Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Solstice

There are only 2 Sundays until pool season! I reached that point of being still too long last night and that means it’s time…time to get back into the gym to get ramped up for the season…time to get back in a boat again and shake off the rust. It will be green out soon enough and I want to hit the ground running.

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Stuff

Hey...it's been a little bit since I have written. Basically, this is my off season but the storm has given me the day off and so I have been working on the OSKA website. Osprey Life is now up...and will be added to as we show Dr Kelly's visit to the Antarctic and other stuff. By the way, if you have something you would like show people that you have been up to, drop us a note with a description and photos or a link.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Correction

It glares at me from the corner it has been banished to. Having grown up in an era of corporal punishment I always thought that if you spare the rod you spoil the child but this time I wanted to see if I could get a different response and so off to the corner it went. I direct it to look back at the wall while not making eye contact…that only reinforces misbehavior. It won’t be long now until it is released from timeout. Pool season is approaching and if my kayak addiction behaves, we’ll try teaching a few rolling classes. It was bad towards the end of the tour season and needed to take a break to calm down. How most other people don’t have out of control kayak addictions has always made me wonder. Certainly I know a few people whose addictions are absolutely horrid and they do nothing about them…I try to be supportive when they complain but they refuse to even think about corrective responses. Anyway, as I said, timeout is almost over and soon it will be time to feed my addiction and see if it is better behaved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Karma

Every once in a while I experience what turns out to be a truly backhanded karmic experience. In the past two weeks or so I have experienced a precipitous drop in my IQ. It manifests itself as a series of mistakes in the course of my non-kayak job. Nothing earth shattering, just silly little “Oh, why did I do that?” types of things that are embarrassing. They become especially obvious when they are strung together as they have been.

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

Hand Roll

I give myself a sweep of the paddle and as my boat spins I survey the pool. Other kayaks are on the deck as students get their gear on and pick one. I set my paddle on the water and wind my body to the left. As my arms start to reach out my eyes close and I dive into the water. I feel the boat flip over as I try to twist myself underneath it. I slowly exhale to keep the hyper-chlorinated water out of my sinuses…an effort that will eventually fail.

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

Last Tour

I look out on the lawn and count the boats and then check the rest of the gear. Perfume carried across the breeze is the first indication that the clients have started to arrive. They are all from one group and chat busily. We get them suited up and oriented in a quick, well practiced fashion. Launching is just as quick. The air is crisp and what leaves are left have turned the muted colors of late fall. The tree line is hazy with naked branches. A steady north wind blows us down a river that was teaming with life not 2 weeks ago but is now only populated with a couple cormorants and a few migratory gulls. A lonely turkey vulture wheels in the sky over a field in the distance, searching for something hunters may have left behind. The group is pleasant and the boat I am in, interesting. It would be more at home in surf or among rocks than traveling down wind and covering miles. This has turned into a pleasant way to tour the river one last time this season. I won't be on it again until spring.

3 Cords

The engine coughs to life on a quick pull of the cord. There is wood to split. We start with the logs we hadn’t touched since we stacked them last year. The wedge of the splitter forges its way into the material, burying most of the blade before the wood gives way. Insects scamper as their home is sundered. It goes like this until the old stack is processed and it is time to work our way through the new. Log after log goes under the maul. The jumble on the lawn shrinks and the neat rows grow. We stop more often as fatigue creeps in. Conversation is impossible over the sound of the engine and given the weariness in our eyes, there wouldn’t be much to say anyway. This is what life is like at an outfitter in November.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cube

Pictures of the ocean hang on my office walls and each time I look at them I can almost feel the fresh salt air and smell the sea. My muscles twitch to the memory of the paddle stroke or roll captured in the shots.

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

Wind

Carl, Sam and Mike howled in laughter as they came to check on me. The imp at the end of the strings fluttered on the ground as it laughed as well. My hands still held the bar but I was definitely sprawled across the beach. That little beast it was attached to had decided to ambush me when I leaped out of the water an incoming wave pushed over my boots. Post holes in the sand marked where my feet had landed during the giant strides I had taken to try to stay standing as the kite bolted inland. The rock that grabbed my foot feigned innocence but I saw a smug little smile when it thought I wasn’t looking. Obviously they had been in cahoots.

Monday, October 20, 2008

10Cane


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

Flight

My feet dig into the sand as the kite arcs low across the horizon. The traces pull at the bar in my hands, reins for some strange, flying horse. One hand pulls back while the other pushes forward, the kite arcs back to a zenith and the pull diminishes before it angles earthward again. It is straining at the lines and I get dragged forward. Another shift of my hands sends it back into the air.

