Friday, April 30, 2010

About Time
Car is almost packed, lots of junk for an overnight in the hall and the alarm set. Saturday, I head to Madison for the first lessons of the season. I had a lucky draw and will be teaching the two-day kayak progression course. This takes folks from never having been in a boat through the basic strokes, rescues and whatever we have time to cover. The weather is a bit marginal with winds of 10-15 predicted, but we have a sheltered pond in which to work.

This winter seems to have hung on a bit longer...for reasons I am not sure I understand. No matter, we get back into it starting tomorrow.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Old Grey Mare
(She ain't what she used to be)
I paddled the old Romany today and was surprised how it felt after these many weeks in the Cetus. Or course there was less initial stability, but that feeling was gone in 30 seconds. What did strike me was how cramped I was in the smaller boat. Then, too, it didn't accelerate as does the Cetus. What surprised me most, however, was that it didn't seem all that much more maneuverable since I couldn't rotate my torso as freely.

The seat made me feel as if I were slightly leaning back, so I fatigued faster as I tried to hold a vertical position. Finally, the tracking without the skeg down was slightly better than the Cetus, but not all that much. After all, the Romany does have a good deal of rocker.

I will be going to Madison to teach a weekend kayak progressions course and need to decide what boat to use. In the end, I make take neither and use one of the shop's many kayaks.

Paddle safe...
If I understand...
...correctly, I must now load pics either from picasso (where I don't store my pics) or use old photos from past blogs. I cannot directly access my own cache of images...unless there is something I am missing. If I have it right, I cannot accept this and will need to reconsider either blogging or not doing it via the Google dynasty. I am not sure I am up to starting and supporting a web page, but I will discuss this with others who know more about it.

Paddle safe..
Screw It

Maybe I really have become an old comudgen, a has been and old fart who has out lived the modern world. Maybe it is time to stuff it.

First, without any choice on my part, Mozilla Firefox "updated" and destroyed the sweetist mail page I ever had. In an instant, everything I had set up in my tool bar was gone and, in its place, a Yahoo tool bar for which I have no use. Screw it, I use the Google sign on envelope instead.

Just now I sat to write a post and, when I went to upload an image (as I have literally done over a thousand times) there was a "new" system in place. No longer can I click browse and go to my personal photo albums. Oh no, I can only go to Picasso or enter a URL or whatever. The point is, it was easy  and now it is different, and I choose not to play.

Paddle safe...

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Have To Get Back To It
   I haven't done any good photography for some time now. My Optio works part time, and it's somewhat loose battery cover makes me wonder if it is still water proof. That along with the long shutter lag make it less than an ideal on water camera for capturing that special moment.
   I do believe an SLR in a protected something or other would be best. I have one such bag from Aquapac but have never been comfortable with it.
   First, it has to be meticulously closed to be water tight, and I have been unwilling to actually use it on the water. Secondly, the tunnel for the lens is so snug that the barrel has trouble rotating, thus rendering it all pretty useless. A good water proof container would cost more than I paid for the camera.
   Still, season starts now, and I am teaching a two-day sea kayak progressions course this weekend. Perhaps I can take along a sketch artist.

Paddle Safe...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When It Gets Boring
  Lately, I have taken several short, solo paddles going over and over the same small area I have paddled for years. Some of these outings were for test purposes such as testing leaks or to see how different paddles felt. Lately, it has become unsatisfying. Thinking on it, I have reached some conclusions about my personal feelings around the sport.

  First, I generally like paddling with someone. I enjoy the company, the conversation and the added safety of having another competent person nearby. It is also a chance to have someone observe and comment on my technique.

I like paddling with a lot of people for all of the above reasons and more.
In a group I get to talk with different folks, paddle at varying paces and exchange ideas around boats and the like. I like group paddles the most when there is a destination, rather than the too often out and back routine. If I do have to paddle alone, I like conditions that make it interesting and a bit challenging or...
...I want something interesting to look at as the miles go by.
It looks as if, in addition to kayaking, I will be teaching and lecturing again this summer. That means making the available weekends special. Hopefully, I will find the energy (and perhaps the people) to drive to some of the fine places up north that make a day on the water more rewarding. It is there, as well, that I find camping places and the total out door's experience.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Case Closed

(pre op photo)
Bandages off. The Cetus was on the lake yesterday taking waves over the stern (and bow). Back home in the garage, the rear hatch was bone dry. The procedure was successful. Case closed. Now, where the heck did I leave that toggle?

