Friday, October 29, 2010

 Which is
The Best Seat in the House?
A recent study indicates that the more we sit the more we shorten our lives. This may be a bit alarming to those of us involved in a sport that requires sitting. What to do?
I don't know if I write this wearing my doctor's, paddler's or philosopher's hat. Perhaps I need all three. That would allow me to express my rather strong feelings on the subject. So...

The doctor agrees that couch potatoes do not do well health-wise. Our children sit too much while only exercising their thumbs and eating crappy food. They get obese and develop the metabolic syndrome which makes them highly eligible for diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. And...

The paddler knows that when he or she sits in their boat, they are usually exercising, elevating their heart rates and not worrying about mundane things left ashore. As it turns out, the paddler and the doctor are in agreement and recognize that all sitting is not equal. In the end, however, it is the philosopher that may know the answer.
Someone once wrote, "A poor life this when when full of care we have no time to sit and stare." We are way to much with this world, way too connected and way too much tuned in. My college students cannot study well, in part, because they cannot turn off their phones, i pods and all those other things that sit on the edge of their consciousness and of which they are constantly aware, whether they know it or not. In stark contrast to the study cited above, the philosopher knows that not sitting, at least properly, actually shortens one's life. And, if it doesn't shorten life, a lack of proper sitting certainly robs the soul of some of the joy of life.

For ever, wise people have done nothing but sit, at least for a while, on their meditation benches, pillows or grass. They have sat and watched the trees bend in the wind. They have sat with their eyes shut and focused on their breathing. They have sat and emptied their minds of the mundane world and sought the sacredness of hearing the calling of their souls. And, in the end, it may not have mattered if they lived longer because they lived richer.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Big Winds

 Big winds on the great lakes with waves out there over twenty feet. Gusts up to 60 MPH have been recorded. Near shore, the waves weren't all that bad, and I had hoped to get out to play. Unfortunately there were two exams and a lecture to write. The winds are due to die down tonight.
Lots of paddlers have hung it up for the season.

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Can't We All
Just Get Along?
 We gathered Sunday morning looking forward to a nice paddle with fellow sea kayakers. Then They showed up with their skinny sit on tops that could be paddled in excess of 6 knots. What the hell were they doing there when the water was getting so cold? Heck, this was sea kayak weather. To add insult to injury, these guys weren't even wearing skirts. My word!
 What had the world come to? There was a wooden boat, a bunch of composite real sea kayaks and a couple-three of those crotch rockets. Was there going to be a rumble on the water? You could cut the tension with paper scissors.
Of course we did just fine and had a grand old time exchanging greetings and stories and mentioning mutual friends. After all, we're paddlers. We have something too important to do than to get involved with differences.
Is the world listening out there?

Paddle safe...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is Yours
Stiff Enough?
I know Derrick has raised this issue before, but I am unclear as to its significance. I obviously am referring to kayaks and, more specifically, their hulls. I and others have noticed how many of the hulls on new boats flex. Simply pushing with your thumb will cause slight buckling of these somewhat lighter hulls. I suspect this has occurred as a compromise between weight and strength. The question for me is, "Is it safe?"

I have never heard of any of these hulls failing or becoming distorted after falling off a wave. Still, it can be disconcerting to have something that feels flimsy between you and the water. This, in turn, begs the question of whether or not it is wise and worthwhile to beef up the hull.

I have heard that some folks are putting narrow strips of fiberglass along the inside of the hull at a few random locations. Apparently this stops some of the flexing, in which case I have to wonder if the now stiffened hull has taken on a new characteristic that will, in some way, over stress it.

I would welcome any suggestions, ideas or references related to this situation (I cannot, at this point, call it a  problem).

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's been a year, and you are missed.

The rest of you...

Paddle safe...
I don't know if I am a Luddite or just old with more memory than knowledge, but I find all the new gizmos around me to be fascinating. I phones, GPS, satellite this and that, etc.. All marvelous. During Sunday's paddle, Brian apparently had his gizmotron on and recorded for all nautical history our route. I have seen these things posted and have always found the info boring. After all, who the hell cares where we paddled? Well, I do, because it was my paddle. Here's Brian's top secret link:

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Paddling in the City
Water Blog Day

We may be in the center of the continent, but we have big water here. Lake Michigan can be kind and it can be mean. Yesterday, it was just playful as our Sunday morning group paddled toward the north side.
As the wind came down the lake from the north, some nice swells built up where the bottom shallowed up. To get the most fun with what we had, we paddled near the breakwater where reflected waves were also present. Ken was able to get a quick video (I am in the orange Cetus).

 We have a few nice beaches here, some of which have to close when the E. Coli count is too high. What the hell are we doing to our lakes?
 What other media can offer such simple pure pleasure?

We took time to get out at McKinley Beach where we were able to take some breaking waves on the beam. I had a few good "boogie board" rides while in a low brace.

Paddle safe...

Friday, October 15, 2010

                                   into the pool
With winter just around the corner, pool sessions cannot be far off. I usually face this time of year with mixed feelings. I paddle on Lake Michigan year round, but I am not always thrilled with the cold and the 17 layers of fleece and dry suit. On the other hand, it is only in the pool that I really get to use my SOF.

I have never been entirely comfortable out on the lake in the SOF, especially alone. First, there is the issue of getting into a situation and not being able to wet exit. To be sure, I have a bomb proof roll with my Greenland sticks, but stuff can happen; and the tight fit and pressing masik can make getting out a chore.