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

Greece 08


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 CafĂ© 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.











-Carl

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oxygen

Vestiges of dream are sundered in the clawing back to consciousness. My mouth snaps shut as I realize my jaw is slack. The train rocks on the tracks into Boston and music is playing unheard in my headphones while thoughts attempt to coalesce. As we pull into the platform I stand, a necessary action that causes the world to spin. Blood seems to be sluggish in getting up to speed and muscles gasp for oxygen. It must be Monday the last couple of days have been another blur of activity. My brain is on minimum operation as it sorts through the events of the past couple of days:

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

4 Cast

Small fish dart away from my boots as I cross the flooded lawn to the river. I am early for a cancelled day and so with rod in hand I approach the granite wall of the canal. My footwear is starting to soak and my socks dampen to an uncomfortable cotton mush but the caffeine is coursing and I have time on my hands so casting is going to be how I spend the next bit of my life.

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

Option to Fail

I strive for perfection and it irks me when I can’t reach it. I watch my friends and when I can’t be as good or better then I become disappointed with myself. It was a hard lesson to learn that I have limitations. I will never teach like Carl or Sam but I can improve a piece here and a piece there each class I instruct. I won’t ever have as much grace or talent on a wave as Mike or Rob but I can do a better job looking down the wave or balancing correctly for a good top turn. When I fail I am learning to accept the event and move forward correcting what went wrong if I can. Sometimes it takes practice but I think I can work the kinks out if I have the chance. Like my roll, it took time to work the technique out and now I don’t have to come out of my boat when something else fails…most of the time…it’s a process thing. How fun would it all be if it didn’t take effort?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Coastal Too

I whipped around to see what was up before I identified the sound as one of joy. My three students were still upright as we paddled the swells in towards shore. One of them was expressing the pleasure they all felt. I remember going through the same experience, the exhilaration and the awe of just what was possible in a kayak. This is the seed that grows into an addiction for rough water kayaking and surfing.

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

Swim


“What the heck, he said” is a phrase a guy I used to work for says. He says it when something isn’t the way it is supposed to be. It is the phrase that went through my mind Sunday evening when floating upside down in my surf boat. I couldn’t roll. I am not sure why, I went through all the correct motions but there I was, upside down and running out of O2. “What the heck, he said!” I reached forward, popped the skirt and eeled out of my boat. Hitting the surface was a bit of a relief after I spit out a mouthful of seawater. This was the 3rd time in my kayaking life that I have almost inhaled seawater.

“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

823

The drive down is quick this morning. I am not sure whether it is that “Only A Game” is on or that I don’t have a course to teach until this afternoon. I cruise into Westport picking up water at Lee’s and coffee at Starfish. Breakfast is kicking in and I feel the energy flowing.

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

After Work

The wave slaps my shins as it rushes past. Receding water leaves the rock I am on slippery. 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. I let it sit there slowly sinking. 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 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

Times Fly

With Green Heron and Snowy Egrets in the marshes it is migration time! Osprey young are almost as big as their parents and still begging for food even though their emancipation is just around the corner. Schoolies are hitting the river at flood tide winnowing the bait fish population.

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

All the Signs

The white “Z”s on my otherwise brownish feet, flash brightly at me in the shower. There are calluses and a tan where the body has adjusted to the summer activity. Raw spots where a little grit got in and ground its way through set up a constant background whine. A craving for caffeine has taken up residence in my brain. I am a year older.

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

Last of July

The alarm sounds. An arm reaches over to hit the button that silences the noise. A moment passes as an assessment is made of the temperature in the bedroom. Birds are chirping. Their celebrations of life echo through the fog of morning fatigue.

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

The Run

The wave picks up my boat. It is not a terribly large wave but it is big enough to be worth the effort…I start the slide down the face. My vision switches from the five feet around my boat up to the line of the wave to my right. I feel the rail bite into the wave face as I arc back up the face and away from the pile. My head swivels to the left, I see some clear wave and then the pile. My arms shift my paddle to the left side of the boat and as my weight moves across the center line, the left rail grabs the water. I shoot back down the face back towards the foam. I shift for another bottom turn. As the wave catches up and starts to lift the stern end of my boat I reach out over the side, my eyes searching down the line. In the corner of my eye I notice something at the same time I feel a tightening in my abs. My weight is too far forward and my right, forward rail is running down the wave and not following the direction my body is going. My world shrinks back to the five feet around my boat. The bow pulls away from my head and shoulders while my torso sinks into the wave. I try a crunch to save it, but it is too late…I am upside down and my body is acting like a sea anchor as it stops my forward progress. I feel myself fall off the back of the wave. I roll up, blow water out of my nose and look around to see if I am about to get tooled by the next wave. I will do better next time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wicked Smart

We arrived at the shop yesterday to find an 18-wheeler parked across the front of the store. It turns out our Ocean Kayak order had arrived. After a few minutes of knocking on the cab window the trucker woke up and we began unloading the boats. The day was warm and humid so being in the trailer was a great way to start the day.

