Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fun Stuff -

Boo. No sailing for me tonight. Must work work work.

A few neat things I've known were approaching -

Ever wondered if kayak polo was for you? Give it a try for free tonight (August 30th, so sorry for such late notice) with New York Kayak Polo!

This Sunday, September 2nd, it's time for the 15th annual Hudson River tugboat competition! I went last year, off-duty from the schooner for the weekend as I was recovering from a bad case of the flu & wasn't feeling entirely able-bodied yet - unfortunately the day sort of ended up in the "sad memories" file because of the then-pending closure of the barge (it was tough seeing that wonderful scene & knowing it was so close to over) plus a deeply depressing encounter with one of the self-appointed leaders of the efforts to do something about the closure - but I did get some great pictures. I almost feel like I should go this year just to wash last year's bad taste out of my mouth, but I'll probably go paddling instead - been getting a lot of water time in & I'm really enjoying doing some longer trips (catch-up post with semispontaneous Gravesend Bay trip coming soon).

And then during the first part of September - it's time for opera on a tanker! Evocatively featured on Tugster - it sounds REALLY cool.

Finally (well, for today's post, I'm sure there are lots of other neat things going on but these are the ones I've been wanting to mention before they were over & done), on September 21st, the Working Harbor Committee (same folks as put on the tugfest!) are offering another in their series of the Working Harbor Committee is offering another in their ongoing series of Hidden Harbor Tours - this time, it's the Brooklyn Navy Yard to the Kill Van Kull tugboat yards (I've seen the latter & it's really something to see). I'd be there except that I should be 1/3rd of the way into a 3-day paddle out along Long Island - that's been planned for months now, part of an effort to get into the Guiness Book of World Records for SLOWEST circumnavigation of Long Island by kayak (they have that as a category, right?).

OK, just joking about the record thing, but the slow circumnav plan is totally for real. More on that some other time!

BTW - Sadly, it doesn't look as though the barge where I spent so many hours of the last 9 years is going to open this year - but happily, at least New York Riversports, a not-for-profit organization created through the joint efforts of the 3 organizations that provided paddlesports fun of all sorts for so many years at the old barge, is now up & running in their shiny new boathouse at Pier 66. Still can't believe it took so long, but at least there's finally a restoration of some real river access in Chelsea. I'm happy for them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Watching the birdies (not a catch-up) -

Had fun birdwatching during the Breezy Point paddle on Sunday. Love these little sandpipers & plovers, they are so cute the way they run in and out with the waves.

I'm really craving a better camera for this sort of stuff, (especially after finding the wonderful photography of Peggy at Paddle Tales via a "Why blog?" thread I started at - had some interesting responses & Peggy's birds are just awesome - she's a really good photographer with a camera that's a bit out of my range & boy does it show) - but if you sit quietly enough on the beach, these guys will eventually decide you're not so bad.

We got home at a good hour for the parakeets' evening carol...


Well, songbirds they aren't, but they're fun to have around.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Listening to NOAA - 8/17/07 (catch-up #1)

From time to time, I have been known to refer to myself as a fairly conservative paddler. I'm not talking politically, of course, I'm talking about taking precautions to keep myself & anyone I'm feeling responsible for safe & comfortable on the water. I always have extra food, plenty of water, on long trips I like to carry some money (in fact when I was guiding on the Hudson I almost always had a twenty in my PFD, I called it my NYC emergency kit), have an idea of where & how I'm going to get off the water & home if things turn bad, all that good stuff.

One of the things I do pretty religiously is keep an eye on the forecast when I'm planning a trip. There are 3 sites I tend to use for this - Weather Underground, (I actually started using Weather Underground at home because for some unknown reason suddenly decided one day that my default setting here at home was "allergy forecast" & now all it gives me is the pollen count), and the NOAA marine forecast for "MONTAUK POINT NEW YORK TO SANDY HOOK NEW JERSEY OUT 20 NM OFFSHORE INCLUDING LONG ISLAND SOUND...LONG ISLAND BAYS AND NEW YORK HARBOR ANZ338-280730-
/O.ROU.KOKX.MA.F.0000.000000T0000Z-000000T0000Z/NEW YORK HARBOR-." - that being the forecast that covers my little corner of the saltwater world (and then some).

I listen to the forecasts with an eye to the sort of trip I'm planning. Sometimes it just gives me a clue as to what gear to take (e.g., a jacket, or at least a space blanket!). Sometimes I'll adjust my plans - change direction, change distance, whatever I think will keep the conditions, if they are going to be challenging, to at least be a good & fun version of challenging, not a well-this-is-turning-into-a-boring-kind-of-slog challenging or god forbid a scary kind of challenging (although sometimes that's the kind I've learn the most from, it's also the kind that I've been known to kick myself over for years, even if everybody came out of it just fine, and I try to avoid those situations in the first place).

With this dinghy sailing business going on, I'm now looking very eagerly for light winds on Thursday evenings except on the first week or two of any given month. Like right now the forecast for Thursday is saying: THU SW WINDS AROUND 5 KT. WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. And I'm going "Hmmm..."

Cause for that being that I would really really really like to get out on a dinghy again, and a Thursday evening with light air in the later portion of the month is my best bet! That's the night that the Sailing Committee meets at 5 to go sailing. I've been judged competent to sail with the group in my own boat in light conditions.
The 5:00 time is what makes the front end of a month not work so well - I'm in finance & every new month brings a month-end close, can't really head out at 4 to go sailing. But week before last, we were done with the close, we'd been working like crazy people finalizing some divisional budget stuff but had finished that, and I felt like with all the extra hours getting out at 4 would probably be OK especially if I showed up early. Boss agreed. Yay!

