Friday, October 30, 2009

Sea Trial
(photo by Leslie J.)
Okay, so the picture is on the pond, taken at Rutabaga the day I took delivery. Yesterday, however, I got down to the big lake (Michigan) and put her through her paces. Many observations:

First, she is made of Diolan and not noticeably heavier than the Romany which is almost 2 feet shorter. When I put the boat on the wall, I noticed it had more rocker than I had thought. That would explain a lot about how the boat handled.

Adjusting the foot pegs was all I had to do before being comfy. I was in a dry suit and fitted fine. The slightly too-high back strap didn't bother me, and I could still lay back.

In spite of the measurements of the boat (wider than the Romany), it is a Swede or delta form so the widest part is behind the hips. Forward of the hips, she was amazingly narrow, or at least felt that way. Suddenly, my 230 paddle was way too long, and I was more at ease with my 210 high angle blade.

I was in 20+ knot winds and, on the outside of the break wall, found some 3-4 footers where the bottom shallows up. A few were breaking. The boat rode them much like the Romany would and it turned just as easily. If anything, I think the ride was drier than in the Romany. The biggest surprise was running with the wind on the inside where there were only 6 inch to one footers. the boat got up and moved like the shorter Romany. At the end, there was a drop of water in the rear hatch, and I am not certain I had it properly closed.

I didn't roll, but I did scull and draw. Those went easily. I have heard that she goes past her secondary stability and goes over without the sense of locking in before tipping. I didn't test that today but will soon. (It won't likely be today as my grand daughter (Squeaky) is here soon to be joined by her older cousin Joe Joe. And you think kayaking is dangerous!).

The skeg worked well, and it will take just a few more times to get used to pinching the release before moving it. The bungies are new and quite tight. I don't know yet where I will be keeping my pump as I don't like it on deck. I also have to work out how to store the spare split up front (it doesn't , in my judgment, belong on the back). This is a long fore deck for me, and I need them secure yet reachable. I am thinking some small tubes under the most forward bungies into which the shafts could fit.

Bottom line: I had a good time and was happy with every aspect of the boats behavior. I now need to get into some rougher stuff and see how she goes down wind in a big blow, etc..

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The British Are Coming
(never mind, they're here)
She arrived Tuesday. I was on the phone with the driver and was in Madison when she arrived. First off, I checked her papers to be sure she had entered the country legally.She was shy at first...An important visitor like this got the top grade attention of the owner of Rutabaga.Guys being guys, we checked her bottom out, the keel strip that is.Then a short walk to the pond behind 'Baga....Where she posed for pictures.Pictures afloat to follow.

Paddle safe...
Update PicsJB videos techniquesTeaching took place everywhereOne must relax after a hard day on the waterRescue opportunities presented themselvesAt the end, we were better paddlers and better teachers.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Not All the News is Bad
Kudos to JB

This past weekend some ACA certified instructors gathered near Sheboygan, Wisconsin for an instructors update. JB was kind enough to let me tag along and hang out (I just did my update at the Inland Symposium).

As always happens when I spend time with him and other instructors, I learned (stole) some new teaching techniques. In addition, some of our on water time was in 25-30 knot winds with a building surf on a friendly beach. We paddled parallel to the shore and practiced bracing. So, that's what happened on the surface. There was more.

JB has clearly come into his own. Although he had a well planned ciriculum, he sat back and skilfully guided discussions that spontaneously broke out. These exchange of ideas (some arguements) took our thinking to a new level, and we all were the better for it. Still, JB got in all his material and even took time to video us (watch out Gordon Brown) on the water. What a wonderful and worthwhile weekend. I am proud that he is my mentor and prouder to number him among my friends. (Pics, taken on Lady Linda's camera to follow when I get the software for the camera onto my computer...res).

Doug, we miss you.

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Doug...Still Missing(Doug taking a rolling lesson with me
Photos courtesy of Leslie J.)

