the UFC.

  3. Lunch Time at the Movies, I previewed the WaterTribe 2006 UFC video to my office mates. They all cheer me on during these races, and this offered a taste of the adventure. WaterTribe is now selling a 2nd video that has just been released, it's on my X-mas list.

  4. My New Mantra, fifty is the new thirty. I still use this mantra and it'll be good for a few more years :)

  5. A Big Change was my comments on Derrick's then new blog and blog name, from Kayak Wisconsin to Kayak Quixotica. This year, the name stays the same, but he's got a nice new look.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Douglas Fir

This season in our home it's all about building boats. Paul's planned skin-on-frame deck has sat out of the way in one corner of the living room, while my almost skinned SOF sits prominently in our family room.

And of course there is the big boat project, Alan and Paul's Core Sound 20 sailboat, which is taking up most of the basement.

It seemed only appropriate to keep the theme going through Christmas.

It is a Douglas Fir after all. And for now, it's also our family Christmas tree.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Different Kind of Race

With such dangerous wintry weather around the country, I really can't complain about the little bit of much needed rain we've had this weekend. The balmy temperatures we had last week are also now gone. I even managed to paddle Friday night without having to wear gloves, a big deal in winter with a Greenland paddle.

I had been looking forward to a long paddle in the rougher lake waters that the predicted winds were going to bring Sunday. But I seemed to have forgotten how uncomfortable the wind and rain would be in the cold. We are expecting winds 25 mph (gusts 35 mph) and temps in the low 40's. I bailed before even putting the boat on the car.

Alan faired a bit better on Saturday, at least he and friends made a good attempt at their big bike ride to Virginia, and got 1/2 way and back. Two more final exams left for Alan this week. Tana (and Rooster her pet guinea pig) is now home for the holidays, her semester finished with much excitement as Appalachian State University won their NCAA Div I finals on Friday night (3 in a row).

So, with some extra free time this weekend, I worked on my skin-on-frame kayak. I've finally decided on, and am happy with my seam and stitching. Tightening the skin, and the sweing process is actually a bit painful on the hands and fingers, and so it's been slow going for me, but I'm finally making some good progress. Actually this SOF may go down in history as the slowest built SOF ever. Paul reminds me how embarrassing it would be if he and Alan finished building the sailboat before I finish the SOF. Hmm, I guess that's another race on my calendar.

The picture below was Paul's idea, it helps me pull the skin tight so I can adjust the tension on the lacings which keeps the canvas nice and tight while I do the actual stitching.

I've been reading all I can about painting and finishing the skin. Some use Thompson's water seal as their first coat, and I'll probably do that as well, hoping it will help against our humid conditions here. Still needing to decide on latex or oil based paint. I'm going to start experimenting with paint/color with some leftover canvas. My current plan is to paint the kayak a dark brown, then add a final glaze of translucent black so it'll have less of a "paint job" look.

I've also been playing around with some ideas of painting decoration, but nothing brilliant has come to mind, and I'm not really very artistic. I'll see if I can get a decal to stick, I recall an earlier posting of Canadian Ckayaker with a link to a translation site, I think it was for Inuktitut. Maybe some personal or meaningful phrase or words (or imagery) in a language such as Inuktitut would be fitting, either as a decal or stencilled on.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Great Day

Quite a workout today. I went back to Balance Movement Studio for Elizabeth's winter Tuesday/Thursday spin classes. Elizabeth Towe, owner of the Studio, was instrumental in helping me train for the 2006 Ultimate Florida Challenge. Her classes are hard, fun, and she has great music.

At lunchtime I walked over to the pool on campus for a mile long swim, then right after work I headed out to my Yoga class. I've been taking a 13 week series class in Anusara Yoga, we have progressed so much throughout the class, that tonight, our last in this semester's series we were doing back bends and handstands. Picture below is the couple, Sommer and Paul Sobin, who teach my class. I can't believe the things I'm doing, I've already signed on for next semester. Life is good.

Then I got home and checked on the guys and their boat building. Alan was home for the day (he's got 2 more exams next week), and GASP!!!! he sawed a huge hole through the middle of the hull, this will be for the centerboard. It didn't seem to faze him, but scared the heck out of me. I'm sure he'll be posting pictures on his blog later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Old School

I've been watching an old video a friend lent me, named "Waterwalker". It is a chronicle of artist, filmmaker, and canoeist Bill Mason's experiences during several months spent "roughing it" in the beautiful, and rugged wilderness around Lake Superior.

Nothing extraordinary really happens during the video; it's simply a man canoeing and enjoying nature. But, it is amazing to watch him maneuver this simple open canoe in the fury of Lake Superior.

