Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Race This Month

The (rescheduled) MR340 kayak/canoe race is over.  Eight WaterTribe members started and finished, with 4 finishing in the top 10 of their class.   Now, WaterTribers will start to turn their attention to their own upcoming North Carolina Challenge (NCC) September 24th. 

We'll all be watching the weather as hurricane season is well underway.  Earl is planning a fly-by later this week but should pass through right before the holiday weekend.  I've been working hard trying to fight off a bad cold, but am hoping to get to the coast sometime this weekend for some scouting/training and maybe some left-over rough water training.

The route may mislead some into thinking our race is “inside” and therefore somewhat protected, but there is a huge fetch on Core Sound (which is very shoal-y and shallow), and down the Neuse River. The first photo below was taken at the start/finish beach during the race last year on Saturday when we had an unexpected (Nor'easter) storm blow in.   The next photo is the beach during a calm.  On our coast, full calms are somewhat unusual.

The WaterTribe Rules and Regulations stipulates "You must be an expert in your craft".  Make sure you've included rescue practice in your training and preparation.

Last years NCC weather history:

Friday 25th:
   AM: winds 5-10 mph from the WSW becoming WNW
   PM: winds 15-22 mph from the NE, max gusts 26-32 mph
   Air temperatures 70-86 (F)

Saturday 26th :
   AM: winds 10-20 NE becoming E, max gusts 26 mph
   PM: winds 10-20 E becoming ESE, max gusts 26 mph
   Air temperatures 70-78 (F)

Sunday 27th:
   AM: winds 5-10 SE becoming WSW, max gusts 20 mph
   Air temperatures 70-80 (F)
The Dawn Patrol blog has a couple of posts up reporting on their experiences last year.  Photo is of Dawn Patrol with Paul (DancesWithSandybottom) and Alan (SOS) coming in to their 2nd place Class 4 finish, fully reefed..

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Essentials Class

This past Saturday, I taught a kayaking class for my club, The Carolina Kayak Club.  We followed the ACA Coastal Level 2 Essentials in Kayak Touring agenda.  Focusing on all the basics, forward and reverse strokes, turns and maneuvers, variations of both solo and assisted rescues, and  discussions on equipment, safety, and basic navigation.  It was a full and long day.

The diversity of kayaks in our class was very interesting, and not unlike the overall club make-up which includes a wide variety of recreational style kayaks, from inflatable to sit-on-top and everything in between, and with a few sea kayaks thrown in.  There are some interesting challenges to make everything work for everyone in these mixed classes, but not only does the individual paddler work on their skills and learn about their own kayaks performance, students in the class are able to lean about the handling of the other styles of kayaks.  This an important benefit of the class since our club is fairly active and inclusive in most of its (non seakayak) day and weekend trips regards the variety of kayaks.

A few pictures of the class participants below, including a visit during the class by the club President and Frank and a regular club organiser Rich.

There has been a long standing continuous thread on our clubs forum about campers.  Many of the clubs weekend paddling trips involve car camping, and many have coveted the idea of having a camper.  There have been some very intriguing pictures of campers offered, from the very basic to the luxurious.   I'm not sure where the kayak rack goes on this one.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Back Home

Alan's home from his sailing adventure on the EYE of the World, he sailed the Virginia to Austrailia leg.  We picked him up at the airport on Thursday morning.

Things at home are looking a bit normal again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Goose Creek Island Circumnavigation

Well I finally made it around Goose Creek Island. Kristen (KiwiBird), David, and I got to Pate’s Boat Yard late Fri and visited with a few old friends from my April visit there. Some of us are going to plan an Oktoberfest weekend in October, lots of paddling by day, and partying by night.

All who’d been out fishing that day warned us that the NE winds were still high and water fairly rough, so we chose to paddle over to Belhaven via the ICW which is inside of the Island. By the time we got to the 5 mile crossing of Pamlico River winds were about 12 knots and slowly decreasing. We sailed on the beam across most of the river then lost the wind completely for about 10 miles up the Pungo River. The last hour had it clocking around and we sailed into Belhaven at 4 knots without paddling, having finished 23 miles for the day.

