I was playing in the waves where the bottom shallows up outside Grand Marais, Michigan when I saw her coming. I immediately recognized it as a trawler as I had once owned one.
I chased her into port and observed some excellent seamanship as the master took her around the shallows while watching the many kayaks in the bay and, finally, set a firm hook. Once I knew she had backed down and was well anchored, I paddled over and introduced myself. I was, in the great tradition of the sea, invited aboard.
Skipper Ed Quigley and first mate Susan LaRocco gave me a gracious tour of this well thought out craft, and it brought back lots of fine memories.
They told me of their travels and were, like most voyagers, perfect host and hostess.
Should you cross pass with these fine folks, say hello and tell them I say the same. Home port: Boston
The trip to Providence, R.I. was a wonderful delight with lots of family, laughing, dancing and time at the beach. It almost didn't happen.
7+ inches of rain fell on Milwaukee last Friday and the airport was flooded with backed up sewer water. We had to wait for the flight to Chicago to be officially cancelled before we could drive to Illinois and fly out to R. I.. Once there, we had 85-90 Degree F temps and a light drizzle at the wedding. There was lots of food, lots of getting together and exchanging of stories.
I won't get to sit around much. I teach tomorrow and am off to Madison to teach kayaking this weekend.
Still, I am glad we all went, and it is good to be home.
We've had a magnificient family gathering, a wedding of two delightful people and a celebration that was as joyful as it was aerobic. I saw the ocean and some surf, but no sea kayakers. Any pictures I have will need down loading at home.
Now, it is time to gather my daughters, grand kids, sons in law and wife and have one last breakfast before returning home. I already feel the tensions and work waiting there and look forward to gettitng back into it all. I also miss being on the water and will do something about that as soon as possible.
The joy of teaching (for me) is seeing the students improve and achieve their goals. This fellow, for instance, had never been out in such "big stuff." For him it was, at first, intimidating; but after just a bit of bracing and edging instruction he was joyfully trying to surf the up to 4-5 footers in the shallows.
She had apparently left a class frustrated and just wasn't catching on to the idea of how to brace. Together, we took another approach and soon this veterinarian was sculling and bracing with the best of them.
This is what keeps me going and coming back, my passion to teach. And I enjoy nothing more than listening to the student, hearing their needs and finding a way that that particular individual will be able to use to achieve a new level of skill
One of the neat things about symposiums is that you get to meet the "famous" people in our sea kayaking community. Excellent teachers from all over are there and available for learning or just having a chat.
After awhile, they blend into and become part of our extended family, and we all benefit from the encounters.
Not much in Grand Marais is big-city, and that is what makes it and its people such a joy. Every once in awhile the joint jumps as kayakers or snow mobilers or airplanes that land on water congregate for a special event. Even then, the symposium there maintained a relaxed atmosphere of fun and learning (as did the Door county event). There were times when minor chaotic scheduling problems were easily solved with a, "Would you mind taking over...of course I will."
Thanks to who ever took this shot for reminding me how to slow down and smell the neoprene.
What better way to end 10 days of paddling and symposiums than with a race? That is, a race to watch.
Of course, this one (at Grand Marais) had to have a grand prix start with the racers dashing over miles of sand to get to their boats. Now it's getting racy.
Then there was the violation of the leave-no-trace concepts as the participants lept into kayaks and left skid marks in the water. There were staff members (who had to do two laps) paired with symposium participants who got to do the last lap and, if they won, take all the credit. It gets racier. Did I mentioned that young people armed with water cannons were along the shore to be sure it was a clean race?
Any way, Freya and her team mate in a Greenlander took the checkered flag.
Naturally, she didn't pass up this photo op and joined him in victory. Not the end of racy.
That didn't work out so well.
Any way, the winners were awarded the coveted vest which they may wear for one year. Apparently they wear vests differently in Germany.
Had a wonderful trip including two symposiums and camping. Taught everything from basics to rescues in 4 foot waves. I surfed, I rolled and I paddled, paddled, paddled. So what to do today? Well, paddle. I will be a safety boater for some paddlers later this evening.
I have to get two lectures ready for nursing school on Wednesday and also need to start getting my stuff together for the other two universities where I will be teaching in fall. Oh, and leave Friday for a wedding on the east coast. I look forward to that as our family (daughters, grand kids and sons in law) will all be together.
Somewhere in there, I have to down load the pics I have been collecting. I don't expect anything spectacular, but there should be one or two goodies. Finally, there will probably be a story or two about specific experiences I was fortunate enough to have. I learned as much as I taught, and I met some wonderful people along the way.
Tired Been on the road too long, but I am a stronger paddler. Probably teaching rescues tomorrow and I don't know what
Problems finding time to download pics and to post. Will get home, be a safety boater Monday evening, teach most of Wednesday and assist kayak instr. Thurs. Then onto a plane Friday to RI for nieces wedding. Please bear with me until I get my groove back.