I'd not heard of Bill Mason before, though I've come to know he was quite a name in the world of canoeing and conservation. Honoring him, there is an annual 'Waterwalker Film Festival', sponsored by Paddle Canada.

Mason passed away about 20 years ago, this is not a recent video, his last and one of many that he evidently made during his lifetime. It's clear immediately when the video starts that he's a member of the 'old school', minimal camping gear, red plaid shirt, denim cutoff shorts.

These days, new paddlers have difficulty with all the various choices of boat styles, fiberglass, kevlar, carbon fiber, gortex, etc... It also seems sometimes that there is too much expectation that gear and boats are responsible for our abilities, skills, and speed.

We have much to learn from these accomplished veterans.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Numb Toes

After yesterday's posting, I got a few suggestions regarding my numb toe problem, I really appreciate the help, so thought I'd go into a bit more of the gory details. I can only assume my numb toes are the result of a circulation or nerve problem. After a quick Google search, I'm clearly not the only paddler with this problem.

All is well after a day or even weekend of paddling, I'm also fine on longer trips where the distance averages 20 miles per day. My numb toes have only occurred after an Everglades Challenge, a 5-7 day - 300 mile paddle, 40+ miles each day in my NKD Explorer. I honestly don't remember having had this problem after the 1200 mile UFC when I paddled the Dreamcatcher which has a rudder and higher seat (I think this is a very important piece of information). It's also important to note that during these paddles, it's not unusual to paddle 15 or more hours without getting out of the boat. Yea I know, this always brings up other more personal questions, but lets keep this discussion focused on my toes for know.

During these long paddles, pretty much everything is sore, hurts and is tired, but, I've never really suffered any significant back, butt, or leg pain, no sciatica or other issues like that, and I'm pretty flexible in the hamstrings. It's was not uncommon to take 3-5 months before all my toes had normal feeling again.

I've always attributed the numbness to my paddling style, too much pushing with my feet. I've long ago replaced the foot pegs in my Explorer, and have a full foam bulkhead at the position of where the foot pegs would be. Possibly this is too far forward. I've also replaced the NDK back band with a low back snapdragon WW back band. Possibly this also is too far forward on the seat. Luckily, all of this is stuff I can work on.

The only other time I experience numb toes is during long bike rides, after about 40 miles. Again I figured this is likely too much pushing down on the pedals. And possibly too small bike shoes (I ought to check the fit of my paddle shoes too). During biking though, the toes are only numb during the ride, and come back to life very quickly after.

As Silbs has suggested, I'll try a pad under my thighs. I have heard of other paddler's who have done this, but I thought it was related more to discomfort and pain. I found a SealLine Kayak Thigh Support Cushion, at Rutabaga, but will probably try and make something up myself first. I'm assuming this suggestion is to release any pressure on the back of my thighs from the end of the seat, possibly effecting circulation?

Any other ideas or similar experiences?

Can't Decide

I'm lucky enough to have more than one boat to choose from to paddle, and I've got two of the very best, an NDK Explorer and a Kruger Dreamcatcher. Very different boats, one an ocean going canoe that I single blade, the other an expedition kayak that I paddle with a Greenland paddle.

I keep waffling back and forth about which boat to use in next years WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. Both have seen 2 WaterTribe events each, the last two were completed in the Dreamcatcher, and much of my last 2 years of paddling has been in the Dreamcatcher.

I think it's time for a change, and I'm finding myself wanting more time in the Explorer. But I have to figure out how to avoid the numb-ness I get in my toes. Both previous ECs in the Explorer left my toes numb for a few months. I'm still not exactly sure why as it doesn't happen on any other paddles. But, this would be a real problem for my triathlon training which follows right on the heels for the EC finish.

So I've decided to change my original plan (I'm currently registered in the Dreamcatcher), and start alternating my training paddles with both boats, either will keep me fit and in shape for the Challenge. In the meantime I'll do some research on the numb toe problem, talk to my physical therapist, and experiment a bit with my front bulkhead and seat back placement.

Pacific Action Sails sponsored me during the UFC with a new PAS, and they have recently offered to send me a new rigging pack to outfit my Explorer with the sail. I've wanted to put this sail on the Explorer for a long time. This might be just the change and challenge I need.

Right now, I'm happy with this decision to not make a final decision. I'll just let the boats decide. In the meantime, I'll have lots of fun training with them both. After all, they are the very best.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I just love a challenge! Unlike most, mine are almost always just against myself. Maybe it's because that way I might fail, but I can never really lose :)

Like KiwiBird, I too read about Greg Barton's stomach crunch exercise program in the 2008 Canoe and Kayak Buyers Guide. I read it, got exhausted just thinking about it, then kept reading on.

