Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Road Trip or Getting Your Kayak to Water Safely

You just purchased a new kayak and are eager to launch it. So you throw it in the back of your truck or "jury rig" it to your car roof and set off for the lake. Stop! Don't do it! This is the start of a bad scenario that could end with damage to your kayak, vehicle or endanger other motorists. Also, don't pick up hitchhikers! ;-)

"While there are a couple of different types of rack systems, the best way to transport a kayak is to invest in roof-mounted rack system and appropriate tie-downs. Towers (vertical supports that hold the rack on the car and keep the kayak from touching the roof) are held in place by clamps or directly attached to the roof itself. The kayak is supported on horizontal poles that lie between the towers. Curved brace-like attachments then cradle the side of the kayak to hold it in place." - eHow
With these thoughts in mind, I purchased an "Extend-a-Truck" - a height adjustable extension bar that supports up to 350 pounds and a full 4-foot wide load. It installs with a standard Class III receiver hitch and gave my truck the little "extra" support needed to haul our kayak. I secured the kayak by its bow with a rope attached to the truck tie downs and the stern was secured to the Extend-a-Truck bar with bungee cords. I attached the red caution flag to the rear of our load since the kayak stern extends four feet out from the tail gate.

So, the bottom line is simple. Stay safe when transporting your kayak to that favorite paddling spot by using rack systems and tie downs specifically designed for that purpose.

What type of rack system do you use to transport your kayak?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Return to Lake Michie

09/13/09 - Lake Michie, NC

This Sunday, following church service and between various domestic chores, my wife and I managed to squeeze in another trip to Lake Michie. See my blog entry (09/08/09)for details on Lake Michie. This time; as promised, I took a digital camera. I think I'll let the pictures do the talking. Great trip!

Starting out.

Lake Michie.

Launching from boat ramp.
Back of my wife's head!

A few "webbed" friends.
Down the creek.

Creek's end.
Determined dude.

A natural "archway" over the water.

Following the water.

More beauty.

Had a recent kayak adventure you would like to share?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Top Ten Places to Kayak in the United States

I'm always a little leary of "top ten" lists since they are very subjective and bias. But check out the #1 position from ListAfterList Wiki! Yep, that's our Outer Banks in North Carolina! I lived in Nags Head during my high school days (many moons ago)and it is a great environment for kayaking. Lots of sounds, marshes, and ocean to go exploring!

1. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
2. Down East Islands, Maine
3. Pictured Rocks Lakeshore, Michigan
4. Prince William Sound, Alaska
5. Baja, Mexico
6. Glacier Bay, Alaska
7. San Juan Islands, Washington
8. Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada

- ListAfterList Wiki

Where are some of your top places to kayak?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seven Recommended North Carolina Paddling Trips

Guidebook author Paul Ferguson recommends the following paddling trips, selected for easy access in and out of the stream, their relatively short distance (under 10 miles), and good wildlife viewing potential.

Gardner Creek

Near Jamesville. From access on U.S. Highway 64 to Devil's Gut (a cutoff of the Roanoke River). Explore some of Devil's Gut, view a camping platform, and return.

Lumber River

U.S. Highway 74 access near Boardman to Lumber River State Park's Princess Ann access area. (910) 628-4564 or (910) 628-5643

Merchants Millpond State Park

On U.S. Highway 158 in Gatesville. From the park ramp, explore the millpond, and return. It's a timeless world of ancient cypress and tupelo trees. Canoe rentals and camping.
(252) 357-1191

Milltail Creek

West of Manteo. From access in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and return via several trails.
(252) 473-1131

Tar River

South of Tarboro. N.C. Highway 42 access to N.C. Highway 222 access.

Upper Broad Creek

East of New Bern. From Lee Landing Road access to upstream, and return.

Indiantown Creek

Northeast of Elizabeth City. From the ramp at the South Indian Town Road bridge, paddle upstream along swampy banks and towering cypress trees, then return to the ramp.

- Our State June 2009

Where are some of your favorite North Carolina paddling places?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lake Michie, NC - Our First Kayak Adventure!

