April showers bring May flowers and hundreds of racers (Jean included) to the Run of the Charles, Boston’s premier paddling race and signature event of the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA). Wanna win? Bring your “wing” — and a pair of geek engineers (Alex and bro, Curt, mechanical and aerospace, respectively) to explain:
Enough with the orbital mechanics! Gimme that paddle, the race is starting!
Six miles, 1:10:28 and one downpour later Jean crossed the finish line and sprinted for the food truck. She placed first in the Sea Kayak K1 (Women) and won the raffle! A lovely rainjacket from Charles River Apparel. (Hmmm, coulda used that earlier…) More photos from our day below 🙂 🙂
A beautiful April morning in Artesani Park
How many engineers does it take to affix a race number?
World’s best wingmen, Alex and Curt
Name of the band and probably the whole endeavor
Scorekeepers at work
We started in April and ended in “November”–brrrr!
Recently, a NYC paddler listed his used PaddleOne kayak erg for sale online. Dov (aka, kayakdov) beat us to it, but he kindly tossed it into his car—at <30 pounds, it is quite tossable—so we got to test it apres-real-paddle, post-Dov’s-Subaru. (Drysuits optional, haha!). Click for video.
Our take on it: As apartment dwellers, we like the small footprint it requires and the fact that it’s easily stashed into a corner. But we weren’t too keen on the simplistic “paddle” and rather rough approximation of paddlestroke it allowed. For now, we figure we’ll just get out on the water and breathe fresh air—even if we do have to layer up, zip up and shut up already about the cold. It’s January! 🙂 🙂
Finally! We pulled our new GoPro out of the box and stuck it on Jean’s kayak. (In between those two events, much swearing and fumbling for reading glasses…have you seen how tiny the pieces are??? You need tweezers to install the memory card!) But we did it. TA-DAAAH!! Our first action-y video—5/31 paddle from HHYC in Larchmont to Echo Bay in New Rochelle. 🙂
Oh, yeah—we’re checking the box on our TBD (To Be Done!) Thursday post about getting a GoPro. The next TBD: learn to use it.
While other club members were busy raking and painting and sweating on HHYC Clean-Up Day, we tiptoed to our yaks and stealth-paddled off towards a campsite on Shea Island in Norwalk, CT. First break on our 20-mile journey: Great Captains Island near Greenwich, CT.
Just as we were taking this picture, a distant roar grew louder…
Um, what? It’s a motorboat. It’s a hydroplane. It’s…
…um, we don’t know what the hell it is!
“It’s a quadski,” says the guy. A 140 HP Gibbs Sports Amphibian, to be exact.
Uh-huh. Ok, well, here are facts about this new thing we’re going to have to dodge: The quadski zooms up to 45 mph on land and water. It costs about $40,000. And for an extra $3,000 you can get it in custom colors, including “camo” (camouflage)…LOL, as if that’s going to help you sneak away from Clean-Up Day!
Shiny new toy, painful new drysuit 🙂
You don’t want to miss the manufacturer’s crazy loud action video. Click below. And then you, too, will have seen everything.
Cherry blossoms! Daffodils! Warmer air means mothballing our sweaters and digging out the T-shirts—this week’s TBD (to be done!). But not so fast with those drysuits and Polartec® underlayers…
Kayakers have to dress for the water, not the air. And at the moment our water is 45° F. Brrrrrr!
In Spring, the sun is shining, the air’s balmy…and folks jump the gun, not thinking about the possibility of capsize. Hypothermia is a huge risk if you aren’t dressed properly. Sadly, a tragedy occurs every spring, as predictable as the equinox. This just in from upstate on the Hudson River—no PFD, no cold-water protection. (And as of this writing, no trace of the guy.)
But back to happier thoughts! First, here’s how all this can be avoided, and the geeky science behind it.
To celebrate the arrival of spring, we crossed the Sound from Larchmont to Sands Point, Long Island, in the excellent drysuited company of Jim and Bea. Photos from a couple of weekends ago.
Let’s talk about two key pieces of gear: 1) the contact tow and 2) the scopolamine patch. The former is a rather short towline (3x the distance between your boat’s decklines) with a clip on each end. The latter is a small Band-Aid-like thing that, stuck behind the ear, keeps Jean from throwing up! (She gets seasick in lumpy water when not paddling vigorously…Her motto: To bob is to gurk. We’ll cross-stitch it on a pillow someday.) On Sunday, we were batting 500…
Luke shows Step #1: Looping a North Water contact tow between front decklines
Step #2: Crossing the contact tow for versatility.