But KiwiBird's posting "All I want for Christmas..." might just be the motivation I need for a new personal challenge. Having recently lost 15 pounds, and with another 15 or so to go, this could be good. I might reap some visible benefits in addition to the core fitness and paddling results. Sounds like a win-win.

I'm currently on a "2 times everything" weekly training plan, part of my paddle training for WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, and my maintenance training for next August's Ironman. I think I can add a 2 * abdominal workout into the mix, that is if I don't think about it too much.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My Weekend

No it wasn't spent paddling this, but it's quite interesting isn't it, Napali, a transparant folding skin-on-frame.

I started the weekend with my regular Friday night paddle. While driving the 20 minutes to the lake, I'd mentally prepared for the probability that I'd likely be paddling alone on this cold dark night. But once at the boat ramp, there was Joan and Lyman taking their kayaks off their cars. Joan had just gotten her new beautiful Lumpy Greenland paddle.

My old paddling friend Eric was also there waiting for me. We had prearranged a hook up so I could lend him my Garmin Forerunner, and return a white water paddle I had borrowed from him. He's not had much time for paddling these days, Zane is only 2 yrs old. His free time has been spent mountain biking, and he's starting to train for some 100hr ultra MTB races, wanting to try out the forerunner before buying his own.

On the water, Joan commented first on the temperature drop, I too felt it at our turn around. During the paddle we were toasty warm, but after finishing the 12 miles, and getting out of the boats, our hands and fingers started freezing and hurting. Stowing gear and strapping boats down with frozen hands is the hardest part of these night paddles. I often leave the car running, and get in for a quick thaw in order to finish the task. It's still so worth it. No clouds out, the moon hadn't set, and the stars were brilliant. I got back home around 11:30PM, the temperature was 32 F, so not too bad.

Saturday was spent on chores, and watching the sailboat building. Lots of progress being made on the boat this weekend, of course Paul and Alan work on it till 2 and 3am most weekend nights (training). Alan hopes to turn it over in a couple weeks to fiberglass the hull.

Then this afternoon, I hosted a skin-on-frame kayak building meeting, with a small group from my larger local Kayak Meetup group. I can't believe I forgot to get the camera out. There were eight of us at this 1st meeting. Since Paul and I both have in-progress SOFs (Paul has the deck finished and needs to make ribs next), and I have quite a library of SOF building books, it made sense to meet here.

We have a great group started, with each bringing some experience and variety to the group, whole, including 4 with previous kayak building experience (mostly wooden), and one with CAD software who is designing his own SOF. Very informative, and fun and social. Probably one of the most interesting things is that the members of this group are interested in building different types of SOFs, from SOFs traditionally built and with willow stemmed ribs, a rolling Greenland, and a double SOF. It will really be interesting seeing the kayaks that come out of this.

We'll likely start another "private" Meetup, devoted to local kayak builders, a place to easily share links, photos, progress reports, stories. I'm hoping this group will keep me motivated to get mine done quickly. Especially since I've already found my next one, a Yostworks folding SOF. Something I can take on the sailboat :)

As far as my training over the past week. My goal is 2 times everything each week, this will keep me in maintenance for triathlon, and along with my paddling will be great cross training for WaterTribe. I ran*2, swam*2, yoga*1, bike*0, wt train*0. Oops, not great, but not totally sedentary.

Dreaming and Planning

The Vertue Sailboats

I've always called our daughter Tana, "the reader". Like her Mom, she always has a novel going. During middle school and early high school her favorites were anything fantasy, and occasionally science fiction.

Alan was no less a reader, but his book titles always began with "How to....". He was home from school this weekend to work on the sailboat, and he had with him a book borrowed from the school library. Not too surprising now, to see what he is reading.

Last June, while driving to Missouri on our way to race in the Missouri River MR340, we made a quick stop to check out some books on tape for the long ride. We picked out a book called "My Old Man and the Sea: A Father and Son Sail around Cape Horn", by David Hays and Daniel Hays. We thoroughly enjoyed the story, and have talked about it often since.

Quite taken by the description of the sailboat they sailed, a 25 ft Sloop, the Vertue, Alan has since read a good bit about this boat, no longer available new, but with quite a loyal following, and occasionally for sale used. This morning Alan told me there was one available for $13,000. the Vertue is an ocean going sailboat, that can be sailed on long expeditions solo, and has a reputation for handling all kinds of weather.

