Saturday, August 12, 2006

Old Friends, New Boats, and a Fire

After getting home from a seven hour road trip at 11:30 the previous evening, H and I woke at the crack of dawn to drive to Jamestown for a paddle. The kayaks were still on the car from our vacation and all of the gear was still in the egg's hatch, so we didn't have to pack anything up. In fact it was a great excuse to delay unpacking, and thus extending our vacation. The other incentive was that the trip was being led by Bill Hahn, whom we hadn't seen in ages. Oh and of course we were going to get to see Tim Motte's shiny new Nordkapp LV.
We skidded into the Ft. Wetherill parking lot with 30 minutes to get ready for a 10am launch and saw Mike K., so we figured we had plenty of time to get ready. H managed to find the time to show off the new ring and get herself ready to go in plenty of time. I, however, duly earned the the title of "King Tardy". Before I could truly appreciate Tim's new kayak, I needed reassurance that the little gel coat crack I had been obsessing about for most of the week was not a fatal flaw in the structure of my kayak. Then, after Tim inspected the crack and allayed my fears, I had to examine and congratulate Tim on the purchase of his fine new ride. There was also congratulations to acknowledge. I was also distracted by the appearance of Milo and Jonathan H. Needless to say, I was the last one on the water. Despite Bill Hahn's conviction that I would beat Mike K. onto the water, I was last by a long shot.
Once on the water, the brain sludge that slowed my pre-paddle preparations melted away and I was able to focus on the business at hand. Bill's plan was to paddle against the current up to Gould Island, paddle around the island, and lunch at the beach on the southern tip. After lunch, we would paddle back. It was a relaxed plan for a relaxed day on the water.
I appreciated the laid back pace. It gave me a chance to catch up with people. Despite more than a year's absence, Milo and Jonathan had hardly changed. Jonathan wielded his Tooksok to drive his trusty Slipstream with characteristic speed. His characteristic acerbic wit was still in full force. Milo also looked great in his kayak. It was most excellent to see them again and I hope that they come out and play again soon.
At the northern end of Gould Island the current was ripping past the concrete abutments with deceptive force. Naturally, this meant that Tim, Paul B., and I had to play around. Tim managed to maneuver his new kayak through the current with ease. Despite his concerns that he may be too big for the Nordkapp LV, he looked excellent--even when he accidentally cut me off while I was trying to escape the current that was trying to crush me against a concrete abutment. Of course, I should know better than to be so close to immovable structures that can wreck my kayak, or myself.
Lunch offered more openings for catching up and humor. H offered up a bag of congealed chocolate, fruits, and nuts as a healthy opportunity. Before our vacation, this mass had been a delicious batch of gorp and, despite its unsavory appearance, it still tasted yummy. Bill H., in a bid to win votes for best trip leader, supplied (store baked) cookies. I'm pretty sure the cookies scored Bill the vote of most of the paddlers.
There was also a comedy sketch about Peter H. trying to sit on people's laps. I was not a direct witness, thankfully, but rumor has it Tim Motte was offered ice cream for his refusal... I'm not sure I want the details, but for the curious I'm sure there is a story...
On the return trip we stopped off at Jamestown center for ice cream. While, most of the crew enjoyed a cool, creamy treat, Tim and I enjoyed some mutual kayak appreciation. We switched kayaks and gave each other's new rides a quick spin. Tim's Nordkapp LV is everything the Sea Kayaker review said. It's cockpit offered plenty of room; it was actually more spacious than the Q-Boat's cockpit. The Nordkapp LV paddled in a straight line smoothly and got up to speed with ease. When it came time to turn, she responded quickly with a bit of edging. Getting the boat on edge is easy although it is a bit nerve wracking at first. On edge, the Nordkapp LV had good secondary stability, but I felt like I had to be extra careful about keeping my center of gravity over the hull. For a person my size (5'9" 195lbs), she doesn't feel like she has enough volume to counter balance a bad lean. After paddling, the Q-Boat, with its hard chines, it was a touch unsettling, but nothing that couldn't be overcome in a few minutes.
The post-paddle festivities were held at Carole's abode. She set out a lavish spread of chips, drinks, and pizza. With it's pastoral setting, Carole's house was the perfect place to wrap up a lovely day on the water. Her deck looks out over a pond and is surrounded by woods. It encouraged us to relax and offered a forum to get to enjoy our non-kayaking personas.
The setting did not, however, stop Peter H. from making lascivious jokes at the drop of a hat or the conversations turning to politics. Fortunately, a fire, marshmallows, chocolate, wine, and graham crackers make everything OK.

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