Then there are the inevitable leaks. I keep the skin coated with paint and am constantly touching it up...even if I haven't been paddling. Still, water has 100 secret ways of getting into these crafts. Out on the lake, I use float bags fore and aft, but some water can still come aboard and make the boat sloppy to handle. All in all, I feel safest on lake water at QAJAQ camp where I am surrounded by others in the same boat.

So, bring on the snow and ice and freezing temps. When the going gets tough, I get going to the pool.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

33 for 33
unfreakin' Believable
You Rock
A nice paddle was the height of my day until a few minutes ago when I watched the last miner pulled from the ground in Chile. Paddling around anything in record time might be an accomplishment, but what these men endured and what their rescuers pulled off is a living monument to the human spirit and the will to live.

Paddle safe...
It will soon hit the fan
Which of the magician's hand should you watch?
So Mama Nature is waving her hand at us, just like a magician does to distract you from the trick he is playing on you with his other hand. She gives us this unbelievable array of brightly colored leaves and days of cool dry air to make us feel good while she revs up the storms of soon-to-come winter. But don't be fooled. Others' hands are giving away the plan.
For, when sailors do what ever it takes to scrub away that waterline mustache, you know they are getting ready to hall out; and that means winter is on the way.

Soon the fair weather paddlers will disappear along with the doesn't-own-a-dry suit group. Pool sessions will begin, It will snow, and ice will form along the shores. Water temps will drop to hypothermic-inducing levels, and the days will be terribly short. Folks with seasonal depressions will bum out, we will all gain the weight we just now managed to lose from last winter.

Our skin will get dry and cracked and dandruff will return with the snow flakes. Snow blindness, cracked finger tips and lips and frost bite with happen along with slips on the ice and ice flows that shift and block us from getting off the water. Finally, our friends will look at our war-scarred bodies and wonder, if not ask aloud, why the hell we do this in the dead of winter? How, I ask you, can we possibly describe to them how much fun it is?

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just a Paddle,
but a nice paddle

It has been unusually warm this month, and yesterday the wind didn't show up for work. So the local group just took a lazy paddle to one of the navigation buoys offshore.
Our ladies of the fair weather showed up along with some of the regulars
ans some not so regulars.
Hey, what's not to like?

Paddle safe...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Hey, That's Me!
Those of you who do a lot of photography, especially in your kayaks, can relate to this: There are two really hard images to capture. First is a picture that really shows how large and threatening the waves can be. I know. When we start out all waves look big; but, after being out in really biggies, the pictures I take are disappointing.

   The second thing is to have a good picture of 0ne's self. Looking at our family album, you might wonder if there is a father in the family (although that has gotten better since Lady Linda and others have obtained their own cameras). It's the same with paddling. After 1000 little clicks there are precious few pictures of me...or you. After a while I began to wonder how the hell I look out there. So, when someone does snap a shot of me AND takes the time to send it along, I am grateful. Not that I look all that gorgeous or competent. So, thanks, Leslie, for the shot on top and to JB for the one out on the water.
   Now, who is going to take your picture?

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

                       Get Out There
                                   with someone special
We all have our comfort zone and, hopefully, a sense of when conditions exceed it. We all have heard the old, "It is better to be ashore wishing you had gone out than to be out there wishing you had not." True enough, but it all begs the question of how we get better and able to go out it harsher conditions.

The flippant answer would be a little bit at a time, and it holds a lot of truth. The fact is, if you always lift the exact same amount of weight in the gym, your muscles will not get larger. You have to challenge them with slightly heavier weights. You need to lift a weight heavy enough to stimulate hypertrophy and not so heavy that it causes damage. Same goes for paddling.

You need to go out into conditions a tad above your comfort level so that you can improve. You must also avoid going out it conditions that scare you off the water for ever. And, just as you would have a spotter stand by as you bench press that heavier weight, you need to go out there with someone who is already comfortable and capable in those more severe conditions.

The other caveat is that as you achieve a new level you must continue to go out into it (boat in the butt time). Just like the weight lifter who skips workouts and loses his gains, staying ashore too long between paddles will drain your sense of confidence in the new conditions. Practice, practice, practice. Now, get out there...with someone special.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

There's more than one way
to enjoy the water.

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Really Good Day With The Hoofers
There is an outdoor club, The Hoofers, which is attached to the University of Wisconsin. They offer sailing, skiing, outings and all sorts of outdoor doings. We know some of the kayak folks as they also teach at Rutabaga. In any event, they (much to their credit) wanted a training to improve their skills and leadership abilities. Who to call? Well, my man, JB, of course.
JB was at his best as he filled the day with a mixture of land lectures and water exercises. Mercifully, he didn't give us his entire 12 hour lecture on navigation...but I digress. It was all the more challenging as a 25 knot wind with 30 knot gusts had been blowing for some time. Waves were breaking offshore and, when they hit the break wall, they shot up sprays of about 20 feet.
Amy (from Madison) and I assisted and did mini workshops on strokes. To do so, we had to find a little spot in the lee of a wall.
I, personally, found all these folks to be more than just fine paddlers. They were fine people, and I could see any of them leading a trip. I would, more over, feel safe paddling with any or all of them. Now, that's a great day on the water.

Paddle safe...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Plain and Simple
Here is a picture of a picture I took with a 4x5 view camera, one of those biggies where you are under a cloth while focusing on the glass. I had been headed back to the car after photographing in a park when I saw the canoe at rest. The light was good, and there was no wind to disturb the reflections in the water.

I dearly miss doing fine art black and white. I dug this out of my files when Rutabaga announced a jury art show. As it turns out, school demands will likely keep me too busy to enter, but I enjoyed going through prints like this, all mounted on large museum quality boards.

Paddle safe...