Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In Training

My original plan for the 2010 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge (EC) this coming March was to sail it with Paul in the ‘Dawn Patrol’.  Paul and Alan originally build our sailboat for the 2008 EC which they did together. They also did the 2009 North Carolina Challenge this past September in the class 4 sailboat class.

Photo above is Paul and Alan coming into the finish of the 2009 NCC fully reefed.

Though there is a big smile on my face at the tiller in the picture below, I’m not yet skilled as a sailor. In order to do the EC in a safe and comfortable (as much as any adventure race is, comfortable really translates to less stressful) way, I felt that we’d need to spend a lot of time sailing this past year. I needed to not only learn to sail, but to be confident in it, and have a good understanding of navigation under sail. Well unfortunately that didn’t really happen, we had some nice weekends, but it seemed that there was always other things going on throughout the year that kept us from putting the necessary time in.

I have been paddling of course. So it looks like I’ll need another year of sailing lessons before entering the Challenge in Class 4. In the meantime, I’ve started training for the EC in Class 1 kayak, and Paul is going to volunteer to work the EC this year.

Finding time for training and trying to build the new kayak to paddle in the EC is going to be its own Challenge. My basic training plan for the EC is below. I’ve previously finished 6 ECs, I have the mental stamina, but getting the physical conditioning right certainly makes for a more fun and enjoyable event.  And of course I really love the training and all the time on the water.   I’m right on track.

Basic Training Plan:
• Regular 15 mile Fri night paddles Jan and Feb
• Regular Sunday paddles building from 15-35 miles
• Back to back Sat/Sun 20-35 mile paddles twice in Feb with loaded boat
• Weight Training/Core workouts/Yoga for flexibility
• Regular Jogging, Biking, Swimming for cardio workouts
• Weight Watchers for weight control (lose same 20 lbs, again)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Here's wishing you all the joys of the season. 
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ready Go

Before starting the actual build, the basement needed to be converted back into a workshop. It's organized and we are now ready to start the build.

The first few pictures in the slideshow above show the hull pieces layed out and ready to scarf the lengths (plan to do tonight). Note that the hull (as in many of the B&B Yacht designs) is built using the 'butterfly technique'.

After scarfing the lengths, you have two large pieces, the side chines are stitched, then the hull is folded in half and the bow, stern, and hull bottom is stitched, then it is allowed to open up and you have a complete hull, ready for taping and epoxy.  Adding the bulkheads and the inwales allow it to keep it shape.

I'm hoping we can do this over the weekend after our Christmas holiday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Came Early

Last weekend Paul and I visited Santa Claus (Graham Byrnes) at the North Pole (Vandemere). I must have been a really good girl this year, a new B&B Yacht's Grand Diva kayak kit is my big gift. Merry Christmas to me…

We spent the day visiting with Graham at his workshop, while watching his CNC machine cut out the new kit. Graham was wonderful, and very accommodating to the few customizations I wanted, such as different hatches and cockpit sizes.

This is will be the 5th Grand Diva kayak to date (still not even listed on his website). Its 17’ 6” long, 21” wide, and Swede form in symmetry. The Swede form design is characterized with the wider part of the kayak behind the true middle of the kayak. It is often considered to be a faster and more desirable performer.

The picture above was taken from the Rogue Paddler website. See his article on ‘Choosing the Right Kayak’,  where he discusses kayak symmetry.

Why a new kayak?  It'll be a nice addition to my growing fleet.  Much lighter (possibly as much as 20 lbs lighter than my NDK Explorer), and I’ll add a rudder which will make sailing the kayak with my Pacific Action Sail a bit more pleasant.

The plan is to try and finish the kayak in time for the 2010 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. Hopefully Paul will have enough free time to help me, or it’ll never get finished.

Graham said he wants to see me finish ahead of KiwiBird this year :) and he'll be quite interested in hearing my opinion of the kayak.  Opinionated I am, hopefully this kayak will help with the fast part.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Road Trip

Paul and I are going to Vandemere to visit with Carla and Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht Designs on Sunday.  Graham is a well known designer of wooden boats, including kayaks, canoes, row boats, tenders and dingys, beach cruisers, tailer sailors, power boats and multihulls.  In fact, I just heard he's working on a 45' catamaran.

Our Core Sound 20 named 'Dawn Patrol' is a B&B sailboat, check out the link, it includes a picture of the 'Dawn Patrol' in action.

We're going up to 'help' Graham cut out a Grand Diva kayak kit, for me.  The Stewarts will be in building mode again, trying to meet another WaterTribe deadline for the 2010 Everglades Challenge.  This kayak, which is a new model and not yet featured on their website, will be light and fast, 18' long and 21" wide.  Her little sister the "Diva" is described here.    I plan to outfit her with a rudder and my Pacific Action Sail

Paul says it'll be 2011. I've not got a good track record when it comes to finishing kayaks, and he's pretty busy these days.  I'm still needing some coats of paint on that skin-on-frame in the basement, which I've promised to finish before starting another.   But Paul has made WaterTribe deadlines before when building the 'Dawn Patrol'.  Either way, you'll likely be seeing more on my blog about the building process.

