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Sculling By Moonlight

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30.5 miles. It was an awesome row. Story to follow after I get some sleep. 🙂


Long-Distance Moonlight Sculling, 101

30.5 Miles — 49.08 Kilometers

This is the story my first long-distance moonlight row on beautiful wild uninhabited Inland Lake, Thursday February 17th.

Excited about my new ability to row after dark on a beautiful Sunday in the high 60’s … possibly touching 70º a some point, I got all ready to go Thursday determine to get an extra early start and do a REALLY long row.

Of course, my extra early start turned into a medium early start, but I knew it was going to be an almost a full moon on a clear warm(ish) night and I was relaxed for a change.

Instrument Panel on Long-distance sculler Jenifer Humming's Maas Flyweight Hummingbird

When I got out there, my first project after cleaning my boat, was to put my new instrument panel together in a way that everything would be well-placed, easy to get to, efficient and attached securely enough to leave it set up. That took a while. But I wasn’t in my usual big hurry. It was fricken windy and I knew it would let up a little in the afternoon and for the first time ever, I didn’t feel rushed by the impending sunset. (You can’t know how happy I am about this!)

I met Robert the Bass fisherman and chatted a bit. He offered to help me carry the boat. I thanked him all the same.

I then met Archie when he came in from fishing. He only caught one bass. He said the fish at Inland Lake were the best because the water is so clean. But since it is so clear (it’s a deep lake but where it is shallow enough, you can see clear to the bottom 4-6 feet), it’s hard to sneak up on the bass. And bass are smarter than people anyway, to start with. Archie and I had a nice visit while I fiddled with all my doohickies.

Archie The Bass Fisherman

Then I tried my latest little red dock improvements. It is good, but not perfect. It doesn’t help that the water level is different every week. But I think I know one more small change I need to make for it to be the most versatile to place quickly where it will be steady.

I got on the water at a new record later-than-I-wanted time: 5 pm! Sunset was at 5:28.

It didn’t matter. I had new super powers.

It bears mentioning though … among my many lessons in this row, that I decided to try lowering my oarlocks to see if getting my blades deeper in the water would make me go faster. I remembered one thing and learned two things.

The one thing I remembered was why I raised them in the first place. A late finish is my biggest problem in being rigged right into this boat that gives me about 1 mm of leeway to be in the sweet spot — and it took me two years of minute to significant rigging adjustments to find it! I need the extra leverage to get the blades out of the water on time, high and clean.

The first of the two things I learned was not to make dramatic rigging changes before a 30 mile row in the dark. Best to test a change for a mile or two. The stroke was so awkward for me it was extra hard on my back. I had the screwdriver to fix it, but without getting my feet wet, there was no way to change it back. Plus … over water is not the place to let the spacers loose!

The second thing I learned was the time to test how fast you can go is not in the dark! I love how smart I am becoming. Between pushing the max weight with my own body weight, then add to that the weight of all of the aforementioned gear … and then add to that a rigging change that was straining my lower back on the finish … plus darkness, I just settled in to cruise at around 5 mph and decided to be happy with it. Faster days are ahead.

By the time I got started, it was cool enough that for the first time in 20 years I rowed the entire time wearing a long-sleeved jersey. It finally got cold enough (because I had to row easy instead of full-throttle) that I pulled out my “just-in-case” shirt. This left me without a backup long-sleeved shirt if I capsized the boat, which I will remind you (ego steps in for a moment) that I have never capsized a single and don’t want to start. That was another reason not to tempt fate by trying to set a speed record.

The rest of the story is just an amazing feeling I have never had before that I can’t adequately describe, of being all alone on a wilderness lake on perfect glass for most of the time with all the time in the world to row as long and as far as I wanted, under a moon that was so bright that it was almost blinding. And I didn’t feel one bit alone. I suspect Angels love to scull in the moonlight too. We had a wonderful time!

I told myself only one lap (22 miles). I promised myself that when I spotted the brightly lit launch area, I would pull in and be fine with whatever my distance turned out to be. I knew I was straining my back and shouldn’t push myself.