Well, up until Wednesday, conditions looked PERFECT. 5-10 kts from the SW. I knew the Laser sailors were probably sighing with frustration over how BORING the racing was going to be, but I was just psyched! Woohoo! Goin' sailing!

Got to work early. Threw myself into work with a will. Knocked of a few items then finally thought to look at the forecast. And, hey. That's not what it said the day before...

With a bit of a sigh, I fired off an email to Holly the Sailing Chair -


I think that I will still come out to the club this afternoon, I have permission to leave around 4, but that sounds a little challenging for a beginner. I'll be ready to paddle instead.

That afternoon, I got called into a training session for a system that's being rolled out. No notice, and it took an hour. It was a good session & the new system sounds promising, but I'd had other plans for that hour...

oh well. I decided to give up on the sailing. After all, conditions sounded a bit much for my novice ability, and I didn't want to slow down the racers, and that way I could finish the work I'd planned - then I'd go for a good workout paddle. Yeah, that would be better.

So that's what I did.

I got to the club just as the sailors were returning. I walked down to the dock to say "Hi! Boy, am I ever glad I paid attention to the marine forecast & changed my plans completely - I don't think I could've handled this at all!"

And Holly the Sailing Chair starting laughing. "You listened to NOAA? You silly! We were looking when we were launching & saying 'Where's Bonnie?'"

Yep...the wind may possible have been blowing 10-15 with gusts up to 20 SOMEWHERE in the forecast area - like 20 nautical miles offshore from Montauk Point - but in Canarsie --

there wasn't enough wind to blow a Kleenex six inches!

And apparently out on the bay it was just the perfect amount of breeze for a novice to practice, practice, practice.

Oh well.

When life hands you light air, and you missed your chance to sail...

there are other ways to have fun with the conditions you got!

Did a good hard paddle out to the Gil Hodges bridge & back. That's somewhere around 8 miles, in somewhere a little under 2 hours - it felt great.

Except for the part I managed to drop my boat on my foot while I was putting it away - that ski is just so darned slippery when it's wet.

Once it was back on the rack, I stopped by my little garden & picked a cherry tomato. It tasted so good I proceeded to eat ALL the rest of the ripe ones. Snarf snarf snarf. Yum yum. What a nice way to finish off a paddle.

Fortunately there's lots more on the way - they seem to be coming in sets. Kinda like waves. I'm in a cherry tomato lull right now.

And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Thursday (sorry, all you sailors)!

p.s. - OK, in the interest of not leading people astray - I do have to add in a couple of excerpts from comments I made last night:

1. For this one time that I listened to the forecast & missed out on something that would've been fun because conditions weren't quite as vehement as the forecast called for, I can think of a dozen times that I've curtailed or cancelled my boating plans because the forecast had gone on beyond fun, and ended up congratulating myself on a good call as I looked out the window at lashing trees, sheets of rain, and flashes of lightning. There's some special quality to the coziness of being snuggled up with a good book & a cup of something hot in that case. Smugly snug? Snugly smug? Whichever - it's nice.

2. Holly laughed at me because I was being totally sarcastic when I said it was so lucky I hadn't put myself out there in such dramatic conditions when in fact the basin was glassy calm. But then she got serious & said that the fact is, because Jamaica Bay is such a sheltered section of our forecast area, you can usually take whatever the forecast is & subtract 5 knots. I knew that the waves in Jamaica Bay were never as big as the marine forecast calls for, and it makes total sense to me that you can apply the same sort of rule of thumb to the windspeed - Holly's version is just the sailor's perspective on that piece of local knowledge.

I'm definitely still learning my new area - even though I've been there almost a year (wow, time flies)!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A couple more pictures from Matunuck -

Noon -

and three-ish!

Can't really see 'em unless you click to see the big version of the picture, but there are some very happy board surfers out there! They don't care if it's drizzling a little.

Down the beach just a little way - look, there's a nice spot where a couple of out-of-town kayakers won't get in the way of the local surfers. That's nice. Call me wimpy, but I also like that there's that dropoff that lets you get in & out of the break completely at will.

Boy, did we ever wish we'd stayed another day.

Off to Breezy Point tomorrow with a bunch of Sebago members. We were hoping for surf but it doesn't look like it's going to cooperate.


At least it's going to be cooler. Today was just hot hot hot. It seems so strange that I was wearing my drysuit on Thursday - it was feeling autumnal, but we clearly haven't seen the end of summer just yet.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday's Weather, Matunuck, R.I.

Here is yesterday's Rhode Island weather, as reported by a wild rose at noon and 3 pm.

Earthlink technician joke time!

Q: How many Earthlink technicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: You brought your flashlight, right?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

There's high maintenance, and then there's high maintenance

Here's me being a high-maintenance girlfriend, as demonstrated in an excerpt from a phone call:

TQ: "Do we want surf boats or sea kayaks?"

me: "oooh...can we take both?"

Poor guy. I'm awful.

Around Alone in Ten Foot Sailboats.

YAY! Edward at the EVK4 SuperBlog left the following comment - it was on his blog I'd seen the post about the solo circumnavigation race in 10 foot boats (like the one shown here, Nemesis).

