Monday, August 03, 2015

A Fine Mess, but a good weekend over all...




Heading out at Sunset
Friday was a blue moon and the tide was high at 9:30 PM, the perfect combo for a night-time paddle.  I sent the word out and had a group of eight ready to enjoy the evening.  It’d been a hot and humid week, usual weather for late July.  But nature has a way of breaking such cycles and as the weekend approached, so did the thunderstorms.  On Friday, folks kept emailing me saying that they were bailing on the trip.  One friend, who is also in the fire department, cancelled but promise he’d stand by if called out to rescue us.  But looking at the radar, it appeared we might get lucky and there would be a window between storms.  Hopefully, we’d even see the full moon rising over the marsh as we paddled along Moon River…
Launching on a cloudy evening

 At 8 PM, four of us set off in our kayaks, leaving from Butterbean Beach (the Rodney Hall Boat Ramp for those of you curious to find our journey) for a five mile paddle.  The air was strangely still.  There were clouds but a few patches where you could almost see the sky.  We paddled through a channel to the Moon River Bridge, turned south and paddled down to Burnside Island, took a left and paddled between Pigeon and Burnside Islands through Shipyard Creek.  Slowly night descended but we still didn’t have to turn on lights because of the lights along the docks on Burnside Island.  We paddled steady but slowly, talking about a number of subjects and enjoying being outdoors.  The wind had died and I was sweating as it was really humid.  About half way along the section by Burnside Island, we felt a few drops of rain.  It was cooling.  A little further, we felt more drops.  Then, as we were approaching the Intracoastal Waterway, the wind picked up and we could hear the rain coming.  A few minutes later, the water became rough and the rain heavy and we couldn’t see very well.   It was completely dark and thankfully there was a lighted navigation marker that allowed us to know when we entered the waterway. 

We turned on lights (I had a white LED light on the back of my kayak (which I used so everyone could see me as well as any other boat that may be out in the waterway).  I only used my headlamp when I wanted to look at something.  The rain became heavier and it was no longer cooling, but chilling.  The waterway here makes some curves (it is kind of like a trap below a sink) and it was hard to know when we were in the channel as the water was high enough that in places we could paddle across the marsh but was also confusing as we didn’t want to get stuck in the grass with the tide dropping.  After a few mistakes, we finally got through the curves.  The takeout point was now less than a mile away.  A few bolts of lightning encouraged us to pick up the pace.  Thankfully most of the lightning bolts seemed to land on the other side of Skidway Island (to our east) but some were close enough to concern us. 
Jim, Me and Gary (photo by Tim) as we head out

We were soaked when we got back to the landing.  We loaded the boats, said quick goodbyes.  Jim told us not to challenge him when he tells the story of lightning bouncing off his now singed paddle.  I put my fire jacket on my seat (as I didn’t have a dry towel available), turned down the AC, and drove home… 

Waiting in hopes of a 3rd race
On Saturday afternoon, I was scheduled to race with Tito and Jerry.  Our sail club always mixes up the teams (with the exception of the team that’s going to the Nationals who get to sail together to work on their teamwork).  I’d never sailed with Tito, but have admired his skill from other boats.  We got out in time to figure out the favorable tack and had even a great start.  We were well ahead of the other boats including the team going to National at the windward mark and although we struggled a bit with the spinnaker, soon it was flying and we were moving downwind against a heavy tide, maintaining our position.  We set a course close to land, where the tide was less.  It was a perfect race, until…  As we prepared to jive the boat to run across the channel to the leeward mark, the bottom pintle of the rudder broke.  We were out of the race.  With a wobbly tiller, we made into the marina (thankfully it wasn’t far from the leeward mark) and quickly found another tiller, which had to be modified.  We got in together and was back out as the boats were making for the leeward mark on the second race.  We were ready to show our skill in the third race (we normally do 3 or 4 races), but there were clouds building and the guy on the committee boat, who was looking at the radar, decided not to risk a third race…  We headed back in and after folding sails and putting the boats up, enjoyed a beer while watching the storm move in another direction…  Oh well… 


It was a good weekend!  It really was.  

41 comments:

  1. You do know while not impossible to mine ore underwater it does tend to be easier in reasonably dry conditions :-) .

    Looks like you've really hit your stride down in G. I'm truly delighted for you. Oh, did you bring the racer down with you.

