Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's a Chilly Rain

So I’m sitting here at the pc reviewing my summer…looking at photos of spending time in Nova Scotia. Trying to review in my mind and with pictures, of where I paddled, sailed and canoed…what better way to spend a rainy morning on the eve of Fall?

I’m looking at photos and making notes, as I didn’t write down every place I paddled each time, but so far the count is; 40 trips ON THE WATER…none in the water, but floating with some type of boat. Most were in a Kayak, some canoeing in the spring, 5 sails in the Blue Jay and 2 sails on a Compact 19.

Exploring the Door

September 20th To the MO Bridge
September 10th Detroit Island
September 9th North Bay
September 7th Chambers Island
September 2nd Bay View Bridge to Ship Canal
Aug 28th Sail Peanut to Sturgeon Bay Quarry

Exploring Nova Scotia
Aug 9th Kayak Toddy Pond, ME
Aug 5th Kayak McNutts Island, NS
Aug 4th Kayak Shelburne Harbor, NS
Aug 1st Kayak Blue Rocks, NS
July 31st Kayak Hubbard’s Harbor, NS
July 31st Kayak Lower Prospect, NS
July 29th Kayak Tancook Islands, NS
July 27th Kayak Graves Island, NS
July 25th Kayak Meisners Beach, NS

Around the Door

July 11th Sail Peanut to Quarry
July 9th Sail to Green Island
July 7th Kayak to the Sturgeon BayYacht Harbor
July 3rd Mag and Dad sail around Dunlap’s Reef
July 3rd Kayak to White Fish Dunes
July 1st Sail in Sawyer Harbor
June 30 Kayak Sawyer Harbor
June 28th Kayak to Strawberry Islands
June 26th Kayak, Tennison Bay to Horseshoe Island and Eagle Bluff
June 25th Sail Sawyer Harbor
June 22nd Kayak to Big Creek from Sunset park
June 19th Sail Sawyer Harbor
June 18th Kayak in Sturgeon Bay
June 16th Kayak in Sturgeon Bay
June 14 Sail in Sturgeon Bay
June 13th Kayak in Sturgeon Bay
June 11th Kayak up Bay Shore Drive
June 9th Kayak in Sturgeon Bay
May 30th Kayak SB
May 25th Kayak Sturgeon Bay
May 20th Canoe Europe Lake
May 12th Geisel Creek Canoe
April 12th Geisel Creek-Canoe
April 7th Geisel Creek-Canoe
March 21st Geisel Creek-Canoe

It was better year than I thought…and it is not over.
Door County, WI is a wonderful place to live.

Maybe as the days become cooler, I’ll share some trips…I was too busy playing all summer to sit inside on a computer.

I moved up here in 1976 from the Chicago area to Play Outside. Too stuffy and crowded down there. I Worked OUTSIDE in the shipyards as a Ship-fitter until 1991. That was Dirty, Rough, Dangerous, Demanding, Fun, Exciting. I learned a lot there about problem solving as everything had to be custom fit. CAD was in its infancy and not that accurate…Working there was great in the fact that you received an assignment from the supervisor, if you did well, you were left alone and just did the job, the less questions you asked the boss, the more he liked it…just do the job and get another one. So that was great, I had a lot of freedom, it was just a dirty, dangerous, place…if you didn’t pay attention you’d get hurt. Burnt, hit by some piece of metal, grinding dust and steel shavings in the eyes, having to dodge have a pad eye you were pulling on with a jack because your partner didn't put enough weld on it, fall into a hole, cut by a tool. Not getting hurt was a combination of working smart and just staying lucky.  So now this story is wandering away from the water, but not far, the shipyard is ON THE WATER. I’m wandering because last week I saw a couple friends, at one time or another we were partnered in the shipyard…we were telling stories, practicing for the old man’s “Liars Bench”…that in ten years we’ll be on…sitting downtown, reminiscing, exaggerating our exciting personal histories.