Good thing we've got some holiday time off in a couple weeks :)

Friday, December 04, 2009

On the Shoreline

Taken from the website http://www.boston.com/, The Big Picture -  News Stories in Photographs.

 On The Shoreline
"We humans are drawn to the shore, with some 40% of the world's population living within 100 kilometers of a coast. Coastal areas have made recent news with the arrival of several storms, concerns about rising sea levels and other environmental and conservation efforts. Collected here are a handful of photographs from around the world of people and animals at the shoreline, playing, working, struggling or relaxing on the border between land and sea. (36 photos total)"
The photos are absolutely beautiful, check it out here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Georgia Trip

My Georgia trip report will unfortunately have to wait on some photos, my camera had a problem and other’s have promised to share their pictures soon.  

The EYE sailboat with my son Alan on it did indeed pass me off Sapelo Island, and even though they were quite a bit more offshore, I was able to see their sails, and got a few text messages from Alan during that time.

I hope to plan many more trips to Georgia, both kayaking and sailing. It’s a beautiful coast, and a very different ecology than my NC coast.  To help me plan, I’ve purchased the book (above) The Georgia Coast, Waterways and Islands by Nancy Schwalbe Zydler and Tom Zydler.

In the meantime, I'm paddling again locally, and starting my training for the 2010 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back Home

What a GREAT trip, see full spot tracking below.  Lots of great stories and pictures to come.  But first, unpacking, laundry, and washing gear.

SandyBottom Georgia Coast at SpotAdventures

Map created by SpotAdventures:GPS Geotagging

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Paddling the Georgia Coast

Dawn is paddling the Georgia coast this week with her well-trained kayak in the company of a group of other skilled kayakers. They launched the trip today from Tybee Island at about 2pm. Head 'em up, move 'em out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pat on the Back

I guess if you keep a blog, you also get to pat yourself on the back occasionally in your blog.

I just received notice that an article I wrote about the new Carolina Kayak Clubs (CKC) experiences starting up this year (as relates primarily to training activities), was published.  I am the current Safety and Training Chair of the CKC.   The article is the first Club contributed article to the American Canoe Associations (ACA) Safety Education and Instruction newsletter "SEI Focus".

See the article here.

What else is new?  Well I'm keeping a look out on the weather here. 

We are going to see some rain and wind as the remnants of Hurricane Ida pass through.  My regular Wednesday early morning paddle just got cancelled for tomorrow.   Luckily all weather will have passed before my Georgia paddling trip next week.  But, the sailing crew of the EYE who left Masonboro towards South Port his morning will likely see lots of rain for the next few days.  They are planning to play it safe and stay inside on the ICW for awhile on their way to Florida.  And, I've been having some fun keeping up the 'Family and Friends' blog.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Everyone's Paddling Georgia

Seems everyone’s paddling the Georgia Coast this fall, including me.

I’ve got one week of vacation left, and I wanted to take a week-long kayaking trip, but being so busy lately, there just hasn't been any time to do proper planning. So I started looking around for trips offered by outfitters who will have done all the planning and logistics.  I've guided short trips before, but never signed on for one myself.  My only requirements were that it be a trip that would provide some challenge, an ocean trip (no beginners allowed), and close enough to home that I could drive and use my own kayak and gear.

I discovered that there was an awful lot trips going on around me, and that I knew and liked all of the players.

My first plan was to join Nigel Law of Savannah Canoe and Kayak on his expedition of the Georgia Coast.  Nigel, with Steve Maynard and John Carmody were my initial BCU 4* instructors years ago, I'd have great fun with him.  But Nigel’s trip was to leave Nov 1, and conflicted with the EYE launch.

Then I found Ronnie and Marsha’s trip at Sea Kayak Georgia. I’ve met, taken classes, and paddled with both of them during a couple of past Barrier Island Kayak symposiums. This trip looked to offer a little of everything, from a couple of long paddles, to a few nights with beach base camping with days of rough water and surf play. This is my trip, and I leave on the 14th.

Another option if your looking around, is another November GA coast trip offered by Sea Kayak Carolina with Tom Nichols who is visitng from Potomac Paddle Sports, running this trip as both a BCU3* and 4* training and assessment.  Tom was my ACA instructor trainer, and is alot of fun to paddle with.

I leave in a week, and now have lots to do to get ready.  Ronnie's itinerary has us paddling a little over 50 miles of the coastline, just short of half.  I'll get a good feel for this coastline, get in some great paddling and skill work, and should have a year to plan my own trip next year paddling the full 110 miles of the coast with friends.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Moving On

Our family spent this past weekend in Hampton VA for the launch of the EYE of the World sailing expedition. It was a fun, exciting, and bittersweet weekend as parents of the crew watched their young men begin their big adventure.

Paul and I were certainly not alone in our feelings of pride, excitement, and also worry, as we talked to Adam’s and Trevor’s parents, all of us in the same boat (pardon the pun) so to speak.  So I hit on an idea to oganize another blog ‘Family and Friends of EYE of the World’, hoping to create a community of support and sharing of information and communication. Still a work in progress, and probably not really ready for prime time, but it's a start and the'll be gone a long time.

Its certainly been a busy month helping Alan get off, but now, it’s time for us to get on with some of our future plans, while Alan begins to live his own.

