Thursday, February 28, 2008

Greg Barton up for US Olympic Hall of Fame - Hey Paddlers, LET'S VOTE!

image swiped from Epic Kayaks

Just a quick lunchtime post to pass on word that originated with Connie Hagler, secretary of the USA Canoe & Kayak - Greg Barton is one of the 18 nominees from which the 6 2008 inductees for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame will be chosen.

Voting is open now!

Go Greg!

p.s. I "Heart" my Epic wing!

p.p.s. thanks Nancy for passing the word!

cross-posted at the Sebago Canoe Club blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Canoe Question (or, the Blog is as Strong as it's Linkest Week)

How many of you kayakfolk think canoes are poky?

Come on. We've all been in one of those debates over our post-paddle pints, haven't we?

For myself - I like canoes just fine. But dang. I think canoe, I think:

Paddling on the Manistee River - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

I did not know they could do this:

Yowza. Don't miss the pitchpole.

Thanks, Eliboat!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2 More Links - Liveaboards at the 79th St Boat Basin, and Dog in the Mooring Field?

Another busy day, but a good chance to post a link to another interesting Times article - this one about liveaboards at Manhattan's 79th Street Boat Basin.

Messing About in Boats actually picked it up a week ago but I SWEAR I am not getting my NYC news via the UK! Saw it in the paper on the way to work that day.

Reminds me of a story I heard once about Frank & Malachy McCourt. Frank is of course the author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis. And Malachy...I wonder how tired Malachy gets of being "brother of Frank" when he's a pretty well-known writer multi-talented gent himself. Anyhow - the way I'd heard the story, the two brothers, who'd known such privation in boyhood, decided that they wanted to get their hands on something that was hard to get - just for the having of it. So, they signed up for the waiting list for a mooring in the seasonal mooring field & eventually, after a few years' wait, they got their mooring ball & began paying their annual fee.

And once a month, they gathered at the 79th Street Boat Basin cafe to drink a toast to their unused mooring ball.

I'd heard this a while ago & never known whether it was true - posting the liveaboard story made me think of it & do a new search on the Times.

Well, although the details aren't QUITE right, it would seem that there is actually something to the basic story.

Oh those whacky literary folk.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oysters for J-Bay, and The Boat I Didn't Roll!

Thank you Jack (of New York By Jack) for sending a good Times article about efforts that are underway to seed oysters to help clean up Jamaica Bay. Very cool. I hope that people are not daft enough to steal them to sell them - aside from the fact that I wouldn't want to eat a Jamaica Bay filter feeder, the critters have got a very important job to do.

That's probably all I'll have time for today - going to another meeting tonight, this one's a fun one, more on that later - but the oyster article is too neat to not share.

ps ok, can't resist mentioning one thing that will make the kayakers laugh & confuse everybody else - this Sunday, in my continuing quest (well, it's not a real quest, just a theme that seems to be emerging this winter) to roll as many different kinds of boats in one winter as possible, I finally asked the owner of a Feathercraft K-1 if I could try rolling her boat.

It actually cracked me up how totally, completely and profoundly I failed. The thing hardly budged. I didn't think it would be easy but I was sort of amazed at how solidly the boat said "No".

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A few more snow pictures-

Left early for work on Friday so I'd have time to take a bit of a neighborhood snow photo ramble.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Summer Is Coming. No. Really.


But first, a little more winter. Snow!

I seem to recall being concerned about Hawaii beating us in the matter of snowfall for the rest of the winter when they had a veritable blizzard (three inches!) on Mauna Kea back in January sometime, when it was a freakish 60 degrees or something in NYC.

This feels a little more normal.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy Talk!

Dragon-Sandy and the KING, baby!

OK. Enough bad news and crankitude. Here's some HAPPY news (and quick too or I'd wait til later)!

OK, so it took me two months to pick up on it. D'oh!

But it's GOOD!

The Hoboken Cove Boathouse actually has a boathouse this year!

