Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To Each His Own

There is a lot of excitement locally as Brian Shultz of Cape Falcon Kayak will be in town for 2 skin-on-frame kayak building sessions in January. I've a few friends who've signed up for these workshops, and am excited to see their finished boats. (Yes, mine will be finished in time to paddle with them, I'm now sanding and painting, 1-2 more coats left).

Brian's workshops have the advantage of getting a nice, custom sized SOF finished within 8 days, but you do have to pay for the privilege, approximately $1200. This in sharp contrast to my $200 SOF, after 8 long years of building (or actually non-building).

There are other faster and cheaper ways.

I just read an articles about two paddlers who do it their way. It works for them, and they're having great time doing it. Father and son Ben and Daniel Glick started out wanting a fishing kayak. A little design work, $25, PVC piping, duck tape, some plastic sheeting, 5 hours of construction, and they were done. They wrote an article called "American Ingenuity" detailing the story of this build in the online magazine, Duck Works, a magazine about home built boats and their adventures.

Well, Ben and Daniel didn't stop there. Next, they decided to sign up to race in this years Albuquerque’s “Great Race down the Rio Grande”. They'd need to build a double. This new kayak, was also a PVC, duct tape skin-on-frame, using two old bed sheets and some exterior latex paint. They won in the home made division. And they wrote another article in Duck Works Magazine about this newer kayak "Two Seat PVC and Duct Tape Kayak".

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh to be Young Again

We had a wonderful family Christmas with a few days off to enjoy family and friends. Both our kids were home for the holidays. As college students, they both have another week or two before school starts up again. But for Paul and I it's back to work today.

Alan and his friend Taylor (above), have borrowed our sailboat, and taken off to the coast for a few days. They've got the SPOT with them making it possible to watch their tracks.

Yes we are so jealous. Oh to be young again!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Change of Plan

Hmmm, how will we find the river? That's alot of snow!

I just got an email from Mark Przedwojewski, owner of Kruger Canoes, and the organizer of our up coming trip on the Big Manistee River, Jan 9-11. It read:

"We are getting pounded!!! Most of the area we will be paddling in has near 100" of snow this year with snow forecast just about every day in the next week and a half. Jack scouted out our planned take out and you can only get to about a half mile from it, plus parking is non-existent.

I think parking will be our biggest issue next to digging through layer after layer of snow to find ground to camp on. Gathering fire wood will take a lot of work, come to think of it just getting into the canoe from a 4 foot bank of snow will take a lot of work.

I don't want to scare anyone away, but you guys driving in from out of state might be in for not only a treacherous drive, but a shorter and less fun paddle than we had first planned. I think it is getting near a time that we might want to cancel this trip, it will give you guys time to plan another outing closer to your homes."

So now Kristen and I are thinking about a new trip plan for those days we'd already arranged to have off. We're thinking about a 100 mile paddle on the Outer Banks. It'll be great training for our WaterTribe Everglades Challenge coming up in March. And we can still consider it a "Winter Adventure", but just a bit milder on the Winter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

OK, That's Enough

Enough snow in Michigan. It'll all still be there in a few weeks for my trip, but it's sounding like there's more than enough.

Speaking of wintery adventures, The January issue of the National Geographic has 2 stories related to Norway’s historic figure Fridtjof Nansen, a polar scientist-explorer (among other things), whose wintery adventures are of unimaginable hardship.

The first story, “1,000 Days in the Ice” recalls Nansen’s journey of the Fram in 1893 to 1896. During this expedition, Nanson deliberately set out to become locked in by the ice, and to continue riding the floes towards the North Pole. When forced off the ship, with companion Hjalmar Johansen, they continued the journey by sled dogs and kayaks. They didn’t quite make it to the pole, yet at the time it was the largest single advance of Arctic exploration. The return trip home was even more adventurous and harrowing, surviving on walrus and polar bear meat and blubber. They became national heroes in Norway, world celebrities, and had proved many theories about the Arctic.

The second is a polar saga called “Chasing Nansen’s Ghost”. Two modern day Norwegian adventures set out at the North Pole, to follow the same return route of Nansen and Johansen, using skis, kayaks, and para-sails instead of dogs. They are professional adventurers, and mountaineers, and had access to communication and navigation equipment. Their journey was 15 weeks, difficult, adventurous, and no less harrowing for today’s time.