I know Alan dreams and plans that one day he will own a boat like the Vertue, and sail it around the world. And he has been raised to have dreams and goals, and that they can come true.

His current book. It's called "Vertue XXXV" by Humphrey Barton. Written when the author was on a voyage from Lymington (Hampshire, England) to New York. Barton finishes his preface with "So far as I can see there is not the slightest reason why two people should not cruise round the world in such a yacht. I hope it is only a matter of time before such a voyage is successfully accomplished".

I expect this has already been done, the book was written in 1950. But I also won't be surprised if it isn't done again sometime very soon :).

Sailing Alone Around the World...and other books you MUST reread... is a thread on the WoodenBoat forum. There is some great recommended reading here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I've previously posted about our sailboat building project that's going on in the basement. Alan and Paul are building a Core Sound 20, which they will race in this years WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, and which will then become Paul's and my sailboat for week-long and weekend sailing camping trips on our NC coast.

Alan posts regularly on his blog about this project, and there is a continuing tread on the B&B Yachts Forum on; ours is Hull #103.

The building may be physical work, but lots of emotional and mental thought go into other things, especially in the decision making. In addition to figuring out some modifications to the original design (we are building a small cuddy cabin), we are also trying to decide on color. It's time to order the epoxy-paint, and the boats sails. Lots of discussions, emails, and ideas being passed around.

Here is a picture of a Core Sound 17 with both sails and a mizzen staysail (these boats are cat-ketch rigged).

I'm a bit more adventurous when it comes to color, but we've agreed to paint our boat a classic white like the photo below, and include some natural wood trim.

We also have agreed on white sails both main and mizzen (though I lobbyed hard for color sails). So all our color will be in the staysail. Paul put together some ideas for us to consider. Naturally we all have different favorites.

Check back later in February (when it has to be done) to see what we've actually got.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vacation to Hell Update

Unfortunately it's not my vacation :(

You might remember an earlier posting in October about Immersion Research's 2nd annual IR Vacation to Hell contest. This year's trip, a 300 mile sea kayaking expedition, starting at Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, paddling northward to Devon Island, then ending on Ellesmere Island. Included is a 60 mile open water crossing, a 45 mile over-land crossing, finishing with a 45 mile open water crossing.
The trip was won by Team Sweetwater, and they have set up a blog to follow their preparation and challenge, it's a great read, postings have included: "Why should we be the ones to go" and "Personalities and planning".

This will be really interesting following their training and planning, with the team being in four different cities and three different time zones, (one of which is 6 hours ahead). They are already dealing with logistical issues.

Another posting; "Devon Island a small obstacle" talks about how to get 4 fully loaded sea kayaks across 50 miles of barren land where some sections are covered with ice, water, or rocks that can make even walking difficult. Remember, it's a Vacation-to-Hell.

To see the progress for this crazy and challenging expedition, see their blog at

Monday, November 26, 2007

SOF Progress Report

I know Michael (Canadian Seakayaker) will be looking for a progress report on the skinning of my kayak, so this is for him. Sorry, no skinning progress photo yet.

It was definitely slower going than I had thought, still much more to do. The canvas is much heavier then the polyester I had originally started with. I found I needed to experiment a bit with the sewing and with the needles (broke a few) and size cording I needed to use. I quickly realized the seam finish I had hoped for wasn't going to work with this thicker cloth. I probably should have followed Michael's lead with the double corded seam, but, I didn't have the cording and it was a holiday weekend.... In the end, I stayed true to the Bob Boucher video.

Then, once I actually started sewing, I realized the skin was not pulled as tightly as it could be, this after much pulling and struggling with both Paul and Alan. They eventually helped rig up a vice-like contraption while and I tightened up the lashings.

I've got the bow end sewn from the cockpit to where I'll add a bow deck line (my paddle park). After all that fussing around, it got late and I just couldn't bring myself to cut a whole into the cloth, so I stopped here (I already had pre-drilled holes through the gunwales). I'm very pleased with how tight the skin feels, and how well it's forming to the boat, no puckers so far. I'll finish this seam first before doing the stern. It will take another pass to fold the raw edges under and tack it all down. Pretty slow going on my part, and next weekends calendar is already looking pretty full.

So far throughout the whole building process, I've found the skinning the hardest and most stressful. I just can't stop sweating the small stuff, it must be the sewer and quilter in me that's agonizing on stitch lengths, and finishing details. A very different process than the sailboat building that's going on in the basement, where Paul and Alan just keep moving to get it done.