I’ve got a great kayaking trip planned for in a couple weeks, paddling the coastline of Georgia (I’ll post a bit about this later in the week). Maybe I’ll even see Alan sailing past, timing might be right. And Paul has a bit of work he wants to do on our sailboat ‘Dawn Patrol’.  And we've decided to start planning our own week-long sailing adventure next summer.

Over the last couple years we've become email and blog pals, and fans of Steve who also keeps a sailing blog about his adventures in his own homebuilt Pathfinder sailboat named "Spartina".  Paul and I have often talked about taking a trip like Steve and his sailing partner Bruce have, at the Coast here in NC or in Virginia in the Chesapeake Bay area.  
This weekend, Steve came down to the docks to meet us, and check out the EYE's boat.  It was a very fun and comfortable visit.   I'll not post the details as Steve has already done that on his blog in his posting "Crossing Paths, Past and Present".  We even talked about a trip with the 2 boats together.
Now time to keep moving on.  I'll be out paddling early tomorrow morning on the Lake, overall fitness and training, and to enjoy the quite and stillness one finds in the early morning on the water.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


1 3 7 9 10 3 7 6 9 7 3 5 8 1 2 9 11 16 21 64 87 32 67 2 98 22 100 29 76 39

I’m the type of person who usually looks forward rather than back. I get a lot of pleasure in the planning of things. I also love lists. I love to continually update them, and then check off the items as I’ve finished them. But it’s never occurred to me until just now, that I’d probably also love counting things too. I’m a biostatistician, so I like numbers.

Last year, and again this year, I’ve followed Canadian Ckayaker’s, counting. Last year Michael’s personal challenge was to paddle 100 days in a row. I recall thinking he might have gotten started a bit late, as winter would certainly shut him out, but he did indeed finish.

This year, I’ve noticed he’s tallying again. When I asked him, he said he’s counting the number of paddles he's done this year. I couldn’t help but wonder why I’ve never thought to do that. I’ve always liked having some kind of measuring tool (it’s usually my crossed off lists).

I also have never kept a journal or log of my paddling trips, though certainly my blog has a history over the past 3-4 years. I remember Nigel Dennis telling me how important it was to keep a log of classes I’ve taught and trips I’ve lead, even trips I’ve done solo or with partners. I’m usually too busy afterwards cleaning stuff up, and starting to plan my next adventure. Sometimes the planning begins before the last one is even completed :)

Counting, I can do. I'll think about a log later.

1 3 7 9 10 3 7 6 9 7 3 5 8 1 2 9 11 16 21 64 87 32 67 2 98 22 100 29 76 39

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Colors, One Way or Another

I had planned a kayak camping trip up in the N.C. mountains at Lake James State Park with the CKC kayak club this past weekend. This trip was on the calendar for a couple of months, and was timed for fall foliage peak colors . But one by one the fairly large group started to dwindle, until there were only a few of us left earlier in the week, and with weather reports for cold and rain all weekend, we all opted to cancel.

My daughter was planning to join us for a day of paddling. Instead I drove up and visited her (she lives in the area) for the weekend. The fall colors were absolutely beautiful, we took a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and had a picnic lunch at a scenic overview. Drizzly but not too wet.

Forgot my camera so no great photos, but I did take a cell pic of us to take home. The mountain range in the background speaks to why it's named the Blue Ridge.

No paddling, but pretty busy visiting, driving around, shopping, out to dinner and to a movie, and then a nice jog in the park with Tana and her puppy Quinn on Sunday morning before driving home. It's all good.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Lunch in Oriental

I went back to the coast last weekend feeling the need to paddle some miles. I wasn’t able to find time to paddle the weekend before working the WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge, so I was looking really forward to this.

Lee had organized the trip, and with Barrett, Jay, Abbey and me, our route was planned to take us across the Newport River, up the ICW, camping on the Neuse River, and paddling back down the Harlow Canal on Sunday.

I had hoped we’d see a few nice yachts on the ICW, Snowbirds on their Southern migration, but I think we were a few weeks early. It would have made for a nice roller coaster ride with all the reverberating boat wakes. It was a great paddle none the less. I’d never been on that section of the ICW before.

We left early Saturday morning to beat the tide change and made such good time we opted for a seafood lunch over at Oriental. Fried oyster burgers, delicious! And the weather was perfect.

After lunch and a short walk around the waterfront, we paddled back across the Neuse for a nice camp on a sandy beach. We set up tents then sat around and watched a local fisherman drop his net then take a nap in his boat just a short ways from our camp. Unfortunately we couldn’t see his catch as it was dark when he pulled it in.

The evening offered an absolutely beautiful sunset then a huge bright full moon. Later during the night the wind kicked just a bit and I slept to the sounds of waves breaking on our beach. Just perfect!

On the water in the morning, we paddled and enjoyed the narrow and forested Harlow Canal, much of which borders the Croatan National Forest. When it was all done, we'd paddled about 45 miles, a weekend trip with a bit of everything.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

WaterTribe's 2009 N.C. Challenges

I've been very busy.

The inaugural 2009 WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge and North Carolina Ultra Marathon is now one for the record books. A strong cold front over the weekend made the Challenge truly worthy of a WaterTribe event.

