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Dan Foster

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    West of Boston

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    05/02/2022

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  1. What can be said about this year's Jewell trip? Not much, apparently. Here's a belated trip report from my pod, which headed out two days earlier in an attempt to take full advantage of the headwinds from the north. We launched on Tuesday from Cousin's Island, making our way to the reserved group site on MCHT's East Gosling. Along the way, Gary acquired fresh oysters from yet another local tidal farm, which provided plenty of amusement at that night's dinner, as we struggled to release them from their calciferous fortresses. The NW wind foiled our plans to enjoy the shell beach between the Goslings, but we decamped to the other side of the island and enjoyed a wind-free campfire with a view of Irony. By morning, the wind had strengthened and swung around enough to convince us to spend the morning in camp. Joe proposed a paddle-swim to Irony, and several of us plunged into the water for the 5-minute swim to our neighboring island, where we scrambled around the rocky ledges before swimming back home. A little bird tells me that another pod also planned to launch on Wednesday, took one look at the sea state, and opted for a PPPO (pre-paddle pig-out) instead. It was a rough day to be on the water. Thursday's conditions provided a much nicer paddling window, at least until that pesky 1PM rain storm arrived, bringing soggy conditions which were later replaced by soggy, foggy conditions. We made it to Jewell in time to set up dry tents, but others paddled in rain or postponed their departure until Friday. It was a great afternoon to wear a drysuit on land! After a concerted group effort to gather firewood in the wet, we managed to get a fire going, which helped immensely. Charlie the island caretaker stopped by and provided tools and suggestions for ways we could help prepare the island for the upcoming season. Many NSPNers, most notably Gary, cheerfully pitched in for several hours of island cleanup, and the trails, water bars, beaches, and campsites were soon in tip-top shape thanks to their efforts. On Friday, many of us paddled south to Junk of Pork and explored the slots on the outside of Jewell. Others explored, cleaned up trails, or went bird watching. The misty, foggy conditions throughout the remainder of the weekend made for some spectacular lighting, and several of the "islanders" reported that it was their best day ever on Jewell. Nancy's photography speaks for itself. On Saturday, one group headed to Peaks for wood-fired pizza, while I joined a pod that island-hopped over to Bangs. After lunch we decided to do some chart and compass practice, and in the time it took us to plot a bearing to Crow, the fog rolled in, making our practice session into a real-life navigate-or-else scenario. We hand-railed our way back to Jewell in the fog, bouncing from island tip to island center - watch, compass, and chart close at hand. After another foggy, soggy evening around the fire, it was time to pack up and head home on Sunday morning. Our pod island-hopped through the fog to Sand Island, where we could hear the rumble of diesel engines from the mail boat and ferries running along Great Chebeague. Just as we were contemplating making a Securite call, the fog lifted, and we finished out the trip in windless, sunny conditions - a novel experience after five days of wind, rain, and fog! Here's a link to more photos contributed by other members of the Jewell trip. If you were on the trip, there's a link in the PM thread to add your own photos if you haven't done so already. https://photos.app.goo.gl/xhYP1FE45VdEmCv97 Thanks to everyone who came out to Jewell this year, and to Gary for organizing!
  2. We've been very happy with the performance of our Nissan Leaf. EV range falls off in the cold and if you floor it on the interstate, but it's been easy enough to anticipate that and plan accordingly. We haven't mounted a roof rack or carried kayaks on ours, but our neighbor has, and I'll try to ask about her experiences. I'm also happy to discuss the joys and occasional pitfalls of electrifying all the things (Nissan Leaf, Husqvarna Automower, Mitsubishi mini-splits) with anyone contemplating an upgrade.
  3. I don't think I've ever been on an NSPN paddle where at least one person didn't have a helmet strapped to the bungees "R2D2-style" on the back deck, centered over the day hatch. Is there some trick to getting the helmet to stay secure back there, or are you all just luckier than I am? On yesterday's paddle, playing in some bouncy conditions off Halibut Point, a wave swept over my back deck and deployed my helmet in "sea anchor mode". I was surprised at how severely the handling of the boat degraded with a helmet full of water dragging along just behind my left hip - I thought I'd lost my rear hatch cover at first. If we'd been in real conditions, it would have been a serious problem. Back home, I tightened up the bungees and even tried a couple of different crossing patterns, but I was still able to drag the helmet off the side of the boat with only a small amount of force. Looking at the bungee layouts on several popular P&H models, I don't see a secure pattern there either. The only bungee pattern I can imagine that would keep the helmet centered by just clipping the chin strap under them is two bungee lines running right alongside the deck lines on either side of the day hatch, just behind the cockpit. For the purpose of discussion, let's consider a helmet secure back there if you can roll and the helmet stays put. Or a fellow paddler can reach over and try to pull it off your deck, and it stays put. Suggestions? Wearing it on my head seems like overkill, especially in close to the rocks.
