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 an update 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! 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

River, by Elisha Cooper

Been neglecting the blog again as I've had quite a bit going on both at work and in my personal life (mostly good, including some fun plans shaping up for another step in my post-cancer paddling skills redevelopment this coming June, but keeping me busy). But I did just want to do a quick post about a book that Orchard Publications (a Scholastic house, and in fact the one where I began my Scholastic career with an unexpected temp job in the chaotic days after 9/11 - I'm still so grateful that that happened!) is bringing out this Fall.

I'm just a tiny tiny tiny bit excited about this book by Elisha Cooper. It's a story about a woman doing a solo paddle down the Hudson River. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will understand exactly why this just makes me smile from ear to ear just saying that - it reminds me so much of my own solo trip from Waterford to Brooklyn back in 2014. It doesn't come out until October, but when I found out about it, I was able to get an f&g* version, and seeing the glorious watercolors with which he's illustrated it just brought such good memories of my own Hudson voyage.  Mine was half the length of the trip in the book, of couse, but still one of the best things I think I've ever done for myself - I'd been wanting to do it for years and then one year everything just fell gloriously into place, so off went trusty Romany and I for a week on the river. Boy. The book actually has me wanting to go back and do it again, and maybe a little more next time.

There's an excellent interview with Elisha at the Mr. Schu Reads blog talking about the creation of River. This is going to be a great book for paddlers (especially Hudson River paddlers) to share with kids in their circles!

 Disclaimer: I work for Scholastic, but Frogma is a purely personal blog and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

*f&g = folded and gathered, it's one of the final proof versions of a picture book before it goes to press - it's basically the book printed as it's going to be but not bound yet, just the pages for last reviews before the final edition 

Monday, May 06, 2019

Sebago Canoe Club Opening Day, May 4, 2019

Setting out for the pre-meeting paddle. Click on any photo for a better view.

So yeah, it's been drizzling on NYC for the entire week, but the club's Opening Day goes down rain or shine! And what a good turnout of all different sorts of club members. 

New thing at the club this year - Steve the Paddling Chef is leading a skin-on-frame kayak building workshop. Saturday was their very first gathering and as i arrived, they were just completing their paper patterns for the first rib of their future boats. Wish I could do this but it's a serious time commitment and I have my own goals (well, not entirely defined yet but I'm working on it) for the season that involve lots of time on the water. More on that another time. Still, very cool to see this this going on at Sebago and I'm looking forward to seeing the boats take shape. 

The rowers were getting back from their morning row just as the paddlers were gathering to launch.

Lori and Frank had organized the Opening Day paddle for the sea kayakers. Nothing super ambitious as we did need to get back to the club for eating and meeting, but a good crowd assembled for a paddle around Canarsie Pol. It was one of those amazing mirror-calm days out on the bay. The fishing committee was out there too, I could hear them chatting on the radio about who'd caught what where. Lots of motorboats out fishing too - most of them were just anchored with their motors off so it was still nice and quiet out there, but we're clearly past the time of year when a paddler gets to have the whole bay to herself. 

So smooth - I love it when you can see the sky perfectly reflected in the water!

Mirror paddle turned to rain paddle as we approached the old pier with the osprey platform at the eastern end of Canarsie Pol. It actually felt wonderful; we're in a tricky time of year when there tend to be a lot of accidents because people get fooled by a warm day, go out dressed for the air temperature instead of the water, and get in trouble very fast if they go in. Sebago paddlers are mostly still wearing drysuits this time of year, although the water's just about up to where a wetsuit will do. I was on the fence as far as what to wear but had ended up taking my drysuit, and with temperatures getting up to 60 during the day, drysuit wearers were actually feeling overheated before the rain started. Usually cooling down is not a problem but it had rained a lot through the week, and poured the night before, and in NYC the water quality gets seriously sketchy after a lot of rain (google "cso" and then scroll past the Chicago Symphony Orchestra results if you're curious), so a dunk was not a good idea. The rain starting up when it did was perfect! 

No photos of the ospreys this time, but the pair at the pier is back and somebody said they had heard that there were chicks this year. Or at least eggs - we gave the nest a wide berth but I could just make out an adult's head peeking over the edge of the nest at us, and as we paddled by the other one flew in and they switched out.

We got back to the pier at about 12:10 when we'd planned to get back at 12:30 - I made a joke about how we needed to keep going because we were early, then looked up the basin and saw Ilene heading up towards the end, and decided my joke was a good idea. The racing folks were out in their K-1's and surfskis - the basin's always calm but they had true flatwater conditions and were just flying along!

With the extra leg up the basin, came to around 7.5 miles, and that puts me at around 63 and a half miles paddled so far in 2019. Hoping to pick up the pace as the weather warms up! 

The sailors were the only ones who got shortchanged - the total absence of wind that made for such nice paddling and rowing of course meant it wasn't worth rigging the dinghies. But they STILL got a work day in doing whatever fixing of boats can be done in light rain, so hats off to them. Oh, and a group had gathered early in the day to get Canarsian onto her launching trailer, she'll be on the water soon. 
And here's Nancy from the fishing committee with her beautiful first day of fluke season fluke. 
Then it was time to eat and meet - another great Sebago potluck, and a pretty good meeting with a lot of fun info about the plans for the season. 

The gardening committee even had a little bit of a gathering afterwards - maintaining the grounds is a task that had been really falling on the shoulders of too small of a group of people, so those of us who have gardens plot have been asked to start doing a little more towards that by supervising weeding days. I'm good with that and was happy to have another review of this is a weed, this is a weed, 

this is not a weed! This is a bleeding heart - one of my favorite mainland flowers, so pretty.

So there we are, all set for another good season on the Paerdegat shore.