The NCC started with 5 sailboats (two solo), 9 kayaks (one double), and 1 sea canoe; the NCUM with 2 sailboats and 2 kayaks.
NCC finishers included 3 sailboats (1 solo) and 5 kayaks (all solo), NCUM finishers were 1 sailboat and 1 kayak. Finishers picture below.
There are lots of great pictures and video’s on the WaterTribe Viewer, and their should be lots of great stories posted on the forum throughout the week, results are here.

Unlike the shark and alligator tooth necklace award one receives in the Florida challenges, the NC challengers received 'Pieces-of-Eight' necklace awards, homage to NC's coastal history of pirates.

I spent the past year planning and organizing this new event with WaterTribe, and then ran it as Race Manager. Quite an interesting job; a big change from being a regular participant, yet certainly a challenge in itself. The weather made for some worry, having my husband and son in the race also added a bit to the emotional roller-coaster, but all the excitement and interest helped make it more fun than work.

We'll make some changes to next year’s event having learned so much this year. Bigger and better. First, we’d like to add a longer option, maybe a 50, 100, and 300 mile concurrent challenges. Special thanks to friends Frank, Maria, and Dave for their help and support over the weekend, and thanks to Chief of WaterTribe for help and support, you all really came through for me.

Now it’s time to get my paddle in the water for some of my own adventures.

And then I need to do some housekeeping on this blog. It seems to have reformatted and re-colored itself a bit. It's time for a new updated look.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Change of Plan

High winds and high surf required a change of plan last weekend. Not deterred from paddling, but outside ocean side was no longer a possibility.

Sunday afternoon was spent paddling on Snow’s Cut off Carolina Beach State Park, and then finding a small cove for some roll practice. Virginia’s finally got it. If you haven’t already seen this video she’s proudly posted everywhere :) here it is. I love the last second showing all the excitement and satisfaction on her face.

Monday we spent the day paddling the backside of Masonboro Island, enjoying the beauty of the salt marsh trails and mazes. We paddled over and looked out Masonboro Inlet and stopped at one point to walk over and check out beach side. Not the trip we planned, but I was happy to be in the salt. We made all the right decisions, we'll just reschedule.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Beach Weekend

Another beach weekend for me!

A play day on the water Sunday with no real plan per se. then a circumnavigation of Pleasure Island on Monday. Sounds a bit naughty. It'll be about 20 miles, half ocean paddling, and lots of tidal current when inside.

Pleasure Island is on the southeastern coast of North Carolina, north of Bald Head Island and Cape Fear, and home to Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Fort Fisher.

It's all part of the plan, paddling up the coast one weekend at a time. This will be trip #2.

Trip #1 trip report here.


Alan and Adam continue to work hard on the boat for the big adventure. Not much time left, only a couple months.

Pics below are of Alan on the mast, not what a Mom likes to know about or see.

Check out the adventure at Eye of the World.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Inner Islands

I've just started a new book, recommended by another NC paddling friend, "The Inner Islands" by Bland Simpson.

The front jacket reads:

"Blending history, oral history, autobiography, and travel narrative, Bland Simpson explores the geography and biodiversity of the islands that lie in eastern North Carolina's sounds, rivers, and swamps...

In each of the fifteen chapters in the book, Simpson covers a single island or group of islands, many of which, were it not for the buffering Outer Banks, would be lost to the ebbs and flows of the Atlantic...

Simpson also traces the ongoing forces of nature and the history of these islands, including inhabitants and industries, from colonization to the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and periods of economic boom and bust..."

These Islands are prime paddling locations. Many I've already paddled to, or around. And many I'll now make a point to get to. Reading thier history is fascinating.

And if the name Bland Simpson sounds familiar, besides authoring a number of other books regaling NC history, and teaching creative writing at UNC Chapel Hill, Simpson is a member of the award winning "Red Clay Ramblers", an American folk band and theater performers.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Great Vacation

Fried rice topped with eggs over easy and Portuguese sausage. That’s how we all started a few of our mornings, at Zippy’s in Kailua for breakfast; and this after long sunrise walks on the beach.

We had a wonderful vacation, so much fun, lots of R&R. I then came home to some very busy weeks, including a fun paddling trip. It’s taken a few weeks, but now it’s time to get caught up on blogging.

Vacation was a trip home to Hawaii to visit my family (my parents, sister Lani and her daughter Eleina, and other calabash family). We also justified it as a college present for Alan (who brought his wonderful girlfriend Taylor), a 21st birthday present for Tana, and, a much needed vacation for husband Paul. My brother Bob, who lives in Denver, was also there with Sandy and their girls Morgan and Kennedy. All the cousins together, all the siblings together, A real family reunion.

Our days were filled with swimming, snorkeling, body surfing, kayaking, hiking, eating snowcones, playing tourist, visiting old friends, and lots of great family meals. Great fun, family, love and aloha.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Paddling Together

Saturday’s paddle was a great mix of sun, sand, salt water, and members of two paddling clubs. My local paddling club, Carolina Kayak Club (CKC) is located centrally in the state. Needless to say many of us will do the 3 hr drive to the coast, if it means dipping our paddles in some salt water. Often coastal trips are weekend trips, but occasionally there is enough interest to make it a day trip, despite the drive.

