Sunday, October 31, 2010

Paddling - On Again. Off Again

I had planned to paddle this weekend and was excited that our friend Carol was going to join us. We were even going to paddle some "new" water off Interstate 85. But then Carol had to beg off at the last minute... Rachel was not sold on the idea... and I was not keen on going it alone this time. A couple other factors played into my "no go" decision... the weather was cooler... mid 50's... a stiff breeze was blowing... and our oldest son was home for a brief visit from UNC Charlotte... and I wanted to maximize my time with him. Bottom line - no paddling this weekend. :-(

But never fear. I am planning a "working" vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC next week... and look forward to getting in some sea kayaking! Stay tuned, more to come! :-)

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Pamunkey River - Favorite Paddling Photo!

It's Friday... and that means it's time to share another of my favorite paddling photos! This photo was taken on the Pamunkey River located in eastern Virginia.

I like the tranquility and beauty conveyed in this photo. A quiet creek on a warm summer afternoon. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Those Wild, Beautiful Places!

"I'm still a kid inside, and adventure is adventure wherever you find it"
- Jim Dale

One of the pleasant surprises of paddling that still amazes me... are the wild, beautiful places located within a stone's throw of bustling urbanism. While folks are rushing here and there... talking on cell phones... texting... messaging... emailing... trying their best to cram as much "stuff" into a 24 hour period as possible... a scene like the above may be experienced after a short 10 minute car drive beyond Durham's city limits... and an equally short paddle on Lake Michie to an island I nicknamed Mike's Island!

So, I do feel blessed to have learned the "secret" of slowing down (you have to make time for it!)... taking it easy... getting on the water... and paddling to those wondrous, wild, and beautiful places located a short distance from home. Yep. I'm still a kid at heart with many adventures yet to take. ;-)

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The "New" Durhamblogger!

Howdy everyone! I've been busy "experimenting" with a new template and layout for Durhamblogger! Have a look around and let me know what you think!

Post your feedback in the comments section!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Island Creek (Kerr Lake) - Favorite Paddling Photo!

I plan to share my favorite paddling photos each Friday! Hopefully, you will be inspired to get out and experience the beauty of nature for yourself! Here is my favorite Island Creek (Kerr Lake) paddling photo!

The water surface was very calm making for some wonderful tree reflections. In the distance, there were a few patches of mist rising from the water. The sun was just peeking above the tree line. Early morning on Kerr Lake. Enjoy!

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Late Morning Paddle at Lake Holt

10/16/2010 - Lake Holt, Butner, NC

Rachel originally planned to paddle with me on Saturday, but a last minute phone call from a girl friend with an offer to shop and have lunch together... nixed the together paddle plans. So instead, I went alone. I decided to paddle Lake Holt and see how advanced the fall colors were on the trees. I loaded up my truck with the "yellow beast" and gear... and was on the road by mid-morning. Temperature was approximately 45F and warmed to 50F by the time I put in. Weather forecast called for a sunny day, highs in the upper 60'sF, and winds out of the NW at 10 - 15 mph. Nice paddling conditions! :-)

Put in at the Lake Holt boat ramp. As I prepared to launch, I saw two adults and two kids in a small motorboat getting ready to set off down the lake. I overheard one of the boys asking his father in a loud whisper... "Hey dad, what kind of boat is that?" pointing to my kayak. He had never seen a kayak before! :-O

Water conditions were dead calm as I began my paddle. The deep blue color of the water was very striking.

I saw some evidence of fall colors... but it will be a few more weeks before colors really "pop" at Lake Holt! I observed nice tree reflections in the still water.

The winds, that were calm at the beginning of my paddle, began to pick up as the morning progressed. At a few points, I experienced gusts that nearly ripped off my cap. I estimated those gusts to be in the 20 - 25 mph range.

I decided to explore the northern area of Lake Holt. Here I discovered a small and quiet cove off the main waterway.

It dead ended at a tangled maze of tree limbs that had fallen over the water. I turned around and made my way back out to the main channel. This photo was taken looking "out" from the cove.

I spied splashes of fall color!

The return paddle was a little tough for me with the sun glare off the water surface. I wear prescription lenses and don't own a pair of sunglasses. So I made the best of it and took the next two photos to capture that effect. It is a lot "prettier" to view in a photo than having to paddle through it! ;-)

Back at the Lake Holt boat ramp.