Missing for almost a week now, here's what we know: Doug stayed at someplace near Duluth, MN, and was seen there up through last Monday. He went out kayaking alone on waters with cliff lined shores in many areas. His kayak, his pfd and a medication bottle with his name on it washed ashore. On the night in question, he called someone and said he could not see shore. I do not know who he called or why he didn't phone 911.

His car with keys and his wallet were found where he was staying.

It is reported that he mailed letters to either family and/or friends and that some of them contained money. Most of us here, in Milwaukee, have not been in touch with him for a few months as he has not returned calls, answered our e mails or come to group paddles.Doug has friends here as well as a brother in Appleton, WI and a sister in California. Everyone is deeply concerned. Lake Superior waters can become treacherous, and hypothermia is a constant danger. We continue our vigil as the clock ticks.

Paddle Safe...

Friday, October 23, 2009

One of Our Own: Doug Winter
Doug is a teacher in the Milwaukee Public School system. He is also a kayaker and, I would like to think, a good friend. He has done me innumerable favors and used to paddle regularly with the Milwaukee sea kayak group. Today, on our Yahoo site, someone posted an article from a Duluth newspaper (Minnesota). Apparently, a Ric Winter of Wisconsin was notified that a kayak registered to Doug (his brother) was found washed up on shore in the Duluth area. Doug's car, keys inside, were also found nearby. No sign of Doug. I fear the worse.
The web page of a local TV station has a picture of a kayak cockpit, and I believe it is the boat shown above. I have just spoken to the news room at the paper, and they have nothing new since Tuesday, 3 days ago.

Now and then I read of paddlers going amiss, some famous. I care about those stories because they are, after all, fellow paddlers. Doug is more than that. He's one of our own.

Paddle safe...
Nothing is Forever
I never gave it a second thought. There simply was always some variation of the barber's pole outside the place we went for a haircut. Of course those were the days before everyone was a stylist. Back "in the day," the barber shop was a place to sit with the guys. It was a place to listen to the adults talk about stuff like sports and politics; even though, as kids, we didn't understand it all. Best of all, it was a place for the guys to hang out. No girls. Well, such places are far less common, and the pole is even rarer. I saw this one when we paddled near Lake Mills a few weeks ago, and I thought about it today because another piece of my past has gone into history.

I will be picking up my younger brother in a few hours, and we will drive down to Illinois for the funeral of our Uncle Sol. He was the last of 4 brothers, one being our own dad. It truly signifies, to me, the end of a generation. They were, after all, the ones who lived through the great depression and world war II. They were the ones who admonished my generation to get an education, " you won't have to work as hard as I do."

Appropriately, the skies are crying this morning.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Take a Cut?
(out of the garage )
(see pics on last two blogs)
Okay. My original plan was to trade in the Blazer on a shorter vehicle upon which I could 1, easily place my boat and 2, drive into my garage with the boat on top. This, in turn, would allow me to lift the boat via the Harken's sling already in place. That, along with my Hullavator, would eliminate having to lift my boat for ever. So I got the Subaru and cannot even drive into the garage with the rack assembled. Alas, what to do?

Over to the house comes my long time friend Erich. He is a can do and a creative guy. He listens, looks, commiserates and says I should call so and so who could, for a reasonable price, increase the height of my garage door by 16 inches, more than enough to make my dream come true. Amazing, I think as I envision effortless comings and goings with my new (coming next week) kayak atop my new car. Life suddenly takes on a definitely cheery hue.

Now, before I run off to wonderland, I do have two residual problems. One is cash. I have just spent more money than I am used to doing in such a short time. That I can work out by continuing to work until I am 110. No problems. The second problem, however, may be a deal killer. Call her Lady Linda.

My bride of 33 years (that says something about her judgment right there) wonders if it may not look too odd having a residential garage with two different size doors. I, never at a loss for well- researched data point out that when I was a kid we had just such a garage so my Dad's truck would fit inside. She, also never at a loss to see through my lunacy, suggests I move back to my old house (hey, it's an idea. I would only be about 6 blocks from JB's house).

