Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Hat...
We were in the DC area during the Memorial Day weekend to celebrate my grandson's 4th birthday. And what a wonderful visit we had. Included in all the fun was a trip to Annapolis Naval Academy which we happened to visit on Memorial Day.

In the gift shop were lots of Navy shirts and caps and...and a Viet Nam Veteran's hat...the one pictured in yesterday's blog. I've never wanted to own, much less wear, one of those hats because I always thought of myself as a support guy (flight surgeon) and not one of the grunts who truly served or my pilots who hung it out there and, in too many cases, died. But I've been noticing lately that there are fewer and fewer WW II veteran's hats on old head and that that generation is fast disappearing. My generation (and the Korean Vets) are next and, well, I decided to buy the hat. People needed to remember.

Today, Lady Linda and I visited Arlington National Cemetery before coming home. For some reason, I wore the hat. No, not for some reason. I wore it out of respect for those who didn't come home with me. While standing inside the reception building, just before going out to the graves, a young school boy looked up at me and said, "Thank you." I was taken by surprise but managed to thank him back and offer a small salute. A moment later a lady stopped and thanked me for my service. I thanked her... and felt uncomfortable. This wasn't about me, so I took the hat off.

I did wear it as Linda and I read many of the grave stones, but I avoided eye contact with the many other visitors so as not to detract for the real purpose of the day. I don't know if or when I will wear it again. It's just a hat.

Paddle safe...

Monday, May 30, 2011

As Memorial Day 2011 come to an end...

...I still remember...
...I still feel the sadness.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A brief paddle to nowhere...
with satisfying results

I measured the wind at 25 with gusts to 30 and some to 35 mph (on shore). So I launched the Cetus MV and headed out into much the same conditions as my first paddle with the new boat. I wanted to see if she would point up. She did, and I learned (or, rather, relearned) some lessons.

When I spend too much time doing repetitive sweep strokes I lose forward speed. That, in turn, makes the hull less responsive. So, keeping up my speed, I was able to paddle on all points of the wind. I did this without edging as I did not want to expose her belly to wind and waves. I was having a fine old time when the coast guard came up on C 16.

They said they were cancelling the small craft advisory. Great, I thought, I can stay out and paddle for a bit longer. Then they announced a gale warning, and I went ashore. I remeasured the wind to find the gusts were actually up to 40 mph. I was satisfied with the MV's behavior.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Behavioral Therapy
in pursuit of the well-behaved hull

Talked with Brian Day (via e mail) at P&H, and he felt that the Cetus MV hull was neutral. I kept that in mind as I spent 4 hours (yesterday) on the river as safety boater for paddle fest. I put a few pounds of Carl's weights  up near the bow and things behaved well. He and Sherri noted that the boat floated low enough to indicate that no additional weight was needed. Then came today.

I was just out in various conditions. I started inside the break wall with my usual kit in the day hatch and no additional ballasting. It was blowing 10+mph from the NE with some rippling in the water. THE MV SLOWLY POINTED TO THE WIND. It behaved like a non-psychotic hull should behave. I could paddle on all points of the wind without a skeg, and she responded beautifully to sweep strokes. So...I went outside.

There the wind was easily 15+mph and, more importantly, there were chops and waves up to two feet. At times everything in front of the cockpit was up out of the water AND THE BOW DIDN'T BLOW OFF. It went to windward nicely, turned when asked and surfed a bit with no tendency to broach (skeg was then down).

I don't know what happened and why the change in behavior. All I know is that I liked the way the MV handled today and that I was comfortable out in the chaotic stuff we get near the break wall. If someone has switched boats when I was asleep, I promise not to press charges. Now we will wait and see what happens when I drop the 20 pounds of ballast I've been carrying around my waist.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Classic/Typical Weather "Forecast"
(Never trust a specialist." My chief of medicine when I was a resident.

For a few days the weekend was predicted to have thunderstorms, thunderstorms, thunderstorms. They were supposed to start after 4 pm yesterday and in the afternoon today. High probabilities were "predicted'.

I paddled in a pleasant rain yesterday before the sun came out. Today's "updated" "forecast" is for storms late this afternoon. "20% chance." I believe the weather bureau is in Las Vegas.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

   I've been so engrossed with the new Cetus that I haven't mentioned my search for the perfect paddle (here he goes again). I have  Werner's Ikeolos/Kalistte/Camano which I interchange. The Camano is a 220 affair and the other two are 210's. Recently, at Rutabaga, I tried a 205 length paddle and liked it (JB just got a 205 which I hope to try soon).
   The Ikeolos has a huge blade and takes its toll on long paddles. Using the low angle Kalistte as a high angle paddle with a slightly increased cadence gives me more speed and less fatigue. If the wind comes up in my face, I go to a low angle style (I do not feather my paddles)
   Because the swede form Cetus boats are so narrow where paddles enter the water, I am using a high angle style. In fact, this narrow area allows for slick and efficient use of  a Greenland stick.
   I think there will be one more paddle in my future, and it will likely be a mid size blade with a 205 shaft. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Asphalt in your repair kt.

So, I paddled in 20+K wind today. When Alan came by, he found a slab of asphalt which he placed on my forward hatch cover...and the boat finally weather cocked. We removed half and it balanced nicely.