" .... one of the competitors is the guy who was going to try to circumnavigate in an 8 foot boat that leaked. This one should be good."

I suppose that after a leaky 8 footer, a watertight 10 footer would feel downright roomy!

Just for frames of reference - my kayak is 16 feet. A Sunfish is 13 feet 9 inches.

That's pretty wild.

Should definitely be good. There are already 4 serious competitors signed up. The race itself isn't until 2009. That's good, because these racers are all apparently designing & building their own boats. Watching the building, training and other preparations will be interesting in and of itself.

Talk about pushing limits.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Surf & Weather, Rhode Island, Thursday.

SURF: 3-4 ft. - waist to chest high and fair conditions.
SE swell

Thursday: A slight chance of showers before 9am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 71. East wind between 8 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.


Oh boy oh boy oh boy, Thursday's gonna be fun. :D


OK -

I thought dealing with the Earthlink Customer Frustration Desk took patience.

Nope. That's minor.

What really takes patience?

Rowing across the Pacific really takes patience.

Wouldn't you agree?

Possibly a modicum of insanity too, but you know I'll be following this one with the same fascination as I followed Renata Chlumska on her human powered circumnavigation of the lower 48 states, and am following the continuing adventures of Reid and Soanya on their 1000 days at sea.

Oh, another one I found intriguingly nuts was a sailing race around the world, singlehanded, in 10 foot home-built sailboats. Now of course I can't figure out who'd posted that site! Rats! Anybody here have any clue what I'm talking about?

I'm pretty conservative with my boating, it's pretty much just a great seasoning in an otherwise fairly average middle-class city dweller's life. Somehow don't need that sort of extreme limit-pushing for myself, although I do love it when I find I can do something new (remember how happy I got over something as silly as sailing onto a dock all by myself for the very first time?), - but I do enjoy watching people with grander dreams make them happen.

Thanks, Salt Water Jim, for the link to Roz's page!

Oh, speaking of firsts...I was present last week at a really wonderful first. Won't be in the papers but I had to mention it here. On Wednesday night, I went to Queens to catch up with Kayak Family - that being Kayak Girl, Kayak Boy & fairly recent arrival Kayak Baby. Kayak Aunty was there too, and a couple of other friends. Nice crowd. We were passing around the baby, taking turns bouncing her. She likes bouncing. Also rocking & ocean noises. Hmmm.

OK, no, she gets a few years before she'll be pulling off her first roll.

For now, it was exciting enough for everyone there that in the presence of that entire crew, Kayak Baby pulled off her VERY FIRST LAUGH!

Now THAT was a cool first to witness.

ISP woes...

5 calls last night re no ACT light/connection.

Call 1: Not taking calls at this time.

Call 2: Cut off while holding for tech.

Call 3: 1st level tech couldn't help, put me through to 2nd level tech who said "Tools are down, call back in an hour".

Call 4: 1st level tech put me through to 2nd level tech. 2nd level tech said his tools showed no interruption in my connectivity & that that usually meant something like the customer hadn't paid their phone bill (!!!). After that little lecture, he put me through to 3rd level, who began to work on m, put me on hold to check something, when I got cut off.

Call 5: Tech said he couldn't do a thing if I didn't have Total Access disc because Office 2000 is too obsolete. He said he was the most senior technician available. He's mailing me the disc, and if I'm in a hurry I should go to Best Buy & pick one up, and in the meantime I should stay in touch with my modem because the light might magically go back on. Sure. Well, it magically went off after well over a year of perfectly good service, so I suppose it could magically go back on - but I'm not holding my breath.

And this was after the original Call 1 on Friday night - that one, I had a 2nd level tech who seemed to know what he was doing, but I asked to stop at 1 am when I was falling asleep. Oh, had I only known, I would've stayed on the phone with him all night. He said he'd put me down for a call back Saturday. Never happened. Tried to get through Sunday, got the heavy call volume, please call back.

Not very impressed with Earthlink right now, I gotta say.

So, blogging may continue to be sparse. Although at this point I'm ready to hook the dialup back up. I don't have a lot of yer newfangled toys - no T.V. (ok, so that's not so newfangled), no ipod, no cell phone, no Crackberry - but (everybody over a certain age, sing along now!) Mama, don't take my Internet, Mama don't take my internet, Mama don't take my internet away!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Seen on the subway...

Spotted en route to work Friday morning. Little more coherent than your usual graffiti...

Lots more stuff I'd like to blog about except that I'm too swamped to take lunch hours at work, and my DSL at home is still down. I'm going to have another go with the helpdesk tonight - I have done a bit of Googling & I don't think I'm the only one around here who's had their dsl go pft.

p.s. - there, now that I've reaffirmed that this is actually an urban blog, I think now I can return to more pressing issues. Like squash borers. Rotten little beasts.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Saturday Silliness - Harrison Street Regatta

If you're reading this somewhere in NYC, and you're racking your brains for something entertaining & outdoorsy to do this weeking, this event could be just what you're looking for! Tim Gamble, who keeps an interesting blog on his Message in a Bottle Project and is probably one of the most active kayak volunteers in NY, if not on the entire planet, posted it to the NYCKayaker listserve actually quite a while ago. Sorry for the late notice, work's been crazy & my DSL connection at home appears to be kaput, bleah.

Here's the scene at last year's finish line -

Today's photos are courtesy of Jonathan Barkey - that link leads to lots more pictures of last year's fun. Thanks, Jonathan!