There is a large historic Victorian Mansion known today as the River Forest Manor and Marina, built in 1899, by John Aaron Wilkinson, President of J.L. Roper Lumber Company and Vice-President of Norfolk & Southern Railroad. It is now an Inn, Restaurant, and Marina. Business was a bit down and they were closed for renovations, but let us camp on their grass, and use the marina’s bathhouse.

Dinner was the best grilled scallops we’d all ever had at Georgie’s Sports and Oyster Bar a few blocks away. We walked down the road on the river front with its beautiful historic homes, and then into the small town. It was quite sad as the town seems quite depressed, with many/most of its store fronts closed, and lots of property for sale.

Up at sunrise on Sunday, we packed up and paddled the other side (West) of the Pungo River planning to finish our paddle on the outside along Pamlico Sound of Goose Creek Island.

Head winds today, light about 5-8 knots. We found a beautiful little sandy beach (there aren’t many) still on the Pamlico River that we stopped early (2pm) and just swam, visited, relaxed, and camped the night.

Monday the winds had died completely, and though temperatures were still milder than the week before, without a good breeze, this was our hottest day, and after last weekends 50 mile "Vacation to Hell" paddle, David and I were both feeling it.  We paddled around point to point, Little Porpoise Point to Big Porpoise Point, then Middle Bay Point to Sow Island Point and into Jones Bay. Halfway up the Bay, Shawn (owner of Pate’s) motored over in his modified tri-dory (a narrow dory he'd built a few years ago with hobie-cat hulls added for stabilization), he’d been following my SPOT tracks, and said the locals were quite impressed that we’d crossed the River on Saturday.

Total trip 58 miles, 3 days, good company, good paddling, great vacation.

Last year they built a new and large concrete bridge over the ICW onto Goose Creek Island, prior to that it was a smaller draw bridge, likely with lots of history.  Surfing the web a bit, I noticed the book "Across The Bridge: Life on Goose Creek Island and Pamlico County" by Lisa Flowers Santimaw.   Advertised as book about "country life", from fishing trawlers to drawbridges, family life and friends and family gone on before.   I've not read it, so can't really recommend it, but it is a genre that I've enjoyed in the past, reading stories of rural and coastal N.C.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grand Diva Progress

While I was away this past weekend working hard paddling around Goose Creek Island, Paul worked on my B&B Grand Diva kayak. Her little sister Diva is on the B&B website . The Grand Diva is 17’ 6” long, 21” wide, and Swede form. The Swede form is characterized with the wider part of the kayak behind the true middle. Supposed to be fast, certainly will be lighter. I’m hoping we’ll have it done in time for the WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge (NCC) next month.

Paul had epoxied in the hatch covers. The expedition style kayaking that I do demands completely waterproof hatches. My preference is for the round VCP (Valley Canoe Products) rubber hatches that cover and snap over a plastic flange, creating a watertight - even airtight - seal. I’ve got the 10” size, and a smaller 8” day hatch. All are slightly recessed into the deck, more for aesthetics, and to keep any added spray from coming off the front.

The glass was also layed on the front deck and with a couple epoxy coats (the hull is already done). The rich dark red color of the African mahogany that Graham Byrnes gave me for the deck is really looking beautiful. We’ve only a couple more thin coats of epoxy and then we’ll start the sanding, sanding, and more sanding.

Next is to finish and attach the cockpit (keyhole for me), paint the hull (I’m not a big fan of the look of a plywood hull), and then varnish the mahogany.

Rudder and deck fittings will finish the task. I’ll have to work out the deck fittings such that they hold the deck lines and are placed to correspond to the sail fittings. But I need to wait until my new sail arrives to work on placement. Here’s hoping the new sail arrives soon.

What new sail you ask? It’s a surprise, and it’ll eventually need its own blog posting.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unfinished Business

I’ve some unfinished paddling business that I plan to get done this weekend; circumnavigating Goose Creek Island.

Early this past April, I’d attempted a day paddle circumnavigating Goose Creek Island, about 30 miles. But a little less than ½ way into the paddle I started feeling sick and decided to abort it (lesson learned: don’t party before a big paddle). That was the first day of a fun weekend with another group of folks (mostly from the Lumber River Canoe Club), where we were hosted by Pate’s Boat Yard in Hobucken, NC.