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hull Proctology 101
(follow up on a recent case study)
It finally got into the 50s (F), and it was time to cure (pun intended) the patient with fiberglass resin.First, my son in law, Ben, served as the intern on the case, scrubbed in and helped position Mr. Cetus in the proper position.  (It goes without saying that Cetus' guardian signed an informed consent form).
A preliminary exam did not appear to reveal any abnormalities, however, previous diagnostic tests had indicated there was a rectal fistula down there and that liquid was inappropriately passing through it.
Resin was mixed with a ton of accelerator as the temperature threaten to fall below 50. Next, all the gravity in the garage was swept into the area around where the hull stood.The mixture was poured down the hatch (pun intended) in the belief that it would find where it needed to go (where the sun don't shine...unless you count translucence...but I digress).
(black circle indicates area of pathology)
(a post procedure view indicates that the stuff got to where it was supposed to go)
(the patient complained of chills, so a hot pad was applied)
After several hours (few days), the patient was brought to the supine position. It was happily noted that some of the resin had actually oozed into the tunnel for the grab loop thus indicating that the diagnosis of a fistula was correct and that (in all likely hood) it is sealed from one end to the other. Wet water tests to follow.

Paddle Safe...



Monday, April 19, 2010

Behold: The Lowly Toggle
All the talk is of length, beam, cock pit shape, chines and what have you, but this dangling ditty gets no respect and is often passed off as a grab loop. Mostly thought of as a means of carrying a boat, these little seemingly-listless loops can save our lives. It is a wonder then how much effort is made to reduce their worthiness.

Many boats have clips (not shown) to keep these little guys on deck so they won't tap-tap-tap against the ends of the hull while afloat. Many are kept very small or short for the same reason. Both these maneuvers, unfortunately de-power one of the more important uses of these circular saints.
There may come the day when, in the biggest of blows, you are forced to wet exit. It will be then, as you clutch paddle and boat, that you realize how much windage the hull has while beam to the wind. The only way you may be able to hold on is to reduce that resistance by letting the hull lie along the wind. That is, you will need to hold it at one end or the other. Did someone say, "where's the toggle?" And, by the way, how easy will it be to grab that little stingy piece of line now?

My belief is that a generous piece of line to grab is a welcome safety devise and not one to be underestimated. I guess I need to replace the ones on my Cetus...just as soon as the end-pour cures.

Paddle safe...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Here We Go!

"Perfect" day, yesterday. Temps in the high 70s (F) and a brisk off shore wind. It was a day to be on the water, and I was lucky enough to get out. All around me were signs of folks emerging from their winter dens to great the beginnings of the warmer season.
 (It's okay. You can't see her, but there is a mom watching them)
It was also a perfect set up for disaster. These are the days when rookies or folks in basic recreational boats show up with or without a life jacket and (usually) wearing one light layer of cotton. What they don't realize is that the water is barely 40 degrees and that the wind could carry them off shore should they fall in. The nearest shore is over 80 miles away. Even if they were lucky enough to get out on the break wall, there often aren't enough observant folks around to notice their plight (and their calls for help would be swept out to sea by the offshore wind).

These folks seem to have their own guardian angels. Disasters regularly happen, in part due to our local sea kayakers taking the time to walk over and advise these folks about the risks they could face. Even so, it is wonderful outside, the trees are budding, all the species of birds have returned and I'm psyched about paddling.

Paddle Safe...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Weather or Not

 (Doug, in happier days)
It is to be a lovely day today with temps in the 70s (F). Alas, I teach all day and this evening. I hope someone gets out there and uses the day.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Honor of Fog

The bane of mariners, fog is nothing more than a cloud that touches the surface of the earth. Personally, I love the stuff. While a sailor, I found it peaceful and a challenge to my navigation abilities. More over, it hones one's senses as we strain to hear or see something "out there". Sometimes it gives one the heebie geebies as imaginary monsters swim just beneath our hull.
In a kayak, of course, the trick is to be the one seen and heard; and all that has been talked about ad infinitum.
I still have fond memories of the day I took the photo at the top. We were guests at a friends cottage in northern Wisconsin. Being the only early riser, I was on the water before sunrise. All around me loons popped up, dove and reappeared, apparently oblivious to my presence.I can say that fog has been very good to me.

Paddle Safe...

