Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal When It Comes to Paddling!

I did indeed butcher Alexander Pope's famous quote... but hopefully you get my drift? :-O While the rains were celebrated at the beginning of this week... they had worn out their welcome by latter part. So, it was with some relief that I spied the trailing edge of the storm front late Thursday PM as I ran some errands. The above photo was taken by leaning out my truck window and snapping the picture with my Blackberry camera. So with steadily improving weather... an approaching weekend... and with temperature forecasts to be in the low to mid 70's F for the next several days... can paddling be far behind... especially in my "new" used kayak?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Paddling Safety - Always Wear Your PFD!

Besides kayaking and blogging... I love to read about others enjoying the great sport of paddling! But what I hate to see are blog photos of paddlers NOT wearing their personal floatation devices (PFDs). I never understood that mentality.

"Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, eight-four (84) percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket." - Recreational Boating Statistics 2009, U.S. Coast Guard

Sobering statistics indeed.

I recently commented on a Florida kayaking blog and asked why the author's guests were not wearing their PFDs. His response to me: "I'm not the PFD police. All I can do is suggest and set an example."

A "compromise" that may ease one's conscience... but does nothing if there is a fatal accident while paddling?

As a kayaker... safety is one area that I will never compromise on... either with myself or especially with any friends that I invite to go paddling with me.

Check out this article - How to choose a PFD to learn about properly fitting one for you!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rain! Wonderful Rain!

Paddling and rain don't mix. But when your region is in a drought with a nearly 10 inch rainfall deficit for the year... every rain event takes priority over yaking and should be celebrated! The rain moved in Sunday evening... and is forecast to remain for a couple of days, bringing much needed moisture to North Carolina. I think I'll pour myself another cup of coffee... and dream about paddling adventures... while I watch the rain beating against my windows. :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kayak Pick-Up from Frog Hollow Outdoors

While I agreed to purchase the Aquafusion Liberty 13 and conducted a test paddle with it on Sunday, Sept. 19... I did not receive delivery of it until today. Banks Dixon, owner of Frog Hollow Outdoors, insisted that the used Liberty 13 (from his rental fleet of kayaks) be cleaned up before selling it to me. Who am I to say "no" to that kind offer! ;-) A few phone calls with the friendly folks at Frog Hollow Outdoors and I arranged to meet Banks at his shop late Sunday morning to finalize the sale and to pick-up my "new" used kayak!

Frog Hollow Outdoors shop in Durham. Durhamblogger gives Banks Dixon and the friendly folks at Frog Hollow Outdoors two thumbs up for great deals... great service... and friendly, informative paddling advice!
Inside Frog Hollow Outdoors. Rachel in the background examining one of the small whitewater kayaks. My Liberty 13 is the yellow kayak in the foreground.

Yours truly and Banks Dixon "sealing" the deal!

"Dramatic" photo angle... the Liberty 13 in transport mode. :-O

The Durhamblogger flotilla! My wife reminded me that we will need to purchase another paddle! Duh! Oh well, looks like another kayak gear purchase in the near future!

Looking to get my new "sleek beast" out to put her through the paces the first week in October! Stay tuned. Much more to come.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

5 Reasons I Love Kayaking!

Everyone loves lists, and I'm no exception to that rule. So here are 5 reasons why I love kayaking - in no particular order:

Reason #1: Combines both physical exercise and meditation. Paddling gives you a great upper body workout and good cardio exercise. It also allows you to let your thoughts wander and mull over life while you are rhythmically stroking your paddle into the water.

Reason #2: Back to nature. Allowing yourself to slow down and drink in all that nature has to offer is a real blessing in my book. Getting up close and personal with a blue heron, watching a sun rise or set, and looking at the beauty of towering trees reflected in the still waters... are all big pluses to kayaking.

Reason #3: Solo versus tandem. You can kayak with a partner or go solo. Two different experiences - both rewarding. Tandem kayaking allows you to share your experiences with someone else and chat together. Just be sure you are both "stroking" together or you will get out of rhythm... and that kayak will not go anywhere! ;-) If you tire of too much togetherness, then there is always going it alone. More meditation opportunities and you get to paddle where "you" want to go! :-)

Reason #4: It is relatively cheap. For under approximately $500, you can purchase a used kayak, paddles, life jackets, and some kind of rig to haul it to the water. Especially if you are into the more leisure side of kayaking, you don't have to invest your life savings here. Shop around. Maybe rent one for the first few times to get a feel for the kayak and what you would like long term. Check out the various articles and links on my blog for tips on purchasing your first kayak.

Reason #5: It is simple. No motor, no sail (unless you are into sea kayaking), no rudder (usually), and no huge trailers. Many kayaks are relatively light weight - my Mainstream Escapade tandem kayak weights just 65 lbs and can be handled by one person.

Why do you love kayaking? Leave a comment!

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Addition to Durhamblogger Flotilla!

