Sunday, May 03, 2009

Squeezing a full weekend into Sunday morning

The rumors of a rainy weekend were, in the actual event, greatly exaggerated. In fact, once the torrents of rain that drenched me while I was loading up the new kayak on Friday afternoon had enjoyed their little prank, we had very little additional rain at all. But, having fallen prey to the temptation to believe the worst about the weather in much the same way that I believe my decades-in-the-making 401k balance to be irretrievably lost to the vagaries of our turbulent times, I had resigned myself to an indoor weekend. That was partially acceptable, though, because I needed to get to the sporting goods store to acquire the accessories required for my new boat.

Specifically, I needed a second set of car-top carriers to allow for the simultaneous loading of the boats (just in case someone wanted to fly in and go kayaking) and I was hoping to also find a more kayak-suitable PFD (Personal Flotation Device) than the one that I've been using. The PFDs designed specifically for kayaking are designed to place the buoyant parts up high and the chest and back in order to make sitting down inside the small and narrow confines of the kayak more comfortable. Unfortunately, they're expensive. The last I looked for one, the cheapest I could find was over $80.

The shopping went extremely well. I found a set of Thule J Carriers on sale for $129, and a Harmony FZ 6.7 marked down to $49. There must have been some other sale going on that we didn't know about because the car carrier came up on the register at $99, and the PFD came up at an unbelievable $29! Combined with the great deal I got on the kayak itself, this entire acquisition has been extremely painless, albeit only in the pecuniary aspects. I haven't forgotten that downpour that I stood in while loading the boat on Friday quite yet.

With the accessorizing taken care of, the only remaining task is to send in the registration form and get the decal back from the State of Ohio that will allow me to use the boat on "public" lakes and rivers. Don't get me started... Well, to be fair, there are a couple of benefits that we get from the $20 registration fee. The state actually does a very good job of keeping the water ways clear of fallen trees and other obstructions, and they keep track of the boats by their Hull ID Numbers (HIN) which is probably helpful if one ever gets stolen.

Sunday also arrived with better than forecast weather, so Co-pilot Rick and I flew up to Urbana for a quick breakfast. Co-pilot Egg had a band concert scheduled for 2:00 and I needed to be back in time for that. The flight to Urbana was glass smooth under a thin overcast, and the pattern was completely empty when we reached the airport. In fact, there wasn't a single airplane in evidence as we looked at the ramp from left downwind. With the air being dead calm, I had hoped for a perfect landing but that didn't work out quite as expected.

As we were flaring over the numbers, I saw a couple of geese standing in the middle of the runway. Geese, who must be amongst the dimmest creatures on the planet and who exhibit a bare minimal level of a will to live, have a tendency to not move out of the way until absolutely required to. Luckily, when they finally do deign to remove themselves from the area in contention, they move in a predictable direction. Unlike, say, squirrels, who will often turn around and take the longest path out of the way. Thus was I able to swerve around them on the runway, avoiding what would have been a very expensive meeting of propeller and goose.

We got back from Urbana in time to load the new boat onto the ever-willing Subie for a quick 20 minute jaunt out to Madison Lake. I just wanted to paddle it around a bit to make sure it would float, and I thought it might be good experience for the Co-pilot, whose experience to date had been limited to canoes. They aren't all that different, but you have to get used to the tippiness inherent in a kayak, and it's easier to get a feel for the way you use the paddle for turning in a wide open lake than it is when running down a river and find yourself confronted with an immovable object. Go ahead, ask me how I know...

Yes, I know. I have the paddle upside down. Doh!

Rick, even on his first time out, managed to hold the paddle with the correct orientation:

The new boat works just fine. It paddles very much like the Shearwater in that it is easy to get it moving, it tracks well, it's fast, and it takes serious effort to get it to make tight turns. Really, it's just what I was looking for. We only had an hour or so to spend at the lake, but it was enough to get a good feel for the boat, and I think it was enough to hook Rick into coming back for more. I didn't want to stay out too long anyway since the boat isn't registered and it would be just my luck to run into a park officer with a citation quota to meet.

Despite the activity filled morning, we easily made it back in time for Egg's concert.

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