Monday, March 28, 2011

Breaking Ice

On Monday it had warmed again to the mid-40's, so after work I took the canoe out to Geisel creek for another try at making it down to Dunes Lake.  The snow had melted where I put-in on Saturday.  I ran into several patches where the creek was still froze for 50 or 60 feet, so I took a run at it, slideing the canoe upon the ice. Pushing my way across, I sometimes broke through. 

I wondered how well the varnish would hold up to being scraped  and crunched by the ice.  It sure made a lot of noise and sounded destructive.  I know from kayaking in brashe ice that it will take a toll on the hull,s fiberglass if you ram it too hard.  After about 45 minutes the last turn of the creek before Dunes Lake was in sight and I could hear red wing blackbirds singing and the crackly, rasping sound of Sand Hill Cranes.  Two Osprey were eating the remains of a half frozen fish out of the lake's ice as I came into view.

There was an open stretch, free of ice, so I let the wind blow us down the lake a ways, then just sat and enjoyed the sounds of spring.

I arrived back at the truck about dusk, feeling refreshed from being out On The Water.

Little did I know that two days later we would have the largest snowfall in 122 years and I would spend 3 hours shoveling snow.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Geisel Creek

The temperature has been above freezing for the past week. I was hoping to get out on some water if the weather held. Most of the Lake Michigan shore line is now clear of ice, but I would like to find some ICE to play in…so I’ll look around this week for a good shoreline with "icebergs" and if the time and weather cooperate I’ll get out the years past, I have been lucky to find the right spot.
Icebergs from years past

The new 11.5’ canoe that was finished in January has been anxious to touch the water.

I loaded her on the truck and drove over to Geisel Creek, hoping it was free enough to launch.

Snow was on the banks, but the creek was clear enough to paddle. It was a little tricky finding a stable place along shore to jump in the boat…snow and glass make for a slippery surface…, but I managed to fall into the canoe while it was stabilized by a paddle jammed into the snow bank. It is always a thrill trying a new boat. This canoe is a shortened version of David Hazen’s 16’Abanaki…It is slightly narrower, more asymmetrical…the widest area is aft of the canoe’s mid-point, has some hollow In the entry and the forward 2 feet has about a 1.5 inch rise in the hull to let the bow slip around. No keel... It is very sensitive to how it balances fore and aft. Too much wt forward and it get squirrelly and is difficulty to paddle straight…place your wt just aft and she settles down into a nice controllable craft. It is hard to judge a boat being good or bad…I just adapt to the boat's idiosyncrasies and use it. I have a 16‘ canoe similar to this boat.  The first thing I notice in this shortened version is how much easier it slips through the water…it doesn’t have the top speed of a longer boat, but you don’t need the speed just to plunk around in a small creek like this, short is great…light (30lbs) and easy to propel.  Each boat has a purpose.

There was skim ICE here and there, so we punched our way through and headed downstream about a mile before the ICE was solid. The sounds of Great Blue Herons and Sand Hill Cranes could be heard in the distance…they nest back in the wetlands here…their tracks were all over the ICE. Back at the launch, I was concerned about getting out, snow was everywhere along shore and I couldn’t run the boat up anywhere as the shore was too steep…I would just slide back into the water faster than I pushed up onto the snow. I went under the roadway, there was a clear area to the left, I made note of that and headed up the creek a ways, passing alongside a farm until deadfalls blocked the path.
I pulled out on the grassy bank near the road and took a few photos. 

November was the last time I was on the water, these winters seem longer and darker the older I get.
Spring is great! Once on a warm spring day I went canoeing and x-country skiing…just enjoying the sun. Today, Canoeing and hiking at Whitefish Dunes sounds like a good deal …not much sun, but a balmy 40.

So I finished the afternoon with a hike at the Dunes

Two weeks ago there was ice on the shores of Whitefish Dunes State Park.
It now looks like it is gone...but it is only hidden beneath the sands.
As it melts, rivelets form and create sinkholes, canyons and cliffs.

Shoreside Cliffs
Dried up Canyon

In three months the sand will be covered with beachgoers 
Just to the North of Whitefish Dunes is Cave Point County Park.

