Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ongoing Outfitting, and Stuff

I finally decided to install the hear hatch. After putting it in, I realized what a convenience it would have been when I went camping. In any case, lack of a Rear Hatch might have been a negative selling point.
I also decided that I wouldn't use foam bulkheads on the next build, so that gave me some 3" minicell to play with. I bought an angle grinder & carved this out. I  tried it for about 1/2 hour, and it didn't seem "right", so I whittled it down some more, and it still doesn't seem great. 
When I tried Jay's Outer Island, it had a custom-molded fiberglass seat. Absolutely  no padding, but the most comfortable seat I'd yet sat in. I'm going to try that next.

I Tried making a mold of my butt in cement. 1st attempt was not auspicious, because I (stupidly) got concrete instead of cement. I used a great deal of Plaster of Paris to try & smooth it out. Then I tried again with mortar , making the mix looser & wetter than everyone recommends. That one seemed more like a "mold".
I also did a little more whittling on the foam seat, and gave it a one-hour trial today. It was better than I thought-didn't feel nice and cushy, but after 2 half-hour paddles, no numb legs!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thimbles Again

I decided to paddle around The Thimbles yesterday. Being a Sunday, I was a little worried about the limited parking at the Town Dock. I did find a space within "portage" distance of the launching area.
I saw two strip-built kayaks waiting to be launched, and asked their owners a few questions. The turned out to be Outer Islands. I had been considering this design for my next build. I like the name-a kayak not named after a bird, or a body of water, and with Local Interest. When I shot a few technical questions, one guy said "why not ask the designer?", and there he was-Jay Babina! Talk about luck! What are the chances of running into the designer of the kayak you're considering building, on a random day, all 1/2 mile from the actual island the design is named after?
He suggested that we paddle together, which was fun. We talked a lot about designs. You can get so much good information from someone who is friendly, and isn't trying to sell something. For example, when I mentioned that I didn't like the Night Heron, he said, "Oh, everybody hates it. Its a mistake". 
 Jay in his Outer Island. A great looking Greenland-style boat.

We stopped at Outer Thimble island, which was "open" for visitors, and he let me test-paddle his OI. A great boat. It has a small feet-first-entry type cockpit, which I was no longer used to, and my knees were braced firmly against the rather low deck. Jay says that the deck can be raised, and I can enlarge the cockpit if I want to. I thought my SW tracked well, but this thing seemed to want to stay on course. Comfortable stability, and despite reviews not hard to turn, if you know how. Jay also helped me solve my  quandary about leg discomfort. His OI's seat was the "tractor" style, molded of fiberglass, with no padding, and it was considerably more comfortable than mine. So, I'm starting to believe the "its not the padding, its the shape" School Of Thought. 
Interesting to paddle with these guys. The two in OI's both had Greenland paddles, and seemed to be expending very little energy to set a pace which I had to work a little to keep up with.
What a lucky day!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Urban Paddling

Went to a CLC demo on the Hudson River in Yonkers yesterday. A hot day for driving. Drove through "interesting" neighborhoods to get to the canoe club, which was directly across the street from the City Jail, and then had trouble parking. It seems that the more "urban" the location,the more stingily apportioned any scrap of shoreline is. The club claimed  a tiny beach of about 10 yards, and a few rocks.
It was crowded, and the space allowed for paddling was limited, so when I tried a Petrel and a Hi-Deck Night Heron, I didn't discover much. There was no room to get up to "sprint" pace. A man in a kayak bellowed directives: "Night Heron! Bear away from those rocks! Paddle on the right!", etc. Urban.
I stayed with the "urban" theme today, and tried the boat ramp under the Gold Star Bridge. Pretty average, as boat ramps go. Up into the harbor, against the wind, surprisingly rough, back downwind for some surfing. I still haven't perfected that art-it seem that the trick is to achieve the perfect "speed per wave".
I was somewhat disappointed with the 'yaks I tried yesterday. The NH felt very wobbly indeed, and while the Petrel was better, it was almost a little too "responsive". I may have to look farther for my next build.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Housatonic Lover's Leap

I decided to repeat last year's Housatonic trip today, despite the heat. Interesting how much a waterway can change in one year. The water level seemed low, due to drought, and there either was, or I noticed, much more weed and algae.
The stretch of flat water between Bull's Bridge and Kent School is quiet. Few waterfront residences, and I counted only three motorboats  on the shore-it must seem like there is "nowhere to go" in a motorboat.

I thought I saw a tree stump that looked like a deer's ass, but it turned out to be a deer's ass. This one held the "headlights" pose for so long, I almost thought it was fake:

I beached near this bridge, and walked a couple of blocks to a store, and bought a beverage.

I think I must have been in better shape than last year, because the trip seemed easier & shorter than last year.  Really hot, though. I resisted the urge to jump in several times, which is good, since the water was not very cool, and I'd only have gotten dirty.

On the way up, I had noticed a sign for "Lover's Leap State Park". I had also noticed it on the map, while checking out Lake Lillinoah. Funky little place!

 A nice iron bridge, which spans a gorge at the very head of the lake. 
 View from the bridge

The park has hiking trails (uphill in the heat, aagh!),one of which leads to this view:

 And others lead to architectural oddities: 

A most peculiar structure. Its split in half by a wall, and is held together by cables. It has upper & lower levels, connected by a little window. They must have run out of brick on the top.

Almost forgot to mention The Rocky River Hydroelectric plant. I had seen this place before, but only found it interesting after reading the history of Candlewood Lake. The Plant itself just looks like a typical Hydro Plant, so no photo, but you gotta see this pipe:
Thirteen feet wide. It filled 75% of Candlewood Lake, which lies right over the hill. It has a burly, turn-of-the-century-boilerplate look to it, all black & riveted, with a Diver Dan porthole.