Now that's great. Dragon-Sandy (her NYCKayaker name - she's done some dragonboating) has just worked and worked and worked to make this happen. Too awesome for words. Congrats!

oh yes, now they just need some stuff to put inside so they can be ready for summer. Which IS coming. Remember Summer? See that picture? Shirtsleeves? Sunshine? Elvis? Can't WAIT!

Soanya's Done

Speaking of people who have the guts to try to make a dream into something real -

Soanya's headed home.

My hat's still off to her. To me, she was the most interesting factor in the 1000 Days trip. Reid's done plenty of sailing. Might not do it exactly by the book, but he knows himself, he knows his boat, and he's been working on this dream for 20 years.

But Soanya? I half expected her to find that the reality of bluewater sailing didn't match up to the romantic vision that we shorebirds tend to have. But somehow, every time they'd have a post, there she'd be finding something wonderful - unless she was feeling seasick, which she did pretty much every time the boat got to rolling. No fun.

In the end, that's what finally made her (and Reid) decide that she should return to land. It was apparent in her posts that that was getting to be a problem. Being constantly nauseous - that's just tough to argue with. Too bad, but Soanya, congratulations for trying, and for sticking it out as long as you did. What a story to be able to tell.

Reid's going on on his own - not going to be easy, but at this point, he's not ready to throw in the towel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Not Zen Enough.

OK, so now that everybody's probably going "ok, what's up with her..." - I'm not even going to look at comments, just going to write.

And maybe it won't be all that bad. Just going to wax a little more philosophical-like than I'm normally wont to do (or comfortable with) - so I had to make fun of myself in advance.

This is basically about how things just happen, and you can't tell exactly how or why, and then sometimes they just end - and again, you don't know exactly why.

Remember these guys, from the other day?

I really think that was one of the most breathtaking things I've ever seen on the internet.

I'd shy away from going mystical about it. They are dolphins in a tank. They are apparently amusing themselves. Do they appreciate the beauty of their sparkling silver toys?

How would I know? They're dolphins, not people. I don't need them to hold the same set of aesthetic values as I do.

But the fact is, I just find those rings to be the most amazing things. A swirling conjuction of water and air, and ahhh! there one is. And then the cohesion breaks up, and pffft! they've changed - or maybe just gone.

I found myself thinking about those bubble rings not long ago, as I was having what felt like a possible bridge-burner of a discussion with some old acquaintances, people who used to be part of a circle with which I spent a great deal of time.

How does a circle of friends form? Hard to put your finger on it, isn't it, but you know when it's there. A conjunction of like or complementary minds, like interests, the right atmosphere, the right location and ahhhh! there it is, spinning & sparkling. A wonderful thing.

But things change - people leave, new people come in. Circumstances change, stresses develop - and then you realize it's gone, or a smaller circle's gone spinning off in it's own direction & you've gone in another -

That had already happened with this group, well before the last exchange. I'm still friends with some - but from where I am, the cohesion is gone, it's run it's course & for me, it's past.

Sad, but only somewhat - in the meantime, I've moved on, found myself in new circles. It really isn't that bad.

Lots of things in life are that way besides circles of friends. Sometimes seems to me that these Buddhist types really have got this impermanence/transience thing right - things begin and things end, without our really having all that much control over them, and fighting that fact really just makes life worse - best to be able to not hold tight to something.

I'm not quite zen enough to do that, at least not all the time. I'd be a total jerk to complain about my life, it's a very very good one. Still, there have been some letdowns where I was enjoying the spinning of some particularly bright bubble ring, and then it was just gone before I was ready. Some weren't so bad to get over. Some, I'm still kind of going "Whaaaaa? Where did -? Wasn't it just -??? No, I don't want it to be gone, I want it to come back!"

The newest one, and the one that brought all this bubble-ring musing back on, is that my parents are suddenly leaving Hawaii. Soon.

I think anyone who read my Where I'm From piece won't be surprised to hear I'm pretty blue about that.

The reasons are sensible enough, I guess, and this is something that was always sort of planned to happen eventually -

It's just happening so fast that my head's just spinning.

It's not so much that things end. I know that. Mostly I can deal with that.

It's when they end long before you ever expected that it's tough.

