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.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Lake is Becoming a Pond

Saturday afternoon was just beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, and with temps in the low 70's. I put in at Farrington Point, and paddled about 15 miles to Vista Point and back. The lake is at very low levels right now due to the drought.

The rocks in the lower right are the end of the boat ramp, it's easy to see how low the lake is.

These tree stumps are usually under water.

It's pretty eerie paddling through this grave yard of stumps.

The lake covers 13,940 acres, certainly not large by some standards, but I've managed 35+ mile paddles. But right now, the lake is emptying.
Since June, engineers have had to send more water out of the Jordan Lake than what little water rains have sent into the lake behind it.

Normal levels are 216 ft, current levels are at 210 ft. Our area is classified as being in an 'exceptional drought', this is a higher level than 'extreme drought'.

Drought, a fixture in much of the West for nearly a decade, now covers more than one-third of the continental USA. Half the nation is either abnormally dry or in outright drought from prolonged lack of rain that could lead to water shortages.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, this is the driest spring in the Southeast since record-keeping began in 1895. Dry episodes have become so persistent in the West that some scientists and water managers say drought is the "new normal" there.

Reinforcing that notion are global-warming projections. Kathy Jacobs of the Arizona Water Institute says "Droughts will continue to come and go, but … higher temperatures are going to produce more water stress."

All of us need to pay attention to water conservation and management.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's Dangerous Out There

I'm lucky enough to have some of the best hiking, running, and mountain biking forest trails right out my front door. Earlier this morning about a mile into my run, I met up with neighbors Steve and Barbara. Steve handed me a big stick and they both said in unison "the owl is out".

Hovering over the trails was the local "attack owl". Last year my boss David had a bloody encounter with this owl during an afternoon run, leaving his scalp with cuts and bruises and sending him to the ER.

I think it's a barred owl, as I believe they are common in this area. I've seen him before, and he's quite large, at least 18", a grandaddy for sure. At night, we can often hear owls fighting in the woods, it's a very violent and frightening sound.

While quickly deciding whether to keep going or turn back, I was remembering the dog attack the Capt'n blogged about earlier in the week, when his partner Laura went for a run. Being such a beautiful morning, I decided to keep going, but I did trade in the gifted stick for an even bigger one, and keeping a wary eye out.

I'm off to the lake soon to see if there is enough water to paddle. I'll take the sea kayak, Alan borrowed my Kruger Dreamcatcher for the weekend. He's on fall break, and off on a paddling/camping trip to Hammocks Beach on Bear Island (where I was last weekend). He called last night and told us they were having a great time swimming, kayak surfing (with my Kruger??) and fishing.

Lucky guy, he won't be around to help us clean the basement for the boat building (shhh, it's still a secret).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thirteen Years?

Now this is really extreme.

Adventurer Jason Lewis on Saturday arrived in Greenwich, ending a 13-year round-the-world trip using only the power of the human body.

The 40-year-old completed the final leg of his 46,000-mile odyssey by pedalling his 7.9-metre boat Moksha up the River Thames.

The last effort into London followed a 3,000-kilometre bike ride from Turkey through Bulgaria, Romania, Austria and Germany to Oostend in Belgium, where the boat was waiting for him.

During his circumnavigation, he capsized in the North Atlantic Ocean, broke both legs, was chased by a crocodile in Australia and arrested on suspicion of spying in Egypt and threatened with a 40-year prison sentence.

Bearded and looking tired, a clearly emotional Lewis crossed the Greenwich Meridian line at the Royal Observatory by carrying his boat with the help of supporters and cheering well-wishers.

Read the rest of the article here.
His website, with travel log etc... is here.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Photo: A Challenge Completed. Alan and Matt racing in 2007 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge in one of the 2 Wa'apa Sailing Canoes the 4 NCSU students build as Team Raf.

Aside from setting myself up for my own challenges, there is nothing I love more than encouraging and supporting other's in theirs. 12 miles or 1200 miles, the distance is not important, it's about having a dream Then the process and the personal accomplishment is unbelievable pay back, regardless of the final result. Or your age.

