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Posts tagged “sculling

Recommendation from Bob Montgomery

I just received this today. He told me not to let it go to my head:

“Jenifer is far and away the most dedicated sculler and endurance athlete I know. Her standards start in that ethereal realm after most folks have just given up and gone home. She is passionate about finding ways to help others to experience and enjoy rowing … and is proving that by taking the sport to the Web with The Global Rowing Club. Her aspirations for new hull designs realized will be transformative for a sport steeped in tradition, yet always embracing the latest technological innovations. Jenifer is just as enthusiastic about training others to attain the superhuman levels of endurance and power which she musters each week when she puts in another 50,000 to 80,000 meters. Jenifer has a competitive edge and attitude most others can only aspire to.”

Bob Montgomery Jr., Birmingham Rowing Club

Thanks Bob! I am also the most dedicated boathouse checker you know.

Recommendation from Bob Montgomery

I just received this today. He told me not to let it go to my head:

“Jenifer is far and away the most dedicated sculler and endurance athlete I know. Her standards start in that ethereal realm after most folks have just given up and gone home. She is passionate about finding ways to help others to experience and enjoy rowing … and is proving that by taking the sport to the Web with The Global Rowing Club. Her aspirations for new hull designs realized will be transformative for a sport steeped in tradition, yet always embracing the latest technological innovations. Jenifer is just as enthusiastic about training others to attain the superhuman levels of endurance and power which she musters each week when she puts in another 50,000 to 80,000 meters. Jenifer has a competitive edge and attitude most others can only aspire to.”

Bob Montgomery Jr., Birmingham Rowing Club

Thanks Bob! I am also the most dedicated boathouse checker you know.

Night Rower — An Odyssey

Forced to launch across the lake because firemen were loading boats to get their equipment to a cabin on the lake that was on fire — my early start became and extremely late start. I rowed 45 miles in the most challenging conditions I have ever faced. More later. Click on the slideshow to control how fast it goes.

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Windy Moonless Long-Distance Sculling In The Dark Wilderness, 101

45 Miles — 72.42 Kilometers

I had upgraded my little red dock and packed my rowing bag … even made some power snacks on Saturday to be ready for a truly early start on Sunday. It was going to be another sailing day, but in the 70’s and I need experience rowing on all conditions in my preparation to break the world long distance sculling record. As I state in Sculling For World Healing, I will have no problem with the distance. But the time will be very weather-dependent and will require a lighter me and a faster boat. But for now, I will become the best sculler I can be building my skill, strength and mileage in a variety of conditions — including the dark.

But I was excited Sunday morning to set out for an especially long row in mostly daylight. But it didn’t happen that way.

The thirty-some mile drive has become second nature to me now, and as I pulled into the long country road leading to the lake, I passed a fire truck with its lights flashing. I had texted Bob I was on the way out there so he would know he would soon receive a picture of his boathouse as the water levels raise to where at some point we will find out if it still floats. Tick-tock, tick-tock, Bob.

I had gotten used to being the only car in this parking lot, but this is what I pulled up to, except by the time I took the picture, some of the emergency vehicles had disappeared down the ramp to load up boats with firefighting equipment. Deputy Staten met me to tell me a cabin on the lake was on fire and that it would be a very long time before I could get my boat on the water. Bass fishermen were in queue too. He advised me to go on out to the other launch area and gave me directions to get there by road.

I had an impulse to skip it, but 63 miles is a lot of driving (and CO2 footprint) for nothing. I pressed on. It was another 11 miles to the remote launch on country roads. That was going to make for about an hour to drive home after the row.

When I arrived, I checked in with the deputy there and then spent way too much time walking up and down that very shore-line that had stolen 5 weeks of my life last November/December after the day Bob and I shot the Sculling For a Blue Angel Music Video. This structure is a little store where you can buy snacks and Bob was hungry.

I usually never get out of the boat, but did to be a pal that day, I immediately sunk into quicksand and overstretched my right Achilles tendon. I got back in the boat and rowed another 10-15 miles. But the next day, the pain was so piercing — like fire — that I was sure I had ruptured it but. I was not fully recovered for 5 weeks. Turns out you need your ankles for just about everything including rowing and working out. I lost a lot of my strength and the last of the warm rowing weather of the year.

So needless to say, I am not fond of this place. It was muddy and the incline at the waterline was too gradual for my little red dock to work right, so there was no place to put my boat in cleanly. I wanted to pitch it again, but over-ruled myself and MADE a way for my little red dock to work.

I saw the Bald Eagle. I’m sure that meant something like: be brave. I was very brave. You’ll see.

As I was preparing my boat, I caught some guys using my freshly rinsed little dock that is simply not meant to hold the weight of heavy guys … as their way to get in their boat without getting their feet wet. I made Eric stand there while took I this picture, then requested after they used it to please clean the mud off that they just tracked onto it. They left it in fine condition so no harm done.

