May 22, 2007
My first solo paddle.
The sun was out but so was the wind. I was anxious to get that boat in the water so I drove down to the Government dock to check on the waves. The waves didn’t seem too bad so I headed back home to load of the kayak and all the gear.
Once I was finally ready to go, I drove out of town towards the Fenez’s place who live on Thunder Lake. They are both teachers so I knew that they where both at work on this Tuesday morning. Parking in their driveway, I unloaded the boat and gear and carried to the beach. I was smart enough to remember to wear shorts but stupid enough to forget a towel – or eat breakfast/lunch.
I removed my (steel toe) running shoes and my pants (swimsuit underneath of course), put on a pair of water shoes and steeled my nerves for my first (solo?) paddle. Placing the boat into the water, I carefully got into the kayak without falling into the water. I was pretty happy about that part. I may not have being graceful, but I was dry.
The winds where not too strong but the surface of the lake wasn’t exactly smooth as glass. I headed towards an island with the waves breaking over the bow and occasionally spraying me. The water was cool so it felt pretty good to get the occasional spray in the face. I had to paddle fairly hard to make any headway and although it was tough going, I rather enjoyed it. As far as I could tell there was only one other (fishing) boat on the lake at this time.
I pretty much pointed the bow into the wind to hopefully make it easier for me when the waves did hit the boat – keeping the bow straight into the wind and waves I wasn’t as concerned about a wave hitting me broadside and possible causing me to loose my balance and tipping me over. I wanted to get used to the movement of the kayak
I considered paddling over to Aaron Park but I wasn’t 100% sure as to it’s location and I also didn’t want to go out into the middle of the lake with that wind. I stopped just off shore from the island out of the wind for a short rest and to take a drink of water that I remembered to pack with me and then I was off paddling into the wind again.
Paddling out to a point, I decided that maybe I’ve gone far and long enough that maybe I should think about heading back. Before I turned around I thought about turning on my GPS that I forgot to strap to my leg (or turn on). I couldn’t find it with out causing the boat to get too rocky while looking for it so I thought it would be best to retrieve it once I returned. Assuming that I had actually put it into the boat in the first place.
I had purchased a replacement strap that I placed some Velcro on to allow me to attach my GPS to it, allowing me to strap it to my leg so it was within reach if I needed it. I would also be placed where I could see the screen easily, but as mentioned – I forgot to strap it to my leg when I first started out so I’m not even sure this set up will even work.
On my way back to Jackie’s beach, the wind was strong enough that I really didn’t need to paddle. I could utilize the rudder easily enough and use my paddle as a sort of a sail to move the boat. This was slow going, however, so I paddled as well. With the wind at my back, me paddling, and the waves coming up from behind me it was pretty fun going. It almost felt like I was surfing or something when bigger waves came up from behind.
For this first trip, I was only out for an hour but the first 40 minutes or so (when I was paddling into the wind), it was hard going – a good workout. My shoulders should be fairly sore tomorrow!
I was on my own so I wasn’t in any hurry to keep up with anyone nor did I have anything to prove to anyone so I went at my own pace on my way out, and on the way back. Since I was going at my own pace, I found that I quite enjoyed my first outing in a kayak, even if I was only out for an hour. I hope that the next time I go out for a paddle, the wind is a little calmer but because I did go out in windy conditions, I feel more confident in the fact I was able to control the boat from flipping over when the larger waves did hit.
May 23, 2007
Looking out the window this morning it looked like it was going to be a nice day as far as the winds where concerned so I packed my gear and strapped down the kayak and heading for Thunder Lake again.
The lake was quite calm, not mirror flat but pretty close to it. It looked like I was going to have a nice paddle today. I unloaded all the gear and the boat – I even remembered to bring the GPS and a towel this time. I started out in the same direction I went yesterday. The strap for the GPS that I rigged up was a bit of a pain to use so I just placed the GPS underneath the shock cord on the deck. (see map below for path taken)
It was a little hard to read without grabbing it but maybe next time I get the chance I’ll figure out how to use the strap better. I wanted the gps on my thigh so it was nice and close and easy to read at a glance. Where I placed it on the deck, it's not too far away that I can't grab it if I needed to, but when it is sitting on the deck it's hard to easily see the screen which defeats the purpose of having it there in the first place. So as I mentioned, maybe next time I will figure out a way to place it on my thigh as originally intended.
It was definitely easier today with no wind blowing against me. Using the GPS I figured that yesterday I paddled about 2 miles round trip. Today I wanted to go further and get a good workout. My left arm was a little sore today but after awhile I barely noticed.
I did get a bit of a blister on my thumb of my right hand so it may be a little sore until it heals over. I will just have to adjust the way I hold the paddle in that hand until it’s healed. It didn’t slow me down much though.
I traveled more or less in a southerly heading. I rounded the island and continued past where I turned back yesterday seeing even more scenery that I’ve never seen before. I also saw that I was the only person on the lake! I didn’t follow the shoreline too closely so at the south end of the lake I cut off a little bit of the lake when I decided to head across towards Aaron Park. Yesterday I was not able to really tell where I was but since I had traveled further today I was able to see the small beach of Aaron Park.
I noticed an ominous cloud southwest of me so I thought that maybe I should cut the trip short today. I had planned on circumnavigating the entire lake but judging by that cloud I might have to go back early. I had checked the weather before leaving the house but all the bad stuff was around the Fort Frances area.
When I was on the opposite side of the lake from Jackie’s (where I started from), the wind kicked up creating large waves. Instead of going back around, or continuing and keeping close to shore, I decided to cut straight across the lake to get back to Jackie’s beach as fast as I could. Using the GPS I noticed I got up to a top speed of 5.8 mph! It appeared my regular speed averaged around 3.2 mph so I guess that wind at my back helped. Going straight across the lake, the waves and wind where at my back, where as if I went back around the way I came the wind and waves would hit me broadside.
When I was in the middle of the lake, the waves where really big but I was not concerned – the boat was still stable enough where I wasn’t worried about flipping over. I paddled pretty hard thought to cut down the time it would take to get back and I could sure feel it in my shoulders so I would have to say I got a bit of a workout.
According to the GPS I traveled 4.96 miles so I assume that if I ever get enough time to go around the entire lake, it would be a ten mile round trip. It took me an hour and a half this trip which is only about 30 minutes longer than yesterday but I traveled much further. I also noticed I didn’t get as tired today. I had remembered to grab something to eat (McDonalds drive thru) before heading out where as yesterday I didn’t have anything to eat before going. Not paddling into the wind might have helped too.