There's stuff that never quite healed right when we left there in my junior year in high school. I consider myself luck, as navy brats go, to actually get to be somewhere long enough to actually put down roots - but the junior-year transplant didn't go too well. I guess when my folks moved back, it was easy to call the place "home" again, feel like some of those roots were back in the right place, even though I wasn't living there. Now, if I wanted to call it home - I'd have to get up the guts to just GO there.

Never quite gave up on this silly little fantasy I might do that someday. Although living there as an adult would be a harder experience than being a kid there. I knew that, think part of why I never went was because I was afraid that I'd fail, and once I'd failed, end of dream, and...I like that dream. I don't want it to end.

And how completely irrational is that?

Maybe that's why I admire these people who have crazy dreams & go out & try to make them actually HAPPEN so much. Because they always face that risk of failure - but they don't let it freeze them in their safe & secure tracks.

Oh well. OK. 'Nuff bubble-gazing for one night I guess.

Anybody looking for a beautiful home in the Ko'olau mountain in Hawaii? I can hook you up. Won't even charge a broker's fee - just request the right for me & a guest (TQ) to come stay in the guest room, swim in the pool, play with the dog, admire the view, raid the fridge and oh yeah, drive the car - a week or two, every other year or so...

Hypocrite? I guess so mebbe!

So here's another funny one for the day.

I finally came right out and used the phrase "a little on the woo-woo side" to describe certain moments on the 1000 Days at Sea site. Yes. Me. Former fellow barge-denizen of Reid's at Pier 63. Horrid.

Right there in their own comments, even.

And now I'm toddling off home with the full intent of writing a post that is going to involve applying heavy-handed personal symbolic meaning to the beautiful sparkling silver bubble rings blown by happy gentle graceful dolphins.

Oh well. I don't recall ever actually claiming to NOT be a backstabbing hypocrite. So I guess that's OK.

Ultimate Kayak Trip - Oooh How Exciting!

There will probably be a real post tonight.

Possibly a bit glum, I'm not in a very "shpadoinkely" mood today (been working too hard, it's Februaryuck & then there's some other schtuffs goin' down)...

But in the meantime, I just can't resist sharing with you the website of the latest pending kayak expedition that's caught my eye as the young expeditionaires have been wandering the forums gathering the wisdom of the elders.

I think it's safe to say the lads embody the very soul o' shpadoinkle & I wish 'em all the best.

Ladies, gentlemen and tadpoles of all ages, I give you


Kyle and Tony's Ultimate Kayak Expedition!

Don't miss their fantastic Boat Design Page, I believe they'll be raising the bar for expedition design for...oh, at least a couple of minutes...


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rosie's Telling Stories - and gets Roared!

Taking a break from the Yonkers trio of posts.

Rosie at Smokey Mountain Breakdown is celebrating February as "Short & Sweet Story Month". I've been really enjoying it & Friday's minim opus, where she managed to work the story theme into her usual Food Porn Friday theme, was particularly delicious!


Oh yes, and I'm "Roaring" her.

I got Roared myself recently by The Ancient One (Blessed Be He). We were led to each other's blogs by the one & only BillyBlogger, who is T.A.O.'s son and who was a classmate of mine back in Hawaii.

I don't want to do the whole explanation of roaring right now, you can read it on The Ancient One & I will do the full thing one of these days. This post was just going to be a quick one, I'd clicked on SMB as supposedly the last bit of online fun/procrastination before I got on with achieving the day's goals (those being pernil, split pea soup and a clean apartment), but then I loved the story & decided to post a link. As I was doing that, it hit me that she's one of the people I'd planned to Roar (part of the deal with getting Roared is that you then get to Roar five other people), so I just figured I'd get a little head start on that!

Hope the Shameless Lions don't mind!

I'll probably be off for the rest of the weekend - what are my plans for the next 2 days of our 3-day weekend?

Why, paddling and more paddling! Yay!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lost from Yonkers (updated)

Here's the view from the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club.

Went to the meeting last night.