  4. I only took one photo, of Joe perfectly timing the swell to ride over the "Devil's Tooth" pourover. (If you're having trouble picturing why this feature is called "Devil's Tooth", that's further evidence of how perfectly he timed his ride, and how perfectly I captured the moment. But trust us, there's a shallow rock there somewhere...) After the Wednesday Lunch Paddle dispersed, I went out on a solo Wednesday Dinner Pedal, and paid my respects to Thacher Island, many of the inland quarry paths, and the backroads that circumnavigate Cape Ann. I was very glad it was low tide, because my route dumped me out on Good Harbor Beach, which involved a half-mile stretch of wet sand riding to avoid the dunes.
  5. There are a number of interesting opportunities to paddle with the AMC this month. I've done the Sea Kayak Tuneup several times, and it's an excellent skills refresher and practice ahead of the upcoming season. I'm just passing these along - follow the links for more info and to ask questions of the organizers. You don't need to be a member of the AMC to participate in AMC events and trainings. May Events Paddling Social (WW, SK, FW, SUP - everyone), May 26Come and meet fellow paddlers in-person and without masks! We will meet at Lake Cochituate in Natick at 6:30 until dusk. We will have whitewater, sea kayak, and canoes to try out (bring appropriate clothing) and burgers, veggies, and seltzer. You are welcome to bring sides or desserts.Let's talk about hopes & plans for this season and meet leaders that will be posting trips. We ask that you register if you want to eat so we can bring right amount.https://activities.outdoors.org/search/index.cfm/action/details/id/138823 Sea Kayak Tuneup, May 28The sea kayakers will at Lake Cochituate on Saturday to spend the day refreshing strokes, turns, and rescues. It is important all leaders and coleaders attend if possible, although everyone in our paddling network is welcome. This is a great opportunity for coleaders to meet and paddle with other leaders. There will be instructors for various levels (except for those new to paddling, sorry). Registration is required.https://activities.outdoors.org/search/index.cfm/action/details/id/138923 Westport River (SK), May 14This beautiful river starts in narrow marshes and gradually widens into a bay and eventually Horseneck beach. This will be an easy, tide assisted 12 mile paddle in protected water. A great way to start your season.https://activities.outdoors.org/search/index.cfm/action/details/id/139006 Circumnav of Nashon Island (SK), May 30This will be a 20 nautical mile paddle around the largest Elizabeth island near Woods Hole. We may encounter wind, tidal currents, and an exciting crossing of Woods Hole channel. See listing for more details.https://activities.outdoors.org/search/index.cfm/action/details/id/139008
  6. If the club decides on a Portland, Boston, or Hingham Harbor option for June 2023 and announce plans prior to Feb 2023, I'll lead a camping trip to coincide with the day trip and potluck gathering. I held the June 2022 weekend open, but eventually made other plans.
  7. Trip posting: May 7-8: Introduction to Kayak Camping - Overnight on Squam Lake (L2) - Past Trips - NSPN Message Board The night before our Intro to Kayak Camping trip on Squam, the NWS upped Saturday's forecast to 15 mph winds out of the northeast, with gusts to 30. The drive north featured several of the aforementioned gusts, and whitecaps were visible out on Squam as we loaded boats in Piper Cove. We headed out, ducking south to avoid the wind as we paddled down to Heron Cove for a hot lunch on a protected, sandy beach. After lunch we explored further down Dog Cove before turning north and working our way back up to the group campsite on Moon Island. We had the usual group site on Moon reserved, as well as the Moon 2 site on the far west side of the island, conveniently tucked out of the wind. Several of us elected to haul gear down to camp at Moon 2, which has a wrap-around sunset view and some attractive west-facing ledges. Joe and Kim, new NSPN members with extensive backpacking experience as leaders for the Worcester AMC, demonstrated not one, not two, but three different options for hanging food to keep it safe from bears, raccoons, and rodents. I thought I knew bear bagging techniques prior to this trip, but came away humbled, and rededicated to practicing better food storage and camp hygiene. As they were doing this, the weather gods shifted the prevailing wind a few degrees to the SE, without bothering to notify the NWS or any other weather reporting or predicting sites. As a result, the idyllic Moon 2 site, where we'd agreed to host our evening fire and dinner party, suddenly became a wind tunnel. We quickly shifted the dinner plans to the group site (Moon 1), and enjoyed a wind-free evening there. Right at sunset, and almost as if on cue, a mating pair of loons started calling from the water, and we watched a spectacular sunset over the Squam range with loons calling just off-shore, while snacking on fresh-popped popcorn (thanks to Ben R. for the inspiration!). Temps dipped to 36 degrees overnight, but everyone seemed in high spirits the next morning. After a leisurely breakfast in camp, we noodled our way north through the Three Sister islands toward Five Finger Point before running downwind to Church Island. There we enjoyed a last lunch and trip debrief before a final downwind run to the cars at Squam Lake Association. Approximate mileage was 6.5 mi (statute) on Saturday, 5.5 mi on Sunday. Some observations, anecdotes, and favorite memories: An adult pair of loons surfaced out about 15 feet off Karen's starboard bow and went about their business without a care in the world. Every time I paddle on Squam, the loons find another way to