I spent an enjoyable and uneventful few hours paddling Lake Holt. It was good to get out... get some exercise... and enjoy the solitude of nature. I plan to return in a few weeks to capture the splendid fall colors in my camera lens! :-)

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Beaver Dam Lake - Favorite Paddling Photo!

I was rummaging through several folders of my recent Beaver Dam Lake paddling adventures... and came across my favorite one! Here it is:

I love the symmetry and balance of the images. The scene captures for me the spirit of adventure... and that special sense of wonder and awe found only in nature. Wonder what's around that next bend? Enjoy! Look for a favorite paddling photo each Friday!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Aquafusion Kayaks - Great Customer Service Experience!

I mentioned in my blog post "Installing Kayak Seat Cushions - An Easy Project", that Aquafusion had sent me the wrong size plastic fasteners... necessitating a trip to my local hardware store to purchase the correct ones. I also sent an email to John Kleiber, Aquafusion... explaining the mix up. I received the following email from John today:

"Hi Mike, Well, that’s an extra pain in the butt you didn’t need. My apologies, it was entirely my fault. The fasteners were the correct size, but I gave you the wrong drill bit size. It was supposed to be 3/16”. I refunded your entire purchase back to your VISA. Hope you get many years of happiness out of your Liberty." - Yours, John Kleiber

Now... that is what I call "superior and excellent" customer service! :-) Many thanks to John and the fine folks at Aquafusion! You just made a customer for life!

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Installing Kayak Seat Cushions - An Easy Project

In my "Ouch! It Hurts!" blog post, I noted that my Aquafusion Liberty 13 seat had no cushion and was hard plastic. It made for a painful back and butt experience! :-( I looked at several third party seat cushion solutions... but was not satisfied with the fit of them. I then sent an email to Aquafusion... learned of a Liberty 13 seat cushion kit... purchased it... it was delivered today... and I installed it! :-) Here is a step-by-step instruction for installing seat cushions in an Aquafusion Liberty 13 kayak.

Kit has 4 molded foam cushions...

... with 12 plastic fasteners.

You also need an electric drill and 3/8" drill bit. (Correction - you should use a 3/16" drill bit. The supplied plastic fasteners will work provided you use a 3/16" drill bit. Aquafusion made a mistake in the installation instructions.)

Original Liberty 13 seat. Seat and back rest are molded hard plastic. Back rest has straps that allow some angle adjustments.

Position pad where you want it. Here I have positioned the seat pad.

I used a drill set tool to poke a hole through the pad to mark the drill positions onto the plastic beneath the pad.

I then took the plastic fasteners and inserted them into the seat pad.
This is a photo of the underside of the seat pad with the pointy side of the plastic fasteners facing outward. I then removed the seat pad and drilled the 4 holes directly into the plastic seat. Do NOT drill through the pads themselves or you risk tearing or fraying the material. I repeated this process for installing the back rest and hip cushion pads.
However, I noticed right away that the plastic fasteners were NOT holding down the seat cushions! In fact, the back rest pad would not stay mounted in place. I realized that Aquafusion sent me the wrong size plastic fasteners! :-( The fastener on the right is the size sent by Aquafusion. The fastener on the left (larger one) that I purchased from my neighborhood Lowes store, is the correct size!

Voila! My Aquafusion Liberty 13 with installed seat cushions!

Once I realized I had the wrong size plastic fasteners... and purchased the correct ones... the project went quickly. It took less than 15 minutes to install the seat cushion kit. I recommend that you always check with the original kayak manufacturer for essential accessories... like seat cushions to ensure a correct fit. Now that I have nice molded foam seat cushions in my Liberty 13... I'm sure both my back and butt will "thank me" on my next kayaking adventure!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Gear Purchase - A Kayak Sprayskirt!

