If you just go for a paddle than you can stop thinking about wanting to go for a paddle.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: Post 5 - Last post for this year

About the middle of Dec of 2009, one of my paddling friends, Tony, told me that he had been in his kayak over 100 times up to that point in that year (his final count was 115 by the years end).  He did not tell me this fact in an arrogant manner, but rather disclosed it almost embarrassingly.  I was amazed at that feat.  I was even more amazed by that fact that the bulk of this number was on the ocean, with some on the pond near his house.

I mentally recounted the number of times I was in my kayak in 2009.  I estimated I was in my kayaks 75 to 80 times.  This included some 25 paddles that I could clearly remember (paddling an estimated total of some 300+ km), with the rest being from pool sessions, pond practice, St. Philips Thursday evening practices, and a couple times on the river in my whitewater kayak.  I decided that was a fairly impressive count for me, considering I work full time hours, and other than pool sessions, the first time on the water was in April after I bought my drysuit.  And so I decided to up my game and set some lofty goals in 2010.

I set two goals at the start of 2010.  My first goal would be to endeavor to be in my kayak(s) at least 100 times in the year in some way, shape, or form; which would include actual paddles, Thursday practices, pond practices, pool sessions, and on the river.  My other goal would be to paddle at least 500 kms which would only be tallied from actual paddles, not practices.

Jan 1st started with the annual tradition of welcoming in the New Year with a get-together of local kayakers at Quidi Vidi.  This was not a paddle, but more of a ‘get the boat wet’ event to usher in the new year.  By the middle of January, the Saturday and Tuesday night pools sessions were underway so it was easy to start cranking up the number as I was getting to the pools usually 2 times a week.  On top of that we had a mild winter and we paddled almost every weekend during the winter months.   By the end of May I had managed half my goal with 50 times in my kayak.

As summer came near the pool sessions ended, but they were replaced with our regular Thursday evening practices at St. Philips.  We were still getting out on weekends too.  August was a slower month for me.  I ended up doing some work on my house and kayaking had to take a back seat.  September was not a whole lot better as a trip out of town and a bit more work on the house kept me off the water.

By the end of October I had a tally of 81 times in my kayak(s). I was starting to wonder if 100 was too much to hope for. I knew I had to put a push if I was to meet my target.  By the end of November I hit 90 times.  There were two weekends back-to-back in December that I got out on both Saturday and Sunday, and with a Tuesday night pool session between them I cranked off five times in those 9 days; it was a good boost toward my goal.  By December 19 I had 97 times.  Three more left and I knew it was going to happen. 

We had planned a Christmas Eve paddle but the weather did not cooperate and we cancelled it.  Christmas day was a bust, of course.  On the 26th (Sunday) there was no sign of anybody paddling so I got up in the morning and headed to the marina at Long Pond CBS.  I had paddled there before by myself a few times.  It is well protected, gives you access to the ocean, and has lots of room to paddle around in.  It was too windy and the waves were large and breaking as the came into the marina but behind the break there was just wind to contend with.  I paddled the perimeter, then zig-zaged to put the wind on the beams and quarters, then played briefly at the entrance to the open ocean and managed to catch a wave that surfed me 60 or 70 feet back into the marina.  As I was by myself I decided it prudent to not push it farther and slipped back to the relative safety inside the break.

On Monday one of my paddling buddies, Tony, was going to the pond near his house to try out his newly altered Greenland paddle.  Sounded like a good plan so I joined him for a couple hours.  We talked about the pros and cons of Greenland paddles and other general kayak stuff.  On Tuesday the weather was cooperative so Tony, Sean, Gerard, and I  paddled from St. Philips to Portugal Cove for my 100th time in my kayak for 2010.  The temp was about 8 degrees, there was sun, and we had a very relaxed, pleasant paddle.  Gerard did make it interesting though.

I had some things to do the next couple days after that so couldn’t get on the water.  Friday came (Dec 31st) and I thought I might go out for a paddle to get my paddling distance up over 700 for the year.  But I know if I had included the paddling distance covered during practice sessions I would be easily over 800 kms.  But I was content and decided to let things sit as they were and just enjoy the day; tomorrow will be the start of another year.  There will be lots of paddles, pools sessions, practice sessions, and maybe a couple times on the river.