This was going to be a nice social paddle, co-hosted by a few members of the Cape Fear Paddlers Association (CFPA). Many of us in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area left at 0'dark30 and met up with our coastal counterparts in Wilmington at a public ramp with easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway and the salt marsh trails around Masonboro Island.

(photo SandyBottom)

We were 11 paddlers from CKC and 6 from CFPA. Starting out a bit overcast, the skies cleared nicely as we crossed the ICW and meandered around some cuts in the salt marshes on the back side of the Island. A few miles later, we pulled off at a sandy landing and walked a couple 100 yards across the dunes and over to the ocean.

(Photos above and below by John Barrett)

Two paddlers portaged their kayaks over to play in the surf, the rest of us were content with sunning, swimming, body surfing, picnicking.

After a couple hours of fun and relaxation, we started paddling back before water levels got too low, but with a pretty stiff tidal current and headwind slowing us down quite a bit, and working to make us all stronger paddlers :)

Once back it was a rush to try and make the last hour of the 9th annual Wilmington Wooden Boat Show, hosted by the Cape Fear Community College, one of only 3 public boat building programs in the country. Well worth the rush. There were quite a few beautiful wooden kayaks on display, in addition to a skin-on-frame, and in progress Baidarka, and various other gorgeous wooden sailing and motor craft. The boat workshop at the school was also open for touring and viewing the various craft being built at the school.

The early evening was complete with a seafood dinner and cold beer right on the River Walk on the Cape Fear River downtown Wilmington. It was a pretty full agenda with lots of camaraderie, paddling, and fun for all. It will be very nice to have a great coastal resource in CFPA, and to make some new paddling partners at the coast.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lots of Exciting Paddling Races

There are some big and exciting races just starting or about to start, all of them without me :(

The inaugural Yukon1000 canoe and kayak race started Monday. This race is the longest canoe and kayak race on the calendar, knocking other long races into a distant second place. This was originally on my calendar as my biggest event for 2009. Unfortunately things just didn’t work out for this year, but I've already gotten the date for the 1210 race.

The race reporting even after just a few days has been fascinating, check it out on the race forum, and following the race with the help of the racers Spots and Google Earth is a wonderful addition.

The Missouri River 340 (MR340), is another great endurance race. My son Alan and I previously paddled this in 2007 . There is lots of excitement with this event as Kruger Canoe sponsored racers Hannah and Marissa paddling with the goal of $10.000.00 dollars for Susan G. Komen. You may remember Marissa as Boo of WaterTribe. Check out their websites' here and here to follow these young and adventurous girls.

The WaterTribe NC Challenge is coming up (don't forget to register :). This is a first time event that looks to be lots of fun. This year I'm the race manager, so no paddling for me, but Paul and Alan will be participating in our sailboat "Dawn Patrol".

There is also the Mayor's Cup race scheduled in October, a circumnavigation of Manhattan Island. They've just put up their new website. It's quite an elite race, but there is a seakayak division. I'm thinking about it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Surf Classes

Saabi's Blog describes the Intro to Surf classes the Carolina Kayak Club sponsored over the weekend, and with some great photo's taken by Eva who watched the action on the beach during Saturday's class. I also attempted to take a few photo's on the water (below), but never did get the camera out in the real stuff (sorry guys).

Everyone seemed to have a great time, and conditions were just perfect with primarily 1-2 ft waves (and a few 3 footers on Saturday). Lots of lessons learned from understanding your own limits, discovering which skills need some more work, putting recovery braces and balance into practice, and discovering the thrill of taking off on a wave.

Tamas, a big grizzly bear of a guy, wins the prize for best balance in the class. This was his first time ever in the ocean, and he never flipped in the surf once, and he was out on Saturday with the larger surf. He had a huge smile on his face throughout, and when we came to shore he looked me and said "I may never want to paddle on the lake again".

Greg gets the prize for really going after the waves and getting the best rides. best wishes to him and his fiance as they get ready for their wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii next week.

The opportunity to assist Lamar from Barrier Island Kayaks in both classes provided continued and invaluable learning for me in both rescue practice in surf and rough water conditions and in group management practice. It doesn't get much better, and with friends at the beach.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Everybody's Gone Surfing

Off to the beach this afternoon.

Lucky me, I'm assisting in 2 surf classes this weekend given by Lamar Hudgins owner of Barrier Island Kayaks for the Carolina Kayak Club members.

I'm hoping to take some pics, but it's hard to surf and shoot :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This morning’s early paddle on the lake was very interesting. I’ve been working on getting a group together for an early Tuesday morning fitness paddles. Though today I learned a little more about the word “fitness”, and how it can mean very different things to different people.

This weekly paddle is described on my kayak clubs calendar as:

This weekly Tuesday morning paddle, designed both for cardio exercise, and a little bit of speed work will give us a great workout. Burning some extra calories for weight loss/maintenance will be an added bonus. And it's going to be fun!

We’ll follow good training principals, including a 30 minute warm up, then very short sprints followed by recovery. Bring your GPS and heart rate monitor if you have one (might make it more fun, and let you measure progress over the summer).