But when I saw the lights … my flesh was willing, but my Spirit was weak … or strong? I didn’t want it to end. Last summer I set my minimum distance at a marathon once a week … at least 26.2 miles. Now I want my minimum to be 30 miles twice a week for the next few weeks, then 35 or 40. So I gave in and rowed another 8 miles. Even then, I didn’t want to stop.

It was during that extra loop that one of the best moments of the evening occurred. Beegie Adair’s beautiful jazz piano rendition of Moon River came on while I was out in the open where the lake is wide. How can you not just love life in such a moment as that?

When I got home in the wee hours, I couldn’t wait to see the pictures so I uploaded them and posted a small slideshow of the few that weren’t too dark to see some detail.

Tomorrow is a sailing day at Inland. Partly cloudy with winds up to 14 mph … but getting up to 72º and staying in the 50’s after dark. I guess ya’ll know where I’m gonna be.


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.


Eagle Dance — Sculling on a Wild Lake

31.8 Miles — 51.2 Kilometers

The boat stayed on the car. The little red dock got another upgrade. Sunday was going to be in upper 40’s with wind 9 mph or less. I even got an earlier start than usual for the 30 minute drive to the lake. We had been having some rain and snow so chances were the water levels might be up.

I have a confession. Since the Achilles heel injury … I have gotten out of my routine of getting to the gym at 5:30 every morning. I’ve really only been back since Halloween a handful of times. I’ve only rowed a few times too. So I have gained my usual winter hibernation weight … which slows a girl down on a Flyweight. No better reason to get out for a good long row.

On the way in, I stopped at the cabin to find the Deputy on duty, who turned out to be Deputy Staten who was very chipper and sweet on that sunny morning. The lake is open now since the water has come up a few feet. So now I can relax about getting on the lake, but will have to factor in bass boats in my steering.

The first thing I did was place my little red dock … and in the process, managed to stumble on the very rocks I am trying to cover so I won’t fall while carrying my boat. Better to fall putting the dock in place. Luckily, I didn’t get wet, but I did give my left knee a sharp knock that I would have put an ice pack on right away if I weren’t anxious to get on the water.

For some reason, my early start turned into my more usual later-than-I-wanted start. I manage to get going by 12:15. Sunset was going to be at 5:24.

It was in the low 40’s so I wore my neoprene socks trimmed down to my ankles, shorts and two jerseys. One mile into the row … right at Bob’s boathouse, in fact, the long sleeves came off and I rowed sleeveless as is my preference the rest of the day, wind chill factor, or not.

I went ahead and snapped a picture of the boathouse as it is the best indicator of the lake level out there. It has come up several feet, so staying on my GPS line is safer now, but I did make an effort to row inside the line anyway while thinking out-of-the-box, as promised.

Then I started back out and within a few minutes, there was my friend the Bald Eagle flying low and slow 50 feet from my bow. I stopped to watch until he landed on a tree on the opposite bank. I tried to keep my eye on him, but soon rowed out of sight. I saw quite few hawks the rest of the day, but no more close encounters. Watch Eagle Dance below. It is some of slow-motion footage of the Bald Eagle that Bob shot on the day we filmed the Sculling for a Blue Angel Music Video.

It was a beautiful day to be grateful for in early February only a day or two after a snow fall. Despite my later-than-I-wanted start, I fiddled not at all, made no stops longer than it took to take a bite of an apple that I didn’t even finish until I landed and I downed a Doubleshot at about mile 10. I didn’t row very fast, but like the tortoise and the Energizer Bunny, I just kept going and going and going.

My goal for the day was 30 miles. I came in at 31.8.

I’m looking forward to getting back in shape. It’ll take me two or three weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

It was 41 degrees when I got off the water. The little red dock is working like a charm. I decided to pull the car all the way down the ramp to load the boat, which worked out nicely, saving me the long steep climb. But my fingers were just about frostbitten by the time I finished securing the boat. I’ve gotten the hang of cold weather sculling, but Spring is just around the corner and will be so welcomed — even though it means I will have to share the lake with humans again and steer around bass boats.

