Armond Bassett 2018

This is a departure for me, because normally I make my blog post as soon as possible after the race and then do the video afterwards, but it’s the day after, the video is currently uploading and I’ll embed it in this post when it’s done.

This is not my first Armond Bassett (AB) Race. I think my first was in 2009, and except for the two years I spent recovering from shoulder surgeries I don’t think I’ve missed it. It’s usually a hot one, except for when we get thunderstorms. Yesterday’s race was pleasant by AB standards – I think the high was around 85F, and there was a tiny bit of breeze. There was a tiny bit of current, maybe more than last year.

I come to this year’s race slower than I have been in several years. Mostly because when I was looking for work I got depressed and ate a lot, and then in the winter when I should have been building a base and dieting, I instead got really sick and continued to eat. And then when the season started I told myself I couldn’t diet and build speed at the same time, which was a great excuse to keep eating badly. I haven’t stepped on a scale, but I’m at least 20 or 30 pounds heavier than I was last year. And consequently, some of our local paddlers who I was faster than in practices last year have been kicking my butt, and they all decided to come to this race since it’s local. I was hoping that maybe my experience would be enough to keep me ahead of them in a real race. It didn’t work out that way.

Relive ‘Armond Bassett race’

On the other hand, I have finally worked out many of the issues I’d been having with the head mounted camera, and I had a brand new carbon fiber front camera mount that I was eager to try out. So at least the video would be good. Or at least it would have been good if I hadn’t gotten a smear of sunscreen or dried sweat on the lens of the head mounted camera. Sigh.

I had scouted the course a couple of times last week, and the biggest potential problem I found was a branch that was just under the water and coming out from the shore to about 1.5 boat lengths off shore. There was nothing to tell you it was there until you bumped your rudder on it. I sent out a message on Wednesday to the local paddling group:

A little bit of secret scouting information for Armond Bassett: about 1.5 miles from the dock heading upstream, you come around a right hand bend and you first see the power lines ahead of you. Right there at the bend there is a branch just below the surface of the water with nothing sticking up to hint that it’s there. It stretches about 1.5 boat lengths out from shore and even with my cut down rudder on my V10 Sport, I hit it every time.

Unfortunately I forgot to send a similar warning to out of town paddlers. I feel kind of bad about that. (foreshadowing)

The Start

The canoes all (except a war canoe, more about that later) started in the first wave, and the kayaks in the second, 10 minutes later. As seems to happen a lot at this race, when they called the kayaks up to the line I was the only person who actually moved up at first. This is a disadvantage for me since I can’t choose who to line up next to, but so be it.

As we lined up, we could see two C-2s upside down at the first bend, maybe 300 meters past the start. Don’t know if they collided or what, since I don’t think anybody noticed it happening. I’ve got to give them props – I don’t know if I’d keep going after such a disaster so close to the start, but they remounted and kept going.

One note about the video: I experimented with setting my GPS to “auto pause when stopped” so I wouldn’t have to hit the start button when I should be paddling at the gun, but it caused a tiny bit of sync problems with the GPS overlay on the video because I was actually drifting towards the start when I started so it didn’t pause until I’d completely stopped at the line. I don’t think I’d do that again.

As expected, Jim and Royal took off like a shot. John Hair chased them, and Eric chased after him. Eric was in Matt Skeel’s sleek black Epic V10 GT, which is way faster and way lighter than the Epic 18X he usually paddles as long as he has the stability to keep it upright and apply power.

At first a guy I don’t know in a green Stellar got ahead of me, and as I expected Roger was starting to edge ahead of me. I couldn’t see the other boats, but I assumed I was pulling ahead of them. At the first bridge, John Hair diverted off the line the other two guys were on to go through the middle span. Normally the middle span would be faster going downstream, but he was close behind the other two guys, one of whom had scouted the course, when he suddenly veered off. Seemed like a strange move. Eric looked like he hesitated a second before deciding to go through the left span like the two leaders.

By the time we reached the U of R footbridge just past Egret Island, Roger was well clear of “my” peleton. Jim and Royal were together, followed by John some distance behind, Eric about an equal distance behind him, Roger about twice that distance behind Eric and me about the same distance behind Roger. As I passed the trailing C-2, it was obviously one of the ones from the earlier dumping because they were trailing a huge plant. I think the stern paddler sat on it when she was remounting. I warned her about it, she said she knew, and then in the rear view camera I can see that she actually pulled it out from under her butt.

