Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Initially I thought it was backlash for feeling brilliant about recent perfomance on a project. It is not the first time I have brought myself down in such a fashion and it always sucks. However, while wallowing in a pool of shame this morning I realized that this didn’t happen while I was at Osprey. The style of mistakes I am making would drive Sam and Carl up a wall and lead to some awkward decisions on the water.
So, back to the backhanded karmic experience…yes I am currently experiencing poor intellectual performance in a very public way, but at least it isn’t while I am kayaking. I wonder what I did to get a save like that! All I know is that I won't be getting on the water again until I get this sorted out.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Some people do this with grace and fluidity. Their body and their boat are one as they move through water and air. For me it is violent, the fight that prey have with inevitability. The boat has my legs and isn’t letting go. It wants control. It wants me in the water. Practice allows me to keep panic at bay and the world shrinks to just the air in my lungs, the movement of my torso and the will to get upright.
My hands break the surface of the water. My hips snap in a massive thrash as I bring the boat to heel and make it come upright under me again. I rotate onto my back and swing one arm to finish. As I sit upright, my eyes open and the world comes into focus. Liquid pours off my face and out of my nose. The pool is disturbed and splashing at the sides. I take a breath as I look for the paddle.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Saturday starts replaying through my mind, the stiff wind, the beach and surfing sit on tops. An outgoing tide and the sandbar just up from the river entrance combine with the wind to create confused waves. The rip down the beach is intense and difficult to paddle against. It is not hard to see how several swimmers each year get into trouble here as the undertow tugs at my legs when I walk into the water. All of us struggle to stay in the stretch we are surfing.
Carl, Matt, Jess and I take turns assisting from shore. The students last about 5 to 10 minutes at a shot before getting tossed from their boats and coming back in to start over. Their excitement lasts until the very end and then they are so many zombies. I stare back at my computer screen surrounded by office sounds and air that is nothing like Saturday’s.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
The large black shadow of a kite arcs across the moonlit sky angrily chased by a little, green glow. Rob leans back as the lines to the kite tighten and drag him a step forward. Mike has added a glow stick to one of the lines and the wind is up. Inside, two fireplaces are blazing and conversations buzz. This is the last night at the house and there is celebration.
Those that aren’t staying have headed home now. Of the rest, I am the first casualty. Sleep beckons and I crawl into my sleeping bag but oblivion is broken by my phone alarm telling me it is time to get up. There had been a plan to go fishing before work but sleep is insistent. Later I wake of my own accord and am the first moving when the sun creeps over the horizon and occasionally peaks through the clouds. Reminders of the party are all around including a body curled up by the cooling coals in one of the fireplaces. Coffee percolates and the cleanup starts. I can’t find my shoes.
A day later I am on Cornell Point trying to put my skirt on. The wind is howling down the river and the tour has moved quickly. After the one attempt to paddle into Everett Cove proved futile, we are going to try for the harbor. My hands are stiff and weak from the cold. Only a burst of willpower gets the skirt on. The warmth and friendship of Friday night has become memory and only coffee is fueling me. Last night we couldn’t keep our eyes open much past 8, the warmth from the fire and the murmur from the TV a pleasant reminder of the previous festivities. Today there is cold and wind and crows playing in the tree line.
Back at the shack, everyone is bundled. The little heater hasn’t been able to keep up against the chill with the number of people coming and going. There is talk of how to spend Sunday evening but I have plans. We shut the shop and head off in different directions.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
As I gain confidence in my ability to control this beast, I allow it to stay low and in the power zone for longer periods. Having watched the others, I think I can get this thing to loop so I send it skyward again. People are chatting and laughing as the kite soars above them. A twitch of my hands sends it charging down at the ground. It gains speed but has stopped responding to my hands’ commands. It is willful and obstinate. Too late for a warning cry, it augers into the beach with an explosive slap that shocks those it tried to hit.
The crowd jumps as one then turn towards me. I smile sheepishly.
