Evidently Dan likes his pancakes bumpier than I do

Last night the team went out on the lake for practice. From the parking lot, you can’t see the lake so I asked Dan what it was like, and he said “flat as a pancake”. Evidently in Dan’s world, pancakes have foot-and-a-half swells overlaid by numerous boat wakes.

Launching in the surf zone, I fell out of the boat once and got soaked, and while trying to get in a couple of waves came into the cockpit. The water in the cockpit made me unstable, and while I tried a couple of times to pump some out, I would have to take my paddle out of the water to pump and I was too unstable to do that except during breaks in the boat wakes, and those were few and far between. It was a real Catch 22 situation where I wasn’t stable enough to do the very thing that would make me more stable. So I ended up paddling the whole work out with about 3 inches of water in the bottom of the cockpit (and thanks to a lousy seal at the rear bulkhead, in the rear compartment as well).

After “playing” in the surf for a while, Dan told us to head to a head of land you could see. In the linked map, you can see the head just about where the two mile marker is. At about the one mile point on that map, Dan yells at me asking why I’m so far off shore, because he’s about 200 yards from the shore. I tried to explain that when he says to head directly somewhere, I for some strange reason took that as meaning to head directly to that place, rather than skulk along the shore line in the general direction of that place. But maybe that’s just me.

In spite of the feeling that I was going to dump any second, I preferred to be out off shore a bit, because when you get close in, you get the rebounds off the shore coming at you full strength, and when it’s boat wakes rebounding, sometimes the first of the rebounds is hitting you while you’re still dealing with the last of the direct wake. I hate that. And just to make this evening complete, we were getting attacked by nasty biting flies. One of them bit me high up on my inner thigh while I was trying to deal with about three waves from different directions, which did not help. We were in a soup of algae for much of the way, and I don’t envy Paul D who dumped into it once. Oh, did I mention that Paul D has gone over to the dark side and bought a surf ski, so I was the only paddler there with a decked boat? Yeah, sucks to be me.

Frank had come out with us, but some time after the point, I noticed he wasn’t there. I found out that he’d decided this wasn’t fun and turned back. Man, I wish I’d seem him turn because I would have graciously offered to paddle back with him. I wanted to turn back myself, but I didn’t want to be alone out there.

By the time we hit the 5 mile mark, my back was killing me. I suspect that if I’d been able to adjust my foot pegs I would have adjusted things to not hurt so much, but the jury rigging we did on the rudder pedals last week wouldn’t allow that. (As an aside, the new pedal track arrived as I was writing this, so I’m hoping Frank will help me install them in time for this weekend’s Rochester Open Water Challenge!)

On the way out, Dan had been promising that when we turned the swell would provide good surfing opportunities. I turned for home a few hundred metres before the pier that we’d been aiming for, expecting all these fast guys in their fast surf skis to surf on past me in no time, especially since I could barely hold 5 mph. It had seemed to me on the way out that even though the swells were coming towards us, I was actually getting a bit of speed from sliding down the back sides. But now on the way back, either the shape was working against me, or they’d slacked off some, because I felt like I was spending more time paddling “up hill” on the swells than sliding down them. It took a long time before any of the other paddlers caught up to me, but eventually Ken came sliding by and Ken and Bill and I paddled the long stretch home together – I was too unstable to look back, but I heard afterwards that Paul D was having trouble getting used to his new surf ski so Dan and Mike stayed back with him. My foot was cramping up, my back hurting, and the bugs were still biting and I just wanted to get back, but Ken kept zig zagging around to try to find some surf. It seemed like “rush hour” hit the channel between the lake and Irondequoit Bay, and every boat on Lake Ontario was either coming out of the channel and heading our way, or coming from behind us towards the channel. Lots of wakes to deal with.

My biggest problem with dealing with waves and wakes is, I think, my own mind. If I do what I’m supposed to, which is to let the boat pivot underneath me and keep myself loose, I think I’d be fine – the boat does have a lot of secondary stablity. But ever fibre in my being wants to slam my thighs into the brace position and take control of the boat. I know paddles on the lake like this are supposed to help me unlearn that reflex, but I can’t say I’m having fun yet. Maybe now the water is warmer, I should spend some time in the surf near shore, so I can dump without worrying.

