Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense


Paddling Pals

These guys paddled along with a friend and me today on our kayaking outing. I’m pretty sure they were begging.

Paddling Pals


After a 5-week hiatus while moving and settling into our new place, I finally got out on the water today for some paddling. I was lucky enough to convince Megan to come along with me.  Here’s her “I love kayaking ” face, along with a couple other pictures.

Megan's "I love kayaking" face

Megan’s “I love kayaking” face

Rare photographic evidence of me in a kayak

Rare photographic evidence of me in a kayak

Beautiful day for kayaking!

Beautiful day for kayaking!

A bit of a current…

I went kayaking on Lake Clarke today (on the Susquehanna River just above the Safe Harbor dam). The dam must have been releasing a lot of water because there was more current on that section of river than I’ve ever seen (as the buoy picture shows!). I was surprised at the speed but it didn’t really affect my paddling very much.

It did make going downriver a bit easier, though.


This picture is not representative…

I went paddling today on the Susquehanna River in the Lake Clarke area (above Safe Harbor Dam) in my new Boreal Design Epsilon P300. I knew it would be a bit windy, so I deliberately went to the river instead of a calmer and more sheltered area so I could play in some waves and get some practice handling the Epsilon in rougher conditions than a stiff breeze and sheltered lake could provide.

The calm before the stormWhen I launched around 11:00 am, there were some choppy waves, but nothing particularly dramatic. The wind was blowing down-river and that’s the direction I headed. The chop was minor but was picking up a bit, as I expected. I turned up Fishing Creek for a bit of introductory calm. That’s where I snapped the picture accompanying this post which, as the title indicates, is not representative of the rest of my time on the water.

Once I left the shelter of Fishing Creek and continued down-river, things got a bit more lively and the waves, coming from behind me at an angle, were big enough to break over my foredeck. I don’t want to say it was a struggle to maintain my course, but I had to work at it. I deliberately didn’t put my rudder down… for the practice.

By the time I hit a small outcropping of land and scooted in behind it to a mirror-calm sort of mini-bay, some of the waves were close to two-feet high, partly because the wind had picked up and partly because the further down-river I went, the longer the fetch was, so the waves had  considerably more time to build.

I had some lunch in the calm area and then headed back out to paddle back up-river to my launch point. This time, I had waves breaking toward me and a sometimes-wicked headwind to content with. The waves were more fun than anything as they didn’t have much of an effect on my keeping my heading. The headwind was a bit of a hindrance, but as I’ve told my daughter, when you’re paddling into a headwind, you don’t have to paddle hard, you just have to keep paddling… because as soon as you stop paddling, the wind’s going to start pushing you backward and you’ll have to spend twice as much energy to start moving forward again.

So I spent roughly one and a half hours on some appropriately challenging water (for my current skill level) and got a great workout and some practice handling my 17.5-foot boat in conditions other than what’s shown in the picture.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take it easy.

Photo Kayaking on Lake Redman

I went out on Lake Redman today with my good camera to try out some new kayaking dry-gear. Many photographs were taken (the new dry-gear worked almost perfectly). The gulls were out in force and I took quite a few shots, mostly of gulls on the water. I did, however, spend some time taking aerial shots of them.

It’s not an easy task (on a windy day) to sit in a kayak, point a camera (with a viewfinder) at the sky, keep your balance, and hold on to your paddle. I lucked out with this shot of a gull in flight.

Click for larger version

A few other favorites from the day are below.

Click for larger version Click for larger version Click for larger version

Kayaking on the Conestoga Creek

Megan and I went on a trip down the Conestoga Creek in Lancaster County. Shanks Mare Outfitters organized the trip and provided shuttle service and a great lunch. It was a bit chilly, but we all stayed warm and dry and had a great time paddling through beautiful countryside.

Sample pictures below. Click here for the full album.

kayaking_002_595 kayaking_009_595 kayaking_019_595

Lake Williams in the Morning

I managed to get out on Lake Williams around 8:00 this morning. I was the only boat on the water. The leaves have begun to turn to their Autumn colors and it was wonderfully peaceful.

 Lake Williams #1 Lake Williams #2

Real life vs. Half-Life 2

While kayaking yesterday, my neighbor Jay and I decided that the designer of Half-Life 2 spent a lot of time around hydro-electric power plants.

Real life vs. Half-Life 2

Achievement Unlocked!

Achievement Unlocked: Oops, I'm wet!

I took a kayaking class yesterday at Shanks Mare Outfitters. I figured since I’ve been paddling for 11 months, it was probably about time that I got some actual instruction to possibly get rid of some bad habits and get some practice doing 2-person rescues for capsized paddlers.

Kayak T RescueEveryone in the class did a wet exit (flipping over and getting out of your kayak) and then we practiced a few of the basic strokes. After that, we learned how to do 2-person and 3-person rescues to help someone who’d capsized and done a wet exit. I’ve never gotten a chance to practice that (only a self-rescue), so it was a great experience.

We all practiced self-rescues after that using a paddle float (an inflatable bag that goes on the end of your paddle so you can use it like a pontoon to help stabilize the boat while you get back in). I’d done that before so it was fairly easy, though I’d never done it in deep water. As one of the students also noted, a key factor in doing a self-rescue is wearing a properly-adjusted PFD. If the PFD floats up around your head when you go in the water, it’s not going to be particularly helpful.

After everyone had done all the rescues, we all went for a relaxed paddle down the shore of the river. As we turned to go under a bridge and up a small creek,we encountered two kids who had dropped a super ball into the water. The instructor picked it up and tossedOops it back up to them, but they fumbled the catch and it went back in the water in front of my boat. I grabbed it and tossed it up, but they missed it again. As I was drifting under the bridge, I had one quick chance to toss it back up to them, so I grabbed it, leaned back a little (because I was just starting to go under the bridge) and tossed it sidearm like I was doing a hook shot… which turned out to be really stupid because the momentum of my arm and the way I had to lean tossed me right over into the water. I would have done a brace to keep me upright, but since I’d just tossed the ball, I only had one hand on the paddle.

So we got to practice a 2-person rescue one more time. The weather was nice and the location of the capsize was not treacherous in the least, so it was a casual rescue… a perfect (and amusing) example at the end of the class showing how capsizes can happen unexpectedly and for the simplest of reasons (ie… it doesn’t have to be giant waves and hurricane-level winds that knock you over!).

Knowing what to do when you capsize (or when someone in your group capsizes), and doing it a few times to get the hang of it, removes any feelings of panic and keeps you that much safer when the inevitable capsize actually happens. Taking a class is the best way to do that, since you have a controlled situation with a qualified instructor.

Of course, successfully demonstrating how the rescues work in an actual, accidental capsize situation is a good reinforcement for the class, too. That’s really the reason I capsized under the bridge. I was just helping out the class.

Yeah. Yeah, that’s it!

This is why I kayak…

On the lower Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania around Muddy Run Park… one of my favorite places to paddle.

Muddy Run on the Lower Susquehanna River

Muddy Run on the Lower Susquehanna River Muddy Run on the Lower Susquehanna River Muddy Run on the Lower Susquehanna River

View the full gallery.