Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Fall Classic

One of the things I enjoy most about kayaking is that you can paddle the same route hundreds of times and it always different.
Today I paddled the Pier 5 to Harbor of Refuge route again. When H, TM, and I did this route earlier in the season it challenged us. The swells were big, pushy, and constant. There were breaking waves along most of the route and we surfed into the harbor. The winds had a chill and the skies threatened rain.
Today the ocean was calm. The wind was warm. The skies were sunny. It was perfect late summer conditions.
I could really stretch out and cruise. There was a slight cross wind pushing the Q's stern around, so I also got a chance to work on effective corrective strokes. I would slip a stern rudder onto the end of a stroke occasionally. I'd just let the blade linger at the end of the stroke. I also tried to incorporate the stern draw. The stern draw is finicky. Sometimes I would catch the wrong face of the paddle. Sometimes the stern wouldn't move. Sometimes the stern would move, but not enough to straighten the kayak. Sometimes the whole kayak would draw to the side. On very few occasions did it actually work properly. I need to keep practicing.
While playing in the rocks and rough conditions is exciting, sometime a nice open water run is perfect. It lets me blow the carbon out of the cylinders.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Letting the Wind Pass

Now that the high season for power boating has passed, it is a great time to kayak in Boston Harbor. The weather and water is still warm and the number of boats clogging the channels is manageable.
I was going to lead a RICKA paddle to the outer islands yesterday. I was excited to share one of my local resources with my RI friends. Sadly, the wind forecast was extreme. 15 to 20 in the outer harbor is a little rough, but 30 knt gusts are crazy. So, I decided to cancel the paddle.
Fortunately, the winds were forecasted to die over night. 5 knt winds are perfect for a late fall paddle. So, I decided to reschedule the paddle for today.
The morning was bright, but chilly. The day was looking like a great day to paddle.
The only anxiety was about who would show up for the paddle. I knew most of the regular crew would not show up. They all had other commitments. The absolute worst that could happen was the H and I would have to enjoy the water by ourselves. You know life is good when the absolute worst outcome is spending the day paddling with your favorite person.
On the way to Hull we spotted at least two familiar kayaks. Once at the put-in we discovered six more paddlers. There were two familiar faces, two faces I hadn't seen in a long time, and four new faces. The group seemed to gel before we even got on the water.
The plan for the day was to paddle out to Little Brewster and check out the light house. Then we'd island hop over to Green Island for lunch. After lunch, we'd island hop over to Georges Island to check out Ft. Warren. Then we'd return to Hull.
This was a great plan based on us launching at mid-tide on an out going tide. Sadly, I'd gotten the tides backwards. We'd have the currents against us all day.
To make the crossing to the light house we paddled out to Allerton Point. From there we crossed the channel on a steep ferry angle. The incoming tide pushed us down the channel as we aimed our kayaks out of the harbor. We managed to pick the perfect angle and ended up along Little Brewster. We landed to take a tour of the light house, but it is being repaired. We were allowed to walk the grounds. It was a quick tour because the tide was raising fast. We didn't have much time before our kayaks were heading to Green Island without us.
We got to Green about 40 minutes before high tide. We paddled the island looking for the beach to land and have lunch. I knew it was there because I had lunched there this past winter... We must have landed there closer to low tide in Febuary because the beach was a tiny patch of rocks.
The best we could find for lunch was a disappearing pile of rocks between Green and Little Calf. We had an authentic sea kayaking lunch hunkered down watching the tide wash over our beach.
After lunch, we paddled over to Georges Island. Crossing the channel was exciting. There was a surprising amount of boat traffic.
At Georges Island, we took an extended break. Some people explored the fort, some people napped, and some just hung out on the beach.
From Georges Island, we made our way back to Hull. We had a long channel crossing and the Hull Gut to contend with before we were home. The current was against us and running at full strength.
For the crossing, the current was no big deal. However, the Gut was a challenge. The current was stacking up with a row of standing waves. These were confused by the boat traffic plying the Gut. Sticking close to shore would keep us out of the worst of the current. Sadly, none of us stayed close to shore. H nearly went over. I got spun around once. It was a lot of fun.
Despite the less than ideal planning, we had a nice time. The weather was perfect and the group was excellent. It goes to show that waiting a day for the wind to blow over is a good idea.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday on the Water

After some confusion about if there was going to be a paddle on the weekend, TM finally settled things by coordinating a paddle out of Wickford. His plan was a long trip that would appeal to level two paddlers.
The day started out a little chilly, but got progressively warmer. The wind was minimal. It was idyllic late summer weather.
We paddled down past the Jamestown Bridge and had lunch on Dutch Island. Then paddled back to Wickford with a quick detour into the bay behind Rome Point.
I did get a chance to play with some different paddles. I tried out RB's Werner paddle. It is very nice, but it foiled me in rolling. I managed a roll on one side, but not the other. TM seems to think that it is just that I'm not used to the blade shape....
I think TM is just trying to make me feel better.
It was a great chance to spend some time on the water with just the expectation of relaxing.