Some really good reasons for taking up a challenge

  1. Daring to chase your dreams
  2. To find out what you are capable of physically and mentally
  3. To learn the power of commitment and determination
  4. Doing something for your personal satisfaction
  5. Becoming a role model for your Family and/or Friends
  6. Learning about the process of reaching difficult long term goals
  7. Striving to achieve something personally difficult & challenging
Naturally making it something that really turns you on makes it all the more doable and rewarding. I'm a real believer in the Nike slogan 'Just Do It'. My other personal slogan is 'Do It Now'.

If you follow the WaterTribe, there have been some interesting conversations going on between NCSU (Alan) and our home. Here are some snippets:
  • Dad, lets team up and build a boat for EC 2008.
  • Not enough time, it's less than 5 months away.
  • No problem, I have a great idea.
  • Your supposed to be a full-time student.
  • Hmm, we'd have to build it in the basement, the garage isn't big enough or warm enough over the winter.
  • We'll have to clean the basement :(
  • Is it really 500-600 pound?
  • Hmm, we'd have to remove the sliding doors and door frame to get it out.

Rounding the Cape

In North Carolina we have Cape Fear, Cape Lookout, and Cape Hatteras. Not THE Cape Horn, but, it's an area sometimes referred to as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, it's not without challenge.

Kevin Black is an excellent sea kayaker. If your a regular at the Barrier Island Kayaks (BIK) Symposium or Sea Kayak Georgia BCU week, you may have met him. He paddles a white NDK Explorer (my personal preference) with red trim, and with fantastic red flame decals. I met Kevin many years ago, he was part of a somewhat regular crowd that hung around Lamar's (BIK), surfing long boats in Bogue Inlet. He lives in the mountains, not sure if it's VA or NC, but tries to get to the coast as often as possible. He's lots of fun, and one of those you feel safe with when paddling in conditions.

A couple months ago, I got an email from Kevin, asking my advice, and about my WaterTribe experiences with regards stealth camping. Kevin was planning a big adventure. What a surprise when I met up with him this Saturday afternoon. I was just returning from a paddling trip to Bear Island with a group of new paddling friends, and Kevin was stopping for the day, in the middle of his solo adventure "Rounding the Cape's".

He told me he'd started in Myrtle Beach a couple weeks ago. He'd paddled the coastline, then came inside onto the Intercoastal at Wilmington, mostly from boredom. And, he said he was a bit tired of Carolina dumping waves. He'd had to sit out weather for 4 days, and had clearly had to repair his paddle, the blade looked to have broken right in half. But he was having a great time and looking forward to continuing.

During the 2006 WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge, most of us challengers had also chosen to paddle up the Intercoastal when paddling up the East Coast of Florida. The inlets can be few and far between, pretty nasty even in ideal weather conditions, and this was a race that wouldn't allow much down time sitting on a beach. But also, there is so much more to see on the Intercoastal with boats, yachts, even ships, and docks and mansions on the waterfront. Often you found yourself in conversation with other boaters asking about your adventure, and offering suggestions for campsites or food stops. Staying inside can be a lot less lonely.

While Kevin and I visited, another paddler named Barrett came up. He and a friend were just finishing their final plans of paddling the Intercoastal from Swansboro to Wilmington. It was just fortuitous for him that Kevin just happened to be camping there that night.

Best of luck Kevin, we'll want a full trip report when your done.

It's All Good

A beautiful day at the Coast, off Shakleford Island on Sunday

What a great weekend. It started out looking pretty disappointing with previously made coastal plans cancelled. Then I heard of a local Internet paddling group (you gotta love the Internet) that had 27 going down for a weekend of camping and paddling, Bear Island and/or Shakleford Island. Perfect!

