Monday, February 22, 2010

Hoofing at West Point on the Eno

Sunday (02/21/10) was another "picture perfect" day, partially sunny with temperatures in the low 60's. My mind was wrapping itself around another paddle adventure, but my wife had other plans! She was set for some hiking at West Point on the Eno. I tried to persuade her to go paddling with me, but she stated "I am not going to get wet or be cold... so no!" There are some battles worth fighting and there are others in which any "victory" is only a pyrrhic one! :-0 So, with that in mind... and scouting for my next paddling adventure, I agreed to go hiking with her. BTW, I had a great time! :-)

Here are the remains of an old cabin on the banks of the Eno River.
Eno River course just before it passes under both a pedestrian foot bridge and Roxboro Road highway bridge.

View of the Eno River (looking west) from the pedestrian bridge. Note the dam (rock formations background). My next paddling adventure, I plan to put in on the far side of the dam and paddle west.

View from the pedestrian bridge (looking east). When I last paddled at West Point on the Eno, I passed under both bridges paddling east on the river to Penny's Bend.

Photo of my wife Rachel looking west with a close up of the spillway and dam. Again, for my next paddling adventure, I will put in on the west side of this dam... not too close to the spillway, I might add! ;-)

A "busy" beaver's handiwork. Maybe the same fellow I spied on Saturday? Or a distant relative?

Eno River is broad running through the West Point on the Eno City Park. Looking forward to paddling on this section of the river soon!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Paddling on the Eno River Again

2/20/2010 - Eno River, Durham, NC

Hi everyone! Well, after my kayak sat for nearly 3 weeks in the garage, I FINALLY hauled it out this past Saturday, loaded it into the back of my truck... and I went paddling!!!! Yes!!! Saturday was mostly sunny with temperatures in the upper 50's and a light, variable breeze. Beautiful conditions, especially after so much cold and snow in the Raleigh - Durham area. I drove a short 10 minutes down the road to the Eno River.

Put in was at the Eno River boat ramp.
It was a bright, sunny day. I was so happy to be back in the kayak cockpit! :-)

The Eno River was in flood stage and had run over its banks. Forests that bordered the river were flooded. In some areas, there was standing water 100 yards from the actual banks of the river!
Approaching the highway bridge that spans the Eno River. Note the calm water conditions that made for ideal paddling.
Here, the Eno River divides. I decide to go left down a small tributary.
Interesting vine growth that enveloped this tree. I estimated that this growth was over 30 feet tall.
The sky was a vivid blue color that made the bare tree branches "pop" out.
Just a few cloud wisps in an otherwise deep blue sky.
I was real excited to capture this beaver in my camera lens! First "wild" beaver I have seen on the Eno River. This guy was swimming toward my kayak when I first came upon him. He spotted me, turned, and right after I snapped this photo, he slapped his tail down hard on the water and dove under.
"Classic" garbage photo. Some joker thought it would be cute to dump his desk chair right next to a "No Dumping" sign.
As I was taking out back at the Eno River boat ramp, I spied 4 teenagers unloading a canoe and sit on top kayak. So I hung around to see how they put in. Unfortunately, safety on the water was not top of mind with them - no PFDs, no water resistant clothing, no change of clothes, no dry bags, no paddle leashes, and they headed up river which is usually full of fishing boat traffic. I hope they did not run into any trouble.

Back at the Eno River boat ramp, another (finally!) fun paddling adventure!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kayalite Deck & Stern Light: Review - Installation

Kayalite Deck and Stern Light
General Specifications: Height: 18 inches / Weight: 10 oz.

Here is Part #2 of my Kayalite review in which I install the eyebolt to my kayak's stern.

First, I located where I wanted the eyebolt and then used the 1/4 inch drill bit to make the hole. It took very little effort and it made a clean opening.

Then I inserted the eyebolt and screwed down the nut on the underside of the stern deck.

Next, I attached the bungee clip to the eyebolt, pulled the cable taunt and cinched it to the molded cleat on the base pole.

This is a secure and flexible mount that will "bend" or move if a low hanging branch or paddle strikes it, but with the added security that it is attached to your kayak's stern via the eyebolt and bungee clip. I believe this design to be superior to either suction-cup or rigid mounts.

It was a quick and easy installation that took me less then 15 minutes to complete. Now I have a gear hardware attachment that will allow me to quickly set-up the Kayalite for some dusk paddling or I can utilize it to attach other gear. Next, a dusk paddle! Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1,000 Durhamblogger Visitors!

On February 18, 2010, Durhamblogger registered the 1,000th visitor! Wow! Thank you! Durhamblogger raises a toast... to all visitors!

In just seven months since starting my blog, 1,000+ visitors from 23 countries have come to this "virtual oasis" where kayak adventures are told and interesting and fun kayak information is shared.

Some of the visitors who stopped by recently were from Romania, Italy, and Taiwan!

Salut, Ciao, and Hola Atayal!

I am humbled and grateful for all these wonderful visits... and look forward to welcoming more folks here in 2010!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Brief Look Back

Hi everyone! I'm dusting off some memories of my past paddling trips and thought it would be interesting to list my "Top 3" and why I chose them. Some of the pure enjoyment I get from kayaking, in addition to the upper body workout, is the joy of discovering what is around that next bend and experiencing the wonders of nature up close and personal.

Mike's Top 3 - at least for now! ;-)

1. Lake Michie You never forget your first kayaking trip... the joy of paddling and gliding over calm waters... sunlight dancing off the surface... sounds of the paddles rhythmically dipping into the water... and being able to experience it with my wife Rachel... made it extra special and very memorable!