Theirs was a journey of cold, ice, and snow, and hardships I cannot imagine, and will not, nor care to experience. But I am working on my own winter adventure. A Kruger Canoe sponsored winter paddling session on the Big Manistee River, January 9-11th in Michigan. We are planning a great paddle, about 55 miles, with the “focus on efficient and safe winter camping techniques, hypothermia prevention and recovery, as well as an in depth look at fire starting kits and techniques”.

It’ll also be something of a reunion of some WaterTriber’s. Kristen (KiwiBird) is driving up with me, and we’ll hook up with Mark (ManitouCruiser), Brian (kapakahi, previously daBiscuit, and blogger Capt'n), John (RiverJohn), and Jack (SeaCamp), and have an opportunity to meet other like-minded adventurers.

They've been getting lots of snow this winter, lets just hope weather doesn't prevent us from getting up there. And that this girl from Hawaii, now living in the milder climates of the South East, can find enough warm winter camping clothes/gear :)

Check it out at the new Kruger Canoes Adventure Blog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Message to the Capt'n

Hey Capt'n of the "O" Dark 30, hopefully not an idiot, but we're all a little CRAZY aren't we.

Those of us down South get an occasional (but rare) snowfall. We have a very old sled of Paul's that's great fun.

But when we get a really nice snow fall, our whole neighborhood comes out to the "big hill" with whatever we can find. It's lots more fun being creative.

Boogie boards and kayaks work just fine. Photos from the Jan 2002 snow fall. Yea we've had a few others since then, but this one is one we really remember.

I'm coming next month for the canoeing, Kruger Canoeing to be exact, but I'm looking forward to some snow too. Hmmm, Kruger sledding, I wonder?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

SOF Update

Got another coat of paint on my SOF. I posted a question on the Greenland Kayak Forum about my painting. I was concerned that even though I feel I am using the right amount of paint, and it appeared to be soaking into the canvas, it never actually came through the other side. I wasn’t sure if it should have been completely saturated through. Responses indicated I’m on track and everything is okay.

Choosing a color was hard (actually for me everything was easy till I got to the skinning part, then I agonized about every detail and stitch, and now finishing). On canvas with paint, you get an opaque and solid covering and not the transparent staining and tinting on nylon and polyester which is so appealing on SOFs. So I wanted what I thought would be a very rich looking color.

In the end I decided on a darker color (because the white hull of my fiberglass NKD Explorer always seems so dirty) that would still give some contrast with the black deck lines. At the local Lowes, I found a brand of oil based exterior paint, Columbia Fast Hide, I liked the brand name, and I liked both the color and name of the paint I choose “Tree Bark”.

I plan to decorate the boat somehow, but want it to be subtle and very low contrast. Still no good ideas on this, but I think my chocolate like brown will allow something interesting, possibly with some black and red paint.

While doing my research on finishes, I found no end to various ideas of colors and decorations. This one really shows some ingenuity. It’s a tie-died nylon, and also interesting is the bamboo used to build the kayak.

Monday, December 08, 2008

U.S. Civil War History Lesson

Sunday, Paul and I were in Newport News Virginia at an Oyster Roast. This was the Eye of the World's informational gathering and meeting at the James River Marina. This was their first kick-off fund raiser event for the Eye’s educational expedition. The picture above is of Adam Domanski presenting the planned joint adventure and educational project. Adam an NC State graduate student is one of the Eye’s adventurers, along with my son Alan, and their friend Anna.

While there, we spent a couple of hours visiting the Newport News Mariners Museum; we really needed a couple of days. We had known that there would be an exhibit about the USS Monitor, a Civil War ironclad warship. She is most famous for her participation in the first-ever naval battle between two ironclad warships in 1862, the Battle of Hampton Roads, in which the Monitor (Union) fought the ironclad CSS Virginia (Confederates).

This was a bit of news to me. I’d always heard it as the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack. I even remember when Alan was a very young boy and built a model of both the Monitor and the Merrimack. The exhibits works to correct this statement of history, after all, the Museum is in Virginia. It seems the Merrimack was the original sailing ship that was refit and provided the hull to the then newly named ironclad, the Virginia. The infamous battle resulted in a draw, but forever changed the future of warships.

We did not know that the museum was the USS Monitor Center, including it's conservation laboratory, viewable by visitors, where the recovered turret, engine, and other artifacts of the Monitor are being preserved after it's recovery off the Hatteras NC coast in 2002. The whole presentation at the museum was quite interesting, and well worth the visit.