make the trip more memorable. This year was no exception. At 7:02AM, every bass boat in NH roared past Moon island, presumably as part of some Mother's Day bass fishing tournament. Other than that, we pretty much had the lake to ourselves. I second-guessed my navigation three times on the approach to Church/Chocorua island, seeing two red spar buoys in the water (which would suggest we were approaching Mink Island) and expecting two black spar buoys based on my paper chart. The old Squam chart has red dots for the red buoys, and faint transparent rings for the black buoys. Several trips ago, I colored in the rings with a black sharpie for better visibility, and presumably I accidentally blackened the two red buoys off Church as well. To my paddling companions who might have wondered why we zigged and zagged on that approach, now you know... Squam is an ideal location to practice navigation. So many islands, so many hidden passages that only become apparent when you're right on top of them. I learn something every time I navigate there, and I encourage others to do so as well. Get the $10 waterproof chart from SLA. The water was a good foot higher than we usually see in the fall. Our favorite cocktail/sunset/dinner rock was completely submerged. The landing beach on Moon was almost non-existent. Less gel-coat was sacrificed in the Three Sisters rock gardens. This was just a overnight trip, but we approached it like a longer adventure. We took a circuitous route to Moon Island, stopping to cook lunch along the way. Before setting up camp, we spent some time walking the island and discussing the pros and cons of our camping options, and then go to reevaluate those decisions when the wind shifted an hour later. We had lots of discussion, before the trip and while underway, about gear selection, paddling clothing, and cooking options. We had hammocks, ultralight tents, and ultra-heavy tents, and compared the merits of wood tent platforms vs. pea stone gravel pads. We fired up Jetboils, Pocket Rockets, hanging grills, and pseudo-Dutch ovens. On one important topic, there appears to be little debate: Starbucks VIA seems to be the camping coffee of choice. I really appreciated the opportunity to welcome four new members to the club, and to spend an enjoyable weekend camping and kayaking with a great group of paddlers. Thank you again to Karen, Elaine, Mary, Joe, and Kim, and I look forward to paddling and camping with you all again in the future.
  8. Allyn Cox Reservation (ecga.org) (would need to launch/land near high tide) Switch to a mid-day potluck on one of the inner Boston Harbor islands (George's would be an obvious choice, or something really easy from Hingham for an L1/L2 paddle), and various pods could launch and return from Hingham Harbor, Hull, South Boston, Winthrop, to offer a variety of trip lengths, or focus on other paddling activities (rock gardening, nav practice, geology).
  9. Yes, I'll bring it to our Cousins pod launch and hand it off there.
  10. I've got a gently-used 215cm straight-shaft, 2-pc Werner Shuna, orange blades. It was my backup paddle until a Greenland paddle became my backup paddle, and therefore has seen very little actual use. Werner Paddles | Shuna 2 Piece Straight Shaft
  11. There's still room for one, maybe two people on the May 7-8 Squam trip, so get in touch if you're interested.
  12. Happy Easter in absentia to my fellow paddling bunnies/buddies. Our un-Orthodox paddling tradition will be missed this year. Let the graupel-spitting thunderclouds Passover our group whenever we meet may again, and shower us not with hailstones but with chocolate eggs and marshmallow peeps.
  13. Here's everything you need to know about the differences between Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere compass oil: (¡ʎluo ǝɹǝɥdsᴉɯǝH uɹǝɥʇnoS uᴉ ǝsn ɹoɟ) lᴉO ssɐdɯoƆ ǝᴉssn∀ Be aware that if you use anything heavier than 40-weight compass oil, your kayak will turn slower...
  14. I've refilled my Brunton deck compass twice now to get rid of the pesky bubble. Pressure changes throughout the years seem to cause compass oil to weep out of the fill hole on the back of the compass over time. Here's how to refill: Remove the compass from the boat. Mine's installed with four small stainless wood screws into a plastic Tempest. Flip over the compass and note the fill screw. It takes a small flathead screwdriver blade. Go get yourself some white mineral oil, or stop by a marine chandlery and ask for 40-Weight Compass Oil, and make sure to get the Northern Hemisphere version - the spout should be on top. But the white mineral oil works just fine, and you'll get fewer weird looks. Put the compass and the oil in the freezer for a bit to maximize the fluid density. Aren't you glad you took the compass off the kayak first? Working above something that will benefit from copious amounts of spilled mineral oil (like a hardwood cutting board), flip over the compass, back out the fill screw, and inject mineral oil into the void. If you can get more than one drop in a time, you're doing better than me. There's no vent hole, so ideally you want a really narrow injection dropper to get the oil inside and still leave room for the bubble air to escape. Things went much smoother when I remembered I had a bunch of the little dropper bottles in the final photo. If you have a compass bubble you'd like to set free, I'm happy to pass along a dropper bottle full of mineral oil on a group paddle sometime.
  15. Passing these on after receiving them second-hand and never needing them. Free to NSPN members (join for $15 to get them if not a member already). Pickup in Stow, MA, or free delivery to Easter Plunge 2022. You provide the straps, the kayak, and the car underneath.
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