Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Present for Me

I just had a big BD.  Decided to buy myself a present.  Isn't she pretty.  An NDK carbon kevlar Pilgrim.

And a great surfer.
Photo of me by Virginia taken last weekend at Wrightsville Beach

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Weekend #1

I've just had two really great paddling weekends.  The first was on the Eastern Shores of Virginia at the Kiptopeke SeaKayak Symposium, the 2nd was the 4th annual WaterTribe North Carolina 100 mile Challenge.  

First, weekend #1.

Picture above is me (front) paddling the Chesapeake on day #3, working on rough water skills and rescues, and new friend Todd in foreground (photo credit Tom Noffsinger).

This symposium was excellent, no complaints other than they need a symposium t-shirt.   Participants stayed in beautiful lodges at the Kiptopeke State Park, classes were a short (5 minute) drive with easy access to the ocean or to the Bay.  There were classes for everyone, at all levels.

Somehow I mistakenly ended up with the same instructor for all 3 ocean classes, but in the end, this turned out to be the best mistake I ever made.   My instructor was Tom Noffsinger, wow, what a great instructor.  He teaches in a simple, straight forward, easy to understand, and practical way.  He is one of those who's paddling style is effortless, looking like a ballerina while dancing on the water.  I learned new skills,  relearned old rusty skills, and continually had to correct some bad habits developed over the years.  I'm really looking forward to other opportunities to paddle with and learn from Tom in the future.

No need to go into the gory details.  I'd suggest if like me you've not had any formal training for awhile (my BCU4* training was over 12 years ago), you might also get back into it.  It was so exciting that the first thing I did was schedule an 'Advanced Edging and Bracing Class' for my kayak club this coming weekend, this so I can share what I've learned, and to continue to work on these skills myself, with my eyes closed (as Tom suggests).

Folks at the Symposium were wonderful, I made many new friends.  Mostly all members of the Chesapeake Paddlers Association, which I am now a new member of, more paddling opportunities :)

Next up, Sea Kayak Georgia's Symposium later this month, can't wait.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rough Water Training

I am so excited about my upcoming weekend at the Kiptopeke Kayak Symposium on the Virginia Barrier Islands.

I’ve been to a few larger symposiums (many many years ago) that had a huge retail component with very large classes, such as the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival in Charleston SC, but I am better matched to those Symposium that are 100% skill based, such as the Delmarva's Greenland Retreat (which I attended in 1999 and 2000) and the Barrier Island Kayaks Symposium (which I’ve attended many times over the past 12 years).  Kiptopeke is new; this is its 2nd year, 54 participants, 12 coaches, 33 courses, 4 lodges + a condo.  Wow!

This, along with the Sea Kayak Georgia Symposium at Tybee Island Georgia in October, is all part of my training and preparation for the many adventures I plan in retirement.  All will be ocean and surf classes.

This is a picture from last year’s Kiptopeke (taken from their advertisement), looks like sooo much fun.

Here's the classes I'm signed up for:
Life on the Edge
Take your boat control to a new level and find out just how far you can edge your boat. This session is all about building confidence and boat handling skills, and discovering new ways to maneuver your kayak, particularly as the conditions get rough. We'll spend the first part of the day with edging and blending support strokes together to help with seamless transitions and efficiency on the water. We'll also cover bracing in conditions, rough water rolling (including the surf zone) and rescues. Not for the faint at heart, or newer paddlers.

Open Water Skills (ACA Level 4)
Heading out beyond the surf zone and into open water requires more than good paddling skills. Our L4 skills day is designed to build on your solid flat/protected water skill set in a fun, creative way, exposing you to navigation techniques, advanced rescues/contingency/group management scenarios and boat control in open water. In addition to paddling skills development, topics include tide & chart interpretation and use, radio use, marine and shipping hazards, and more. This is a great way to get exposure to open water paddling, or learn some new techniques and tips if you're already paddling in open water.

Wreckage in the Wave Train: Rough water bracing, rescues and towing
Prepare for mayhem as we head out into open water, the wave train and areas of faster current to play and learn new (or polish existing) rough water skills. We’ll review the fundamentals in flatter conditions and then practice them in increasingly rough water. Get ready for some serious (but safe) bracing, rescues, towing and managing whatever incidents arise during the course of the day. Participants should have a solid foundation in bracing and self and assisted rescues. We are going to focus on using these skills in the conditions in which you are most likely to need them.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Where've You Been

I’ve been out of the blogosphere for awhile now.  Seems I’m not the only one as some of my old favorites have also become silent, even Derek at KayakQixotica has been quiet.  Luckily for me, a few other favorites GnarlyDogNews  (kayaking) and Log of Spartina (sailing) are still active.

