We're all in the same boat so let's pull together!

Posts tagged “open water rowing

Marsh Labyrinth Sculling, 101

18.2 Miles — 29.3 Kilometers

The wind was up and only going to get worse. Gary at Lake Purdy kept telling me, but I had checked and I already knew. I told him I could handle it. (Yeah, I’m so tough.)

When I got out … windy it was. I pulled out an elastic band immediately to put around my hat to keep it on. I had intended to head straight down to the Bald Eagle nest but decided to make a run for the new Marsh Labyrinth in hopes that the wind would in fact get calmer instead of worse by the time I ventured back out into the main lake.

Once I got back there, it was a sheltered paradise. As I was only out to test my leg and work on my tan (the only sunblock I ever use is sun … I’m strangely not as fair as a Scottish lass should be) I lingered in the maze amid the wildlife. I saw all three Bald Eagles there, countless herrings, ducks, geese and even chased after a surprisingly relaxed and friendly Water Moccasin lazily swimming with his head above the water and sticking his tongue out a lot. It was forked.

I took lots of pictures. I was in no hurry to leave. There are a couple of the snake … look for them.

I managed to get at least four miles out of the Marsh Labyrinth and went places no scull has gone before. Skegless sculling means being able to go over logs or almost anything. And after rowing so much in the dark, my balance in the daylight is effortless! I can pick my way through narrow passes by raising my blades high above all obstacles or pulling them inboard all the way. It has become uncanny! I can go anywhere!

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Once I got back out into the main part of the lake … it was soooooooo windy. Oh my God was it windy. Up to 20 mph winds for the next hour. I just opened my bailer and left it open and struggled against the wind to keep up the 3 miles per hour it takes to keep the water going out as I was constantly swamped with swell after swell. There were times I was rowing as hard as I could and the Speed Coach read zero miles per hour! I tried like Jesus to talk the wind into calming down. I’m not as fast as Jesus, but it eventually worked. I kept going until dark mapping the perimeter and managed to get 18.2 miles in one lap. Now I have a GPS line to follow. When I got off the water and up to my car … this time there was a sticky note on my window with the combination to unlock the gate to get out. Thanks Gary.

He knows how I am. :)


Fricken High Wind Open Fricken Water Fricken Cold Weather In the Fricken Dark Sculling, 301

39.2 Miles — 63.08 Kilometers

I got out yesterday for nearly a 40 mile row (39.2 without getting out of the boat) in MAJOR wind and open water conditions. It was a warmer sunny day, which meant I was going to go even though I knew the wind would be over 12 miles an hour for most of the day. It was the kind of day that if I were sitting on my porch overlooking the Chesapeake in Annapolis, I’d laugh if anyone suggested I go rowing. More like I would put on a wetsuit and fly a hull six feet in the air hanging from a trapeze!

The lake is open now so it’s not a gamble anymore to get in. Mr. Retired Deputy Tom Foster checked me in and we had a nice chat. He said he’d heard about the Bald Eagle but had never seen him. I gave him the link to see the Eagle Dance Video I edited last week so he could finally see him after all these years. There’s suppose to be an alligator that lives in this lake. We’ll see if I ever get a glimpse at that guy.

My usual early start (in the winter an early start means arriving when it’s getting close to 40 degrees no matter what time that is), once again turned into my usual later-than-I -wanted start. I discovered that when you think your shell might be a little slow from being a little wet inside and decide to dry it out the night before a row with a hairdryer blowing into the hatch … it might slightly melt the part of the hull it was aimed at directly. When I pulled the boat off the rack at the lake … it took some unsticking from the textured padding on the foam rollers. I then discovered the cost of my cleverness was the pattern was melted into the hull. But I’m just the kind of girl who carries around Lysol Toilet Bowel Cleaner (cleans ANYTHING off of a hull) and wet/dry sand paper. So latex gloves, some water and LTBC on some 400 removed most of the scarring and some 1500 brought it most of the way back to a sheen. It goes without saying I need to start traveling with my compounding paste. While I was at it, I had a go at the 6 foot long scratch — a souvenir from the treacherous shallow obstacle-ridden lake I had to abandon where the rowing club now resides.