And now, heeeeeere's Tim!

Ladies and Gentlemen of the NYC Boating Community.

The Downtown Boathouse is proud to remind you of the running of the 26th annual Harrison St. Regatta. As always, the Regatta will feature a captivating race, as well as stunning food, fashion, and door prizes.

This year's Regatta will take place on August 18th, 2007.

It is sure to be the social event of the paddling season in New York.

All of the festivities, including the food, and use of the Boathouse boats is 100% free.

The starter’s gun will go off sometime around 2:00PM. We will once again be running “the short course” due to restrictions on open fire cooking at
our other locations. The course is from the Downtown Boathouse Pier 96 location to the Downtown Boathouse 70th St. location. Tactics are still important for a good race time, but navigation should not be a concern.

Stop by anytime that day and reserve a boat. If you have your own boat please bring it, but the Boathouse strives to get our entire fleet on the water. Last year’s Regatta was a truly impressive site with about 60 boats in the water. Last year we ran out of paddles and PFD’s before boats, so even if you don’t bring a boat, please bring a paddle and/or PFD if you have one.

Only about 10 or 20 people in the race are actually trying to go fast. Most people are just out for a fun trip. Experience the glory and pageantry by paddling with over 60 other boats at once. Please don’t be intimidated by the fact that it is technically a race.

The trophy has not been captured by a non-boathouse paddler for over 7 years, and we will be offering a spirited defense this year as well.

The winner of the race is the SECOND boat to cross the finish line. I will
be defending my title, and attempting to “threepeat” by winning for three years in a row. The winner from the previous year, makes the trophy for the next year. I have cooked-up another classic, but it won’t be unveiled until the day of, when the paint will hopefully be dry.

Tim with last year's trophy - lovingly crafted from wood salvaged from the beams of the original Downtown Boathouse at Pier 26!

See for directions to the Pier 96 start, or the 70th Street finish.

Tim Gamble

I'm too pooped to schlep into Manhattan this weekend, been a while since I had 2 consecutive days without leaving the borough of Brooklyn & I sort of need that to happen this weekend, but I have participated in this race & it is extremely entertaining, either as a paddler or just spectating & cheering along. The year I did it, there were enough people who wouldn't play along with the "second place is the winner" rule that it just became a flat-out race (hm, come to think of it, it only takes one fast paddler to do that) - but I've heard that it gets pretty funny when everybody does buy into it - you end up with everybody racing to the finish line - then stopping a foot short, then the jockeying begins, eventually somebody can't stand the pressure anymore & crosses. Mayhem ensues. Boy, wonder how they actually determine the winner in that case anyways?

I'll probably be out on Jamaica Bay myself. Whatever I end up doing, I hope it's nowhere near as interesting as Chalu's Wednesday night paddle was. What a drag...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kayakways workshop 08/12/07

Haluu!* And welcome to the next Post of the Small Boat Shop Goes Greenlandic Series!

Sunday the 12th was another beautiful day in South Norwalk. Somebody was in the good graces of the weather gods for these workshops. Fantastic.

Another spectrum - this time of handcrafted paddles.

The rolling section always starts with a demo. Cheri begins here by demonstrating a very basic drill with the avataq. The avataq is a float; originally it was made from the inflated skin of a seal & was fastened to a line attached to a harpoon and when a seal or other marine mammal was hit, this would tire out the animal. In the US, of course, the avataq are all made of neoprene & I believe the primary use is as an aid to learning to roll. In that role, it's so useful that I am considering getting one. Most of the Greenland-style rolling instructors simply start by teaching the sculling brace with back-deck recovery - I've always found that that seems like a lot to throw at a person who hasn't done anything like that before, and I feel like the avataq really simplifies teaching the recovery. Big confidence builder - the student can gradually lighten their grasp on the float as they begin to feel how much support the water gives & what muscles need to activate & deactivate to get from the water to the back deck, until they're not really using it - but they still have it right there, so they know they can use it & not worry about capsizing before they are ready.

Having begun at the very beginning (a very good place to start, I hear), Cheri then works through a selection of rolls.

What's next, Cheri?

Mmm, how about a nice reverse sweep ("kingumut naatillugu", #6 on the Greenland Kayaking Championship list I have).

Then it's time for the students to pair off & get in their boats. That's another advantage of the avataq - using that for the first step simplifies things enough that even total newbies can work together while Cheri & Turner circulate & gradually build on that first drill step by step. I think that's the best thing I got out of this - a nice, simple, clear series of steps to follow that lead to a roll. I've taught people to roll before, but I've actually been more comfortable teaching with a Euroblade, where I have a fairly set series of motions that gradually build on each other - with teaching Greenland style rolling, I've had some success but I've never had a clear idea of the sort of graduated steps that make it all fairly simple & clear. This was a fantastic thing to come away with.

Of course getting people into Cheri & Turner's boats can be a bit of a challenge to begin with - but once you're in, they fit so well it's like rolling NOTHING. Quite wonderful.

At this point the gopher got assigned a guinea pig & had to put her camera away - but I had to get it out when I momentarily fell madly in love with this little catboat...

My guinea pig was great, picked everything up very quickly, and with Turner & Cheri coming by & giving us the next step in the process as he was ready, he made quick progress. It's such a great feeling when everything is falling into place for someone you're working with, and you realize that they are suddenly doing everything right, and you stand back, tell them "Go" and watch them do everything just right. You always have to tell them that they did it themselves - and if they did it right, it was usually so easy they may not believe you.