There were other exhibits as well. Unfortunately we only had time to take a quick look at there International Small Craft Center. Over 75 vessels are on display documenting the diverse ways in which people around the world have set out to sea. Of particular interest, and a wonderful surprise were the two historic animal skinned, skin-on-frame kayaks, and one baidarka. Unfortunately, this came at the end of our visit, and I had no time to photograph them or find out much information about them. A great reason to go back for a visit.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey and Skin

It’s been a busy holiday weekend, all about family. My son and daughter were home and we joined Paul’s family for a wonderful Thanksgiving feast. Alan had to get right back to school to finish a major project; but Tana stayed the 4 days. We went to movies, played games, and had a wonderful visit.

Not much time to paddle, I tried to get out early Saturday morning, but on the way to the lake I discovered I had an axle problem on my kayak trailer and had to return home. It’s going to need some parts. In the meantime, I’ll just have to figure out how to deal with the kayak on and off the minivan myself.

By Sunday afternoon, the house was empty and quiet again. Earlier in the weekend I bought the paint to cover the canvas on my SOF, a beautiful brown called ‘Tree Bark’. I just finished painting the first coat.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fundraiser for Eye of the World

If you follow my blog you know my son and 3 friends leave next November on their world sailing circumnavigation titled Eye of the World.

Eye is a 3 year interactive traveling classroom. It's quite an ambitious plan, built on innovation, exploration, discovery, and diversity. What an adventure.

Their first big fundraiser is scheduled December 7th; a 5k morning fun run and an afternoon Oyster Roast at the James River Marina in Virginia where the sailboat is dry docked for the winter.

Tickets (or other donations) can be purchased on the Eye's website.

We'll be there.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Like many paddlers I know, I often have a GPS on my deck to monitor my speed and distance. I use it both as a toy, and as a training tool assessing my technique and fitness with speed.

The past few months, my GPS was reporting some changes in my regular speed, or I should say lack of. Over the many years that I’ve paddled my sea kayak, I’d worked up to a comfortable average pace of 4mph on a regular 20 miler. But lately, it’s felt like I really have to struggle and work to get there.

I couldn’t help but wonder if this was aging, some technique issues with a double blade since the last 3 years I’d spent much more time with a single blade in my Kruger Dreamcatcher. Maybe it was paddling with my new Lumpy paddle; I’d ordered a narrower blade to fit my hand better.

Well today I had an “Ah Ha” moment.

This morning, Sara (above) and I met for an early morning paddle. We each needed to be off the water by noon, and wanted to get in about 12 miles. It was quite windy, 10-15 mph with lots of white caps and wind driven waves which made the paddle a lot of fun.

While paddling and with the strong headwinds I was watching the GPS to see the winds effect on our speed, it was reading between 3.0 and 3.3 mph. On the return I mentioned how much the winds were affecting our speed, and that I felt I was working really hard just to get 3 mph. Sara said she thought we were doing okay; her GPS was regularly reading 4, often 4.5, and at that moment it actually read 4.7 mph. Impossible I thought, yet she had the newer GPS. I liked her numbers. Not only was my GPS reading slower speeds, but we also seemed much slower to me.

THEN I noticed that the units had been reprogrammed and my GPS was reading knots, not mph; very good news. Sorry Bill, it’s wasn't the paddle, in fact the paddle is perfect.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lifes Disappointments

Life is full of disappointments. It appears that the 2009 Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race is not to be for me and Kristen. Our troubled economy and the seemingly bleak looking future have affected our sponsorship for the race. BubbaGirl our primary sponsor so graciously continued to express commitment even in the face of difficulties with the economic uncertainty. But a kayak race with a big budget seems a bit ridiculous, at the very least frivolous, and certainly selfish. Kristen and I gave BubbaGirl an out, and it was taken.

When Kristen and I decided to race this event together, we did so with the understanding that all expenses needed to be covered by sponsorship, so as not to burden our families with additional sacrifice. Now without a sponsor Kristen and I have agreed that we cannot continue with our original plan. A special thank you to Paul, who after hearing this news and seeing my disappointment, offered to help me work it out, someway. It’s just too much.

