Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You'll Have To Take My Word For it
The wind shifted to the north after gusting offshore to 40 knots yesterday. I got out alone and was treated to big rollers and some calaposis. I'm putting some of the crests at 5 feet as they were breaking over the wall and hid the channel markers from me (the markers sit higher than my head, the traditional 3-foot wave marker). I bobbled and surfed and, then, thought better of being out there alone with no helmet and no companion. Especially since the lake seemed determined to dash me on the wall.

During the short time I was on the outside, I came to appreciate how I'd grown in skills since that first lesson with JB. I saw the water rise before me, break around me and rush toward the wall; and, yet, I felt relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed my time afloat.

But, you'll have to take my word for it since I left my camera at home. Besides, I don't believe I would have been willing to take even one hand off my paddle to capture the scene.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And Then...
The paddle is over, and you've had a great day on the water. Folks are checking the tie downs on their cars while others change into dry clothes. Equipment is rinsed off and tucked away in bags and backs of car. And then...

Some folks say their good byes and head home, but most of us start negotiating where we will meet for the post-paddle get together, the session in which we will catch up on family, find out about paddlers we haven't seen in a while and argue about all sorts of stuff.
More often than not, we go for coffee. More specifically, we go to Sven's. It's 2 minutes from our launch site, the coffee and food are above average and Steve (owner of Sven's) is often there to bend our ears. I often have soup since, alas, coffee has begun irritating my GI tract (you know you're getting old when coffee disagrees with you and whiskey goes down easier). So, after the last paddle with Leslie, we headed to the north side and the Dairy Queen near out homes. I tell you, when the weather is warm there is nothing like one of their vanilla cones dipped into chocolate. Oh, Mama. Which, of course, reminds me of an interesting (perhaps only to me) story.
I know the people who originally owned this franchise, and some time ago they invited me to speak to their state-wide meeting of franchise owners (I don't remember why, but it was on cardiology). I asked to see a nutritional sheet on their products and was surprised to see how relatively low in fat their "ice cream" was compared to other brands. You need to know that here, in Wisconsin, there are minimum fat levels you need to meet to before calling something ice cream.

In any event, I pointed this out to them during my talk and suggested they use that in their advertisement and point out the "health" benefit. To my surprised, murmurs went through the room, and they all appeared uncomfortable. When I asked why, they explained that Wisconsinites would think this an inferior product and not real stuff if it didn't have enough fat. And now you see why cardiologists are so busy around here.

You see, it does make a difference what you do after the paddle.

Paddle safe...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Leslie To The Rescue
After two plane rides, sleep deprivation and hanging around a hotel, I managed a short nap which ended with a desire to get out there. As my car is going in for brakes this morning (and making an awful noise), I called Leslie who was good enough to pick me up. We launched in winds gusting to 20 Knots, but managed a nice paddle, partly in the shadow of the old break wall.
It was just a long enough paddle to get the cow webs out. Good therapy. Today, the weather is changing with wind gusts of up to 40 Knots expected.

On another matter: I am considering a new (or, at least, different) car. I have done a little research on Subarus, the Chevy HHR and the Dodge Caliber. I want to have some sort of 4 wheel control, the option for heated and adjustable driver's seat and a compass. It also cannot be as tall as my Blazer so that it is easier to get the boat up there. If you have any ideas around this I would appreciate hearing them.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A lull in the battle

Friday, 5am, off to airport for flight to Baltimore. Saturday (today), stood 6+ hours doing a seminar on cardiology. Had a fine Cabernet yesterday and celebrated a successful seminar today with JB's favorite whiskey on the rocks. Spoke with Lady Linda, and all is well at home. 6:30 pm here. Plan a light supper, then early to bed to be ready for the 4 am shuttle to the airport. If all goes well, home early Sunday am with, hopefully, time to get in a paddle.

I'm getting too old for this crap...and I love it.