So there it is, and here I sit. To be continued.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

As it turns out, the Forester is actually a bit higher than my old Blazer. So, I added a Thule Hullivator to lift my boat onto the vehicle. The present model of this device is much beefed up from the original and makes easy work of getting the boat up there. So far, I have only realized a few draw backs.

The saddles are tall enough that they must be removed before putting the car into the garage.Fortunately, this only involves pulling a pin on each saddle and lifting it down. In addition, some orifice on the the thing makes a whistling sound at 30 mph or faster. I read on a chat board that this can be handled with a piece of duct tape over said opening. I could not, however, tell which opening was causing the noise. It's always something.

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Difference Between
Men and Boys
The Price of Their Toys
After 10 years, I've treated myself to a new car. This time a Subaru Forester. I only have about 300 miles on it, but I have formed some opinions about the vehicle...some good, some not so much. To begin, it rides well, has all the goodies I was willing to pay for and has excellent visibility. The moon roof, when open, essentially converts the car to a convertible.

On the down side, there are cheap plastic bumpers, one of which I have already managed to ding. Worst of all, and common to many new vehicles, is the seating-steering wheel arrangement. As is true in Lady Linda's Acura and many newer cars, it is not possible to have both arm and leg comfort. If I move the seat far enough back for my legs to feel comfy, I cannot reach the wheel without hunching forward. A short trip on the highway left my shoulders achy. If I adjust the seat so my arms are comfy, my legs are cramped, and I am afraid I could not hit the brake pedal in time. For more money, I believe there is a telescoping wheel (mine only tilts) available. I would consider getting it...or a different car. I suspect that this problem will wear thin over the miles, and I would be unlikely to accept it in another car.One nice touch is the removable, screw-in tie down point. It would have been better, in my judgment, if it had been centered, or at least not so far off to the left (perhaps they didn't want it near the tow package).

Next time: The Hullivator.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Update(The old, and very reliable, AE-1 film camera)
Still researching cameras and know I will eventually get another waterproof one. Lots of good suggestions have come to me and, today, DaveO posted a tour de force on the needs of the outdoor photographer. What is holding me back just now is guilt over the money I have spent and am about to spend (I am talking within hours).

In a few hours I will be picking up a new car. If it runs, I will likely drive up to Madison to pick up the Hulvinator rack system to install on the new vehicle. Those two items represent a huge financial commitment. If we don't run out of food, I will consider a new camera.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Screw You, Pentax
My Optio, like those before it, just died. No more on water pics unless I get another waterproof camera. There are many out there, most with more pixels than anyone in the world needs. I only have one real criteria for my next camera: the name Pentax cannot be on it.

Paddle safe...
Atomic Energy and Other Irresistible ForcesI didn't have to be admitted to an intensive care unit, but I did spend much of yesterday recovering. Our youngest was here with our grand daughter, Adena. This little bundle of joy is, fortunately, her father's daughter. It's not that our daughter isn't mellow, it's just that our son in law in really mellow; and so is his daughter. As long as she is fed, not hurting too much from teething and dry on the bottom, she is lay back, intense in her concentration and quick to smile. One other thing. Like all babies, she sucks the energy out of the place.I have come to call her squeaky as the noises she makes while asleep wake me. And right there, my friends, is why I was so tired by time she left. I was waking up at all hours having heard a noise and fearing she was in distress. Although everything would be fine, I was often unable to fall back asleep, at least for a while. At the end of the gig it was I who was in exhausted distress. There just isn't any substitute for age.

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yes, It's That Time Again
I refer, of course, to fall, autumn, what ever. Mark my word, blog after blog will soon be saturated with pictures of fall colors. Red leafs, yellow leafs and corny water reflections. I also suspect that copies of Photography for Idiots will soon be flying off the shelves of the local book stores. This is a no brainer.With today's digital cameras (and excellent films) it is incredibly simple to capture fall colors. Year after year, photogs make pilgrimages to Vermont, the Smokies and other picturesque locations to capture the colorful change of seasons. Few, however, will succeed in capturing something really special. After all, it's all been done before. It requires, at least, the right light and a perceptive eye. Best light usually occurs early in the day after a rainfall when the saturated air softly scatters the light.
Unwilling to travel or wait for the perfect conditions, I grabbed these shots at a parkway 3 blocks from my house. Break out the cider. It is fall.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Still Want To Be
At The Top Of The Food Chain?
One of the online medical letters I get recently stated the following:

