Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Tour – Remnants of Maritime Disasters - Castine, Maine

The abandoned remains of Gardiner G. Deering, a five masted schooner, lies in Smith Cove

From the history-drenched community of Castine come two tales. The first, of a spectre lingering on after one of the worst naval defeats in U.S. History. The second, hard evidence of a prophetic dream. Read on if you dare, but be warned: There is almost no kayaking involved!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Well Deserved Recognition

Congratulations to  Karen Francoeur, (Castine Kayak International Adventures) Brad Ryder (Epic Sports) and Jeff Strout (recently retired from Bangor Daily News).  They are shown above receiving Coast Guard Public Service Commendations for starting and continuing Bangor Paddle Smart, a kayak safety symposium which has reached over 3000 people since it began in 2001!

TV coverage of the award.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pictures in the Penobscot

 Humans are designed to see patterns; especially to find faces.
Faces need not be detailed; two triangles and a jagged line carved into a pumpkin, two dots and an arc, both are instantly recognized.
Humans are also hard wired to like symmetry, especially bilateral symmetry, which serves as a marker for good genetic strength.  So it is no surprise that we spot any number of fantastic creatures in the bedrock exposed by the falling tide on the shores of the Penobscot River.

On the right day, and at the right tide, it makes for a very distracting paddle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Long Pond, Mount Desert Island

Rounding Northern Neck
The waters off Mount Desert Island are one of my favorite places to paddle. But, with gale warnings in effect, it seemed best to stick to inland waters. Fortunately there are several possibilities on MDI. In fact, there are two ponds named “Long Pond.” We were headed for the Long Pond in Somesville. This Long Pond is five miles long; at each end is a boat ramp. Generally when I’ve driven Route 102 (aka Pretty Marsh Rd) by Long Pond, I have no chance to look around. Beside the 102 boat ramp there is a small beach and across from the beach/ramp is National Park Canoe and Kayak Rental. So my eyes are focused on the road and distracted canoe carters as well as errant children and pets. However, on the way back from Seal Cove, riding as a passenger, I happened to glance at the pond and realized how lovely it was, a narrow strip of water with mountains for a backdrop. We hoped it would be protected from the winds, and on Sunday it mostly was. I’ve read that a south wind can create a fair amount of havoc on the pond.
Some color along the western shore
The water seemed pretty tame, much tamer than we expected. Heading out from the landing, the initial cove was crowded with a variety of cottages. Some were simple cottages from the fifties, which would be at home on any lake in Maine. Others appeared significantly more likely to be summer housing for the well-heeled.
Once we’d made it around Northern Neck, much of the western shore was a part of Acadia National Park, as was tiny Rum Island.
Rum Island is to the left
With many paths criss-crossing it, Rum Island is well loved, and yet still lovely. Especially appropriate is the picture of Rum Island on Google Earth labeled “Insert Romantic Interlude Here.” I’m afraid our humble snack wasn’t quite a “Loaf of bread, a jug of wine” but there was a thou and a semi wilderness. Ah…...
We didn’t paddle all the way to the other end, but we did go as far as Duck Rock where we spied a few Acadian hikers, before we headed back to the start.
Documenting our successful paddle to Duck Rock, Beech Mountain in the distance
Afterward we drove into Bar Harbor, which was jammed with the passengers from two huge cruise ships. We watched as the schooner Mary Todd headed away from the dock, just far enough to turn around and sail into the more sheltered waters of Frenchman’s Bay.

We looked with great longing at the Porcupine Islands and the waves battering them. Fortunately, they’ll be there next paddling season as well.

Summary: Limited parking in season, portapottie.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Drysuit Rescue Practice

Going out is optional, coming back is mandatory – US Coast Guard saying

The most critical part of kayak paddling is making it back to shore. So we like to test a few things regularly:
First, if we capsize, can we get out of our boats easily?
Second, after dumping, can we get back into our kayaks quickly?
Finally, based on the ease of the rescue, under what circumstances are we likely to be successful?
With rain and wind due Thursday, it was time for our long-delayed drysuit rescue practice. We headed out to a nearby pond, suited up, acclimated ourselves to the water and attempted rolls and rescues.
Mark wanted to see if the ash paddle moved quickly enough for a successful roll. Good news, it did!

I wanted to try exiting from my Vaag and see if my baggy drysuit caught on anything. It didn’t, this time anyway.
And it was time to practice rescues, specifically a rescue we’d read about in the Spetember issue of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker, the Leg Hook Re-entry After a Capsize. This article was written by Wayne Horodowich. The leg hook rescue is much like the standard T-rescue, only rather than have the rescuee scramble onto the back of her kayak, she lifts one leg into the cockpit and leverages herself up from that. Here’s a video of the rescue.
My attempt was probably just as smooth ; ) One thing I discovered was that though the instructions noted the need to hook the leg in the cockpit as far as the knee, to leverage myself in I needed to push more leg into the boat first. But after that it was easy, and I appreciated that I didn’t need to climb over the spare paddles and pump I store on the back deck of the Vaag.
However we had trouble when I worked as the rescuer. It was hard for me to stabilize Mark’s boat enough for him to slide into the cockpit. I had my boat on its side, and draped myself over Mark’s boat. Still, I was not able, to keep water completely out of his cockpit. Fortunately, we have other rescues to fall back on.
Wayne, and others have written up many rescues for His philosophy, like ours, is if something doesn’t work for you, find what does. Ray Wirth, Water Walker Sea Kayak, has several rescue videos; others can generally be found on youtube by typing in the names.
Roll and rescue practice, certainly made me more comfortable when I headed out into the wind on the Penobscot River Saturday. I think my comfort level was not so much from the practice, but from the experience of being immersed in autumn water. I knew that the wet suit I was wearing was warm enough that I had lots of time to attempt rescues, and even enough time to swim to shore.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE: The water certainly wasn’t as cold as it will soon become. I didn’t have a thermometer, but after we’d finished the rescues and paddling I was hot so I tried swimming in just my under-layers. Based on how comfortable my un-gloved hands were, I would guess that the water was about 60 degrees. It was a 51 degree day, and after my swim I felt comfortable staying in my damp clothes while loading the kayaks back onto the car. Granted, the promised wind was missing, but it was nice to know that the fleece turtleneck and Coldpruf long underwear was warm when wet. Your comfort zones may vary. I have a pretty good tolerance for cold water, which is certainly aided by an internal wet suit I’ve built up over the years.

We probably won’t do any more rescue practices this year. Frankly it’s just too easy for me to imagine a cold water immersion practice going wrong. Just check out Chuck Sutherland’s site for some of the dangers. So as the water gets colder we’ll have fewer paddles, keep closer to shore on quieter waters, as well as beefing up our clothing. After all, like you, we have people counting on us making it back safely.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cold Stream Pond

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower – Albert Camus

Summary: Cold Stream Pond Concrete launch, swimming and tables at launch, portapottie.
Gaudy, gay-hued leaves are such a transient thing, and so impervious to command. It seems one week we will paddle by maples on a lake and see only green and the next week the trees are bare with curled up scraps of maroon beneath them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seal Cove MDI to McKenney Preserve

 A beautiful day and a new destination on the horizon....what more could one want?

Summary:  Launch Seal Cove, off Cove Rd. Concrete ramp and gravel beach beside ramp.  Portapotties.  High 9:00AM Launch 10:20AM, finish 1:30PM 11 Miles, one stop.

80 degrees!  80 degrees in Maine in October!  Of course we wanted to go out on the ocean.  We launched from Seal Cove initially thinking we might paddle east to Bass Harbor and back, but once on the water, in the benign conditions, Tinker Island called to us.