Sunday, August 31, 2008

White Water Social

More white water kayak practice. I still look at that hole with some trepidation, at least until I go in a few times, then I am having so much fun, I forget about everything. I have slowly be learning how to keep my balance when surfing in the hole and this time I was able to turn around and surf backwards, even if only for a second. I can turn around but I have to remember to throw my weight forwards so I don't catch my stern in the flowing water. All the instructors are really great and they always make these social events so much fun.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


The school that our kayaking group is working with to provide white water lessons and social paddles had a large party on Saturday. It ended up being a long day for some people as there was a river run in the morning followed by a brief break then the party. On the river run, we all met at the take out parking area then shuttled cars to the put in. After getting on the water, the first part of the class dealt with rolling and bracing practice then we started to paddle downstream to start learning how to read the water and how to avoid dangerous areas. At the first set of rapids, we all got out of our boats then walked to the rapids and discussed how we would tackle the rapid. It was a nice two part rapid and was lots of fun. A few people ended up upside down but the instructors were quick to flip people back upright. As we headed further downstream, we encountered another rapid that apparently isn't there when the water levels are higher, so we got a bonus rapid. The third one was quite big and when we finished with it, we had to paddle back across so we could get to the take out.

The kayakapalooza was a lot of fun. It was a bbq with lots of beer and people. The kayak shop and school has an outdoor pool and lots of people hopped into kayaks and played on the water for a little bit getting some instruction. I asked one guy to teach me how to hand roll. I was able to get it the second attempt each time I tried. I will need to work on it a bit more as I only tried two times. At least each time I came back up. After supper, we enjoyed a movie about white water kayaking. I wasn't sure what to expect of the movie but it had the feel of a music video with white water images. It was more of a brag video then a learning video. It was still interesting to see the cool places the kayakers had been.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay

The kayaking group went out to paddle around the ghost fleet of Mallows Bay. It was a beautiful day and the 2+ mile crossing was nice if a little long in the sun. The ghost fleet consists of a fleet of old steamer boats that were built around the turn of the century for the war effort (not sure which war). It turned into a White Elephant for the government and so they decided to strip the boats of useful parts, burn the wood and recover the steel for another use. After trying to salvage from a few of the steamers and seeing how much work was involved, it was decided to sink the remaining 70+ ships. Today they are a part of the river bank and form small islands and a marine environment for fish and various other creatures. It was really spectacular to kayak around the old hulks of the steamers. From the small spit of land we stopped for lunch on it was also possible to see the outlines of some of the steamers to get an idea of how big they were. It was a really cool trip. On the way back, we stopped at a ferry that was also sunk but still standing mostly out of the water, so we landed on the ferry and explored around it a little. Looked like there was a large birds nest on the ferry. It was a lovely day.


Monday, August 11, 2008

White water pics

Picture taken by a friend as I go by the instructors upside down. You can just see my paddle sticking up as I set up to roll.

After I rolled back up it is time to get back in line to have another go at the hole.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bow stall

We went out for a social white water paddling event. We actually had quite a group of people which was very nice. There was only one instructor at first but a couple of us went as a group to the Maryland chutes to play while the rest stayed with the instructor. We were later joined by two instructors and a few others from the main group. We had fun playing in the hole created by the current, but mostly we would get in then either pop out or flip over and come out. At one point I actually did a bow stall. The bow of my kayak got caught in the water but I was leaning back and I managed to keep the kayak upright while popping out of the hole. It was cool and scary at the same time. I feel like I am getting more confident with the current work. We had another guy with us who has been going to many of the social paddles as it was part of a package he bought. His skills have really improved a lot and it is really great to see that. Makes me more hopeful that I can improve my skills and handle the boat better. I hope to one day take my sea kayak out in the surf zone and play there. 18 feet will probably be harder to handle then a little 6 foot boat though. IT was a lot of fun. The weather and water are starting to cool down some so the warmer weather is staring to make its way back into the paddle bag. I think if I keep doing the white water thing, I might have to get my own spray skirt as I am a small and they don't always have a small in the truck. I might also have to get a helmet as I don't find the rental helmets that comfortable.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Belle Haven trip

A group of us went out for some paddling Saturday morning to take advantage of the nice weather, which was a little on the cold side. Since it was low tide, we paddled over to the old town of Alexandria and enjoyed the day. As there was no place to dock for kayaks at the old town we kept going and eventually found a launch for boats. It was all closed up and the only way to get off the docks was to walk through the building which was closed. So we stood around on the dock and chatted while we rested and snacked. It was a great day and we meet some nice people. One couple that joined up with us were in a tandem kayak that looked it could handle a third person. Turns out is is not a full seated opening but is capable of accommodating a dog. Unfortunately they said their dog kept jumping ship and had to be left at home.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tropical Storm Hanna

The remnants of tropical storm Hanna passed through the area on Saturday. The area was mostly hit with wind and rain but at least the rain wasn't as heavy as it was further west. Apparently the DC area fell between the windy eastern portion and the rainy western portion of the storm. There was some minor flooding but I don't think there was any major damage which is good. All the kayaking and outdoor events were cancelled but a few people did make it out Sunday morning. A couple of us made it out Sunday afternoon and the water was still a little silty from the current. It was a nice day though with little wind. So we crossed to the other side of the Potomac were the water was a little clearer and practiced some rolling. I realized that rolling a sea kayak is a little easier then a white water kayak. Actually it is easier to flip the sea kayak upside down, in the end they are both about the same to roll back up.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Trip home

I decided to go home and visit with the family as I finally got my visa paperwork in order and I wasn't sure when I would have a chance to go again. It was good timing too as my father was leaving for work in Africa shortly and my brother was in town visiting too. I also had a HS reunion happening and was thinking of going but at the last minute the event coordinator canceled the event and put in a plan B event. Since I wasn't invited to the first event, I couldn't find the second event. All I could find was a listing for an ice cream in the park event for families. Not exactly what I wanted to go to. I eventually found the main site for the HS page that listed the upcoming events. And there was plan B, with 4 people having rsvp'ed for the event. I stayed home and spent some quality time with my family instead.

The drive was long and I didn't want to drive it but I had also received a used canoe that I wanted to drop off so I drove the 10 hours to get home. At least I had some podcasts to listen to. I just found Decoder Ring Theater. They set up their shows to be about 30 minutes long and in the old radio show style. They are lots of fun but after listening to about 20 of them, I found the commercial in the middle a little annoying. I think I like the Red Panda Adventures a little better then the Black Jack Justice show, and I haven't had a chance to get to any of their other shows. Worth checking out.

While the trip there was uneventful (driving at midnight does make a big difference to the number of idiots on the road and truckers are nice drivers), the drive back was a hassle. The car fortunately decided to break down only 15 minutes from home but the repair stranded me for another day in Montreal. And cost an arm and a leg. The water pump seized and killed the timing belt causing the car to stall. Good thing I was pulled over. Oh well. I had a good trip and I made it back in one piece so all was well.

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