Saturday, June 15, 2019

First Camping Adventure In A Long Time!

YAY just packed up my little blue tent for another urban camping adventure, this one at Floyd Bennett Field, which has been open to the public for camping for a few years now. They've had camping there for years but it used to be only open to youth groups, now they'll let any old riffraff in. Cool, I'm on my way! 

For a long time, I was actually a little doubtful about whether camping at Floyd Bennett Field would be all that nice. This division of the National Park Service's Gateway Recreation Area was originally a military air base, of course, and there's a lot of acreage that's covered in concrete. When I thought about camping there, I was imagining pitching a tent on the tarmac surrounding the big hangar where the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project is - not terribly appealing. Does anybody else remember an episode of Welcome Back Kotter where Kotter tried to take some of the Sweathogs camping, and something went wrong with the navigation or the car or both, and they ended up camping in a parking lot somewhere in the outskirts of the city with Kotter trying to pretend it was just fine? OK, maybe not THAT bad. But still, I just wasn't picturing anything really neat. 

However, last year a group of local kayak club folks did a camping trip there and a few of us just went for dinner with the campers (who were grilling, yum) after wrapping up an event at Sebago. Turns out that although there are indeed tarmac campsites, those are mostly for RV's, while the tent campsites are tucked into a green and pleasant wooded area nearby. Maybe not up to the level of the stunning NPS campsite at Ft. Wadsworth shown in this photo, but a perfectly nice place to go spend a few nights outdoors. Oh me of little faith, I should've known that my friend Ranger John's park would have a fine entry in the increasing selection of real live NYC camping experiences. I think this is my first camping trip since 2015. Been way too long

Curious about these urban campsites? Click here for more info. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Current Subway Reading - Yes She Can



I've totally fallen down on that project I had where I was going to share my monthly reading (I stalled out at mid-March, as I recall) but oh my, I have GOT put in a plug for my current subway reading, Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House. I am absolutely loving this book.

It's actually kind of heartbreaking reading it and thinking about how hard these young women worked and how much hope they had for what they were bringing to the country and the world, only to have the current administration come dundering in and set straight to work tearing it all down. But it's also such a grand reminder that these young women - and so many other young women and men with similar visions - are still out there, were just starting their careers in the Obama era, and hopefully have long and powerful futures ahead of them to keep working towards what's right. There's a book tour going on right now - unfortunately for me the book came out in March and they started in NYC, but for any friends in these areas who might be interested, they're on the road through June, with several Georgia events, followed by events in Massachusetts, Denver, and Virginia.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Signs of the Season - Peonies!


I may enjoy watching the seasons change at my local greenmarket almost as much as I do out on Jamaica Bay. I got my first strawberries of the year on Sunday (one of the stalls had them before that, I think on Memorial Day weekend, but the first ones of the year sold out way before I made it to the market), and although I'm not a frequent purchaser of flowers, the stand where I got the berries and some apples had the most glorious peonies. I just had to bring some home.

Can't WAIT for the first corn on the cob, peaches, and tomatoes of the season!

I'm looking forward to produce from my own little garden at Sebago, too. It's been a really good Spring with plenty of rain and everything's just shooting up. I actually tried my first carrots from the garden yesterday. Carrots are a new thing I'm trying this year since I've decided that pole beans (which I tried as a climber after we started losing cucumbers to some sort of mildew that had gotten into the soil at the club) are a little too unruly for a garden I don't get to every day - seems like one week they would be innocent little things climbing up their poles just like on the seed packet, and then the next week I would go to the club find that they'd 
heaped up on each other, pulled down the poles, were making a determined grab at the tomato cages (and of course the poor defenseless tomato plants inside those cages) and just generally going nuts. The hooligans! So this year, carrots instead of beans. 

