Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Still Trying to Go Somewhere

My last post 'Where is it We're Going?" was in anticipation of a coastal trip planned for last weekend. Well... I didn't go anywhere. A last minute unexpected trip to NY yesterday for work, had me needing to prepare for the trip over the weekend. I was disappointed.

I did get to join KiwiBird and family and some friends for a nice pool/dinner party Saturday night which was lots of fun. And friend David and I joined his biking group on Sunday morning for a nice early 20 miler.

Still wanting/needing to go somewhere, now I'm looking forward to a coastal trip I've organized coming up in a couple weeks. Cedar Island to Beaufort, following the WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge Ultra Marathon (NCCUM) route. The real challenge is scheduled for September 24th. This will be a scouting trip for some, and a fun adventure for others.

August will be miserable, that's why we call this the 'CKC 2nd Annual Vacation to Hell' (last year we did this club trip as a circumnavigation around Cedar Island). Another group of paddlers will be finishing the circle that would comprise the North Carolina Challenge (NCC) 100 mi route, route from Beaufort to Cedar Island. This will allow us all to shuttle cars nicely between the 2 groups. That groups trip is called 'The Other Side of Hell'.

Pic from last years V2H trip, lots of wind

We do it because it's fun, on the water and in our kayaks, even if there are bugs and heat, and maybe wind, and maybe thunderstorms.....  I'm hoping to paddle in this years NCC (rather than race manage) so I need to get training, and finish kayak building :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Where Is it We're Going?

This weekend I’m off with my kayaking club to Drum Inlet, off Core Sound on the Outer Banks of NC, or at least that's what I thought I was doing.  I haven’t paddled over there since 2008, when Lamar Hudgens started his Barrier Island Kayaks Symposium that year with a day trip paddling to Drum. That day we paddled across the Sound stopped at the ‘Old Drum Inlet’ then paddled a mile down to the ‘New Drum Inlet’, or was it the reverse.   It was all pretty exciting that year, as Brian Smith and Lise-Anne Beyries  was along filming for their then newest documentary "Eastern Horizons; Exploring the Atlantic Coast by Kayak".

But now, I"m wondering where it is we are actually going.  It might not really be Drum Inlet at all, but Ophelia Inlet.

Wikipedia says
“Drum Inlet is an inlet of the Outer Banks in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It connects the Core Sound with the Atlantic Ocean and separates Portsmouth Island from the Core Banks. The core banks consists of, from north to south, North Core Bank or Portsmouth Island, Middle Core Bank, and South Core Bank or Davis Island. Old Drum Inlet separates Portsmouth Island from Middle Core Bank, which in turn is separated from Davis Island by New Drum Inlet. Old Drum Inlet is a natural inlet while New Drum inlet was dynamited into existence by the Army Corps of Engineers. Ophelia inlet, named after the hurricane that created it, severed about a mile off of the northern tip of Davis island. Over the winter of 2008-2009, all of the inlets shoaled and closed up, middle core bank merged with north core bank, leaving only Ophelia inlet."
It doesn't matter.  That day was a great day, some of us surfed, other’s walked on the beach, went swimming, and just enjoyed the day. Photo below is of friends Camille, Craig, and I, taking a break and cooling off.  They both will there this weekend too, where ever it is we are going.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Town

I got an email from my friend Jay with the picture below.  He asked "Did you know there is a Sandy Bottom North Carolina?  Abbey and I were driving to Cliffs of the Neuse yesterday and ran across this sign."
Pretty cool! 
Checking a map, I found it not far from the Neuse River near Kinston NC.  Thanks Jay and Abbey.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Greenland Paddle Question

How do you GP paddlers with key hole cockpits in your kayak, stay dry?

I have a Seals and a Seal Line neoprene spray skirt.  Both slowly get saturated from the drips on the skirt from by GP, regardless of which GP I use (Lumpy, Betsy Bay, Superior).

I"ve also surprised myself by falling back in love with my Betsy Bay paddle.   It was the first GP I started using, many many years ago.  More recently I've been using Lumpy GPs, and thought I'd never go back to a paddle without shoulders again.  I'd lent my BB paddle to a friend, who just recently returned it after a couple of years.  Just for fun I thought I'd revisit it.  I really loved the feel. 

