Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Video from Sunday

Messin with the video

Little Long is a small lake on the west side of the cities and is off the radar for most boaters because it is so small. There are boat motor limitations also ... so no jet-skis or speed boats. Perfect for an afternoon paddle. When I first started, I set the camera up and hit the button to "start" the video, but I had forgotten to set it up for video. So in this little clip I had already spent about 20 minutes of vigorous rolling before I discovered my little mistake.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's your "Go To"

A go to rescue is the one when everything goes the hell in a hand basket, and you need to fix it. If you are a proficient roller, it may be a simple matter of a setup, and roll. But what if the unthinkable happens … you’re swimming, the water’s cold, and you are solo. The wave caught you by surprise … you were surfing and caught an edge on a monster wave … what ever … your bombproof roll just bombed, you had to bail out, and you need to get back in your boat. If you are a good roller you may do a re-enter and roll and think nothing of it. Why can’t a first year paddler do the same with a paddle float? We tend to teach the standard paddle float rescue as a first line of defense, I bet we’d be surprised how many people could do a reasonable re-enter and roll with a paddle float, if we would show them how easy it really is. The re-enter and roll is a much faster recovery than the standard paddle float rescue, and when the water is cold, time is everything. And if you give someone the tools to work with, they may just surprise you and take the time and learn to roll without the float. Rolling a kayak should be a basic rescue, not an advanced rescue. A paddle float should be a part of our kit … no matter how skilled we think we are.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time to sell the NDK

I bought it as a demo boat in 2004 from Midwest Mountaineering, did many trips in it, and learned a lot about kayaking in it. When it first came into production it was called the Poseidon, a year or so later they called it the Romany HV. Now the new version the Romany S, is a bit different. Chris G had one at the NLQS Gathering, and after looking at it closely, there are some subtle differences. Especially the deck and cockpit opening size, the hull may be a bit flatter on the S also. At any rate, with the Nordkapp, and an SOF I have some good boats to paddle. And you never know ... I may find something new!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Boat!

Now there's a smile that says "New Boat!" Congrats on the new Valley Aquanaut Courtney!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Roll or Die

Early this Spring I signed up for the Canoe U Refresher Course and spent a weekend with the Rapids Riders. The white water mentality is quite a bit different when it comes to rescues/rolling. A person could spend a lifetime paddling in a sea kayak and never need to learn to roll … as long as that paddling time is on relatively calm water. Even paddling on the Great Lakes if you choose your conditions carefully, a person could get by with basic self rescue skills. With white water, once you pop the spray skirt and bail … you are swimming, and not getting back in the boat. A self rescue at this point is not an option. Rocks, strainers, nasty holes, and all the bad things in the river you are now confronted with. You now have to rely on another person for rescue, and chase a boat down the river.
When I bailed out of the boat last spring and ended up swimming, Dave had to drag me out of the river, and Kent had the rather unglamorous job of chasing my boat down the river. But I hung onto my paddle, no way I was going to drop it. Dave drug me through two sets of rapids before he was able to catch an eddy and we were able to get to shore, and I still hung onto the paddle. I have to wonder why I felt it was so much more important to hang onto the paddle, than it was to keep trying to roll up. I know I would have eventually come up and stayed up. As a sea kayaker I have more options, I can roll, paddle float rescue, scramble back in, or with another person I do a T rescue. Even in 4 to 6 foot waves on Lake Superior, you have a fighting chance to get back in your boat. In white water, you are swimming.
So what made me choose plan b over plan a? I remember getting flipped forward and the feeling like the hole had a hold of the boat, and wasn’t letting go. I could feel the water trying to pull me out of the boat. I did try and sweep the paddle up for a roll, but couldn’t seem to get things into position quickly enough. Then a little wave of panic hit me. I grabbed the loop and pulled.
As a solo sea kayaker, if I go over on a 6 mile crossing and loose my paddle, I am toast. What I learned early on was DON’T LOOSE YOUR PADDLE! It may be far more important to learn early on to roll.
Years ago if a person wanted to get a pilots license, they had to do spin training. They had to take an airplane up high, induce a spin, and recover. Over the years designers made planes more spin proof, and the spin training was scaring people from learning to fly. So they dropped the spin training from the curriculum. Airplanes can still get into a spin if treated improperly, and a predictable number of people die in spins every year. I took aerobatic training early on as a pilot, and learned spins along with a lot of other fun maneuvers. I think it made me a safer pilot. I believe in spin training, and I think rolling should be taught as soon as a person starts kayaking, in a sea kayak or white water.
Photo credits to Chris G

