Friday, August 9, 2013

It's All Fun & Games Until...Somebody Loses an iPhone!

The Nancy's & Dave's
Another paddle - another story!  This one with a happy (but expensive ending!).
This past weekend found my sister and brother-in-law visiting.  One of the things I love about being with Nancy & Dave (no lie - there are TWO sets of Nancy & Dave's in our family) is that they enjoy kayaking as much as I do!

After a delicious and hearty breakfast we grabbed our gear and headed to one of my favorite spots on the Charles River - West Street in Medfield, which brings us to the Great Marsh Area.  My sister joined in the fun too so there were 5 of us altogether.

Sunday was bright and sunny with a slight breeze.  The morning progressed with little or no incidences.  We were treated to sightings of several Great Blue Herons and even some younger herons. Turtles were in abundance - even the snapping kind.  At one point on the return trip we joked about counting the painted turtles - we got to 100 and stopped counting! Amazing!

Testing the damage in the pool
Midway through our return trip my boat started filling with water.  There was over 3 inches of water inside the kayak.  Clearly something was not right! Using an empty water bottle to bail had little or no effect - even after emptying the bottle 8 times!  Clearly something was WRONG.  Fortunately, we made it to the end of the trip safely.  However, when side exiting the kayak, my iPhone fell in the Charles River. (Not sure if I was distracted by the problem with the boat or just not paying attention.) It was retrieved but could not be revived. This is the second item the river has claimed for itself! (The first item was my Nikon camera).

After the other Nancy & Dave headed home, I drove right to the AT & T store where I was able to purchase a new phone.  (Expense #1)

The next day, I hoisted the kayak on some saw horses and filled it with water in effort to pinpoint the leak.  From the bottom of the boat there was a "slice" (for lack of a better word).  Water was   s l o w l y  dripping that I couldn't believe it could be the culprit.  So, when my sister came over we discussed the situation.  We decided to try it in the pool to see if it would leak faster with weight in it.  Well, to my sadness we discovered that the leak was actually caused by a crack where the seat meets the hull.  It was going to be a tough repair at best.

L.L. Bean, Mansfield, MA

Just when despair was at its peak, my sister remembered that the kayak was purchased at L.L. Bean.  Do you know they have a "lifetime guarantee"?  Even on kayaks?  So we drove down to our local L.L.Bean store and went to exchange the kayak.  Of course the particular model I own is no longer available so they gave me a credit for the purchase price.  With that and a little extra money (Expense #2) I was able to get myself a NEW kayak.

View from my NEW kayak

While I'm not the biggest L.L.Bean fan, I am fast becoming one! Here I was looking at the thought of trying to repair my boat or purchase a new one.  Never in my wildest dream would I think that a company would take back an item after 3 years!  So, my question: Why would anyone buy a kayak from anywhere but L.L.Bean?  With a policy like that I'd be hard-pressed to go elsewhere!

Check out their Guarantee HERE!

 So, thank you L.L.Bean for my new Manatee 100 in Sunrise.  (For all intents and purposes - it's the same boat as mine - same color, length & it even has the same logo - the name has been changed).  I don't care what they call it because I now call it mine!  (Now if AT&T had a similar policy........)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Forest Street Follies!

Another Thursday evening paddle means...a meeting with the Pirates!  This time due to extreme heat (95 degrees at 6:00 p.m.) we decided to stray from our original plan and head to the Forest Street Launch in Millis, MA.   This launch is a fairly easy in and out depending on the water level.  We did battle a few small rocks, but it really was fine. Known for being the shady part of the river, we figured this was perfect for a hot, summer evening.  As it turned out, the sun went behind the clouds though the heat & humidity never left.

Our plan was to head upstream towards the Route 115 bridge.  This part of the river winds its way along the banks of Cedariver, a Trustee of the Reservation property.  Noticing the water level was very low prompted silent concerns.  These concerns became a reality shortly after departure.  Partly submerged across the river was a fallen oak tree.  The combination of low water level and downed tree made passage nearly impossible.
Folly #1: A few brave souls tried to cross and got hung up on the tree (yours truly included).

