Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Different Kind of Adventure - Serving in Dulac, Louisiana

Hi everyone! This is a different post then most you will see on Durhamblogger. It has nothing to do with kayaking... but everything to do with helping others in need.

Several years ago, my wife and I were part of a mission trip to Dulac, Louisiana to help with rebuilding efforts. We were so moved and impacted by these people and their plight... that we have returned every summer (for the past 4 years) to help and fellowship with some remarkable folks.

So, for the next week (July 23 - July 31), I'll not be paddling North Carolina waterways... but instead will be helping others who were left up the creek without a paddle.

Please pray for our mission team...Mike, Rachel, Dean, Carol, Linda, Gracie, and Mary... and we'll talk when I return. Peace all.

FEMA trailers lined up on Coast Guard Road, Dulac, Louisiana (June 2010)

Post Update (8/1/2011)
Our mission team returned home safely from Dulac, Louisiana on Saturday (July 30). A young mother with three small children now has clean and rebuilt bedrooms and bathroom! Our work was hard and the hours long, but in the end, a family has been impacted in a positive way. Don't fall for the lie that you can't make a difference in someone's life...

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Late Summer Afternoon Paddle at Hickory Hill

July 9, 2011 - Hickory Hill, Durham, NC

Rachel and I had a number of domestic chores to complete Saturday morning... with one of them to do a "dry run" out to a new paddle location for us - Hickory Hill on Falls Lake. I was really excited with what we discovered at Hickory Hill - four boat ramps and a really beautiful section of Falls Lake! We decided to wait until late afternoon to return to Hickory Hill and get in a good paddle. Saturday late afternoon the temperature was in the mid 80's, partly cloudy, rather high humidity, and a slight breeze out of the west.

Entrance sign to the Hickory Hill boat ramps. This location on Falls Lake was only a short 20 minute drive from my house, but only just discovered! I wonder how many more "gems" like Hickory Hill are within easy driving distance?

Getting ready to put in. There were only a few trucks with boat trailers in the large parking lot. I was a little suprised (but glad) of the lack of fishermen. Rachel and I had the boat ramps to ourselves.

We put in and paddled SE, hugging the right shoreline. Here is what's left of a dock.

Just beyond the partly submerged dock pilings, on a small headland, were the remains of several camp fires.

Interesting "tree islands" with new growth foliage. Obviously, there is no lack of water!

Another headland.

I nicknamed these two side-by-side dead trees "the couple." Look, they are holding "hands." ;-)

Saw a lot of erosion effects and the impact on dead tree trunks that littered the shoreline.

Witnessed this egret make a landing into the top of this tree. I was amazed the bird was able to balance and perch itself upon the small and more delicate leaves near the tree top. It reminded me of a scene from the martial arts movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" when two Samarui warriors are balancing themselves and fighting on the tops of trees in a forest!

On our return leg, we encountered this dangerously overloaded motorboat. Let's just say there was some rather heavy "ballast" on board. The family was having engine trouble...

... and were able to call for assistance. A wildlife service high speed craft answered their distress call. Earlier in our paddle, we had a "close encounter" with this boat as it sped to assist the overloaded boat in the above photo. It threw out some rather heavy wake and we had to stop paddling and turn the bow into the waves generated by the wildlife service craft as it passed within 50 feet of our kayak!

The next four photos are "beauty" shots. Enjoy!

We mearly scratched the surface when it came to exploring Falls Lake at the Hickory Hill put in / take out area. You can bet both Rachel and I will be back to enjoy this newly discovered "gem" soon!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shame on Canoe & Kayak Magazine - No PFDs!

In January 2011, I posted Shame on Visit - No PFDs! that highlighted a Visit advertisement in Canoe & Kayak Magazine that featured several adults not wearing PFDs. I stated that it was "...a poor oversight on the part of the Florida tourism industry to market in a paddling magazine and forget all about kayak safety!"

I thought it could not get worse? I was wrong!

I just received my July 2011 issue of Canoe & Kayak Magazine... and turning to page 23... I saw this advertisement for Small World Adventures - group kayaking in Ecuador.

Four adolescent boys paddling and NOT wearing PFDs! And the advertisement highlights Class III / Class IV rapids AND mentions that some staff of Canoe & Kayak Magazine will be in attendance! What?