In an analysis of 732 Nunavik Inuit men and women--the indigenous people of northern Quebec--Dr Beatriz Valera (Centre de Recherche du CHUQ, Quebec, QC) and colleagues found mercury levels to be more than 50 nmol/L. That's more than 10 times higher than levels in the general US population in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study of 4 nmol/L, an American Heart Association (AHA) press release notes [2]. These higher levels stem largely from the preponderance of fish and marine mammals in the traditional Inuit diet

It would seem that it is a small world after all and that the consequences of our lifestyle are reaching all corners of the world. Bless us all.

Paddle safe...
The other day, while photographing the falls near my home (see previous blogs), I took a few random and not-s0-artistic views of guys fishing. Not being a sports photographer, I didn't even try to catch the coho salmon trying to leap the falls. I did, however, grab a shot of one of the fly casters trying to hook one of these fish. The fellow above hooked into something that bent his rod at what appeared to be a painful angle, and I was amazed when it didn't break. It took him nearly 20 minutes to land one of the hugest coho salmons I have ever seen. Holding it by the gills, he was unable to hold it fully out of the water (and, naturally, I never got a picture of it. But trust me. Hey, this is a fish story after all).
Standing downstream, I watched while he first admired the fish, then gently placed it in the water and held it until he was sure the animal was okay. Then, he let it go.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Tourist Thing
Before paddling Sunday (see last post), we took in the fall fair in the town center. It was the usual display of Americana with produce, crafts and the likes. People roamed about, some chatting some shopping while thousands gathered to enjoy what may be the season's last outdoor concert.In the end, this sign did it for me.Paddle safe...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Guest Photog
That's Nydia. She went with JB and me to the season wrap up at Rutabaga in Madison. On the way, JB and I decided to paddle Rock Lake, in spite of winds gusting 25-30 knots.We dressed properly and feathered into the wind.As Nydia was on shore taking these shots, we will need to wait for JB to post images taken in a marsh we found. Lovely place. Eventually, we caught a little surf coming back.Good friends, good paddles.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

It's Just Water
It has been pointed out that photography is the art of recording light and that the photographer's challenge is to find something upon which to bounce the light so that it becomes visible. Photography is a wonderful medium. With modern, rapid lenses we can actually photograph a bullet in flight and freeze the moment it shatters its target. It allows us to capture what the human eye cannot see or the brain process. On the other hand, by "slowing down" the light we can also see ordinary things in a new way. One such target that has always fascinated me is water, the media in which we play.

Waves are difficult to record in a way that shows off their majesty unless they are crashing against something. simple flow, on the other hand, only requires that we record the image at a speed of 1/15th of a second or slower.Doing so simply allows images to pile atop one another and be recorded as if happening at the same instant. It's easy to do (don't forget the tripod), makes for a satisfying image and is (at the end of the day) just water.

Paddle safe...

Friday, October 02, 2009

It Will Soon Be All OursIt can get crowded out there. Folks often forget that we get trans Atlantic shipping as well as Great Lakes' vessels going in and out of the Milwaukee harbor. More over, there are skippers running about in sail and power driven crafts. Through in the surfers, kite surfers and wave runners, and you have some days with lots of folks per square mile of water.

Then, too, there are the moored vessels around the two major yacht clubs and etc. etc. Soon, however, it will mostly be ours. The moored boats will go into storage leaving logs attached to their mooring chains. The majority of fair weather boaters, of all classes, will disappear until next spring. All that will be left will be the occasional coast guard vessel, a desperate fisherman and the sea kayakers.

I find it odd that many paddlers take a pass on winter. After all there is plenty of good gear to keep us warm and, besides, the sport started in a place where summer wasn't all that much different from our winters. Go figure.

Paddle safe...