Should have stood up & said something I guess - one of the things the pro-tower speakers kept saying was "We don't have anything worth visiting, so we have to build big towers so we can have a Starbucks". Well, I live in Brooklyn, and I've spent a lot of happy hours in Yonkers, the YPRC being the draw, and this river being the YPRC's raison d'etre.

But I let my stage fright win out.

The sad thing is that the first thing you used to see when you got off the train in Yonkers was an even better view of this incredible vista.

Now you see "SoYo".

As advertised on all the finest garbage cans in Grand Central Station.

But gee, I guess getting a Starbucks is worth a few little sacrifices.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Public Hearing - Yonkers - Alexander Street Plan

Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club - Photo Hosted at Buzznet
Inside the Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club Boathouse

Happy Valentine's Day, all!

And what could be more romantic than a nice, cozy Public Hearing?

Terribly short notice of course but if you happen to live in the Yonkers vicinity, well, they're talkin' 'bout YOUR waterfront. The thing of particular interest to area kayakers is that the plan has been revised - at one point the Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club was in the plan at it's current location - this one talks about maybe moving them.

There also seems to be a wall of very big apartment buildings involved. has a nice writeup on what they see as the good & bad points of the plan.

I'm not going to take a stance on this, I put out some feelers to friends in Yonkers and the range of responses I got ran the gamut from "the city likes us, this is just an oversight & it will all get worked out" to versions where the city has been jollying the club along until it was time to sell out to the developers. I expect the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes & I'm not in a position to find out, so I can't take sides.

But I may go try to hear for myself what's said (TQ & I were postponing Valentine's Day until the weekend anyways, Thursdays never work for us).

Full information about the meeting can be found here, on

They're also taking comments, so even if you can't make the meeting, you can still say something. I'd sent a short note just saying I'm a fan of the YPRC to Daisy Colon, and she sent the following response -

Thank you for your comments. The public comments have been extended to Monday February 25th. The Yonkers Community Development Agency will also have another public hearing on Thursday February 14th at 6:30pm in the Ceremonial Courtroom.
Ps. I do believe that consideration to the Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club situation will be addressed.

Daisy Colon
Special Project Coordinator
Department of Planning & Development
87 Nepperhan Avenue, Room 312
Yonkers, NY 10701
(914) 377-6650 fax (914) 377-6672

I think she meant the situation would be addressed at the meeting, not addressed as in "we're going to take care of it". I actually mistook it for the 2nd meaning & emailed some little burble of joy back & she immediately got back to me with "No guarantees!" & I realized I was possibly misreading it for the response I wanted to hear.

BTW to continue with our Dutch heritage discussion - which I'm thoroughly enjoying - Yonkers is another one, Jack G up at the YPRC told me it was originally the estate of the "Jonk heer", "the young heir" or "the young sir".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Frogma Gets Into Dutch!

Good morning!

At least it's morning as I'm writing this - so I must keep it quick. Just found something too cool not to share and anyways, it seems I'm the only one who in a less-than-wideawake moment mistook a Chesapeake Bay Race Heats Up link (that, I believe, was the actual phrase in the list of new articles) for sudden, inexplicable midwinter national-media interest in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, so since I've got something to put up to distract from my what-a-maroon moment - here it is!

Sorry, I said I was gonna keep it quick. So, getting to the point - that body of water shown above (which, yes, was just posted recently) is called the Paerdegat Basin. Jos, from the Racing Rules of Sailing blog, left a comment asking about the origins of the name & yes, Paerdegat is one of those frequent reflections of NYC's Dutch heritage. For that matter, so is Brooklyn - which started out as Breukelen - and my neighborhood of Flatbush, fka Vlatboes or Vladbos or Vlacht-Boes. Paerdegat just didn't get subjected to the Englification that the rest of them did. If it WAS spelled phonetically following the commonest pronunciation, it would be The Pattergat. I've been told that the word means Horse Gate, and was so called (sorry, horsepeople) because of the numerous glue factories in the area (that's also how the nearby Dead Horse Bay got it's name).

I was just going to put that in a comment, but I was curious to see if I could find at least verification of the Dutch meanings of Paerde and Gat - and I did better than that, I found a book from the New-York Historical Society with a whole slew of New York area names & the Dutch names from which so many of them are derived.