This is unacceptable advertisement to be marketed in a paddling magazine and show no regard for kayak safety.

Always wear your PFD when paddling! Lots of unforeseen things can happen while you are on the water. Weather and water conditions can change rapidly. You can accidentally hit your head during a "going duck" incident. Your kayak can strike underwater obstacles or you can slip into very cold water where hypothermia becomes a real danger. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) reports that in 9 out of every 10 recreational boat drownings, the victims were NOT wearing PFDs. The USCG recommends that anyone operating a human-powered watercraft wear a PFD and all children under 13 wear one at all times while in a vessel

I promptly fired off an email to the editors of Canoe & Kayak Magazine... pointing out their PFD omissions... and asked that they do a better screening of advertisement submissions.

Again, shame on Small World Adventures for submitting this advertisement... and shame on Canoe & Kayak Magazine for running it! I expect better from a paddling magazine.

My response to the BaffinPaddler, a Durhamblogger reader:

"Baffin, I have no idea what are the Canoe and Kayak Magazine editors' views on kayak safety? This is the second time in 2011 this paddling magazine has accepted and published advertisements that show unsafe and dangerous kayak practices. Each time I send an email to them, and point out the issues. And each time, I receive no reply from them. But if Canoe and Kayak Magazine continues to publish advertisements highlighting unsafe kayak practices, I will cancel my subscription. I believe the paddling community should promote safe paddling and that should also hold true for paddle sport publications like Canoe and Kayak Magazine." - Mike

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day Paddle at Beaver Dam Lake!

7/04/2011 - Beaver Dam Lake, Wake Forest, NC

Independence Day - July 4, 2011. God bless the men and women who defend our freedom everyday... and to those individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe and free.

Monday, Rachel and I had the day off... and decided to get in a morning paddle at Beaver Dam Lake. 8:30 AM, the temperature was in the mid 70's with a steady 9 - 12 mph easterly breeze, sunny and rather humid - pretty good paddling conditions.

Put in at the Beaver Dam Lake boat ramp. Even at 9:30 AM, both the boat ramps and beach areas were crowded with more folks arriving by the minute. It was; after all, July 4th!

Rachel and I met this couple (Bruce and Kim) just before we put in. They had been paddling for about a year and Bruce mentioned he maintained "several Websites" that dealt with paddling. The object mounted on Bruce's kayak is a waterproof video camera.

After we put in, Rachel and I paddled east towards the Old Weaver Trail road bridge. Near the bridge, we explored this dead forest that had been reclaimed by the lake waters. I estimate there were over 50 - 60 old growth trees submerged in these waters.

We had to paddle slowly and pick our way carefully through this "forest" because of the number of submerged tree trunks and other debris lurking just below the surface.

Encountered several fishermen in small boats, kayaks...

... and on the shore. We chatted with these folks as we paddled by and learned that the boy had just landed a catfish (Siluriformes)!

A quiet cove on Beaver Dam Lake. Can you spot the two kayaks in this photo?

A suspected beaver lodge located down a small cove.

Back at the put in / take out area at the Beaver Dam boat ramps, it had gotten considerably more crowded - both with boaters and swimmers at the beach!

Spotted all kinds of water craft today including this two person "pedal boat."

As Rachel and I were taking out our kayak, we met this nice couple (Keith and Bambi). They had just purchased "his" and "her" kayaks on July 3 and this was only their second time out paddling! Keith was admiring my Extend-A-Truck bed extender and we got to chatting about... guess what? Paddling! I gave them both my "blog card" and encouraged them to visit my blog and leave a comment. Keith sheepishly admitted to me that he had flipped out of his kayak on his first time out in the water. He was not wearing a PFD... had reached behind him... and the next thing he knew, he had spilled out into the water! He did tell me that he would "never" go paddling again without wearing a PFD and I was glad to see that both Keith and Bambi wearing PFDs when I saw them earlier paddling near the boat ramps. Interesting side bar... I also learned that Keith was chief of police for the town of Henderson. I'm always excited to chat with folks who are getting started with paddling and I hope that both Keith and Bambi keep enjoying this wonderful sport!

Happy July 4th everyone! :-)

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