One man's rush to jump on the kayaking bandwagon

Paddle around the island

I paddled up the waterway and then out the inlet at the north end of the island. I then paddled from way down there:
to way down there:
Just under 12 nm.
tags: coastal

September 01, 2012

Cedar Key 2012

Paddled around 22nm over 3 days.
Seahorse Key
Seahorse Key
Racing the storm
Racing the storm
Snake Key
Snake Key
tags: coastal

July 14, 2012

Paddling around Cedar Key, FL

3 days of paddling around Cedar Key, FL.
tags: coastal

June 13, 2010

Snow at the beach

tags: coastal

February 14, 2010


More surfing over the sand bar.

August 28, 2009

Rotary Cooling

Rolling. It seems like it is what separates the real paddlers from the plastic bathtub jockey's. I believe that today might be the day I finally earned the right to call myself a real paddler, at least according to those that value rolling above all else.
I was looking forward to a long paddle up to the north end of Wrightsville Beach, but the humidity and impending thunderstorms made me reconsider. The wind was calm and the humidity high. I decided to work on rolling.
I struggled with rolling for a long time before finally figuring it out last summer. I never developed it to the point where it was reliable, I fell out of practice, and I eventually lost it. The last time I was at the beach, I spent some time upside down and eventually developed a fairly consistent sweep roll. Whatever muscle memory I developed then seemed to have evaporated as the sweep roll was again elusive.
Between my morning and afternoon paddles, I spent some time watching Nigel Foster's Rolling and Bracing and decided that I was making it too hard on myself. As soon as I hit the water, I nailed a C to C roll on both my on and off sides. It felt very natural and effortless -- just like I thought it should.
tags: coastal

July 26, 2009

Paddling on the 4th

The weather was in the low 80's. The wind was blowing just enough to keep everything cool. A perfect day for a trip out in the ocean to the Johnny Mercer Pier and back.
tags: coastal

July 04, 2009

Very happy 4th

The plan was to paddle around to the front of Masonboro Island and do some surfing. Let me put it this way, I chickened out.
tags: coastal

July 03, 2009

Paddling around Ft. Monroe

I grew up in Hampton, VA. Even though it is surrounded by water on three sides, I can count the number of times I was on a boat on one hand. I've looked forward to paddling in my home town for a long time, but was reluctant to give it a shot until I had more experience. The water around Hampton has a reputation for being a little wild.
This was one of those infrequent one-way paddles. My father dropped my off at the Sunset Creek boat ramp. The plan was to meet me at the north end of Grandview Beach a few hours later. I left around 11:00am hoping that once I rounded Ft. Monroe, the tide would be headed out.
The paddle out the Hampton River and around Hampton University was a lot of fun. It was the first time in at least 20 years that I saw Hampton from the water. As I rounded the point at Ft. Monroe, it became quite rough and apparent that I had not timed the tide correctly. The wind and the current were both heading straight towards the sea wall that runs the length of Ft. Monroe. The resulting confused seas forced me about a quarter mile off shore.
About halfway from the point to Buckroe Beach, I nearly paddled into a large loggerhead turtle. It seemed to be about 4 feet across. Other than the usual dolphins and menhaden, I haven't seen much in the way of wildlife. This was quite a treat.
As I reached the Buckroe Beach pier, I decided to end my punishing struggle against the current. I timed the waves perfectly and rode a small wave onto the beach. As I was getting out, my foot became caught in my still attached paddle leash. In the few seconds it took me to get untangled, a wave came in and grabbed my kayak. It knocked me over as the dumping surf pulled it back away from the beach. I decided to settle for being drug across the rocky bottom than to try and swim after my kayak in the surf.
Luckily, my father had decided to visit the new restaurant at the pier and saw the whole thing. That saved me a call. Overall, it was not a very enjoyable paddle, but I can't wait to try it again.
tags: coastal

May 30, 2009

Masonborro Island

I paddled up the ICW the length of Masonborro Island.
tags: coastal

May 24, 2009

Charleston Harbor

Heath, Susan and I went paddling in Charleston harbor this afternoon. We put in at the north western tip of Sullivan Island. We followed the shoreline shoreline of Mt. Pleasant north up to Hog Island and back. The weather was perfect. Just enough waves to make things fun, but not too much for Heath. According to Susan, it was a marathon paddle. Little does she know, I usually go twice as far as we did today.
I'm excited about coming back.