The good news is that life is also always full of wonderful people, and other adventures and challenges. There is little time in life to mop around for one missed opportunity. This past year I’ve been particularly blessed with some new paddling friends and groups that have offered many wonderful and varied paddling experiences, and with many more to come.

So life continues and so will my adventures. For now, I’m focusing on the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge in March, and maybe I’ll breathe a little sigh of relief that I can stay the Challenger and relax about trying to be the Racer :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brawn with Dawn

That is the title I'd given my weekly Tuesday morning fitness paddle on the calendar of my local Kayak Meetup Group. I was hoping a cute name might entice a few to come out for a regular early, albeit cold, workout.

Launching at 6:30 AM, an hour long paddle pacing at 4+mph, and with a few short intervals.

Tuesday morning I met Elizabeth, and we paddled about 4 miles during a beautiful sunrise. Elizabeth, a very interesting young woman was a great paddling partner. We chatted about kayaking, canoeing, and sailing, and finished with a 1/2 mile sprint to the finish. I look forward to paddling with her again.

Training begins!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Salty Paddle

Sunday after the race Camille, Sara, and I had planned to join the Carolina Beach Women’s Kayak Group (CBkayak) for a nice day paddle. It’s too long a trip to the coast (3 hrs) not to take advantage of every opportunity to get our kayaks in salt water. And this is a group we hope to have some joint adventures with in the future.

There were 12 of us who met at the Ft Fisher Basin around 10 that morning. Ft Fisher is near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, where the Cape Fear Inlet provides outlet into the Atlantic.

It was not the leisure paddle we had planned after the previous days race, winds were 20 mph with higher gusts, lots of white caps and wind driven wavelets. And Virginia had accidently miscalculated the tides so it was a bit of a revisit in conditions. But still a recreational paddle with no need to hurry today.

We paddled out the basin behind Zeke’s Island and the "wall" into a big bay, then entering a channel with rocks and eddies, that entered into one and then another bay. The "wall" is a mile long concrete and rock jetty between the bays and the ocean connecting the southern tip of Pleasure Island to Zeke’s Island and then to Smith Island. The wall keeps the north/south flow of the river from impacting this fragile estuary (The basin is part of the Zeke's Island Estuarine Reserve). At high tide, the water overflows the wall, at low tide, there are holes that a kayak could pass.

We did get caught with the low tide as we tried to enter one of the bays, but it was just a short drag in a couple inches of fast moving water (and we lost 3 from our group opting to head back) and then we paddled into the bay and over to a sandy beach.

Much to our surprise, it was then just a short hike over a few sand dunes and there was the ocean. We lunched and visited, and enjoyed a short rest listening and watching waves hitting the sandy shore.

Everyone was having fun; it was a beautiful warm and sunny day despite the windy conditions. Not a whiner in the group, just us girls who like to be on the water.

The paddle back was again a bit of a workout, tough current and wind. I’ll take care not to leave my sail home next time; this would have been a great opportunity to play with my Pacific Action Sail in the Explorer.

The ride back was a bit faster with almost tailwinds and following seas, though still quite challenging for those sans rudders or skegs. And once back near the basin, another treat, we were greated by 7 kite surfers doing their thing, racing about and catching air.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

WOW - We all Medaled

Photo: Dawn, Sara, Camille, Virginia

Friday evening, Sara, Camille, and I, all members of our local Women on the Water (WOW) paddling group drove down to Wrightsville Beach to race in the 5th annual Wrightsville Beach Sea Kayaking Race on Saturday, and to paddle again on Sunday with Virginia and her women's group CBKAYAK local to that coastal area.

From the picture you can tell we were all quite successful. I, Virginia and Sara took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively in the Women's Master Division (40-59 yrs), and Camille took 2nd in the Grand Master's Division (60+).

The race was a fund raiser for the NC Coastal Land Trust. There were 47 racers, 14 of whom were women (which was a very successful womens showing). The main event was a 6 mile paddle (which we all did), with a 3 mile fun race.

It was a hard circle race. The first 1.5 miles was against a full current and 15-18 mph head winds paddling towards Masonboro Inlet, then a turn and what we'd hoped would be a 3 mile fly up the Intercoastal. I decided to rename this section 'One-Way Waterway' as all the yachts and boats were motoring down the Intercoastal creating wakes and chop that totally worked against any benefit of wind and current. There was enough boat traffic that the Coast Guard boat acting as safety, was stopping boats at one section to let the racers get through. The 1.5 mile return was a hard slog back into more building headwinds.

