Monday, January 31, 2011

Sometimes the Teacher
Sometimes the Student
We here in Milwaukee are lucky. Several of us are Level 4 Certified ACA instructors, and all the others are teachers at large. Everyone knows something and everyone has something to learn. Not surprisingly, our pool sessions often turn into an open classroom with everyone teaching everyone.

I got to be student while Rick helped me with my pathetic static brace.

Sherri worked with Ken on his sculling.                                          And the teaching continued over coffee. I think we have a wonderful paddling community here.                Paddle Safe...                                 DS

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Different Strokes for
Different Folks

We aren't just paddlers, we're kayakers. We aren't all just kayakers. Some of us do white water, some big water and some any water we can find. And, even then, we behave differently when upon the same water. Even when that water is in a pool.
 At one end of the pool are the play boats manned by skilled white water paddlers.
 Seems that they can (and will) do anything in those kayaks.
 But, for shear elegance, you cannot beat Sherri's static bracing skills.
Look, Ma. No hands (on paddle)

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You never know who you'll see in the pool
 Me, in a SOF
Rick hanging out
Or someone in one of those little play boats doing amazing stunts.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

We Own Squat
I was searching for some photos on the Bing site and, for the heck of it, enter a search for "Silbs". Much to my surprise, up came my profile picture and many of the images (as the one above) I have posted on this blog. It seems that everything is in the public domain these days. So, if you partied too much yesterday and someone caught a photo of you, beg them not to post it.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

John Martin = Chaos

   It is winter, I am frozen off the water, so I have dug out my laptop and found some photos from a Grand Marais Symposium. I found pics of an advanced rescue scenario class I was teaching. John had taught it to me, and I thought he should be lead. As it turned out, he had another class..but we arranged something.
   An hour into my class, I said, "Oh, no. Not him again." I indicated a paddler ill dressed coming our way. I explained that he was a flake and not part of the symposium. I told the class I had had to rescue him several times. Just then, the mysterious paddler tipped over. The class looked at me, and I told them I had had it and that they knew what to do. Off they went to "rescue" John.
   Of course, he immediately banged his head against a rescue boat, vomited (oatmeal), bled from his head (ketchup) and went limp. I am not sure what was the name of the rescue the class used, but I am sure it began with the word cluster.

After being "rescued", John subjected the class to more mayhem.

Paddle safe..

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Biting the Bullet
There are those moments in life, memorable moments, when it seems that it is all on the line. They are those times when one is most focused on the situation at hand, and any thoughts of the future become meaningless. Often, they are moments of grave danger that summon up all of one's physical and mental abilities with only one thought in mind: survive, survive the moment.
Those of us who do risky sports eventually meet up with such a moment. It often occurs in an instant, unanticipated and looms so large before us that we can see nothing else. Everything is suddenly on the line, and what happens in the next moment may determine whether we live and die. It is only afterward, after we've survived, that we know the fear and can begin to process what has just occurred. It is also a time when one learns the value of a good friend.

Obviously, I haven't experienced life-threatening conditions out least not yet this year. But last week a vague monster suddenly loomed before me and life and death seemed to hang in a delicate balance. The details are not important here. Let me just say that for a few days it seemed likely that I had cancer. During those days I lived in a bit of a haze as I vacillated between hope and despair. Strangely, I found that my biggest fear was actually sadness. Sadness that I wouldn't be seeing  my grandchildren grow older. It was then that the mysterious helpers appeared.

Friends who knew something was going on came to me and comforted me. They had no idea what I was facing, but they knew I was having difficulty and they were there to support me. Some with words, some with
e-mails and some with unobtrusive companionship as I waited out the hours until I could get into the hospital for my testing. I cannot recall that time in any more detail. I am just glad it has passed. I took my test yesterday and it was okay.
In an instant, like a white water paddler just escaping a hole or a sea kayaker rolling up in a huge wave, it was over. The threat was gone and the surprisingly hard job of returning to normality had begun. As I post this, I am wrung out, hopeful and grateful. I am grateful for my life and the fact that it looks like I am getting to have a bit more of it. I am grateful for my friends who were like the wing men in the F-105's I knew during the war. They are, I realize, always there to lend a hand, cover my back or offer a T-rescue. In the end, there has been a gift here, one which I graciously and humbly accept. It's good to be back.