One other person got her roll on my watch - Cheri had told me to go work with her, and I did the same set of steps; she didn't get it quite as quickly, she was coming up but it wasn't smooth, the paddle kept getting away from her, when in the Greenland standard sweep roll the paddle is parked right on your sternum. Cheri gave us a diagnosis - there was this funny skip happening & I was having a hard time identifying the cause, Cheri explained that this was evidence that her hands, instead of being quiet & following the sweep of the torso, were getting away & shifting the angle of the blade to a climbing angle. We kept working on it until finally she capsized, and visibly paused under the water in a way she hadn't done before. A moment later, and the paddle went right to where it was supposed to be - and she did a beautiful, effortless sweep.

I'm positive I was beaming from ear to ear when she came up - and I'm sure she didn't need me to tell her that yes, that one was GOOD, 'cause I'm sure it just FELT so much better - nevertheless, I began burbling about how pretty it was.

"You know what made it work that time?" she asked.

I was dying of curiousity. What was the key?

"I thought of Jack".

She's a Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club member & a friend of my friend & first Greenland mentor Jack Gilman (the guy behind that clouds-and-marsh-grass photo). She's probably seen Jack roll about a million times.

She just pictured what his hands do when he rolls - and suddenly her body understood what needed to be done, and did it.

So funny, the things that work for people.

End of a perfect day - and thank goodness those swans are very used to people & let it stay that way!

One last shot of Turner -

I'm so glad they let me participate the way I did.

ps - I found this, and several other ways to say "Hello" in Kalaallisut (the Greenlandic language) on a very enjoyable site. Check it out if you've got a minute or ten to browse, head on over to Jennifer's Hello Pages - it's fun!

Summer, please slow down!

Anybody else find it's going too fast?

Somehow it felt a little Septemberish already when I walked out the door to come to work today.

Too soon.

today's photo by Jack Gilman

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday's Lunch Menu

Good heavens, my sitemeter seems to be going sky-high today because of people coming in from Tillerman's post on a food I can't quite believe needs to exist.

Prepackaged potatoes for microwave baking? Prepackaged hot dogs in buns? No, I don't quite get the necessity for either of those, but Smucker's "Uncrustables" brand crimped-edged frozen PB&J product takes the cake. Or maybe the Wonder Bread. Seriously, if you're not one of the people who are coming here from there, and you aren't otherwise familiar with this wonder of catering to some insane level of American culinary laziness, you have got to go read that post...

In light of the fact, though, that many people ARE coming in through that post, so clearly it's been posted on some website that draws a lot of people with an interest in nautical nutrition, I'm going to share with you the snack provided for Sunday's Kayakways workshop, since I was partially responsible for the menu when it was decided on a last minute basis that it would probably be a good idea for the Small Boat Shop to provide something to help those midpoint munchies. There had been a bit of an alteration to the original schedule and it was realized that there'd been no clear statement that there wasn't going to be any food available at the venue. A quick stop at Stop N' Shop was made to make sure nobody started chewing on their tuiliqs -- US tuiliqs being made of neoprene, they offer even less nutritional value than the sealskin originals, which might theoretically offer some modicum of protein if boiled for about a week. The Small Boat Shop guy selected a nutritious healthy snack. I suggested adding some chocolate (in a suitable matrix for summer use).

And I think I'm going to make a word problem out of it, since I haven't done that since the osprey & the jet took off from Jamaica Bay at the same time!

Frogma word problem du jour: There were 10 kayakers on Peach Island. They worked on their rolls for 4 hours. At that point two bags were opened in their presence. One held one dozen Power Bar Harvest Bars* and one held approximately five to six times that number of small chocolate chip cookies.

10 minutes later, which bag's contents had been reduced by 100%?


*I would have voted for Luna Bars, but I hear that men get kind of funny about eating those!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kayakways Workshops at the Small Boat Shop, 7/22/07 & 8/12/07

As I mentioned in the last post, I'm really looking forward to meeting Cheri & Turner on Sunday & participating in one of their Greenland skills workshops in a different role. Even if that means being up & ready to move boats at 8:30 A.M. in South Norwalk, CT. Oy, and I volunteered to help out with the Sebago Open Paddle tomorrow, too. No sleeping in this weekend - but it will be fun. By gum.

Here are some pictures from the July workshop at the Small Boat Shop.

I am not a big believer in omens and signs, but when you have a perfectly beautiful sky the day of a workshop, and then it one-ups itself by throwing in some nice rainbow clouds...well, it just puts you in a good mood.

as does a lovely spectrum of (mostly) handcrafted kayaks on a dock!

This is Dock Traffic Control - O., you're cleared for takeoff, next paddler please hold for the signal to taxi into position

Entering the holding pattern. The folks at the Small Boat Shop decided that the rolling section should be held at Peach Island, the closest of the Norwalk Islands. The local public launch at Calf Pasture Beach would have been ideal, except that it's closed to commercial activities. Peach Island is less than a half-mile away; some of Cheri & Turner's replicas are a little difficult to handle, so we towed the squirrelier ones - that also gave cargo space, we loaded up the boats with tuiliqs, extra paddles, and a couple of cases of water - it was hot, and those tuiliqs would've gotten pretty warm.