All are welcome, the more the merrier. If we’ve a varied group of skill levels and/or boat types, we can work out partnering, form groups, or work out routing (out-and-back) so no one is left behind.

This paddle is going to be a loosely organized Show-N-Go, signing up lets other's know who's planning to come, but if 7am rolls around and it's only you, go for it!
I’m very conscious of the variety of kayaks and paddlers in our club. I am also aware of my reputation as a paddler (because of this blog), and I try not to give the appearance of being a ‘kayaking snob”, this because I am not one.

This morning there were three other paddlers who showed (I’ve removed names for sensitivity and confidentiality). Paddler1 and I have been doing this paddle for a couple weeks, and had pretty much developed a routine that suited us. It’s all about sprints, working on speed and technique for speed. Why is it that paddlers (meJ are just never satisfied with their speed?

Paddler2, a fried of Paddler1 who has conflicts with this paddle and his golf game (this is really true) also joined us today. Like us, he is 50+, quite fit, and an active bicyclist and paddler, also interested in fitness and speed work.

Paddler3 was not someone I or the other paddlers had met, though I was aware that he had RSVPd to join us that morning. When I pulled in to the parking lot, I must be honest and admit I was a bit worried about how we should proceed. It was clear it was going to be a different fitness paddle.

Paddler3 is a recreational paddler with an 11’ plastic recreational kayak, and like us, clearly a member of AARP. There was no way we could stay together in the format we had been using. Yes, I know I’m starting to sound a bit like that kayak snob, but I’m really just describing the events. It was immediately obvious that we needed a change of plan.

I told Paddler1 and Paddler2, to go on and do their thing, and that I was going to paddle with Paddler3. I was the one who organized this event, and as an officer in the Club, I feel a responsibility to welcome all members. Nothing in my posted description of the paddle would have excluded him, and after all we are all only looking for fun and fitness.

So I spent the next hour paddling with, and getting to know a bit more about Paddler3. He really needs some formal instruction (both in rescue and technique), and I reminded him about the clubs classes, while I offered a few welcomed tips here and there. I found myself almost apologizing, while describing the challenges of doing this kind of paddle with both short and long boats together. He asked me if most in the club had long boats, and I told him no, that I did not believe that was the case, but many of the more active paddlers, who are often posting events on the calendar do seem to. And I encouraged him to post on the forum that he was looking for some paddling partners, since he’s retired, he could pick a more leisure hour of the morning.

He told me the reason he had bought the boat, and was here this morning was because he wanted to work on his fitness, and he needed to paddle with other’s because he couldn’t get his boat on his car along (I can relate to that). He also told me he used to be a skier, and a triathlete, and that as a skier, he was well aware of the need for different skis for different sport, cross county, racing, etc…. and that this was his first boat, and possibly not his last. Clearly he was understanding the differences between our boats.

Then he told me he’d had a heart transplant 3 years earlier. I was completely flabbergasted, then amazed, then quite fascinated, and quite proud of him for being out here. Like some of us this morning, he even had on his heart rate monitor and was watching his heart rate when he and I turned and headed back into the head wind, this, our real workout for the day, while Paddel1 and Paddler2 did a few sprints back and forth and would stop by for a minute or two to chat.

I really wish him well, not only in his paddling, but also in his swimming (he told me he was competing in the Transplant Olympics next year). And I will make a point of pointing out to him events and classes as they are posted on the club calendar that I think he can benefit from and enjoy.

In the end I never did get my heart rate up, or get to go very fast, but, “this morning’s early paddle on the lake was very interesting”.

Monday, July 06, 2009

WaterTribe Races in NC

The website describing the new NC WaterTribe Challenges scheduled in late September is now up. Go to http://www.watertribe.com/, and then click on either NC Challenge or NC Ultra Marathon on the left listing of website contents. Routing information, schedules, registration, etc… is all there.

The stated purpose of WaterTribe is to encourage the development of boats, equipment, skills, and human athletic performance for safe and efficient coastal cruising using minimal impact, and human and wind powered watercraft based on kayaks, canoes, and small sailboats.

These expedition races are a great personal challenge, adventure, and experience. And the Tribe is a great group of adventurous folk.

Join us!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bald Head Island Circumnavigation

North Carolina has 3 capes: Cape Fear, Cape Lookout, Cape Hatteras. Each of these promontory spits of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean has a long and deadly maritime history.

Cape Fear (pictured above) on Bald Head Island (the southernmost of NC’s cape islands), is formed by the intersection of two sweeping arcs of shifting low-lying beach, the result of long shore currents which also form the treacherous shifting Frying Pan Shoals, and are part of the ship graveyard of the Atlantic.

Pictured below is the SPOT track of my 21.8 mile circumnavigation around Bald Head Island. Starting on the beach at Fort Fisher, paddling across the Cape Fear and the infamous frying pan shoals, around Bald Head Island, and into the Cape Fear Inlet, up the Cape Fear River and out on the river side of Ft. Fisher.

Saturday was a pretty exciting paddle. I joined friend Virginia and her husband Curry, and a couple of other paddlers I’d met last year at a fall gathering of the Cape Fear Paddlers Association (Ryan, Chris, Robert, Mike). We were also joined by Barrett and Lee, and formed a large group of 9.