Just to illustrate some of the danger is a story Rick told. There were several old tankers that plied the Great Lakes, the Amoco Indiana and the Amoco Illinois. I had a scare on the Illinois while walking in a dark passageway (made more dark as I had just been out in the bright sun)…I stepped into the passageway and my right leg found an open manhole that led to one of the water ballast tanks…it scared the *%& out of me as I dropped to my crotch when the one leg went down, wondering how far I was going! I can still remember that feeling.  There were a few scrapes down my leg from the metal studs the cover was bolted down to.  I was just little excited after that…back to work.
Anyway one of the boats was being scrapped and Rick was spending his days and weeks, burning the boat apart with a cutting torch. Day after Day…burning steel, monotonous.... All the fluids were supposed to have been drained from the piping and tanks. This day he had cut off a section of a pipe, and then went further down the pipe to cut off another length. When his flame blew into the pipe, it ignited a bubble of gasoline still inside, which exploded out the end of the pipe and in a fiery mass splashed back toward him off a steel bulkhead, covering him in burning gasoline. Rick thought he was literally going to be toast, but because everyday he was burning with a torch on lead painted steel, Rick was wearing a full face burning shield, respirator, full leathers, helmet, and gloves. That gas burned only on the surface of his leathers and melted the face shield down onto his skin, so he only received a few burns around the edge of his face…lucky. After he slapped it all out, he could not believe only his face was hot. Someone on the other side of the boat saw what happened and called the rescue squad, but Rick had already left by the time they were on the boat. Rick went down to the nurse’s office. She was preparing for a burn victim as he walked in…she told him they were getting ready for this guy who was badly burned and he would have to wait…Rick said that was me, I need some ice on my face…one lucky man he was and shortly back to work he went. That’s the only way to be…if ya worried all the time you couldn’t work there.

Enough sitting, I have to go play…the rain is stopping.

Monday, September 19, 2011

North Bay

North Bay is on the Lake Michigan side of Door County WI.

We all made it through the 1st crazy week of school with our sanity! Now what?…get outside!…Wednesday I had paddled to Chambers Island in the evening, returning to shore about dusk. Today feels like a sail…light winds, go somewhere new…so North Bay sounds good. 20 years ago I had sailed here. It was so shallow I had to pull the rudder and steer with a paddle. That incident is why I now have a kick up rudder, that when up, doesn’t hang down below the Skeg of the Blue Jay. All we need is 6 inches to launch or sail…just about what is at the ramp at the end of North Bay Road.

Left home about 3 pm with the Jay in tow. Stopped in Bailey’s Harbor to say Hi to Lucille and get a Waffle Cone of goodness at the Yum-Yum-Tree
The Weedy Shallow Launch at North Bay

After filling my belly with some sweetness I continued up County Q, to Woodcrest, to Old Stage Road, to Cty RD ZZ and on to North Bay Rd, to THE WATER.

Shallow…I had to break the trailer and let it hinge so I could gently slide the boat off. Not much wind, about 10 mph from the N, NE…but enough.
The launch from the water side
It was just the right amount of wind for some unique sailing and too shallow to lower the centerboard or the rudder. I headed off from the dock, following the shoreline west, then south and back east…During the next 2 hours I made one large circle around the perimeter of North Bay.

The wind was perfect. Light, but we still moved at 2 mph +-. I sheeted off the Main and Jib onto a broad reach, tied down the tiller and just let her go, standing up in the bow while she steered herself.