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    1. No, I didn't bring St. Giles down, she needs to stay in fresh water. Besides, the storage fee for her would be 4x what I pay to be a member of a sail club where I have access to nine boats... Of course, I also get to work on these boats just as I did on mine and today, I spent an hour after leaving the office repairing a broken seam (devil) on a boat

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  2. Thanks for dropping by blog recently ~~ I know exactly the Garrison Brewery you spied coming off the ship!! Next time we should have one and talk blogging. Some bloggers friends from NY State came up from Boston by cruise ship and we toured the city. Cheers!

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    1. I will keep that in mind, but don't know when I'll get back. However, when I retire, I plan to go back to Newfoundland and hike the coastal trail

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  3. Eh, if it alaways went how we planned, life would only be boring.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the blue moon. I mistakenly thought it was full Thursday evening. Perhaps that was because I'd had two Blue Moons at dinner that night.

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    1. A few of those Blue Moons would have made my experience better :)

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  4. I was on the edge of my seat wondering how your Blue Moon adventure would end. You are a brave soul, my friend. Happy to know you were able to see and make it through the rain to safety. Just think of all the stories you now have...for the book. There's a travel book waiting to happen here somewhere.

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  5. I've been "lost" in fog and rain but always on land. Being on water add yet another element to being "lost".

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    1. An additional element was those moments you could see perfectly well (from the lightning) :)

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  6. You are quite the adventurer, Sage!

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  7. So glad you weren't struck by lightning! Sounds like an adventurous (and fun) trip. :)

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    1. I suppose if I was, I wouldn't be posting here but maybe the Atlanta paper would have had an article about those crazy folks in S. Georgia...

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  8. A fine mess sounds about right. I bet this will be one you'll remember for a long time.

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    1. Such experiences make life more exciting!

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  9. Oh my, it could have been a much different story! Lucky that you were all safe and sound. Great photos, what lovely views around you, and you look great with your headlamp on your head, they come in so handy!

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    1. They are pretty handy and I never doubted that I'd come back--I looked like a drown rat but was back...

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  10. I don't think my husband's kayak has a light on it. I need to get him one of those headlamps. He never goes out at night, but every time he gets a fishing buddy, they take off, leaving him there alone to fish. Seems odd...to go fishing together but not hang out together. Looks like you solve that problem by taking the same kayak!

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    1. Mine doesn't have a light, either. I put a battery LED light into an old waterproof phone case and set that on the back of the kayak--you just push the light to turn it on.

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  11. My husband likes to go fishing and hiking and boating and I'm more of a stay home and read a book type of person. We get some kick ass thunderstorms here though and I'm always worried that he will get struck by a bolt because he likes to stand outside and watch the lightning. Sounds like you had a good time for the most part.

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    1. Lake Mead can get pretty rough in storms! Like your husband, I enjoy watching storms and lightning

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  12. It couldn't have been a bad weekend with what you were doing! Looks like a great time.

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  13. When I read this, I want to be you for a day. I'm landlocked.

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    1. But you can always find water--even when I lived in the desert, I found water. I had to travel a bit, but the Green and Colorado Rivers were great places

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  14. Love this post lol
    You had a really adventurous day!
    And Im sure you enjoyed:))
    Im happy you are ok!

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    1. Yes, I enjoyed it... If I could have just come home to one of your deserts :)

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  15. It sounds like a GREAT weekend. You didn't get struck by lightening, and you spent most of it on water. I do like your friend's story about his oar getting singed by lightening. Sorry the rudder broke, but that didn't slow you down.

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  16. That sounds intense. I once got off a kayak just as I was about to get into the water because rain began. I've been on bigger boats during rain, though, and it was choppy. Great adventure.

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    1. In a kayak, you need to be prepared to get wet... If you roll, you'll get wet, if you go through waves (as I've done) you'll get wet.

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  17. We were also excited by the blue moon. In our case it was pumpkin orange, and looked magnificent over the reedbed at Snape Maltings. As we came into town, the orange lustre turned to pale yellow ... pollution perhaps. I hope you have dried out now ... Thank you, Sage, for visiting my blog.

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    1. Yeah, I'm dry but we've been getting lots of rain

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  18. I've never been sailing. I look forward to a chance to do so.

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    1. There are some nice lakes in Montana... I've never sailed on them, but I think they'd be nice (and sailing with hills is interesting as you have to watch the water closely.

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  19. Yowsers! Luckily it all worked out and no one was hurt, but I bet it was an uncomfortable experience. Not sure I would have kept my cool. I'm not the one you want on your team when things go horribly wrong.

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