This is sad

I don’t know if this is a comment on the sad state of Java, or the sad state of the way my mind works.

I’ve been a Java developer since 1998. I think it’s a great language and I love working in it. But when I’m starting a personal project, I look for excuses not to use it. I don’t know why. I can code up beautiful and powerful GUIs in it, but I usually choose not to. It’s so ridiculous that I’m going to a meeting to discuss a possible freelance project very shortly, and I think I’m going to end up deciding to learn Python and wxPython and coding the GUI in that rather than do it in Java. And I don’t really know why.

A good morning, but not a great night

This morning, I went over to Frank’s to see if he could help me with my rudder pedal assembly. I had an idea of how to jury rig the pedal, but I wasn’t sure how to implement it. Fortunately, Frank is a lot smarter than me when it comes to fixing things, and he has the advantage that he installed this rudder assembly originally. It took us a couple of hours of reaching around into the depths of the kayak with screwdrivers and ratchets, but it worked.

It seems to be holding, but I’m looking forward to getting the replacement parts next week – the company that made the rudder system redesigned the tracks a few years ago to make them out of aluminum instead of plastic, and they tell me I can just swap out the tracks without changing any other parts – but of course first I’ll have to undo all the great jury rigging that Frank and I did. Tim of PaddlersSupply.com and Tom of TopKayaker.net got me hooked up and they are sending me the new parts, so I should have them in time for the Rochester Open Water Challenge.

The Time Trail kind of sucked tonight. First problem was that I forgot my GPS and heart rate monitor. Dan loaned me his GPS but I still didn’t have the heart rate chest band, and he took it home afterwards so I didn’t get to download the info. It was raining, but not too cold. The wind was blowing from the south, meaning that you started into the bay with enough tail wind to make waves, but not enough to really help you go fast. I think I was making around 6.2 or 6.3 mph. Turning in the waves was the usual adventure, especially when I wasn’t too sure about the rudder, and then coming back into the wind was slow, probably around 5.8 or 5.9. My split was around 9.9 minutes, compared to 9.53 last week. Going up the creek was a little better in spite of the headwind and the increasing rain, but it was a struggle to keep the speed up over 6.1. I did the turn the “normal” (counter clockwise) way – last week Jim Mallory convinced us that doing it the other (clockwise) way is probably faster because of the geometry of the final turn before the buoy, but I wanted to avoid full right rudder tonight. The way back was faster, of course, with a good tail wind and the current, so I was seeing speeds between 6.4 and 6.8. My final time was around 19.6 (compared to 19.20 last week), so my second half was faster than the first half. Paul D was a tiny bit faster than me tonight – I think Ken said he beat me by 7/100s of a minute. Oh well, when you’re only a few hundreds of a minute faster than a guy one week, you’ve got to expect that he’s only got to make a tiny improvement or you a tiny mistake to change the order the next. I’ll get him back next week.

Should have looked at it yesterday!

Remember how on Saturday I was having to hold full right rudder just to go in a straight line? Well, today we went out for a long paddle on the lake, getting to know the course of the Rochester Open Water Challenge. The lake wasn’t bad, and I was riding Dan’s wash the whole way, but the rudder problem was getting worse and worse. Just was we were getting back towards the beach, Dan wanted everybody to go into the Bay because that’s where he’s planning to take the race, but my foot was cramping up from holding so much rudder for about 7.5 miles, so I started heading for the beach.

I was about 300 metres from the group when my rudder when “ping” and I felt the cable fall onto my right foot. Oh, that is bad. Here I am, trying to ride the surf to shore when I’ve got full left rudder on. I raised my rudder, and that’s not much better – I remember when I bought this boat finding a review on-line that said that the biggest problem with it was that it was totally uncontrollable without a rudder, and so therefore not safe for a sea kayaking trip. Well, it took a lot of dragging my paddle on one side, sweeping on the other, and then repeating the process on the other side, but I got into shore.

And when I looked, as well as the cable coming off the rudder pedal, the foot peg had completely “burst through” the channel that it’s supposed to ride in. No doubt it was this that make the rudder misbehave. Unfortunately, there is no way in hell to fix this without a replacement part, and Baycreek doesn’t carry them, so I’m not going to have this boat working for Wednesday night.