I also had to bide my time to get my turn to carry my boat down the ramp as a parade of bass fishermen launched their boats. Those sweet guys always offer to help me with my boat. Non-rowers don’t intuitively know that we can carry such big long boats alone. I never accept help for good reason. It comes from experiences like letting a member of our club help me carry my boat and him dropping his end (and wrecking my other boat on a trailer). So … even letting people help who you would think know what they are doing can end badly. I rather have only myself to blame if I damage my boat, which as I mentioned above, I am perfectly capable of doing without any help.

Bob's Boathouse 2-13-11

It was 12:50 when I started out. By 1:00, about a mile into the row, I kept up my tradition and snapped this to show the water level is rising. The moment I took this picture, the wind tried to blow my hat off my head. But the water is up about ten feet from when I wrote Cold Weather Sculling 101. Before you know it, that thing may or may not be floating. Bob has some work to do on it. He’s an absolute genius, by-the-way … which means he STAYS side-tracked. I might have to get an underwater camera.

So I wrote about sculling in high wind a couple of weeks ago. That was nothing. This was serious open water stuff that makes calling that row high wind sound whiney. Every stroke yesterday was a survival moment except for a few delightful glass-water reprieves way back in the fingers of the lake.

I didn’t fiddle per say, but I spent most of my time doing things like taking my long-fingered gloves off to open my automatic bailer when the swells washed over my gunwales and swamped me, blinking funny because the wind blew my right contact up into the corner of my eye and I didn’t realize it until the drive home, removing my hat to tie back my hair again and slick it down with lake water  because the wisps of hair the wind unleashed were driving me crazy. And at one point I even had to stop and tie two little bungees together to wrap around my hat to keep my it from blowing off because there was no way to keep it on otherwise! I have never had to do that before in almost 20 years of rowing!

You might as well know about me that I am a Boy Scout and am always prepared. But don’t jump to the conclusion I carry a big purse. A true Boy Scout can fit all remedies for any eventuality in a clutch. The Quantum Field fits into a clutch too.

To say I felt great would be about as far away from expressing how wonderful I felt as it would be to say playing Heart and Soul with one finger on a piano sounded like a choir of Angels.

This is why the water levels are rising. We just had our third snowfall in a part of the country that sees a few snow flakes about every ten years.

Melting ice on Inland Lake

I’ve gotten really good at ALL STOP too. You wouldn’t believe the close calls I had. Did I mention how good I am at steering? That’s on the days you can afford to turn your head.

It was so windy (how wind was it?) that I was building my triceps pushing on the recovery. Still, having lightened my boat considerably by shaving off a few pound of my injury/hibernation winter weight gain by being disciplined in a diet of popcorn, sherbet  and chocolate, I kept up a pace of between 6 and 7 miles an hour and even stayed above 5 miles an hour on my hairpin turns through the magic of skegless sculling. My top speed was 7.9, but I think that happened one of the times I had to stop and the wind was blowing me backwards to the West while the satellite was orbiting East. Hard to say.

I borrowed some dark and a three-quarter moon for my row last night. I brought along a small Dollar Store aim-able LED book-reading light to illuminate my GPS screen without running down the GPS batteries and put a flashlight on the bow just to be seeable, but the bass boats were long gone so it was just a formality.

I anticipate that rowing 105 miles anywhere (the long-distance sculling record is, so far as I know, 104 miles), even if I can do it in less than 14 hours … is going to involve some rowing in the dark, so I best get used to it.

I came in at 39.2 miles iPod going strong … and felt like I had that much left in me, but it was starting to get too cold even for me. I actually put some sleeves on for the last 5 miles. It was 46º when I left — practically tropical.

The Moon will be full by the end of the week and the wind doesn’t look like it will exceed 15 miles an hour!

I’ll try to drop 5 pounds by eating only at IHOP for the rest of the week, get an early start and see if I can get some exercise on Thursday.


High Wind Sculling, 101

25.2 Miles — 40.55 Kilometers

It was a perfect sailing day! I could have been flying a hull on my Hobie 18 on this gorgeous faux Spring day on beautiful Inland Lake. Yesterday came out of nowhere … crystal blue sky, high 60′s … and just a little bit of wind. Don’t give it a thought.

When I checked a day or two before, it looked like the wind was going to be 9 mph or less. My internet was down yesterday morning so I took off for the lake (after another morning workshop session with my portable dock) without checking again about the wind. All I cared about was a sunny day in January that might touch 70º for a few minutes!