Hard yes, but a great workout. I loved it. My time was 1hr 18min 39sec, which also placed me 3rd women overall. I know next year's race is going to be even harder, Virginia is not going to let me win again :)

Some pics below:

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sunday in the Mountains

After such a nice lake paddle on Saturday, I drove up to Boone NC on Sunday to visit my daughter, and check out the Fall colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The colors were disappointing compared to the lake; Tana said it wasn't a good year for color in the mountains, most things went from green to yellow/brown quickly. We had a nice hike up on Grandfather Mountain in the morning.

Even stopped and checked out the bears in the wildlife habitat exhibit. I'm all about getting to know bears these days.

The rest of the day was girl stuff, some great shopping, and out to dinner at a nice Thai restaurant. But the most fun was later that evening when Tana had some friends over and they all taught me how to play Wii Rock Band. Great fun, thanks Tana.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Unusual Sight

Someone sent in a couple more pictures from the Sailing Messabout Paul and I went to a couple weekends ago. The picture above is of Paul and I sailing in our boat the "Dawn Patrol". That we are both in a picture together is such an unusal occurance that I just had to post it.

And because I'm at the tiller (and looking quite relaxed) on one of the really windy days :)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again

I spent much of today paddling on the lake. Got out there a little later than usual. Woke up to 38F but forecasts were for 70F later in the afternoon, so I opted for the warmth. It was a great 10 mile solo fitness paddle. I don't know if we are at peak fall colors yet, but it sure was beautiful.

November always starts my WaterTribe training, where I need to start building some base for distance. This year is no different than previous ones, though planning to paddle the 300 miles in Class 1 (canoe and kayak), I'll probably need to be a bit more diligent in following my training plan.

Basic Training Plan:

  • Regular 15 mile Fri night paddles
  • Regular Sunday paddles building from 15-35 miles
  • Back to Back Sat/Sun 20-30 mile paddles in February with loaded boat
  • Weight Training/Core workouts/Yoga for flexibility
  • Regular Running, Biking, Swimming for cardio workouts
  • Weight Watchers for weight control

My training goals are to have a comfortable and injury free Everglades Challenge performed in “challenger mode”. After that, there will be a few weeks rest, then I’ll really pick it up with KiwiBird for our Yukon 1000 race in July. We’ll be paddling that one in “race mode”.

As I was packing up, Mimi arrived for a paddle in her new SOF. She's just back from the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat where she took a week long workshop with Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayaks. She made the F1 model, it was quite beautiful.

I'm going to buy the paint for my canvas covered SOF this week!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More Sailing

My Balogh Retreat Weekend was followed by a weeks vacation with Paul and our sailboat, a Core Sound 20 named "Dawn Patrol".

We headed down to the coast to BayBoro NC off the Pamlico River on Tuesday, and spent the next 5 days sailing and camping (on the boat). This was all part of a B&B Yachts Messabout, planned by the designer of our boat.

Video of Paul and I sailing in "Dawn Patrol".

This was a wonderful vacation. There were some incredible sailors and boat builders there, all the boats were hand made, wooden, and primarily B&B Yachts designs. We sailed and partied and had a great time. I got in some great sailing lessons. Camping, both anchored or docked on our little boat was great fun. The smile on my face below says it all.

Graham Byrne's owner of B&B and his wife Carla put on a great event with some help from friends. While there, I also tried out one of Graham's new rowing boat designs (in progress), and his newest kayak design the Grand Diva (which I'm quite interested in).
There are lots of stories and many more pictures and links to photo albums of the event on the 3 page "messabout thread" on the Messing-About websites B&B forum here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Balogh Kayak Sailing Weekend

A quick stop home to switch boats, and a short report. The Balogh Sail weekend at Cedar Island was so much fun. It was also very wet (constant rain Fri and Sat) and very windy, 20-25 kts on Sat, 30-35 kts on Sun. Many went out Saturday, all stayed on shore Sun.

I went out a little on Saturday and worked primarily on some upwind sailing and tacking. During my WaterTribe challenges, when upwind, I usually just paddle. Mark Balogh thinks this is a mistake especially in big winds, and suggested I spend a bit more time working on my upwind skills. He also offered other suggestions for me to work on. I'm determined to return next year a much better kayak sailor.