I’m still on the water of course, but life is about to change with my planned retirement in December. It’s a great opportunity to update the look and work on the direction of this blog.  I’ll be back soon when I get it figured out, possibly a blog of an old lady kayaker working through her bucket list :)

The next couple of months is going to be very busy.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had any formal kayak training, and so as preparation for some of my future adventures (likely solo) I’ll be taking quite a few ocean and surf classes at both the Kiptopeke Symposium  on the eastern shore of Virginia next week, and then at the famous Sea Kayak Georgia Symposium on Tybee Island Georgia.  One of my classes is named “Wreckage in the Wave Train”, fun, fun, fun.

I’ll be back.

Picture of me last weekend on NC ICW near Beaufort NC during a CarolinaKayakClubs kayak/camping weekend trip titled Vacation to Hell (distance, heat, bugs, winds, currents, makes for a great adventure).  Picture by Craig Smith.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Back on the Water

Life’s been pretty busy these past couple of months.  I’m fully recovered from March’s WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge, though this year’s recovery was much more emotional than physical.  It’s so tough getting back to the grind after a month of a great vacation.   Physically Alan (SOS) and I had done all the right things, made sure we got just enough sleep, took care of our bodies, and worked well as a team.  I’m not planning on this past UFC to be my last, but I’m thinking this team approach is a great idea as I continue to age.

Speaking of doubles, I finally got back on the water last weekend.  Kristen (KiwiBird) along with our friend David in her new used double kayak, and I spend a nice relaxed Saturday paddling on the lake and enjoying a picnic lunch.

Paul and I saw Kristen out again this morning.  We'd finally got the Dawn Patrol out of the garage yesterday and decided to take it to the lake last evening.

We camped out with a full moon, and spent the morning on a great sail, the weather was perfect.

While out there, we sailed passed Kristen who was out for a morning paddle playing with her new Flat Earth Kayak Sail.

Alan was also on the water this weekend.  He and girlfriend Taylor have moved to New Bern and participated in the Neuse River Day Dragon Boat Festival at Union Point Park this weekend.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

One Last Trip to Complete UFC

There is still one final trip that ends our WaterTribe Ultimate Challenge adventure, returning the Kruger Cruiser to Mark Przedwojewski (ManitouCruser), owner of Kruger Canoes.  Alan and I will leave Friday evening for a quick weekend road trip to Michigan.  

Mark was so incredibly generous to lend us one of his Krugers for the month, but, that’s just the way he is.  The Cruiser really took care of us on the obstacle course of the St Mary’s River with all its downed trees, strainers, and shallow waters.  On the Suwannee River it took great care of us allowing us to keep our lead which we worked hard to maintain.

I am convinced the only boat for a long challenge like that is one that keeps you dry and comfortable, and that’s just what Kruger’s are famous for.  We’d chosen Alan’s designed and home built trimaran Mosquito for the open water sections on the Gulf and Atlantic (not a very dry ride), but the Cruiser was perfect for us on the 4th and toughest stage of our race on the River’s.  It’s the longest stage, consisting of 90 miles upstream on the St. Mary’s River, a 40-mile portage from St. George to Fargo, 220 miles downstream on the Suwannee River, and a final 20 miles to Cedar Key for a grand total of over 370 miles.

Mark, a well respected and decorated (sharks, alligator, and whales tails) member of WaterTribe, also hosts his own small boat adventure races called “The Michigan Challenge” this June, there are choices in distances and routes.   Check it out here.  The only think keeping me from this race is June.  But there's always next year.

If your still wanting more about the Ultimate Challenge, Marty Sullivan (SaltyFrog among the Tribe) has posted an article on the forum that sums up some of all of our experiences nicely.   He titled it “UFC Carnage”, check it out here.   Carnage describes this year’s event quite well.  The statistics really speak to this, only 3 of 11 boats finished the UltraMarathon, 17 of 55 finished the Everglades Challenge, and 4 of 11 boats starting finished the Ultimate Challenge.  It was a very rough year with 24 of 78 boats having success (31%).

I also hear there may be another book written.  Rod Price who completed the challenge under the Tribal name of RiverSlayer (website here) is planning to write a book about the history of WaterTribe and this years Ultimate Challenge.   He’s written a book before about his race and win with Ardie Olson (Ardio) in the Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race (a race KiwiBird and I still think about).     And of  course I love Warren Richey's (SharkChow) book ‘Without a Paddle’ of the 2006 Ultimate (which I also paddled and finished), this book an interesting mix of both love story and adventure.    