I’d met Virginia online a year ago. She started a women’s paddling group in the Wilmington area, and had invited members of a women’s group I belonged to down to the coast for a trip. We’d kept in touch a bit since, and have had a few occasions to paddle together, including in the the intermediate surf class at the BIK symposium earlier in the month (I’ve still to get a report posted).

Virginia had been planning this trip for a couple of months, and with some consult on tides and conditions from Ryan, Robert, and Chris (who had each done the trip previously on separate occasions), and who along with Virginia were all from the Wilmington area. It was Virginia that made this trip happen, and I’m grateful to have been invited.

Tides demanded an 8am start, so I arrived the night before as did Lee (from Raleigh), and Barrett (from Winston Salem), and we all camped at a local campground, meeting up with the rest of our group at 7am Sat morning.

Our launch point was a beach on the south side of Ft. Fisher State Park. After a few minutes of packing boats and shuttling cars, we all had a successful surf launch off the beach. Conditions were great, similar but on opposite sides of the cape as in the picture at the top of this page. Predicted winds were 15-20 mph SW early morning, lessoning to 10-15 mph through the day. We started out in lighter winds (10 mph), and smooth conditions (1-2ft swell), and as the day picked up the winds built (15-20 mph) with 4-6 ft swells on the west side of the cape, which provided a nice push for the last 6 miles of the trip.

The first 8 miles of paddling brought us to the cape where we chose to land, have lunch, and scout a way around the Cape through the breaking zippers of clapotis waves. Four kayakers in the group had good combat surf rolls (Ryan, Robert, Chris and myself), four others had almost/no roll, and one was on a plastic sit-on-top surf-ski (I didn’t know you could get them in plastic!). Chris was really quite anxious to play, and did so while some of us started eating our lunch.

The varied skills of the group had us more conservatively deciding to pick and time our way across and through areas that appeared to have deeper water. We took a bit of a longer route, paddling out from shore and trying to paddle more around the biggest breakers as opposed to barreling right through the thick of it, still the crossing was a real roller coaster ride of confused swells and breaking waves. Fun, fun, and more fun. No rescues needed, the only flip of the day was Mike on the tippy surf-ski.

Once crossing the shoaling and rounding the Cape, the real fun actually began. The ocean swells were much larger and on our port beam, 3-6 ft (some well over my head), for the next 6 miles down the beach. It was incredible fun for everyone, except Virginia, who quickly became quite seasick. Luckily, she’s pretty tough and quite strong, as she still managed to maintain balance, paddle, take sips of water, and continue to vomit for the next six miles.

Once we rounded the other side of Bald Head Island, and entered the inlet of the Cape Fear River, we found a nice beach to land and let Virginia take a needed rest. It was also at this time we had a good look at some late afternoon thunderstorms out in distance. I was pretty sure I’d heard a clap or two of thunder, some insisted it was just cannon fire, part of the civil war reenactment going on at Fort Fisher.

While Virginia rested, Robert, Ryan, and I discussed possible bail out options. Bald Head Island has no cars, and is only reached by a passenger ferry. We were not sure kayaks were allowed on the ferry. After about 30 minutes, Virginia rallied, and the storms did not look threatening. They were quite a ways off and seemed to be moving away from us. Though we continued to hear both cannon fire and thunderstorms for the remainder of the trip.

Launching upriver, we now had strong winds at our backs, some nice little wind waves to ride, and lost time to make up. We also had some river current now running against us.

After a couple miles up river, we paddled to the right (well off the shipping channel) and between some salt march islands and back onto river right again (The ICW stays well to the left side of the River here). At this time the group split a bit (thought always in sight of each other). Some choose to take the deeper channel hoping to ride the wind waves; others chose to stay close to a long rock impoundment known as ‘The Rocks’ where there was less current to fight. Varying paddling speeds after 18 miles of travel also broke up the group a bit.

Ryan, Barrett and Lee were now quite a bit ahead, I was staying with Virginia who was slowly totally bonking, Chris was off finding every standing wave he could to play in, and Robert and Curry were out in the middle of the Channel. Finally Virginia announced she couldn’t go on and was heading to a sandy beach just a few hundred yards in front of us. Chris seeing the change of direction quickly joined us, and I hailed Robert and Curry on the agreed upon VHF radio channel we’d been using throughout the trip. Robert eventually got hold of Ryan (after they took out) to let them know our status.

We only had about 1 ½ miles left to paddle around the Basin to reach the take out point (or only a few hundred yards as the crow flies or the portage goes.) Another 30 minutes of rest, and Virginia was ready to get the job done, no portage for her, even though the wind had now shifted from southwest to west and now in our face.

Quite a nice accomplishment, one Cape down, two more to go J. I’d not been paddling much distance lately, and was very pleased it was fairly effortless. A few others are now emailing about needed kayak outfitting for comfort J.

