Saturday, February 27, 2010

What a Mess

It's that time again, packing and organizing gear for the EC.  It's all over the place.  That's my Explorer in the family room and the mess extending towards the kitchen.

I've even got KiwiBird's kayak in my living room, ready for us to work on hydration system tomorrow.

No time left for paddling.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good Luck Messages

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about my son Alan.   He and 2 friends are currently sailing around the world as part of an educational program they created, an interactive sailing classroom for middle school classrooms, called EYE of the World.  They keep a very active and informative website which is interesting to follow.  Though lately they seem quite fixated on food and especialy ice cream.

They left Virginia in November, are currently in Panama having just left the San Blas Islands, making their way to the Panama Canal.  Neither a race, or simple sailing adventure, they stop and stay in the many countries they pass for at least a few days, to learn and experience the culture and diversity; all part of the program reporting on their experiences.

Certainly investing in their Ham Radio was one of the best things we’ve done, as we receive regular emails from Alan about their trip.  These emails and other bits and pieces about their trip are posted on another blog Paul and I keep called Friends and Family of EYE of the World.  

I recently received an email from Alan wishing me good luck in the Everglades Challenge.   Alan is known among the WaterTribe as SOS, and has also completed a few WaterTribe events.  It’s all in the family.

But my absolute favorite was in 2006 when I was on the beach at Tampa Bay about to start paddling the 1200 miles of the WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge, when I got an audio picture text from Alan on my phone.  The text said  "Go Mom!" with the picture below, and the music of Beethhoven's "Ode to Joy". 

Four years later, I still have thist text on my phone, even transferred it over when I got a new phone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Safety Gear

A friend emailed me about a rescue article in the new issue of SeaKayaker Magazine, luckily it has a good ending, it also involves use of an EPIRB.   She suggested I post a list of the signal/rescue/safety gear that I ususally carry.

Some think I'm a bit over the top regards the safety gear I carry.  I just explain I'm BCU trained, and of course I usually follow the WaterTribe's required equiptment list.

So here is my list (with some associated links) of the gear I usually have on me during multiday trips or a WaterTribe event.

In or on my PFD:
  • whistle
  • knife
  • strobe light
  • PFD light
  • small red light (my white stern light is hidden behind me)
  • small backpack with fire starter, space blanket, warm cap 
  • powerbar
  • flare gun + 3 flares
  • lazer flare pen
  • PLB EPIRB (I rent)
  • VHF radio
  • hand-held compass
  • GU pack
  • nose plugs
  • personal tether (with quick release) to attach me to boat, or to get a leg up 
  • small roll duct tape (larger repair kit in kayak)
  • Ibuprophen (larger first-aid in kayak)
  • small bottle liquid skin (my cuticles are always getting ripped)
  • lip balm
  • reading glasses
On my deck:
Under my deck easily accessible:
  • 3 Smoke flares + extra aerial flares
  • kayak hand pump (also foot pump installed)
  • paddle float
  • tow belt
  • cell phone in dry bag (which I can talk thru)
And yes, I have actually done a float test to make sure that with all this gear my PFD does still provide fotation :)

Coming into CheckPoint #1 during Everglades Challenge 2005

I am making a few changes for this years EC, regards how I store accessible gear.  I've usually used a deck bag, but wanted to simplify the deck a bit.  So this year I'm wearing a drybag fanny pack to store snacks and sunscreen and hydropel.   I"m also going to install the NorthFace Under Deck Bag.  It's not a dry bag, but I'll use it to hold spare batteries (in a small dry box), my spare GPS, waterproof flashlight and headlamp, charts.  My kayak has a day hatch, but still not easily and immediately accessible as it's so big, it takes a bit of rooting around for things.

Last year I put in a bungie system under my deck in front of the cockpit, this holds my hand pump, paddle float, smoke flares, and cell phone, all clipped in.  All of this will still fit nicely above the under deck bag.

And I am going to install a hydration system in the kayak.  It's just too much weight to carry a camelbak on my back, and too hard to change it out while on the water.  I saw what looked like a good setup on this website though I won't be putting mine in the day hatch, but will attach a bladder to the hull in the cockpit behind my seat.  Kristen (KiwiBird) and David (Floatsome) are all coming over on Sunday and well start drilling holes and get it done, with only a few days left before the event.

Certainly a lot stuff and weight added, and all very secured.  I believe this extra weight stored in the cockpit (and especially under the deck) will have little effect on paddling primarily because the kayak is fully loaded for expedition.   I would not do this with an empty kayak.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Almost Ready

Got in a training paddle today with Kristen (KiwiBird) and David (Floatsome).  Possibly our last paddle before the EC Challenge

Lots of talk about food, gear, and last minute modifications to our kayaks.   David has just installed a small electric pump, Kristen and I both have foot pumps.  Later this week we are all getting together to put in a hydration system in our kayaks.  This will allow us to store water bladders in the cockpit with the hose coming out of a hole in the deck.  We've been running the hose thru our sprayskirts, but have never been really happy with that.  I'll post pictures later in the week.

Picture below is David in his Mirage Sea Kayak.  One of the few that was actually made in North Carolina a few years back.

It's quite a fierce looking kayak isn't it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weather Predictions

I don't put much faith in weather forcasting, at least not beyond a few days, but I do find it entertaining.

With the Challenge coming up in 14 days, it's hard not to be looking at the weather forcasts,  this site has become my favorite with it's 15 day forcast.