Personally I find it difficult after an event to sit down and write about it, I tend to be the type that looks forwards not backwards, and am always planning and working toward my next adventure.  But there's lots to tell, many interesting and even funny stories from this Challenge.  I’ll try and find the time over the next couple of months after I have a chance to look at all our pictures and videos.

So what’s next?  Well after this weeks trip to Michigan, it's looking like another circumnavigation of Bald Head Island week after next.  This is a trip I did in 2009 with friends who are interested in doing it again.  The post I wrote about that trip can be found here.  Some trips are worth the repeat, and this one will get me back in my NKD Explorer and at the coast.  It’s all good.

Monday, April 02, 2012

All the Way Around

SPOT Track:   1,239 miles
 The trip report would not be complete without this Google Earth image of the SPOT track of Team B&B / Team Kruger.  

The length of the SPOT track was 1,239 miles (or 1,077 nautical miles).   Because the locations in the SPOT track are 10 or 20 minutes apart, the SPOT track does not account for short tacking while sailing and does not account for the meandering twists and turns of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Home Again

After landing at the finish line of the UFC at noon on Monday March 26,  Team B&B spent the afternoon trailering the Mosquito and the Kurger Cruiser.  A steak dinner and a good night's sleep followed in St. Petersburg before hitting the road Tuesday for the 12 hour drive back to NC.

So THAT's what the pergola is for !

Welcome to REI

Gear everywhere

Hanging out the...  laundry

Calvert Sails

Ultimate Florida Challenge Finished


To each finisher, Chief awarded 3 sharks teeth, a gator tooth, and a whale-tail carving

Chief, SandyBottom, SOS

SandyBottom, SOS

WhiteCaps, SandyBottom, Chief

A tooth for each stage:  3 shark teeth, one gator tooth for the portage, and a whale-tail

The Mosquito Lands

USS Ft DeSoto, Mosquito: 
Mosquito you are clear to land.  
Call the ball.

Mosquito in sight.
Getting a visual on the landing options.  Ramp or beach?
Fly By
Heading to the beach
Coming in to the sandy beach
Landingat noon on Monday March 26, 2012
Team B&B Finished !

Happy to finish the UFC
SPOT tracking to the Ft DeSoto Boat Ramps

SandyBottom and SOS sailed all night but were happy to finish the Ultimate Florida Challenge.  They were greeted by 8-10 WaterTribe friends who had brought refreshments and congratulations.   Many other WaterTribe friends were far away but still giving them a pat on the back  --in spirit.   KiwiBird posted on the forum "Someone give them a hug from me!"

On the WaterTribe Forum,  SharkChow wrote a summary for Monday afternoon, March 26. 

"Sandy Bottom and SOS arrived at the finish of the 2012 Ultimate Florida Challenge at 12:12 p.m. on Monday. The challenge began on Saturday, March 3 at Fort DeSoto Park near the entrance to Tampa Bay. They circled Florida (1,200 miles) in 23 days, 5 hours, and 12 minutes. (this is not the offiial time, just my estimate.)

They completed their final 120-mile sprint to the finish from Cedar Key in 18 hours and 12 minutes, having left the final checkpoint at 6 p.m. Sunday. Their overnight speed ranged from 13 nts to 5 kts.

Their arrival at the finish is historic for the Watertribe. It marks the first time the rules have allowed a challenger to use two boats to compete in the Florida Challenge. And it marks the first time a two-person team has competed in and completed the Florida Challenge.

Congratulations to Sandy Bottom and SOS, and thank you for providing an outstanding 23-day diversion from day-to-day life for those of us who are shore bound and, even worse, deskbound at work.

This team matched up one of the strongest paddlers in the Watertribe with one of the sharpest sailors in the Watertribe. It is worth mentioning that they spent the first two days of the challenge on the launch beach fixing a leak. It may have been a smart move. By the time they left, they managed to miss part of the extremely difficult conditions that swept many challengers out of the EC and Florida Challenge this year. But they didn't miss the nasty weather altogether. They did what they had to do to keep their boat moving.