Yes, I am little prissy about being able to get in and out of my boat without getting it muddy or freezing my feet, or injuring myself in bottomless mud or on loose rocks. So I come prepared to do a little extra for my launch and landing to be a little safer, cleaner, comfortable and more convenient.

It WAS fricken windy, and that made me think again about how good of an idea it was to get on the water, but I told myself it would calm down and I had all night, if need be, to enjoy another moonlight row since it was just two days past the full moon.

I got on the water at my record latest time of 5:30 — two minutes past the official sunset time of 5:28.

It was still windy when I put in, but soon it let up and I had a twilight of glass to enjoy at the beginning of my row. My boat wanted to do 6 miles an hour effortlessly, which meant I could easily do 7 with a little oomph in my drive. But it was not to be.

First of all, the calm part of my row was spent returning texts from Bob wondering where the cabin that was on fire was on the lake (I made sure with the deputy it wasn’t Bob’s house). I told him I didn’t know, The fire had been long put out I am sure. He was also texting me that I needed to get running lights, a strobe and a Jen Cam installed on my bow. It’s true, I am cheating now with just having a flashlight on my splashguard. My grace-period will be over when the Summer People get back. There will be night-time traffic then.

Then …. IT GOT DARK. Way out in the country, there are stars in the sky … plenty of stars. But they don’t light up the water and the shore like even a sliver of the moon will.

I remembered a couple of things and learned a few more things. That’s what I’m out there to do.

I remembered that rowing shells are REALLY tipsy. That fact seems to diminish as skill and confidence increases. I was reminded acutely of it that night when I learned that vision has a LOT to do with keeping balance.

So even before the wind whipped up again, I had to settle into a slower pace than I wanted as I tried to get used to keeping some kind of stable stroke with no visual frame-of-reference to help.

I also learned that as much as I needed the lit-up instrument panel to keep my bearings, it was a two-edged sword as it kept me from being able to acquire night vision. Toward the end of the row their batteries dimmed to where they were just right, I will keep that pair to use in the darkest conditions for as long as they last. Perhaps I will design little dimming covers to put over fresh lights for such occasions. This is a picture of the dimmer lights at the end of the row.

Then a couple of things happened to make this row hands-down the most challenging one yet (not counting the typhoon I got caught in last summer).

The wind whipped up again and I found myself in open water conditions including gusts and swells just below whitecap level. Thankfully it wasn’t so bad that my boat swamped, but with diminished balancing senses, it was a test of skill to say the least.

And the thing I didn’t understand the most was: WHERE WAS THE MOON? The sky was clear. I could see the stars. The moon started rising only 3 nights before right at twilight (proof in the pictures on Sculling By Moonlight). But there was no moon to be found anywhere in the sky. What up Universe?!

Even though it was supposed to be a warm night (in the 50’s), I guess I couldn’t row hard enough to keep myself warm so at one point I put on two long sleeve jerseys and for the first time EVER, I put on tights! I even put on wool footies under my neoprene footies.

But then, just as I turned around at the main boat launch ten miles into the row, there was the moon rising. Better late than never!.

Before long I was rowing fast enough again that I had stripped back down to sleeveless, but didn’t want to stop long enough to pull off the tights. I felt a bit warm, but not enough to take the time to remove them.

I also learned that when dew falls, things get wet, so don’t leave anything you want to keep dry uncovered when it is getting dark. Funny how things you know in regular life have to present themselves in new situations like this … at least for me. I’m out there to learn not only to row better and faster in all conditions, but to learn how to stay in the boat, have everything I need without being over-loaded and just keep rowing! Most especially in REALLY long distance rowing in a single, it’s not so much how fast you go: it’s How Little You Fiddle.

When I got back to where I launched, I could have stopped there at 22.5 miles, but the moon was up, the wind had calmed a bit (back in there anyway) and I figured the next lap was my pay-off, so I went around again. After all, the farther the drive, the longer the row should be to justify the trip. That’s how I see it, anyway.

Halfway through my second lap, The clouds started to cover the sky until the cover was complete. But even a cloudy sky obscuring the moon is brighter than a clear starlit sky with no moon.

I have decided to zero out my GPS line next time I go out early in the day and make a new line. In an effort to squeeze the most mileage from the perimeter of the lake, my line is soooo close to the bank, even with the water levels rising again. And as Spring approaches, the bass boats will all be square on my line, so I need to shorten my lap by a half a mile to a mile. Since I’m gong to be doing multiple laps, I can afford to pull out from the shore a lot more to be safer.