A NRS Catalina Sprayskirt to be exact! :-) My good buddy Banks Dixon, of Frog Hollow Outdoors, ordered one for me when I picked up my new "yellow beast" at his shop in September... and the sprayskirt order was delivered a few days ago. After some initial adjustments... it fit like a glove over my Aquafusion Liberty 13 cockpit! I plan to paddle well into December... and the sprayskirt will be essential gear to keep the cold water out of the cockpit... and some of the warmth inside.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wonderful Morning Paddling at Kerr Lake

10/9/2010 - Island Creek (Kerr Lake), NC

Durhamblogger embarked on his longest road trip to date... a little over one hour from Durham... and paddled at a new location - Island Creek located on Bugs Island / Kerr Lake. But it was a paddling trip that almost never happened. Saturday, the family was scheduled to visit the mother-in-law in Clarksville, VA... leaving no time for paddling. Then I had a brilliant plan. Since Island Creek was on the route to Clarksville... why not pack the truck with kayak and gear Friday night... drive separately... leave a few hours earlier Saturday morning... get in a couple of hours of paddling... and then meet the family at my mother-in-law's house? Sometimes I even scare myself! ;-) Saturday was forecast to be sunny... 84 F... o% chance of rain... and light and variable winds. Nice! I was up at 6:00AM Saturday morning... and on the road to Island Creek by 7:00AM. However... while Saturday "day" had a warm forecast... Saturday early "morning" it was only 45 F... so I wore my water resistant paddling pants, and jacket. It was a little "nippy."

I took back roads from Durham through Oxford and along Highway 58. There was little traffic this early and I made good time. I arrived at Island Creek about 8:00AM.
I discovered that Island Creek had a voluntary park entrance "collection" system. You fill out an envelope with your vehicle license information... put $4.00 in the envelope... tear off and display your park pass on your rear mirror... and slip the envelope into the collection box slit. There were signs warning folks about the possibility of fines if your vehicle did not display a correct park pass. A while later... as I was parking my truck... I did spot a fellow driving through the parking lot checking for park passes.
Again, one of my "favorite" signs near the Island Creek boat ramp. Sadly... few persons wear PFDs.
Saw these two groups of fishermen as I prepared to put in. The boat moored to the dock was having engine problems and would not turn over and start. It's kind of funny when I have encounters with local fishermen. They don't always know what to make of me... since I don't fish... and I paddle a "strange" little boat with no motor! I greeted them with a cheery "good morning"... but they were not happy campers because of the engine trouble. I heard one of them chuckle out loud to his companion as I got into my kayak... "That guy is going to flip out of that little boat!" I ignored the comment... launched from the boat ramp and starting paddling SW on Kerr Lake. The whining of a boat motor unable to start and the fishermen's curses slowly faded in the distance. I was thinking "happy" thoughts to myself!
Put in at the Island Creek boat ramp.

A short distance from the boat ramp, there was a line of electrical power transmission towers that marched across the landscape with some of the tower anchor legs in the lake waters.

I spotted this bird nest built within the tower framework. There was nobody home.

Early morning on Kerr Lake! The water surface was very calm making for some wonderful tree reflections. In the distance, there were a few patches of mist rising from the water.
Back in some of the shadowy coves, the mist ebbed and flowed skyward. Mysterious and beautiful at the same time. Within minutes of taking these next two photos... the sun moved above the treeline... and the mist vanished.

As I paddled SW into the more quiet areas of Kerr Lake... there were numerous homes built on the lake. In this photo, the land owners had trucked in large amounts of rock to build a breakwater for their property. A rusted ladder descends into the water for swimmers and boaters.

There were all kinds of water craft on the lake! Here, a toy paddle boat.

And also "hard core" fishing boats. This craft sported no less then 6 fishing poles with an electric wench for nets or trolling.

Again, the less traveled areas are the best! Quiet coves on Kerr Lake with still waters and nature in all her splendour.

A "splash" of autumn color against a bright blue sky.

In a few short weeks... fall will be well underway here in NC. Leaf watchers are predicting magnificent colors this year because of the dry conditions.

Island Creek dam. A few cars drove along the roadway on top of the dam as I paddled below.

I saw several vehicles slow as they spotted my brightly colored yellow kayak. I don't believe kayaks are a familiar sight in these waters! ;-)

After a few hours of paddling, it was time to return to my put in / take out area at the Island Creek boat ramp. Looked like the fishermen had gotten their stubborn boat motor to start... since they were no where to be seen. I sure hope they had an enjoyable time on the water... because I certainly did! ;-)

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