Tuesday, July 23, 2013
In camp there is a woodworking shop and I have spent many hours there. I have made for myself a traditional Greenland storm paddle. I didn’t have a spokeshave or a hand plane, small delicate cutting tools, but I did have a rip saw, a giant man eating machine, which I tried to use delicately. Mostly it worked out all right, though there were a couple of times when I sawed off much more than I should have (just wood, no fingers).
I intend to make another one, so that on my trip I can take the better of the two, but for now I think it came out okay. In fact, I’m extremely proud.
It’s called a storm paddle because it’s much shorter than a typical Greenland paddle. In order to put one end in the water, I hold it by the opposite end, almost like a canoe paddle. Then, to stroke on the other side, I shift both hands, blade to shaft and shaft to blade, so that I’m holding it from the new upside. It adds an extra step into my strokes, but it’s lighter weight and without much paddle above my top hand, there’s almost no wind drag, especially appreciated in a storm.
This morning I took it out on the water and ran my GPS speedometer. It was tricky getting used to the new technique and I still don’t have it a hundred percent, but it was fun and good training. On my trip I’ll be keeping a storm paddle with my boat as a spare, so it’s important that I become proficient with it. I maintained a speed of about three knots, a full knot slower than with my winged paddles, but still steady progress.
I did a lap around the lake, about a mile, and then decided it was time to get wet. I would roll with my new paddle, or at least try. ‘No problem, I regularly practice Greenland style rolls with my winged paddles’.
I tipped my boat over and felt the water rush around me. In a moment my paddle was up near the surface and I swept it out swinging my body around with it and pulling my hips under me. I arched my back, dropped my head back and stuck my chest out for a beautiful finish.
I was out of the water with my back against my back deck, for a second, and then was going over on the other side. I brought my paddle down for a bracing skull, but short as it is, it wouldn’t reach the water without a hand shift, I tried desperately to reposition the paddle, but it was too late and I was again underneath. No problem, I could always roll back up. Underwater, I finished shifting my hands, wound up for a roll, swept and came back up. I went over on the other side right away. It happened once more, before I wet exit.
I took a moment to breathe, then swam the short distance to the dock. I dumped the water out of my boat, got back in, and tried again. Slowly but surely, I would get the hang of my new Greenland storm paddle. And in the meantime, I’m enjoying being back at the starting line. I have about a month and half left before I fly to Europe. Ready or not, here I come.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The seat in my Inuk broke. I have the showroom version which is missing some of the touches that go into the retail version. So for a day, I switched back to my Solstice.
A nice feature of my Solstice is that it turns really well on an edge* and has great secondary stability. It’s also a pretty fast boat, or at least, I used to think so.
Switching back from the Inuk, it felt sluggish. Every stroke felt as though I was paddling into a breeze. I took out my GPS to measure my speed. It was true that compared to most paddlers in most boats, I was moving fast. But it was half a knot slower for more work than my Inuk.
The next day I fixed my Inuk. It swims like a seal** and there is no going back to anything less.
* You can lean way over without capsizing.
** Originally I had thought to use “like a Lab” as my analogy since I’m so very fond of the way they swim. It came to my attention however that a more objective observer might use words like “enthusiastic” or “happy” rather than “fast” or “graceful” so I settled for seal since they’re sort of dog like.
As I headed down to the water a tiny baby duck ran across my path. It was frantic, probably looking for it’s mother. I saw Moshe the Beaver again, I was moving towards her fast and there was no time to get out my camera before I was close and she dived. I watched a baby turtle try to climb onto a lily pad, a big fish flop around on a floating island of mud, and a duck get startled by something mysterious underwater, twice.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
The coolest bird in the North East is undoubtedly the eagle, and I have strong feelings about it after my recent encounter. A proud second is the Great Blue Heron. This morning I saw one, and managed to take a few pictures.
Wait, that’s not it. Here it is.
And while I was taking a picture of this regal bird, the beaver, Moshe, swam across in front of me at a good clip.
Holy cow! I had an opportunity to catch both the Great Blue and Moshe in the same shot. But Moshe was moving fast, no time to focus, no time to aim. *Click*. I hoped I got it.
Well, I guess it’s important to focus and aim. But even if I don’t have that perfect picture, I saw an amazing sight.
The world is so big and so beautiful. In September I will set out to fill my bag with many more treasures and while I may come home without any money, I’ll be rich with spirit.
Friday, July 5, 2013
I was making my laps around the the lake.
A large rock rose above a bog. It was white and brown and looked almost like an eagle, but it was too big.
I paddled closer and realized it wasn’t a rock, but a large trunk rising straight out of the water. It looked like an eagle, but it was too big.
I glided close. It looked at me. I shook with awe.
It spread its wings and flew away.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
It stormed all night. The morning was cool. At 4:30 am I walked down to the lake feeling the mud squish between the toes of my finger shoes. A light mist floated above the lake, swirling between the giant inflated toys. As head of boys swim, the basic maintenance of theses toys is my responsibility. Two of them, the Rocket and the Karchone, had blown free of their anchors down to the other end of the lake during the storm.
My training that morning would include towing them in.
The Rocket was smaller and not so hard. Once I had my tow rope firmly attached, one stroke at a time, 15 minutes and it was in.
I returned for the Karchone, larger with more ropes hanging from underneath I expected it to be harder. I attached my tow rope and began to try to pull it out of the lily pads. It moved slowly. But I made it a few feet. Then it was moving slower and I was working harder. One inch at a time, I was sweating and putting my all into every mighty stroke.
I was tired and needed a break. I dunked my head in the water to cool off. Back to work and pushing the limits of my strength again. Heave, Paddle, Push, Haul, another two inches, maybe. I wasn’t sure. I kept at it, sweating profusely.
I gave up. I paddled around to the other side of the Karchone, found where the rope had snagged on the bottom, and untangled it. Back in front, I made slow and steady progress.
It was a good training session. I was tired.