Of course we are all now agonizing a bit on color options. I'm pretty sure I'm going with black for the SOF. The interior of the sailboat will likely be an off white, but we haven't decided yet about whether to paint the hull a color.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm Totally Stuffed

We had a small traditional Thanksgiving dinner here at home, just the 4 of us on Thursday, then we did it all again on Friday over at Paul's parent's place, with about 15 extended family members. Lots of fun and fellowship, lots of food.

We all still managed to get in some boat building. Paul and Alan continue to make progress on the sailboat (see Alan's latest posting), while I've been working on skinning my kayak.

I've got all the temporary stitches in that hold the lashings, and I've lashed the skin nice and tight. Tonight and tomorrow I'll start (and hopefully finish) the actual stitching.

Today though, I'm going paddling.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thank You

Thanksgiving is a reminder to be thankful. Not just for the turkey and dressing around the table, but for who we are, and the blessings we have.

There is much in my life to be thankful for. But mostly I am thankful for my family. I am blessed with a loving and supportive husband, two wonderful grown children, and parents and siblings who love and enjoy each other (I love you guys). All my other blessings are just frosting on the cake of life, and overshadow any of my problems.

Oh yea, I'm also blessed with another birthday, 55 years.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Team Kruger

Photo of me in my Kruger Dreamcatcher during the 2006 1200 mile WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge.

I've been extremely proud, and quite humbled to be listed on the Kruger Canoes website as a member of Team Kruger along with other fellow WaterTribe challengers/racers Marek Uliasz (Mountain Wayfarer) , Nick Hall (Pelican), Dexter (ThereAndBackAgain) and Brian Weber (Capt'n of the "O" Dark 30) . All of thier websites and/or blogs (links are in blue) are worth a visit.

The real stars, and more in that adventurous mold of Verlen Kruger, are three other members of the Team, Reinhard Zollitsch, Larry Hoff, and Norm Miller. Please please visit their websites. These men are incredible, and inspirational. They are what I am hoping to be, active, adventurous, and living their dreams through their old age.

Reinhard Zollitsch a lifelong athlete, began paddling and sailing in the late 70's, including marathon kayak and canoe racing. But it is the change to expedition in the mid 90's that is most interesting. After a serious health scare in 1994, and looking for something new, he turned to the ocean in a Kruger Sea Wind (a sea canoe, with rudder and spray skirt) on long, solo, unassisted trips along the shores of New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. The articles in this website are a collection of trip reports of his 4000-mile circumnavigation of that area, plus a few extra paddling related articles. The ocean trips described above were done between 1996 and 2007 at the ages of 57 to 67. He's still tripping and racing, including racing in the Blackburn Challenge this and last year in a solo outrigger canoe. An academic and teacher, his articles are a great read and well published. His website is Zollitsch Canoe Adventures.

Larry Hoff, another active retired senior, began his solo adventures in 2002, by first hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (a 2,658 mile hike across the mountain ranges of Washington, Oregon and California, stretching from the Canadian border to the Mexican border), followed by a bicycle trip around the perimeter of the U.S.A in 2004, and then just completing this year, a paddle and portage Kruger canoe trip 6,200 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific by way of the Potomac, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, Snake and Columbia Rivers. His website with trip reports is Larry's Ultra Long Distance Adventures.

Norm Miller, another Kruger Canoe adventurer, completed a 3600-mile adventure with a 21st century replica of the the infamous Lewis and Clark expedition . He began in March 2004, paddling solo the length of the Missouri to Montana. From there he backpacked over the continental divide to the Columbia River watershed where he once again took to his paddle for the final leg to the Pacific Ocean which he arrived at in September '04. This trip is documented on 'In the Wake of Discovery, Lewis and Clark 2004 Bicentennial Expedition'.

These guys are AMAZING, and they aren't even BCU* coaches with British sea kayaks, heck they didn't even use a sea kayak :) It's all about living your dreams.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Complaints

Training went pretty well this week in my Kruger Dreamcatcher. I got in a 12 mile paddle Friday night (brr). Lyman showed up to join me, and I silently groaned a bit upon seeing him; he's such a fast paddler. He had his Feathercraft K1 with him, preferring the more stable of his boats this night since he also had his brand new wing paddle to play with. I groaned again. Actually it was a great paddle, and I really enjoyed the company. He probably pushed the pace a bit more than I would have alone, but that was a very good thing. I'm hoping he comes out often on these Friday night paddles.