2. Eno River Exploring a winding, calm river... making friends with a fellow kayaker... chatting and drifting with the current... all under a brilliant blue sky and wonderful cloud formations... made for another great experience!

3. Lake Holt Paddling at the peak of Autumn colors... seeing the trees and colors reflected off the calm waters... peaceful with not a soul around... sunlight gleaming through the clouds... made for another memorable paddling adventure!

But these are just a start and I'm looking forward to new and exciting paddling trips in 2010!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kayalite Deck & Stern Light: Review - Initial Impressions

Kayalite Deck and Stern Light
General Specifications: Height: 18 inches / Weight: 10 oz.

I was impressed with the Kayalite Deck and Stern Light right out of the box.

It had a nice, solid feel to it. The light switch was a twist on / twist off mechanism that was easy to operate. The Kayalite unit had two built-in tie down fasteners - a 1 inch stainless steel ring attached to the light pole and a plastic cleat molded into the base pole - in addition to the primary bungee cord tether.

Kayalite features a two piece pole design.

The 18 inch height setting, (which is the Kayalite height spec), has a good fit to it.

The Kayalite base has a 4 inch diameter with a 1 inch thick foam collar.

The foam collar extends into the plastic base and has guide channels for the bungee cord tether.

Also, as promised, Steve Hollinger, president of Kayalu, shipped an eyebolt kit with the Kayalite. He even included a 1/4 inch drill bit!

Initial impressions are very favorable. Next step is to mount the Kayalite on my kayak's stern using the enclosed eyebolt kit. Stay tuned.

Steve Hollinger, president of Kayalu, response.

"Thank you for conducting such a thorough review of the Kayalite's construction.

Some initial comments...

1. The Kayalite always ships fully assembled. The Tektite is bolted in, and includes a heatshrink bushing to keep it extremely snug within the mast.

2. A drill bit is included with all of our Eyebolt Kits.

Let me know if I can be of any further assistance with questions."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kayalite Evaluation Unit Shipped!

Steve Hollinger, president of Kayalu, emailed me to announce that the Kayalite Deck & Stern Light evaluation unit has shipped!

Reminder - in my posting dated Feb 1st, I was contacted by Kayalu to evaluate and review a new light product.

Steve also agreed to ship me an eyebolt kit so I will be able to attach the Kayalite product on my kayak stern - a tandem Mainstream Escapade.
Look for a detailed gear review on Durhamblogger soon!

Carolina Kayak Club - Newest Member!

Hi everyone! Well, I went and did it! I purchased a family membership ($30 for 1 year) with Carolina Kayak Club (CKC). and also became a member with Tarheel Paddlers Association (TPA).

CKC is based out of Raleigh and specializes in flatwater paddling while TPA's home is in Greensboro and members do mostly whitewater yaking. Both clubs have welcomed me with "open paddles" ;-) . However, based on my current skill level and paddling interests, I'll be initially looking to attend CKC sponsored activities - especially the CKC Symposium that will be held at Jordan Lake in May.

I believe joining these kayak clubs will be the catalyst to increasing my paddling skills and confidence levels while on the water. Getting to know more fellow kayakers, asking lots of questions, and paddling with like-minded folks will further my enjoyment of this great sport! Looking forward to fellowship and fun paddling adventures in 2010! :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gear Up!

The weather has been too snowy... too cold... too wet... too "yucky" (yep, I'm whining a bit!) for me to get out and paddle for the past two weeks. I don't own a dry suit and can't justify laying out close to $500 - $900 for one! :-O. So, on Saturday, after getting "fortified" with several cups of coffee, my wife and I headed out to my favorite gear store - REI.

And yes, just as I mentioned in an earlier gear post back in January, I purchased a PFD - the Stohlquist Trekker. There are several features that I really like about this PFD.

(1.) Mesh side panels with three side cinch-straps. I can "breath" easier and it allows more air flow since it is a more open design then the MTI Reflex PFD that I also tried on. No side flotation panels makes a big difference in comfort!

(2.) Two zippered bellows pockets with drainage ports so I can carry my digital camera, cell phone, and energy bars. Big plus as I can now reduce the amount of gear carried around the neck! :-)

(3.) 3M reflective accents on front and back to improve visibility.

(4.) Plus, it was on sale... 25% off the regular price!

I also worked with a REI Paddlesport associate (John) who got me fitted in a correctly sized PFD for my body frame. It is very important that you not only get a properly fitted PFD, but that it is also comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. A PFD is essential paddling safety gear that you should wear at all times while paddling.

I also purchased a paddle leash to keep my paddle within arms reach at all times.

As John explained to me... if you get separated from your paddle, it is going to drift down the river at a different speed then your kayak! ;-)

There was MORE gear that I was drooling over (isn't that always the case?), but my money ran out before the gear did! I plan to circle back to REI several more times in the next few months so I'll be well prepared when warmer paddling temperatures return. Gear up!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Durhamblogger Follower Contest Winner!

And the Durhamblogger Follower winner of a one year subscription to Canoe & Kayak magazine is...

Mark "Moe" Swank


Please send me your complete mailing address to this email... and you'll soon be receiving your first issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine!

Did not win? No worries! There will be more contests for Durhamblogger Followers throughout the year! Stay tuned!

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Stern Light from Kayalu

Hi everyone! I was contacted by a marketing person from Kayalu last week to evaluate a new stern light product - the Kayalite Deck and Stern Light. It is an interesting and innovative design. I had a few initial questions on the Kayalite product and Steve Hollinger, President of Kayalu, answered them promptly. Steve promised me an evaluation unit for analysis in February. Look for a detailed gear review on Durhamblogger soon!