Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sea Kayaking at Wrightsville Beach!

7/24/2010 - Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Howdy everyone! As part of our weekend getaway to Wilmington, Rachel and I went sea kayaking at Wrightsville Beach! It was the first time we tried sea kayaking... and also solo paddling. We both rented a single-seat kayak from our friends at Hook, Line & Paddle Canoe & Kayak Outfitters (HLP) HLP maintains a rental shop located off Waynick Blvd in Wrightsville Beach. Saturday promised to be another "super" hot day with a heat index of approx. 110 degrees F... so we arrived bright and early that morning to get our paddling in before it got too hot.

HLP rents several different kayak models. Folks may rent by the hour, day, or week. Rach and I decided on a 2 hour rental. Besides, I had to park my truck on Waynick Blvd at metered parking... and the city of Wrightsville Beach charges $2.00 a hour! :-(

Our put in area looking across Masonboro Inlet to Motts Channel.

HLP was conducting an "eco-tour" of the local marsh with a group of 10 individuals. We thought it sounded interesting... and nearly signed up for the tour... until the HLP guide informed us that everyone on the tour was a "newbie" paddler! Nobody in the group had ever been in a kayak! :-O I took a look at the water and wind conditions... tide was going out... current running fast... there was some "chop" in the water... and the wind was gusting 10-20mph... and decided that Rachel and I would NOT be joining the tour group. I did not fancy spending my morning helping to "herd" or fish out of the water this group! Call me selfish? Hopefully, all went well on their paddle.

Here is the Heritage kayak I rented...

... And Rachel's craft.

Heading out across Masonboro Inlet toward Motts Channel. Had to stay very focused on what I was doing at all times. There was some chop... with strong currents... gusty winds... and lots of jet skis and other power boats to avoid.

I also kept a close eye on Rachel. She handled these more "trying" paddling conditions with apparent ease and approached every challenge in a calm and level-headed manner. I was really proud of her!

Approaching the marsh area. There were numerous channels, with fast moving water, that flowed through the high reeds.

I took the lead and paddled a short distance up one of these "waterways." We did not travel far, since once we got into the marsh area, it was impossible to see above the reeds. Also, it got very shallow and I did not want to risk getting stuck in the soft mud.

Here I am back in the main channel. Again, with both the heavy wind gusts and current running fast... one had to plan carefully each photo shot... since by the time you get the camera out of the dry bag... focus... and take your photo... your kayak will have drifted many yards beyond where you decided to take the photo! ;-)

Here, we encountered the "Fishin Magician" out of Wrightsville Beach, anchored in the channel we were following. We noted several birds perched in its sagging blue canvas that covered the flying bridge. The birds had devicated all over the boat... and appeared to be tearing the canvas into shreds... maybe to use as nesting material? The "Fishin Magician" looked like it had been neglected for some time... and I wondered what was the story behind why its owner decided to leave a 30 foot plus cabin cruiser anchored in this remote channel?

We encountered many oyster beds.

A solitary spectator to our paddling adventure!

A large sand dune located on this land bluff near this stretch of the Intercoastal Waterway.

Rachel and I in "formation" on our return paddling leg.

Spotted these water fowl on a muddy sandbar.

The Harbor Inn, located off Causeway Drive, in Wrightsville Beach.

Lots of expensive watercraft, moored near our put in / take out area.

Well, yo-ho... Rachel and I both feel in love with sea kayaking... and going "single" while paddling! ;-) It was great fun... and exciting to experience a different dimension of paddling. The majority of my paddling has been flat water... but I now have a "taste" for a little more current and wind action! Also, we learned that HLP will be selling their rental fleet over Labor Day weekend... and with HLP used kayaks selling in the $300 - $400 dollar range... we may be swinging back to Wrightsville Beach to pick up a "his-and-her" kayak! Stay tuned. More to come.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Not Here! At the Beach!

Howdy! I'm not "here" this weekend... but at the beach! My wife Rachel suprised me with a weekend getaway to Wilmington, NC. to celebrate my 50th birthday! How about that? Going to work real hard to get in a paddle while "beach bound" from the friendly folks at Hook, Line & Paddle Canoe & Kayak Outfitters (HLP). I met some of the HLP outfitters when Rachel and I visited Wilmington back in May. And; of course, I'll post a full report here at Durhamblogger when I return! I'll keep taking life one stroke at a time... and I hope you will too! ;-)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy birthday to me! ;-) Today is one of those milestone birthdays... drum roll please... I'm 50 years "young" today! Holy cow! How about that? So far, I don't "feel" any different? Maybe more of a state of "mind" then "body?" At least, I hope so! :-) So happy birthday to me... and to all others who celebrate their birthday on this day! And... many more!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beaver Dam Lake - I Don't get Tired of it!

7/18/2010 - Beaver Dam Lake, Wake Forest, NC

Back in the kayak cockpit again! Sunday weather forecast was for temperatures in the low 90's with winds SSW at 5-10mph, humid and a 30% chance of rain, mainly in the afternoon. I decided to do an early morning paddle to beat both the heat and weekend crowds while minimizing any thunderstorm encounters. It was a little TOO early for Rachel... so while she turned over in bed to get more sack time... I was up and on the road... to one of my favorite put in areas... Beaver Dam Lake! :-)

Early morning looking E over my house roof. Going to be a good day cause I was going paddling! ;-)

Heavy cloud formations with a hint of rain as I put in at Beaver Dam Lake and paddled SE.