I returned to the lake Sunday morning and got in 8 miles before joining up with the Meetups groups 8 mile afternoon paddle. Lyman showed up again, and so did John March (one of my 2003 Newfoundland expedition paddling partners), who I just don't get to paddle with enough these days. The more regular Meetup paddlers, who are now all becoming great paddling partners, Heidi, Camille, Trisha, Dan, Chris, and Dave were all there too, as well as Donna, a friend of Dave's whose just getting bit by the paddling bug. It was a beautiful sunny warm day, in the 60's, and still with great fall colors along the shore.

This meetup paddling group has been a great find for me. Very active, and very social, and they love weekend paddling/camping trips. We've even started a small skin-on-frame building group that will meet in a couple weeks.

This week I also managed two 4 mile trail runs, and 2 weight training sessions. Another business trip earlier in the week to Maryland put a crimp in my swimming plans, and the cold weather kept me off the bike. Next week I'll need to sign up for a regular spin class, and work on how to better schedule 2 swim sessions per week.

Alan was home for their weekend sailboat building with Paul. Saturday morning they took off for their weekly trip to Lowes Home Improvement, and I suggested they make a list of all the materials they needed and just do one big trip. They both looked at me like I was crazy, "What, and miss going to Lowes every weekend". What was I thinking :)

We were lucky to see Tana for a few minutes too. She and some school friends from Boone had driven down for a concert Saturday night, and stopped in for a quick hello.

Life is good, no complaints.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fun Fun Fun

This past weekend's paddling/camping trip with my local kayak group was great. We camped at Goose Creek State Park on the Pamlico River (fed by the Tar River), the camp's water site is worth the visit. I had not paddled this specific area of the Pamlico before, sound-side, about 50 miles from Oakracoke Inlet. There is lots of water here, and many paddling opportunities. The Pamlico River feeds into the large Pamlico Sound, as does the Neuse River to it's South. And there are many smaller River's and Creeks perfect for exploring.

Paul and I have started to look around for a retirement location near/on the Coast. This area will certainly be worth researching as it's a prefect sailing and paddling spot, and without the huge tourist base found at the beach. Saturday's paddle had us paddling into the Sound over to historic Bath, small craft advisories prohibited the return paddle, which I was lucky enough to shuttle back on a 24 ft sailboat. Sunday morning we paddled a few hours up the River over to Brandt Creek and historic Washington. Great paddle, good people, good food.

This week, things get a bit more serious for me. WaterTribe training begins, with run/bike/swim cross-training (starting my base for the Louiville Ironman next August), and I've got to finish the skin-on-frame.

Friday starts my regular 15 mile winter night-time paddles. I'm really looking forward to getting back in the Kruger Dreamcather. Except for the Halloween paddle, I've not paddled the Dreamcather since last June's Missouri River 340 mile race. It's really the perfect cold weather and distance boat, so comfortable. I noticed Marek posted on his fitness paddling blog that he's back in his Kruger SeaWind this winter as well.

Kruger Canoes has done some work updating their website, it's worth a look. Reading about Verlen Kruger's paddling is both an inspiration and very motivational. I'm amazed at how many paddlers I meet who have never heard of him.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

I’m in the middle of a 4 day business trip to San Antonio Texas. All work and no play, but I am getting in some nice early morning jogs on the River Walk, and of course enjoying some great food. Still, I envy KiwiBird’s exotic location, visiting family in her New Zealand.

Last Sunday I had to miss the clubs Boat Demo day, but, staying home meant I did get in a good bit of work on my skin-on-frame. Once Paul and Alan let me have my saw horses back, I removed the old poly skin that wasn’t working for me, and managed the longitudinal stretch of my canvas across the bow and stern. It turned out to be a 3-person job; luckily Alan was home for ‘the big build’ so Alan and Paul both helped with the pulling, lots of pulling. I also managed to get in all the loops needed for the lacing that will pull the skin together for my stitching. I understand that’s another 2 person pull.

The kayak will now have to sit and wait in our living room (I was booted out of the basement, our new sailboat workshop). I’ll get home just in time to pack for a paddle camping trip on the Coast. It lets me get out of the way while they build their sailboat late into the weekend nights (or should I say mornings), and I’ll get a weekend vacation. Car camping, paddling, great company, great food (oyster fest), etc…; it doesn’t get much better.

On Saturday, we’re planning an 18 mile round trip paddle to historic Bath, North Carolina’s first town going back to the late 1600’s. Sunday will be shorter explorations of the many creeks near and around Goose Creek State Park (where we are camping). Look for pictures and a trip report later next week.