Thursday morning, Joe, my regular once weekly - weekday paddling partner, commented that I was faster and appeared much more relaxed (working less hard) with my BB paddle.  Maybe it's a good thing to switch things up a bit sometimes.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mea Culpa

I am a worrier, it’s just my nature. I have the one of the world’s most creative imagination with regards to things to worry about. I have learned to use this worrying to plan and prepare. Luckily, worry doesn’t enter much into my life when I’m in action, it’s only in the anticipation. So, for example I worry for months about being ready for a WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, and sharks, and alligators, and pythons... Yet once on the beach at Ft Desoto, all worry is gone, and it’s just all fun and adventure.

This too is how I approached sailing and our recent ‘Tag Team 200’ trip. I worried about everything, so much so that we did rescue drills and man-over-board drills prior to the trip. I worried I’d be scared the whole time. And I worried that Paul wasn’t up to the skill level needed for the trip, I already knew I wasn’t. In the end, worrying about Paul was a waste of my time and a big mistake, one that deserves a public “mea culpa”.

Married for 28 years, we had a small Phantom sailboat for the kids when they were in high school. Then we’d bought Alan’s first sailboat, a used Isotope catamaran as his HS graduation present. This was eventually replaced and followed with Hobie Cats, Nacra Cats, and even Alan’s (and friends) homemade sailing canoes. I’d always seen Alan as our family’s sailor. He’d had some sailing lessons during a summer camp one year and during a visit to my parents in Hawaii one summer. But I seemed to have forgotten that many lessons must also have come from Paul.

Until Paul and Alan built our Core Sound 20 “Dawn Patrol” a couple of years ago, I’d never really been in a sailboat sailed by Paul, or knew much about his previous sailing experiences. Sure he then went on to do an Everglades Challenge in 2008, and a North Carolina Challenge in 2009 (picture below), but I’d have said that Paul was crew to Alan, our sailor.

I remember at one point I mentioned this to Paul. How would I know he could sail, I’d not really seen him in a boat much. He responded that I’d not been there when he learned to bicycle either, but I had no trouble assuming he could, and know he can.

Both before, and even during our Tag Team 200 trip, I’d assumed Steve to be the most experienced, after all, he blogs about it :)  But during our trip, my ability to totally relax with Paul at the helm, even trust that he knew what he was doing when he put me at the helm, getting to our destinations safely each evening, and of course the many comments from Steve about our great sailing had me realizing my mistake.

Steve makes mention of our sailing prowess often in his daily accounts of our trip. He really does mean Paul’s prowess. No real surprise in the end I guess, Paul always comes through, on everything, during all of our life together.  And I’m quite proud and happy being his “first mate”, for now!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A New Idea

Paul and I are members of the Carolina Sailing Club, their focus is one-design buoy racing, which hasn't really interested us much, and of course "Dawn Patrol" doesn't fit the classes.  A couple of years ago Paul and Alan did enter thier large Govenor's Cup Race in the 'all comers' category, but they didn't know how to handicap our sailboat.

This year the club started a new Day Sailors division and forum.  It's a group that's still finding it's way, but it's the reason we joined.  One of the more active members, just posted about having made a Puddle Duck Racer.  I've read about these sailboats in races like the Texas 200, and I believe one is expected in next years WaterTribe Everglades Challenge

A Puddle Duck Racer or PD Racer is an 8 foot long, one-design racing sailboat or day sailer.  It is billed as "the easiest sailboat in the world to build", and about the cheapest. The scow hull is a simple box, usually built of plywood.  As simple as making 4 side panels and attaching a bottom. The rules require that the lower 10" of the hull must conform to a particular shape with flat parallel sides.  But the fun part is that everything else on the boat is up to you;  you can put on any type of sail rig, under water fins, hiking board, bow sprit, multiple masts etc...  Some owners have attemped a very teeny tiny small cabin, one designed his to look like a pirate ship with pretend cannons. 

I've always thought they looked like a simple fun sailboat. These little boats have quite a following, with regional and even international competitions, there are racing clubs everywhere.  I've actually asked about them at home for quite awhile.  I won't bother to tell you what Alan and Paul have said about them, nothing very good.

The one below is David "Shorty" Roth's (the original creator) first PDR.  And yes I'd describe it as a particularly ugly one, with a mast made from a tarp.

I've just recently noticed that John Welsford, the designer of Steve's beautiful Pathfinder "Spartina", has a design he calls the Kiwi PDR.  His webpage about this design is very interesting. It appears that he has attempted to stay withing the hull shape rules (to keep it official), but has tried to give the boxy little boat some graceful curves. He says it's a 2 weekend build.  