There's also an interesting comment about the term "North River" that's still in fairly common use as a name for the NYC section of the Hudson. I'd been told that it was called North River for the eminently sensible reason that the Hudson is the river you take if you want to go north - this one also makes sense. No time to research now, just interesting to see another explanation.

Starts near the end of Page 91.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Confession Time...

Ok, I'll admit to it.

But I can't admit to it without asking -

Are there any other boaters out there who have recently clicked on headlines involving "Chesapeake Bay" and "Race", thinking they were going to read an article about a regatta?

Windy Sunday on the Paerdegat Basin

There have been weekends this winter where I've been almost tempted to email Holly the Sailing Chair - "Hey, Holly, 50 degrees, light winds, can we, um, maybe go sailing, maybe, huh?"

Sunday the 10th was decidedly not one of those days.

I don't think I've seen whitecaps on the Paerdegat before (for a good closeup, click on the picture, it'll take you to the gallery & you can zoom - this resolution you can't quite see all the little white horses cantering around out there!). Good day to stay ashore - or roll in a pool. I actually had another good pool session - continuing in the vein of getting more confident in my hand roll, I hand rolled a Necky Chatham 17 on the onside, and a Nordkapp on both sides. I also did a little more of the silly-looking stuff - swimming after paddles, trying to sneak up to unsuspecting people & grabbing their bow for an unrequested surprise bow rescue - I haven't been doing so much of that lately & that stuff just does good things for raising confidence levels in an upside-down boat.

Plus it's just fun.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Swimming in Connecticut

As planned, I did make it up to Connecticut for the Small Boat Shop's cold water workshop. The water was indeed cold - 39 degrees, I think that's the coldest I've swum in. They have had years where there were swimming in a hole in the ice. None of that this year, but even without the fun of actually swimming in ice, it was great - the information that was reviewed in the morning session (dry land, indoor presentations) was useful, and I was just SO happy to have the chance to roll, do a couple of rescues, and then just have a bit of a swim in the full winter gear in colder water than I would usually be spending much time in. It's unfortunate the Paerdegat is too filthy to do this in, it's lots of fun plus it tells you SO much about how much the gear protects you & how long you might plausibly have - but it works so much better with a warm shop, hot showers & hot drinks just steps away. Sebago, there's a pretty good paddle from clean water back to the stove in the clubhouse. I was fine for as long as I was in - but boy, even with a couple of layers of insulation & the drysuit, you can still feel that cold pressing against your body. Actually right at the end, I tested out the famous "Heat Escape Lessening Position" where you tuck your knees up to your chest - the difference in body surface that was actually feeling that cold pressure outside the suit & the layers was almost dramatically obvious.

Would be fun to try the huddle, too, if you were doing this with a bunch of good friends. As it was, I a) didn't think of it until just now, and b) would've felt funny suggesting that a bunch of total strangers give it a try!

This was so much fun - but it was good to know that if it started feeling less than fun, I could be out & warm very quickly. Excellent experience.

More pictures from the day in my Picasa Google site (now updated since Google went and wrecked all the Picasa links, argh). Silliest photo, just so you know, is right near the end.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Have Paddle Will Travel (By Subway If Necessary!)

As long as I'm being all urban - it's FINALLY time for the GP-on-the-subway post!

I have been meaning to do this for AGES.

As people who've been reading this heap of amphibious randomness for a while know, the only forms of transportion (other than shoes) that yours truly has ever actually owned have been a couple of bicycles, and three kayaks.

I kinda love that I can do that. Cars seem like big expensive hassles to own, although they do make awesome raccoon-proof food lockers (hint for any of you lucky bashtahds who are attending Sweetwater). And just think of the petiteness of the carbon footprint (wish my foot footprint was that cute).


Being primarily dependent on public transportation DOES have some interesting effects on one's approach to The Kit.

I do leave a couple of bulky items (PFD, sprayskirt) at my boat, but most stuff I like to bring home as items stored in my boat tend to stay dampish. That basically means that my kit is limited to that which I can carry.