The Turn

At the turn, I glanced back and could see a line of people behind me. I can’t actually see any details in a quick glance, but from the video I can see it was Mark, Dennis, Phil and Pete. All four of them are local paddlers, all but Pete haven’t raced more than one or two times before, and all of them are people who I was faster than last year but who have been kicking my ass in workouts this year. I probably should have been more worried about them than I was.

After the turn, it’s always a bit of a quandry. Do you go in close to the concrete wall to try to keep out of the current and breeze, or do you stay further out in the channel because it gets quite shallow and weedy, especially as you get closer to the turn. In previous years I’ve got right in close until there is a clump of weeds sticking out of the water, then gone about 45 degrees to the current to get out into the deeper water. This year I opted to stay further out right from the beginning so as to not have to make quite such a drastic turn at the weeds. I’m not convinced it was the best, but at least I wasn’t like Roger who dragged his way though the shallows and the weeds all the way around the bend.

Coming to the railway bridge, I was just about to pass a C-2 on their right when they veered a bit right towards the bridge abutment. I paused paddling for a stroke to stay behind them until they then started to veer left a bit more, then I passed them as planned. Looking in the rear view camera, I can see it caused a bit of disruption to my train of followers.

The Pull

Dennis came up and offered to pull. But he was going so fast I could barely keep up with him. Then I guess he realized he was going too fast and slacked off, and I overshot and ended up back pulling again. Then he pulled through again, this time without the huge acceleration and I was able to get on his wake for a bit. Unfortunately, 400 meters later he went through a shallow spot, I thought I’d be clever and leave his wake to stay in the deeper water, but he gapped me and I couldn’t come back. Looking at the video, I can see that although we hadn’t made a lot of progress towards catching Roger, we had got a gap on Mark, Phil and Pete.

A kilometer later, Dennis stopped for a drink and to let me catch back up. I’d started feeling better so I pulled for a bit.

This Means War (Canoe)

I was looking at my GPS and realizing that the bend up ahead was where that submerged log was, so I was starting to swing out a bit from shore to miss it. And there was Eric paddling in the wrong direction, slowly. I realized that he’d probably hit that log, and I’d forgotten to warn him about it. Oh, that’s a bad feeling.

But almost immediately I heard a war canoe storming up beside me. I don’t know how they started behind me, I hadn’t heard any mention of any wave starting behind the kayaks except the 3 Mile recreational race. But there they were. I immediately got on their side wake. Kevin, one of the canoe paddlers was saying something to the other paddlers about the GoPro on my bow when he suddenly noticed the one on my head and exclaimed “Two GoPros!”. I responded “yeah, you’d better have your game faces on because this is going on YouTube”.

After about 500 meters on their side wake, I was tiring and looked to see if I could get on their stern wake, only to discover that Pete G was already there. And Dennis, who had been on my stern wake, saw a good thing and jumped on Pete’s stern wake. So I was left the dregs, trying to grab Dennis’s stern wake in the chaos of a war canoe wake. It didn’t work well for me, I was too tired to put in a burst of speed to match and so they slipped away.

Maybe A Second Chance?

At the second turn, there was a C1 paddler in the water. By the time I got there, he was hanging off the side of the “race committee” boat and the war canoe had stopped to retrieve and empty out his canoe. One of the paddlers who was ahead of me said that when he passed the canoer was quite panicky in spite of the committee boat being right there. Pete and Dennis didn’t have their tow any more, but they already had over 30 seconds lead on me.

As I turned, I got a view back and could see that I had nearly a minute on Mark with Phil a bit behind him.

One funny thing about out and back type races, especially ones like this with two turns, is that no matter how little breath you’ve got left, you start greeting people and yelling encouragement when you’re on the last stretch. And this was no exception. I yelled out greetings to most of the other kayak paddlers who were still coming up, at least the ones whose names I knew, and got encouragement and greetings from most of them as well.

After about 15 minutes, I heard what I’d been hoping to hear, the war canoe coming back after their delay at the turn. I glanced back and saw something I hadn’t been hoping to see – Mark had latched onto their stern wake and had made up that minute lead I had on him.