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.

Mike's Tip of the Week #1 is here!

I finished the final edit this morning and as I type it is loading into YouTube. It should be up by 8:30 am.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Xpression Video

The video for the 7/14 Xpression Session is up on our YouTube channel.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Xpression Session 7/14

For weeks I had been hearing about the fun, the food and the good vibes at the Xpression Sessions on Monday nights. I live north of Boston so when I saw that there would be swell from Bertha hitting I took Monday off to surf and see what all the noise was about. Carl and I got out in the morning to get a little time on task before the evening. When we swung by the shop we found out that Mike had been fielding calls all morning from folks wanting to come check out the scene. West was bringing a bunch of folks from Zoar and the regular crew was organizing. The excitement around Osprey became palpable. Friends were coming to join the fun! Around 4 we started loading the vehicles. Food, gear and boats were pulled together and some of the folks West had in tow swung by the house to say “Hi”. The energy started becoming infectious…so to get a few rides in before setting up the beach party, Carl and I boogied on down to the landing. He got a mediocre ride before he had one that he owned all the way in. It took me a while to get out but within a couple of minutes I had a run like none I have had before. Since I wasn’t going to top it, I jumped on out to video.

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!


-Hugh

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Day After Independence


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

I love kayaking. The feeling of sliding into a boat and slipping into the water is as comfortable as pulling into a friend’s driveway and walking into their house. A sunrise or sunset on quiet water to enjoy the beauty of nature, traveling along the coast in 20 knot winds and 4 foot seas as a challenge to be in the now, weaving through a rock garden playing with the skills of control or flying down a wave in a mix of fear and exhilaration are all activities that make me happy to be alive and human. Running a class where both the students and I feed off of each other’s love of what we are doing is as big a rush as any I have experienced.

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

Buying a boat



Hey folks!

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

a rescue demo video

videoHey! Another week has passed and we are closing in on the symposium. Mike and Sam are arranging RISC (Rhode Island Surf Camp) for the fall. I'll be putting up a page on the website that y'all can check out as we get the final pieces in place. It'll be up on Tuesday or so. Saturday was a long day but we cranked. The ICE was in full swing with Todd Wright down from Vermont assisting. Rob had a tour with Pahka that went well. We have a paddle in the shop for Paddle Surfing and we all took it and an old windsurfer board for a test down the river. Maybe a little later I will put up a vid of Pahka jumping in and taking it for a spin. Luckily, the camera is mine so there is no footage of me flailing around. Sunday was a little slower. The ICE finished up, I had an Intro class and Rob had a pretty cool tour. The weather put a bit of a damper on the day and I ended up a little hypothermic by the end. Nice folks came through all weekend and we got a delivery of "Kelly's Coffee Cake"...it is gone now...inhaled...enjoyed. Thank you!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A South Coast Sunday


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

A truly sick weekend.


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

First Class

Saturday was the first class I have run since pool sessions this winter. I had a blast. The people who came out were great and I got to be part of the process of them expanding their expectations of themselves. I really enjoy coaching when this happens. Watching folks see that they can do more than they thought is an awesome thing and to see them face themselves more than once...and up the ante is...yeah, I'm gonna say it...inspiring. I am definitely going to remember the client who pushed past something that scared them when they had every opportunity to decline the challenge.

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

IDW: a student's perspective

Last weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the 3 day open water IDW course. The IDW is the ACA instructor development workshop which is the pre-requisite for the certification examination. Carl lead the course with the assistance of the lovely David Lee, and as always, their leadership was stellar.

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.

-- Izzy

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Greece Video

Hey so I finally was able to sit down and put together a quick video from my last adventure in Greece. Unfortuantely, it's too big for the blog to handle...so it's up on youtube which means the quality might not be so good. Anyway, enjoy!

-West




Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday


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

It's a Sunday morning!



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

More Stuff from Hugh


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

Hi...I'm Hugh

Hello and welcome to the Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures Blog. The idea for this blog was that various staff could get on and talk about what we are up to. For me it is working on the website and starting this up tonight. As time goes on this will grow and evolve.

-Hugh