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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Whitehall State Park Paddle!

As the morning sun started to rise above the lake all I could hear was my dad reciting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha": 
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis
I'm not sure what it was about this lake that reminded me of that poem.

It was a beautiful day and my sister and I decided to try a different kayaking venue.  I'll admit that whenever we are kayaking I can't help but think of the Native Americans who might have once traveled by a dugout canoe along the same waterway.  Today, of course, was no different.  
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

We started around 7:30 a.m. and when we arrived at the Whitehall State Park entrance, we could see that we already had lots of company as the parking lot was somewhat filled.   To our surprise and delight, we were soon to find out what a gem we had stumbled upon.   The parking lot was deceiving as the Whitehall Reservoir was large enough to allow for all kinds of boaters. 

Following the perimeter provided us with the opportunity to take in the expanse of the lake.  This was a totally different experience for us as our usual kayaking route is the Charles River. All along the edge of the lake were trees of all shapes and sizes.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes.
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
"Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!"

The morning was beautiful and started rather smoothly as we were hugging the shoreline.  The coves were loaded with water lilies in full bloom.  Soon there were so many lilies we decided to venture towards the open water.

As we got towards the more open parts of the lake the paddle proved to be a little more challenging.  The water was calm in some areas while in others it was rather wavy.  As we headed back from the far end of the reservoir the wind decided to play a little tug of war with our boats.  Nothing serious, but it made us work just a little bit harder. 

Reaching the boat launch, we easily exited the kayaks (something that proves to be rather tricky along the banks of the Charles River.) The clean water and sure footing underneath gave us a new appreciation for this kind of outing. 

As we were stowing the kayaks away in the car a pleasant gentleman with his two pups stopped to talk to us.  He told us about a trail that goes all the way around the lake (about 6 miles or so!).  He mentioned how the path was clearly marked, and how much he and his dogs just love being out in the area.  He wished us a good day, and we were on our way home with the resolve that we would try other new places to kayak and for sure return to this jewel in Hopkinton, Mass.
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
"Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!" 

View Larger Map


Freshwater Aquatic Plants in Massachusetts - Use this guide to find many water plants seen in this area. 

Massachusetts State Parks:  A site by the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation showing areas for Non-Motorized boating

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Biography

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Turtle Time!

Today on the river was Turtle Time! Well, at least that's what I called it.  Soaking up the warmth from the sun's rays, turtles lined the left and right banks of the Charles River.  They were perched on top of logs and settled upon rocks.  They were convened in large groups (like 10) or small groups of two or three.  There were adult turtles and baby turtles.  Turtles not on the banks, logs or rocks were swimming in their playground showing off their freestyle prowess. 

We slowly paddled past trying not to disturb their solitude, however it was often to no avail as we would hear...plop! plop! plop! Unwanted visitors sent the turtles scurrying back into the water's safety zone.

Eastern Painted Turtle Facts:
  • known for it's yellow and red markings on its head, neck and limbs
  • considered cold-blooded (that's why they like to bask in the sun)
  • omnivorous feeder (eating plants and animals such as earthworms, insects, tadpoles & more)
  • life span 5-10 years in the wild
  • the sex of the turtle determined by the temperature in the nest (cooler temps
      Interesting Vocabulary:
  • Carapace: hard top shell of a turtle
  • Scute: the small plates that make up the shell  
      Colored using

      The beautiful weather paired with the sitings of so many wonderful creatures made our kayaking day extra special.  One might think you would tire seeing so many turtles, but it was quite the contrary.  To see them all just 'being' brought smiles to our faces and made me want to write the following:

         Painted Turtle on the Riverbed

      The painted turtle with yellow and red
      Did bask upon the river bed.
      Soaking up all the sun’s warming rays
      What better way to spend their days?

      Spread evenly upon a downed tree
      Lined up near one another, one, two, three!
      Their peacefulness broken as we paddle by
      Jumping into the river as if in reply.

      Soon they’re back upon the logs, warm and dry
      Poking their heads up at the deep blue sky.
      Outstretched are their tiny legs and claws
      Their simple beauty gives one pause.

      The sun winds down and day comes to a close
      The turtles return home as the evening shows
      Hoping to reclaim their spots once again
      To soak up God’s goodness whenever they can.


      Eastern Painted Turtle

      Painted Turtle Life Span

      Painted Turtle Facts

      Saturday, January 7, 2012

      Watercraft in Winter!

      Stopping for a little laughter!
      It was just about a year ago today that a winter storm advisory was in effect for our area.  At that time our kayaks were secured and stored away without a thought of being used as snow amounts made it the 3rd snowiest January on record.

      Fast forward to today where the temperatures reached over 60 degrees.  Perfect for a day with the sisters to be on the Charles River - our favorite kayaking spot!  After checking out one or two landings we decided to shove off at Peter's Point because of its easy on/off access.

      The strong current provided a solid workout.  The wind whispering through the trees blew in our faces as we made our way upstream. Gnarled trees looked as though they were waving to us from the sidelines and on the edge of the river shiny glints of ice sat smiling as if to say "yes, it IS January after all!"

      It was a quiet day on the river with the exception of the  'raft of mallards' in the water ahead.  They acted like guides as they seemed to be leading the way.  Of course we did paddle by the Bill Martin Field where we heard and spied some radio controlled air craft flying high over head.

      Quitting time!
      Along the shoreline we could see many hikers and bikers also taking advantage of the weather as they made their way through the Rocky Narrows Reservation area.  We did exchange some 'hellos' and 'how you doings' with a few young hikers who were atop King Philip's Overlook.

      The day that started out warm now had a nip in the air.  (Fortunately I had a sham-wow with me that I placed across my legs like a blanket for warmth.)  The sun was quickly sinking behind the trees so it was time to head back and call it a day.

      This was one of those BONUS days...Who would have imagined that we would be kayaking in New England in January.