I paddled up a small cove to explore and spotted this dog on the shoreline. He scampered up and down the lake bank, watched me for a time, and then trotted off into the woods.

Nice view of the lake as I exited the cove.

Here is an example of what NOT to do when paddling. This fellow was not wearing a PFD. I saw several other yakers and canoeists on the lake this morning who were not wearing PFDs... one canoe had two women and a young child in it... with no PFDs in sight! Why do people take such risks?

At times, I was battling a 10-13mph head wind... at other times, the breeze dropped to a dead calm, as in this photo.

Message to "Mr. Bubba" (where ever he may be) who decided to leave this ruined camp chair at the water's edge... how about coming back and disposing of it properly?

Paddlers need to be careful when following the shoreline. I encountered this discarded fishing lure with hook still attached, snagged in the brush. This "lost" fishing tackle can be hazardous and deadly to wildlife.

I spotted this heron "marching" through the aquatic foliage looking for breakfast. It soon spied a small minnow and snared the fish with its beak. One quick gulp, and the heron was back on the march for more prey.

A Beaver Dam Lake "beauty" shot!

A small holly bush, growing in an otherwise bare patch of ground, near the lake waters.

I landed here to stretch my legs, and eat a quick snack.

On my return to the boat ramps, activity had picked up. This fellow was getting ready to launch a Sunfish sail boat. Another person was preparing the yellow kayak to put in... and three other folks had just launched and were paddling up the lake. Busy late morning activity at the put in area!

I had a good 3 hour paddle this morning and felt like I had exercised all my essential paddling muscles!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All Quiet on the Paddling Front

Hi everyone! It's been slow for me on the water... because I've been busy on land! ;-) Work during the week... and lots of family activities on the weekends... have squeezed out my yaking. :-( But I'm looking forward to paddling the Pamunkey River when our family travels to visit friends in Mechanicsville, Virginia the end of July. Might even be able to "squeeze in" a paddle (or two?) before our trip to Virginia! Stay tuned. More to come.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

It's hot here! :-O Today, in the Raleigh-Durham area, highs will be in the upper 90's to lower 100's! We are on track to beat the record high of 101 degrees F set back in 1954. I don't put much stock in "global warming"... but this July has started off with record heat.

So how do these high temperatures impact paddling sports?

Tips for keeping your cool in the heat

Paddle early in the day - Early morning like 8:00 AM is best. Most parks and recreational areas open by 8:00 AM... so you can beat both the heat and crowds by launching early.

Hydrate often - If you normally pack two water bottles for a 3-4 hour paddle... throw in another two.

Apply sunscreen often - Use a sunscreen with a high SPF rating... I like to use Bull Frog Quik Gel that has a 36 SPF. Apply it before your paddle... and often during your time on the water... usually every 1 to 1.5 hours.

Know the signs of heat stroke - dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, and muscle cramps. If you have any of these symptoms while paddling... get back to shore and into shade immediately... remove clothing... apply cool water to the skin... call emergency services immediately.

A wide brim hat - It will provide all-around head cover from the sun... especially the back of your neck.

Wear lightweight wicking T-shirts and loose, quick-dry shorts (Supplex)

A good pair of sunglasses - For best protection, choose lenses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays. Always use a retaining strap while on the water.

Always carry a bandanna or towel - You can regularly wet and use to cool yourself.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

After a Long Absence - Return to Lake Michie

7/03/2010 - Lake Michie, Durham, NC

I was able to get a paddle in at the start of the July 4th holiday weekend with a return to Lake Michie. The last time I had paddled Lake Michie was back in October 2009. Saturday morning saw temperatures in the mid 70's, sunny, and winds light and variable... ideal yaking weather! Unfortunately, Rachel's back was sore and she was unable to join me.

View looking SW from the Lake Michie boat ramp. The attendent was going to charge me $6.00 to put in... but I talked him down to $5.00! IMO, a non-motorized, non-fishing craft (e.g. kayak or canoe) should not be charged the same fee that fishermen are charged to launch their motor boats.

I overheard this couple arguing loudly. The guy did not seem to have much experience with either hauling boat trailers or launching from ramps... so decided to take it out on his wife. Hopefully, their day got better after getting out in the water.

Parking lot "full up" with trucks and boat trailers. It was, after all, July 4th weekend.

After waiting for the ramp to clear... I launched and headed S on the lake.

Spotted this turtle sunning himself on a half submerged log.

And saw this pair of geese in a quiet cove.

Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)

This buoy was "anchored" only a few feet from shore and had a "Congested Area" label. I assume this was to warn powered craft not to anchor or venture too close to shore in this cove.

Beautiful Lake Michie on a warm and sunny July morning! :-)

My first glimpse of "Mike's Island" in over 9 months.

I landed on Mike's Island to stretch my legs, take a bio break, and have a quick snack.

View looking E from the island.

View looking W from the island.

Heading back to the put in area. Beautiful cloud formations... and beautiful paddling conditions on Lake Michie. Another fun paddling adventure... and happy yaker! ;-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thanks Folks!

Durhamblogger has eclipsed the 100th post mark... and has more readers then I ever thought would be reading about my paddling adventures! Thank you all very much... and I look forward to the next 100 posts and beyond! :-)