Category Archives: US States

Weekend Outing: Burnham Point State Park, NY 8/15 to 8/17/08

This will be my second outing in the month of August 2008, and it should be interesting. I am planning to camp on the shores of the St. Lawrence Seaway at Burnham Point State Park. This is a little bit downstream from Long Point State Park.

This is the route I have planned:

burnhampt.png

Overall this should be a nice 9.5 mile outing for an afternoon. It offers the option of heading upstream to Cape Vincent to hang out for a bit if I get an early start.

Once again I’ve planned this route so the outgoing leg is to the west against the wind and current and the return leg follows an easterly course to the campground.

It’s tough to see on the posted graphic, but I shouldn’t have a problem with any lakers. If I keep close to the southern shore the water should be too shallow for their draft. I figure any lakers I see should be at least 1/2 to 1 mile north of my planned route.

Burnham Point is also an interesting state park because the sites on shore do not have any vehicle access. Campers have to hike their gear in. This should be a good stepping stone to later camping adventures involving more strenuous hikes with gear or situations where I won’t have easy access to my car.

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Weekend Outing: Long Point State Park, NY 8/8 to 8/10/08

So this fine year 2008 hasn’t worked out quite the way I planned it, but things are still going pretty well. That said I present my next weekend outing up at Long Point State Park here in the 1000 Islands region of NY State:

longptny1.png

This route takes place within the sheltered waters of Chaumont Bay and it is about 9 miles in length. The first, upwind leg takes me west near the shore. The returning downwind leg brings me back east to my campsite.

The protected nature of Chaumont Bay should mean that I don’t have to worry about dealing with Lakers or their wakes! I’m also hoping it gives me some respite from the westerly winds that are typical of the Great Lakes region.

Hopefully the weather holds out for me!

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Trip Report: Little Traverse Bay, MI, 7/1/08

Sorry about the long period between posts. I’ve been busy starting my new position at work and on the road. Fortunately, I was able to get on the water a couple times while I was in Michigan.

My first outing on the water was between the beach at Petoskey State Park and the waterfront of Harbor Springs, MI. This route is seen in the plot below:

LittleTraverse.png

Note that this route does not show the return leg. This is because I lingered in front of Harbor Springs too long to make some adjustments to my cockpit coaming. This lack of movement caused my GPS to shut down, and I failed to notice. The roundtrip was about 8.2 miles in length and took about 3.5 hours.

Some of the notable points during this journey:

    Petoskey State Park to Harbor Springs, MI:

  • The initial northward leg wasn’t too tough
  • However, I did forget to don my paddle leash from the outset, d’oh!
  • Turning west I faced a breeze of about 5-10 kts. This would eventually strengthen to 15-20 kts as I reached Harbor Springs.
  • The Cooper did very well paddling into swells and waves I made at about 3 feet. The skin-on-frame design slithers over the waves easily.
  • Two waves in rapid succession were a challenge, but this would be true regardless of kayak type. The Cooper did fine when the second wave broke over the bow deck.
  • Thank goodness I was able to hop out near the public boat launch in Harbor Springs and resecure my cockpit coaming.
  • The return leg would prove much more interesting.
  • On the return leg the wind and waves originated from the SW
  • Again the Cooper did well in 15-20 kt winds and 3-4 foot swells.
  • The key to not capsizing in such conditions is rolling your hips into the oncoming swell. The lower center of gravity provided by the original seat is also of great help providing stability in these conditions.
  • Another simple, yet key modification, of the original Cooper seat is the addition of a Seal Line Discovery Kayak Seat Cushion. Let about 1/2 the air out and you have a massive improvement in seating comfort!
  • The leecocking of the Cooper did get a bit annoying. I really need to install my rudder one of these days.
  • If I had a track of the return leg it would show I cut across the “corner” present in the outgoing leg. I did this to shorten the period of time I was getting pounded by waves
  • Upon arriving at Petoskey I had to turn the Cooper so the bow was pointing W/SW, into the waves. Trying to ride the waves into the beach is a recipe for disaster.
  • I timed my exit from the boat almost perfectly, but the bottom was a foot deeper than I thought! Fortunately, I was able to get my other leg out of the boat and get away with a little hopping around using my paddle and the kayak for support.
  • After that I got washed up on the beach and I stowed my kayak near a Hobie Cat. The next morning I would find the cockpit full of wind-blown sand. ALWAYS turn your boat over if you’re going to leave it assembled overnight!
  • I celebrated my expedition with a delicious 1/2 lb. perch dinner straight from the Great Lakes and prepared by my friends at Scalawags. I washed this awesome grub down with a couple bottles of Bell’s Pale Ale.
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Paddlefest Day 2: Friday PM