After that it’s time to get really busy. I’ll officially start my training for the 2008 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge (EC) after the weekend. As in years past, my training will consist primarily of 15 mile Friday night paddles, and with a longer paddle on Sundays. For cross-training, I’m following a triathlon maintenance plan given to me by Laura, a triathlete, triathlon trainer, and co-founder of TriBabes. Laura, the Captn’s other half, is an accomplished Ironman Triathlete, who has not only offered to help me train for the Louiville Ironman in August, she’s decided to run the race too.

And to make it even more fun, Alan (along with Paul) and his friend Adam will also each be competing in both the WaterTribe EC and this Ironman as well.

Once the EC finishes and I'm recovered, it’ll be all about distance swimming, running, and biking as I get ready for the Ironman. I haven't had the nerve to ask Laura about a few paddling races during the training :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Clean Sweep - Good Start

I have enjoyed paddling Jordan Lake weekly for years, always making it a habit to pick-up floating trash along the way. Last week, a member of a paddling group I'm in, suggested we get a group together for a clean-up of the shore.

It was easy to arrange donated bags and gloves, with a map and suggested area from the Waste Reduction Coordinator for Chatham County. We also contacted the Lake Park Rangers who thanked us for our efforts, and requested information on where we planned to clean, and asked for a bag count for the governor's office.

Seven paddlers showed, and 17 full garbage bags were collected. Sadly that amount was after only a couple hours and only a couple hundred yards of shore line. We picked up bottles, cans, styrofoam, bait containers, fishing line, diapers, an unbelievable number of plastic bags, and all sorts of other debris.

We had paddled out of Farrington Point, a popular kayak put-in, paddling left under the bridge, then just turned right and landed. Once we had as much as we could handle to get back with, we lashed them on our garbage scows (2 large rec boats) and towed them back to the ramp.

I think we were all a bit surprised at the large amount of garbage there was. Though we had quite a bit to show for our efforts, we barely put a dent in it. Seems a little thing to add a garbage bag to our regular paddling gear. There is no reason we all can't take a short walk picking up a few pieces of trash during lunch or rest breaks when out paddling and enjoying the lake. It's not hard to stow away one bag back to the put-in each time out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Trick or Treat

The Halloween Paddle was Saturday night and the weather was perfect, only one day out from a full moon. I dressed my Kruger Dreamcatcher as a Viking Ship, and myself as Thor-ella.

A group of 12 kayaks, my canoe, and even 2 small rowboats (were those costumes:), headed out to one of the islands in the middle of the lake where we enjoyed a large bonfire and sugary treats.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good and Bad

"It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring....".

Finally it's raining, there's been rain for three days now. Of course it'll take quite a bit more than this to get us out of our drought, but it's a start.

Unfortunately, it also looks like Friday nights Full Moon Halloween paddle is going to be cancelled. I spent hours making a costume for my Kruger Dreamcatcher. I sure hope it gets rescheduled for later in the week, else the costume will have to wait another year. I don't have any pictures, but I do have the blond braids and helmet.

My weekend of ocean paddling, kayak surfing, and beach camping is also getting cancelled. Small craft advisories, rain, and thunderstorms are predicted for the whole weekend on the coast.

So, while Alan and Paul work on building their boat. I think I'll get to working on my skin-on-frame.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Family Adventure for a Cause

Alan and Paul (SOS and DancesWithSandyBottom) will not be the first father - son team to participate in a WaterTribe event, Michael and Brian Collins (GreyBeard and ChefRamen) finished an Everglades Challenge in 2002. and 2003 (I believe ChefRamen was a high school student at the time).

But, Brian and Marissa (Capt'n of the 0'dark 30 and Super Boo) will be the very first father - daughter team, and Boo will have the distinction of being the youngest Triber. Welcome to the Tribe Boo. Father and daughter will make their final plans after they finish the Kruger 100 Challenge this weekend.

Those of us who follow the Captn's blog, have been reading about her exploits for awhile now. Super Boo, just 11 years old, has become quite the adventurer, and, she's quite a paddler. Not just for fun and adventure, Boo's planning to give back. Her blog, The Adventures of Super Boo, and her participation in water based challenges and adventures will be dedicated to raising awareness and money for breast cancer, an illness her mother is currently fighting. And, to do it all while playing with Dad will be moments to treasure forever.

I'll bet KiwiBird is just chomping at the bit to be the first mother - son team when that 'wee' one is a bit older.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Cats Out of the Bag

Finally! Check out Alan's blog. He's finally announced his plans for the 2008 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, which I've been hinting about for a few weeks. This year, the EC will be even more of a family affair, with Alan teaming up with Paul (his Dad), and building a Core Sound 20, to race in Class 4. Hmmm, need to recruit Tana somehow.

