One man's rush to jump on the kayaking bandwagon

Morning Sprint

I took out the boat for and early sprint. I took Heath's new padddle with me. I like the length (230cm), but not the shape. I've got a high angle stroke. There's no denying it.
output from my training software
output from my training software
00.25 nm    3.38 kts  3.89 mph
00.50 nm    3.26 kts  3.74 mph
00.75 nm    3.68 kts  4.23 mph
01.00 nm    3.58 kts  4.12 mph
01.25 nm    3.39 kts  3.90 mph
01.50 nm    3.41 kts  3.92 mph
01.75 nm    2.96 kts  3.41 mph
02.00 nm    2.52 kts  2.90 mph
02.25 nm    3.13 kts  3.60 mph
02.50 nm    3.43 kts  3.94 mph
02.75 nm    3.48 kts  4.00 mph
03.00 nm    3.34 kts  3.84 mph
03.25 nm    3.00 kts  3.45 mph
03.50 nm    3.92 kts  4.51 mph
03.75 nm    3.72 kts  4.28 mph
04.00 nm    3.60 kts  4.13 mph
04.25 nm    4.18 kts  4.81 mph
04.50 nm    4.06 kts  4.67 mph
04.75 nm    2.85 kts  3.28 mph
overall     3.42 kts   3.93 mph
avg spd     2.83 kts   3.25 mph
distance    4.68 nm    5.38 sm
duration   01:39:22
tags: lake

May 28, 2007

Weekend at the lake, including long paddles and entertaining friends and family

Heath and I met Jean up at Smith Mountain Lake for a weekend of paddling and picnicking. (It's kind of like kayak camping for people who like to sleep in real beds.)
Heath and I on Smith Mountain Lake
Heath and I on Smith Mountain Lake
After today's longer paddle on Smith Mountain Lake, I decided to finally give rolling a shot. I'd never been upside down in a kayak before, either intentionally or accidentally. I felt it was time to do something about that.
The wind was blowing fairly hard and there was a lot of boat traffic. Jean's place on the lake has two docks that jut out into the lake. I decided to tie my bowline off to the upwind dock to keep my kayak from blowing away. Being between the docks would offer protection from boat traffic.
I decided that I'd try doing a wet exit just to make sure there were no surprises. I took a deep breath and leaned over. I was upside down before I knew it. I grabbed the release loop on my spray skirt and swam to the surface. No surprises so far.
I grabbed the bow of my kayak, lifted it up while kicking as hard as I could, and then flipped the kayak over. It was surprisingly effective at emptying out the water. I pulled my boat back over to the pier and got back in for my first rolling attempt.
I leaned over to one side, placing my paddle parallel to the side of the boat. Once I came to a stop, I then attempted some movement that is sort of like what people do when they roll. I got my head out of the water, but that was about it. I tried a once more and then popped the skirt.
Unsuccessful rolling attempt
Unsuccessful rolling attempt
Rather than climbing out, I decided to try just re-entering the boat while it was upside down and then rolling back up. Getting in the boat was no problem, but getting back up never happened. After around 10 more attempts, I was exhausted and ready to give up.
I know I never had a chance. I wasn't even wearing my PDF. I just had to know if I could figure it out on my own. I still think I can. I just need more visualization practice.
I wouldn't call all of this a failure. It was at least entertaining for Heath and Jean. Jean took quite a few videos with her camera. I will admit, I looked quite inept.
tags: lake

May 27, 2007

First outing with the new kayak

Get it down from the top of the car without dropping it. Check. Cary it down to the water. Check. Load up all my stuff. Much easier since the hatches actually come on and off easily. Get in the boat. Easier than with my Tsunami.
Attach the spray skirt. It fits perfectly. I guess I'll need a real neoprene skirt now that I have a real boat. Oops. Almost flipped over. I miss those two and a half inches. Wide, overloaded boat means stability. Narrow, lightly loaded boat, and a nervous kayaker means things are a little tense. That's good. That's what I wanted.
I paddle a mile or so. It feels familiar, but better. It's time to fiddle with everything that can be adjusted. I find a sandy bit of shoreline and get out. I adjust the seat, eat lunch, and stretch. And stretch some more. And then some more. By body is still really tight from the drive home yesterday. I adjust the backband so it no longer pinched my ass fat.
I get back in the boat and paddle a few more miles. Lot's of idiots out today means lot's of wake. Turns out this British Sea Kayak thing actually handles boat wakes pretty well. This Nigel guy seems to know his stuff. Even handles the dreaded Coast Guard attack conditions without even a hint of twitch. I guess it helps to have a pointy end at both ends.
Those real rubber hatch covers get much hotter than the ones on my Tsunami. I lifted up the back hatch cover and air rushed out like the hatch was inflated.
I return to my put in spot after around 12 miles of so. Took about an hour less than the last time I did 12 miles. I love this boat.
tags: gear, lake

