Monday, August 31, 2009

Soup season arrives.

Flashes of white in the sky catch my attention. Snowy Egrets are on the move from Essex, feathers catching the last rays of sunlight. Two cormorants accompany them. A minute later another flock is on the wing from Annisquam.

Dark birds hunch over the marsh in Revere. Blue Herons mark the fall of the tide and the rise of the sun while Great Egrets form a buffet line between the grass and the transmission line tower. A lone Osprey sits preening on a perch.

Labor Day is a week away and my favorite time of year is here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Big Brass

With sick fascination I watch the video of Izzy going over the falls another time and yet again my heart stops for a second. It happens every time.

Frame by frame I want to see her swing to the left and rocket diagonally across the wave. I want to see her reach the summit and back-paddle off the top.

I watch the video of Izzy going over the falls and yet again feel a little queasy. I have a whole lot of respect for her, she has brass.

click the title for a link to the slideshow and video

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Explorating this Mortal Coil

My Karma was hemorrhaging faster than I was likely to replace it. By Thursday, the tension that it caused had me at a slow boil and barely able to live with myself. The weekend was going to be difficult if I couldn’t figure out how to staunch the flow.

As the sun rose Saturday morning I still didn’t have a bandage and lost more karma on the highway.

Rob Banks and I headed to Bristol for our birding tour. He offset my karmic leak, which had caused me to get the rear wheels of the van stuck in sandy gravel at the landing. A beautiful venue and a nice tour helped the morning progress well. The shop was humming when we returned. Rob lent me a little of his karma in order to get back in one piece and since he was in the van as well, it worked out for him.

After the shop closed I stumbled through Lee’s and Tin handed me the best spicy tuna sushi I have ever had. It was followed by Carl’s famous “bacon makes everything better” fillet Mignon and a nicely quiet evening. I have some very good friends…one of whom has a couple of dogs that provided the right amount of fur time. How can anyone not relax when coated in a little dog drool and surrounded by doggie happiness that you are there? My karma finally coagulated.

Caffeine from Starfish fueled Sunday in a tasty way and my Intro lesson made for a great morning. Back at the shop a wave of energy was forming and my karmic issues seemed resolved.

The happiness which my clients left me got me up to speed to help the rest of the crew move folks to their rentals. Face after smiling face came through the door adding energy to the activities we love. There was a flow going.

A beanie counts for a lot in life, ask any newborn. The well crafted, steal gray one waiting for me at the shop after my Sunday lesson is beautiful and welcome…if not in the 90 degrees, in the future when temps cool down a little. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An act of Will

The wave peeks. White foam forming as it starts to break. A voice comes out of the ether “Paddle at the wave!” It is a memory of a past instruction from Mike.

The paddle digs in and the boat struggles forward. Rising up the face of the wave I turn to look back down the line. My boat pivots and starts picking up speed. The disembodied voice comes back “Use your rail!” I like Mike, he isn’t on the water and still his spirit is out here.

The boat slides sickeningly sideways. I am too flat and adjust my rail. I pick up speed racing down the line and swing around to look back at the pile. Spray flies out from the bottom of my boat as I switch rails. My paddle drags and I lose speed but the pile is racing towards me. Again I turn back down the line, banking off the foam. I must be near shore, the entire line is beginning to face. I pop off over the top and look around. My mind really isn’t present, muscle memory is all I have…and Mike’s instructions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Swell Trip to Cutty Chunk

I started watching the weather Monday. Not because the forecasters could give me the correct weather for the weekend but to start building a gestalt. It would be good to get a feeling for how the weekend would shape up.

I kept my week low key and healthy. A couple of endurance workouts at the gym to get my energy up along with meals of rice and beans and other healthy things (I was pleased with the curried chicken salad I made on Tuesday). As much sleep as I could manage with my schedule and the humidity. Building up to running the crossing trip gave me focus.

As Saturday closed in I began to worry about the weather, it was going to be a close thing with the storms moving through (I only found out this morning that there had been a micro-burst in Beverly on Friday afternoon). The seas were supposed to be high and the winds un-fun. I say un-fun…so far this summer when it hasn’t been raining it has been windy…usually windier than they predict. By Thursday the predictions were for WSW winds up to 12kts turning to SSE at 11kts with 3-4 foot seas in the bay and 4-5 outside. It was going to be interesting.

I’ve been wondering why more of the clubs don’t do the crossing. To be honest, I stopped reading the message boards a couple of years ago but my sources haven’t mentioned any trips like that…and they would know…I love my sources. (The amount of information I have watched them accumulate over the years impresses the hell out of me. When they speak on a topic, I listen…they know what they are talking about.) The clubs seem to stick to Wood’s Hole, occasionally the Vineyard, the Race and sometimes something in ME…but never the bay…oops, I’ve digressed…

Friday I get a call from Carl…he has everything organized and is wondering how I feel about the trip. The wind predictions have dropped to about 10kts and are favorable...the sea state is concerning but is predicted to drop to 3ft in the bay and 4ft outside. I have paddled before with one of the folks and know his skills, the others I have not but Carl has and has said they have met the criteria to be included in the trip. I am comfortable making the crossing. A quick check of the weather Saturday morning confirms the storms have moved through and that the seas are at or below the predicted levels…we are going.

We launch from Gooseberry. There was surf on the Horseneck side of the causeway…there were consistent sets of 2ft surf curling around the point. 1/3 of the way the swells came…first 2ft…then 3ft and for a brief period of time 4ft (and yes there were a couple of 5ft swells). As we got near Cuttyhunk the swells gave way to 1-2ft cross-chop with 1ft surf at the beach.

The journey was epic for swells can be. One paddler gained my deep respect for how she handled her odyssey. We hit the boat launch at Gooseberry tired. A RICKA surf trip to Allen’s Pond is coming in at the same time. That is fun as well but I still like doing the crossing a bit more. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I am finished.