Didn't mean to be sampling my carrots just yet, but I went to the club to finish the gel coat work on my keel strip, which I'd mostly done on Thursday but messed up in a couple of spots when I got impatient to go home and tried to put my boat away myself (there were paddlers out on the water and I should've just waited for them to get back). I did my touch-ups, then let the boat sit out in the sun for a while I went to weed my garden. I accidentally pulled up a couple of carrots with the weeds - they were maybe an inch and a half long and less than a quarter inch thick but they were recognizably carrots and so I rinsed 'em off and ate them and they were quite good.

Chard, beets, basil, and tomatoes all coming along nicely, too.

Oh, and speaking of the keel strip (click here for keel strip post if you missed that, this is the biggest repair I've done on my boat so of course there's a good kayak geek post about it) - it worked! The gel coat is kind of a finishing touch, the fiberglass tape epoxied to the keel is the main thing, so despite wanting to clean up the gel coat where I'd smeared it, I did take the Romany out for the trip leader training class we had at the club on Saturday. I opened the aft hatch during a beach stop and was absolutely delighted to find that the compartment was once again bone dry for the first time in a long time. I'm pretty happy with how that all went - would've been nice if I'd had the sense to not try to move it by myself when the gel coat was still wet on Thursday, but all in all not bad for my first try.  
 

Friday, June 07, 2019

All-Club Invitational at the Sebago Canoe Club

Just realized that the SD card with photos from last weekend is still here in my work computer, so here are some photos from Saturday's All-Club Invitational at Sebago. Another fine day at the club, with 3 different lengths of trips to go on (planned so well that all 3 groups were converging on the Paerdegat at the same time as we returned, which was fun), racing, and then FOOD SO MUCH FOOD by Steve the Paddling Chef.

I was pretty happy, I've kind of been using the Joe Glickman Cup racing series as one of my opportunities to see how I'm coming along in getting back to where I was before my breast cancer episode and this year I really feel like I'm getting somewhere! Dealing with that took from Fall 2015 (I found it in late August but heavy-duty medical stuff didn't really start going down until the fall) through Spring 2016. Took the wind out of my sails and getting myself back up to speed has taken much longer than I hoped. But I've been getting out on the water pretty often this year and my stamina for the 800 yard race (the longest of the 3 races that each club hosts for the Cup) felt noticeably better than it did last year at Yonkers, when I just didn't feel like I could hold any kind of a pace.

Karen from Yonkers and I had a good fight for 3rd place in this year's women's 800, Julie from Inwood and Julia from Sebago are both great racers in fast boats and they were just gone like that, but Karen and I were well matched (that's her in the Wilderness Systems partway down, and with my Romany temporarily out of commission, I was in a Chatham 17, which I'd picked for the extra length, most of our non-racer club boats are 16" so a little bit slower) and the race basically came down to my getting the inside track - I'd chased her all the way up the basin and only got ahead after pulling off a nice tight turn at the buoy. I was so pleased to NOT just run out of gas halfway back - it's taken forever 'cause I'm not wildly disciplined about getting back into shape, but this year I'm finally feeling like I'm getting somewhere with the getting back in shape and I am quite happy about that! 

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Keel Strip Progress

click on any photo for better view


Hi! Not much blogging lately because my home computer is doing some bothersome things, including one blue-screen-of-death episode, which I haven't seen since my last computer died. The current one is about 9 years old so I'm thinking it might be time to spring for a new one, but June is a bit on the busy side, so I'm just trying to stay off of the old one until I can do that.

But speaking of old gear, I'm so pleased with how my repair on my 20 year old kayak is going that I brought an SD card with pictures to work so I could share!

I know a person is entitled to a new kayak every now and then, too, but replacing a Romany is a tad more expensive than replacing a computer. Plus I love my boat, and we've had a lot of adventures together.

Enough adventures to just wear a hole right through the keel, as shown above. There were a couple of other worn spots, too, so finally time for a keel strip!