I must take a moment to sing the praises of my beloved Hummingbird and thank the Maas brothers for making such a great boat. I could tell many stories of times I should have just gone right over … like in my first head race the day after I bought the Flyweight. I talked them into letting me enter The Head Of The Oklahoma at the last minute. Luckily my race was early enough the next morning that it wasn’t cancelled. Every single and double race after mine was cancelled due to the high winds. 15 MPH is a light wind day in Oklahoma City.

But that day, my first day rowing my new boat, two years away from having it rigged anywhere near right for me … I gave it all I had. Just as I was passing a grandstand full of people, the wind yanked my port scull (the one in my right hand) right out of my hand and swung too far away for me to catch it. Somehow I stayed upright until I could coax it back to within reach, and was on my way again. My time in the race wasn’t good, but that I finished dry in a new boat made me proud all the same.

Similarly, Maas boys, your Flyweight has saved my butt more times than I can count when dead trees, stumps and docks jump out from nowhere and catch me going full-tilt — and a wide variety of other crashes and sudden ALL STOPS I have encountered in my rowing too-close-to-the-bank approach. The other night I really should have capsized several times and had that fleeting thought each time: “This is it. I’m going over and there goes my perfect record!” But then, my Hummingbird steadies and I am a little shaken but still dry and very thankful.

I will mention one more thing that contributed to making this an especially challenging row. It’s one of the other things I remembered while I was out there. I started to notice something going on with my left shin with every stroke. It hurt a little and even cracked. Shins don’t crack like joints, right? I had no idea what was going on. And then I remembered slamming into my rebounder in the dark the other night when I had not put it way after using it and didn’t expect it to be where it was. It hit me on the lower part of my shin and I recall saying to myself, I need to go put ice on that. But then promptly forgot.

Truly, a stitch in time saves nine! 20 minutes of an ice pack on my shin that evening would have saved two days of icing it since I rowed 45 miles with a bruised shin. I don’t injured myself doing my sports. Just doing life. I’m sure that’s a metaphor for something. I am on the mend, but I think the Wednesday row I was planning (tomorrow) will have to wait for the weekend.

No matter how dark, windy and moonless it was … I was happy the whole time. There is no way I know of to feel more dramatically alive. I count myself among the most fortunate people in the world that I can do something so wonderful and enlivening as rowing as long as I want, whenever I want, and in conditions that most people would not brave even in a motor boat.

Super powers, I tell you!

How To Be a FRIENDLY Long-Distance Sculler

I have stumbled upon a way to be completely relaxed, self-forgiving, charming and sociable!

I have learned how to row in the dark.

Many is the time I have shouted over my shoulder to a rowing club friend as I was carrying my boat to the launch dock … “as much as I love you, I love daylight MORE!”

Back when I rowed where the club is located, well-meaning club members would want to hang-out and chat. They are in the club for social and recreational reasons. I did attend the parties to be social and even went to the business meetings. But when I went to row, I went to ROW. I established a rule: never speak to Jenifer after noon. If you want to socialize with me, then be here at dark.

I feel like Rocky training to be the World Champion … but in a sport that doesn’t even exist! Well, it’s about to exist if I have anything to do with it. Keep your eye on me. Read the GRC Mission page … when I put it up. The new sport of Sanctioned Non-Recreational Long-Distance Sculling/Rowing is ON if I have to sanction it MYSELF!

So back to how it is I am suddenly about to become warm and personable again.

I came to the realization a couple of weeks ago that this Water Works lake is not like the other. At Lake Purdy, you have to be off the lake and off the premises before they lock the gate. Too many times I have come in late and kept the guys, Ken and Steve, past closing time. They have been nothing but sweet about it, but I felt a lot of pressure to be a good girl there.

It’s really more “me” to be an out-law … without ever breaking the law. That’s a difficult balance to maintain.

So my new realization has SET ME FREE! At Inland Lake, since there are a handful of old cabins on the lake whose owners can only get to by boat, there is no closing time at the boat launch. They never turn off the lights and the restroom is always heated. I can stay out and row all night (just did) and if I want to … If it came to it I could camp-out in Bob’s high and dry boathouse. Eureka!

This empowering realization came to me because as almost a second thought last week, I grabbed a couple of lights just in case I found myself too far out on the lake to make it in by sundown on a day I knew the conditions were going to be perilous. I tell about it in Fricken High Wind Open Fricken Water Fricken Cold Weather In the Fricken Dark Sculling, 301. It worked so well, I discovered I can now row after dark and find my way back by following my line on my GPS map screen or use the marker feature to get me there the most direct route. Before I couldn’t see the screens after dark. The GPS and the Speed Coach have internal lights I can stop and press the buttons to turn on, but they only stay on for so long and they really burn the battery-life. As it was, I had to stop and change the batteries in my GPS Thursday night mid-row.