I tug the bar and walk back away from the people, the kite leaps skyward again and follows me obediently. Shortly I am replaced at the reigns by one who has more experience controlling these things.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Wow what an amazing trip! Warm clear blue water, pleasant air temps, great food and to top it off an incredible group of people. The group this year was a mix from all over, we had four people from Israel, two from Sweden, four from the US, my self and Omer.
I guess the best way to describe the overall experience would be to say that it was relaxing in its intensity. The paddling pushed the limits of everyone at some point whether it was sea state or the distance covered, everyone’s skills were tested and improved. Throughout each day and at the end of every day we ate and ate and ate, this is the only expedition I have ever been on that I have gained weight. Did I mention that the food was incredible?
About the Paddling; basically we traveled along and around three beautiful Islands, Leros, Kalymnos, and Telendos. On Leros we paddled around the base of a 12th century crusader fort that overlooks the sea for many miles. Kalymnos is probably remembered most for its beautiful cliffs and rock gardening. The cliffs go up hundreds of feet and plunge down just as far into the water. We were gliding along right at the base, in some cases touching them as we went by. Telendos was a great time, we stayed here two nights and so we were able to have a play day. Some took the day off and went hiking up into the caves that overlook the Telendos Strait, the rest of us circumnavigated the island. The trip around only took about two hours but in that time we were exposed to all kinds of conditions, flat calm, into the wind, 3 to 6 foot swell “ you didn’t tell me my boat would fly”, same swell with rebound waves and cliffs, 4 foot following sea (good for long rides), back into flat calm. The day finished at the On The Rocks Café where the owner, George, took very good care of us with great food and spirits.
The trip wound down with us finishing out the bottom part of Kalimnos cruising along the cliffs, stopping in at cafes along the way for the occasional espresso or lunch break.
We ended in Vathi, a small fishing village at the end of a little fiord, a fantastic finish to a great trip. Many thanks again to Omer Singer of Terra Santa Kayak Expeditions for providing us with an incredible trip.
Monday, October 6, 2008
There was Rob B and Eddie on Saturday. Rob B was back for a repeat performance with the college student tour. One student…let’s call him Eddie…provided much of the amusement on the trip and has walked away with the Autumn Award for Most Entertaining Client. The kids from our high school program were through on Sunday for non-existent surf so got to enjoy Sakonnet Point with Mike, Rob B and a Carl freshly back from Greece as well as an extended tour of one of Germany’s largest airports. I got to finally complete a private lesson with a very nice client who happens to be able to predict bad weather by merely scheduling lessons.
Columbus Day is 7 days away. It is the unofficial end to the kayak season for most New England outfitters. We’re still rocking and rolling for a little longer and will soon be finishing up the Winter pool schedule.
Monday, September 29, 2008
The tip of the rod flicks out, sending the little lure sailing in an arc out over the river to plunk into the water a short distance away. My mind marvels at the tug of the water on the fake, shiny, blue and silver fish as I begin reeling it back.
I watch the line slicing the water as it crosses over to my side. It vibrates as the lure dives and “swims”. Up and out of the depths of the torrent a silvery ghost snatches the lure and disappears again. The rod jerks around and the line makes the angry “z” as it flies back off the spool. Oh crap, I have caught something.
What if it is a bluefish? I tighten the drag and begin cranking the handle. The line stops for a second as the fish dives straight down but then vigorously stirs the water as the fish unwillingly approaches the surface. We make eye contact. Neither of us is happy on this rainy day.
Minutes later I have managed to free the foot long Striper from the hooks and send it back into the raging river. Adrenaline has joined the coffee. I pull out my phone and call the residence. “Sam bring your rod, the schoolies are up and biting”. We now have a pastime for a cancelled day.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
After lunch the swells and beach break got a little bigger, enough for a decent session of bracing practice so we went over the technique off shore as well as a rescue or 2 before heading along the break. Their faces registered a certain consternation but after the first pass they were all breathing heavily but smiling. Getting tossed about had only dampened their exteriors so we turned around and headed back through.
