Sunday, April 25, 2010


It was a long winter…had a monster snowstorm/Blizzard in Dec to start off the season…had five foot piles of snow on each side of the driveway! buried the Christmas décor. The snow didn’t leave until March…usually I enjoy winter, but too much shoveling!

    Back yard and shop after the snow

The Coast Guard practiced Ice Rescues in front of the house using their Air Boat, sleds and dry suits.

   Coast Guard Rescue Practice

My Buddy Russ and I carved a couple of Greenland Paddles before the years end.
 WRC Greenland Paddle on the Bench
I cleaned and organized my shop for several weeks. It is getting crowded in there with the Trap Skiff jig and materials as well as a 1950 Fleetwind Arrow that I want to rebuild.
Trap Skiff Building Jig
  1950 Fleetwind next project boat

Jeff and I worked on the Newfoundland Trap Skiff until March. We glued up the transom, stem, plank keel, mounted those on the building jig and added the bow and stern knees. Faired off the frames and keel, so the next step is to hang the Garboard planks…maybe over the summer we can continue the planking…it would be nice to have her on the water in the summer of 2011.

Newfoundland Trap Skiff building jig with transom and keel
 Rough Stem on lofting board

Back in January I was told there was some Cool Blue Ice up off Peninsula Park (Fish Creek), so the daughter and I drove up to take a look. We found some unusual clear blue Ice shoved up on shore, so we climbed/slid around a bit till the sun went down.
Ice shove off Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, WI

Mid March showed signs of spring when the first 1000’ ore carrier, the EDWIN H GOTT with the help of Selvik Tugs headed out and North through Green Bay. The CG icebreaker Mackinaw had made a run through the Bay the week before to break a track through the 3’ ice.
   The Gott from Sherwood Point 
 The Gott from Quarry Park, heading North

A few days later we had 50˚ weather and took the old C-2 down Geisel Creek. This boat is from the early 70’s, a covered white-water canoe that turns on a dime and is a great boat to practice solo boat control in…if you can paddle this in a straight line, you can control any canoe.
Geisel Creek launch on Haberli Road

The Geese, blue herons and sand hill cranes were looking for good nesting spots in the swamp and we found the bones of a few critters didn’t make it through the winter too.
Dead Skunk in the middle of the Forest?
      Reflections in the water

Took a trip to KY in late March to visit the warm weather, do some hiking and say hi to my Mountain Folk.
My Daughters with their 88 year old Great Aunt
       Breathing heavy at the Rocks

Went for one more paddle in early April, up and down Geisel creek before having surgery and being laid up for a while…probably won’t be paddling until late May.
By mid-June Geisel creek is usually too low to use.
My good canoe...built it in 2001

The Joseph L. Block which had left Sturgeon Bay in March came back to port for repairs April 23,… She damaged her bottom last Sunday near the DeTour Reef Light in the northwestern head of Lake Huron.


  1. Ahoy mate, nice start on your blog. Looking forward to the summers adventures.


  2. Great going Gerry. Love the photos and the up-date on the Block. I always hate to hear of one of the big boats saying "Ouch" and having to head back for repairs. However, it is nice that such an event does a bit to help the local economy.

  3. Delightful pictures, Gerry. The waters of the Great Lakes run through my veins. Paddling the peninsula connects us to the earth.
    Craig Charles

  4. Viewing your pictures brings on a sense of peace and connection for me. I need to be near water. Thanks!-Gretchen

  5. Spring is like pushing off into the deep after too long a time on shore. Gerry, your photos are true art on many levels and show us all where we would rather be. I am ready to push off into the deep to feel the wind and the spash. But if you think I will paddle with you again into a 25 mph wind for three and a half hours you are crazy :-)

  6. So a couple years ago I bought a kayak from a neighbor who was recently retired from the Coast Guard (I envy how young they can retire) and was moving back to Alaska. It is a Perception Vizcaya, which is currently out of production. I actually bought it because I already had one smaller boat, a Perception Sea Venture I traded with Ann Quale for, to take out boatless friends. But the SV wouldn't fit anyone over 5"10 very comfortably. I know this because I made my son Joe who is 6' 2", stuff himself into it the summer before he left for the Peace Corps and he was extremely uncomfortable. Anyway, the Coast Guard Commander was about the same height and he said he used the boat for himself, including using it to hunt ducks out of when he was stationed on Kodiak Island, Alaska. I figured, if he could stuff himself and a shotgun in the cockpit, I could invite taller friends to paddle with me plus I should be able to use the boat for fishing. So on Wednesday this week I took a half day vacation and loaded it up with all my fishing gear and drove to Sawyer Harbor. In reality I am a pretty lousy fisherman but have landed a number of fish over the years. I thought I might get lucky and pick up at least one northern or maybe a smallmouth. Well, the wind was 15 - 25 mph out of the WSW with gusts over 30. If you remember the news the day after there were a number of Wisconsin communities with wind damage with gusts over 50 mph in some counties. I decided that if I was going to anchor and cast anywhere I would have to get behind one of the islands. So that is what I did. I paddled straight out from the boat ramp and anchored off the the east side of the western island just offshore. As I predicted would happen, after an hour and a half of casting a number of artificial lures, I caught nothing. But, my anchor trolly and reel worked perfectly, and the anchor held in the wind. My deck mounted tackle box, anchor cleat, and rod holder all functioned the way I envisoned it. So it all seems to work well enough to try it again this summer when maybe I can convince a few perch or smallies to sacrifice themselves on my hook. The time went fast because it was a beautiful day despite the wind as it was over 60 degrees, bright and sunny. It was strange however to be in a kayak with that amount of wind and not to have Gerry around as usual in those conditions to suggest a death-defying paddle anywhere. Just kidding Gerry. I did see a large flock of pelicans that circled and pirouetted just over head. It was an amazing sight. The other great thing about kayak fishing is that even if you are a lousy fisherman like me, you still get to paddle a kayak if the fish won't bite.