Here is my tally for 2010:

41 ocean paddles totaling 687 kilometers
31 pool sessions
20 St. Philips practice sessions
5 pond practice sessions
2 times on the river in my whitewater kayak (those damn eddy lines!)
1 New Year’s Day paddle that started off the year
100 times in my kayak(s) for 2010

I'll have to decide on my goals for 2011.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2010: Post 4 - Know when to fold 'em

A group of us are committed to doing practice sessions at St. Philips.  It's a convenient place in proximity to where we live, it has a slipway for launching, and a restaurant close by to get a cup of coffee afterwards.   These sessions take place Thursday afternoons from about May to October.  During the rest of those months we lack adequate daylight.  But from October to March we will do a practice session on weekends when the winds are not sensible enough for a weekend paddle. 

Yesterday the winds were forecasted to be on the higher side for a paddle today (Sat), so some of us decided we would do a practice at St. Philips. But we awake to higher winds than was called for - currently 48 km, gusting to 69 km, with wind chill -3 C, and blowing off-land.  We have been out in St. Philips in such winds several times before, but when the winds are blowing back toward the beach and when the air temperature is warmer. So today we decided to give in to mother nature and call it off.

Like Kenny sings, "you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em...."  Tomorrow the forecast is for much favorable winds (about 25 km) and we are planning a paddle, probably down the southern shore...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2010: Post 3 - Weak-side rolling

I managed my first roll (strong-side) about three months after I bought my kayak.  Than I practiced it for about 6 months before I got really good at it.  Than I continued rolling on my strong-side for another 6 months before I even contemplated trying to learn to roll on my weak-side.  That was a mistake; I feel I waited far too long before learning to roll on my weak-side. 

Well, I did my first weak-side roll just under a year ago.  I practiced it in the pool sessions last winter, with much frustration, and continued practicing it over the summer and into the fall.  But I found that it has come to me very slowly, much more slowly than my strong-side.  It has been a struggle for me to get comfortable with it.

During the pool session last week I was fooling around with something and found myself having to roll up without setting up.  Without thinking about it I automatically started to set up on my weak-side.  I nearly had my paddle set and the realization came to me that I was not set up on my strong-side and I actually started to switch the paddle to the other side.  I remember thinking to myself that this is what all the practice has been for.  Then I stopped myself and reverted back to setting up my paddle on my weak-side and rolled up. Of course, all this took only seconds….

I think that was one of those kayaking turning points.  You know, those moments that you feel you have finally achieved something, or crossed a threshold that has been holding you back.  Until that point my weak-side rolling had been all done with intent.  That was the first time that I had done one without starting from an up-right position in the kayak.  To me this means that my weak-side has finally begun to feel more natural. 

The real test will come one day when I get knocked over in a real-paddle situation and, without hesitation, I will simply roll up on my weak-side.  After a while I hope to be able to say I do not have a strong-side or a weak-side roll.  I will simply just have a roll on both sides.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010: Post 2 - The short of it

Okay so another blog.  So what do I write about.  I am not sure.  I could write about the paddle I was on yesterday, or the one the day before. But the guys have already done that... see Tony's and Sean's blog's....

So maybe I will give the short of how I started on the road to becoming a kayakoholic...

I had very limited exposure to being on the water in boats.  I was in a canoe a couple times as a kid.  I was on the ferry between Port-aux-Basques and North Sydney half a dozen times.  I was in my uncles motor boat once.  I was in my grandfather's fishing boat a few times.  I also did a salmon fishing canoe trip down a river once.  That's pretty much the extent of it.

Then the kayaker in me wanted out.  I knew absolutely zero about kayaks and kayaking, but I researched the Internet and decided on the model that would serve my purposes.  I went to the local outdoor gear store to have a look at one.  I remember sitting in a kayak on the floor of the store and asking the sales guy "so how do you paddle this." That's pretty green, I guess.  So I bought my kayak and all the basic gear.  Then I immediately joined the local kayak club Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador

That was June 2008 and I guess the rest is history.

Friday, November 12, 2010

2010: Post 1 - a blog without pictures?

Some of my regular paddling buddies have blogs where they post about their kayak paddling experiences, or post things somehow related to kayaking, complete with pictures.  One of them mentioned to me a while ago that I should start one too.  But I thought to myself "why bother; they post about our paddles".  And besides, I am not a picture taker and don't even have a camera.  Won't a blog without pictures be rather boring. 

Anyway, I decided I would create a blog, one without pictures.  Maybe one day I will get a camera and add some pictures.  Who knows, maybe there is a photographer in me waiting to get out.  There was a kayaker in me that had found its way out!