Paddle safe...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Take a Breath
5 am, packed and off to the airport for my trip to the east coast. It is supposed to rain here and there and my exercise will likely be limited to the hotel's "health" center. I'd rather be paddling.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fair Weather Paddling
Summer-like weather is tenaciously holding on and, at the same time, some leafs are already trying on their fall dress. Lake Michigan is at its warmest for the season, and onshore winds have produced some fine paddling conditions. Right now, it looks as if there will be good paddling for everyone well into the rest of the year. Sadly, many around here will soon react to an end-of-the-season-mentality and stash their boats until next spring.

On the surface, this makes some sense. Some people don't like to paddle in the cold weather and some don't have dry suits or other cold water apparel. So, goes the logic, the calendar is telling us it is time for cold weather and, ergo, time to put away the toys until spring when these same folks will return to the lake.

Thing is, it isn't that cold, and the water is warmer than it will ever be in spring or, for that matter, early summer. The conditions are still good...and safe. So instead of putting the boat away, this is a most excellent time to practice rescues (and even rolling) in order to hone those skills for when they are needed. Maybe now is the perfect time to try that T-rescue in one, two or three foot waves, the conditions in which we are actually most likely to need them. Step away from that storage shed and keep your paddles where I can see them.

Unfortunately, I am on the road this weekend, lecturing in Baltimore. I am hoping that the weather will stay status quo so I can get out there next week. Then again, as long as there is no lightening, the weather is always excellent for paddling.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Just Today
It rained yesterday, and the sun is not yet up today. I just stepped outside into the darkness and breathed in the moist warm air while crickets serenaded me. There was no wind, not even a breeze. Aside from the crickets, it was quiet. What a great way to start the day.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just Being Out There
Summer is melting into fall, and I haven't gotten in the camping or short trips I envisioned in spring. Fortunately, I've been able to get out on the big lake a lot and for short paddles; and that has been important to me.

Just being out there, especially in the bigger stuff, is good for my soul and wards off depression. This week has been extraordinarily busy, and I hope to get in a short paddle between now and when I have to leave for Baltimore on Friday. A little bit of medicine goes a long way.

Paddle safe...

Monday, September 21, 2009

The World's Greatest Molecule
I just gave a basic lecture on atoms and covalent bonds, etc. to one of my anatomy and physiology classes. I suggested to them that the Pacific Ocean was one huge molecule as all the atoms' outer shells shared circulating electrons. Be as that may (or not), those gigantic molecules, be they ocean or great lake or a pond, supply wonderful recreation for lots of folks.They come from all over and by many means to get out onto the water to play, relax or go somewhere. Like fire, water draws us to her and holds endless surprises for the unprepared. A few weeks ago I watched my grandson and other children in the Cincinnati Museum for Children as they played in the water section. Although they were at the age of short attention spans, the water held them captive...sometimes for an hour or more. The older kids could see how hydrostatic work could be turned into mechanical work; but most of the children just came to play in this wonderful stuff. To tell the truth, I envied them and their sense of discovery.

I think I am beginning to understand why we act like kids when we go out for a paddle.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Something Evil
Has Come This way

I am suddenly unable to upload pictures to my blog. The little box comes up and allows me to brows and even select an image. But the upload button is dead. I do not know if this is due to the AVG security I recently installed or if Google is having a problem. If you know, please give me a shout out. The upload image bar is pale.

Paddle safe...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Read My Lips
(no pics today)

For what ever reason, Google's photo up loader isn't working for me today. So no pics. I was interested in commenting on our Great Lake Michigan today. It is, for me, one of Milwaukee's greatest assets (as it is for a number of Wisconsin and Michigan communities). Recently, I've been noticing all the different uses that call people to its shores.

By far, most people on the lake around here are fishing. since the introduction of the coho salmon, charter business have attracted out of town anglers wanting to catch one of these large PCB-laden teleosts. Like all other life forms in this large body of fresh water, I would not eat anything taken from it,butthat is for each of us to decide. I have often sailed past these charters and seen their cockpits filled with pot bellied, beer drinking men bobbing up and down as numerous lines and outriggers troll behind. It often brought on waves of nausea.

