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Dan Foster

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  1. I had a conversation recently with one of the other Walden regulars. Maybe others will chime in as well, with their thoughts and interest level in a weekly Walden-area session. The construction at Walden which constrained the parking is finished. The park will likely still shut down due to overcrowding on really nice (hot) days. There are some alternate locations in the area: Whites Pond in Concord, Heart Pond in Chelmsford, Lake Whitehall in Hopkinton, Lake Cochituate in Framingham. A few years ago I organized some river paddles during the overcrowded nights at Walden. My current thinking is that I'm going to be an occasional-at-best attendee in mid-week practice sessions this season, maybe once a month after an initial "does my roll still work?" check-up. I'll be more likely to show up for camping trips, the occasional ocean day trip, and I might try to organize some longer down-river paddles if we get some big storms and a good downstream push in the next month. In the past we've had good success with Bill's model: a recurring weekly timeslot at Walden, with a go/no-go decision the day before if enough people commit to attending that session. "Walden Wednesdays" has a nice ring to it, but those members who expect to be regular attendees should pick a night that works best for them, and the rest of us can join when it works out with our schedules.
  2. Thanks, Rob! A few people reached out privately with some suggestions, and some concerns about Covid. I'm still a few weeks away from my second shot, so I'm concerned as well. April 24/25 is my last free weekend for a while, so if there's a small number of fully- or partially-vaccinated folks who are OK with the risk/reward tradeoffs involved with the trip (and ONLY if the weather cooperates), I'll keep organizing. I'm also fine with filing this away as a good idea for early-season camping in 2022, or with stepping aside and letting someone else take it forward for only those with a fully-punched ticket/upper deltoid. Happy kayak camping, all!
  3. Since there's another NSPN event this weekend, and my weekend just got less available than it was 2 hours ago, I'm going to withdraw this trip. I'd still like to get out for a short overnight this month, so if this trip interests you, let's talk about the weekend of April 24/25, and proceed if there's interest and cooperative weather. High tide 9:40AM Saturday 4/24, 10:30AM Sunday 4/25. So we'd need to launch from Hingham by 10:30AM on April 24th. It's a nearly-full moon that weekend, so there may be werewolves and we'll have to drag the boats up higher.
  4. Oh, sorry about that! Somehow I conflated the Easter plunge with the cold water workshop, and thought it had already occurred. Happy plunging/workshopping, everyone!
  5. All this recent talk about Boston Harbor paddling has me itching to get out for an early-season overnight, and this weekend's weather and tides look perfect for an overnight at Langlee Island in Hingham Harbor. High tides around noon both days make for easy launching from Hingham Harbor, and low tides at 6PM mean plenty of beach for exploring and for below-the-tide-line driftwood fires. Overnight lows are a balmy 45, and the wind and boat traffic are both expected to be light. I'm thinking something along the lines of a noonish launch from Hingham Harbor on Saturday, leisurely exploring of Grape, Bumpkin, and the inner islands, socially-distanced camping on Langlee, and a return back to the cars around noon on Sunday. Open to a max of 5 paddlers, drysuits required, and due to the early season and water temperatures, this can't be your first time kayak camping. If there is any interest at all by Wednesday morning, I'll get in touch with the harbormaster and reserve the island for Saturday night.
  6. Lovells is my pick. Some great waterfront sites, way down to the left, furthest from the water taxi landing. All of the sites feel very remote and private. The group camping area (may not be open in COVID times) is a grassy field, in the middle. Less interesting than the individual beachfront sites. You can walk all the way around Lovells on easy gravel at lower tides. Have seen bioluminescence there. The downsides are that it's the hardest one to get to (an upside, in my book), and it's closest to Logan airport. Bring earplugs for sleeping. Peddocks: Short access from the tip of Hull, if you can park still there. We used to be able to park overnight at the high school in summer, but finding parking was always a challenge. "Easy" paddle across Hull Gut at slack, otherwise, it's an adventure. The yurts and tent sites are up a fairly large hill. They may have carts to haul stuff, but it's at least a 10 minute walk up a gravel road from the water. Group site is a grassy field near some of the abandoned buildings. This is a great island for a big group, a group with mixed interests or early and late risers (some can go a big day paddle, others can walk and explore the history...) Grape has a great group site with water views on a grassy field right at the water's edge, with a big shade tree. The campsites on that island were hacked into the overgrowth and you would be hard-pressed to fit a second tent in any of the individual sites. Not impressed (this was 2012, perhaps they've made improvements). We got lucky and they bumped us to the group site. Overnight parking in Hingham harbor proved to be the best option - just call Hingham PD and give plate info for permission. It's a mud flat at lower tides, so pick the right weekend dates. Good food/beer directly across from boat ramp. It may still be possible to schedule a landing and coast guard tour of the lighthouse on Little Brewster.