There's that picture of Turner I liked again. Something about all those shiny motorboats and the ancient-looking kayaks...and the hat. Love the hat!

Wagons HO! Peach Island, here we come -

with one quick for TQ stop to play good Samaritan & help out a little kid in a swamped rec boat. That's my guy! :D

Turner had started with the strokes section introductory talk-through, and the paddle to the island was a nice warm up. Now time to get to work. We start out of the boats, to allow the students to just get a sense for how the paddles move through the water & create lift. We start by just playing - stirring, pulling, paddle on one shoulder -

Then we turn it into a stroke. It's really surprising how hard it is to stand in one place & paddle well! I feel like I'm running into these exercises where it's not about moving a boat, just feeling how the paddle moves through the water, more and more often - I don't remember this approach back when I started, but I do like it - seems maybe people have preconceived notions of what they think is happening when they put a paddle in the water & move it & the boat moves in response & when you take the moving boat out of the equation, that lets them really feel how the paddle is actually moving in the water. Sometime I may do something like assign myself a certain amount of time - not too long, just five or ten minutes - and just mess around with how many ways I can move the paddle through the water - different directions, different speeds - without budging my boat at all. Or a non-moving race - who can slice-paddle the fastest without moving? OK, I'm thinking more Euro-ish here but that could be funny!

Anyhow, we worked on strokes for a while & I didn't take any more pictures during the stroke part 'cause I was focusing on my stroke. Cheri gave me a really good but rather demanding paddle - it wanted to be used at a certain angle, and it would find it if your catch was properly canted & then you just let it follow the path it "wanted" to - and if you didn't let it find it, it was no good. Reminded me of a really good horse I got to ride once on a very small trail ride - we went up a creek a ways at one point before we went in I was told "That's a good horse you're on, he knows what to do, if you trust him, stay off his mouth & let him pick his way everything will be fine" & that ws true. It was April, I think, I heeded those words & nobody went swimming that day. This paddle was a little like that, only I don't think I as well letting the paddle find the right course through the water as I did with the horse. There were moments, though.

After that, time for rolling - beginning with one of Cheri's rolling demos.

Straightjacket - in a glass boat. Oooh.

And here's Turner working with TQ - this is right at the beginning, and Cheri & Turner start people out with the end of the roll - getting from the water to the back deck. I had to watch for a little while - it's entirely my fault he ended up taking this & so I really wanted to see that he was enjoying it before I went out & started rolling myself - 'cause once I get going in one of those boats of theirs I become completely self-centered - not in a mean way, just that all I'm paying attention to is me & the boat & the paddle & the roll I'm trying to do!

I couldn't quite hear what was being said here but I suspect it was something to do with getting TQ to twist his shoulders a little more, so that they would be parallel to the surface of the water...

there, that's better!

And seeing things moving along nicely, I went off & starting working on my own rolls. No more pictures - and no more paying attention to what Cheri & Turner were doing with the other students. Yep, even the poor boyfriend was on his own (but in hands I trust)!

Although it would have been SO tempting to stay & watch them work with him. He's got a solid C to C roll, and the first time I gave him a Greenland paddle to try rolling with (long before we started dating, actually), he tried to do just that, several times & then came out of his boat. A GP just doesn't work well that way, it's the sideways motion of the blade through the water that generates the lift. I think TQ had had better luck with a GP in subsequent tries, but the standard Greenland roll is a very different motion than his normal roll, so it would've been really interesting to watch, just to see what steps they took him through to get out of a very thoroughly ingrained set of motions & into the Greenland roll motion - but no, I'd paid for the time & wanted to get every minute of rolling in that I could.

In fact I run into that little dilemma every time I take a session with them - on the one hand, I want every minute I can get in those boats & getting pointers from my favorite instructors - but on the other hand, boy, I know I'd learn a ton about TEACHING Greenland style if I could just resist that urge to do as many rolls in the allotted time as I'm physically capable of pulling off. Thinking that last time - and also, as a Level 2 Trainee who's doing some serious looking around for observation opportunities - it finally hit me - I wasn't planning on taking this 2nd workshop (I'm not on a limitless budget) but this could be the perfect opportunity to forego working on rolling in favor of staying rightside up & actually watching Cheri & Turner teach!

So I asked them, and they agreed to make room for me as a mentor - a sort of instructor-trainee participant - at a reduced rate - and with the added stipulation that I be there an hour before the rest of the students to help get ready.

I think this is going to be really interesting. I hope there's a good range of skill levels, because it would be great to see how they shift gears from a beginner. I have to figure out where my waterproof notebook wound up after the last Lake Sebago weekend, I want to take notes.

Don't know if it'll count towards my BCU observation requirements - but I hope to learn a lot. Glad I have a chance to try this new approach!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Garden's fine! Productive, even!

I'd hoped to paddle tonight, I seem to be getting into a nice habit of paddling on Thursday nights. It didn't happen because I was enough of a nitwit to stick my head into my boss's office at 5:15, when I was thinking I'd gotten enough done to make it "pau hana time", and ask if she or her boss (my old boss, who I still do a fair amount of work for, and who she was meeting with at 5:15) were going to need anything else. What a maroon, what an oxymoron, of course the answer was yes. No paddling tonight.

But I did head on out to the club because I wanted to see how the garden was doing after the storm.

It weathered the storm fine.

