Saturday, February 28, 2009

Training in the Rain

I finally got my "SandyBottom" decal on my kayak, and, I got in my last paddle before the race.

Today was not the kind of day you jump up and say "Lets go paddling". It was grey, dreary, windy, and raining. Luckily it wasn't too cold in the 50's, because the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge is one week from today and I really wanted to get in one more paddle. Tomorrow's high is only going to get up to 35, with sleet and snow predicted, so today was it.

In addition to the paddle, I also wanted to test out my new foot pump, and with all the rain I also got to test out my new Cag, it poured. The Cag is quite toasty, though it did seem a bit silly wearing it over my dry-suit.

I'm very pleased with the foot pump. The foam bulkhead we installed is perfectly placed, and the pump bulb very easy to work, even with a bit of a workout of my calf muscles.

The picture below is inside the cockpit. We removed the footpegs and peg tracks. The black horizontal piece is the bulb that can be pushed from either leg. The hole at the top of the foam is to store my hand pump (just in case). The grey pipe on the bottom is part of the sump, it ends just after the length in the picture, still leaving me plenty of room for my feet when I get out of the kayak.

The red bungies are part of my underdeck storage system where we epoxied some straps with openings to run the bungie through. Under the bungies I store my hand pump, smoke flares (the long ones that don't fit in your pfd), and my cell phone in it's dry bag (which I'm able to make calls through).

I first saw this pump in KiwiBird's Sisson Kayak a couple years ago. It is not available in the US, I ordered it from a very nice outfitter in New Zealand, Trail Journeys. I believe it is primarily used in their racing kayaks.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why? Why Not!

I am so loving the blog “The Wild Side” by Terry Tomalin. Terry is the Outdoors Editor for the St Petersburg Times Outdoors. He also completed the first of the annual WaterTribe Everglades Challenges in 2002, and plans to do it again this year in a 6 man sailing outrigger canoe, reporting as he goes.

His posts capture the spirit, the mindset, the challenges, and all the extraordinary aspects of WaterTribe and it’s members more than anything I have ever read. I not only look forward to reading his next post each and every day, they generate both an excitement towards the upcoming event and a confirmation of why I do it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Helping the Economy

I’m doing my fair share to help the economy. I’m getting ready for a WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, I leave a week from tomorrow.

This will be my 6th Challenge so my packing list had already been pretty culled down after the first couple and now unchanged over the past few years into what works for me. Being such an active paddler (at least weekly) and camper (usually monthly) my gear gets well used. So as the EC rolls around, I have to assess what needs replacing, and get shopping. That alone is a good reason to do an EC for any gear junkie.

This year I find my list pretty unchanged, even though I’ve done the last 3 in my Kruger Dreamcatcher. The primary difference is in how I have to pack it. I have had to replace a bunch of old older bigger dry bags to suit the kayak. My favorites for sea kayaking are the lighter Outdoor Research and Sea to Summit dry bags.

There are always a few things I don’t use, but that list is different every year, as it’s always about the weather. My first-aid and emergency repair/replacement kit is a bit bigger than most, but I’m more comfortable and confident knowing I have these things, just in case. And I’ve helped many a challenger out with my cache.

I’ve seen hot, cold, rainy, foggy, calm, windy, thunderstorms, and was even out in a tornado watch during UFC 06. In perfect conditions, the Gulf can be pretty tame, but seems every year during the week at least one front moves in and there are usually 2 days with small craft warning or advisories. When the weather comes in, the going gets tough. So paddling clothes, and camping clothes is all about layering.

I confess my big splurge and new item this year is a Storm Cag. It’s a jacket with hood that fits over everything (pfd and all), and fits around your cockpit over your spray skirt. They aren’t cheap. I ordered just about every model (I could only find 3) and then decided which fit my needs the best. In the end, I went with the Kokatat model. It’s a lighter weight then the Reed Chillcheater, so likely a better layering option for me. I liked the color, seems about right for the conditions I'd be using it in. But the biggest bonus was its size and deck bungee is big enough, and so adjustable, that it fits the Kruger as well. Bonus!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Everglades Challenge Preparation

Coming into checkpoint #1 in 2005

There are 2 major preparations needed for a WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, mental and physical (not counting gear). They probably should be connected, but they aren’t, not for me this year anyway.

