Thursday, June 24, 2010

Two Steps Forward . . .

With the addition of the latex collar to Cheryl's now-drysuit, she decided that she wanted to try a wet exit. On Wednesday night she was ready to give it a whir so we headed off the pond. As I stood next to her. she did her first exit sans spray skirt. She was over and out in a matter of seconds with no trauma, no fear. I was happy because the Seayak has quite a small keyhole cockpit that I found a little troublesome to exit. We did a couple more without the skirt then moved onto ones with the skirt. Again, no problems!! I told her to try and hold herself in the upside position for a few seconds - which she did, but as we all know, the actual time underwater is nowhere near as long as we think it is!! I told her to stay under for 5 seconds. She went over and BAMM she was up again asking "That was 5 seconds, wasn't it???"

On the final exit, I was in my boat and she successfully clambered up between our boats and back into the cockpit. All with no major incident!!

Fast forward to tonight (Thursday)

Tonight we went to our regular Thursday night practice in St. Philips. Most were engaging in rescues and in-water activities while Cheryl seemed content to stay in her boat. She expressed a bit of shyness about getting out the boat and not being able to get back in. I did not push her. At the end of the night, she said that she wanted to do a wet exit - but closer to shore, Dean and I accompanied her. Like a real trooper Cheryl donned a balaclava and nose plug and just capsized. She exited with no issues - again, no fear, no trauma, no gasping. Actually she was smiling!! She and I then proceeded to do a standard rescue. She hung off my bow while I emptied her boat. Then she did a very clean re-entry. Very impressive for only her second attempt at such a rescue!!

Some people may ask why I'm making such a big deal of all this. Well, Cheryl was diagnosed with MS back in 1995 and has been on a daily self-injection of drugs for close to 10 years now. Since her diagnosis, Cheryl has been afraid to "push" herself or was unwilling to try things that she thought she would not be physically able to do. Kayaking was one of those things she thought she could not/would not be able to do. The fact that she's managed to paddle for hours on end (11 kms being the most yet) and has been able to wet exit AND complete a successful re-entry even while being tired, speaks volumes about what she really can do - especially if she enjoys it, if she really wants to do it and if she gets the proper support!!

I, for one, am behind her all the way!!



Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Next Generation . . .

Today, I offered to go with my sister and her teenage daughter as they tried out their new boats on Healey's Pond. My 10 year old daughter, Bridget, who's had an "on again, off again" interest with kayaks was adamant about taking her Mom's boat for a spin. The wind was a bit high but I gave in - knowing that I'd be right along side her and that she is a bit of a "water dog" so she's not afraid of the water. She took my wife's Prijon Seayak out first. The Seayak does not have the lowest of profiles anyway and due to my daughter's sub 100 pounds, it rode high in the water. She handled the boat quite well given the gusty winds but she was having real trouble with the cross wind and with keeping the boat straight into the wind. You have to know Bridget to realize that she was not going to give up!! She can also over-react and I was finding that she was starting to get scared yet not willing to admit it. Erring on the side of caution, I basically forced her back to shore. She was not happy. I told her to take a little break and calm down.

Bridget in the Seayak

Later I dropped my Baffin off at shore and took the Seayak out for a spin. When I did that Bridget jumped in my boat and came back on the pond. The Baffin has a much lower profile and takes the winds a little easier. Anyway, here she was in my boat and using a Greenland paddle. She pointed that boat into the wind and put the "pedal to metal" and just took off. No joke but I had to work hard to catch her and she just kept going. I was truly working to keep up with her. Later she was turning the boat no problem - and it's a skeg boat so she had no use of the rudder. I explained to her about using the stern rudder and she was paying attention and actually using the strokes. She was really moving this boat quite well and fast, too. Then she wanted to do a wet exit but I told her the water was too cold.

Now, she wants to "go to the pond a few more times before she goes on the ocean" She normally has a fear of water when she can't see the bottom but today she was in the middle of the pond with no such fear. A corner turned, perhaps? We'll see. She wants me to take her back to the pond tomorrow after school. I think that if the winds are down, she will have a much more enjoyable time and learn some basics and then? - who knows, she may just want to keep coming back!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

PVC goes Big Time . . .

Now that Cheryl is paddling with me and using a Greenland paddle to boot, we now find ourselves travelling with two paddles in the car. With only one person in the car, I slide the paddles in over the passenger seat. With someone in that seat, however, the paddles end up being put up between the seats. This would be fine if we did not have a standard. The paddles always manage to find a way to jam up behind the stick OR slip down onto the floor behind the gas pedal. Either way, that's not good. Also, I've been putting wet paddles in over the seats and that can't be good either!!