I have in my possession the new Cetus MV which I am transporting to Grand Marais. I have paddled it three times so far and find it a fine boat. It handles well, is snugger and better fitting for my size and rolls easier than its full sized predecessor. I have not found a chance to get it out in conditions, and that just might change later today. More to follow.
Just finished Door County Symposium in the land of Cherry pie. Last night we made camp just ahead of a storm as 30 knot winds blew off Lake Superior. I will post some pics when I get home next week. Mean while, I enjoy the undivided attention of JB.
I took all my so-called dry bags, put some tissue in them, rolled them up as instructed and submerged them in a sink full of water. All the tissues came out wet. In each instance I could squeeze the bags and see air bubbles coming out. What am I missing here? Have I been trusting my stuff (electronic keys, etc.) to unsafe bags.
The one thing that did work was a small Aquapac where I do keep my keys and cell phone. They have a latch system rather than the roll down method of larger bags.
Perhaps the others are float bags, and that is how they plan to keep things dry.
We all know how hard it is to adequately test drive a sea kayak. It cannot happen in one day. It takes several outings to paddle the boat in all conditions, and that may not be practical before making a decision. So it was with me when I ordered and took delivery of my P&H Cetus. If you regularly read these pages (have you no life?), you know I had misgivings about the boat when I first starting paddling it, and that was on top of a few minor structural irritants.
To begin, the rear hatch took on water and the skeg control system gave me problems. Those issues were diagnosed and completely solved with the close support of Brian at P&H. Next, I wondered about tracking problems and speed. These were issues I had to solve for myself.
The Cetus does have its share of rocker and does not track as well as some other hulls. On the other hand, with proper edging (more on this later) it turns as well or better than any boat its size. Taking all that as a given, I felt I was having to pay way too much attention to the boat to go straight and worried about being caught out in conditions with a broken rudder (which can happen on any boat). As with most of the problems I have experienced in life (both in boating and ashore), I found the solution was in the basics. I asked JB to paddle the boat and to observe me doing the same.
Looking back, the problem was, at least in part, me. I was expecting the Cetus to act exactly like my Romany, and the Cetus is not a Romany. I had gotten lazy with the things the Romany did for me and expected the Cetus to do the same. To skip to the chase; in the end, it was a matter of adjusting my technique to my new boat.
It took JB to remind me that I wasn't using foot pressure on the pegs to transmit the energy of my stroke to the hull. This was especially enlightening when athis was pplied to the forward sweep stroke. It took a while for me to realize that I was also not edging as effectively as I did in my Romany. This I figured out was due to fit. There was too much of a gap between my thighs and the braces.
I put my portable neoprene Masik over my legs, and the results were superb. Now, without rehashing whether we edge with the thighs of by lifting our butts, I found I need to feel the thigh contact to make me comfortable enough to be aggressive with my edge.
Anyway, things have improved a lot. Sort of like the guy who notices how much smarter his father is now than when the guy was a kid. The Cetus is now a better boat than when I first got it. It suddenly has learned to behave in all sorts of conditions and rolls fairly easily. Any caveats? Just one, and that is, I wonder how I would fit into the MV boat. After all, I am only 5' 9" and weigh in around 168 (before putting on my gear). Perhaps I will get a chance to try one at one of the upcoming symposiums. My fear is that I will like it too much.
That's what it feels like today. It is like the feeling at the top of the hill just before making a challenging ski run. It is quiet and nothing is happening, but I know something big is about to take place. In fact, lots is about to happen around here.
Our one year old grand daughter is here, and her parents are due later today to celebrate the July 4th weekend. I teach next Wednesday (nursing school) and then leave with JB and Sherri for 10 days of symposiums, camping, paddling and another symposium. What's not to like?
All, of course, depends on weather and health holding up; and I cannot control either of those. Anyway, if I am absent from these pages for a day or two during the next few weeks, please know that I am out living life largely.
When Sherri invited Rick and myself to help out with a group paddle, we both eagerly joined in. At first, it appeared like any other group scene with equipment all over the place waiting to be used, However,
as the paddlers we were to take out assembled, it became obvious that these were special folks...with special needs. This was going to be a new experience and a lot of responsibility.
With care and patience, we helped folks with all sorts of disabilities match up with boats and partners and assigned towing duties in preparations for getting out on the water. The fact that there was a 5-10K wind did nothing to allay my anxieties about the safety of these folks.
Once on the water, however, everything went...well, swimmingly. Rick and I towed while Sherri commanded a 3 person boat (see pic last blog). There was conversation about the lake, the weeds, the bugs and the fact that the man I was towing was part Native American.
I am sure that from shore we looked like just a bunch of folks enjoying a nice day on the water.
And that's what we were.
How wonderful to be a part of it and to be of service.
So far, I have been a father, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a physician, jazz musician, an adjunct professor at a university, taught judo for 3+ decades, fine-arts black and white photographer, mediator, ham radio operator, SCUBA diver, great lakes sailor, ACA level 4 coastal open water kayak instructor. In these pages I hope to share some of what I've learned doing those things.If, on occaision, you feel your leg being pulled, so much the better.
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