Monday, April 12, 2010

When is Enough Enough?
Heaven knows I have paddled (and even owned) quite a few kayaks (I am presently impoverished with only 3...but I digress). Each has had unique properties and given me unique joy. Still, I keep looking at other hulls like a sex-addicted husband looks at girls walking down the street (I only know that from my scientific reading...but I digress...again).
Recently I saw a go-fast kayak advertised by a company in New York (sorry, I lost the website...extra fast kayak...west side boat shop.)
 It seemed to only have a rear hatch but promised speeds in excess of 6 knots (now I have your attention).
I see the new Rock Pools and the fiberglass Greenland models and think, "So many boats, so little time."
Then I ask myself when will I stop looking. Well, like the husband mentioned above, never. At least not as long as we are both alive. It is, I believe, the nature of the beasts.
 Every hull offers something better and does something worse than the one I am in. There is, in the end, no reason to stop looking for the perfect boat as long as I realize it is the journey that counts and that the boat doesn't exist.

Paddle Safe...

Friday, April 09, 2010

Over My Shoulder
The only uniting factor among these pics is that they were all taken two years ago. Looking at them today, I am reminded how time flies and how things change...not always according to plans.
How many of us took that trip we were planning two years ago? What about that repair or boat modification? Has it been sitting and waiting for a few years? Did you ever get around to that CPR class you know you wanted to take? What about the symposium you were bent on attending next time around? Man plans, HE laughs.
By the way, Greg did finish his boat...and is working on another. Dreams and wishes are promises you make to yourself.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Prisoner #1234.....
All comes to he who waits (including senility). Alas, my membership card to the ACA has arrived.

Actually, it is more like a cheap business card with some art of modest quality (picture above has nothing to do with anything) on one side. On the other side is the usual info including my very own brand new 9-digit membership number. 9 freakin' digits. That's more digits than on my military dog tags (which I memorized in case of capture).

Couldn't they have used a letter prefix and decreased the number of numbers (which number too many) by a bunch of numbers? I'm losing brain tissue at a faster rate than they are creating numbers.

At least they are trying to reorganize; but, like my chief of medicine once told me, never trust an expert.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Works Well

With such a narrow width at the front of the kayak, it seems as if the Cetus was designed for use with a Greenland stick. Using only torso rotation, my hands literally slid across and down the contour of the deck as the blade made clean entry  into the water (forward canted stroke). As always, it took 1.5-2.0 strokes to keep up with the Euro-blade types, but the effort was minimum. Who knew?

Now that I finally want to try out a shorter (you heard right) paddle, I find that 205 high angle blades are generally not to be found in stock. What's a guy to do?

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


My life is a never ending series of circles that continue to close and close again. This time it involved driving my daughter and grandson from Cincinnati to Washington DC where they will begin a new life. For grandson, Joe, it was the first closing of a circle as he was reunited with the Dad who had gone ahead to start a new job. Joe will now struggle with learning to live in an new apartment in a new city with new friends. Still, it was a chance for him to be with his daddy and to explore his new world.
In April of 1967 I saw the cherry blossoms while an intern in DC. I saw them again one year later in Tokyo while on R&R from the war in SE Asia. This trip I saw them again, this time as a father and a grandfather. Circle closed.
I remember vividly the first time I saw the Viet Nam Wall. It was heart wrenching and, back then, there were lots of my comrades with whom I could weep. I had been back before this, and it was no less intense an experience. This visit, I went alone, without family , to visit this shrine.
It was Easter Sunday and, alas, time had thinned the ranks of comrades from that era. I had to weep alone. Circle closed.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

I Am Away

Just drove daughter and grandson from Ohio to Maryland to join dad in a new life. Joe will need to get used to apartment living with no big back yard. They all are now 12 hours away, so flying will be the mode of visitation. I will be back late Monday.

Paddle Safe...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I'll Be:
It Actually Worked

A few days ago I spoke of something we were doing with the Zoological society here...and it worked. It was a lark based on the idea of a hydraulic engineer here in Milwaukee. It required the assistance of the zoo folks, many water sports people and some heavy duty go-fast water equipment. More over, we worked at odd hours to avoid anyone seeing us lest they misconstrue what we were about.

In the end, the darn thing worked and, as proof, one of our crew captured this image.I cannot, because of papers and documentaries being made, say more.
It may seem pointless, but from it we hope to learn more about hull design and other important marine architectual information. Congratulations to all who took part. Watch for the full article in the next issue of Science.

Paddle safe...