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, 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!