A keel strip is just a strip of fiberglass tape run down a boat's centerline, where the boat gets the most wear and tear. This is a really simple way to extend your boat's life and a lot of people put one on much much earlier on than I did. There was, in fact, a keel strip party at Sebago a couple of years back where several people got together, bought supplies to share, and then got together at the club to apply the strips.

The only reason I held off then is because my Romany is already a pretty heavy boat and I didn't want to add any weight until I had to. My hatches were bone dry until last year, when the rear hatch started to be a little damp after a paddle - then this year in February, when Ilene and I paddled to Gerritson Creek and saw a seal and crunched around in the ice, I got back to the dock to find a good half-gallon of water sloshing around back there. OOPS. At that point it was too cold for epoxy to set, so I patched things up with duct tape and kept paddling. Spring kept being cold for ages, so I just kept going with the tape, replacing it as necessary. We finally started getting reliably warm enough weather for fiberglassing in May, so I started rounded up materials (that's where a group effort would've been nice, repair supplies aren't cheap) and found that excellent keel strip video from Sea Kayaking Anglesey that I'd shared before Memorial Day weekend.

I didn't actually do the work that weekend because West Marine only had 10' lengths of the 2" fiberglass tape I needed, and my boat is 16' long and I didn't want to patch pieces together, but that ended up FINE because that was peak cottonwood snow day at the club, it would've been absolutely impossible to work with epoxy without it getting all stuck full of fluff!

I ordered a roll of the tape online from Jamestown Distributors. I went back to West Marine for the epoxy because I wanted a little guidance on what to get and the staff at the Manhattan West Marine is usually pretty helpful. That was a good move, I came home with a resin/catalyst combination that would give me a good amount of working time before it set - since I hadn't done this before and I wasn't in a rush to use the boat (nice thing about a club is there are other boats) that was really good to have. 

This was Memorial Day. I went out for two paddles over the holiday weekend, one on Saturday, one on Monday. I've been tracking my mileage this year and wanted to break the 100 mile mark, two medium-length paddles did it, yay! After Monday's paddle, I took off the duct tape and gave the boat the best scrubbing it's probably ever had, then sat it on sawhorses in the sun to dry while I went and did some gardening. 
Saturday the 1st - boat now thoroughly dry after a week put away. 

Supplies - sandpaper, acetone, fiberglass tape, masking tape, gloves (multiple pairs), scissors, tub for epoxy, epoxy, catalyst, and a paper cup (pre-marked for measuring out the epoxy and resin in the 5 to 1 ratio required), 

I followed the video exactly - the only thing I did differently was wear a respirator that I borrowed from TQ (he volunteered it the minute I started talking about doing fiberglass work on my boat). Oh, and I left my gloves on the whole time. 

And it worked just the way Phil Clegg said it would. 
    
     O
:D />
O

Three strips of masking tape - first one straight down the middle, taking some time to line it up well, then one more on either side using the center one as a guide.

Center strip pulled up, bow and stern ends marked out in tape - there's your work area. Sanded next - I had to laugh a little when Phil said on the video "just take that shine off the gel" - I may have been able to omit this step 'cause after 20 years of pretty heavy use I don't think there's a square inch of shiny on the underside of this boat, but I did it anyways.  

Next steps - I'd measured and cut my fiberglass tape to the right length and re-rolled it (that was an EXCELLENT hint in the video, I'm not sure I would've thought of that but it makes it so much easier to put it in place on the boat). With that ready, I carefully measured out 5 measures of resin and one of catalyst, mixed 'em in my tub, grabbed a brush and started applying it to the boat. Clubmate Derek O. took this photo - a few people had stopped by to see what I was doing and he'd stuck around, which was great - the video made this look like something you could definitely do by yourself, but there was at least one point where I could see an extra pair of hands coming in handy. And Derek's done a lot of boat repairs himself, but isn't somebody who feels like he has to give advice unless you ask him for it. Perfect person to have hanging out while you do a repair that you're pretty confident you can do but are still doing for the first time.