I could carve turns like a kayak by holding the mast and by leaning the boat one way or the other, she would do a gentle turn…had an hour of rudderless steering until we had to beat into the wind…the light wind, the dying wind. Across the mouth of the bay and to the edge of Lake Michigan. The soft, sandy bottom giving way to the rocky, green weed bottom near the lake’s beginning. I could have walked back and followed the line the skeg had left in the sandy white mud, back to the launch. Now we sailed past an old fisherman, wading in the shallows, and were in 10 feet of lake water beating to the North Shore toward some kayakers playing around near their home on Marshals Point. As I reached the yakkers and the North shore, the wind just about completely died. One of them paddled…ah, peddled over…he had a Hobie with its unique Mirage fin drive . We talked for awhile about the great weather and his fin drive system. I’m sure the boat and fin drive are great to fish with, but I wonder how comfortable the boat is when the wind is 20 and you are broadside to a 4 foot sea with an open boat and 50 degree water? For now, I’ll keep my enclosed, traditional sea kayak
Our Shadow in the shallow sea

I get many compliments on how pretty the lines of a Blue Jay are. Not many people recognize her type or know what a Blue Jay is when I tell them. Most know what a Lightning is, when I mention that a Blue Jay is the Lightning’s smaller sibling and designed by the same person, they see the resemblance. A Blue Jay is a training boat. Designed to carry an adult and 2 children. It was a perfect boat for us to have while the kids grew up. Launching at the nearest boat ramp, we had her loaded with beach toys and would just sail up to the beach, play on shore for a few hours and sail back. The kids could play in the sand and water and I would enjoy their company on land and sea.

The wind is Dead now. The fin powered kayak brought bad luck, no wind, so I sat on the bow, feet hanging over the side and paddled, not long…15 minutes or so and the wind was back enough to let the boat carry me home
Heading the rest of the way Home

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Unexpected Surprise

September 2, 2011

I had not paddled for almost a month…not since rounding McNutts Island in Nova Scotia while on vacation. Too busy back in my life…sent my daughter off to college the week after getting home, preparing and getting ready for the start of the new school year here and various other things that needed catching up.

Where should I go that I hadn’t been for a while? There was a chance of severe weather in the afternoon so I was looking for a simple sweet paddle. I hadn’t been to Strawberry Creek nor to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal for years.
I launched under the Bay View Bridge and headed across the Bay.

Then followed the shore to the South passing near shore side homes, going inside the lagoon at Strawberry Estates to see what interesting boats were docked there.

Another half mile and the mouth of Strawberry Creek.
The DNR has a Salmon egg collection station up Strawberry Creek.
They capture Salmon that return to spawn, gather the eggs and release fingerlings each spring to propagate the salmon population in Lake Michigan.
Further south at the canal entrance are old cribs and pilings from long ago.
Then we get to the modern steel sided lining of the canal itself.

I had gone about a mile into the canal and heard thunder in the distance…whoa...time to turn around. Heading back, I saw a critter swimming along the steel piling. At first I thought is was a common Muskrat, but it didn’t dive like they usually do when you come near…It was a gray squirrel…I have disliked squirrels ever since they chewed a hole in my daughter’s playhouse and built a nest in the attic. I had to rip out the ceiling and insulation to clear the smell….I hate squirrels…

This one was trying to claw its way up the steel lining of the canal. That plan wasn’t working, so I stretched out the paddle, let it climb onto the blade, then set the mean little beast onto the bow of my boat. Several times it ran at me hissing with bare teeth, I used the paddle as a joust to keep it at bay until I could ferry it over to the rocks on the other side where it ran off and hid without looking back…good riddance!
Attention Squirrel on Deck!
The storm front was approaching and the wind kept increasing, so I hugged the western shore until I came to the Bay View Bridge and crossed over to the launch under a sprinkling of rain.

The wind was blowing onshore and gusting into the 20’s. No lightning or thunder, so I paddled upwind, then drifted…or really flew downwind back to the dock, just steering.
Pulled up on the downwind side of the dock and managed to get out without letting the boat blow away.
Then carried it back to the truck and lashed it down…I was under the bridge, so the wind was swirling around rather than just blowing a straight line down on me.
I drove home as the rain stopped.  The wind slowed down in an hour and after downloading photos from the camera, I invited Jeff over to look at pictures from Nova Scotia.