April 18, 2009

Early Spring Weather

Heath and I made the most of the early spring weather by heading down to the beach for the weekend. Heath's father watched Kate while we both went out for a nice paddle on Saturday morning. This was only Heath's second time out since Kate was born and she was very much looking forward to it. We padded west through the marsh to the ICW, then turned south toward Masonborro Island. We came back up through the inlet to Banks Channel. After a nice lunch at Sweet & Savory, I headed back out to go through my usual boat control routine.
I headed out again early Sunday morning. I was a little sore from the previous day, but still managed to get in about 8 miles.
tags: coastal

February 08, 2009

Catching up

Due to a crazy work schedule and a lot of travel, it's been a couple of months since I've hit the water or updated this site. I feel like I've missed too much.
Salt Marsh Kayak had it's last race and then closed it's rental facility on Wrightsville Beach. redesigned their site. I hate it.
It seems that Epic Kayaks and Confluence are joining Current Designs, Necky Kayaks, and Point65n Kayaks in moving their kayak production to China. On one hand, this is horrible. On another, maybe they will actially be able to build a decent fiberglass/composite kayak. Maybe I've just had bad luck, but from my experience, no one in the US, UK, or Canada can make a fiberglass kayak without some kind of construction flaw.
tags: coastal

November 26, 2008

Weekend with friends

Pat and Kara came down to the beach for the weekend. We did all the usual things. We swam in the ocean during a thunderstorm, ate way too much fried seafood, and survived a death march paddle. I thought it was a nice short paddle. It seems that it was a little long for them.
Its been almost 2 years since I last paddled Jean's bathtub. Despite it's obvious shortcomings as a kayak, it's a blast to paddle. For some reason, my Explorer was not very popular with the crowd. It seems that the seat is uncomfortable. Who knew.
We saw the usual dolphins and drunk boaters. At one point, I could see 18 kayaks in the channel. Either Wrightsville beach is becoming more popular with kayakers or the entire sport is growing more than I ever thought possible.
tags: coastal

July 28, 2008

Surfing Part 2

Not every paddling outing gets a writeup. Some just don't warrant it and some officially never happened. The first time I took my Explorer surfing was one of those trips. I was fine, the kayak was fine, so it was a success. As with aircraft landings, any surfing attempt you can walk away from is a good surfing attempt. Today was my second attempt at surfing. This time, I was not alone. I was with Matt Carrier. He has quite a bit of experience surfing and despite his claims, he seems to know what he's doing. I still don't.
Matt and I paddled out Masonborro inlet and turned south in front of Masonborro island. Matt noticed the smooth waves and suggested we surf. I figured, why not? I have most of my earthly possessions on my front deck, my boat is for sale, I'm way in over my head, what can go wrong?
My first run in went fairly well. On my way back out, I lost everything on my deck. Matt and I managed to grab everything and I stuffed it in my day hatch. On my next run in, I decided to find a small wave. I found one and somehow managed to not see the big on right behind it. I tried to roll back up, but I was still in the surf and it was a waste of energy. I went for a swim and then rode the surf up the beach.
I decided that it was time for Matt to try out my HV in the surf. He loved it. I enjoyed watching someone who knew what they were doing.
At this point, you'd think I'd do something smart, like say, stop while everything was still intact. But, sadly, no. I had to give it one more shot.
I believe it's called wiping out. Not only was it ugly, I lost my nice sunglasses.
Matt and I headed back in the inlet and over to the mass of boats that had collected behind Masonborro to celebrate Memorial Day. We greatly enjoyed the scenery. We narrowly avoided getting run over by drunk boaters and peed on by drunk losers. We were mocked for our funny outfits by drunk bikinis, and made to look old and slow by some young punk on a surfski. It was a great day.
tags: coastal

May 25, 2008

2008 Wrightsville Beach Challenge Sea Kayak Race

To race or not? Is kayaking just fun, or is it a sport? Can it be both? This was my first kayak race and I was a little nervous about how I would do. I've paddled 6+ miles many times before, but I've never really done any training at all. I was worried that I'd have no endurance at all, but the issue was just that I was consistently slow. I placed right in the middle of the pack. Not bad for a couch potato who's only been semi-seriously paddling about 14 months.
Is there such thing as a perfect racing kayak? Some say that a racing kayak must be long, skinny, and posses a rudder. And it should come with a wing paddle. By those criteria, an NDK ExplorerHV is not a racing kayak. The wind was blowing from the west so I had the wind abeam for almost all of the race. I never could find the right amount of skeg for the conditions. Too much skeg and the current and wind blew me into the piers. To little, and the boat wakes and wind sent me of in the other direction. Having a rudder would have been nice, but obviously not necessary.
The winner of the race, Matt Lewis, paddled a Gulfstream. Matt Carrier, the 4th place finisher also used a skeg boat.
Except for the surfski's, none of the usual racing kayaks entered this year. There were no QCC's or Epic's this year.
Despite a nasty blister popping around mile four, being significantly dehydrated, and generally out of shape, I had a good time. I hope to at least pretend to train over the summer so I can be in better shape for the fall race.
tags: coastal