Trip reports on my aborted paddle, and the rest of that fun weekend weekend can be found on this blog (links below). The first link also includes a nice history of Hobucken NC and of Pate’s Boat Yard:
Goose Creek Island, NC - Friendly Pate Boatyard
Goose Creek Island Paddle N Party – Part 1
Goose Creek Island Paddle N Party – Part 2

This coming weekend I’ll be back that way visiting Pate’s Boatyard and Hobucken again, though not exactly the same routing and plans this time. I’ll be spending a 3-day paddling weekend with with Kristen (KiwiBird) and David. We'll camp at Pate's on Friday night, then paddle from Hobucken around Goose Creek Island, across the Pamlico River along the ICW and up to the north shore of the Pungo River where the small town of Belhaven is located in NC Inner Banks Region.  We're hoping to find a nice meal in Belhaven before returning back making sure we get in the full circumnavigation of the Island during the trip.

As usual, I’ll have my SPOT tracking on.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dawn Patrol

We’re rolling out another blog named Dawn Patrol.

Paul’s wanted a place to share his/our occasional sailing trip reports and sailing pictures, and especially his boat building and maintenance stuff.  Postings will likely be infrequent, and specific to all things related to our home built Core Sound 20.  I’ll occasionally note updates and link to it from this blog, nothing really changes on this blog.  The new one will not contain kayak building posts, or other boat building activities (per Paul).

Paul and Alan plan to team up for the WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge next month in 'Dawn Patrol', so he'll blog about their race over there.  I'll be paddling it in a kayak, and will report here.

One thing we’d really like to figure out how to do, is archive the building posts that are scattered about on Alan's Sailing Adventures Blog as well as on this one, just to be put them all together in one place.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Book - Black Feathers

I am anxiously waiting on the mail, I’ve ordered a new book. I’d just finished reading a short article and review of the book ‘Black Feathers’ by Robert and Jeanne Crawford, in the newest issue of “Small Craft Advisor” (my now favorite magazine even over SeaKayaker Magazine). I couldn’t order it fast enough.

According to the review, the book chronicles the completion of a dream Robert had of competing in the Singlehanded TransPac race, 2200 miles from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay, Hawaii, in a twenty foot sloop. Robert tells his story about the race and training. Jeanne tells her story as supporter, and cheerleader (and much more I suspect).

I’m especially interested in the fact that the review describes a third part of the book, a “how to” manual of tips on preparation and planning. I’m always hungry for the nitty gritty details of these endurance and challenging events. I also like that the reviewer describes the book as having a little suspense and romance. It was that similar element that had me loving the book “Without a Paddle” by Warren Richey (of course it didn't hurt that I was mentioned in it too).

When our kids were young, our daughter, not unlike me, was a voracious reader. She even took to writing her own short stories and poetry.  In order to get our son to read, and to love to read, we’d have to search out “how to” books that we thought would interest him.  His world seemed to have no room for novels as he was growing up.

I was pleased to see him mention a book on his blog that he read during his sailing adventure to Australia, “Blue Lattitudes,"by Tony Horwitz, an entertaining, informative look at the life and travels of Capt. James Cook. This was actually one of a number of books Steve Earley of “The Log of Spartina” blog fame sent us to offer Alan for his trip. Alan has told us how he enjoyed his down time reading. This particular book Alan said was interesting as he could follow along in the book as he sailed, stopping in many of the same islands (Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and now Australia) and places where Cook made landfall for the first time. Possibly still in that same vein as a “how to”, but a book never the less :)  I think he'll like this new book too.

Since this is a sailing post, I’ll include this neat YouTube video of a dingy cruise I saw posted on the Small Craft Advisor Blog. It really makes me want to get another trip planned, I had so much fun on our Tag Team 200 trip this past June (trip reports are archived on right sided sidebar of Spartina blog).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Keeping it Casual

This posting is intended for the women paddlers.  My own personal visit to hell last weekend was different than what I’d advertised on our weekend’s "Vacation to Hell" trip.  I'd made a big mistake during the trip, and paid a painful price.