I got on the side wake of the war canoe, but again I was only able to stay there for about 500 meters. Then I dropped onto Mark’s stern wake. And because I was completely cooked, I barely managed to hang on there for about another 800 meters. And with less than 400 meters to the finish, I had no sprint left to stay with them. Mark ended up beating me by a few seconds.

While I had also taken advantage of the war canoe, I have to wonder if it hadn’t been a factor if I wouldn’t have at least beaten Pete and Mark? I had a good gap on both of them before it came along and both of them passed me while riding in the best position, right on its first stern wake. I probably wouldn’t have beaten Dennis, but at least we would have traded leads a couple more times before he completely demolished me.

But really, more than anything there’s nothing to blame for my performance than my own inability to lose weight. Maybe if I lost some of this I could go back to being faster than the guys I was faster than last year. Maybe not all of them, because some of them were fine athletes who were just learning kayaking, but maybe at least one or two.

Less Griping About GoPros

After I wrote More Griping About GoPros, I was having more and more problems with the GoPro Hero 5 Session “head camera”. However, after doing a bit of research, I found a microSD card that is fast enough for 4K video, and only $40 for 128GB! Samsung Evo MicroSD, so cheaper than the Sandisk Extreme that was crap. That was helping – I could record 90 minutes with just the camera (without the external battery) with no interruptions. But I was having problems with the camera. Sometimes it wouldn’t even turn on even though it had been charging overnight. Or it would act like it was only partially charged. Or if I hooked up the external battery, it didn’t seem to be getting power from it. When I enumerate the problems like that, it probably seems obvious to you, but it took me a while to realize that there must be internal damage or rust on my USB cable. A few bucks on Amazon later, and now I’ve got a working camera – I took it out today and got 160 minutes of continuous video with no interruptions. And just in time for this weekend’s race!

More griping about GoPros

I have two cameras that I use for making my kayaking videos. A GoPro Hero 5 Black (which is the chunkier camera with the touch screen on the back) is mounted on the front of my boat pointing backwards, and a GoPro Hero 5 Session (which is the little cube) which I wear on my head pointing forward. I like the head mount because it stabilizes the camera nicely and also it means the video gets to show what I’m seeing.

This year I decided to start shooting everything in 4K. I’d sort of gone back and forth last year between 1080p/60fps and 4K/30fps, but this year I decided to do 4K exclusively. The only problem with that is that the Session camera only had a 64GB SD card (technically a micro-SDHD card, I guess) which meant it would stop recording after about an hour and a half or two hours. Sometimes it would shut down much earlier, but I’d spare a stroke and hit the button on top and it would start again. Often times this only happened in the warm up rather than in the heat of the race, so it wasn’t terrible.

But I missed the end of a couple of races, so I ordered a 128 GB card. Unfortunately I didn’t want to order the same Lexar Pro 1000x card I had in the Black because it had gone up for around $75 to $130 since I bought the last one. Amazon had a SanDisk Ultra that had all the right specs (UHS-I, Class 10, 80mb/s) that meant it should work for 4K video. Except it didn’t – my camera would shut down after 10-20 minutes and if I started it right back up, it would shut down down. Being up on my head, I couldn’t see if it displayed a message, but I sent it back and got a SanDisk Extreme that had even more of the right specs (UHS-III, U3, mentioned 4K video numerous times in the description). But it had the same problem – it would shut down after 30-40 minutes and not start up again. This time I was using it mounted on my bike handlebars rather than on my head so I could see the message, and it was complaining about a corrupted file on the SD card, and said I’d have to format the card to use it.

Since I was convinced this card should work, I did a swap – I put the Lexar Pro card in the Session, and the SanDisk Extreme in the Black. And both cameras shut down after a 30-40 minutes. The Black was complaining about a bad or corrupted SD card. The Session was just acting weird. I did a factory reset on the Session and it’s acting a bit less weird but it’s still not 100% right.

I don’t know if I got water in the Session and wrecked it, or if I’ve just reached the limits of this camera. If you look at materials from GoPro or from the kind of people who use GoPros, it’s obvious that the standard user that they’re designing these things for is for somebody who turns it on, records a 5 minute stunt, then turns it off again, and my desire to record for hours at a time is just an edge case that they don’t really care about.

I don’t know where to go next. I’m going to test my Session again with the 64 GB card to see if it goes back to “normal” with it. Maybe I’ll just go back to recording 1080p/60fps again, where 64 GB is good for more than 4 hours.