Under the new two-boat rule they were allowed to sail a large and fast sail boat from the starting line near the entrance to Tampa Bay to the checkpoints at Key Largo, Sebastian Inlet, and Amelia Island. Then they switched to a two-seat Kruger expedition canoe for the journey up the St. Marys River, across the 40-mile portage, and down the Suwannee to Cedar Key.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this team is something that hasn't been mentioned yet. Sandy Bottom is a 50-something mom from North Carolina and SOS is her 20-something son. This is a mother and son team. To be honest, I don't think of them in those terms. For purposes of this race, I've viewed them in terms of the skills they brought to the task. It is SOS out there with Sandy Bottom -- two experienced members of the Watertribe doing what they do. So it isn't until right now that I have actually had time to reflect on the fact that this is a mother and her son pushing the limits of their strength and endurance, both physical and mental, to achieve something only a few others have achieved. And they made it look easy while doing it.

The other indispensible member of this team is Dances With Sandy Bottom, husband and father, Paul. Thank you, all three, for putting on such a great show.

My only regret is that I couldn't be there at Fort DeSoto to greet them personally, share in the celebration, and, very gingerly, shake their hands."

Sharkchow (a.k.a.Warren Richey) is author of "Without a Paddle", published by St. Martins Press. It is an account of his participation in the first Ultimate Florida Challenge in 2006.

Waiting at the Finish Line

The Mosquito Flies Again

After checking the wind forecasts,  Team B&B Yacht Designs decided it was time to sail away from Cedar Key at about 6:15pm.  That would mean sailing all night to arrive at the finish line the next morning,   but the forecast suggested that there might be little or no wind for the trip if they did otherwise.
The winds were light on the beach, but immediate off the beach the winds were 15-20 kts.   With reefed main and full jib,  the Mosquito quickly reached 13.6 kts on a broad reach or run.  As the sun set, Team B&B dropped the main and sailed quickly downwind with only the jib. 
Sunday March 25

Mosquito ready to sail.  The mainsail is reefed.

Mosquito, palm tree, SOS, SandyBottom, docks and boatramp, palm trees, trailer parked in public lot

Launch at 6:18pm Sunday March 25

According to the SailFlow forecast it was a choice between staying awake all night to sail the 95nm with good wind versus getting a good night sleep in Cedar Key and then having to paddle 95 nm.

Wind "Now"
Wind "Later"
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto


Cedar Key Landing

Paddling south on the gulf coast from Spanish Bayonet Island,  SandyBottom and SOS arrived at the Cedar Key stagepoint Sunday March 25th, 9:27am.   They were welcomed by DancesWithSandyBottom, SaltyFrog, LilyPad, and two new friends, Dan and Ryan.
SB pressed the OK button on the SPOT on arrival
SaltyFrog, LillyPad, SandyBottom, SOS with the trailered and patiently waiting Mosquito 
Ryan, Dan, SaltyFrog, Lilypad
The official landing site is a beach of sand and shells covered by oysters on the west side of Cedar Key.  From there, SB and SOS prefered to continue around the waterfront to the east side which has a nice sandy beach fronting the public park.  Plus, a boat ramp and public boat trailer parking flanked the public park.
Beach near "Faraway Inn" was the official stage point
Rounding the boat ramp on the way to the public beach/park.
Cedar Key landing !
LilyPad, SandyBottom, SOS, SaltyFrog
Parking to the left, our room at "Park Place" (hotel/condos),  picnic area and beach
We were lucky to find accomodations at "Park Place" which provided a very affordable suite with great features, waterfront view, handy parking in back, and location, location, location.  "Park Place" was LilyPad's discovery.  Thanks LilyPad!   Such a nice place to rest, but SB and SOS took a look at the wind forecast and decided they could not stay overnight.  Their visit to Cedar Key lasted less than nine hours:  hot showeres, clean clothes, two meals, a 15 minute nap, rigging and loading the Mosquito,  and putting on drysuits for the wet ride south.    

The public beach/park and swimming area

Cedar Key:  official stage point on the left,  nice public beach on the right,  marina at center

Sunday morning Sharkchow wrote:   "Sandy Bottom and SOS made their triumphant arrival at the Cedar Key checkpoint this morning at about 9:30 a.m. after spending six hours on a beach on a deserted island a few miles north of Cedar Key to wait out some pretty nasty wind and rain. They are now preparing to switch back to their sailboat and out of the two-seat Kruger they took across Florida during the river portion of the challenge.  Their next leg is a 120-mile "sprint" to the finish. If the weather holds, they should have favorable winds that will push them back to Fort DeSoto and a happy end to their ordeal. I suspect they aren't celebrating just yet. It will be interesting to watch how soon they leave Cedar Key. With Dances With Sandy Bottom there (and all those restaurant choices) it might be tough to get away quickly."