Paddle safe...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Moving On...
Okay, I've gone and done it. I'm not going to be another Gary (see last two posts). I am going to support the economy. I have, in fact, stepped forward on behalf of my country and done the right thing. I have ordered another kayak, and I expect delivery in spring. So, I need to sell the Cetus.
 I had a steep learning curve when I first paddled this boat. Having paddled a Romany for so many years, it took me a while to learn this Swede form boat's habits. When I did, I found I loved the boat. It is the most stable platform I have ever paddled, and I have been able to do photography in some heavy stuff.
 Like many others, I did have some skeg  problems until Brian Day of P&H met me in Madison and replaced the mechanism with their new and (in my judgment) perfected gizmo. Since then, I have had no further problems. The boat does have the usual cosmetic scratches, and I have ordered a batch of the original gel coat from the factory in England. In fact, the support I have had from Brian and Kelly Blades has been sensational. Any time I've had a question, I have received rapid e mail responses and, sometimes, a phone call. So why sell the boat?

It's, in part, Kelly's fault. He let me paddle the MV model for a week last summer, and I discovered it was a better fit. I learned that I was in a bit too much boat with the full-sized Cetus and that I had incredible control in the MV. Although both rolled well, the MV obeyed a bit better. So, time to move on and sell the orange hull that has served me so well.
So, Brian and Kelly better get me that MV soon :-)

Paddle safe...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In the p revious post about Gary, it should have read that he bought no boats in 2010. Sorry, I am a bit preoccupied just now.

Paddle safe...
Record Broken
The Big Kayak Story
While some famous individuals spent 2011 paddling around large land masses and others plunged down enormous waterfalls, the biggest kayak story of the year was unfolding right here in the Milwaukee area. Frankly, we were unaware of what had transpired until just this morning when our ice-bound group met from coffee and Gary Simon let it all slip out.
An excellent paddler who is heavily into racing, Gary is one of our most experienced kayakers. A skilled paddler, he is most often seen in his latest racing craft. In any event, it was at coffee this morning that he announced that, unlike the previous 11 contiguous years, he did not buy one kayak in 2011! It's True.

"It's not that I didn't try," said the humble Simon. In fact he had looked at at least three possible boats for purchase but, in the end, bought none...the entire year.

Hats off and congratulations to our own record-breaking paddler, Gary Simon.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Short Therapy
Short Cure
I was able to take my Romany to the pool this past Sunday, and what a joy that was. There were few sea kayakers, so there was plenty of room to roll, brace and screw around. I was actually doing C-C rolls, something I have avoided in the past. I was also able to pull off my other side sweep rolls.

Flash ahead to today, and the cure has worn off. The temps aren't supposed to go above freezing this week, so it is unlikely any launch sites will open. Oh well.

Paddle safe...

Friday, January 07, 2011

Molecules, Compounds & Me
We all know how molecular activity and, for that matter, most chemical reactions can be slowed by lowering the temperature. Apparently, the same phenomena has the same effect on my rear end and the rest of my body. Call it winter lethargy. The analogy does not stop there.

Most compounds tend to expand when heated and contract when cooled. Water (don't get ahead of me) actually expands when frozen. Sadly, the compounds (call it adipose) around my waist act the same. In the science of Richardology (the study of Dick) we learn that I get slower and fatter when the sky is constantly gray and Polar Bears appear in my back yard here in Wisconsin.
 And don't forget the mental consequences of all this. As my scores on the Zunge Depression Scale soar my motivation to go outside plummets (and now we're back to slow, expanding molecules and compounds). Each day it becomes harder to go to the gym. It has gotten to the point that when entering my garage (to get into my car) I have to keep my eyes down lest I gaze upon my abandoned skin on frame hanging above Lady Linda's car.
But do not fear and do not lose hope. I will get to a pool session soon. Classes at the two colleges will begin. I will become engaged. I will be active and on my feet more. I will get out of the house much more frequently. And, hopefully, I will leave a trail of fallen adipose compounds where ever I go.
Paddle safe...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Good Ending
I was in withdrawal. The ice had kept me off the water for far too long. But yesterday--the last day of the year--Carl and I found a little opening at Bradford beach and launched onto Lake Michigan. A southerly wind was making for a foggy day and, at times, we were unable to see the shore from 100 yards out.
 We had a long "carry" to the opening, so we made like sleds and dragged our boats over the ice shelf.
Carl had on his helmet cam, and I am waiting to see what he shot.
 The landing was dicey because of onshore waves and large chunks of ice floating along the shore. 
All in all, I was a happy camper having finished off the year with a paddle.

Paddle safe...