Round the Mountain 2018

Yesterday was my first race of the year, Round The Mountain. It’s in beautiful Saranac Lake and it’s unique in that the start and end are pretty close to each other but it’s not an out and back race and you never repeat any part of it.

The excuses

This is usually my first race and it’s a good chance to assess where I stand in my fitness and training levels. This year I knew it wouldn’t be good. December was mostly a write off because I was too depressed to train, then I had the five week cold from hell, then I got three weeks of trying to build up a bit of endurance, and then I got whooping cough and wasn’t able to exercise for another couple of weeks. Plus I’m extremely fat. So I kept telling myself this was just training for later in the year, and to not worry too much about results. That easy to tell yourself when the race is a week away, not so easy when you’re lined up on the starting line.

For the last couple of years, I’ve beaten both Pete Gugel and Roger Gocking. I knew from joint practice that I was probably not going to beat Pete this year. But I really didn’t know where I stood against Roger. He’s a tough old bird and even though he’s 74 years old he doesn’t seem to be getting much slower year on year. I retained some hope I could beat him.

The Recon

The weather forecasts had been extremely variable, and so I’d brought all manner of paddling clothes, from dry suit to dri-fit and everything in between. On Friday, Jim, Roger and I had reconned the last 10 kilometers of the course, and Jim and I wore dry suits because we weren’t moving very fast and it really makes it more comfortable when you have to step into the water to launch or get out. The water was about as high as last year, but the river seemed to be flowing faster. If I’d been fit, this would have been a good year to set a PR. The is a “sneak” not too far after the portage that seemed narrower than last year, and there were lurking rocks and stumps everywhere. I convinced myself that maybe this year I should take the long way round instead of risking it. There was also a second “sneak” that was much bigger and more open looking, but there was a bunch of suck water with lurking stumps both in it and for a few hundred meters past it. I didn’t see much point avoiding it though, because the alternate was a long way around.

The other fact that we discovered in the recon is that the parking at the finish was almost non-existent because they’re building a massive structure for an EPA superfund cleanup from some coal processing plant a hundred years ago.

The dressing dilemma

When I went to bed on Friday night, Accuweather’s hourly forecast was saying that 11am (start time) was going to be 50F, so I was mentally planning for Vaikobi V-Cold bottoms and V-Cold Storm top. But when I got up Saturday morning, they’d changed that to 34F at start time, rising to 40F by finish time. So I got dressed in my dry suit but brought my v-cold pants and storm top with me just in case it warmed up. I was going to wait until I did my warm up paddle to make the decision on pogies or not.

I dropped my car at the finish and was waiting for Jim to pick me up to drive me to the start, and I was getting very toasty in my dry suit. I checked the weather again, and they’d only gone and changed it back to saying 50F at start time, rising to 53F by finish time. So I took off my dry suit, and put my Viakobi gear over the polypropylene underwear and t-shirt I’d been wearing under my dry suit. After half an hour and preparing, registering and socializing, I decided to remove the t-shirt, and soon after removed the polypropylene top as well. If I’d had my regular v-cold top in the car, I probably would have switched from the storm top to it as well, because it was already in the mid 50s.

Also, in every previous year it’s been flat calm when we’ve been registering and preparing, but then 10 minutes before race time the wind has sprung up and started whipping up waves in our face. This year it remained perfectly flat calm. It was eerie. The only bad part of all this was that when I took off the dry suit, I hadn’t transferred my car keys from the dry suit to something on my person, so all my pre-positioned dry clothes and a sandwich in my car at the finish weren’t going to do me any good. This fact wouldn’t occur to me until I saw the finish line and started my “sprint”.

The start

So this year Brian had changed the composition of the waves again. Touring class kayaks started in the second wave with unlimited, which meant there would be an opportunity to mix it up with Eric Young and a Roger. Some of the C-2 and C-4 classes would start with us as well, giving some good drafting opportunities for those that could take advantage of them. There were a few people in unlimited kayak I didn’t know, including a young kid in a V10 Sport who said he’d done C-4 last year, and a guy in a Think Surfski with “Boaty McBoatface II” on the bow. Matt Skeels wouldn’t be paddling because he was trying out a timing chip system and was going to be busy at the finish.

