Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Feeding the Need

Many of my non-kayaking friends think it is strange that I get a little tweaked out, sort of like the shakes, if I go too long without paddling--even the ones who smoke. So, after nearly 10 days off the water, I was starting to feel pretty off-kilter.
Fortunately, Tim M. is on vacation and itching to paddle. I took the day off and we headed down to Westport to feed the need. While the rest of NE sweltered in the heat, it was a nearly perfect day on the water. The temperature was in the low 80s, the humidity wasn't too oppressive, and there was a nice breeze.
For the most part we just poked around in the river and practiced sculling and rolling. We did head out around the break water to look for some waves and rocks to play in.
I was without my trusty stick--it was undergoing a refinish job. In its place I started off using a Tooksook, or as Tim calls it "the Toxic Paddle." In theory, the Tooksook is a blend of a traditional paddled and a Euro paddle. Sadly, like most hybrids, it has all the weaknesses of both and none of their strengths.
It didn't take me long before I decided to switch to my normal back-up paddle which is a Kinetic Touring. In my opinion, the KT is one of the best paddle shapes made. It is a big scoopy blade, but it does not abuse your body. Still, it is 100% more forceful than my stick. For the first half hour I felt every stroke and nearly toppled myself trying to reacclimated to the feather. It wasn't long before I was back up to speed. Most skills transfer smoothly between a Euro paddle and a stick. The only stroke that is really different is the forward stroke. Rolling, for example, is pretty much the same. The biggest difference is in the force generated by the blade in the water.
Just on the edge of the break water we found a great tidal rip with some little standing waves to play in. We also did some practice sculling and rolling in the current along the beach. The effect of moving water on how a paddle reacts is surprising. I tried a roll on the side of the boat facing the current and the water kept driving my paddle into the water. I got zilch for lift. I swallowed a bunch of water before trying it on the other side of the kayak, but Tim tells me that it is much easier because the current would add lift to the blade.
Of course, paddling was followed up by coffee. The venue of choice for that side of the Bay is Coastal Roasters. Despite the drive to get there, it is worth every minute out of my way!!
Now I can go back to work and feel like a human again...

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