So after the high end boat demo Friday morning at the 2008 Adirondack Paddlefest I decided to wander around the vendor area and see what was on offer.

I wasn’t specifically looking for stuff to buy, but I wound up making some key upgrades to my kayaking gear.

The first item of interest to me was a shorter, more comfortable PFD. I own an NRS Groove, and it has some shortcomings with regard to me and my boat.

The first issue I have with the Groove is how small it runs. I own a Large/XL Groove and I really, really have to let the straps out. If I don’t I feel like my chest is being crushed! Not a fun way to spend a long paddle.

In addition to being cramped on the inside the Groove is bulky in the chest area. I feel like I already have plenty of chest development, and I don’t need more bulk in that area. The Groove adds so much bulk that it nearly interferes with my paddle stroke. Again, not fun on a long paddle.

Finally, the Groove is a fairly lengthy PFD. This means that it extends to the small of my back. This is a problem because my kayak has a high rear deck and seat, and the PFDs extra bulk forces me into a somewhat cramped seating position. Again, not conducive to comfort on a long paddle!

Thankfully, my newfound pal Erica did an excellent job fitting me for my new PFD! She sized me up and immediately knew that the Astral V-Eight would suit my needs.

The Astral V-Eight is a much better fit. I wear a Small/Medium, which is my usual clothing size, and I don’t feel as though my ribs are being crushed. It also doesn’t add bulk to my chest, and this means less interference and a more comfortable paddle stroke for me.

The Astral V-Eight is also much, much shorter so it doesn’t interfere with the rear deck or seat back of my kayak. The V-Eight also has a nice ventilating mesh that covers my lower back and keeps me much, much cooler and more comfortable when I am on a long paddle.

The other key item I picked up that afternoon was a new paddle in a shorter 220 cm length. This paddle was a FoxWorx Vixen handmade in Bainbridge, NY by the Fox family!

The FoxWorx Vixen is a hybrid design that takes advantage of different material types for different portions of the paddle. The blades are fiberglass, so the swing inertia is kept low. The shaft is epoxy-coated basswood cedar, and it feels incredible in the hand! The shaft is also bent to ease the load on the paddler’s wrists. The ferrule is aluminum and allows the user to feather the blades right or left 60 degrees.

My particular paddle has a laminate layer that consists of a fabric print. The print is of Chinese dragons surrounded by red flames. The red flames match the hull color of my boat, and in Chinese mythology the dragon is considered a harbinger of good fortune and wisdom. This is a picture of my paddle’s blade:

Vixen_Blade.jpg

After all the boat and equipment demos I was pretty pooped. I crashed at my hotel for a bit, then I headed back out to Slickers for a late snack of excellent buffalo wings. Thanks to Tracy for getting my order in, even if it took !@$%@#$% forever to leave the kitchen.

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Paddlefest Day 2: Friday AM High-End Boat Demo

On the morning of Friday, May 16th at Adirondack Paddlefest the kayak company reps in attendance offered a high-end boat demo from 9 AM until noon. I scarfed down my excellent complementary continental breakfast from Riley’s Place at the Water’s Edge Inn and headed down to the Old Forge public beach around 10 AM.

