Sunday, January 19, 2014

Breaking Up an Ice Jam

   On the same day as our first paddle, at high tide (10:42AM) we headed to the Kenduskeag Stream in Bangor to view the ice jam.   The jam had been there for a couple days, created when rain and warming temperatures broke up ice upstream and sent it coursing to the mouth.  But where the Kenduskeag join the Penobscot, the Penobscot was still frozen solid, so the ice backed up, filling the canals with a jagged landscape.  At high tide the combination of ice and incoming water sometimes overflowed the banks, flooding parking lots.

  We wandered along the half mile jam, chatting with other voyeurs and snapping photos.  There was no flooding with this tide.

  Mid afternoon, (2PM-ish) two ice-breakers passed by our house; the Bridle and Tackle.    The Bridle has been clearing the river fairly regularly.  The last day I noted a pass-by was January 5, but I think it’s come since.  I’m not sure it goes up as far as the Bangor waterfront, but even if it has, with the cold temperatures, the river has frozen over again quickly. 
  Shortly after the icebreakers went up river, the Penobscot was once again filled with broken ice.  All afternoon chunks streamed by.
  A blurb on the five o’clock news mentioned the coast guard vessels were clearing a path to Bangor, which would allow the ice jam to flow free.  The anchor cut to a very dark Bangor waterfront, where a reporter was waiting for the ice breakers to come by.  The reporter had yet to see or hear them.  So after dinner we headed out by car to find where the ice breakers were.  We spotted the two vessels just south of Hamlin Marina/Hampden boat launch, working the river.  One at a time each breaker backed up, then moved steadily forward to strike solid ice.  On average each attack got the vessel forward one boat length (65 feet).  The second boat would back and drive forward slightly to the side, widening the path. 

  It was a beautiful night to be out; just at freezing on a still night.  Orion kept watch overhead, the January full moon slowly rose over Brewer, and the two ships kept charging at the ice.  
   We watched for 30-40 minutes.  The two breakers had made it about an eighth of a mile closer to Bangor by the time we left at 7 PM.  Not an eighth of a mile of cleared river, but an eighth mile of a narrow center path.  There was still over three miles of river to be cleared to reach the mouth of the Kenduskeag.  We heard later the two boats over nighted at Hamlin Marina

  Saturday we went to check on progress and found the boats working by the I-395 bridge.  We joined ice breaker enthusiasts on both sides of the river in watching the slow and steady progress.  

  Cars gathered at the waterfront, cameras were pointed, families gathered to watch boats battle ice.  It took two hours for the boats to go the three quarters of a mile from the bridge to the waterfront.

An hour and a half after the previous shot
  On shore the was a celebratory feel in the air, as we watched the Coast Guard wrest the Penobscot from winter's grip.
The Bridle, 65 feet long

  The impressiveness of this feat is best seen in a short video.   Video of the two ice breakers in action
   Notice the distance the icebreaker gets, watch how it tilts as it drives itself on top of the ice and imagine doing that hour after hour, mile after mile. 
    They did and by evening, the waterway was free...for awhile anyway.

  The ice jam is still in the Kenduskeag Stream.  There is a huge solid sheet of ice between the railroad bridge and Washington Street which needs to break up before the ice jam can flow through.  Perhaps that will happen next tide cycle.  Fortunately, the highest tides of the month passed without flooding.  And Bangor residents can see the Coast Guard did all it could to clear a path for that ice when it breaks.

  An earlier ice breaker related post:  On Board the Tackle 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

First Paddle

    I’m not sure it’s ever really wise to paddle in the winter, especially if it involves dragging my kayak across mounds of shore ice to access the water. 

   But it was wonderful get back on the water.  The ice was amazing, broken by the tide cycle, tossed to the shore - huge chunks of blue ice, rounded blobs of frozen snow, floating piles of skim ice.   

    Evergreen trees and high hills line our river.  Atop one pine, a pair of eagles investigated an old aerie.
  The river appeared clear, and since it was an incoming tide, we headed downstream so we’d see any large sheets of ice before they could block our landing.  Sure enough about a mile down river, we came upon a pack of ice.  Not a solid sheet, but it was jammed enough to stop us.

  Returning to our ramp, we needed to land on the ice strewn shore.  It was comforting to be in my dry suit, knowing I could wade or swim to the edge.  In this photo, I’m sitting on a firm ice chunk, while my boat floats on slush and thin ice layers.  I’m getting my ice creepers so I have a hope of walking without falling

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alternatives to Paddling - Crossword Puzzle Answer

The answer:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Alternatives to Paddling - Crossword Puzzles

I've been working on building a crossword puzzle, related to kayaking.  It seemed like an easy enough idea to start; kayak, canoe, lake - they have so many letters in common.   But, like all of life it turned out to be far more difficult.  Sure, it would start easily enough, but then I'd need a word that started with dk and ended with zt.   Anyway I preserved, (lots of ice and below zero days makes that easier to do) and now I have this:

It''s not perfect.  There are two two-letter words (rules require three letter words); one square does not have a secondary clue at all, and several clues are obscure.  But it contains a lesson I learned, so I thought I'd post it here.  Enjoy!

The clues:

1.  Not weak or soft
5.  VW model
10.  Western Hemisphere Org., initially
13.  Dull, continuous pain
14. Archaic wanderer
15.  Apple seed
16.  Part one of lesson learned while making this
18. Wrath
19.  New in Bonn
20.  Compass dir.
21.  Oft thought while creating this
22.  Part two of lesson
25.  What Sting did with Edin Karamazov
26.  The desire for this ruins many kayak rolls
27.  “Monic” and “thin” follower
28.  Large, dark birds
29.  1947 Dennis O’Keefe movie
31.  Moved quickly
33.  Employ
34.  State not to mess with
36. Low light level
38. Not to be left unturned
42.  Part three of lesson
44.  Part four of lesson
45.  Discovered on a Scrabble word site.  Also a Roman cloak
48. Poor paddling alternative, initially
50. Baffinpaddler’s lake
51.  Enlist for a third time?
52.  Part five of lesson
55.  Father of Aoris
56.  One paid to kayak
58.  Glee’s Michele
59.  Part five of lesson
60.  Prophet
61.  Can’t do it
65.  Zorba recites the alphabet?
66.  Laud
68.  Iranian currency
69.  An aid to golfing
70.  Final part of lesson

1.  60’s awesome
2.  Ward for the very ill, initially
3.  King snout-horned beast?
4.  Homer’s River
5.  Middle Brady girl
6.  A kind of moth
7.  Elf stunt double Ty
8.  A distinct pitch
9.  Adams or Poehler
10.  Drug containing opium
11.  USAF guys
12.  Disburses
14.  One who sees
17.  Period toward evening
21.  Fancy bedspreads
22.  American suffragette
23.  Of the ancient Mariner
24.  Two words which can finish this sentence:  “To shape a dugout wood you could use an ax --”
25.  Beverage made of yogurt
28.  Symbol for Ruthenium
30.  Italian city
32.  Zero
35.  Takei’s memorable role
37.  Allot
39.  Just one
40.  US Ocean Org., initially
41.  Abbrev. list enders
43.  Electric bug killers
45.  Former PLO chief
46.  NHL Flyer’s coach
47.  A fruit and a color
49.  Put a price on
52.  A type of waterwheel
53.  Fair type favored by the SCA
54.  Maldives money unit
57.  As ye sow, so shall ye …
60.  Luxurious retreat
62.  Storage container
63.  Fall behind
64.  Spanish article
67.  Neighbor to WY