The biggest problem that I had to attend to was that I hadn't managed to get out there since last Saturday, I guess it was. There were a number of cukes that were still a little small, I figured they'd be ready in a day or two. Well, they were, but that was Tuesday, and they KEPT GROWING, and they were so heavy they were pulling down their trellises!

One way to fix that!

And as you can see, the cherry tomato & basil have been liking the weather, too!

Fortunately TQ and I decided we should be good kids & have dinner with his folks this weekend instead of being all antisocial & running off by ourselves like we usually do. TQ will probably grill something (oh boy) and I offered to bring some of my homegrown salad.

That should take care of, oh, one of those.

Here is another interesting use for cucumbers.

But based on a recommendation on the same blog, I won't bother trying to make quiche out of my cuke bonanza!

I am sort of sorry right now that I have somehow never developed a taste for dill pickles (that was another suggestion Pandabonium had for excess cuke use). I only like sweet pickles. I wonder if those are hard to make.

Actually I'm pretty excited about the weekend - I'm going up to CT on Saturday because I have to meet Cheri & Turner at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday at the parking lot of The Small Boat Shop.

I'm joining them for the Sunday Greenland workshop - but this time, with a different approach.

I'm expecting to learn a lot.

It's going to be cool.

More tomorrow, maybe. Although there was a paddle I didn't get to go for tonight - that could very, very easily pre-empt home computer time!

Meanwhile, a couple of blocks away -

Tornado? What tornado?

I took that this morning on my way to work. I walked to the Church Avenue station out of curiousity.

This was about the extent of the storm damage that I saw on the route that I happened to walk.

But I got to work, and a co-worker of mine who lives in my neighborhood stopped by my desk with a story of being abruptly & alarmingly awakened in the middle of the night last night by his whole building shaking. Seems a tree had made it through the tornado, but been severely weakened & finally crashed down on the building's garage.

Tornados are weird. The midwest can keep them, ok?

I emailed my friend who got me into Irish music this morning - her whole family has some deep deep Brooklyn Irish roots. All I said was, "If I wanted tornadoes, I'd live in Kansas. Know what I mean?"

She emailed me back:

"I do know what you mean! Tornadoes in Brooklyn are like pizza in Galway - just not good!"

Flatbush Gardener's Tornado post -

Xris, the Flatbush Gardener blogger, spent some time walking around taking pictures of the neighborhood yesterday. You can see those & read his gardener's perspective on the damage here.

I have hopes that the gardens at Sebago are fine - I did actually get out one subway stop early to see how things were, and all the various gardening efforts in front of apartment buildings and houses looked fine, maybe just a few petals knocked off.

I guess that's one bizarre thing about tornado damage - one block can be trashed, and 2 blocks away, you'd never know anything happened.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What's On Your Space Blanket? Plus - Big storm in Brooklyn

So, remember how a couple of weeks ago, I ended up breaking out a space blanket that I've been carrying around for years? I was glad I had it - of course I'd decided not to carry a jacket that day because I knew it was one of the things in my first aid kit (I've got one from Adventure Medical Kits), but I didn't actually expect to use it.

Turned out that it didn't just keep me & the other jacketless paddler nice and warm while we sat on an island waiting for a line of thunderstorms - it also provided some reading material!

Yes, it's not just a space blanket - it's a space blanket and wilderness survival emergency manual!

Maybe I'm just overly easy to amuse, but I found it really fascinating. There was all sorts of stuff - how to make a couple of different kinds of shelters, how to start a fire using a lens or a car battery (ok, most campers & paddlers don't usually have a car battery handy but I assume the idea was that this space blanket would be a very good item to have in a kit you keep in your car in case it, say, slides off the road in a snowstorm or something) - all sorts of stuff!

Here's a few samples -

I never expected my space blanket to be quite so informative!

And speaking of storms, we had a doozy this morning. If you're in the US, you may have heard about it. I'm fine, the tornado did actually hit the Flatbush neighborhood which, er, yes, happens to be right around where I live, but it was a few blocks away & with a tornado, that's far enough. I never realized before that one of the nice things about not having a car was that if you don't have a car, there's no way your car can get crushed by a tree. Yeesh. It's good it was at least early, when there weren't as many people on their way to work.

I have to say that I have never, ever, ever sat & wondered about the likelihood of tornadoes. I do wonder how things would be if we ever got hit by a really major hurricane - I think I'm far enough inland that my building wouldn't get flooded, but a big one could foul things up pretty badly - but never tornadoes.

The storm actually did wake me up, but by the time I was leaving for work, it was mostly done. Getting to work was interesting - took me about 3 hours, mostly on foot. There's a project that's been just going wrong every possible way, and I just sort of had to get there, even though the entire subway system was paralyzed. The subways are pretty reliable in most inclement weather, but one thing they just can't handle is a freakish amount of water coming down at once, and I think we had something like 3 inches in an hour.

Fortunately for me, the only requirement was that I appear in the office ready to work a full day at some point. I had a choice between hoofing it to downtown Brooklyn (where there would be a better chance of at least some limited train service into Manhattan) or cramming myself into a bus with about a hundred other cranky, sweaty people.

Guess which one I chose?

Yup. Clip-clop, clip-clop.

Kept it to a mosey. It was hot, I needed to not be totally pooped when I got to work, and besides, I ended up walking a route I'd never walked before, and there were some interesting things to see. May even have taken some pictures!

Yes, it may sound strange, but I actually found that I enjoyed my three-hour commute.

Glad the return trip is going to be by subway, though.