More importantly, I’ve some new paddling partners. Ryan and I are now talking about getting some joint paddling trips together on the coast for both our clubs (Cape Fear Paddlers Association and the Carolina Kayak Club). And I’m quite excited to have started a friendship with Robert, owner of WaterSmyth Kayaking down in Wilmington.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Gone to the Coast

I'm outa here, back Sunday night :)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Happy Birthday Love

Memorable Transition
By Martin Dejnicki

Childhood like a distant boat,
Course taken, others wrote.
Rebelled from your chosen way,
Winds and waves aided; youth astray.

Swan-like elegance, grew-up brisk,
Memories remain on a disk.
Unique and random, cannot deny,
With each passing day - Glorify!

Now at the age of twenty-one,
Life has truly just begun.
Hope and wish, your dreams come true,
Along the way, a gorgeous view.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Toy

I bought a new paddle. Yes I’m still very much into my Lumpy Greenland paddle, and will likely always be a GP paddler at heart. But I did find I had lots of fun working with the Euro last year when I took the ACA Coastal Instructors class. It had been a long time since I’d actually played and paddled with one.

In fact, my friend Jane had to nudge me with an email earlier this month, “I didn’t mean for you to keep it” she said, after lending it to me last October.

So I decided to buy my own. I like having a 2-piece Euro as a spare, and kind of like my bike, I like the idea of having a low and high gear available.

I’d been reading Silbs postings about his trials looking for the right new paddle. He surprised himself by preferring a longer 230cm touring paddle. My GP is already quite long at 90” and it is my low angle distance touring paddle, so I opted for a 215, mid-sized blade, high angle paddle, the Werner Cyprus. In fact I got a great deal buying the older model, a big closeout sale, online from NY Kayak Company.

The paddle arrived last night. I won’t get to try it out till Saturday morning, when I’m also teaching a clinic on “Mastering YOUR Forward Stroke” for the Carolina Kayak Club.

That works out perfectly, as I’ll be student and teacher. And just in time for some surf work at the Barrier Island Kayaks Outer Banks Symposium in a couple weeks.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wish Lists

I’ve always liked wish lists. I’m sure I’ll never get to do all on my list, but it’s a list of paddles and dreams that help me plan and look forward.

One of the things on my list is paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a trip I added to the list after I got my Kruger Dreamcatcher, a perfect boat for this. It’ll certainly be a big trip if done as a thru-paddle. It’s listed as one of those trips for “after retirement”.

I also have hiking the Appalachian Trail on the "after retirement" list, it’s been there forever. But, the more I think about the hike, the more I worry that I’ll just hate being off the water for as long as 6 months. And, not to be morbid about it, I may have to choose carefully about what all will fit into my "after retirement” period. I’m now considering modifying this to hiking the shorter North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail, finishing with a long NC coastal paddle.

So, I was pleased to see a new blog out there called the ‘Voices from the Northern Forest Canoe Trail”. This blog was launched to share news, events, and insights along its 740 mile “blueway”. It’ll make the waiting more fun.

And I’ve joined the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Association too

I’m always planning ahead. It even seems a bit of a conflict that while I’m adding great adventures to my wish list, I’m also planning to put myself on a waiting list to eventually live in a retirement community.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What? Still not Done?

Yes (she says with much embarrassment), I'm still not finished with my skin-on-frame. Even after watching friends build theirs in a week, during 2 Brian Schultz classes that were held here locally, and then hearing about Bill Bremmer of Lumpy Paddles building a Black Pearl SOF after that.

But it was seeing Bill's launching of his beautiful kayak last night (sorry this picture does it no real justice), and then his letting me try it out for a paddle that has really motivated me again.

NO MORE EXCUSES. Maybe I can get it done in time for the Barrier Island Kayaks Outer Banks Sea Kayak Symposium next month, I've got 3 weeks, stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Need to Get on the Water

I can't believe I was at the Georgia and Florida coast last weekend and never dipped a paddle in the water. But we had lots of fun watching the Tybee 500, and Alan and Trey come in 2nd in the fleet of Nacra 20's. Here they are above coming in at Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. Watching the race has me really wanting to get back in our sailboat this coming weekend.

But first things first, I'm off to the lake for the regular Wednesday night paddle; sort of a community event with lots of different paddling group joining for some early evening rolling and then a 6 mile paddle. Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Arm Chair Spectator

This is the week I get payback for the stress my family goes through when I’m kayaking in a WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. For the past 3 years, Alan has raced in the Tybee 500, a 500 mile staged extreme ocean catamaran race, starting in the Florida Keys, and finishing in Tybee Georgia.

This year one of Trey and Alan's big sponsors includes Sailing Anarchy, along with the other 5 boats under the Team Velocity logo. There is a great article about the race and Team Velocity on today's Sailing Anarchy website.
Paul and I always go down to see the last 2 exciting legs of the race, but, during the week, we are forced to follow along on the blogs and SPOT trackers. I'm not enjoying the role of "arm chair spectator".

The Tybee 500 is a distance endurance race, with all the dangers, pain, and discomfort that goes along with it. A sailor who raced the event a few years ago, described a day in the race as:
“Nobody was designed to hang in a harness for hours on end pulling on sheets and ropes until they had holes in their fingers. Equally they were not designed to do stomach crunches for 6 hours a day while a salt water fire hose blasts into your face. Yes any romantic notions you may have about this race turf them to one side – is about pain and endurance”.
Yup, a little chip off the old block :)