Which brings us to sailing, which I did for many decades. After the ocean, the great lakes offer some of the best sailing, sight seeing and anchorages around. Each state has unique shorelines and amenities. One can travel by boat from here to the Atlantic, the Mississippi and the gulf coast. Time, unfortunately, is the most common element that keeps more folks from doing this. Ironically, many are stuck in jobs they need to keep in order to make payments on the boat that is meant to take them away from it all.

More recently, we are seeing surf boarders, para-sailors and, of course, kayakers out on the lake. Our sea kayak group is out there 12 months out of the year and get maximum use of the lake. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more recreational boats with ill-clad paddlers, who are eqaually ill-equiped, heading offshore. Often in spring and dressed in cotton, we try to apprise them of the dangers of still near-frozen waters. So far, the local guardian angels have successfuly worked overtime on their behalfs.

Then there are the research folks. There is a University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Research Foundation with a facility on the river and a vessel that goes out on the lake to take samples. Now and then they leave a research buoy in place to collect data.

The govenors of the great lakes states have formed a group to protect what may, in the future, become a salable commodity. I suspect that, as it has with so many other things, the federal government will usurp their power and use the water in some yet to be determined way.

No doubt, this lake is a precious body of water with different significance to different people. What we need now is to stop the invassive species that plague us and clean it up for future generations.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Always a Lady
Sailboats are always referred to as feminine as in, "She's a beauty." How this started I cannot say, but the deference is well applied. Sailboats, like kayaks, with their displacement hulls are a thing of beauty and grace as they glide on (actually in) quiet waters. Their bows cut cleanly through the liquid until weather stirs the waters and the shapely hulls lift themselves gracefully to climb a wave. And like all fine women, they are tough inside and can slug it out in anything we have the nerve to take them into.

And don't we treat them like ladies? We spray them with UV protective potions to preserve their lovely skins and wax them so that when in public they look their best. Should one be damaged, cosmetic surgery is done to restore her gel coat, and no one would dare guess her age.
Although we have no centerfolds in our magazines, there are all sorts of opinionated reviews regarding how they act on dates. We even (and without shame) talk about their weight and other measurements. But let's face it, we choose the one we love mostly by her eye appeal, especially as to how she looks caressing the water and the way she moves (I don't smoke, but I have this urge for a cigarette).

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We Carpied the Diem
Summer just kept on coming, and yesterday was a day to be seized. With temperatures in the 70's (F) and the air dry, JB, Jessie and I launched onto Lake Michigan from our usual launch site. The wind was more or less out of the north and, although it was only 8-10 knots, it was coming down the entire fetch of the lake. As we cleared the break water, it was clear that we were in for some good paddling.

Hard to capture in images, there were nice 3 footers rolling in from the N-NE. When we paddled north, the breakwater slanted out to meet us and provided 3-5 foot calapodis waves which slapped us around in a delightful manner. Every playful, the lake took turns climbing onto each of our laps and rinsing our faces.Back inside, JB and Jessie busied themselves with navigation exercises. After about three and a half hours on the water (I had arrived early to practice strokes) I headed in since I had to teach the next day (today).It was nice to see Jessie again. As she lives in LaCross, on the Mississippi, we haven't seen her since the Door County Symposium.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Better Late than Never
Summer, it seems, is feeling guilty about the lousy job it did and is now supplying us with warm days and warm waters. We would usually expect colder temperatures this time of year, but we are experiencing a flood of 80 degree (F) days in Wisconsin. Combine that with a slightly onshore wind, Lake Michigan was warm enough yesterday for me to be out rolling without paddle top. Considering the cool nights, this would be a most excellent time to sneak in a camping weekend.Even the inland lakes are seeing heavy traffic. Above is a scene from "Gilligan's Island," a shallow in the Yahara River (near Madison) where boaters gather to party and save gas.