Most of the stuff fits in one bag - a great big duffle in the winter, a good-sized backpack in fall & spring, and a daypack in the summertime.

Boy do I love summer.

The single most awkward item to carry, though, is my Greenland paddle.

My Europaddle breaks down into two pieces, and there are GP's that break down, but I don't happen to have one of those. It's just shy of 7 feet long.

Any longer and it would be impossible. As it is, as long as I try to avoid the height of rush hour, it's inconvenient - but I make it work when I need to.

I mostly only need to in the wintertime. Summer, most of my paddling is done out of the club, so the GP becomes one of the items that lives at the boat. Winter, though - that's when I'm going to pool sessions & those almost always mean that yes, I frequently board the subway carrying a six-foot plus modified plank!

There are a couple of basic rules I try to follow to keep this from being aggravating for myself & my fellow commuters.

1. I always try to wear my meekest expression. The saying does not go "Look truculent and carry a big stick". The big stick in and of itself could be threatening, and in this day of "if you see something, say something", I want my entire unspoken message to be "Although I may be carrying a big stick, I am nevertheless as harmless as a hamster".
2. In crowds, I always carry the paddle vertically, and as close to my body as possible, in front of me. Personal space becomes a bit of a joke on the subway, but getting bumped by a paddle is more than even the patientest commuter can be expected to tolerate. It the paddle is standing up & I'm holding it close to me, it really doesn't take up much room. It's still tricky at rush hour & back when I was teaching for Yonkers more regularly, which meant rushing out at 5, I'd carry my storm paddle, which I jokingly called my public-transit paddle - being shorter than me, it was a LOT easier to deal with.

So if one is aware & pays attention, it is totally possible to carry a GP without causing a whole lot of fuss.

It's still a little bit of a bother, but there are a couple of entertaining factors about it too.

One is when people are moving down a car, don't really look, and mistake the paddle for one of those grab poles you see in the picture above. It registers the instant their hand makes contact with warm textured wood instead of cold smooth metal. There's always that first instant of being startled, their focus gets pulled from wherever they were going to "What the heck did I just grab?" and they almost always laugh when they see what it was. I always laugh & assure them people do that all the time, and I can usually see a lot of other people smiling at the moment. Subways are not known for their spontaneous bursts of mutual levity, but it's fun when it does & my GP has provided a few such moments, and that's cool.

The other entertaining factor is that carrying a Greenland paddle makes some people actually want to talk to you, ask you questions.

You can always see them looking. It's funny because basically, the unwritten rule of the subway is that everyone's trying to pretend that nobody else is there as much as they can. You don't smile, you don't make eye contact, you have your nose in a book or a paper or some little electronic distraction. This may sound rude but like I said, actual personal space is a joke but at least we can give each other psychological space by not forcing people into interaction when they might prefer not to (there used to be a morning paper guy by my subway station who insisted on greeting every passerby personally, cheerily...I was SO glad when he left, that hour of the morning on my way to work, I tend to be in my own little world - gonna have to come out at work but please don't be dragging me out because you want to sell me something!)

But some people see that GP - and you can just see them wanting to ask but not wanting to break the subway rules.

And I almost always smile and say "It's a kayak paddle...". And they grin and say "I wanted to ask!" and since the ice is broken, the rest of the questions come pouring out. How? Where? In the winter? Isn't the water...? Aren't kayaks...? and usually you end up spending the rest of the ride answering all their questions about the sport, the amazing waterways about New York City, and ways they can try it out for themselves.

I don't know if anyone whose ever ended up quizzing me on the subway has actually ended up trying it - but I always enjoy being given the opportunity of playing ambassador for the Sixth Borough (to borrow Tugster Will's term!). They may never end up at the Downtown Boathouse, or Sebago (don't forget Marcus's show on Saturday!), or MKC or AKT - but just having the chance to share information about one of my favorite things about New York City is always great.

First Ever Frogma Two-for-One NYC Icon Day!


The New York City Public Library and the Empire State Building


Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building!

Now how's that for efficient use of space?

