Sunday, May 30, 2010

Still in DC,
but I hope to be on the water later this week. During the week prior to leaving, I was working on my forward stroke for the 1,000,000th or so time. I had watched Lawry's old DVD (he is one of the most innovative teachers around) and (I don't know I have missed it all this time) picked up on the concept of the top hand moving in a L shape.

Down as the blade captures,then straight across to propel. I spent all my free time on the river (waiting to teach) practicing this and was getting into a groovy groove that moved the boat nicely. Hope it is still there when I return.

BTW: I commit to getting back to doing some decent photography and sharing it in the near future.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I will be gone for a week and may not get to these pages. Meanwhile, You can be making plans to attend the Door County Sea Kayak symposium the weekend after the July 4th weekend. Check out their site by googling it. I will have more when I return.

Paddle safe...
The Big Lake
is Warming Up
That means really getting into rolling in real conditions.

It is a chance to find a place where no one is looking and to work on that "other" side roll.

Time to set up for summer practice.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

She Went Out In A Blaze
Leslie is part of our Milwaukee Paddling family, and she is more than that. In any event, we recently had a little house get together to honor her retirement as an medical imager and echo expert par excellance. With a biology background and tons of clinical experience, she has been a huge part of the diagnostic program at a local hospital. And that ain't all.
She is into Cajun music and plays the fiddle and accordion. She can fix anything faster and better than any of the local repair guys and she is far to generous in lending and giving away what others can use.
So, she went of like a blaze just refers to her formal employment. We hope to have her around for a long time and to see her more out on the big waters.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fleas & Lice
It's an old medical expresion that essentialy means that the patient has two diseases. I use it here to describe Paddle Fest, held this weekend on the Milwaukee River. Several sea kayakers volunteered to be safety boaters. The first day was a  bit foggy, and the number of modes of transportation were like...well, fleas and lice.
There were, of course, those who came to try the paddling boards. Lots of them also tried their swimming skills.
Then there were the usual varieties of recreational and sea kayaks.
A war canoe showed up, and several attendees got to crew as the relentless drummer urged them on.
Finally (for today), this little elegant electric boat came through. Apparently, it has a charge that will propel it from 6-18 hours depending on speed.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Summer Evening's Paddle
It was one of those windless, almost warm spring evenings when the three of us took a lazy paddle out to the buoy offshore. Nothing unusual happened.
Then we went to the flare shoot.

Paddle safe...

Friday, May 21, 2010

With Flare
Most of us carry signaling devises, including flares. Few of us have actually fired them or know if we could handle them with paddling gloves on. So, some of us went over to the South Shore Yacht Club last evening and participated in their annual flare shoot. A fire boat was available but not needed as there was little wind and folks were careful.
There were two stations, one for aerial flares.
Sherri also went to the hand held station and, along with one of the participants, help light up and stink up the place.
Interestingly, all but one of these aerial flares failed to fire, and I will never carry them again. More interestingly, all my gun-launched flares fired even though some were years out of date.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Can We Be Of Service To You?
(Disclaimer: Pics from 2008 event)
Most outdoor loving people try to do the right thing. They do what they do safely and they are respective of the environment. Many of these folks (including paddlers) go the extra step and offer some service, or give back, to the community. This weekend, as many of us have in the past, local sea kayakers will be volunteering for a local store's Paddle Fest on the Milwaukee River.
(Gary Simon teaching to the crowd)
Some will prep new paddlers and then lead them on a short trip that goes from out Lake Michigan launch site, into the harbor and up the river to the sponsoring store. Some will teach on the water and ashore.
Others will spend hours chasing down paddlers going "out of bounds" and offering tips to those trying kayaks for the first time. But, most importantly,
we will be there as safety boaters should the call come in. Now, that's service.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing
It seems somewhat ironic to me that we spend a lot of time around torso rotation and not so much as what is, for me, a common problem. That being, carrying the stroke too far back. I still catch myself letting that blade stay submerged as it is passing my hip. Interestingly, it is usually an indication that I have gotten sloppy and that I am not rotating.

Using a cored, Werner paddle with light swing weight and a tendency to bob up to the surface has helped. Sometimes it feels as if the blade is reminding me that it needs air as it passes my hip.

I have noticed that students with this habit are often paddling at a high angle and keeping the blade right next to the hull (they are all arm paddling). I ask them to lower that top hand to chest level and to consciously make the blade drift away from the boat as they stroke. This often solves the problem. If not, I help them look for body clues that will give muscle memory that tells them it is time for recovery. This might be the angle of the elbow on the stroking side or where in relation to the mid line of the deck the top hand is at.

Shortening their (and my) stroke makes for a more efficient stroke as there is no lifting of water at the end of the cycle. It is also safer on the shoulders and prevents that awkward position that often leads to students (with no low brace) to go over into the drink.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Show Me Your Bob
or your Sarah...
or your fluffy
I'm sure I didn't invent it, but I use it a lot when teaching torso rotation. It's really quite a simple concept. I ask the student to name their favorite person or pet and to then imagine that they have that person's/pet's picture on the front of their pfd.