When I turned onto the road leading to the lake, I started to pray that I would be admitted by the presiding Deputy. I went to find him at their headquarters on the way in. It took a minute, but he got on the radio and got the thumbs up. Whew!

Then of course, the first thing I did was test out the latest version of my little red dock. One more improvement and it should be an easy install every time. Yesterday I had to pile up a ledge of rocks on the other side of the ramp to get it situated, which used up my especially early start again. But it worked perfectly.

The temperature was perfect. I got on the water smoothly starting out sleeveless and sockless, but with a zip-locked change of clothes at the ready should there be a mishap. I started rowing at 12:30 and got into my pace with a minimum of fiddling.

But gosh it was windy. It was nothing new to me except that all of my rowing in high wind with two exceptions has been in warm weather either in the summer or in South Florida where landing in the drink would not present a possible hypothermia situation. The exceptions: one head race in Oklahoma City in October 2008 where 15 mph is a light wind day and my second Marathon Rowing Championships in Louisiana in November 2008. So far … I have not capsized a single. (Ask me about capsizing the Hobie!) I want to keep it that way.

Now, to answer the question as to why I tend to square my blades late on the Catch. Wind. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had the wind catch a blade before the water did. My muscle memory for rowing is based on a lot of rowing with my blades feathered high above the chop, wakes and swells and slipping the bottom of the blade into the water at an angle impervious to the wind. Then when I feel the water fill the blades I can go for the drive full strength. Raise your hand if you’ve ever squared your blades and dropped into the water only to yank on the valley of the swell that just passed instead of the actual water. Those are rollicking fun times!

So yes, I am capable of squaring earlier and do in glass, but yesterday was not the day to practice perfect form for perfect conditions. I had to work twice as hard to touch 6 miles an hour for most of the day and I had to be conscious with every stroke to let the water fill the blades before the wind had the chance. I had to share the lake with some white caps yesterday. We all had a great time.

Back in one of the fingers of the lake where the water was flat, I glided through a pair of turtles without bumping either. That was fun.

Since this lake has such a steep bank, I can get really close to the bank without fear of obstacles most of the way around (I go clockwise). But I learned, or rather remembered something important yesterday: the GPS line(s) I follow are only accurate with three or so feet. That matters when your blades are only three or so feet from the shore. I kept reminding myself to get inside the line and to watch where I was going having learned a lesson from Danger Dock on Monday. Moments after one such self-reminder, I glanced over my shoulder just in time to see my bow careening toward a stump. I shouted ALL STOP again and came to a gentle stop here:

So I promise next time out I WILL stay inside the lines … but I’m planning to at least think out-of-the-box the entire time I am inside the lines.

Perhaps the question of why I row so close to the bank has crossed your mind. First of all, I want to get the most mileage in one lap possible so I won’t have to be too far into a second lap when the sun goes down. Secondly, I started rowing on a river that is very serpentine and steering is something I am very good at doing. Third, my third Marathon Rowing Championships I noticed I rowed 30 miles. Allowing for a mile to a mile and a half of rowing up to the starting line, this means I over-steered a couple of miles at least, which certainly added needlessly to my race time. I realized the lake where I was practicing required very little steering and I had gotten lazy. The lake where the rowing club is now requires practically no steering since there’s only one line of deep water where it is safe to row. This is why I want to keep my steering ability sharp:

Natchitoches Marathon Rowing Championships Route

See? Unfortunately this wonderful event was cancelled this past Fall because of the low water levels. Hopefully it’ll be back on next November!

I managed to squeeze in 25.2 miles before the sun went completely down. I blame the wind for cheating me of a full marathon. I feel good about 25 miles in high wind. It was a wonderful row.

As I was getting my boat on the car and about to go back down the hill for my little red dock, Deputy Woodward (I hope that’s spelled right) pulled up and we chatted for ten minutes or so about how beautiful the lake is and about the wildlife on the lake. I told him about the Sculling Music Video we (Bob Montgomery, Cinematographer, Lot 10) shot that shows the beauty of the lake and he pulled it right up on his phone and bookmarked it to watch later on a bigger screen in High Definition.

I feel great today. Looks like some perfect rowing days are ahead next weekend. The boat stays on the car!