I arrived at Cedar Point Campground (Croatan National Forest) outside Swansboro on Friday evening. There were kayaks on top of cars everywhere. I was invited to share an overflow spot with Craig and as we introduced ourselves, we soon realized one of those "small world" moments. It turns out that Craig is a canoe instructor and guide at Haw River Canoe and Kayak Co, owned and operated by Joe Jacobs. My first kayak lessons were with Joe's previous company Rockrest Adventures. And it was with Joe and Rockrest Adventures and then with Joe and GetOutdoors, where I then went on to teach sea kayaking for a few years.

It wasn't long before I was enjoying the company of some I'd already knew and paddled with previously, other's I'd heard about, and many I was getting to make new friends with. This was a wonderfully diverse group of people, coming together with a love and interest in being outdoors, paddling, camping, and sharing a social occasion.

There were 27 in attendance, all with different boats, from recreational, inflatable, plastic, kevlar, expedition, and racing styles. As different as the boats were, so were the tents and camp setups. I came home ready to hit Walmart, Target, and REI. This was car camping at it's finest.

The event, fairly loosely organized, had been planned to accommodate all preferences and interests. Starting with various options for eating out or eating group meals in camp, and with 3 different paddling options each day for the variety of skills and endurance levels. I started the weekend with the 'peel em and eat em shrimp' dinner at Bushwackers on the pier at Emerald Isle with 12 new friends.

Saturday morning I joined a group of 13 and paddled out to Bear Island, taking the longer paddle from Swansboro (next to Barrier Island Kayaks), following the Intercoastal behind Huggins and Dudley Island, then getting onto the canoe trail and into the Bear Island Lagoon. We were eventually joined by the others who had started the canoe trail at Hammocks Beach State Park. We all spent a couple hours swimming and picnicking on the beach. Then our group headed out paddling across the sound and inlet to complete the circumnavigation. A third smaller group were paddling on the White Oak River for the day.

A busy parking lot at Bear Island.

Saturday night included a few group dinners at camp. Shrimp Kabobs, hamburgers and hotdogs, corn-on-the-cob, Spanish rice, coleslaw etc... It doesn't get much better.

Sunday there were again different paddling groups forming to accommodate peoples schedules and interests. Another group going out to Bear, this time to the West end of the Island, and a couple groups all heading out to Shakleford, leaving from Radio Island and beaching on Shakleford at the tip of Beaufort Inlet, where we could enjoy the beach and surf, more swimming and boogie boarding.

Launching off Radio Island

I headed back home about 3pm, made a quick stop at the Dairy Queen, and started my 3 hour drive home with a big smile. It had been a wonderful weekend. Now I had to come up with a Halloween costume for my kayak, for one of their next events, a large Halloween paddle on the lake. .

On the way home, I got a call from my son Alan, who invited me out to dinner on my way home through Raleigh. He wanted to tell me about his weekend Adventure Race, and to work out some boat trading. He and friends are off on a Bear Island sea kayaking trip next weekend, as part of their fall break from NC State.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Vacation to Hell

Don't know if you've heard of the Immersion Research Competition for the IR Vacation to Hell. They just posted the results of the 2nd annual vacation, which alternates between a white water and seakayaking expedition. IR refers to the contest as an expeditionary grant. This year's trip is a 300 mile sea kayaking trip, 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. Not for the risk averse, expert paddlers need only apply.

Applications (video with accompanying bios) go in without even knowing where the trip is, knowing only that a team of 4 will be judged on their ability to endure the hardships and technical challenges found on a multi-day expedition to a remote location. Winners were selected by online vote, and were announced at the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium.

Check out the basic rules here.
Check out the entry video's here.

This year's winner was Team Sweetwater, headed by Russell Farrow, a partner at Sweetwater Kayaks in Tampa Florida. Their entry application video included shots from the Labrador trip most of the members made a couple years ago. Russell was one of the instructors and a presenters at a Barrier Island Kayaks Symposium here in Swansboro N.C, a couple years ago. I was there and heard him present this trip, where gear included shotguns and electric fences for the polar bears.

I'm certainly one for challenges, and don't shy away from them. But I do know the difference between a challenge and a vacation. Hell's not one of the things on my 'to do' list.