Friday, January 30, 2009

1,000 Sharks?

It's hard to even imagine over 1,000 sharks being spotted at the same time off the beaches of Florida. According to the news, it's part of their annual migration south. Luckily (I think), they are all being spotted off the East Coast of Southern Florida, as opposed to the Gulf Coast where I'll be paddling in a month during the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. Wonder where they'll all go once they get down to Miami? Hopefully, far away from Key Largo.

Next November, I'm planning to join a Georgia Coast Expedition, wouldn't you know I also just read a story about a 13 foot Great White Shark washed up South of Charleston SC.

This weekend, no worries. I'll be back at the lake, getting in some distance work.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Still Got It

I finally made it to the pool this evening for roll practice (but forgot the camera). It's actually been quite a while since I've done a lot of rolling, and none with my new extra skinny Lumpy paddle.

Funny (or maybe not so funny) how your confidence takes a hit when you've not been working on skills. I'm thinking about a class I/II white-water paddle next week so thought it would be good to see if I still have it.

I forgot how much fun rolling practice is. I mostly practiced my old rolls using the GP stick. I even got some hand rolls in using a white-water hand paddle I borrowed. I need to remember to bring my Greenland throwing stick.

Next week I've promised myself to keep the GP home, and only use a Euro paddle. It's the practice I really need, and I'll be using a short one on the river.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Brrr Cold Paddle

It was a beautiful sunny day out on the lake today, but very cold. I don't think it ever got above freezing, and there was a pretty stiff breeze out there. Even the loom of my Greenland paddle had ice on it as the drips from the blade would freeze.

Just me and the birds. In fact, there were so many bird feathers on the water, I thought I'd take a picture.

Bad idea, and not even very good. I had to take my glove off to work the camera, and ended up dropping it in the water, not realizing until it was full of water.

Did I mention how cold it was? At this point I still had 8 miles to get back to the car. I never did get my right hand fingers warm until I was in the car with the heat blasting. Boy does that hurt.

Luckily we're looking at highs in the 40s on Sun and Mon. I figure I'll be totally thawed out by then.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Got In Just Under the Wire

After realizing the Yukon1000 race wasn’t going to happen for me this year (Life's Disappointments), I began to look around for other paddling challenges. I wanted something that wouldn’t take too long, as I’m also planning a few recreational paddling and sailing trips this year, and I wanted something that I’d really enjoy in my Kruger Dreamcatcher.

One that certainly interested me was the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge, sponsored by the Verlen Kruger Memorial. This challenge follows the original route of the Heward party from Detroit to Chicago include many different water conditions including up river travel, big open water on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, numerous portages and adverse springtime weather. A real challenge! Unfortunately, 3 weeks is a too long for me now, and April is too soon after the WaterTribe EC.

Then I started looking at the MR340 race. Kansas City to Saint Louis on the Missouri River, or as my husband has dubbed it the Misery340. I’d previously paddled this Challenge in 2007 with my son Alan (trip reports are posted in my July and August 2007 archives). It seems a number of WaterTribe alums and good friends were already registered, including Super Boo, the young girl who completed the Everglades Challenge last year, paddling with her Dad. She's still at it, raising awareness for breast cancer research through participation in small-boat adventures and challenges.

They’ve made a few changes to the MR340, the new cutpoint is 88 hrs instead of 100, that’s good, I’d previously finished it in 68 hours. Carter Johnson, 24 hr record holder, finished it last year in 38 hrs (the difference between a racer and a cruiser). They’ve also increased the participation to 200, and have planned a bigger and better finish and awards ceremony at the end.

This challenge actually starts with a big party, their Captains meeting the evening before the race is a must see, unlike any I'd been too, and with land support teams at all the checkpoints cheering on the paddlers, it’s a lot of fun. The increased number of paddlers on the water is really going to add to the total fun factor as well.

They were just a few shy of meeting their 200 registrants when I decided to go for it, and got one of the last few slots. Guess my WaterTribe EC will now be training for the MR340.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kayak Sailing

I'd like to extend a thank-you to Gary and Pacific Action Sails. They have sponsored me with one of their downwind PAS kayak sails since my 2006 WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge.