Quickly, we changed the plan, wiggled off the tree and headed down stream.  Our efforts were rewarded with the sighting of a beaver (maybe the culprit of our Folly #1) scurrying through the water.  Even downstream there the river was laden with downed vegetation. 
Folly #2: We struggled to find passage through those trees. Heading to the far left or right of the obstacle allowed us to progress slowly forward.

Coming around a bend in the river, our point man (actually woman - Karen) spied a lone deer on the river bank.  The deer stood silent and watched as each of us passed by.  As Earl stated "no matter how many times I see a deer,  I think it's just true beauty".  Enough said!

Chatting and paddling we came to a little 'fast' water (and rocks!). We stopped a moment to think about the paddle BACK - would we be able to power through it?  We felt confident we'd be able to make our way back through and decided to 'go for it'. 
Folly #3: Time was passing quickly and shortly after crossing the 'fast' water, we needed to turn around to make it back before dark.  Heading upstream through the fast water was not as easy as we thought it was going to be.  Some of us had to attempt it several times to get through (yours truly included).  Check out the cheering section that Thia had while clearing the obstacle (she is in the kayak behind the yellow one)!

Our return trip to the launch was uneventful, but sweet with conversation and camaraderie.  To round out the evening we grabbed some pizzas and salad and enjoyed a late night swim at the home of one of our pirates (yours truly)!  Half the fun of paddling with the "Pirates" is reliving and laughing about the events of the evening!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Norton Reservoir Retreat

Pirates Paddling by Lisa Rubini
Our "paddling club" has now been renamed "The Pirates of the Charles River" thanks to our matey, Earl!   We are still meeting on Thursday evenings when the weather cooperates (which hasn't been often this summer season).  Because we have been stormed out the past several Thursday evenings, we decided to spend a Saturday morning and depart from our beloved Charles and head over to the Norton Reservoir.  

The dreary start to the day did not ward us off.  Five 'pirates' decided to take a chance with the clouds and launch at a spot near Tsang's Restaurant off Route 140.  Launching was easy off the sandy area and we paddled our way through the lily pads which were donned with white and pink blossoms.  

Lilly Pads by Lisa Rubini
The Reservoir, which is actually in Norton and Mansfield, is a quiet place for fishing, boating and kayaking.  This 530 acre area is home to all kinds of wildlife.  We spotted swans  swimming in large groups as well as Canada Geese with their goslings.  Nearby many Mallards milled about. A great blue heron was seen among the weeds doing his own fishing while seagulls flew above. Even Fish and turtles could be seen poking their heads out of the clear water as if to say 'hello' as we passed by.

We cut through a couple of the islands and headed to the far edge of the reservoir and made our way around the perimeter and through some coves.  Beautiful homes and forest gave us the feel we were in some New Hampshire resort area.  We spent 2 hours paddling and gabbing.  Although the day never cleared, we weren't rained on which was an extra bonus.

While exploring the eastern edge of the reservoir we found a spot where there is a dam.  The unmistakable sound of rushing water told us to be wary.  We paddled closer and thought our eyes deceived us as it looked as if we could pass right through.  Upon closer inspection we realized that indeed this was a dam.  Not wanting to get too close, we continued past this area and continued on our way.

The water itself was shallow and clean and all kinds of growth was visible. Much of the reservoir seems enshrouded with aquatic vegetation. Some even ending up on the paddle!

We rounded out our outing with a visit to Tsang's for a quick bite and a chance to talk about our paddle.

If you're interested in trying out the Norton Reservoir but don't own your own kayak, why not check out the Norton Kayak Company run by a fellow Walpolian, Dave Lennon.

View Larger Map

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paddle 'n Party Kayak Club

Paddle 'n Party - it's not the best name although, it does roll off your tongue. Say it three times real fast!  We brainstormed several other names like "Kay-Yakkers", "Sunset Paddlers" and "Boat Buddies" but in the end this is the one we chose. (For all that, one of the members, Cindy, calls it "Carol's Club" because Carol Ann started it, and I think that is the one that is sticking!)