Being proud of the person/pet, it is assumed they would want the world to see the pictures. I put paddlers on each side of the student (or, if in a channel, tell them to imagine people on shore) and tell the student to show everyone the picture. In order to do so, they absolutely have to rotate (turning the boat is not allowed), and it is amazing (at least to me) how well the vast majority do it and do it well. It is equally amazing how many don't once the imaginary picture is gone. Try it.

Paddle safe...

Monday, May 17, 2010

We Remember
During our Sunday morning paddle yesterday, several of us (not all  pictured) gathered along the south break wall to remember Doug Winter, a friend, a teacher and a fellow paddler who died several months ago. We had held a memorial gathering before and had waited until now so those who don't paddle in winter could join us.
Leslie (r) had etched the memorial stone, and Greg agreed to place it on behalf of us all.
He chose a spot where storms are less likely to move it and where casual observers will not molest it.
That done, we went for a paddle, talked and felt a bit better about things.
What did Doug look like? His photo is always at the bottom of these pages.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Teaching is my passion" is permanently stated at the bottom of all my e mails. There is just something about the challenge of making something understandable in the classroom and doable on the water that brings out the best in me. Students (I teach medical sciences as well as kayaking) keep me sharp and creative. Unlike the classroom, kayak classes have a certain positive energy and excitement about them. Above is Jeff, one of the original owners of Rutabaga, who is now finding joy in teaching.
I was fortunate enough this season to start out with the two day class that sees students go from never having been in a kayak to having a full set of basic skills. We cover the usual strokes, escapes and rescues. As things went well with this last group, we had time for basic towing and (as pictured above) some advanced combination rescue-towing techniques.
The pay off for me was seeing a group that had begun with no ability to control or steer a kayak go on to complete their lessons with a pretty tightly executed game of follow the leader where they put it all together. Tomorrow, another beginning class. The passion continues.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Little and Nice Thing
It was back on the pond behind Rutabaga, about a week ago, and I was teaching a two day kayak progression (now called combo) class. It went well, and the students were great. It was during a break when I had just come ashore that this fellow walked up and asked, "Are you Silbs?"
I believe his name was Chris, and he just wanted to say hello and that he read this nonsense from time to time. It was a nice gesture on his part. Turned out that his wife was there to take a beginning kayak course. I appreciated the fact he took the time and made the effort to say hello.

Paddle Safe...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bigger Just Might Be Better
Paddled with JB on Sunday and got to try out some paddles. I use a Werner Tybee, a high angle paddle. JB had two versions of Werner's big blades and let me have a go with them. I have to tell you, it made a hell of a difference.

First and most obvious was the increased speed I expereienced, and with no apparent increase in effort. Then there were the control strokes. Forward or bow sweeps were highly effective and made boat control amazingly easy. It was enough to convince me that bigger blades work better for me. Now let's see how my shoulders feel in the morning.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I Don't Like to Brag...But
Enough said.

Paddle safe..

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bag Has Been Found
Nancy (The Boss) just called to say the bag has appeared in one of their rooms. The angel who found and returned it is unknown.

Paddle Safe...
Imagine A World In Which...
...there are beautiful sunsets and skies full of fluffy clouds, and you cannot see them.
...there is an endless array of sounds such as birds singing and water flowing, and you cannot hear them.
...there are the aromas of flowers, baby powder and fresh baked bread, and you cannot smell them.
...there are friends and family, and you cannot be with them.
...there are lakes and streams and oceans, and you have no boat.

Then, imagine the world in which you do live, and realize what you do have...and be thankful.

Paddle safe...

Monday, May 03, 2010

Losing It...Losing Everything
   Some think I have early Alzheimer's disease, and some think I am an absent-minded professor. Fact is, I am a focused and visual thinker and am more aware of what I am thinking than what I am doing. Because of this (and for most of my life) I constantly misplace stuff. I have it one moment and, in an instant, cannot find it. Eventually most of it shows up as I think through where I was and what I was doing at the time of the magical disappearance. I'm not so sure about the last time.
   I had a wonderful weekend teaching a 2-day sea kayak progression course. I was in Madison and stayed over night. For personal reasons, I took lots of stuff in addition to the usual kit, clothes and the like. When I arrived home last night I was dead tired and had only 10 minutes to shower, shave and dress for a 5 pm going away party followed by a family gathering for Lady Linda's family (her aunt had died). When I got home I unpacked the car, put the boat in the garage and fell into a coma and slept through the night.
   This morning (and all day today) I have been unable to find my small kit bag, the one that always goes into my day hatch. The same one that is always laying in that exact same place in my room. The very one I never misplace...never. Until now. I don't know where it is.
   I have searched my car 3 times and gone over all my gear 4 times, each time emptying all my bags. No kit. I thought that I lhad eft it on the picnic table during the summing up and hoped that one of the 'Baga staff would find it. I called the store today. They took time to look in all the possible places inside and bag.
   So, I have lost it and, with it, I have lost my marine radio and Optio camera. Gone. If someone did find it, they apparently didn't bother to turn it in...yet.
   I write this with the ardent hope that the bag will turn up and I will have great material to write a blog entitled, "I am a damn (old) fool."

Paddle safe...