May 10, 2008

Putting it all into practice

Watching Nigel Foster at the East Coast Kayak Festival was the highlight of the weekend. His ability to effortlessly control a kayak and communicate how he does it is simply amazing. Rather than head off on a long paddle, I stayed close to the dock and worked on putting in practice what I learned from Nigel.
My main focus was the bow rudder. I've always been one of those guys that has to just keep sweeping until the kayak is pointed in the right direction. After a couple of hours of paddling between pier pilings, I now think I've got the hang of the bow rudder. I still loose too much speed, but I can work on that.
This was also the first time I seriously edged my boat. I've done it before, but never under such controlled circumstances. It turns out that I'm sliding around too much in the seat. I guess I'll need to add hip pads to go with my new foam backrest.
tags: coastal

April 27, 2008

It's a nice day?

Heath got me up this morning saying "It's a nice day. Get out of bed and go paddling."
The temperature was above 70 degrees and there was a warm wind blowing from the south. I headed off towards Masonborro inlet and the turned west to the intercoastal. At that point, the wind really picked up. I decided to explore a couple of the man-made inlets. You'd think that kayaks are common enough these days, but I got quite a few odd looks from guys working on their boats. As I was heading east back towards the island, the wind really started blowing. The sound went from being glassy smooth to 2 foot breakers. As I turned south, I had trouble making any forward progress, but I still had a lot of fun.
As I was carrying my boat back to the house, I thought it felt a little heavier than normal. There was about 2 cups of water in the forward hold. I'm hoping I didn't have the hatch on tightly. I'm hoping to get in some pool time over the next couple of weeks. If it's something else, I'll find out then.
tags: coastal

December 29, 2007

Mini tide race

I went out this morning with the intention of heading out into Masonborro Inlet to find some waves. As I rounded the south end of Wrightsville Beach, the wind really picked up. The wind was out of the north and the tide was going out. This resulted in quite a bit of rough water. I played around a while in the chop, practicing turning, surfing, and just getting more comfortable in rough conditions. While I was out, the wind really picked up and I watched the inlet turn into something that was intense.
Location of the standing wave and the eddies
Location of the standing wave and the eddies
When the tide is going out, the current in the inlet runs around 2 knots. There seems to always be a small standing wave right at the south tip of the island. As the wind really picked up, I noticed a fairly large wave moving very slowly up the inlet. I paddled up and over the crest and surfed down the front of the wave. I let the current carry me back up into the wave a few times and then decided to head back out in the inlet. It was then that I noted the whirlpool.
It was around 12 feet across and about 18 inches deep. I watched it move around as the standing wave slowly moved further up the inlet. I then headed back out into the inlet. Coming back in, just as I approached the backside of the standing wave , I unexpectedly hit a strong cross current that shot me sideways across the inlet. I paddled through it and decided to call it a day.
tags: coastal

December 28, 2007

North end of the island

I put in at the north end of the island with the intent of paddling around the ocean side of the island and coming back in Masonborro inlet. Many of the put in locations at the north end are not usable at low tide unless you like dragging your kayak across mud flats and oyster beds. Even though it was only an hour after high tide, the "channel" out to the north inlet was still less than 8 inches deep in some areas.
As I rounded the north end of the island and headed out Mason inlet, there didn't appear to be an inlet. I was looking at a solid wall of 6 foot waves breaking over a shallow sand bar. The waves along the beach looked smaller and it looked like if I paddled parallel to the beach for a hundred yards or so and then turn out into the ocean, all I had to deal with were a few 2-3 foot waves. If the water was warmer, I would have gone for it. But, I turned around and headed back towards the intercoastal.
Both inlets open at the same time.  The old inlet is on the left and the new inlet on the right
Both inlets open at the same time. The old inlet is on the left and the new inlet on the right
Later in the afternoon, I walked out the the end of the island to get a better look. At low tide, it's obvious where the bar was. The waves were also much smaller and manageable. I blame myself first and Google second for not looking into this before heading out. I knew that Mason inlet was recently moved, but I had no idea that Google map data was that old.
tags: coastal

December 27, 2007

Get out and stay out!