Yep! I went and did it! ;-) Meet the newest addition to the Durhamblogger flotilla!

A "beauty" if I say so myself!

Many thanks to Banks Dixon and the fine folks at Frog Hollow Outdoors for working with me to provide a GREAT deal in a used kayak... and skirt! Durhamblogger gives them two thumbs up!

Test paddle in the mill pond behind the dam at West Point on the Eno.

The Liberty 13 tracked well and was very responsive. Having done the majority of my paddling in tandem kayaks... it was like paddling a sports car... fast and limber! ;-)

Rachel in the cockpit.

Banks Dixon showing yours truly how to "navigate" a kayak skirt.

I plan to paddle well into December... and the kayak skirt will be essential gear to keep the cold water out of the cockpit... and some of the warmth inside. Again, I'm very excited to be the proud owner of a Liberty 13... and having two kayak models in the Durhamblogger flotilla greatly expands the paddling opportunities! :-)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Waterways - Cleaning Up Falls and Jordan Lakes

I just received my city water bill... too high! :-( ... note to self, "remind" teenage son to stop taking such long AM showers. I usually throw out the 1-2 sheets of marketing and positive spin literature that accompany my water bill... but this time the title ... "Waterways - Cleaning up Falls and Jordan Lakes... caught my attention. Since both waterways are paddling "haunts" for Durhamblogger... I read on.

"Falls Lake and Jordan Lake are reservoirs that serve as major regional drinking water sources. They were both built for flood and drought control but have become key for water supply to a growing Triangle. The same growth that increases the need for these reservoirs has brought more sources of pollution that threaten the water quality of the lakes. Because of these concerns, the NC General Assembly passed Jordan Lake Rules in 2009. In addition, the state is now working to finalize Falls Lake Rules.

Both sets of rules focus on reducing nutrients going into the lakes. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous feed algal growth. Too much algae results in higher costs to treat drinking water and problems for fish and wildlife. The nutrient reductions required under the new rules are big: 30% nitrogen and 5% phosphorus for Jordan Lake, 40% nitrogen and 77% phosphorous for Falls Lake." - Waterways Volume 14, Number 1: July 2010

Here's the kicker...

"Initial cost estimates for the City of Durham's portion of cleanup for Falls and Jordan Lakes are over a billion dollars. That is $10,000 per household over twenty years."

Yikes! :-O But, since Durham is one of the cities responsible for "messing up" these beautiful lakes... then ...IMO we (Durham residents) need to do our part to "clean this mess up."

What you can do to help

Adopt a stream
Join a stream clean up
Test your soil
Fertilize less
Plant a rain garden
Wash your car at the car wash
Plant trees and bushes along creeks

For more information:

State plans to clean up Falls and Jordan Lakes:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Morning Paddle at Falls Lake

09/17/2010 - Sandling Beach (Falls Lake), Wake Forest

My boss gave all her employees a "Snow Day" that could be used the Friday prior to Labor Day weekend... or on a date chosen by us. I elected to hold onto my "Snow Day" and use it today for another paddle adventure! Rachel had to work, so she was unable to go with me. I decided to return to Sandling Beach at Falls Lake. Friday morning at 8:00AM the temperature was 73F, partly sunny, light winds, and low humidity... perfect yaking weather!

I arrived at the Sandling Beach park entrance right after 8:00AM and was greeted by this wonderful sign! I got to keep my $6.00 park entry fee and put it to better use... buying lunch!

I drove to shelter #1 and backed into a parking slot close to the paved walkway. Falls Lake is just to the right of the shelter, approximately 200 yards from the parking lot.

Once again, my vehicle was the only one in the parking lot!

Put in area past shelter #1. Thankfully, I remembered to bring my kayak cart... and it was a BIG help in getting the 65lb kayak down to the shoreline!

I launched and immediately encountered a stiff SE breeze that produced some chop and current. It made for a tough paddle on my outward leg. At times, the kayak bow would lift and slam back down on the water. A few times... water went over the bow. The breeze on the open water was much stronger then I expected.

It was partly sunny early into my paddle and the cloud formations were gorgeous.

I spotted this red bogey board with the remains of a tow rope still attached to it.

Always looking to see what is around that next bend!

Boat storage structure, part of the Rollingview Marina.

Saw some nice pleasure boats moored at the marina.

Lots of powered and sail craft docked here.

Maybe not the best name for a sail boat?

As my paddle progressed, the skies became more cloudy and at one point I noted some dark and threatening cloud formations to the west. The increased cloud cover produced some spectacular photos to share on Durhamblogger!

I landed on a small beach opposite shore from the Rollingview Marina to stretch, snack, and take a bio break.

Beach looking SE.

Back on the lake, I noted these tree colors signaling that Fall will be here in a few days... scheduled for September 22nd to be exact!

Approaching one on the many Highway 50 bridges that span Falls Lake.

On the other side of the bridge, I saw this nice boat ramp area.