There were so many great tips shared, both sailing and outfitting. I can't wait to add a push-pull tiller to my Dreamcatcher.

The very varied range of boats was somewhat surprising, incuding recreational, white water, singles, doubles, canoes, you name it, all with one or more Balogh Sails. One double kayak had 3 masts, and custom made 10 foot amas, when fully reefed he still flies more than 100 sq ft of sail. There was also an old fiberglass white water slolom kayak, with it's rocker, it was sailing figure eights around me, so much fun to watch.

Camille had a great time too, and a great sail with “Mad Dave" on his 3 masted double sea kayak. Her smile on the return, in photo above says it all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kayak and Canoe Sailing

Yahoo, it's a go! Check it out, Kristen and I are registered.

My Bear posting generated quite a few offers to teach me how to use a gun/shotgun, and I thank friends for that. I'm not real keen on taking a firearm right now, I'd likely just get the bear even more mad. An funny addition to this topic is another local rule regards field dressing any wildlife that are killed in self defence. Seems if you killed a bear between Dawson and Eagle, it is illegal to leave it in the bush, you have to take it back to Dawson.

Moving on........

Coming in at the finish of the
2008 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge

I’m off early Friday morning to the 18th annual BORN TO RAISE SAIL© kayak and canoe sailors gathering, hosted by the Red Oak, Virginia Chapter of the Sails Angels© at Cedar Island.

I’ve packed both my Kruger Dreamcatcher Canoe with its Balogh Sail Rig, and my NDK Explorer sea kayak with its PAS downwind sail.

The event flyer said “The previous years gatherings brought friendly, interesting people from Colorado, England, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin among other places. Boats ranged from canoes to hardshell, inflatable and folding kayaks. Although we have intentionally kept the size of the gathering small, this has certainly become the sailing kayak/canoe event of the season.” Sounds like a really great time.

I happened upon this event 7 years ago, October 2001. John, Eric and I, regular paddling partners at the time, were there to paddle the 20 mile crossing from Cedar Island to Portsmouth Island, and spend the weekend camping on the beach at the historic and now uninhabited barrier island on Core Banks.

It was a long hard paddle, we made Portsmouth at dusk, and though prepared, we were still completely overwhelmed by mosquitoes, the buzzing sound of millions and bazillions of mosquitoes was deafening. They say “Mosquitoes visit other places in the world, but they are all originally from Portsmouth Island”. It was so bad, that upon awakening the next morning, we dove from our tents into the water, and planned an immediate retreat, paddling over to Oakracoke Island, and then taking the ferry back to Cedar Island.

It was while on the ferry ride back, that I met a few family members of some of the kayak sailors who were visiting for the sailing retreat weekend. Two women told me of their husbands adventures, kayak paddle sailing and camping the entire East Coast Intracoastal Waterway. We were invited to join them for the Saturday night dinner, but feeling a bit like intruders we thanked them and went on our way.

I’m pretty sure these stories of adventures were the real beginning for me related to kayaking. A year later I turned 50, and kayak trips and expeditions became an important part of my life. Just goes to show, your never to old.
Friday also begins a little vacation, so a bit of silence on the blog. Should have some great stories and pics when I'm back.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I had decided I would just refuse to worry about bears in the Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race next July. But as much as I try not to think about it, the topic keeps coming back.

When I first told Paul about the race, and mentioned I would be in Grizzly country, he responded “well at least it’s too far south for Polar Bears”. He followed this up with a Google search only to discover that a Polar Bear had made his way into Fort Yukon (right on our route) just this past March, and had to be killed.

Peter Coats, the organizer of this event, spent time this summer paddling part of the route, and his trip report is full of bear pictures and encounters.

Today Peter posted on the Yukon1000 forum that the racers will be paddling through Yukon Charley River National Preserve, and they have strict rules that all food on every boat going through the Preserve must be stored overnight in a bear safe way.

There are bear containers, but the problem is that the kayaks may have difficulty carrying enough containers to hold the food requirements of the race, less a problem for the canoes. In this race each racer must have a minimum of 20kg food weighed at the start of the race.

Organizers are now thinking about the possibility of supply drops along the way. Personally, I'm really hoping this race stays "expedition style", no support teams, no food drops. All the planning and logistics is part of the challenge and the fun, else it's just a very long paddle.