Paul and I have been wanting a sail boat for the past few years, though Paul's interest included building it himself (he has always been the kind of guy who just "makes it himself"). We always thought this would be a retirement project in the future.

Not as interested in the catamarans that Alan loves and sails, Paul still wanted something fast, and I wanted something that would let us explore and camp around the NC sounds. Last year, seeing the EC22 'Southern Skimmer', designed, built, and raced by naval architect Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht Designs, Paul found a type of boat he was interested in. And Alan approved, it not only had been raced, it was fast.

Alan had been thinking a lot about what boat to race next year. Then I'd seen a posting by another WaterTriber Greybeard who mentioned he was building a Core Sound 20 for the race. I suggested Alan look into this possibility. Graham had previously won an EC with a Core Sound 17, his boats are proven. Being a Mom, I was thinking that this boat was the safest suggestion I could think of (you have no idea some of the ideas Alan was considering).

Paul and Alan had teamed up for a weekend of sail racing with Alan's Hobie 18 at the Outback Regatta a month ago, and they had a great time together, even came in 2nd place in their division. It was a great father-son adventure, and I can't tell you how pleased and proud we are that Alan asked Paul to team again, both in building the boat and in racing it. It took a bit of convincing Paul at first, statistician that he is, he needed to do a bit of research and work out some projections to assess the feasibility. He didn't really stand a chance. Like his Mom, Alan can justify anything and everything, it's all good.

I thought they would be building in the garage, but apparently it wasn't going to be big or warm enough. Our basement, though rarely used, is a finished basement, even carpeted, it is not a workshop. But it is big enough, so I've packed up my sewing and quilting supplies, moved my "in progress" skin-on-frame kayak out of the way, and voila, one weekend later, it's a boat shop.

What's the real exciting part of it all. We'll have Alan home most weekends, and through the winter holidays. Now it's time to think of a role for Tana. To have them both home so much would be heaven.

Speaking of Tana (and giving equal face time), Tana was home for a couple of days during her Fall break. During her visit we went for a nice morning hike on our local Bolin Creek trails.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I've not been much of a regular this year at the Mudflat Ranger's weekly Wednesday night paddles on Jordan Lake. But I did manage to get out there last night. With the summer season over, the group is dwindling. It turned out to be a LUMPY-fest, only 7 paddlers and all paddling with beautiful Lumpy Paddles.

During our paddle, in the dark, and with our lake at drought levels creating lots of new beaches and islands, I found myself often disoriented to my location. This in a lake I have paddled weekly for over 12 years. In fact, people have often asked me if I get tired of the same Lake. I'm just so thankful to live near a body of water that I can get out on all the time. And I've found seasonal changes, weather differences, even the different times of the day, make the lake different every time. And none more so than now with the low water.

After we'd finished, and helped put boats on cars, we started planning future paddles. Most of this group are year-round paddlers, and many have kept me company on my distance training paddles over the past few years. I was so pleased to hear there is interest again in keeping me company on my Friday night 15's (miles) starting up in a few weeks, as my WaterTribe training begins. The company more than makes up for the dark and cold of winter nights on the Lake.

This weekend and next is starting to look pretty interesting too. Paul and Alan are off to the Coast on a big shopping expedition for their 'big build'. I expect Alan will post something soon about their plans, pretty exciting. I'll be back on the lake. Then next Friday is the Halloween paddle, followed by a weekend kayak camping trip at the beach with my friend Dee.

It doesn't get much better.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lots of Motivation Out There

It started with Canadian Ckayaker's recent posts about his modifying and re-skinning one of his skin-on-frame kayaks. Then his and other's postings, stories, and pictures of the recent action at the Delmarva Greenland Paddling Retreat a couple weeks ago has really got me motivated.

Yes, I'm as tired as you are hearing about how I"m finally going to finish my SOF. But I've really gotten the bug now, and, with WaterTribe training coming up, and then Ironman training, it's now or much later, as I'm going to start getting very busy.

I built this SOF kayak years ago (see pics), and failed miserably at my attempts to skin it with a heavy polyester. It just sits naked in the basement. So I've decided to follow Michael's lead, and cover it in canvas. Easy to replace (if and when needed), and I think a great compromise for me on this my first SOF. I find I'm also excited about possibly doing something a bit creative when painting it.

I've ordered the canvas (cotton duck #10). The basement is clean (thanks Alan for coming home Sunday and helping us). I've lost some weight so this skinny kayak should fit. And I'm freeing up some weekend time to finish it.

Of course first I need to finish the Halloween costume I'm making my Kruger Dreamcatcher for the Halloween Full Moon Paddie at Jordan Lake on the 26th.