Heath and I headed down to the beach this weekend for a baby shower. That meant that I had to stay out of the house. Fine with me. I went out early and spent a couple of hours paddling against the wind and current. After crashing the party for some lunch, I headed back out and still managed to fight the wind and current the entire way. Overall, a great day on the water.
tags: coastal

December 02, 2007

Rough morning paddle

It was cold and windy. Perfect paddling weather. Paddling on flat water is becoming less and less interesting. There's something about paddling on water that feels alive.
tags: coastal

November 25, 2007

2nd Annual Quiet Boat Parade

The second annual Quiet Boat parade had a much higher turnout than last year. We went from 2 boats to 3 boats. We even made the Lumina News.
Quiet Boat Parade
Quiet Boat Parade
From the article:
Mirrored after the flotilla, the Daltons kayaks are decorated for the holiday season. Since many in our family kayak and some of them are here for the flotilla, last year we decided to have our own flotilla in the afternoon. We decorated our boats with little Christmas trees my nieces idea put on Santa hats and paddled up to the bridge and back, Jean Dalton says.
tags: coastal

November 24, 2007

Ocean Kayaking Part 2

I went out in the ocean for the second time today. I started out intending on just spending some time in the moving water in the inlet, but once I got there, I decided to just go for it.
Going out, I had rear quartering 6 foot swells that I was able to ride most of the way out to the pier. Just after I turned around to head back, the wind really picked up. The wind was directly in my face, causing 1-2 foot breakers as I was coming back into the inlet. It was a rough ride and a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun.
I may be becoming a salt water snob. Flat water just isn't doing it for me anymore.
tags: coastal

November 04, 2007

Kayak Race at Wrightsville Beach

Due to my previous back issues, I had only been in a kayak twice in the last 3 weeks. I decided to sit out this year's kayak race at Wrightsville Beach. I did watch and take some photos.
After the race, I decided to paddle the 6 mile course myself. Let's just say that had I competed, I wouldn't have done all that well. Maybe next year.
tags: coastal

November 03, 2007

Just another day at the beach

When I've previously taught myself how to do something, I wondered if my ah-ha! moments were blatantly obvious to anyone with experience. I had one of those moments today when I realized that my PFD provides great back support.
During the week, I spend between 12 and 15 hours a day sitting in meetings, sitting front of a computer, or sitting in my car. On weekends, I jump in my kayak and expect my body to do something useful. Sometimes, if I've been able to keep up with my nightly stretching, my body is up for it. Other times, it just won't cooperate.
I drove down to Wrightsville Beach last night after spending most of the day in the car. I didn't sleep well and woke up fairly sore. I took a long, hot shower and did what I could to stretch everything. It must not have been enough. While setting my boat down in the water, my back let me know I missed something.
I tried stretching it out and even got in the boat to see if I could paddle it out, but each breath hurt. After a hour or so laying on the floor, a few Advil, and another hot shower, it wasn't any better and I was ready to give up on kayaking at all this weekend.
After a few hours, I was bored and decided to take another shot at adjusting all the straps on my PFD. I put on my PFD and it came as a bit of a surprise when my back finally relaxed. After a few minutes, it actually felt good enough to give paddling another shot. I was able to stay out for a little over an hour.
In hindsight, it's obvious. PFD's make pretty good back braces.

October 13, 2007

Quiet morning paddle

I headed out early, hoping to beat the heat and the traffic on the Intercoastal Waterway. The boat traffic wasn't too bad, but it was still hot.
tags: coastal

August 05, 2007

Sea kayak finally meets the sea

It's hard to believe that my Explorer has been a flatwater boat until today. I finally took my new kayak out in the ocean. It wasn't a monumental adventure, but technically, it was in the ocean.
I left the house early and headed up Banks channel to Masonboro inlet. The tide was coming in and I got quite a workout getting out past the jetty. The swells were around 8 feet and there were scattered whitecaps. The boat traffic was quite heavy.
Allow me to state the obvious. My Explorer is awesome. In conditions like these, it handles exactly like one would want it to handle.
My only complaint -- it's hot! The green deck just soaks up the heat. My legs were covered with sweat and the hatch covers were bulging.
tags: gear, coastal

August 04, 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

Attack of the Killer Coast Guard

Heath decided it would be cool to get little Christmas trees for our kayaks. Ok, I'll admit it, it is kind of cool. All the boats were coming in for the Floatilla and we got a lot of comments. A few people even took our picture.
My kayak got its first war wound today. While we were coming back under the draw bridge, a boat came by and its wake spun the nose of my boat right into the barnacle covered concrete wall. Ironically, the boat that was significantly violating the no wake zone was a Coast Guard boat. The boat is fine. It just has a bit of a plastic 5 o'clock shadow now.
Floatilla fireworks
Floatilla fireworks
tags: coastal