As expected, Jim Mallory and Royal jumped away from the start line and soon became irrelevant to any future consideration. The other kayaks pulled away from the canoes pretty quickly, led by Boaty with Eric on his stern. Initially I tried to get on Eric’s wake but I soon ceded it to Pete. Trying to ride Pete’s side wake, I discovered he was lifting whole lap-fulls of water with every stroke and I was getting soaked with freezing cold water, so I dropped in behind him. By now some of the c-2s were waking up and pulling up close, and when after a few minutes I lost Pete’s wake I tried to get on one of them (after first checking that there wasn’t another c-2 trying for his wake – my personal rule of out-of-class drafting is never get in the way of in-class drafting). I didn’t stay with them very long either, and my lungs were burning with that “you dummy, you went out too hard” feeling, rather than the “ok, settle into your rhythm you’re good for another 10 miles of this” like I’d felt the last couple of years.

Up ahead, I could see that Eric had taken a commanding lead on the other kayaks and might have hooked up with the fastest C-2. Pete and Boaty looked like they were either battling head to head or cooperating with each other, and were putting distance on me with every stroke.

I was no longer on anybody’s wake, and I could see the conga line was all heading to the left of the safety boat at the second island, but I could see Jim and Royal up ahead and a straight line to them went between the safely boat and the island. Nobody had said anything in the pre-race meeting about having to go a specific way around safety boats (or maybe they had and I missed it) so I headed for the straight line. But when I got close the guy in the safety boat was making emphatic gestures indicating that I must paddle to the left of him, so I had to veer back over to the main line of boats. It was around this time I heard Roger’s unmistakable wheezing and realized he was on my wake. The guy on the boat was reading out numbers and I heard his number which confirmed it.

The river

A few years ago, I’d been on Rogers wake at this point, and somewhere between the second island and the river mouth I’d made my move and blasted past him. Well, this year he returned the favor. I tried to keep up with him but my lungs were burning and I could feel my certainty of finishing slipping away, so I let him go. But not before following him through a dangerous little sneak that I hadn’t had a chance to recon this year and basically had to trust it was the same as it was last year. A bit of a risky move considering his boat is more Bondo than Kevlar, and mine is beautiful and fragile. It mostly worked except I had to slow down a tad through it and somebody slammed into me. Not sure who it was, maybe a c-4 and maybe the kid in the V10 Sport, both of whom I saw soon after.

Going under the bridge, I could see Kim and Tracey and a few other people, but missed Vicki’s unmistakable cheers. Oh well, probably just as well considering how much I pain I was in. With an out there I just might have taken it.

Soon after the bridge there is a sharp left turn onto the lake, and I was coming up on the left of a guy in a Placid Works canoe who was determined to get as far left as he could. He very nearly squeezed me out, and just as I was coming through on his left a C-4 came by on his right and called out “passing on your right” like they wanted him to move further left or something.

The guy in the bow of the C-4 addressed me by name, but I can’t quite be sure who he was. I probably have met him, but I was working too close to my limit to spare the brain cycles. I did attempt to move over a bit to get on their side wake. The woman who was in second position on the C-4 kept up an absolutely incessant stream of chatter the entire time I was within ear shot. I couldn’t believe she had enough breath for it, since I was gasping. But as well as what seemed like general chit-chat, she was also giving advice to the young kid in the V-10 Sport who was now on my stern wake. I don’t know if he’d been the one who bumped me at that sneak or how long he’d been there. I think I’d glimpsed him trying to get on that C-2 wake I tried for early on, but hadn’t seen him since up until now.

I stayed on the C-4s side wake for a while, but I was getting a decent push in the river and was starting to pull away (and starting to catch Roger). The final straw came when there was an overhanging tree – I knew from the recon (and from last year) that there were two choices here – you could go outside of the buoy marking the channel, or you could go under the overhanging tree, but there was a gigantic rock just below the water in between. I headed under the tree, and I guess they decided to in between – I heard a shouted warning and some quick braking or steering moves over my shoulder and that’s the last I saw of them.

The portage

I came into the portage having nearly caught Roger. I got out of my boat almost exactly even with him and followed him up the hill. The kid was a few seconds behind me. I could tell he probably wanted past me but there was no way I was going to give a gift like that to somebody in an unlimited kayak. Roger is a better runner/walker than me and got to the water a few seconds ahead, but elected not to use the dock. I used the dock as I’d practiced the day before and pulled away from the dock with nobody around me. I put in a big effort to try and capitalize on this advantage, electing for a short cut through some suck water rather than a longer route in deeper water, hoping to use my strength instead of my pathetic aerobic capacity. Pete and Boaty were still visible up ahead, and it looked like Pete might be tucked into his stern wake.