Monday, September 8, 2008
“bit of a relief” is about right. There I was floating with my lap plate, paddle and kayak. Carl and Mike paddled over to see if I was ok…I was, sort of. One doesn’t die of embarrassment. I corralled my stuff back to the beach in one of the longer swims of my life. I jumped back in the boat and headed back out. If one was to get metaphysical about it, I sacrificed my ego to get better at surfing.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Some of the crew are already in. The front door is open and the flag is up. I enter the shop to see Sam pouring over the schedule, courses as well as rentals. It is going to be a tight day. I start pulling boats and gear. Rob rolls in and jumps into the fray.
Mike’s trip is ready to go and Carl plays chauffer. Early renters appear out of nowhere. We have told everyone that today is one of those days where it is better to go in the afternoon when the tide is in. We load boats on vehicles for those going offsite and put others on the river. It is a nice morning and I am anxious myself to get out on the water but it will be a couple hours yet until my class goes.
After the first wave of boat hauling and launching of renters I grab one of my sandwiches and inhale it. I will have energy to burn today. I inhale the second sandwich and eat my nectarine while Rob grabs his between sending out renters. We trade launches and feed off an amazing amount of positive energy.
I jump into my gear as the crowd of renters swells. My people are arriving. I start the course while Rob sends out the some of the noon renters. He joins us in a couple of minutes as Carl brings Mike and his crew back from the tour. We kick into gear and get the Intro course really cooking. These folks are going to be a blast. Already they have personality and are expressing individuality. That always bodes well for a great class.
The class goes well. Some folks get it, some folks are close. We try to give everyone as much attention as we can but it is not a private lesson. Our styles are different but the respect and trust is there so we blend our teaching well. The class exhausts themselves and we head back in. They are smiling and happy but looking forward to getting off the water.
The shop lawn is littered with boats. There are still renters out. We say our goodbyes to the class and start hauling boats, cleaning gear and try to prep for leaving in an hour and a half. There is work but also fun. Our silly little PFD toss is a wonderful break in the headlong rush to the end of the day. Rob is in the window while I chuck the jackets up to him. It is August so I am able to accurately huck the vests from wherever they have been set to dry. I start banking them off the wall next to the window with only a couple of misses. There is laughter from the shop and out on the lawn as we grind to the end of the day.
I climb into my truck and head to Carl and Sam’s house by way of my second trip to Lee’s, this time for dinner fixins. Rob and Alicia show up and we have a nice low key evening hanging out watching the last of the Olympics and chatting. Fall is going to be quiet with Rob going to a new job, Alicia back to teaching and Izzy back to college. Labor Day is next weekend as is the start of our fall season.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The wave slaps my shins as it rushes past. Receding water leaves the rock I am on slippery. The rod bends to the sound of “z”. My body jumps and my arm cocks back again. The drag is set too low. My fingers fumble for the dial and increase the drag. I am off balance but still standing. “z”. My hand cranks the handle of the reel quickly. I pull up on the rod.
The wave slaps my shins as it rushes past. Receding water leaves the rock I am on slippery. My foot slides out and I sit hard. My hand is still cranking as I try to stay on the rock. The tension suddenly releases and again I am off balance. I slide into the water and stand on the sandy bottom winding in the now slack line.
The wave slaps my chest as it rushes past. There are hoots of laughter from the shore. I turn to look and my friend’s family is amused by my fall. Children stare at me in disbelief. I climb back on the rock staring hard at the water.
I look down as a wave slaps my shins as it rushes past. Receding water leaves the rock slippery. Both my pride and my heel are wounded. My arm cocks back. The rod tip flashes forward and the released lure hurtles through the air flying a country mile before landing with a splash. There is another splash as a rock mirrors the flight of the lure. From shore a voice yells “There’s a fish!” chorused with laughter. The day is done and I am entertaining people for free now.
My hand starts cranking the handle on the reel. Not too fast. The line flicks the water as it tightens with a snap that causes the lure to again splash. Perhaps I have managed to get it to behave like a wounded fish. The wave slaps my shins as it rushes past. Receding water leaves my rock slippery.
Monday, August 11, 2008
You have to get down here to go birding. Early tends to be a little better for conditions (other than tide) but really, any time down here is good. The Osprey will be on the move soon. A renter brought her boat back and talked about being stunned at how many Osprey there were in such a small area.