Hmmm, now that I'm a sailor :) I kind of want my own sailboat, something small and light, that I can single hand on our lake.   Welsford's drawing of his Kiwi PDR (below) looks pretty good to me.

So how surprised was I to see a posting on the Day Sailors Forum that a member just finished making a PDR, and plans to make another.  In fact, he's investigating with a local builder for kit builds.  He describes the kits as "A kit that would allow one to build a first class boat  that one would be proud to own.  The kit would include marine ply and made with epoxy coat but construction would be Tight Bond 2 with silicon bronze nails / stainless steel screws."

This sounds pretty good to me.  I'm already thinking about the color, and the mast style (Welsford suggests a sun fish style sail).  Of course it'll have to go on the list after the wooden kayak and skin-on-frame kayak builds are finished.  And I don't think Paul will help me with this one.   He's had his eye's on the B&B Yachts Spindrift series, much prettier, and faster.
The PDR is much more than a sailboat, it's a whole community.  And if there is a local fleet starting, maybe the racing will be fun and help improve my sailing skills.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tag Team Togetherness

The sailing of this first real sailing trip was not the only thing I was a bit worried about. I wasn’t sure about all the “togetherness”. We’d be 8 days including camping on our small 20 ft sailboat, that’s pretty tight quarters. This would be the first real vacation Paul and I would take together without kids, in about 10 years.

I also didn’t know how it would go with Steve and Bruce in “Spartina”; we didn’t really know either of them. We’d been reading Steve’s blog for a couple years, and Paul and I had become occasional email pen-pals with him over the past year. We certainly knew about him, but we’d only actually met once. Last November we had an opportunity to meet for lunch in Hampton Virginia when Steve came out the weekend that our son Alan was leaving on his world sailing trip with the EYE of the World. We hadn’t met, nor had any communication with Bruce before our trip.

I suspect there was some initial hesitancy all around. When we’d emailed with Steve about the trip plans, we’d all agreed that we’d just play it by ear and would make no plans or promises of staying together. We would all meet at Potter’s Marina where we would start the trip, then head out to our first anchorage and dine together. Steve and Bruce have been doing annual sailing trips together on “Spartina” for a few years now, and Bruce’s beef stew with wine had become a tradition. We were invited to dinner.

We arrived at the Marina about 2 hours late. Months of planning, and it still seemed final preparations were totally last minute. We’d borrowed a motor for the trip from our friend Ken, but wasn’t able to get it till Wed night before the trip. Once seeing its fit on our transom, Paul needed to very quickly make a mounting for it, and do some reinforcing to hold the extra weight. We were up late Thursday, the night before finishing our packing. Friday I sent a quick message to Steve warning that we were running late, and we’d just meet at the planned anchorage, we had the coordinates in our GPS. Steve called to check on our location when they were all set up and ready to head out and we were only 5 miles away. They decided to wait for us to arrive which gave us time to meet Bruce and to all share in each other’s excitement about our upcoming trip. It really made for a perfect start.

It was our first day crossing the Pamlico River with the East wind and a large swell across the long fetch over the Pamlico Sound and up the River that I realized I’d be okay with the sailing. Possibly not the strongest wind, but certainly the roughest conditions I’d been in on our sailboat. During the River crossing I’d report to Paul the angle of heeling as my eyes would fix on the incline meter mounted on our cabin. 

It was a bit of a wet ride that day, and with a fair amount of heeling, a total immersion for me. I believe that the boat weighed down with all our gear for the 8 day trip felt more stable than usual, and I was feeling okay about it all. I don’t think I took the tiller till we’d crossed the River and were in calmer conditions, but there was no hesitation after that.

The togetherness I wondered about was also no problem. Paul and I had a wonderful time together, and with lots of fun and laughter. We took turns sharing the role as Captain and Crew; other chores seemed to just happen naturally. I took on the dinner cooking and Paul the cleanup. Each morning Paul would make the coffee while I put away the bedding away. (Note: these are all chores Paul would have been more than happy to take on, but I had a system already). There really was little discussion about who would do what, it just sort of happened naturally.

Pictures of us taken by Steve or Bruce show little other than smiling faces (picture below from day 5).