Sneaky sneaky

Approaching the very narrow sneak, I could hear Roger wheezing behind me and knew he was going to pass me soon. I’d initially planned to avoid this sneak but figured that with it being so narrow that he couldn’t pass me and he might slow down to get through, so it might buy me some time. I think that strategy might have worked, except I headed for the first bay instead of the second bay for the second sneak, and lost a few seconds. Roger was now just a hair in front of me, but he now used his position of control to force me off the line I wanted through this area of stumps and suck water. I could see Pete and Boaty ahead and to the right, but Roger kept forcing me left.

I put on a supreme effort and got my bow a few inches ahead of his so I could force us more to the right, but the effort cost me too much and Roger surged ahead. I no longer had to worry about his bizarre lines, but I also wasn’t going to finish with him. Jim was out there warming down and told me “500 meters, give it everything you’ve got”, but I didn’t have anything left. It was also at this moment, when I should have been sprinting my guts out that I suddenly realized I didn’t have my car key. I guess I’d been thinking of those warm dry clothes and that sandwich in the car, and then suddenly realized I couldn’t have them.

Aftermath

The kid finished not too far behind me. If he’d been a little more capable getting back in the water after the portage, he probably would have had me. And that’s why I practice portages before this race. And why I’m glad I probably won’t have to practice them again until the St Regis race.

After the race, I took my gopros off the boat and off my head. The one on the boat had still been recoding, but the one on my head was off. Oh oh. In the past it has spontaneously turned off but I’ve heard the beeps and started it again. This time I hadn’t heard any beeps and so I had no idea what it had recorded to. Worse yet, when I tried to turn it on again, it said “SD Card Full”. That’s worrisome – did I forget to delete the last video I shot on it? I think last time I used the GoPro app to download the videos, and it has a bad habit of not deleting stuff when it told you it deleted it. (No worries though – I eventually got the SD card into my computer and it appears that it shut off just as I was getting out of the boat after the finish)

After wandering around, socializing and relaxing, I got a ride back to the start with Rogers neighbor Irene. I got my car key out of Jim’s van and for some reason I grabbed my dry suit but not my paddle bag. I had figured that Jim would bring his van either to the finish or to Doug’s house for the cookout afterwards and I could retrieve it then. Turns out neither of those things happened – he came to the cookout with Roger in Roger’s car. Which makes perfect sense since he was staying with Roger but I didn’t think of that at the time.

Anyway, back at the finish with my car key, I was able to use my pop up changing tent and change into my dry clothes. And eat my sandwich. Turns out that when I packed to come here I did a real good job of considering every possible paddling conditions, but I didn’t do a very good job of remembering adequately warm after-paddle clothes. So I didn’t even had a dry t-shirt to change in to and had to wear just my fleece up top with nothing under it.

At the awards, I was the only BayCreek current, former or honorary member who didn’t get a plaque. Boaty and Pete are both over 50 so snapped up the 2nd and 3rd place in the unlimited geezer category. Again, I had to remind myself this was just a training/social exercise, and I wasn’t expecting to be competitive. But those plans never seem to work out that way, do they?

After we got back to Doug’s, I wanted to have a preliminary look at my GoPro video to see how it turned out. And I had major panic because I couldn’t find my GoPro Hero 5 Black, my fanciest and most expensive camera. I tore apart my car and my suitcase and couldn’t find it. I texted everybody I knew at the race and put out on Facebook hoping somebody had seen it. I tried to reach Jim back at Rogers to see if I’d left it in his van or dropped it in Irene’s truck when she’d given me a ride back to the start, but he was busy helping Roger with his broken garage door and didn’t see the text.

Long story short, after the cookout he checked my paddle bag and it was safely tucked in there. I guess I did it without thinking and promptly forgot I’d done it. Panic over.

I can’t wait to see if the video from it came out well. The other video from the camera on my head looks great, but the mount on the front of my boat has had a few knocks and it looked like it was moving around a bit when I was paddling so it might be too unsteady to use.