Monday, 27 June 2016

Kayak mode, 2016 R2AK Victoria Start

Andrew and I went down to the marina in the Inner Harbour where the R2AK boats were tied after a Thai dinner at Siam (very tasty!) and by good fortune arrived when someone was at the gate who could let us in. (I thought they were always open, naive me. It was party night, people weren't on their boats, so no visitors.)

We got to see most of the boats that would be setting out the next day in the Race to Alaska (including a SUP paddle board!), and talked to a few quite enthusiastic people. There are a large number of trimarans in this race. It looks like tris are finally coming into their own! Or they already have and I just didn't notice?

On Sunday I launched my boat at the foot of my street for the first time, and I'm very happy to say that it went completely without a hitch. Here's the boat just about to go onto the car after I came back from paddling:
Because there's no sailing in the harbour, I left the amas and sail rig behind. This was the first time taking her out as just a kayak.
Here's the path to the only ramp on this side of the harbour, which just happens to be at the end of my street:
The skeg shoe, or toenail, worked a treat, leaving a 1"-wide clearcut trail through the barnacles on the ramp. I was able to pick the boat up by the bow, lift the bow to chest height, and push the stern of the boat down the ramp on the skeg shoe. The reverse worked just as well, bringing her out.

Godfrey brought his sailing dory out from the marina and we tried to cut across the harbour, whereupon one of the Authority types whipped over, blue lights flashing, to tell us we had to go around. Damn! It was fifteen minutes from the start of the race, and a fair distance around, so I high-balled it and left Godfrey behind. It happened that he sailed out farther than I wanted to go anyway.

I was on time to see the boats people-powered coming out of the harbour, then raising their sails as they rounded the harbour marker (or before, which some did) to take advantage of a nice medium-light Northerly. Some switched modes more successfully than others.
I sat in my boat and took little video clips of the boats going by. I missed some of the entrants. The videos are very jiggly and jumpy, but I'm going to put them together and see if Mr. Google can smooth them out—sometimes that works really well.

After all that, I paddled to the Inner Harbour and, on the now-empty docks where the R2AK crowd had been, ate the lunch I had brought, which included a thermos of coffee and cream in a cold pack to go in it. (Cream does not do well hot for long periods, I find.) Thus fortified, and after talking to the last team that hadn't left the dock yet (the women's 8-person sailing longdory, Team Kraken Up), I made my way home on the other side of the harbour.

I'm happy to report that my body hasn't suffered from my adventure, except for sore muscles and tiredness. I realized I hadn't paddled a kayak in about 22 years! Today I'm tired and sore, but happy.

There are some tweaks to be made. My butt got sore, and I need knee pads under the deck. John has a mold for a seat, and I have some nice foam I can glue on under the decks for the knees. I needed a plug for the leeboard pivot hole, so I picked up a stick and whittled one, drilled a hole in it and put a lanyard on it. And the back rest needs improvement.

What I learned:
• I want to use the rudder when paddling, to offset winds pushing me around.
• That cart is amazing! I didn't think it would work so well, but it does great.
• I love my new double paddle. It's very light (24 oz). And, no, my hands don't get wet. I think it could be about the flick I give the blade as it comes out of the water.

I gave up paddling some 22 years ago because my back gave out. Since then I haven't wanted to go back there: kayak paddling was associated with acute pain. But now that I got myself a kayak in the guise of a sailboat, I find that it works okay. I know I won't be able to do the long rides I used to, and that's alright. I'm okay with being an old man whose circle is getting smaller and smaller.

Now I'm starting to plan the larger amas, and short trips in the kayak.

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