I landed to stretch and explore. This beach was very rocky and the lake bottom dropped off sharply just 1-2 feet from shore.

Nice buoy and marker display. Hopefully, folks will take time to understand and obey these buoys when they encounter them on Falls Lake.

There were 6 boat ramps located here... one of the largest boat ramp facilities I have seen on Falls Lake.
I love seeing this sign at boat ramps! Unfortunately, many folks never wear PFDs. I never understood that kind of mentality... and every year there are a handful of folks who drown while either boating or swiming in our area lakes. Tragedies that could be avoided or minimized if they would just wear their PFDs!

It is also good to see the state getting more serious about boating safety.

On my return paddle... I was in for a treat! I saw my first bald eagle on Falls Lake! I spotted the bird perched on this tree branch overhanging the water... so I stopped paddling... and tried to float closer. Unfortunately, the wind and current were against me... and as I fumbled with the camera... the water chop caused my kayak to rock in the swell... making it very difficult to steady my camera aim. The bald eagle leaped into the sky... I took the shot... and I was "sure" that I had missed it entirely. However... when I down loaded my photos... I discovered that I had captured this magnificent bird (in a somewhat blurry photo) as it took to flight. (Click on the photo to enlarge) and you will see it in the upper left framed against the tree branch.
Back at my put in / take out area at shelter #1.

A really nice paddle adventure at Falls Lake with the bonus of seeing my first bald eagle! :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Got my Eyes on a "New" "Used" Kayak!

Howdy everyone! A local kayak outfitter... Frog Hollow Outdoors ... recently had a "garage" sale of used gear and kayaks. I missed the initial sale because of paddling that weekend... an excellent excuse in my book! ;-). However, there were some items that had not sold... and one such item was a Aquafusion Liberty 13 kayak! Rachel and I have been on the lookout for a single seat kayak to add to the Durhamblogger flotilla. I've made a few phone inquiries... it is an excellent price for a used kayak... and am looking to check it out in more detail at their Durham shop. If all systems are "go"... will test paddle it soon! Stay tuned. More to come on this story! :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Know Your Navigational Aids!

You are paddling in U.S. waters and come across the following navigational aid sign as you round the bend in a wide river.

What should you do?

#1. Ignore it and continue paddling

#2. Proceed, but be cautious of a potential hazard

#3. Keep out of area and turn around

What is the correct answer and why?

Understanding and obeying all navigational aids is very important for kayakers' safety!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Return to Sandling Beach, Falls Lake

9/11/2010 - Sandling Beach (Falls Lake), Wake Forest, NC

I really enjoyed our last outing to Sandling Beach on Labor Day... so decided to give it another "go" this weekend! Rachel wanted to hit the Durham Farmers Market early Saturday morning and our friend Carol also went with us. So, we were not able to make a break for Sandling Beach until late morning. Even with a late start to Falls Lake, we enjoyed nice paddling weather... temperatures in the low 70's, winds light and variable, and overcast skies.

When we arrived at the park, shelters #1-5 were reserved for large parties, so we decided to try shelter #6. There was a small beach area located down from the shelter that looked like a good put in area. The lake bottom dropped off quickly from this point, so we only had to "walk" the kayak 10 feet or so to launch.

Another advantage of using shelter #6 was the short distance from the parking lot to the beach.

Once again, like on Labor Day, we had the entire shelter and parking lot to ourselves!

View from our put in area. Swollen, rain-laden clouds kept the sun obscured and temperatures low. Rain did move into the area after we had finished our paddle several hours later. Timing is everything!

Looking SE from our put in area. When we launched, we paddled SE hugging the shoreline. There were a number of fast moving power boats towing rafts and cruising along Falls Lake that we wanted to avoid.

Here is shelter #4 where Rachel and I put in on Labor Day. Quite a difference from 5 days ago! Today, there was a full swing cookout and party underway. I estimated there were over 75 folks having a "good old time" at shelter #4!

We passed the designated swim area at Falls Lake. Not much activity here today.

An empty nest platform... maybe for osprey or eagles?

Rachel in her front seat. Note the wind whipping her hair. The wind increased in strength while we paddled and the chop created by numerous boat wakes made for a rather "wet" paddle!

Remains of an observation platform. Just the poles were visible.

Here is the concrete and steel structure on the land side of the observation platform. The poles (in the above photo) were located approximately 30 feet away in the lake waters.

The next two photos depict some of the most unusual erosion effects I have ever seen on dead trees. Rachel nicknamed them the "dancing trees." This shape looks like a walking torso with a deer's head (complete with horns) hanging straight down.

This "dancing tree" shape looks like a torso with its right leg kicking straight out!

Falls Lake beauty shot. Enjoy!

We noted some trees that were starting to change color, signalling that Fall is just around the corner.

Another Falls Lake beauty shot.
Another wonderful paddle at Falls Lake! I hope to take a "snow day" during the work week of September 13th... so I can take an extra long paddle on this beautiful lake! I'll let you know! ;-)