All is revealed in this video of Gordon Brown’s contact tow technique:
On Sunday morning, we launched into perfectly calm waters. But 11 NMs and one circumnav of City Island later, conditions got pretty bouncy (or as some people say, “gurky”…). Close to HHYC, scopolamine-patchless Jean turned green. Thanks to Luke’s contact towing and Alex’s tow of both parties in the wind, we happily covered the last few yards to shore. What are friends for? 🙂
You might find this topic less than exciting, but that’s the point: avoiding the excitement of getting your iPhone all wet! Friends recently had a lengthy back-and-forth email discussion about their smartphone “dry” bags (lots of fails), but we think we may have found the holy grail: the Clutch Smartphone Case from Watershed. We plan to buy and try…to be done.
Here’s the product description:
This brand new, versatile case protects all your important stuff from water, moisture, dust, sand and greasy fingers. A clear, usable window encases your smartphone, while an adjacent window allows you to have your ID handy. Pockets for cash and cards allow for quick access when fully open, yet secure once the Clutch is snapped closed. The main zippered compartment protects any documents or other small items you want to keep dry and on hand. The fully waterproof, submersible closure is made in Germany, and is hidden and protected when you fold and snap the Clutch closed.
- Window for your smartphone still enables you to use it
- Main compartment fits standard sized documents 8.5 in X 11 in
- German designed TiZip technology provides submersion up to 16ft or 5m
- Colors: Orange, Blue, Coyote, Black, & Clear
It comes in orange too? Now you’re talking. BTW, if this case proves to be anywhere near as good as the company’s duffels and kayak drybags, our intrepid friends Johna and Vlad (aka, Wind Against Current) will be thrilled. See how their horizontally-closing Watershed bags held up during the 300-mile Everglades Challenge 2014.
We’re not endorsing anything here (remember, we haven’t even bought the thing yet!). Just wanted to show you how this gear made our TBD “to be done” list. The video (below) may inspire you to put it on yours, too.
As much as we enjoy indoor pool sessions, there’s nothing like the great outdoors—even if it is frozen. Video below: David and Luke hack their way out of Grass Island, CT:
After last Sunday’s pool session, Jean, Luke and David dried off and car-topped for the pleasure (?) of “paddling uphill” against a gusty SW headwind, to Calf Island, near Greenwich, CT. Upon arrival, David found his comfort zone in the frozen salt marsh.
Dave’s secret? Muck boots. He swears by them. Here, he chills out while staying toasty-warm, making it ice-crystal clear why we should all get a pair for ourselves.
Outtakes from our afternoon, now frozen in time…
Jean tries her tuilik on for the first time. She is thrilled. Floyd (left) is oblivious.
Sorry, Ralph Lauren. But this is the new “it” thing for winter. Jean’s made-to-measure tuilik has finally arrived! Just in time for seal-hunting season (Greenland) and indoor-pool rolling practice at the YWCA (Greenwich).
A tuilik is an Inuit invention. Traditionally, it’s a sealskin garment that seals the paddler into their kayak via strings that are pulled tightly around the wrists and face and cockpit to create watertight seals. (A record number of “seals” in one sentence!)
Jean’s new Reed Chillcheater tuilik, by contrast, is polyurethane/polyester Aquatherm versus seal epidermis. But, like the original article, it keeps cold water out of your ears (important) and is so insulating that you quickly become Your Own Personal Steam Sauna. As the manufacturer’s website says, “it’s like having a paddle jacket, spray skirt and hood all rolled into one!”
Speaking of rolling, a tuilik also adds an element of buoyancy. Click arrow for video (1/10/15 at Greenwich pool; film credits to Jorge for swimming all over the deep end with camera!):
You know you want one! Order your own made-to-measure tuilik through the Kayakways online store.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as… Willy!
Meet Jean’s new kayak, which we’ve named Willy (as in “free” per the killer whale flick…).
A yak whose slender hull is prest
Against Pier 40’s flowing breast…
A boat that looks so good all day
We’ve got to lift a glass and say:
Enough with the Joyce Kilmer already. Let’s paddle!
Yes, “Willy” the Tiderace Xplore S (as in, small, as in low-volume) floats. And flies. And rolls (Jean-dependent). In fact, last weekend at an indoor pool session, she performed such a Frankenstein sweep-C2C-wha?? roll that everyone guffawed and gave sleek, black-and-white-striped Willy a new name—Zonkey. That’s a zebra crossed with a donkey, in case you didn’t know.
OK then—cheers to Willy Z. And to Randy H. at New York Kayak Company in NYC, where we bought the new yak. Same afternoon, Willy Z’s maiden (?) voyage on L.I. Sound coincided with HHYC Commissioning Day. How handy, they even had champagne!
On our paddle, we discovered another new boat near Mamaroneck Harbor. So new, it’s not even a ship yet. Probably 100 feet, when it grows up.
You can see other bloggers’ interpretations of this week’s photo challenge, Works of Art, here.
Bon voyage 🙂