I’m always mentally prepared. I can’t imagine anything more fun than getting to paddle. And paddling for 7 days, in Florida, is a WOW. I don’t care that it’s pretty non-stop, 18 hr days, hard, exhausting, etc…, it’s paddling, and I love it.

This year I’ve had some trouble with the physical preparation. There just wasn’t enough time to train the way I would have liked, or have done in the past. My longest paddle since October is 20 miles; most weekends I’ve been paddling twice, two 15s, or a 15 and 20. Previous years I’d have done some back-to-back 30’s or 35’s. The first days’ goal is always to try and get to Checkpoint #1 which is a bit over 60 miles, so that’s a bit tough.

It’s not just finding time to paddle, worse, I’ve been pretty slack in the cross training department too; meaning none. Life’s been really busy and full of stress for me these past months. I’m over weight and out of shape.

But, as I said, I’m mentally prepared and that’s the most important. I know it’s going to be physically harder, so I see that as more mental challenge, overcoming all that hurt. I can do that. And as I keep telling myself, “how hard can it be, you just sit on your butt and swing your arms” :)

Other blogs writing about their preparation for the EC include The Wild Side and ThereAndBackAgain.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toys in the Garage

Over the past few years, our garage had pretty much become storage for most of my toys. It’s just a 2 car garage, too small to really even put 2 cars in it, and the ‘other garage stuff’.

In addition to that ‘other garage stuff’, I have 6 kayaks, a kayak trailer and other boat carts, 6 bikes (4 of which are mine), roller blades, 2 windsurfers (Paul’s and Alan’s), and ALL the gear; paddles, sails, PFDs, helmets, booties/shoes, tents, sleeping bags, camping gear, trunks of dry bags, hats, gloves, junk, etc... etc… etc… I’ve been perfectly happy with this arrangement, even thought it’s always been a bit of a mess.

Now Paul’s decided he’d like to keep our sailboat “Dawn Patrol” in the garage as well. We have a paved area to the side of the garage where we’ve kept the boat on its trailer covered with a large tarp, a temporary situation. My idea was to build a carport (or even another garage) to the side of the garage for the boat. Unfortunately there are some zoning restrictions that prevent this, and we probably won’t be in this house long enough to make it worth the cost.

I wasn’t too worried about losing my space, the boat just barely fits, but not the boat trailer the tongue of the trailer is a couple feet too long :) Uh oh, Paul’s just found a kit that lets you cut off the tongue; it either hinges and swings out of the way, or comes off completely for storage.

Sunday afternoon, Paul did some cleaning. My WW kayaks which aren’t used often have been relegated outdoors in the screen porch, paddling apparel is now hanging from a pole that rises and lowers. The bikes have always hung from the ceiling, as has one of the sea kayaks. The lawn mower and other ‘garage stuff’ are now in the crawl space. I’m not sure where everything else is, it’s all been moved over, as Paul has now claimed half of the garage.

I’ve always joked that sailing is not the hobby with a wooden sailboat, but that the real hobby is maintenance. I know Paul would love to be able to work on his boat in the comfort of the garage, so it’s only fair. But it sure is going to be crowded. This small trailerable sailboat sure looks big in our little garage.

I think at this point in our lives, with kids grown and gone, we need a smaller house and bigger garage. We sure love our toys.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Connecting with Friends

Up until now I’ve kind of ignored some of the social networking sites like and facebook. After hearing about them a while back, I had signed up, then quickly forgot about them.