I spent about 2 hours paddling some excellent composite boats made by Current Designs and Boréal Design.

I paddled three Current Designs touring kayaks, the Caribou, the Cypress, and the Solstice GTS.

All three of these boats were excellent in different respects. The Solstice GTS was 17’7″ and had a North American style hull design. The Cypress was a British style hull and measured about 16’9″. The Caribou was a Greenland style hull and measured 17’8″. The Caribou was probably the most efficient of the three boats, and it sliced through the water with ease. The Cypress was slightly less efficient that this, and the Solstice GTS was a little less efficient than the Cypress. The Solstice was probably the most stable of the three boats.

I really have to rave about the design of the Current Designs rudder footpegs in the Solstice GTS. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea to make the footpegs tilt to control the rudder. The major reason I tend to shy away from rudders in general is because I’m a huge fan of solid footpegs to maximize my power transfer to the boat. However, rudders are indispensable when facing strong currents and winds. Current Designs’ footpegs give you the best of both worlds with very little compromise! I also like the extra-wide rudder retaining jaw because I am one of those people who can never seem to get their rudder dead center before retracting it.

The Boréal Design boats that I paddled were also excellent. The first Boréal boat that I paddled was the Fjord. The Fjord is a good solid boat that would suit anyone trying to elevate their paddling skills or looking to go on a short overnight or weekend expedition.

The second Boréal boat I paddled was the Ellesmere. You can tell an incredible amount of work has been put into this hull design because it slices through the water in a truly supernatural manner. The secondary stability of this boat is also superb, and it definitely reminded me that I need to be integrating far more balance and core work into my fitness routines!!!

That’s about all for now. Time to go look at the retail area and play with my brand new Sigma wide-angle lens! Some lunch would also be excellent about now!

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Paddlefest: Day 1

I took May 15th and 16th off from work in anticipation of getting into Old Forge, NY early for the 2008 Adirondack Paddlefest.

I got a somewhat late start out of Rochester. I didn’t get on the road till about 5 PM, mainly because I wanted to workout and I am fairly lazy about packing. Haha. Thankfully rush hour to the east was manageable, and I was able to make good time blitzing down the NYS Thruway from Rochester to Utica. I rolled into Old Forge and arrived at The Waters Edge Inn around 8 PM.

So far my extremely nice room has been well worth it! Here is the view from my balcony:

old_forge_view.jpg

I managed to score an excellent burger for a late dinner down the street at Slicker’s Tavern. Nice place, excellent service. I will probably manage to make my way back there at least once more before Paddlefest is over.

Slicker’s was full of factory reps and the owner of Mountainman Outdoors who pulls this whole show together. I managed to make contact with the gents from Boreal Design and a few others. Should be a good start to the weekend!!!

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Paddlefest: Fulton Chain Lake Route I

Hello all! I know it’s been too long since my last posting, but I have returned with yet another planned outing for this fine year of 2008.

A few prior posts have described my plans to attend the annual Adirondack Paddlefest from May 15th to the 18th in Old Forge, NY. Tonight I pulled out my topo maps and decided to begin planning my routes for the portions of Paddlefest when I would be pursuing my own explorations.

My first planned route is an exploration of the first Fulton Chain Lake, shown in the plot below:

fulton_rte1.png

This route is a little over 5 miles long all said and done. It should be a nice, calm exploration on entirely flatwater.

That’s all for now, I know I’ve been away far too long, but grad school is finally over so I should be able to post more frequently in the future!

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Adirondack Paddlefest: Staging

Yes, I know I’ve been delinquent in my posting frequency of late. I’m sorry to say that I’ve been suffering some health and stress issues at the conclusion of grad school. Not a good way to be by any means!

I’ve been searching for inspiration about what to do with all my newly found free time, and an interesting flyer about the Adirondack Paddlefest showed up in my mail the other day!

This looks like it could be a really cool weekend, and it’s already got my mind bursting with ideas on what to do while I’m there!