Actually just grabbed both on Saturday en route to Grand Central to head up to CT. Funny how seldom I think to take pictures when I'm in that area.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pool Sessions - Part 1. Working through the psych-out factor, or It's All In My Head!

8:55 A.M. on a Sunday at the Greenwich YWCA. 5 minutes 'til fun!

Wow, what a couple of weeks at work! It just seems like the stuff I have to do just keeps piling up in a way that I can barely keep ahead of it. That, by the way, is why a lot of my posts lately have been so uncharacteristically short - just haven't had time to really write.

But I have not been all work & no play at all!

For starters, I have made it to a couple of pool sesssions recently, as I always enjoy doing this time of year. I missed the first one of the series run by the CT branch of the Appalachian Mountain Club because it was too pretty outside, but I did make the second one and had a little bit of a breakthrough. Sorta silly one but still, breakthroughs are breakthroughs.

I always find it funny how much of a mental game rolling can be. I can psych myself out of doing a roll I'm capable of doing so easily. Or, I can set things up so everything's optimal & then I'll have a much better shot. Remember my New Year's Day handroll? Did you notice how I started out by almost ceremonially placing a Greenland paddle under the deck bungees? Well, the fact is I had not done a handroll that far into the wintertime before & I was setting myself up with the magic feather effect. My on-side handrolls are pretty solid, but for some reason I just never believe it's going to work. If there's a GP there on deck, I have my backup, I can relax & everything goes fine. If not, sometimes I just spaz out the tiniest bit, and then there I am banging on my hull hoping somebody will spare me the bother of swimming.

So there's one mental block that I give into more than I should. On New Year's Day, I was paddling with a Euro, and I actually borrowed somebody's GP. I wanted it there & hey, the handroll worked as usual, yay!

Another silly mental block I've had for ages has been the one that says "Bonnie can't do an offside handroll in any sea kayak other than a snugfitting Greenland boat". I don't even try that much. Rationally I know I could if I'd just work on it - in fact I did one last year in the pool, so I know it's possibly, but the self-psych-out factor is just there.

Part of this is that I'm frequently in strange boats at these pool sessions. Usually the way Sunday pool sessions work for me are that I go up & hang w/TQ on Saturday, then we go to the pool session Sunday morning, I borrow one of his boats & he brings his. Generally he has to leave early to go to work & takes his boats when he goes, but I stay & catch a ride back down to Brooklyn with one of the Sebago set. Usually there are enough boats there that I can borrow for the rest of the session.

Two weeks ago, though, I was completely swamped at work (are we seeing a theme here? ugh, yes) & failed to get in touch with TQ (who I thought was also swamped for some reason I now can't remember at all - just one of those things where my brain was scrambled from a string of 10+ hour days I guess) to make the usual arrangements, so I was coming up from Brooklyn. I called Stevie to see who was leaving for the pool at what time on Sunday morning; I wasn't entirely expecting to bring my boat as the cars usually carry more paddlers than boats, but I reached him just when he was heading to the club for the Saturday roof-rack loading & as it happened, there was space & he offered to bring mine.


So there I was in a nice warm swimming pool, with nose clips and goggles, and practicing in my very own boat for the first time EVER in the entire history of pool sessions I've attended. Gosh, it was nice. It's so strange, another one of these mental things is that I have got a thing about being in my own boat - there's just a level of comfort and security I get from being in my own boat that I don't even get from other Romanys.

Silly, innit?

Anyways. So as I was saying - there I was, in a pool, with goggles & a nose clips & 2.5 hours to practice in my own boat. Started with back-deck finish stuff, moved on to the forward-finishing stuff I'm less good at - that was all working pretty well. I didn't do anything spectacular, but it was just a good, solid, satisfying practice session.

I like to finish up with a few handrolls. Onside, onside, onside, whee, onside, another onside.

Then I thought, "Hmmm. Offside."

I had no excuses not to try. It was the absolutely positively perfect combination of factors. In a pool. With noseclips. All warmed up. GP on deck ready at hand. Everything working fine. AND for the cherry on the sundae of perfect get-over-it conditions, sitting in my own trusty Romany.