Last evening, Alan and his girlfriend Taylor stopped by and stayed for dinner (a wonderful unexpected visit). They were shocked to hear I had a bunch of invites from “friends” on facebook, and was ignoring them. Taylor said there is a whole etiquette to social networking that I’ll have to learn about; clearly I’ve been in the dark.

Much to my surprise, in addition to invites from local friends I see often, there was an invite from an old college friend, and, she had a friend who was my college roommate. Both of whom I lost contact with over the past 35 years. So I’m going to give it a try. And I’m quite excited about connecting with “real” old friends.

My only hesitancy is that I really don’t need to spend more time on the computer. Seems one of the battles of aging is fighting being sedentary (but for all those aches and pains), and I've discovered there really is such a thing as a “computer ass”.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

He's Got My Heart

A man after my own heart. He already had it. Paul gave me a new VHF radio for Valentines Day. Hope your day is as nice and full of surprises.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Wild Side

Registered for this years WaterTribe Everglades Challenge under the new 'Exhibition Class' is a 6-man outrigger sailing canoe. The team is Captained by Terry Tomalin, the Florida, St. Petersburg Times Outdoors Editor.

Terry competed in the very first EC seven years ago, and wrote a 5 part article of his experiences. The articles are a fun read. That first years Challenge began with 25-knot winds and 5-foot seas in Tampa Bay. Only 14 of the 27 starting boats even made it to the first checkpoint at 72 miles., only 7 boats finished the race. 300 miles in a week is tough enough, but every year, the EC is all about the weather.

Terry is at it again. Another EC and writing about his own adventure. This time he'll also be writing about the other challengers as well. In addition to the outrigger canoe, there will be a boat with photographers and videographers following along. Darn, I never did lose the extra weight, and the camera always puts so many extra pounds on :)

You don't even have to wait. As Terry prepares for the Challenge, he's started posting daily to a blog called "The Wild Side". He's writing about his previous Challenge, his team this year, and other regular WaterTribe Challengers.

I can't wait to meet him. I've said it before, the very best thing about WaterTribe is the incredible people it attracts.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Another Year, Another EC

Photo: Some of the WaterTribe Challengers from the Rouges Gallery

Registration is now complete for this years 2009 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, a 300 mile unsupported, expedition style adventure race for kayaks, canoes, and small boats, scheduled for March 7-15th.

I just love this event, it will be my 6th. It’s such a wonderful, interesting, and exciting eclectic mix of adventurers and boats, and as such, is unlike any other small boat race out there.

With a bit of an international flavor, participants will include a Kiwi, Aussie, Russian, two brothers from Singapore, Canadians and Americans.

This year also includes world class sailors Randy Smyth (SewSew) and Steve Lohmayer and Jamie Livingston (Bumpy and Lumpy) cat sailors, naval architect and renowned wooden boat designer Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht Designs (ROO), Matt Leyden (Wizard) known internationally for his “microcruising sailboat designs”, and the rest of us average crazies all looking for challenge and adventure.

The varied mix of participants is especially noted by the wonderful and unusual mix of boats, all making this a really unique and different kind of event.

In addition to the more traditional plastic, fiberglass, and homemade wooden expedition sea kayaks, there are a few racing models from Epic and Sisson, and including a tandem sit-on-top, a Chesapeake Light Craft triple, as well as a 12’ 24” touring kayak. There’s a traditional touring canoe, a collection of Kruger Expedition Canoes, and this year a 6-man outrigger canoe. Some of the paddle craft will also include pedal systems, and sail options.

The sailboat category also continues to grow each year, especially in its variety, and this year is no exception. A Hobie 14 catamaran, a 20’ Tornado, homebuilt trimarans and proas, an inflatable cat, and a couple of low draft cat-catch Sea Pearls and B&B designs.

If you aren’t able to participate, this race enjoys quite an exciting following on the WaterTribe forum as the challenger’s land contacts report in on status, stories, and adventures. This year, many will also be using SPOT, which will also allow for armchair viewing.

I'm off to the lake, need to get in some boat time, there's only 4 weeks to go.