The winery tour was lots of fun. It is nice to work with people you know doing a job you love and having the trip reflect that fun. I didn't go to the dinner so I can only say the other guides enjoyed it. Izzy ran a Intro to Kayaking Family Fun Tour and I assisted. That was another blast. I had quite a bit of fun watching her work and am going to try and steal a couple of things that she did that I really liked.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Birds are grouping up, getting as many calories on board as they can before they set off for the south. Fishermen can be seen bouncing from one foot to the other as they anxiously wait for the second coming of the Stripers. Summer people are frenetically grabbing every bit of relaxation they can get their hands on before they head back home.
It is August and the mad dash for fall is in full swing.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Muscles protest at the shift from horizontal to vertical. A face stares back in the mirror showing no thoughts behind weary eyes eventually hidden as the shower steams the mirror. Even uncharacteristically hot water does not instill vigor.
The bedroom climate is not a reflection of what is found when the front door opens. While the outside is not the cold, crisp morning dreamed of in the mind only now starting to turn over, neither is it the hot, humid hell that was expected. The brain coughs to life as the key turns in the ignition of the truck.
Miles pass under the wheels and caffeine molecules from a bitter brew start to course the blood. Sun streams through the window and flashing lights on a cruiser warn of a merge. A news recap has replaced the avian songs of just minutes earlier.
As the eyes scan the road looking for what the future will hold the brain joins the task. It is a symposium weekend and the reconstituting “I” comprehends that the day will entail being the assistant for Ben Lawry’s class. Plans for collecting the golden nuggets of information and technique are made.
I coast into Carl and Sam’s driveway to drop off a couple of boats brought down for guests. Carl and Ben are there prepping the trucks. Greetings are exchanged and orders taken as I mount back up and head for the bakery. The second cup of coffee, excitement at being part of a class I haven’t experienced and the lateness of the hour finish waking me up.
As I deliver the orders, the “I” only just reasserting its existence is merged into the “we” that is the shop. We are preparing to receive clients for Ben’s class, a tour for Rob and Dave, a rescue class for Carl and the normal inundation of renters. Boats are moved off trailers and racks. Plans shifted, clients organized and staff coordinated. It is the bustle of a new day in the height of the season.
Ben’s class starts and the “we” changes from shop staff to instructor, assistant and participants in the normal ebb and flow of OSKA. We begin the process of coordinating logistics, integrating our launch between renters and tours, figuring where we might have lunch and paying attention to the lesson. Somewhere just outside of the “we” I am trying to pick up how the course is delivered. After all, one benefit of working here is being exposed to other instructors and ideas in order to add depth to my own classes.
The shop bell peels through the morning air heralding the arrival of August and its people. We pull away from the landing.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
It turned out to be a busy day...so busy that I forgot to put on sunscreen. I am tempted to have Sam snap a picture of what the back of my freshly shaved head looks like...and by the way, I had completely forgotten that hair can hurt. The theme for the day turned out to be "Family Day". We had a kayak birthday party and a steady flow of sons and fathers, moms and daughters with only the occasional dating couple.
The wind is up, there is a tropical storm off of Va and I need more coffee...enjoy the new video once it loads...I had a blast putting it together.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
It was about 5:30 and cars were pulling in with all manner of boats…sit-on-tops, play boats as well as surf kayaks. Out came the bbq, chairs, snacks and the cheering section. The party had begun. We had a rough count of 20 folks surfing and 15 on shore watching. For a Monday night it felt an awful lot like a Saturday. Soon the smells of food cooking hit the air. As the sun went down folks trickled off the water and the shore scene kicked into high gear. I stayed well into the evening before heading back north of Boston.
I hope there is more surf next Monday, I have taken that one off too!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Low, ominous clouds darkened the river. The occasional smell of rotting vegetation wafted on the slight breath of a breeze almost cool enough to condense the moisture in the air to mist. An Osprey flittered around its nest, like some demented moth battering away at a light bulb, reacting to the noisy chicks begging for food. Turns and gulls patrolled the air seeing what could be seen. Not eager to spend energy actively hunting but not willing to hide from the threatening sky.