I'm also not liking Saturday, March 6's predictions for the Tampa Bay area;  numerous showers and winds 23 mph E.  Now if those winds would just come out of the North, and with a little bit of sun, my Pacific Action Sail would be very happy.


On the lake a beautiful day.

The above picture and sentence was a posting I made from my phone to my blog while out on a training paddle this afternoon.   I don't even have a "real" smart phone, though it does have internet access.  I'm pretty pleased.

I'll really be too tried and stupid to post myself, and I won't do it from the water with my phone.  It was a bit disorienting trying to text while sitting in kayak.   But I did want to test it out.  As in the past, Paul will keep up the blog during the challenge.  Don't know what I'd do without him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


How can anyone get any work done these days with all the excitment leading up to this years Everglades Challenge.  The WaterTribe forum is as active as ever, with the 3 big races, and only 25 days, posts have been been informative, exciting,  inspiring, and amazing.

Even SOS, my son Alan who is currently sailing around the world has been chiming in when he has internet access.

Last minute entree into the 1200 mile Ultimate Florida Challenge is ManitouCruiser, Mark Przedwojewski  owner of Kruger Canoes, who also completed (and was one of top 3 finishers) in 2006 UFC. ManitouCruiser holds the record for the most WaterTribe finishes (11).   Last years EC was his first WT miss, and it was strange without him.  There is always a contingency of Kruger Canoes (Cruisers, SeaWinds and Dreamcatchers) each year, and this year 5 of the 8 boats in the UFC are Krugers, it’s going to be quite a race. It looks like no one is cruising it, just hard core racers.

Another notable last minute entree’s for the 67 mile Ultra Marathon sprint is the father/daughter team of Kapakahi and Boo (Brian and Marissa).  Boo was the youngest (11 yrs) to ever finish an EC (2008), she and her dad were paddling for cancer fundraising.  They followed that up the next year with a finish in the MissouriRiver340. School is the reason for “only” the UM this year or they might have thrown their hat into the EC again. Kapakahi and Boo  also each have their own blog, and this year Brian will be following and reporting on all 3 races on the Kruger Canoe Adventures, where he has provided very entertaining reports on the many Kruger endurance challenges over the past year.

And of course SharkChow (Warren Richey) has entered the EC.  Winner and finisher of the 2006 FC, and other ECs, and author of the new book ‘Without a Paddle’ available in June. Everyone is excited to see him back.  His daily countdown posts of advice on the forum  have really added to this years excitement, and conversation.

SharkChow is a good example of just how important the mental piece of these races actually are. He’s just admitted on forum that he’s only been in his kayak twice in the last 2 years.  The importance of mental attitude is well known for all endurance sports, I’ve posted about it in the past. It’s all good news for me, every year I find I have less and less time to train on the water, but having done a few of these at least I know what it takes.  It’s just seems to hurt more.
Yup, it's getting really exiting, I may just have to stay off the internet completely to get my work done.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Brrrr Cold

My training plan called for an 8hr paddle today.  I'd opted out of paddling yesterday because of wind and cold.  I wasn't concerned much about speed this weekend, just sit time in the boat; all part of getting ready for the Everglades Challenge.  So at 7am and still 20F, I went out to my local Lake Jordan.

All the storms lately have created unusally high water levels, so I launched from what was left of the parking lot, and paddled past a few signs.

Once launched and out of the protection of the boat ramp, there were fairly significant and unexpected winds.  It was a nice and fast downwind run for a good part of the day, even a bit disconcerting sailing at 6 mph in my kayak, and with water so cold the lake was lined with ice.

There was also the occasional obstacle course, as the storms have had the Haw River depositing quite a mess into the lake.

The return was into the wind, and brrr cold, as I hugged the shoreline looking for some protection.  Lukily as the day wore on, the winds started to subside.

Back at the car, David (Floatsome) paddled in, about 1/2 mile behind me, and also a bit cold.  He too was out on a long training paddle, though we both had picked opposite shorelines for most of our paddle and had missed each other.

Only 2 weekends left before leaving for Florida, maybe one of them will be warm enough for some night paddling and camping too.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thirty Days and Counting

Thirty days and counting to the EC, the B&B Yachts Grand Diva is looking great. The deck is all on, the hull is ready for primer and paint, the deck is ready for glass cloth, the cockpit coaming is ready for installation, the installation of the recessed hatches is going very well, and the paint and hardware parts are here and waiting their turn. Her lines are beautiful, a seemingly perfect balance of rocker yet still shaped like a rocket. It’s clear she’s going to be absolutely perfect.

However, in spite of our best efforts, last night Paul and I found ourselves forced to shift strategies as we believe we have run out of time to finish her for this EC.

It is hard to know exactly how much more time is needed. We could be 15-30 days from the launch and some additional time is needed for at least one shake-down cruise and possible adjustments for comfort. The time has come for attention to be given to other aspects of preparing and training for the EC.

The turning point was when I realized that we were beginning to consider compromises based on ‘how long it will take’ rather than on what we really wanted. Good craftsmanship takes time.
So it’s time to switch gears. I need to relax and get my head focused on the challenge. Paul needs to get his life back. My free time now needs to be spent on other things; organizing gear, working on navigation, continued training sessions, packing, etc… There’s lots to do to get ready.

We will continue to work on the new kayak as time allows, of course, because boat building is fun. It should be ready to launch later in the spring or early summer, finished in a much more relaxed and enjoyable manner.

I’m all trained up in the NDK Explorer and it’s ready to go, so it’s really the obvious choice now. I’m lucky to have a choice. My Kruger Dreamcatcher is getting a bit lonely, maybe the MR340 in August…