In the UFC, I paddled my Kruger Dreamcatcher 1200 miles around Florida (with a 40 mile portage). I paddled with my sail, every day for 30 days.

In 2007 and 2008 I again paddled and sailed my Dreamcatcher in the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. In those events, I used a Balogh Sail Rig, and my PAS as a jib.
This year, 4 years later, and after much heavy use, my sail was starting to show some effects of salt and sun exposure. Gary has again offered sponsorship of a new sail.

Thanks Gary. I really appreciate the support.

And for all you kayakers who haven't tried a sail, your really missing out, a down wind sail on your kayak is great fun.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's All Good

So off to the Lake I went, as I was already packed for 3-4 days of kayaking and camping. What a wonderful time it turned out to be. I camped at Parkers Creek Campground at Jordan Lake, pretty much had it all to myself.

I paddled each day, all day, and then every evening Paul came and visited, brought dinner and desert, and we enjoy a few hours over a campfire, and an almost full moon, before he'd return home (only 30 minutes away). And, since I had an electric site, he also brought me a small electric heater for my tent. I was toasty and comfortable.

Paddling was great. It doesn't get any better, in a kayak and on the water.
There was lots of wind to work on my sailing skills with the Explorer and Pacific Action Sail (PAS). There is always a bit of a debate on the WaterTribe forum about rudders and sails. Clearly having a rudder would make it easier, and especially when trying to get a bit up into the wind. But it's certainly not required, and didn't take me too long to work the skeg to hold a compass course.

I've got another chance to try and hit the salt water in a couple of weeks with the Martin Luther King holiday coming up. So I'll just plan another little adventure.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Wishful Thinking

I think we were hoping for the best given the weather reports. Some times the reports are wrong, and you just have to see for yourself. We drove down to Beaufort Wed night, and were thankful that the boats didn't fly off the car with the winds from the front moving in during the drive down.

We stayed overnight at a vacation house belonging to a friend of Kristen's, and listened to the dire forecast for the next few days. 25-30 kt winds Thurs with 40 kt gusts, 20-25 kt winds Sat, 10-15 kts Sun, Mon sounded wonderful.

Both Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds are wide open, and with lots of shallows, this was not a good paddling location with the weather predictions, and there are very few sheltered spots that would allow us to paddle any distance and with camping.

So, we went shopping, and then came on home. Funny, if this was a WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, we'd be paddling. But this was supposed to be a fun vacation trip with some training thrown in.

Anyway, I'm still all packed and ready for kayak camping. It's 4pm and I'm now leaving for the lake. I'm kayaking and camping come hell or high water.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

First Big Paddle of the Year

A 4 day weekend, And it's going to be at the coast :)

Since changing our original plan, the weather in Michigan for the Kruger Winter Paddle has gotten milder. KiwiBird and I are still sticking with our new plan, paddling here on the NC Coast. The 3 ½ hr drive down will be much nicer than a 15-17 hr drive up to Michigan, and it’ll give us more time on the water.

Not sure of our route. We'll head down to Beaufort and play it by ear, dependent on weather and fitness. Neither of us have really put in any many miles lately, but need to get training for the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge in March.

I’ll have the SPOT on, so if interested, you can track our trip here on Google Earth, and see where we actually paddle. We'll be starting on Thursday.

Weather forecasts for Pamlico Sound have a cold front moving in today and a second one coming through Thur. All that wind might be nice with our sails (PAS), but only if it’s from behind :)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Here’s wishing you and yours some wonderful time on the water in the coming year.

I’m a planner. I love to start with the blank calendar of a new year and begin the process of planning and scheduling events to fill it up. I really enjoy the time spent during the year organizing, planning, and preparing.

2009 List of paddling and water sport related plans.

January - Winter expedition (100 mi), coastal NC
March - WaterTribe Everglades Challenge (300 mi), FL
May - Florida 120 Sail Messabout, FL
August – New England Rough Water Symposium
November - Georgia Coast Expedition (100 mi), GA

I'll also work on planning lots of coastal weekend paddling and/or sailing trips throughout the year. My paddling emphasis for this new year will be on rough water and surfing skills, and with some white water paddling thrown in the mix.

It looks to be a GREAT New Year (as far as paddling goes:) I'm going out later this afternoon for a short paddle, to start the new year right.