                                                                          photo courtesy of Alan
                                                                                      glare causes asphalt block to look white
Carl Volpal, developer of the PaddlingPartner gave me one of his 5lb evices to try in the forward hatch. The experiment continues.

Paddle safe...

Monday, May 16, 2011

curiouser and curiouser...
   It's an old (and bad) joke. A guy with a badly deformed hand prays for, "...my hand to be like the other one." He wakes in the morning to find he has two deformed hands (groan). My one problem early on with my Cetus was its strong tendency to weather cock. So, I prayed for a boat that wouldn't.
   Today I took the Cetus MV out in a 20K wind with gusts and found that it didn't weather cock. Prayer answered? Be careful what you pray for...it lee cocked. In fact, it took some work to turn her into the wind. Whens the last time you had that happen in a boat? I suspect the boat is not balanced with me and my stuff in the day hatch. Perhaps after the pump is in it will balance out. If not, I can move the seat a bit forward.
   The good news was that the fore ward hatch remained dry thus confirming that I had installed the compass properly.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One more thing done...
   Lousy weather and little time, so I turned the garage into a workshop and installed the Brunton p70 compass onto my new Cetus MV. I used the usual technique with a string to align the lubber lines. I caulked with a metallic gray premium waterproof silicone caulk made by GE.


Next, the pump.
Paddle safe...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

So it begins...

I had my doubts about the weather...and the date...as I drove to Madison on Friday the 13th. The sky was overcast and the temps low for may. On the other hand, it was the first class of the season at 'Baga. It was, for me, the official start of the summer paddling season.

We only had to leave the pond once when we heard distant thunder. Still, we got in all the instruction and then some. When I got home, I was surprised how achy I felt and how heavy the boat seemed as I lifted it onto its rack. I need to get back to maximum condition. It has begun.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, May 07, 2011

So far, So goodGot out alone under gray skies and a north wind of 15-20K. Paddled into it to the state park at the north end of the harbor. This time I had a tad of weight in the forward hatch. No problems.

On the way back I had 2 foot seas quartering behind the port beam. Just a bit of skeg made for a terrific ride with waves, at times,  coming in several directions. The boat wanted to surf but the troughs were to narrow and I would run up onto the wave in front. It was a joyous ride. No bracing needed. So far, so good.

Paddle safe...

Friday, May 06, 2011

My newest bestest friend

I took the Cetus MV out onto Lake Michigan just now. It was blowing 15-20K with lots of calapotis waves and slop. She handled like a dream. A tad less stable than her big brother but no tendency to weather cock?? It sits lower in the water as is is narrower and I weight it down more. I will try a little weight in the forward hatch next time. I tested out the skeb but, to tell the truth, there was no need for one. Not even going directly down wind.

Went through all the strokes effortlessly. With a hanging draw, she slides sideways as if on ice. Acceleration is good and the cockpit comfy.

She surfed without asking permission, and it was effortless to maintain a good pace. Almost did some rolling, but the air was relatively warm while the water is still in low 40's F.

Next free day with lousy weather will be time to install compass.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

At the starting line...
Yesterday I wrote a note about the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium put on by Rutabaga. It is the closest to my home, and I have a long association with the wonderful folks at 'Baga. I want you to know that every other year in June is the first sea kayak symposium up on Lake Superior near the incredible Apostle Islands.

In June, some of us will be headed up to the Inland Sea Kayak Symposium...and you just might want to be there as well. The scenery is magnificent and the coaches are wonderful (if I do say so myself). Click on the link and look the program over. Consider coming up. When else are you going to paddle with Nigel Dennis (of NDK Kayak, Romany, Explorer fame)?

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

You don't want to miss this

It's so close I can taste it: Symposium Season; and it starts with the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium put on by those fine folks at Rutabaga in Madison. This Friday through Sunday annual event is always the weekend after the 4th of July and is a superb venue for all levels of paddlers.

Where else can you arrive having never paddled and go home a beginner with some basic skills and strokes? Where else can you enjoy such good instruction and food and scenery and learn at the same time? Click on the link and look it over...then sign up.

I will be mentioning other symposiums in the area, on different dates; but this is the closest and involves most of the paddlers in this area. New friends are more than welcome.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, May 01, 2011

"I can't find Alan"
I was hanging with JB who was leading an ICE for folks testing to be ACA instructors when a friend of ours paddled up and told us he couldn't find Alan (another of our friends). Alan had been off the water for a while and had chosen to paddle in an offshore wind that reached 30mph offshore. Two of us took off to the gap when my partner saw what looked to be a hull offshore. We dug in and raced toward the target over a half a mile away. He, being younger and stronger and in a longer boat (he, ironically, was in a Cetus, I in a Romany), gained distance as the target appeared to be blown further away. I began to worry that Alan (who we knew was in a drysuit) may have been in the water for as long as 20 minutes.

I stopped and radioed a "pawn, pawn, pawn" requesting assistance from any vessel in the area. The coast guard came on just as a voice announced on channel 16 that, "Alan is on shore and safe." I saw my partner turn back and fed all this info to the coasties. In the end we all (JB had joined us by then, having made the class safe) had to paddle back into a stiff wind which provided my exercise for the day.

After putting it all together, we realized that Alan had been inside the breakwater watching us storm out to sea to rescue him. We are all still debriefing and learning from the experience.

Paddle safe...