I wouldn't describe myself as immodest, but certainly very casual.  I had decided to be a bit more respectful of other people by wearing a bra on this kayak camping trip. I don’t usually, but I’m almost 60, and most women my age really do need a bit of containment. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal to just wear the darn thing. This turned out to be a very big and very painful mistake, one I’ll not make again.  The resulting chafing was miserable.

I realized my mistake a few hours into Saturday’s paddle. Off went the offending article of clothing, but by that time, and with the short sleeved looser shirt I was wearing, the damage had been done and would only continue. Nothing short of removing my PFD (couldn’t do it) was going to help me, and no amount of hydropel helped either.  Once the chafing started it just continued through the day, our longest at 29 miles.  Thank goodness I had my PAS sail and we had some light winds so I could occasionally take a break from the constant rotation and stroking.

I was a bit worried about Sunday's paddle while lying in my tent, arms stretched out with oozing and weeping wounds.  Luckily I had brought along one of my long sleeved lighter thermal shirts that I usually wear during an Everglades Challenge, though had thought it would be too warm during the day.  I wore this Sunday, it kept skin from touching skin.  I don't think I complained too much, we all had our own demons to fight with distance and heat, but every stroke was pretty painful, and it somehow feels good to complain about it now.

I'll be out again this coming weekend as KiwiBird and I are planning a 3-day paddling trip. I expect to be well healed by then, but I'll certainly go back to “casual” mode and with my old paddle shirts that I know work well for me.  And... I guess I should try and get serious again about that damn extra 20 pounds.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Tourists

My son Alan has been sailing with the EYE of the World since November when they sailed out of Virginia. Last week, he and another EYE crew member Will, finished their part of the EYE in Australia. With 2 ½ weeks to travel on land from Cairns to Sydney, their journey continues.

Alan has resurrected his Sailnaway Blog and has been posting some fun stories about their travels in a teeny tiny $700 car, visiting as many sights as possible as they make their way down the Western Coast of Australia (a distance equivalent of traveling from Maine to Florida).  I"ve been spending my morning reading all his stories.

I got home last night from the 'Vacation to Hell' weekend kayaking trip I'd organized for my club.  In some ways I had not misrepresented the trip, it was not necessarily easy for all.  But a great group made for lots of laughter and fun.  About 52 miles (29 + 23 mi. days), the heat was a problem for two in our party, requiring stops to swim and cool, which actually added both fun and safety.   Unbelievably we were almost bug free, this is unheard of in August where we were camping each night.  And the weather was fairly benign.  Unfortunately my camera died early on day 1, so I'll post shots that other's volunteer in a few days. 

This this was the longest distance paddled for some in our group, and was great LSD training for other's planning the WaterTribe NCC next month.  For me, it was proof that I still had a good base for the NCC, as I hadn't been on the water much since my big May trip.  A bit more time on the water and I'll be good to go late September.  So next weekend sounds good :)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hell Yes!

Our club's weekend paddling trip is known as our Annual Vacation to Hell; hot, humid, buggy, and long.  Eight of us will paddle the 50 miles from Cedar Island to Beaufort, up the Neuse River and across on the Harlow Canal.  A challenge for some, training for other's as they prepare for the WaterTribes North Carolina Challenge.

The weather won’t be too bad after all. Highs in the 80,s the usually predicted chance of showers and thunderstorms we always have at the coast, and there should be enough breeze to keep us cool, hopefully keep the skeeters away, more help then hurt.

The Harlow Canal is quite beautiful, tree-lined; the Western side of the canal is part of the Croatan National Forest. Entered thru Clubfoot Creek off the Neuse River, it is the old original Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), located west of the current ICW, connecting the Neuse River with the Morehead City and Beaufort waterfronts. Known locally as the Slave Canal because it was deepened to five or six feet by slave labor, the Harlowe is one of the oldest canals in the United Sates, originally created untold centuries ago by Indians who dragged their canoes across the lowlands to the Neuse.
You can follow along, I'll have the SPOT tracking on.