Elated by my new super-power, Monday after the Sunday Fricken High Wind row, I went to the Dollar Store and bought more LED book-reading lights and then on to the thrift store to find zip cases that were waterproof enough to not have to put things in time-consuming to open and close ziplock bags, as I have learned that you don’t have to turn your boat over for everything on it to get wet. I mention that fact in the Fricken High Wind row post too.

The thing about long-distance sculling in the wilderness in the winter alone is that you have to have “stuff” with you in case there is a mishap. That makes for a heavier boat and slower rowing, but safety first. I’m at the ready to change into dry clothes and start a fire if need be. In addition to water and snacks, I have extra pairs of gloves, extra batteries, extra socks, water shoes, towels, extra contacts, a bottle of saline solution and a magnification mirror in case I get something in my eye, some tools just in case I decide to adjust my rigging, tape in case my hands start to hurt (they never do anymore), line to tie my boat if need be, extra little bungee cords, and my GPS and Speed Coach manuals in case I push the wrong button and mess everything up, which I have been known to do! And don’t forget my extremely high-tech ergonomic long-distance rowing padded seat I tell about having developed in Jen’s Rowing Story. I am compensating for the added weight of gear by dropping some of my it’s-too-cold-to-row-I-got-injured-AGAIN-feel-sorry-for-myself-only-want-to-hibernate-by-the-fireplace-and-eat-popcorn-and-chocolate-winter-weight-gain. At least I don’t row with a lapdog in the boat anymore. Sorry Hannah, but there’s just no extra room in this one.

My winter hibernation weight gain is not shocking. I weigh exactly what I weighed when I shot the sofa movies video. It’s just that on a Flyweight (not a lightweight, midweight or heavyweight) scull, you go faster the lighter you are when you’re not sinking the beam to it’s max, therefore, there is a top weight you really don’t want to exceed. I am just under that top weight, but now that it is warming up, I’ll be in the pink again in no time!!!

I can’t wait to see what I can do when I’m IN SHAPE!

I have decided (another epiphany) to set up my cock-pit and leave it set up (covered) to save the time-consuming ritual of put it together before every row and breaking it down afterwards. Now that my mileage is climbing again and it’s about to warm up, I’m going to have to make more room for water and snacks and a way to get to them fast — as well as my ever expanding instrument panel. The other “stuff” I bungee behind me just inside the splash guard, and I will need far less “just-in-case” gear when the weather gets really nice.

This first night-time row was a fact-finding mission. I set up the cock-pit that afternoon and spent the entire row making adjustments like how to angle the lights to prevent distracting glare on the screens. I tested different gloves, an elastic band specifically for keeping my hat on in wind and various other ideas I have for minimizing the Fiddling Factor.

Once I got past most of the adjusting and could just row, my first moonlight row was magical. It is a story worth telling as are all of my rowing adventures in my opinion — for my own delight if for no other reason. See the next post to be with me vicariously on an uninhabited lake alone in the moonlight during the winter. Fortunately, you won’t be as cold as I was … but unfortunately, you won’t be as thrilled. I hope you will be entertained.

P.S. Just as I was leaving my neighborhood coffee shop where I wrote this post, I had a couple of nice conversations. The first one was with Dale the long-distance cyclist who I had met and chatted with before. We talked about how dangerous cycling has become (a couple of cyclists have been killed in our town in the last few years) which is one of the reasons I have cut back on cycling to maybe one Century a year in favor of the much safer, more scenic, far more elegant and full-body exercise sport of sculling. And I mentioned to Dale that the last Century I road last October, I was thinking the whole time how boring it was compared to sculling. Every stroke in sculling requires attention and skill. Dale said he was interested. It is part of my quest to recruit my old endurance athlete peers to consider giving sculling a try. I will write more about that part of my plan soon.

Next I ran into and met Leslie as I was getting into my car. As you may have read in my post The Boat Stays On The Car! … the boat was on the car. He surprised me by asking me if it were a shell. Usually people think it is a kayak. I was impressed that he knew that. We talked a little about the boat’s history of winning the North American Open Water Championships two years in a row (See Jen’s Rowing Story again) along with Diane Davis, a very accomplished racer. She was the reason I wanted a carbon fiber Maas Flyweight … and I just happened to get THAT VERY FLYWEIGHT. My life is magical that way.

Leslie asked if they made boats for Clydesdales. I thought that was cute. I told him I had one for sale the would be perfect for a Clydesdale — a Little River Marine Cambridge.

Interestingly enough, both Dale and Leslie asked me specific questions about sculling that I actually had just answered in this post. I told them my URL because someone was waiting for me at my house (around the corner) and I had to run.

Hi Dale and Leslie. Come on over to the wonderful world of sculling. 🙂

See, I am friendlier already!

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.