After I had a nice layer of goop on the boat, I carefully centered the end of the tape on the bow. Derek held that for me (Phil says in the video that it should stay stuck just from the epoxy but that had been the one thing where I thought having somebody to hold it there might be helpful) as I unrolled it down the centerline.

Then I wetted down the tape with more epoxy, making sure all the cloth was wet -  




 then I went down the boat looking for anything that needed to be ooched a little bit this way or that - and then all that was left to do was a quick mop-up of drips that had gotten outside of the working area, and that was it for Part 1. Ta daaa! 

Masking tape off and it all looks good! 
I came back for weeding and another paddle (in a club boat) on Sunday and was absolutely delighted to find that the epoxy had set completely overnight and everything looked just the way it should. Next step - gel coat, and some work on the seat, and then hopefully Trusty Romany will be ready for a few more adventures! 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Saturday Sky Show (repair plans postponed)


if you're in a rush, skip down to the pictures - wonderful clouds rolling through yesterday, I was glad I took my camera!


Good case of best-laid plans going astray this weekend - I have ended up with a pretty tight schedule for my June weekends and for a couple of the events (the first is a trip leader training day at Sebago, for which I'm one of the instructors, and then I'm going for the Instructor Development Workshop half of the IDW/ICE Kayak Dov is running in Jamaica Bay and Breezy Point - more on that in another post) it would be better if my boat didn't sink. Although that would make a really excellent scenario for our trip leader trainees, wouldn't it? Especially since I don't think Cleopatra's Needle techniques (for a boat so flooded that one end is underwater) are taught as commonly as they used to be now that almost all sea kayaks are made with sealed bulkheads for and aft...hmmm...

nope nope nope, just kidding - I really do want my boat to be actually seaworthy for both of those, and I'd fully expected to have the keel strip materials in hand after a Friday afternoon trip to fling money at West Marine (now that New York Kayak is gone, sniff, West Marine is really the only place I can get to from work for boat-focused shopping). Unfortunately, the Manhattan West Marine only carries the 2" fiberglass cloth tape I need in 10' lengths. My boat is 16 feet long. Argh! I did consider getting 2 strips and trying to lay them end to end, but I don't have a lot of practice at fiberglassing (that's why I was so glad to find that really clear Sea Kayak Anglesey how-to video I shared the other day - I understand the concept but it was great to see a good step-by-step review) and my main recollections from the last repair I did do was that it's messy and once you mix the epoxy you have to work pretty fast. Trying to line up 2 pieces was going to increase the mess and decrease the speed, so I decided against that - this is going to be permanent so I'd like to do it right.

Unfortunately I really liked the timing of my original repair plan, and this sent that completely out the window, so I walked out of West Marine feeling very disappointed. Don't like shopping anyways so when I do shop it's usually very targeted, and discovering that the generally solid store I expected to have the simple set of stuff I needed didn't have it really threw me. And it was my birthday and I'd gotten out of work an hour later than I'd hoped to, and I also had to bail on a 2nd errand I'd wanted to do because I took so long searching and hemming and hawing at West Marine - not the ideal start to 52 and I'm just superstitious enough to wonder if that's a sign for the rest of the year. Minor irritation in the grand scheme of things, of course, but still left me grouchy.

At least the reset of the plan involved getting on the water - hopefully twice in this three-day weekend. 
I shopped online for the tape on Friday night and have ordered a 10 yard roll from the Jamestown Distributor website. The new plan is to squeeze in the repair next weekend. I paddled yesterday and then I expect to paddle again tomorrow (it's crazy hot today); after tomorrow's paddle, I'll take off the duct tape that's patching the pukas right now and give the boat a good all-over scrubbing.  It'll have all week to get good and dry before fix-up day. I'll collect the other pieces over the course of the week and I'll fit the repair in over next weekend, using a club boat for the all-club invitational event we're hosting. I did get some useful things done around the house done on the newly freed-up Saturday morning, and then Saturday afternoon, I went to the club bent on a good exercise paddle (in addition to wanting to fix the Romany, I also want to get more boat time in before both of the instructional events).