Carl and I watched from the landing while we waited for the customers to show up for their tour. Paddling in this type of weather was perfect. A short time later we were gliding across the glassy water introducing our clients to the wonders of the West Branch and kayaking.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Saturday was one of those days that make this all so addicting for me. The students were excited to be doing this thing. Their energy amped mine and the questions they raised throughout the day added to the depth of the course. I was stunned that they wolfed down their lunch faster than I could and were edgy to get going again. When we reached the end of the class, they were tired but happy and still interested. I love this sport.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Just though I would write a little bit on boat selection. I have spent some time talking to people about which boats would be best for them and I believe it comes down to a few simple items -
- Does the kayak put a smile on your face? If you don't like being in the boat, why waste your money?
- Does the kayak do what you want it to do? Go for the boat that does what you want to do and does it well.
- Think about where you want to be in a year...will the boat be able to do it.
- Plastic vs composite...glass, kevlar or carbon/kevlar boats have many advantages over plastic boats but generally cost more. If your first boat is composite, be aware that it may take some abuse that it wouldn't necessarily take once you have experience. Plastic boats can take quite a bit of abuse but may not have quite the qualities you want.
- You can always fit out a boat for comfort after you purchase it. Many composite boats can be specially ordered with adjustments built in but may take longer to get.
- Try any boat you are thinking about purchasing. You wouldn't buy a car without a test drive right?
So that is a brief intro to purchasing a boat. Get as much information as you can from many different sources.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
So what do you do when the first heat wave of the season hits? Go kayaking! Dave and I spent our day with a class out near Allen’s Pond. Straight out of the gate it was evident that heat wasn’t going to be a problem…the sweating done on the van ride to the launch site was quickly forgotten once the sea breeze was felt. The sun was out, the sea had a little texture, the birds were all about and I got to be on the water. Our class had a blast playing in introductory surf as well as a little beginner rock gardening. The conversation ranged the entire spectrum of kayaking and everyone enjoyed each other’s company. It was a fun day for me. Mike had our shuttle under control and none of us were unhappy being soaking wet when we hit the heat back at the shop. A little beach picnic in the evening and then a very long drive home…the heat and humidity could not keep me awake. I woke up this morning bright eyed and bushy tailed, all happy and relaxed from yesterday’s paddling.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Hi! Another weekend has come and gone. Saturday was slow (Sam and I both had colds and it was windy/rainy) but Sunday cranked along. Mike ran a surf class that rocked. His students were so excited about their experience that they decided to stay another day and come to the Monday Surf Expression Session. Mike was energized. West has video that we will be pulling clips from. Bob B. stopped by to go for a paddle. It was a pleasure seeing him.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The rest of the weekend was enjoyable as well. It always is when Chuck and Betsy come for a visit. I am bummed that I did not get to stick around this evening for the Monday Surf Expression Session. Jason (from NSPN and The Sea Monkeys) came down to hang. It was nice to see him and I am bummed that I couldn't stay to get out on the water...or at least have a beach picnic and fly a kite. Oh yeah, I still can't fish...and catch what I am going after...thankfully this is not something I need to do to survive.
Friday, May 23, 2008
We started out our first day in the classroom with some presentations and excercises to discuss our ability to present information and some basic and important topics about kayaking. This indoor time was just enough for me to get to know the group and to quell my nerves. I was a little nervous, but once I got to know everyone I realized that all the folks on the course were really cool and that I was very excited to paddle with them. We all donned our drysuits and headed out. Day one was on flatwater--we practiced our presentations of strokes, rescues, and on water group management skills. It was really nice to be able to exchange some coaching techniques with the folks on the trip, and I learned a lot of really interesting things that I will certainly carry with me.
Day 2 was all day in the Westport Harbour. we got some really nice headwind and a fair amount of current to play in as well. We did a lot of rescue practice and group management work. We talked about navigating through hazards such as boat traffic, the harbour, rocks, docks, and of course, the channel. It was a great day and I was pretty exhausted by the end of it, but I was especially excited for day 3: open water day.