This time I brought ice packs so I put ice on my knee for the 30 minute drive home, put ice on my knee again when I went to bed and iced it quite a bit today. Other than that, I feel great and my knee is on the mend.

Saturday looks like another rowing day, so the boat stays on the car!! I’ll try to get started earlier and do some real mileage. 🙂


Eagle Dance — Sculling on a Wild Lake

31.8 Miles — 51.2 Kilometers

The boat stayed on the car. The little red dock got another upgrade. Sunday was going to be in upper 40’s with wind 9 mph or less. I even got an earlier start than usual for the 30 minute drive to the lake. We had been having some rain and snow so chances were the water levels might be up.

I have a confession. Since the Achilles heel injury … I have gotten out of my routine of getting to the gym at 5:30 every morning. I’ve really only been back since Halloween a handful of times. I’ve only rowed a few times too. So I have gained my usual winter hibernation weight … which slows a girl down on a Flyweight. No better reason to get out for a good long row.

On the way in, I stopped at the cabin to find the Deputy on duty, who turned out to be Deputy Staten who was very chipper and sweet on that sunny morning. The lake is open now since the water has come up a few feet. So now I can relax about getting on the lake, but will have to factor in bass boats in my steering.

The first thing I did was place my little red dock … and in the process, managed to stumble on the very rocks I am trying to cover so I won’t fall while carrying my boat. Better to fall putting the dock in place. Luckily, I didn’t get wet, but I did give my left knee a sharp knock that I would have put an ice pack on right away if I weren’t anxious to get on the water.

For some reason, my early start turned into my more usual later-than-I-wanted start. I manage to get going by 12:15. Sunset was going to be at 5:24.

It was in the low 40’s so I wore my neoprene socks trimmed down to my ankles, shorts and two jerseys. One mile into the row … right at Bob’s boathouse, in fact, the long sleeves came off and I rowed sleeveless as is my preference the rest of the day, wind chill factor, or not.

I went ahead and snapped a picture of the boathouse as it is the best indicator of the lake level out there. It has come up several feet, so staying on my GPS line is safer now, but I did make an effort to row inside the line anyway while thinking out-of-the-box, as promised.

Then I started back out and within a few minutes, there was my friend the Bald Eagle flying low and slow 50 feet from my bow. I stopped to watch until he landed on a tree on the opposite bank. I tried to keep my eye on him, but soon rowed out of sight. I saw quite few hawks the rest of the day, but no more close encounters. Watch Eagle Dance below. It is some of slow-motion footage of the Bald Eagle that Bob shot on the day we filmed the Sculling for a Blue Angel Music Video.

It was a beautiful day to be grateful for in early February only a day or two after a snow fall. Despite my later-than-I-wanted start, I fiddled not at all, made no stops longer than it took to take a bite of an apple that I didn’t even finish until I landed and I downed a Doubleshot at about mile 10. I didn’t row very fast, but like the tortoise and the Energizer Bunny, I just kept going and going and going.

My goal for the day was 30 miles. I came in at 31.8.

I’m looking forward to getting back in shape. It’ll take me two or three weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

It was 41 degrees when I got off the water. The little red dock is working like a charm. I decided to pull the car all the way down the ramp to load the boat, which worked out nicely, saving me the long steep climb. But my fingers were just about frostbitten by the time I finished securing the boat. I’ve gotten the hang of cold weather sculling, but Spring is just around the corner and will be so welcomed — even though it means I will have to share the lake with humans again and steer around bass boats.

This time I brought ice packs so I put ice on my knee for the 30 minute drive home, put ice on my knee again when I went to bed and iced it quite a bit today. Other than that, I feel great and my knee is on the mend.

Saturday looks like another rowing day, so the boat stays on the car!! I’ll try to get started earlier and do some real mileage. 🙂