A good place to explore by Kayak

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Leaving Bay Ship

The first boat left Bay Ship Building Inc on March 10, heading North into the Bay of Green Bay, being lead by a Selvik Tug.
Anderson and Mary E. Hannah
The Arthur Anderson came out of the graving dock and was being moved into a slip as the Tug Jimmy L Selvik circled around cutting ICE. The Anderson was the last boat to speak to the Edmund Fitzgerald before she went down on Lake Superior in 1975
Selvik Tug Jimmy L moving fast in ICE
Arthur Anderson and three Selvik Tugs

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Icebreaking…means spring is on the way.

Icebreaking operations have started on the Northern end of Green Bay/Lake Michigan
From Rock Island Passage North to the iron ore docks in Escanaba, Mich.
Ice Coverage of the Great Lakes in Feb

Most years the ships start leaving town in mid-March…it just depends on the economy and the need for iron ore/coal or limestone
The 1000' Edwin Gott was repowered this winter and the new engines are on schedule to be fired up this week.
Today was sunny and warm and I didn't want to heat up the shop until after I picked up my daughter who was baby sitting.  I haven't been over to the Lake for a while, so I thought I’d go up to Whitefish Dunes State Park and take a look at the Lakeshore to see how much shore ice had built up.
Swimming?...let's go!
There wasn’t nearly as much ice as I expected…it would be easy to launch a kayak in several places…maybe I should mount the rack on the van…

I walked the shore south for a mile, and then headed back on the inland trail.
From a rise I could see a tug/barge combination out in Lake Michigan. It must have been on the other side of the Lake, which is about 65 miles across here.
As I walked down the dune, the tug disappeared until only the mast was left.

Whistler and ICE

After the big melt a few weeks ago…we had gone 42 days with the temperature below 32 degrees…the longest cold spell since 1977. The snow was gone, grass was showing everywhere and much of the ICE was clear of snow.

Waiting for the snow to clear off the ice

Whistler had been set up waiting for a melt since early January. Saturday morning I had gone for a walk and heard the ghhrrring of large runners on ICE…I went over to the North side of Sunset Park and the iceboats were out. Not much wind, probably in the low teens, but enough to make them fly once they started. I didn’t see Whistler in the morning, but she came out later in the afternoon.

Sunday afternoon, a storm blew in with winds in the high 40’s…the ice boaters were out until the snow was so heavy they couldn’t glide anymore.
Gus the bus...LAMA's Lair
Lama Wama Ice Yacht Squadron

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Trap Skiff-Hanging the Garboard

On any boat…The Garboard Plank is the first plank on either side of the keel.

I had temporarily hung the garboard plank last March. …then I was interrupted by a vacation to Kentucky and some medical issues…Summer arrived and it was time to be here I am a year later! I looked over the work, did some adjustments, and decided where to scarf the plank. A Scarf is one way to join two pieces of wood together…it is a tapered joint which can be seamless and as strong as one piece of wood. If I use a 12 to 1 scarf ratio, then each scarf in the 9mm thick wood is approx. 6 inches long. I know there is always a debate about how long of a scarf to use…the longer the scarf, the greater the overlap and the more surface area to glue the lap together. A longer scarf allows the joint to have bending qualities more like the rest of the plank…the glue in the scarf make it stiffer than the unscarfed wood, so a short scarf tends to create a “hard” spot in the plank…if you would let the plank naturally hang down while sighing along its edge, look close and you would see where the scarf is…the shorter the overlap, the more noticeable the scarfed area is. It doesn’t bend as smoothly as the rest of the plank. I tried to take into account where on the hull the scarfs will be by examining where the most twist in the Garboard plank is…or where the planking run was flatter…is the area somewhat flat or is the plank under a lot of tension, such as when near the bow or stern. The Garboard on a Trap Skiff twists nearly 90˚ at each end…a lot of pressure there.

So I had a choice of either placing a scarf near the bow or stern where the plank was twisting or placing two scarfs amidships…making a scarf is not a big deal, so I chose two scarfs, about 3’ apart, where the hull is flatter.