The first major decision is whether to camp or get a room. Normally I’d camp without a second thought, but the above mentioned issues give me pause about exposing myself to the elements. I’ve also managed to find lodging right on the water, at the Water’s Edge Inn.

There are some decent campgrounds in the area, but I’m having trouble finding one right on the water’s edge. Anyone got recommendations? Pass ’em along!

The other major consideration at this point is whether or not I should take my personal holiday and a vacation day to go to Paddlefest. Friday morning a special session involving high-end composite boats will be held. That might make it worth my while to head up Thursday.

I’m also debating whether I’d drive back Sunday or Monday. It’s hard to say if I will be tired of demoing boats by Sunday or not. On the other hand, it would be nice to spend an extra day away from work and Rochester. I guess I’ll sleep on this for a couple nights before I decide.

Much more to come, I promise!

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Lake Champlain, VT: Part III

My final venture into Lake Champlain this summer was a circumnavigation of Savage Island. The journey was undertaken on August 29th, 2007 and the entire trip was about 7.92 miles in length. The GPS track of this journey is shown in the graphic immediately below:

vt_track3.png
    Lake Champlain, VT, Around Savage Island, 8/29/07:

  • The first part of the journey was an easterly sprint across Lake Champlain to the southern end of Savage Island.
  • Once the southern tip of the island was reached it was time for a water break and half an energy bar.
  • Several interesting details were visible on the eastern side of the island, which is private like Fish Bladder Island.
  • There appears to be a working sheep farm on Savage Island.
  • A manor, possibly a summer home, was also visible.
  • As I reached the northeastern corner of the island I was able to watch a plane land and takeoff from the landing strip.
  • I also encountered a sailboat at anchor off the northern tip of the island.
  • At this point I stopped for more water and the remainder of my energy bar.
  • The kink in my track off the northwestern point of the island was due to a line of barely submerged rocks. I thought there was going to be an opening with enough draft to let me through. This wasn’t quite the case!
  • This line of rocks was the resting point for a massive flock of gulls
  • The southern passage in front of the island’s western shore was unremarkable. The items visible on the eastern side were masked by trees.
  • The return westerly sprint to the boat launch was uneventful…unless you count the seaplane that was practicing takeoffs and landings in front of the state park! Uh, WTF dude?!
  • I wanted to make it around yet another island while in VT, but I was too fatigued during the day following this paddle. The next day it looked as though it was going to rain torrents all day, so I broke camp and headed back to Rochester!

    That concludes the recap of my summer kayaking journeys for the year 2007. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about them, and I hope to have more to present later in the year 2008!

    Feel free to drop any comments or ask any questions!

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Lake Champlain, VT Part I

First I should mention Folbot’s excellent lifetime warranty and customer service when it came to replacing the C-clip that was missing on one of my crossmembers. I was able to email Wanda and she shipped the parts immediately with no hassle! It’s greatly reassuring when a company stands behind its product like this!

My earlier posts regarding Vermont basically covered my camping experience there and how my camping gear functioned. This post is the first of three detailing my on-the-water experiences in Lake Champlain, VT while camped at Grand Isle State Park.

The plot below shows the route I followed in a northerly direction from the boat launch at Grand Isle State Park. It basically passes by a couple bays and stops just short of Hyde Point. I paddled this on the afternoon of August 26th, 2007. The total length was about 6.77 miles:

vt_track1.png

Cooper Bay and Pearl Bay were interesting to paddle across, and there were several intriguing rock formations just north of the boat launch. The unnamed point where I finally turned around was also an interesting bit of scenery. I would present some pics, but unfortunately I lost them when I foolishly downloaded them from my camera to my hard drive. Oh well….

The boat traffic was surprisingly light, and again the Cooper performed flawlessly on this venture. I should also mention that Fish Bladder Island is a private island, and the islet off the north end of the island is actually linked to it via sandbar. This is due to the lower water levels we’ve recently been experiencing in the Great Lakes basin.

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