Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TARPTASTIC! Day 1, 5 Years Around Long Island

OK. So my first big post about this year's 5 Years Around Long Island trip did feature a bit of me being cranky about people paddling off & leaving people.

As I was saying to a friend the other day, this spreading-out is maybe endemic to strong paddlers who end up doing a lot of leading trips for less experienced paddlers, as happens in a club situation. They get out with a bunch of strong paddlers & a bit of "Wooohoo, I'm off the leash!" kicks in. Sometimes it just doesn't occur to you that the laggard is doing anything but taking too many pictures.

I say "you" 'cause I've done it myself, in fact even to a couple of the people I got a bit cranky with on our first lunch hour, after a morning when the wind was from the ONE direction that makes my Romany wallow annoyingly (and maybe I was taking too many pictures too).

It's just a bad habit, this running off without checking once in a while. Especially in more open water & rough conditions. I guess being the slow one yourself every now & then is a good reminder for when you're the fast one - even if it's a rock-solid crew you're with.

'Nuff said.

Time to move on & say that if you are ever looking for the right people to take camping in a howling gale -- have I got your crew!

The campsite we stayed at, Hither Hills, has rules about how many tents you can have per campsite. This is a perfectly sensible rule for car camping situations, where people are bringing canvas (ok, nylon, whatever) Taj Mahals along, but when you get a bunch of kayakers, whose tents tend towards the teensy, trying to comply with the rule, things get interesting. So Steve H., our Paddling Chef, brought along a great big old old-school tent, just like the ones I remember my folks renting from MWR (Morale Welfare & Recreation for the non-military) for at least one church retreat at the camp that Aiea United Methodist Church had access to (Camp Erdman?). The non-picky folks shared it, and if we had gotten busted for a tiny tent or two too many, we had somewhere for a couple of us singletons to move.

Steve had a big square tarp for the roof of the tent, which would've been fine if it had been just raining, but we had winds gusting I think it was to 30 kts the first night, and slated to get higher before things calmed down. The square tarp had already been flapping so loudly it was a wonder people in the tent had slept - and we were a little afraid that with a strong enough blast (especially when the tent was empty), the tarp would either rip off, or worse, take the whole tent aloft and away like a kitesurfer. We weren't being paranoid either - that exact thing happened to the folks on the neighboring site. They dissapeared quite abruptly at some point. It turned out that that point was shortly after the great big tent they'd started out with decided it was actually cut out for a life on the rolling sea & bid them adieu.

So with a precedent like that, we definitely knew that something more aerodynamic was in order. We'd seen some very nice tarp arrangements on the campground, so once paddling was crossed off the list of possible activities for the day (unfortunately AFTER I'd stuffed myself with a huge storm-paddle breakfast), the very next move was a visit to the hardware store for the biggest tarp they had in stock -- then back to base camp for a little remodeling!

(click here for bigger slideshow)

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