November 25, 2006

Morning Outing

This morning's trip was an example of why maps are important. I got lost. Not too lost, but enough to be irritating. To make it worse, had I know who close I was to there I wanted to be, I would not have turned around when I did.
I wanted to paddle over to Masonborro island and go for a walk. I thought the sand bar was on the intercoastal side, but it obviously wasn't. Had I had a map, I would have know that I was fairly close to the cut-through. Instead, I turned around and headed back up the intercoastal against the current.
While it didn't go as planned, I still had a great time. Luckily I didn't have anyone else with me to share in my lack of poor planning.
tags: coastal

November 25, 2006

Quick Sprint

I only had a couple of hours, but I just had to get in a quick paddle. I headed right into a 10-15kt wind and into the outgoing tide for the first 20 minutes or so. It wasn't easy, but it was a good workout. Since I was alone, I was able to keep the pace up for the entire trip. Even when the wind and current was going my way, I kept paddling.
My new MantaRay paddle is great. I went with a 240 and it may be too long.
Today might have been a good day to have a rudder. According to what I've read, since my boat is prone to weathercocking, it would have helped me stay out of the main channel. Who knows. I still think rudders are just dead weight. Maybe a skeg would work for me.
Evening rec kayak
Evening rec kayak
tags: coastal

November 24, 2006

Paddling off Wrightsville Beach

We left around 10:00 AM and began with a photo shoot. Heath and I donned our Santa hats and posed for a few photos. If they turn out, we'll use them for our Christmas cards. Jean then joined us and we headed out.
Its official. I need a new paddle. My paddle just doesn't work for me. Its heavy, flutters, and wants to torque unless I hold it tightly. I'm not sure what I'll get, but it will likely be carbon with a more symmetrical blade.
The plan was to go out again this morning, but we woke up to 25-35mph winds. If we had gone out, it would have been a short trip. Both Heath and I were fairly sore from yesterday's paddle. Its a lot harder to wind through the marsh than go in a straight line on the lake.
Sunset over the channel
Sunset over the channel
tags: coastal

November 11, 2006

Could have been me (x 2)

The October 2006 issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine has a photo of a kayak in front of a leaping dolphin from Morrea Island. And then I found the summer issue of Adventure Kayak has a similar photo. I was there, did that, but didn't get the picture. But, I did get these.
tags: coastal

October 04, 2006

Labor Day bathtub derby

Heath and i went out in Jean's kayaks today. She was in the SOT and I was in here little blue bathtub.
Jean's blue bathtub
Jean's blue bathtub
We rode up and down on the boat wakes in the channel for a while and actually made a little progress against the current. I had a blast. Heath really wants to get kayaks and I think I'm sold on the idea as well.
tags: coastal

September 03, 2006

Kayaking in paradise Pt 2 - Morrea

Heath and I went to Morrea for our honeymoon. Moorea is a small island near Tahiti in French Polynesia. The resort where we stayed had kayaks for rent so one afternoon we got one and paddled around the islands that make up the resort.
Heath had a great time, but it just wasn't working for me. It was only the second time I'd even been kayaking. I'm not sure I'll do it again.

October 20, 2004

Miserable in paradise - Kayaking in Alaska

Tracey Arm fjord
Tracey Arm fjord
It was the smell that did it for me. That lingering mildew smell. The smell of something that hasn't been dry in months. According to my mother, I'm allergic to mildew.
Heath, Susan, Jean, and Kathy were all very excited about kayaking in Glacier Bay. I wasn't so sure it was something that I would enjoy. That water is cold.
We headed down to equipment shacks after breakfast. We put on the rubber waders, the rain jacket, the PDF and headed for the beach. We carried the heavy boats down to the waterline. Heath and I were in a double, Jean and Kathy were in a double, and Susan was in a single. The guide helped my adjust the rudder, and then pushed us out into the water.
I'm not having fun
I'm not having fun
The boats were nice and wide, but I felt like I was going to go over at any minute. Knowing that the water temperature was in the mid 30's didn't help. I was convinced that if I fell in, I'd die.
Then it started raining.
I was cold, anxious, and tired of hearing Heath complain about my inability to use the rudder. I hate rudders. I hate tandems. The back seat is for steering and the front for complaining about the steering.
Is that a smile?  No.
Is that a smile? No.
We paddled across Barlet Cove and then came back. We were not out long, but it was way too long for me.
Plenty of opportunities for kayaking
Plenty of opportunities for kayaking
We took a boat tour of the bay and while we were out, we stopped to pick up some kayakers. They seemed quite happy, but then, the insane usually are.
These people are insane
These people are insane

June 18, 2003