If all goes well, I may be paddling with JB (hope his boss doesn't read this), a pleasure I haven't had for a couple of weeks.

Nothing heavy, just wanted to put that out.

Paddle safe...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back in the SaddleHaving not been in my boat this week, I taught up in Madison yesterday. The boat actually felt a little strange, and it took a bit to get reacquainted. I had 3 excellent students who took it in and performed amazingly well in a short time.
We finished up with a paddle on the Yahara River. I will get some more pics up soon.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

No Time For Boats
I haven't been in a kayak in several days, and the weather has been great. The reason, of course, is that I have been granfathering this past week. First, I was in Cincinnati with the I-am-starting-the-terrible-twos-Joseph. We had a great time including a ride on Thomas the Train. If you have kids or grand kids, you know who Thomas is. If not, not to worry. In any event, I dragged myself to the airport and arrived home late Monday.At home, the charming Adena and her mom were visiting (still here), so there was around the clock activity as the 5 month old with more nicknames (Ady, Dena, squeaky) than a career criminal charmed us all.So, there you have about the only two reasons in the world for which I would pass on paddling in such fine weather (except for the rest of the lovely women in my life). No matter, I head to Madison on Sunday to teach, and that always fills me up.

Paddle safe...

Friday, September 11, 2009

(First of all, thanks to the nice words some of you sent since yesterday's post. I know that some of you have posted many many more times than you still, I wanted to share the small event with you.)

Give 'em lip
Every now and then, someone asks me what they should look for when buying a new kayak. That's when I get light headed and feel the way I did as a kid while getting an enema. It's just too much to ask. There are so many things to consider, and one cannot test for them all until they have actually had the boat for a while. After all, it is hard to test paddle a boat in every condition before purchasing it. There are, however, some structural things to look for including one or two small details. Among them is what I call the boat's lip.

The Romany, which I have been told is a cult boat, has a feature/flaw (at least mine does) that would not be detected unless one got in and put their skirt on the boat. The problem is that there is little clearance between the cockpit rim and the rear deck making it difficult to get the skirt started and almost impossible with winter mittens on. A small thing that is right there every time I get into the boat.

It's like the bungee cord arrangement on the front deck which flaws are never noticed until you tip over and lose everything on deck (I always tell students that those stretchy lines are, in fact, for storing items you don't mind losing). On and on it goes with the devil residing in the details.

Now, I sit here expecting my new boat in the next two months and awfullizing over what horrible thing I didn't think to check before ordering. Oh well, there can always be another kayak.

Happy 33rd wedding anniversary to my beautiful and ever young bride, Linda.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I've told You
a 1000 times
It was spring of 2006, and I posted something like, "can you read this? It was written in invisible ink." That inane little writing was my first posting on Silbs Says. I had no idea if it was something I would stick with or just give a try. Today, having said nothing cogent, interesting or sane since 2006, the dashboard tells me that this is my 1000th post. Peanuts, I'd say, compared to other blogs, but significant to me. After all, some folks think I have ADD. I don't and...oh look, a chicken.

I've enjoyed playing here and loved some of the responses I've had from so many nice folks. through this page, I've met a lot of folks who have become friends and learned from a lot of others who have become my teachers. It is here that I have been able to share with some of you the joy I get from kayaking, photography, grand kids and life.

I always thoguht that this particular post would have to be spectacular, pithy and memorable. Then, I decided not to put that much of a burden onto my right brain. Instead, I have chosen to thank you all for putting up with my stuff and, even more, for playing along.

Paddle safe...



Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Getting Back
into the boat

Okay, the trip to Cincinnati was marvelous. I got to see my daughter and son in law and, more importantly, got face time with my grandson. Paddling in a storm is easier than keeping up with a new member of the terrible two team, but I survived. Back home, I had one day to prepare for the 2 classes I just taught, and I just finished playing with my grand daughter who is visiting with her mother. It was hard getting up to speed as I was exhausted from interrupted sleep and the stress I feel when I travel.