Steve’s great daily trip reports (he’s posted Day1 thru Day 3) also tell the secondary story of the building friendship that developed between us all. We visited each day over cocktails and dinner, sharing stories from the day and from days gone by, even choosing to dine together when in port. Each morning we’d also visit briefly reviewing the day’s course and weather reports before setting sail.

I knew Paul was a skilled sailor and navigator, but I’d not really had much opportunity to experience it. I’d originally thought the tag teaming with “Spartina”, would add a bit more of a safety net to our trip, Steve’s blog certainly speaks to his skill and experience. But in the end, our staying together and really “Tag Teaming” for the 200 miles, was really only for the fun and enjoyment of it all.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Weekend of the 4th

My kayak club reserved a group camp site on the lake, and my daughter Tana called to say she'd love to come home and kayak and camp for the weekend.  Paul joined us Saturday afternoon and brought us dinner.  There was no no wind for sailing.   Interestingly it wasn't a well attended event.  We couldn't have had more perfect weather.   Night time temps in the 60's allowed for a nice bonfire to relax and visit.

Daytime were temps in the 80's and with no humidity.  We paddled both Saturday and Sunday.  Tana borrowed her Dad's yellow kayak and we paddled and swam and paddled and swam some more.  We had a great time.

We returned Sunday late afternoon and had a nice barbecue of shrimp ka-bobs.  Monday Tana headed back to school and I joined David and Sue for a nice early morning bicycle ride.  Life is good.

Friday, July 02, 2010

It's All in a Name

Steve’s trips aboard his John Welford’s Pathfinder “Spartina” have all had names. His blog, “The Log of Spartina” offers posting on his trip preparations, and then he follows that up with great photos and trip reports.  These have included trips named “The Crab House 150”, “The Skeeter Beater”, and “the Weekend Walkabout”. I’d wondered if our trip had a name.  I finally noticed it, “Tag Team 200”.  I really like it!  And I've loved the pictures and reports he's posted thus far.

I also love getting surprises in the mail. Today’s mail had some photo CDs from Steve's and Bruce’s cameras.  One really nice benefit of our joint venture is getting some great photos of our boats at sail and even pictures with us on them.  So far I’ve only looked at the Day 1 CD.  I love all the pics , but my current favorite doesn't even show the boat, it's just the tops of our 2 sails with the boat behind salt marsh grash.

Paul and I sat together having so much fun looking at them, after awhile we even started getting silly. As we looked at the series of photos below, Paul started humming the sound track from the movie Jaws :)  I think one of these may be a photo I'll want to have enlarged and framed.

During our trip, a favorite topic of discussion was gear, comparing gear we had, discussing gear we’d like to have. I’d had my eye on a carbon stainless steel paring knife that Steve had with his kitchen kit. I’d even seen an earlier posting on his blog about this knife, but hadn’t found one for myself. This too arrived in the mail today. A gift from “Spartina” to “Dawn Patrol”. Thanks Steve and Bruce.

Our daughter just called to tell us she's coming home for the weekend (from college) and wants to go paddling and camping on the lake with me.  The wind forcast is so bad we won't even bother with the sailboat.  Paul wants to play in his workshop and will join us for dinner.  Life is good.   

It's TOUR Time!

Tour de France that is, (or possibly Tour de Lance) starting Saturday July 3rd. This year’s Tour will be especially fun to follow as I intend it to be great motivation for me to get regularly biking again.

July is also RAGBRAI, the Register’s (as in Des Moines Register) Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, a seven-day bicycle ride across the state. RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world. So… I’ve exactly a year to train and prepare for the 2011 RAGBRAI ride. I’ll be riding and training with David (good friend and fellow paddler and WaterTriber named Floatsome). With Ironman Triathlons behind him now, this is a ride he has always wanted/planned to do; so it'll be us and 10,000 other riders :)

I’ve never really paddled (and certainly don’t sail) solely for fitness, those sports are relaxation and fun.  Even my paddling racing has been more cruising  Fitness was always running, biking, swimming, weight training, and yoga, and I'm not very dedicated to any right now.  But forced to give up the running (serious leg issues), I’ve needed some motivation to spend more time on the bike.  So RAGBRAI it is, should work nicely.

And of course the paddling never stops.   I was out on the lake very early yesterday morning for a paddle with a friend before work.  A beautiful morning, finally with some cooler temperatures.  Hoping this weather stays as I'll be paddling and camping at the lake this weekend with my paddling club.