They are also asking folks what they think about allowing firearms. I don't even know how to use one, maybe I need to think a bit about that :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thank-you Tom

It sure has been a busy couple of weeks, last weekend I spent 3 days paddling and training in the Potomac River and then Sunday in the Chesapeake Bay overlooking the Thomas Point Lighthouse.

Tom Nickels, ACA Instructor Trainer extraordinaire, through Potomac Paddlesports, lead a 4 day ACA Instructor Development Workshop and Certification Exam, which I, along with friends Camille and Craig had signed up for.

It was quite a bit of work, AND, a huge learning experience, AND lots of fun. Tom’s a great instructor, and we had a great class. Yes, I passed, I'm now a certified Coastal Kayak Instructor. I’ve still got a bit of work to do on my delivery, a little less talking and a lot more creativity, but Tom also said I’ve got a beautiful paddling stroke :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Those Kruger's Sure Can Travel

Stacey Fritz and Ryan Tinsley, have set off on a multi-season voyage along the western Arctic coast by Kruger Canoe with Balogh Sailing Rig, to explore the cultural and environmental history of the Cold War's northernmost 'distant early warning' radar outposts.

This is all part of Stacey's anthropology dissertation research project. You've got to read their journal and look at their pics, it's quite a story.

You can't beat a Kruger for a trip like this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Here I Go Again

This is how the waiver begins for next July's Yukon 1000 canoe and kayak race.

The animal hazards are a bit different then the WaterTribe Challenges:
Animal hazards are common. Among these risks are bears, Moose, wolves, wolverines, beavers, bees, hornets, wasps, ants, ticks, mosquitoes and black fly. Other dangerous or annoying critters, too numerous to mention, are also in abundance. As an expert you are expected to know how to counter these attacks and it is expected that you have an adequate first aid kit and that you know how to use it.

Mosquitoes will be present. Mosquitoes can carry diseases including but not limited to West Nile Virus. And there have been documented cases of large animals dying from mosquito bites alone due to loss of blood. As an expert you are expected to be able to deal with hordes of mosquitoes approaching the size of small raptors and avoid or cope with other animals.

You can can read the whole waiver here. IT'S GONNA BE A BLAST!

Race registration is now open, KiwiBird and I will be officially registered soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Falls Lake Marathon

Sunday was the 2nd annual Falls Lake Marathon paddle. It's not a race or an advertised event. It's a distance challenge made up by the local paddlers around here, all about fun, friends, and paddling. I wasn't able to paddle the inaugural event last year so was pleased I could make it this year. Last year they had 8 finishers, this year there were 5 of us, only 3 who had time for the entire distance (25.5 miles).

And it took some time. We didn't get on the water till after 10 having to wait for the gate to be unlocked then shuttle cars. We took 3 fairly long breaks from the mild but continual headwinds, including a nice picnic.

Then once we hit the Eno River, we had a bit of trouble finding our way. It's not an easy place to navigate normally, lots of winding channels, but with the water levels so high after Tropical Storm Hannah last week, there were no discernible channels. We ended up missing an important turn, and then every thing looked like our next left turn. We paddled right into a swamp, even while consulting our multiple maps and GPS. Dave described it as "this way, that way, not the right way". We finally retraced our path and paddled up to a small fishing boat figuring we'd follow them in. They were lost too, had run out of gas, and were waiting on a relative to find them. We turned around, went the wrong way again, retraced a bit further and finally found the right channel and our way to the take out.

We finally finished just at 7:30, the sun had just gone down, the full moon was already out, but there was lots of twilight left to pack up.

As usual, it was another great day on the water.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

KiwiBird Come Back

I’ve decided it’s time for KiwiBird to come back to the world of paddling, she’s been gone way too long. We all know how busy life can be when you have a young child, and I know she has been really crazy with the new job too, but, come on, we’re talking about KAYAKING here.

So I sent her one of those "Helllloooo Out There" emails today asking her to please come back. I miss her, and I miss her blog. Obviously many of you do too because I've been getting all your emails asking about her.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An Evening about SOFs

Here I am checking out Christine's SOF frame at our local Skin-on-Frame meeting/social Sunday evening. About 8 members attended, our group is now 17 strong.