Soooo - I decided to make top mounted paddle carrier made out of - you guessed it - PVC pipe. I bought a 12' piece of 4" white sewer pipe, two end caps and a can of black spray paint.

I cut the pipe about 2" longer than my current paddles - just in case I decide to go a little longer in the future. I sanded the lettering off the pipe and gave it a coat of black satin paint. I drilled a hole in one end cap to relieve pressure when putting the cap on. The carrier will be held in place by straps.

In the rough!!

Painted and laid on the car for a dry fit!!

Stick on foam to stop any forward/backward movement when strapped on!!

So how many standard Greenland paddles can you fit into a 4" tube . . .?







Let's see you do that with three Euro shovels!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We're gonna need a bigger boat - Part II

Just two days after thinking that Cheryl needs a bigger boat, we now have a bigger boat!!! As luck would have it a notice came up on the local clubs newsgroup that someone was selling a 16' Prijon Seayak. The ad stated that it was in excellent condition and I knew, via an inside source, that indeed it was in perfect shape. I did a little checking on this model and found it to be a well-known design with attributes that we needed. I contacted the seller and asked if we could take it a for a paddle on Saturday afternoon. The seller was an older lady - in her late 60's or more - who bought the boat with great intentions but decided that she'd rather be gardening. With nothing more than leaving my name and number, I drove away with a pretty much brand new boat on my roof.

We took the boat to St. Philips and put in a 9km paddle to Portugal Cove and back. Here's a few shots:

We now need to get the boat fitted to Cheryl. One nice thing about this model is that there is lots of room for personal adjustments. We did not do a good job for the inaugural paddle but we'll straighten that out soon enough. I'm pretty sure that she'll get this setup just right and then begin to enjoy the feeling of a proper boat that is properly fitted!!

Here's a few side by sides with my Baffin:

First Club Paddle of 2010

Today KNL (Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador) held it's annual Father's Day Paddle. Yes, it's a week early but that is because a number of club members will be doing a Swift Water Rescue clinic on the REAL Father's Day.

We had a total of 24 paddlers turn out for our paddle today in Cape Broyle. By and large, paddles throughout the year tend to revolve around your own core group but Club events are a great excuse to get out and paddle with others you generally do not see during the rest of the season.

The day was greyer and cooler than anticipated but that didn't dampen the spirits. The total paddling distance was just over 13kms according to GPS.

The put-in!!

Paul waiting to hit the water!

Wagons ho!!

Jackie and Dean

The G-Man

Clyde hiding in the weeds!!

Jackie in the weeds as well!!

No better place for a lunch!!

The take-out!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

We're gonna need a bigger boat . . .

I'm sure many of you remember in the movie Jaws when Brody uttered that unforgettable line "We're gonna need a bigger boat"? I felt myself thinking that tonight as I watched Cheryl paddling my boat about St. Philips tonight. We went there to test out the latex neck gasket I just put in her drysuit. My boat was already on the Jeep so we took it along anyway. After watching Cheryl paddle the smaller 14 foot Pelican Elite Strait 140 XE we have, the first thing that struck me about my boat is that it's really a heck of a lot longer. At 17' my BorealDesign Baffin is pretty standard so I never paid much attention to its length but when I saw Cheryl in it after seeing her only on the 14' - I realized that 14' is a bit short.

Cheryl's current boat has a rudder while my boat does not. Still, she managed to turn my boat as well or even better. I'm sure it has a fair bit to do with hull design but it was nice to see her using paddle strokes to maneuver the boat rather than rely on the rudder.

Another feature of my boat that Cheryl really noticed and liked is that my foredeck is very low while the Elite's is very high. This is a real pain for her as it forces a higher paddle angle to clear the deck. I could tell that her paddling was just much more natural in my boat right from the get-go!!

What will come of these discoveries - only time will tell!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

12,000 Words . . .

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. I'm going to follow this old adage in this entry and simply provide 12 images from a recent paddle.

On Saturday, June 5th, five of us (Cheryl Dawe, Julie Bettney, Robert Piercey, Hazen Scarth and myself) decided to paddle from St. Philip's to Topsail Beach and return for a total of 14kms. The forecast was initally calling for drizzle in the AM with clearing later and winds from the NW at 20km. By 10:00 AM, the sun was splitting the rocks and the bay was a sheet of glass. We decided to meet in St. Philip's at noon and - well, just have a look at the pictures and let them tell the story!!