It truly was Carol Ann's brainchild really.  She wanted to spread the word about how much fun folks would have if they just got out on the river for a paddle.  So it was decided that on Thursday evenings from 5:15 - 7:30 we would meet at the Charles Cafe in Millis and head out for a 2 hour ride on the river.  Afterward, we would go inside the cafe and have dinner or drinks.

It has been a success so far!  Two weeks ago - our first group launch - found 11 paddlers shoving off the shore.  We headed upstream on a hazy, hot and humid late afternoon.  We had several newbie paddlers, some intermediate and a couple experienced ones as well.  One of the members, Eddy, (did I mention membership is FREE), brought along his fishing gear.  He got a couple of nibbles on his line, but nothing big. Then on the return trip he was rewarded with the catch of a good-sized large-mouth bass.   The evening ended with more fun, stories and laughter while dining.

This past week the clear blue sky signaled an inviting evening for paddlers of all abilities.   We were treated to the sighting of the majestic great blue heron who was squawking his welcome along the river.  After coming ashore we spent another evening chattering about our experiences with one another over a quick meal and drink. 

Hope you'll consider joining us this week!  Don't forget it's free if you have your own boat and rentals are only $25.00.  Reserve early as it is becoming a popular outing!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cleaning the Boats!

Although these are not our boats this is similar to what my yard looked like today. Only add to the picture 2 saw horses and an extra boat.  Lucky for me my sister's fiance has most ALWAYS cleaned the boats for us.  Well, let me tell you (and Al) I had no idea! It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. So for the record: Thank you, Al.  I appreciate your hard work and effort in the past.  

On a side note - I did offer the job of washing the kayaks to my daughter in exchange for a little cash. She declined which makes me think she had more insight than I gave her credit for!

I hadn't planned on writing about it so there are no pictures...just the one I'll create in your mind. I began the ordeal by cleaning out the hatches, removing all life vests, first aid kits, bug spray & anything else that needn't get wet.  Then I got my mild detergent (Palmolive of course - Oh Madge would be proud!) and poured some in a clean 5 gallon bucket which I was then filled with cold water from the hose.

Pretty much washing the boats was like washing a car (although it has been awhile since I've done that!).  Cleaning them while they were sitting on the grass seemed counter-productive, and I quickly realized that in order to do a proper job the boats needed to be up suspended on top of something.

Kayaks resting on Garden Cart
Looking around diligently, I spied the saw horses and figured they would be the perfect aid in this process. I carried them to the middle of the yard figuring the lawn could use some watering too. (I later moved the saw horses to a new spot in the yard for each remaining boat!)  Hoisting my 42 pound boat I was able to sit it atop of the saw horses with only a little bit of difficulty.

Finally I felt  all set to begin the scrubbing. The grime and algae of the Charles River did come off with a little extra elbow grease.  Next, I flipped the kayak over and sprayed the inside of the kayak.  It was full of sand, bugs and other debris.  This is where it got tricky as I had to duck under the boat and poke my head inside.  Reaching deep inside I was able to wipe it down and clean it out.

I was pretty proud of my work until I flipped the boat over and there was still a ton of water inside!  Opening the drain plug first, I then lifted the boat off the saw horse so water would took  f o r e v e r..or so it seemed.  I did have to lift and move the water around several times.  Any water left over was soaked up with my favorite ShamWow! I gave it one final hose down and then dried it off.

Three Clean Kayaks
The next obstacle was figuring out where to store it since I don't have a garage.  As you may know you should store kayaks on their side, usually with foam on the underside.  Again, I surveyed the yard and saw an old garden cart.  Upending it would allow two of the boats to sit nicely.  Grabbing the kayaks and placing the cockpit over my shoulder which is not very comfortable to say the least and awkward at the most!  When all was said and done - this operation took about 30 minutes....and that was just for one.  I was looking at two more!

Well, I won't bore you with the rest of the details because they are much the same.  Let's just say our kayaks are now clean and ready for the next outing! Oh, and if you're wondering, I think I absorbed more water than the boats!  Good thing it was 85 and humid! Looking forward and hoping Al will take over the duties next time!

top photo credit: JohnCarlinPhotography via photo pin cc