Joe brought his SOF which he'd completed a while ago, and I brought my 'all it needs is paint' SOF. It was really interesting comparing the 3. As are most home built SOFs, all were different in size and shape, and all built using completely different techniques. Craig has just started getting organized for his big build, and is following Yost, yet another plan,. Ginger and Camille, anxious for SOFs, are still in the dreaming and thinking about it stage.

It was three plus hours of talk all centered around SOFs and kayaks, and a wonderful barbecue. Christine was a great hostess, and is quite a talented kayak builder (she's previously built a beautiful wooden strip kayak).

Greenland Paddles have become quite the rage here, as it seems to have become nationally. We're proud to count Bill Bremer, owner of Lumpy Paddles one of our local resident paddlers. I've only ever seen a couple of SOFs on the water around here, but I expect will be changing soon too.

Below, Joe and I are helping Christine get in her frame for the very first time to check out and discuss fit.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Spend Your Time in Your Kayak

I'm becoming more and more aware of how fast the hours pass when sitting at my computer, reading my favorite blogs, participating on paddling (or other) forums, and communicating through email. In fact, I'm finding it's taking up just too many hours of my daily life.

I'm a pretty early riser, always before 5am. I usually start each morning with a cup of coffee, while watching 30 minutes of news, and responding to personal emails. Then I'm up and moving, either going for a run or a bike ride before getting ready for work. There used to be a time I even went for an early morning paddle once a week.

But lately, and all too often, I've looked up from the computer to find I've wasted away hours on my laptop, there's more email than ever, more interesting blogs, and so many forums. Before I even realize it, I've lost all my free time, and need to rush around to get ready for work.

And don't you just hate it when someone sends you an email through a forum, and you respond in a personal way, without realizing you have replied to the whole forum group.

So.... a new personal challenge, limiting my computer time. Limiting blogging to my favorites, and including forums, possibly even scheduling my daily computer time. It's just too addictive, and way too much "sitting-on-my-butt" time.

Some of this really hit home when a friend sent me a link to something called Paddle Spin, a social network for kayakers. This I do not need. Luckily for me, I hate the term "social network".

So I'm off to Jordan lake, I expect it's overflowing after all our rain yesterday as tropical storm Hannah came through. I'm meeting up with a large group this morning for a 20 mile training paddle. Our annual marathon paddle (26.2 miles) on Falls Lake is next Saturday.

Then this afternoon/evening I'm meeting up with a local skin-on-frame club, for a meeting and barbecue. My SOF is skinned, the cockpit is in, and I'll be painting it in a few days. I'm looking for some advice on how to build a combing lip on my cockpit.

I don't need any electronic social networking, I need to get in my boat!

Time to go!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

He's an Ironman

And we are so proud of him. Though the clock says 15:16:44, his official time was actually 14 hours and 44 minutes after adjusting for his actual start time.

I'm sure he'll be posting a slide show and story about his and Adam's race on his blog or on the Team Norsa blog, as soon as they have a few minutes. It was very exciting.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Another Busy Weekend

There are people who paddle, and then there are paddlers. I’m not talking about skill; both may be equally skilled, though the paddler is certainly more practiced. The paddler is someone who is passionate about it, it is a priority, and they paddle often. It can be for sport and fitness, or relaxation and fun. I’m a paddler.

I think about it, plan it, blog about it, I do it. It’s something that makes me feel good. Paddling puts a smile on my face every time, it seems to relieve me of the stress and troubles of everyday life, at least for a short period of time. I absolutely love it. Fitting it in is not always easy, I'm generally pretty busy, sometimes it's a real challenge, often a sacrifice and compromise.

Today I left the house early for a 12 miler, I'll not have time to get any paddling in over the weekend. There were few on the lake, as it was a weekday and schools are back in session. Today was about fitness and strength, I needed to feel myself working hard, getting into that rhythm, emptying my mind. It was a great morning workout. I'm glad I could fit it in. I’m glad I had the time to go long.

Now it’s off to Louisville Kentucky. I’m going to be there for my son Alan, cheering him on as he does the Louisville Ironman Triathlon. I’ll be a little sad and disappointed that I had to drop out, but it’ll be okay, I wouldn’t miss being there for him for the world. And I suspect when I’m watching the swim, I’ll be thinking not of swimming so much as paddling that River anyway.

Good luck Alan and Adam, another great adventure and challenge.

Note to my Mom:
Mom, if you want to follow Alan in real time on the Internet during the race on Sunday, go here, it's Adam's blog and it'll explain what you need to do.