  7. Gerry told me that I need to post more of my totally mundane paddling adventures. I don't know why, because they are totally mundane. I don't know if that is how you actually spell mundane but it seems logical so I will go with it. This program does not feature spell-check and spell-check makes us all look like a genius. This is writing like you actually are, like a woman going out without make-up. Anyway a few weekends back I noticed that the wind was coming out of the north at about 15 - 20 mph. I thought that it might be fun to sail my kayak so I loaded up the truck and drove to Kangaroo Lake. I paddled from the public launch on the SW side all the way north to the causeway. Then I raised the sail and let the wind carry me all the way to the south end of the lake. It took about 30 minutes to make the two mile trip. I was sailing about 4 mph which is at least as good as I can paddle on a good day. Hey, I'm 56 now but I do still have some good days :-) The great thing about the experience though was by the time I was about a third of the way south some of the waves began to be big enough to surf. This meant that with a slight twitch of my paddle and the consistent power from the sail I was able to easily catch many of these waves which pushed me significantly faster than the 4 mph. I don't know how many "G's" I pulled but I think that next time I may have to wear a pressure suit similar to what fighter pilots wear. I don't know if my PFD will fit over it but I'll see. When I sailed past Catholic Youth Expeditions at Bosco Point I hoped to see some of my friends there but they must have all been in the chapel praying for my safety. They are really a great group of people and they are doing wonderful work. I am very lucky to have been invited to help out during their kayaking expeditions for the last couple summers. We have spent many hours paddling together in the county. The most memorable is usually when all 12 or more of us raft up and take turns deck-walking. It is usually pretty funny, especially when it is Tommy's turn. He usually makes a mad dash out and back leaving most boats half submerged in his wake. The participants take the time to appreciate nature and encounter Christ as the expedition gracefully and artfully weaves outdoor adventure and prayer together. Last summer when we paddled to Horseshoe Island, Father Quinn Mann celebrated Mass on the cobble-stone beach. He used my over-turned kayak sitting on two stone cairns as the alter just like Pope John Paul II did (as a priest, not Pope)in the 1930's when he took college students out kayaking on a river in Poland. He was on one of those kayaking trips when he was appointed Bishop of Krakow. The Cardinal sent someone out on the river to summon him back to speak to the Cardinal. When he was asked if he would accept the position, he told him he would on one condition, that he would be allowed to go back and finish his kayaking camping trip. Don't you just love his priorities? Most of the participants in the CYE expeditions are reluctant to leave when the expedition is over. Now that wasn't mundane.


  8. Leslie and I went to Minocqua, Wisconsin for a few days in the last week of July. The rain was promised to hold off for at least a few days which I hoped would afford a quick trip to the north woods for a paddle in Northern Highland State Forest where Gerry and my paddling adventures began back in around 1974...I think? Anyway, Les and I launched at about 11:15 AM from the north Trout Lake campground beach and paddled at 245 degrees toward the number 6 canoe campsite about one mile to the west on the opposite shore. The wind was from the SW at about 8-12 mph with occasional gusts to around 15. Despite Leslie's joint problems she did quite well. I had intended to put on a tow line when we launched but she paddled nearly all the way across into the breeze before she needed the assistance. We discovered that site six had a beautiful and apparently quite popular sandy beach. After we lingered a few minutes we noticed a boat and two jet skis barreling down on the beach. We decided to leave before it got crowded. I think that even if you claimed the campsite you would have to share the beach with whomever shows up to use it. Site number 5 was my favorite, located at the mouth of a small bay off the lake and where a family of Loons welcomed and tolerated us as we passed by them. We stopped and had lunch at the site as it too was unoccupied. While we dined on our pbj's, a kayaker came by and we visited with him for a little while. He was a local who said that he paddled the lake 2-3 times a week. He also said that these campsites get very little use even in the summer. What a waste! We did check out all six sites and visited a few small islands before heading back to the truck. We paddled around 4.5 to 5 miles in total and had a great time. Leslie was a trooper even though I know she was uncomfortable at times. I kept the tow line on for the rest of the trip even though she paddled most of the time. But if she needed a little rest once in a while we were still able to keep going with the tow. I think it took the pressure off both of us and I still like towing better than paddling (and car-topping)a double. We got back around 2:30 PM after paddling about three hours. I think maybe we might try Moonlight Bay next. We don't set any speed records but at least we can paddle together. It must be love.