Club members had put together a nice paddle and cookout event in the morning, and a lot of them were still there and tried to tempt me with food and tales of a gale blowing out on the bay - ordinarily I might've joined them but since I'm on this self-imposed get-ready timeline I went ahead with my paddle. It was indeed a little on the breezy side out there, 15 to 20 with gusts around 25; I'd told my friends I would stay in the Paerdegat if it was too rough, but instead I decided to go do both arms of Mill Basin, which is a fine workout route for days when conditions out on the bay are a little on the interesting side for a solo paddle. It also turned out to work out really well with breaking up the upwind and downwind segments - Mill Basin is shaped as though you made a C with your left hand and looked at it sideways, with the opening of the C facing up. Your wrist is the inlet, running west to east. The arms run in a curve but basically north to south. The wind was from the south. To Mill Basin was into the wind, up each arm with the wind, down each arm into the wind, and back to the Paerdegat with the wind again (with a little bit of surfing because the wind was against the current, although the current was strong enough to make surfing feel mushy). I had mostly planned the route for the relative shelter, but it was nice alternating the harder work going into the wind and the breaks with the wind at my back that way.

And oh, the clouds were SPECTACULAR - just hypnotic watching 'em change as they rolled through, and a Great Egret welcomed me back to the Paerdegat, and although I'd thought about adding an extra mile by going to the top of the basin and back, I decided not to, and that worked out great because when I ran up to see if the clubhouse was open, I found my neighbor Beth literally just getting into her car to leave - she's the commodore at the club and she and a couple others had stayed after the potluck to work on some boat storage records. Usually it's good to go the extra mile, but in this case, that would've meant riding the bus home - as it was, Beth was not in a hurry and I even got to have some good red wine leftover from the potluck. Such a nice way to end a 10-mile paddle!

Got home feeling way better about 52.

Here are some photos of the spectacular sky show I enjoyed so much while I was out. Click on the first one for a slideshow view! 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Measles immunity update

Measles US 1944-2007 inset
Elizabeth at Boomer Highway suggested that I share the graph I'd linked to in my last post - seems like a good idea, here you are! 


Here's anupdate to my late April "Frogma PSA: Measles News for the Midlife Set, in which I talked about finding out that my assumption (based on having incredibly responsible parents who would've given me all the childhood shots recommended at the time) that I was immune to the measles that are on the loose in Brooklyn might not be right. It felt a little bit like thinking I'd been walking around with pants on the whole time and then having a trusted friend say "Guess what..." - that kind of a bad surprise!

I wrote about it but didn't get right on with taking care of myself the way I should have. The beginning of each month gets busy with books to be closed at work and after that it had just kind of gone to the back burner, but Elizabeth A. Havey, a friend from my midlife women's blogging group recently did a post about it on her Boomer Highway. As you might guess from the name, she's a bit older than me (I'm Generation X) and her post was about her actual experience with the childhood diseases against which the MMR vaccine defends. Her measles experience in particular was so bad that her mother told her later that she "spent every moment watching over me, praying she wouldn’t lose me". So much for this business about measles not being a big deal, right? 

Anyways, that was just the reminder I needed. I live about a mile from one of our Brooklyn measles outbreak hot spots and with new cases still being reported (there were 423 confirmed in NYC at the beginning of May, and a hundred more by May 20th), and my ordinarily mild asthma always waiting in the wings to complicate even the stupidest of common colds, this was really not something I wanted to keep gambling with.

Earlier this week, I checked in with my doctor about my concerns. She got right back to me saying "Get tested, and if you don't have immunity, get vaccinated". I went to one of those CityMD walk-in clinics (wouldn't want to trade in my doctors for those but boy are they convenient for these simple sorts of things) during my lunch hour on Tuesday for the blood draw. They promised results within 3 to 5 days. The very next afternoon, they sent me a "we would like to talk to you" email. Good followup, there's a patient portal where I could get the results but this was a 24 hour turnaround and I wouldn't have been looking for a couple more days.