Day 3 was out around Sakonnet Point, for homework we had charted our floatplan, and so we paired off to take turns leading the group from Sakonnet Harbour out to West Island near the Sakonnet Lighthouse, and over to Briggs Marsh in Little Compton, RI. I have paddled around Sakonnet Point quite a few times, but I never get tired of how beautiful it is, it is really stunning, and we lucked out and got a really georgeous day. We played a little in the rocks and caught some nice little waves around West Island. We did a surflanding into the beach for lunch and met up with an ICE (Instructor Certification Examination) group. This was a great opportunity for both groups, and we got to serve as students for the ICE instructor candidates to demonstrate their teaching skills on.
Here I am looking like a dork off the beach after lunchtime. (its cuz i don't have my cool helmut on)
On the way home we hit some big swell, it was a little unexpected, but it was really fun. I was surprised at how comfortable I was in it, I think this was because of the Carl's coaching expertise and the organization of the trip. Each day was a little more challenging and so my confidence in myself and the group increased as the course went on. The swell seems to get larger everytime we talk about it, but all I know is that when I paddled up the swell, the entire length of my kayak (which is 17 feet) was on the face of the swell, and then when I slid down the back it was the same story.
All in all, it was a fantastic course, I had a great time, learned a lot, and built up a lot of confidence both in open water and in my teaching skills.
A big thanks to David and Carl who were fantastic leaders and to the other 6 members of the group who made the course really helpful and enjoyable.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Greenland style kayaking (as demonstrated by Cheri and Turner and some others) can be an amazing form of recreation or way to get in touch with the root of the sport. The grace, beauty and shear fun is well worth taking a class or investing in a twig (whether home made or from a manufacturer like http://www.cricketdesigns.com/). Years ago I had an argument with one of the guys who introduced me to twigging (a shout out for Keith and John) that a euroblade has more power than a twig. John disabused me of that when he showed me a sliding stroke. Keith reinforced the technique at a symposium a year or two later. However, I have a quandary again…Mike and I taught a course this weekend on launching and landing in surf. A participant had a Greenland paddle (and obviously had some training in technique) but seemed not to be able to use the slide to gain effective purchase on the water in the shallows of the impact zone. This seems to me to be a limitation of twigging and a reason to use a euroblade. I am hoping that Cheri and Turner can help me out with this when they come for the Southcoast Kayak Skills Symposium because I can’t imagine the progenitors of the sport didn’t have to deal with waves in some fashion or other.That being said, the course was fun, the waves were there despite all predictions (yay groundswell), it was fun seeing Mike in a long boat (both surfing and teaching) and the sun was bright...the temperature right and things were learned by all.
Hey...we have a new newsletter so sign up to get it at the Osprey web site.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
This is what a carbon rudder looks like after it has been too close to a fire...and what the plastic in kayaks does as well. The shade tree by the shop has been cut down, a new changing room has been built and there has been grass seed put down. The shop is back to looking like it should and a new season has started. Sam was on the water yesterday with a school group while Carl, Mike and I held down the shop listening to my iPod as we worked.
The web site is coming together, there is some more work to do and descriptions to be written but mainly it is looking good, if I do say so myself. I think I have been through the Osprey photo album enough to feel like I have been at every event where a picture was taken.
One of these days I will be back in a boat, but until the initial work is done...that isn't happening.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
So there I was all day, staring at the pictures of surfing I have hung up in my cubicle. This is probably some sort of torture set up by my subconscious. On one wall I have a nice picture of me looking all epic in huge waves (forced perspective is awesome) and one of Izzy sitting looking out at waves in a boat with her spiked helmet on...you can see the picture around, we all love it. The next wall is in 2 sections...section 1 is the WALL O' SHAME. It contains a picture of me getting a wave in the face (full nasal cavity cleansing), a picture of Carl catching a rail and one of me rolling to avoid Carl screaming down a wave. Section 2 drives me up a wall. It is 2 pictures of me doing better than any other time on a wave...yet there are faults in my form...grrrrr...then the is a nice picture of Rob launching a surf yak on a Sunday morning. We both lost feeling in our extremities that day. The week is almost over so I can practically feel the water under my keel. -Hugh
Wednesday, May 7, 2008