May 20, 2007

The software

There's always software.
I'm always curious to see where I've been, how far I went, and how fast I was going when I caught that boat wake. It really helps to see it mapped out. It's hard to tell the difference between the short sprint and the strong current by just looking at GPS data. The map makes it clear.
the map
the map
The track is color coded based on the speed. The red X's indicate the point of maximum speed. The scale lists the speed in knots, mph, and the percentage of the trip done at that speed. (In the above example, I was going between 3 and 4 kts for a majority of the trip.)
The software also generates a textual output that breaks down the trip by distance.
distance     avg kts   avg mph   
00.50 nm    3.38 kts  3.88 mph
01.00 nm    2.80 kts  3.22 mph
01.50 nm    3.28 kts  3.77 mph
02.00 nm    3.47 kts  3.99 mph
02.50 nm    3.09 kts  3.56 mph
03.00 nm    3.65 kts  4.19 mph
03.50 nm    3.31 kts  3.81 mph
04.00 nm    3.17 kts  3.64 mph
04.50 nm    2.94 kts  3.38 mph
05.00 nm    3.41 kts  3.92 mph
05.50 nm    2.63 kts  3.02 mph
06.00 nm    3.49 kts  4.02 mph
06.50 nm    3.26 kts  3.75 mph
07.00 nm    3.43 kts  3.94 mph
07.50 nm    3.17 kts  3.64 mph
08.00 nm    3.47 kts  3.99 mph
08.50 nm    2.94 kts  3.38 mph
09.00 nm    2.95 kts  3.39 mph
09.50 nm    3.00 kts  3.45 mph
10.00 nm    3.00 kts  3.45 mph
10.50 nm    2.87 kts  3.30 mph
overall     3.18 kts  3.66 mph
avg spd     2.49 kts  2.86 mph
distance   10.32 nm  11.87 sm
duration   04:09:05
On this trip, I paddled 10.32nm at an average speed of 2.49kts. 3.18kts was the average speed while actually moving. On this trip, I stopped for about 20 minutes to visit nature and eat lunch. This reduced my overall average speed from 3.18kts to 2.48kts.
For comparison, here is a GPSVisualizer map of this trip.
tags: software

May 19, 2007

An upgrade

I got my first electric guitar when I was in 10th grade. Like most kids forced to take piano lessons, I hardly ever touched the piano but played my guitar every second I could. After a couple of years, I got pretty good. But, I still couldn't play like Steve Vai (and for some reason, playing just like Steve Vai seemed like a sensible thing to do at the time.) I blamed my guitar. Steve had the genius Japanese scientists crafting custom guitars. I had a $150 Yamaha somethingoanother that I'd painted blue and green. Obviously, you can't play like Steve Vai on one of those.
Thanks to a going out of business sale, I managed to buy a glow-in-the-dark, yellow and pink, Steve Vai Ibanez Jem 777. It had the classic hand grip, a fully locking and floating tremolo, and it came with a case lined with pink fabric. (In my defense, it was still the 80's.) No more excuses. If I couldn't play like Steve Vai on Steve Vai's guitar, it was my fault, not the guitar's. I practiced and practiced and was eventually able to play most Steve Vai songs note for note.
I guess you could say that today I bought Steve Via's kayak.
I wanted a kayak I could take anywhere. I wanted a kayak that has been everywhere and done everything. I wanted something I couldn't blame for my mistakes. I wanted to know that if I failed, I failed, and not the kayak.
The technical criteria were as follows:
  • fiberglass - no more plastic and I can't afford kevlar
  • must not be slow - It doesn't have the be fast, but it can't be slow
  • no more than 22" wide - unlike my wife, I do not want a floating recliner
  • I have be able to get my fat ass into it
The short list included the NDK Explorer, Valley Aquanaut, and the Nigel Foster Legend. Yes, they are all big, British, skeg-boats. No, I don't like rudders.
I found an Explorer on a trip up to Virginia and was quite surprised that I had no trouble getting in and out. The problem was that the thigh braces were too low.
I called around to try to find an Aquanaut and the only one I could find as an RM version in GA. No thanks.
I found a Legend in a rental fleet at a place in Carolina Beach, NC. I didn't rent it, but I didn't need to. I just didn't like it. I can't tell you why specifically. I just didn't like it.
I then began the quest for a NDK Explorer HV. A place in Swansboro had one in their demo fleet. Before I could make arrangements to demo it, I saw that Appomattox River Company a 2004 demo model for sale in Yorktown, VA.
The day I picked up the kayak was colder than usual with some light rain. It was only fitting. British kayaking weather for a British kayak.
My NDK Explorer HV
My NDK Explorer HV
tags: gear

May 19, 2007

Kayak Race at Wrightsville Beach

I can be very competitive. Sometimes. When I feel like it. I don't hate to loose. I'm not one of those types. I just hate looking like I don't know what I'm doing. The nervousness of not knowing where I need to be or what I need to do is just a distraction. When I was swimming, I always felt more focused at a pool I'd been to a few times.
I had never been to a kayak race before. I had no idea how they worked, how they started, or anything else about them. I also had no idea if I was even ready to compete. So this time, I just watched.
The start of the race
The start of the race
It turns out, I'm not ready. I guess it makes sense that PFD's are required. I'll need to get one that actually fits. It also appears that there is a wide variety of competitors. Someone actually paddled my wife's Dirigo. The surfskis obviously won, but the sea kayaks we're too far behind. I have no idea how my Tsunami compares.
I think I can do this. There is another race in November. I'm going to enter.
tags: coastal

May 12, 2007