Saturday, July 29, 2006

Paddling to Prudence

I was a little apprehensive about today's paddle as I'd never launched from Head's Beach, had never been to Prudence Island, had lost my chart of the Bay, and I was subbing as coordinator. To make matters worse the coordinator for the level 2 paddle, Peter H., was also a substitute. Fortunately, Peter was much better prepared than I was and Ray B. showed up and graciously took the level 3 reigns from my hands.
In addition to doing a completely new paddle, I was taking the maiden voyage in my new Q-Boat. The Q-Boat, its actual name is a barely pronounceable Greenlandic word that was probably invented in an English pub, is billed as a high volume Anas Acuta. I'm not certain that I would call it that, but it does have many characteristics of the Anas Acuta and is big enough for me to sit in comfortably without sinking. The Q-Boat's chines are hard, it's front-end is a big bubble, it's tail is long, and it's ends are pointy. Michael Brokenshire said it looks like an arrow.
Also sporting new rides for the paddle were Mike K. and a new paddler, Bethany. Mike's new ride is a shiny red Eddyline Flacon that he hopes will give him some added speed on calm water paddles. Bethany's new kayak is a red over white Nordkap LV. Both boats got rave reviews at the end of the day. Mike was actually in the middle of the pack for most of the day!!
At a little after 10am 25 kayaks set out from Head's Beach to paddle to Prudence Island. There were a couple of new people, several people I had not seen in a while, and a lot of the regular crew. The plan was to paddle along Jamestown, cross over to Prudence, and take a quick break at the beach. From the break point, the level 3 paddlers were going to head up to the local store for goodies. The estimated mileage was about 6 for the level 2 trip and 15 for the level 3 trip.
For most of the paddle I was concentrating on getting a feel for the new kayak so I didn't get to talk to as many people as I would have liked. I also didn't get quite as nice a view of Jamestown as I would have liked. However, the Q-Boat made up for those lapses.
Paddling the Q-Boat is a dream. At 18' long, she has plenty of speed, however, due to the rocker in the tail, she is also plenty maneuverable. It doesn't take much to make her spin around on a bow rudder. Being hard chined, she is also amazingly easy to get and hold on edge. The hard chines make her feel a little unsettled when the water gets bumpy, but that is largely due to my unfamiliarity with how it feels. The water slaps the chines and can make the hull rock a touch. Based on her stability on edge, however, my guess is that in rough water she has plenty of stability.
After a pleasant stop at the beach on Prudence where we feasted on H's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and Lori Bomes' delectable cookies, the level three group headed off to the store. By this point, I was settled into the new kayak and took the time to look at the sights. Prudence was pretty. I liked the little light house and the store/post office was pleasantly run down.
By the time we hit the store, H and I had used up a good bit of our water supplies due to the heat. It wasn't so hot that it felt oppressive, but you could tell it was warm. The cold beverage and ice cream from the store were a nice treat.
The paddle back to Jamestown seemed much longer than the paddle out. This was due to the fact that we didn't stop for a break on the return trip. This was also due to the fact that it was a long trip and people were getting tired. At first I thought it may have just been the heat, but come to find out the trip was 18 miles long and not the advertised 15. Ray had no sympathy. As he said after dinner: "It's the end of August. You guys should be in shape to do that kind of distance no sweat."
The paddle back afforded us a view of a gigantic ship as it took the channel between Jamestown and Prudence to the East Passage. I was prepared for the monster to throw a huge, surfable wake, but it only caused a few paltry waves. Still, it was impressive.
The return trip also offered me several opportunities to practice my combat roll. One time I tried to spin the kayak around on itself and edged over a tad too far. The other time I was paddling backwards and caught a wave just wrong. Fortunately the Q-Boat rolls with hardly a thought. The trickiest thing is waiting for the kayak to settle before starting the roll.
The post paddle pig out was held at the Jamestown Portuguese Club. The wait staff was harried, but pleasant. The portions were big and the prices were reasonable. Oh and the food was mostly excellent. The cod only got an OK rating. Dinner conversation seemed to hover around things that can kill you... Great whites hunting seals off of Monomoy... Man-O-War on RI beaches... just about anything in Australia. Not sure what that says about us...
I want to give kudos to Lori's friend Marianne. She did the level three trip and was at the head of the pack for the whole time!! I'd also like to thank Ray B. for doing such a great job on short notice.

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