Sure enough, it turns out that I've got no immunity to ANY of those MMR guys. Yikes!

I got vaccinated today - doing my bit both for myself and for the neighborhood.

SO glad I found out about this!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend Project - Fitting a Keel Strip



I'll take wishes of luck, too, but this video is encouraging! 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Signs of the season!

So Spring sprang slowly and soggily, with cold, gray, rainy weather to a point that would've had me wondering if I'd been secretly transplanted back to the Seattle area if I didn't see the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty every day on my commute. Even with the constant dreary drizzle, the proper Spring things went on - the flowers came in, the birds began their spring arrivals and departures, and the water is gradually feeling less bitey. We've said safe travels and see you in the fall to to the loons, buffleheads, longtailed ducks, and most other winter residents; the brants are still around but will be on their way soon, and we've welcomed back the ospreys, egrets, and oystercatchers. 

And this weekend was another big seasonal marker - less photogenic but here's a picture anyways and a big YIPPEE!!! for GEAR BAG SWITCH DAY YAY! That's right, with the water temperature in Jamaica Bay now up to the mid-50's, and air temperatures on Saturday (my paddling day this weekend) going up pretty darned close to 70, it was finally time to switch from the drysuit to the wetsuit, which means that my paddling gear goes from needing the enormous black duffel to fitting in a mid-size backpack. This is always a really exciting thing because this actually means that after work paddles suddenly become a lot more feasible. The days have been getting longer and with the air temperatures warming up, night paddles are getting to less risky (in fact the first Full Moon Paddle of the season was last night, couldn't make it but I bet it was great) but until I don't have to schlep the giant bag along on my commute, going out after work just doesn't happen. And I'm really hoping to get in some more after work paddling this year after a couple of years where I just couldn't seem to get out of weekend warrior mode. 

Saturday's paddle was fairly moderate as there was a weeding day at the club for garden committee folks and anybody else who wanted a really easy way to pick up some volunteer hours. I didn't make it for the weeding because a gardening committee meeting at my co-op ran over by quite a bit, but I did make it in time for the paddle. We paddled up to the end of East Mill Basin and back. I always get a kick out of this paddle because you're going by all these huge, flashy homes, and then right there in the middle of them is this stubborn little pocket of pure work boats. I don't know what the story is, whether they hark back to an earlier day here in Mill Basin, or what, but I just like that they're there. Around 7 miles, which puts me at around 80.7 miles for the year so far.

As always, click on any photo for a better view.






Other signs of the season -


Trees are leafing out nicely (I loved these little leaves against the sky);

Sailboats are splashing!

We're finally consistently getting up to temperatures where I can start to think about repairing my keel. Trusty Romany has got to be 20 years old, I got her used from Atlantic Kayak Tours in either 1999 or 2000. For the first 18 years or so, the hatches were bone dry. Then there just started to be the tiniest seep in the back hatch - not excessive, just a little dampness after every paddle. Then, on the day in February when Ilene and I paddled out to Gerritson Creek and crunched around in ice and saw a seal, I came back to find a good half-gallon of water sloshing around in there. You can't work on fiberglass in February in the Northeast (it has to be 60 degrees for the epoxy to set) but I found the leaks and made do with duct tape to finish off the winter. Think at 20 years maybe Trusty Romany has earned herself a keel strip. 

And last but definitely not least sign that we're moving on to summer - my garden's all planted! I'd planted cold-tolerant seeds (beets, chard, and I'm trying carrots for the first time this year) a few weeks ago, and those are all sprouting nicely, and then on Friday after work I went to the Union Square Greenmarket and got tomatoes, basil, lavender, and rosemary. I was too late for weeding on Saturday, but I was able to get everything into the ground before it was time to go paddle. Looking forward to the summer!