I'm going to close by posting the National Weather Service Public Information Statement that I found on Weather Underground.

... National Weather Service meteorologists confirm EF-2 tornado in New York City today...

National Weather Service meteorologists along with New York City emergency management officials have confirmed that a tornado skipped along an approximate 9 mile long path from Staten Island to Brooklyn early this morning.

The tornado first touched down in Staten Island at approximately 6:22 am in the vicinity of St. Austins place in the Livingston - Randall Manor area. The tornado moved east... with additional damage occurring in the Tompkinsville area. Most of the damage in Staten Island was to trees... and estimated to be EF-1... with winds of 86 to 100 mph.

The tornado headed east across the verrazano Narrows... and touched down again in Brooklyn at Bay Ridge. This occurred sometime just after 6:30 am on Bay Ridge Avenue between third and fourth avenues... and continued on an east-northeast path across 68th street between third and fourth avenues. Eleven homes in this section had
moderate to severe roof damage. The storm continued to move east-northeast into Leif Ericson Park square... where severe damage to trees occurred. As the tornado lifted... it tore off the roof of the nissan car dealership at the corner of 66th street and fifth Avenue. The tornado returned to the ground farther northeast... with scattered tree damage along 6th Avenue. Based on the assessed damage... this tornadic damage is classified as EF-2 with estimated wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph.

The tornado returned to the ground as another pocket of significant damage occurred on 58th street between fifth and sixth avenues. The roof was ripped off of 5 homes... and tree damage indicates strong EF-1 damage.

The tornado then headed east... and touched down again in the Flatbush vicinity at approximately 6:40 am. Numerous trees... approximately 30... were uprooted along ocean Avenue between beverley Road and church Avenue. The damage also extended to the west to Argyle Road.

The National Weather Service had issued a Tornado Warning for portions of Staten Island and Brooklyn at 6:28 am. A second Tornado Warning was issued at 6:50 am for sections of Brooklyn... Queens... and Nassau County.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Waterfront In the News

Interesting article about a very familiar unused building on the Hudson River waterfront.

I've mentioned it on Frogma before - it made the news a year and a quarter ago. Gist of the story was that there'd been plans, but it was all in limbo. Today's article makes for an interesting update.

Wonder if I should start a pool on how many more annual updates there will be before the chain link fence goes down & the doors of whatever it ends up being swing open to the public?

Whatever they do with it...why is it that I have a feeling that there will be a Starbuck's somewhere in the picture?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Exciting First

Can't do a real post right now, too much to do, but I did something this weekend that I was very excited about and wanted to share it.

After a couple of hours of working with Holly, the Sebago sailing chair, she actually decided that I could get home without her while she stayed out & worked with somebody else. I actually tacked up the Paedergat and sailed onto the dock on Saturday, completely unsupervised and completely under control!

Holly would not have let me go alone if she didn't think I could do it, and I was feeling a lot more comfortable with the tacking after Holly drilled me on 'em (OK, you need to do 10 tacks before that buoy...1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10...ok, now 5 more, quick we're almost there!)but still, boy, it was awfully nice to have it all actually WORK when left to my own devices!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

DIY Submariners Arrested in Brooklyn...

Came home to find some interesting news in the email, sent by a couple of friends, about a homemade replica sub that got a little more official-type attention than maybe they wanted!. Biggest problem was that the builders apparently didn't realize that 25 yards away from a world-famous ocean liner was not the best place to run their sea trials...

Gotta hand it to the pilot though - he DID wear his PFD!

Hm. And here I've always thought I couldn't follow in my dad's footsteps & be a submariner 'cause I was a girl...maybe I just haven't been thinking outside the box enough, eh?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Summer's flying...

...sorta like my friend & early kayak mentor Richard Chen See in this picture.

So much to squeeze in this weekend.

Looks like I may get another try at the dinghy thingy tomorrow. Hope so.

Now how's this for a conundrum?

Actually it's not really a conundrum at all, I've already bought a ticket & know what I'm doing, but it's still funny - my friend & early mentor Richard dances with the Paul Taylor Dance Company; they are giving a free (yes, free, fabulous and free, how's that for a deal?) performance as part of the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival. Performances tonight (August 3rd) & tomorrow (August 4th) at Damrosch Park. Can't make it tomorrow because I'm already going to hear another paddler friend Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival.

I find it very strange that I actually have 2 friends performing in 2 totally separate events on the same night at Lincoln Center.

Well, maybe not that strange. I've noticed that there seem to be a lot of really interesting & talented people drawn to boating here in NYC. Guess that's part of what makes me enjoy it so much.

Anyways, they'll both be great shows. Wish I could see both!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Revisiting the Wreck -

Remember that abandoned, nameless speedboat I'd referred to as spooky the other day?

Well, it didn't look quite as ghostly on thundery Sunday - just sad in that abandoned-toy way. The other boat - the one we'd thought was a sandbar when we first approached it in the dark that night - has pretty clearly been where it is for a while.

I'm wondering if the white one just hit the hulk hard, and the owners decided to just cut their losses & leave. It was actually still afloat the night we first found it. Remember how I mentioned that there was no name on the transom?

Oddly enough, you can't quite see it but there's a jet ski in there...

I know there's that saying that "a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money" - but doesn't it seem bizarre that they'd just ditch it?

I guess that a standard-issue production motorboat like this would be a pretty tricky & expensive item to get rid of.