It reminded me that I have been seeing more and more stuff written about rescues. Martin has developed the bow rescue to use instead of the hand over. There are x rescues, between the boat rescues with the paddler climbing onto the fore deck of the rescuer's boat and special techniques for the rare SOF paddler out of their boat.

They all work...if the paddlers know how to do it and have practiced it in conditions. In conditions, he said again for emphasis. How many out there have practiced their rescues in a pool or calm waters? How many in a 15 knot wind with 3foot, and building, waves? Do you go out in those conditions? If you do, have you practiced rescues in those conditions? After all, those are the very conditions in which you are most likely to go over. Enough said.

Meanwhile, and on another note, JB has once again caused unnecessary chaos, fear and tumult. Seems he was just off shore doing his rolls when he decided, after tipping over, to adjust his foot pegs. Now, I ask you, who does that? Any way, when he didn't come up of even make an attempt at a roll as he had been doing, people jumped into the water and began swimming out to his rescue. What they hoped to do (other than attach a toe tag) I don't know. Obviously, he finally rolled up and did so before his would be rescuers got to him. Enough said.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Park itLabor Day weekend coming up. This is traditionally the last official holiday of the summer. Kids are back in school and pumpkins are shopping for dry tops to keep off the frost. Originally a time to celebrate and honor the labor force, this holiday has gone the way of Christmas and considered by most just another day off.

I shall board an airplane later today and go to Cincinnati to be with my grandson and his parents. I have not seen them for a while except for the video chats we've had on the computers. I will not likely post until after my return.

I hope, especially for those of you who store your kayaks during winter, that you get in some good paddling this weekend.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

QAJAQ: Tradition
Most of you already know, but in case you don't, QAJAQ is a Greenlandic organization that, in part, perpetuates the traditional skills of the Inuit. Skin and frame boats, stick paddles and tuiliks are standard gear. It is my understanding that only the Danish and USA groups are affiliated with the mother organization (please correct me if I am wrong). So, what is it that draws so many men and women to this little corner of our sport? Well, I can only speak for myself.

First and foremost, there is the tradition. I've always been interested in the origins of what I do (e.g. Judo) and enjoy feeling that connection to past generations. Then there is the esprit de corps I find here (as in most phases of kayaking). Look closely at the picture and you will see that several of those shadowy figures are actually standing in the water. Those were the instructors (they called them mentors) at the recent camp in Michigan. They exemplified that willingness to share skills and knowledge and to help others improve. So, I suppose, we can add camaraderie to the list.

Many of us paddle in no small part because of the connection we feel with the water. I used to be a sailor and went through the stages of bigger is better until I had a 42-foot cutter that could sail through anything. Problem was, as the creature comforts increased so did the distance between me and the water. I eventually sold her and got a day sailor in which I and one of my daughters spent some wonderful time going nowhere slowly.

Unlike some, I have no desire to practice with the harpoon (and neither does my right rotator cuff). I have no desire to hunt seals or anything else, for that matter. Still, I realize that the very origins of the boat design that has been passed down over thousands of years has been born of the need to hunt and feed the village. I honor that. For me, for now, however, I enjoy playing at the game and eating warm meals ashore with the village.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Something There Is
About Water...

...that draws me to it. Whether it be calm or not, its mere presence invites me to sit near it, wade into it or float upon it. Often alone, I find peace when out there isolated from the worries and noise of daily life. At such times I feel cradled by the often unseen but undoubtedly powerful surge of this mighty liquid that surrounds me and my little kayak.

So, I make friends, as best I can, with it. I learn its ways and temperaments and practice the skills I need to be there when the water becomes restless, even chaotic. There is no doubt that out there I have found a world where some how I can, at least for a while, let go of worldly worries and enjoy in an almost Zen-like state the joy of being totally focused.

Others, I have observed, also seek out this place. Some in small boats and others in large vessels. Some, I have also noticed, also find it special to be out on the water, especially when they share it with another.
Paddle safe...