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rolling Wednesday

A week of perfect weather, and with just enough time after work to load the boat and gear for the last hour of sunlight, one just has to take advantage of it. I caught Dave in a couple rolls Wednesday night. Although not in the video clip, I was able to coach him through a nice storm roll Wednesday night ... Way to go!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall Ball

I try and make as many club events as I can, for the most part I do pretty well. The "Fall Ball" is an annual paddling event put together by SKOAC members, and has been well attended in years past. This year it took place on Sand Island in the Apostles, it's an easy 3 mile crossing so most people can make the trip. Then there are the sea caves on the North side of the island only a short paddle from the group camping areas. You need to have calm conditions to get into the caves for some exploring.

I think the first part of our group that made it up on Friday had the opportunity to check them out, but by the time Chris, Lori, and I made it up, the wind and waves had gotten to the point that it was fun playing outside the caves, but getting into them was a bad idea. By the time we made it back to camp to set up tents, it started to rain ... I think it pretty much rained the whole rest of the day and into the night. Now my good friend and fellow blogger Dave has stated "there's no such thing as bad weather, just crummy gear", There is some truth to that! But camping in the rain is just that ... camping in the rain. Even though the weather was doing its best to dampen every ones spirits, you can see in the top photo plenty of happy faces. Of course a lamb on a spit, plenty of great food, some wine, and a huge tarp sure helped!

Now if you paddle the Solstice GT Titan like paul ... you can bring the lamb on a spit, plenty of creature comforts, and the largest tent I've every seen brought to the islands in a kayak! I did walk past his kayak before the crossing back and there was nothing tied to the top of the deck!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Boat

An older skin on frame kayak was donated to Qajaq USA for the Traditional Paddlers Gathering silent auction last weekend, after walking by it a number of times I just couldn't resist trying it on for size ... just in case it might fit. Well, it turned out to be a perfect fit. I had paddled a number of SOF kayaks at the Gathering by then, and was sceptical I would fit in any boat other than one that was made for me. I put my bid in on the boat and by the end of the night, I was the proud owner of my first skin on frame kayak. Sunday morning was a real treat discovering the way it handles on the water. It has a few leaks, and is in need of recovering, but it is a perfect fit. I couldn't be happier with it. It's still plenty safe for a while yet, but this Winter will be a good time to do the recovering, Ceconite will probably be my covering of choice since my day job is an aircraft tech. I does roll nice!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Traditional Paddlers Gathering

A weekend in Northern Minnesota at the "Traditional Paddlers Gathering", put together this year by Alex and Chris from the "Northern Lights Qajaq Society" was for me, an outstanding learning experience with some great instructors, and a weekend meeting many new people, and getting together again with some good friends. My goal this weekend was to come out with a better understanding of the balance brace and recovery techniques ... I came home with that and much more! I didn't get a chance to work with all of the mentors this weekend, but working with Dan Segal, and Will Bigelow on the balance brace really put some things together for me. I was able to do a somewhat decent balance brace by the end of the weekend. Will also spent some time with me on Sunday working on my forward recovery rolls, something I thought I had a good handle on really improved with his help.

Now what I didn't expect while trying some of the different SOF kayaks over the weekend was how different they can feel rolling ... the not so subtle difference between a "plank" roller, and a "log" roller. Alex had me try a kayak he describes as a "plank" roller ... I felt like I was cheating! In no time at all Alex had me doing hand rolls, behind the head rolls, spine rolls, and an effortless balance brace. I don't think I'll be able to repeat those in the Nordkapp. But I can honestly say I was doing some ok hand rolls ... Thanks Alex!

The harpoon contest put together by Jeff Bjorgo was a hoot! I made it to the finals, but didn't place, to see a bunch of kayaks chasing and throwing harpoons at a blown up 6 foot long orca towed by Jeff was quite a sight!

I didn't get a chance to work with Cheri and Turner like I had hoped, there where just to many good mentors there to work with them all. I'll have to make it a point to get out East soon and try again.