09/07/09 - Lake Michie, NC.

Monday, September 7, 2009: My wife Rachel and I got "motivated" to try out our Mainstream Escapade tandem kayak. We purchased the kayak "used" from our church's yard sale held in the summer. We paid only $50.00 for it! I checked both used and new Mainstream Escapade prices on the Web and the prices ranged from $400.00 - $600.00 dollars! We got a bargain!

The day dawned overcast with temperatures in the low 70's - a perfect day for kayaking.

I had previously purchased an "Extend-a-Truck" - a height adjustable extension bar that supports up to 350 pounds and a full 4-foot wide load. It installs with a standard Class III receiver hitch and gave my truck the little "extra" support needed to haul our kayak. I secured the kayak by its bow with a rope attached to the truck tie downs and the stern was secured to the Extend-a-Truck bar with bungee cords. I attached the red caution flag to the rear of our load and we were off to Lake Michie.

A little background on Lake Michie:

"Lake Michie is a reservoir in central North Carolina, within the Neuse River watershed. The lake is located in northern Durham County near the town of Bahama. Fed principally by the Flat River, Lake Michie is the primary reservoir for the city of Durham. The reservoir dam was completed in 1926. In addition to retaining drinking water for the city, the concrete and earthwork dam, built between 1924 and 1926, supplied hydroelectric power to Durham until 1960, when the generators were removed." - Wikipedia

We arrived at the Lake Michie recreational area mid morning and spoke with the friendly Durham employee who was on duty at the boat house and dock. Unfortunately, we learned that our first kayak adventure was going to cost us $3.00! Boat users at Lake Michie have to purchase a "Lake Michie User Permit" to utilize the lake. So, depending on whether your boat is motorized (gasoline or electric) or classified as a "non-motor boat launch" (kayak or canoe) will determine your permit cost. It is also a "pay-as-you-go" deal so EVERY time we want to launch into Lake Michie, we get to support Durham! Oh well, small price for freedom?

We unleashed our kayak from my truck and lugged it down the boat ramp to the water. Our Mainstream Escapade only weighs 65 pounds, so two persons can easily handle it for short distances. Actually, when we came back into shore, the light bulb went off in my head, and I smartly backed my truck down the boat ramp. From there, it was a simple matter to lift the kayak a few feet over the truck tailgate and slid it onto the bed. Piece of cake... and we looked like we even knew what we were doing! ;-)

How do I even begin to describe our two hours on Lake Michie that morning?

One motor boat launched just prior to us leaving the shore, but he quickly sped off down the lake, leaving my wife and me to ourselves on the water. It was so peaceful and quiet. The only sounds made were our oars dipping below the surface. It was overcast, but occasionally the sun would poke through the clouds, throwing glittering light that danced off the water. There were light gusts of wind that would throw spray from our churning oars into our faces and the water would drip down onto our clothes. Now I know why some kayaks are equiped with splash guards! ;-) We saw several herons up close and personal plus some small birds that nested in tree branches that hung over the shore line. I made the mistake of not packing our digital camera - will not be making that mistake again! We circled around a small island overgrown with tall weeds and several gnarled trees, but not finding any kind of beach or clear area to land, we kept on going. Felt a little like Tom Sawyer remembering some of his adventures on the Mississippi River.

We paddled down the lake and entered Mangum Creek. We followed that waterway until it narrowed to a 15 foot wide "ditch" with beautiful lush grass on either side. Our keel scrapped bottom a few times, but we managed to turn around and head back out to the open water of the lake. A few more pulls across to the opposite side of the lake and then hugging the shore line we paddled back to the boat house.

We maybe covered 1/4 mile? Based on the rough hand drawn map we picked up at the boat house, it is 2.75 miles from the boat house to the dam. So, there is lots of Lake Michie to explore!

So, the Lake Michie adventure was a great start to our kayaking fun. Looks like we caught the "kayak bug" and will be back on the water soon!

Anyone paddled Lake Michie? How was your experience?