Nope, no excuses. Tuck right, over and...

wow. That was easy.

So I went ahead & did a whole bunch more! Sweet!

They had to kick me out of the pool that day.

Last weekend, we were back to normal, me boat-hopping through the session. At the end of the session, I decided that I should see if the offside would work in somebody else's Romany. Baby steps, you know, but still another step past this blockhead mental block.

Worked just fine. Wouldn't quite say that I've nailed the offside handroll yet, but in a Romany at least, there's been marked improvement in the psyching-myself-out factor, and that feels good.

Well, that's all for now. Last weekend's session was fun, too, but person does not live by kayak alone - there's the occasional Irish tune to play, too!

Monday, February 04, 2008

See Flip Flip.

Oh, my.

Look at Flip.

Can Flip flip?

Yes, Flip can flip!

Flip, Flip, flip!

Why yes, I HAVE had a long day here at the Really Big Children's Publishing House. Why do you ask?

But seriously, Joe Rouse found a very interesting video featuring Wenley's bizarre find, the Floating Instrument Platform, in action. Worth a look!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Pool Shark

(hm it seems to be pausing itself - hit the "pause" button & it'll go) (might really be getting to be time for a new computer - old one's very old, the basics still work fine but it seems like photo & video uploads are getting glitchier & glitchier)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Marcus Demuth at the Sebago Canoe Club 2/9/08

Quick post before I vanish for the weekend -

I just wanted to mention that Marcus Demuth, one of my friends from the Pier 63 days & probably the most adventurous of the group I used to refer to collectively as "The Adventure Squad", is going to be giving a slide show of some of his recent kayak adventures at the Sebago Canoe Club next week Saturday, the 9th of February. It's bound to be a lot of fun & if you've ever been curious about this club I talk about so much, well, this'll be a great chance to see it.

Here's the announcement Stevie (who set this up) sent to the Sebago Yahoo group:

For those armchair kayak expedition types or anyone interested in extreme sea kayaking, Marcus Demuth will be at Sebago Canoe Club, Saturday Feb 9th at 6:00PM, to give a talk about his past and future expeditions.

He recently completed a solo sea kayak circumnavigation of Ireland. And has done extended trips in Patagonia, Australia and Nova Scotia, to name
a few.

He is in the planning stage of an extended trip to circumnavigate the Alexander Archipelago, Alaska.
He also came in first place in his class in the past two NYC Mayors Cup races.

It will be informal, bring drink and snacks to share.

Even if it is cold out, the new stove will keep it toasty warm.

The duck will not be there, but perhaps a brown-bear intimidation demonstration will be done with the Sebago teddy bear (much smaller than the brown bears Marcus may see on his Alaska trip, but a fine strapping specimen of ursus rooseveltus). And the photos will be spectacular.

Unfortunately I can't make it. I'll be with the duck. Swimming. In Connecticut.

I was referring to the cold water workshop the Small Boat Shop holds once a year. There's a presentation, and then they let you suit up & jump off the dock. Woohoo! It's a tough call but it's such a good chance to swim in genuinely cold water in full winter gear in very controlled conditions & that's a great safety exercise. We practice all the rescue exercises all the time so we know how it feels when we need 'em to work - this is another chance to really see how it feels.

Plus it just sounds like fun. Truth be known, if it was just that serious stuff, I'd probably pick the slide show. But I wanna go swimming.

I'd wanted to do this last year but there was some insurmountable conflict & I'd been sort of set on doing it this year.

I am going to be missing an excellent evening at Sebago, though. Really.

Directions to the club can be foundhere.

(ps speaking of the duck...I know I use this picture every time I mention Marcus's name. I do love it but I was ready to use a new one tonight. I really tried to get another one from his website but for some reason the old gray Dell is not feeling up to retrieving pictures tonight, so...hello, ducky!

Pier 40 Update - Vote Postponed

Just getting ready for work & I heard on the radio that the Trust ended up NOT voting on either proposal. Apparently they're not happy with either proposal. They've postponed the vote for a month.