  7. Peter Sawtell from Seven Rivers Paddling was offering Isle of Shoals trips in 2018 - not sure if there was an overnight component or not. I see no mention on his current site. He was one of the boat providers and headed up the boating safety crew for Untamed New England 2018. After seeing he had Isle of Shoals trips on his website, I was terrified that the four day race was going to end with an open water crossing to Star Island. Instead we fought the tide from Dover up into Great Bay, all the way to Newmarket, and then rode the tide down to finish in Kittery. The worst lightning I've ever experienced came through right as we were about to push off at dusk in Dover. They called us back as we were launching and we rode out the storm (and the rest of the night) in the back of a leaky U-haul truck. The next day, Peter pulled us back over at Goat Island to ride out another storm cell right as we were about to run the wave trains under the General Sullivan bridge. I'll add my name to the list of interested paddlers, but only if there's no lightning.
  8. You're probably thinking of a "bothy". I carry this one for winter hiking and the occasional cold weather paddle. Bothy Bag 4 Person – Bothy Bags made in UK (summitgear.co.uk)
  9. We didn't get to have our traditional Solstice Paddle this summer, so let's at least get together online for a Winter Solstice happy hour of happiness. This year's winter solstice is at 5:02AM, which seems a little early, even for this crowd, so let's start things off at 7:32PM, a mere 14.5 hours into this winter of our discontent. Please join me from the comfort of your own comfy chair or survival bunker for an hour of virtual socializing and storytelling with your fellow NSPN paddlers-in-exile, from 7:32PM-8:32PM on Monday, December 21st. At the anointed hour, click the following link to join: [removed now that event has passed] You'll be asked for a passcode to join. You have to enter a number. I've tried to make it easy enough for the NSPN crowd to figure out, while thwarting the Zoom-crashing bots. It's the number of cockpits in your kayak. It's the leading digit on Tom Brady's old jersey. It's how old you'd be on your first birthday. Enjoy these last few days of autumn (that reminds me, I should probably start raking leaves), and I hope to see you all in winter, on Monday, on the Zoomies. - Dan You'll need a laptop computer, phone, or tablet with a front-facing video camera and a microphone, and you'll be prompted to run some free video conferencing software from Zoom when you join the meeting. If you haven't used Zoom or other video chat/conferencing software before, you might want to click the link below a few minutes ahead of time, to give yourself time to test your video and audio settings. Sharing photos: Zoom has several ways to share photos. If you'd like to do a slideshow or give a presentation to the group, the easiest way to do that is to share your screen from a laptop or desktop computer. In reality, this usually ends up causing a two-minute interruption while people try to figure out why it's not working. For simple sharing of a single photo, try the following: Option 1: Make it a virtual background: click the options arrow next to the Video icon in Zoom, and click Choose Virtual Background. Select the photo you want to share with the group, which will then appear behind your disembodied head using a "green screen" effect. You can duck your head completely out of frame if needed, or point to stuff behind you like you're a TV weather caster. Option 2: Make it your Zoom profile photo, and it will show up when you click Stop Video. To do this, click the options arrow next to the Video icon in Zoom, click Video Settings, and then click the Profile tab. Click the picture icon above your name to change your profile picture. If you turn off your video camera during the call, we'll see your profile picture instead. Virtual meeting etiquette for large groups: Mute your microphone if you're doing something else in the background or need to move around. Laptop users can stay muted and then hold Spacebar to unmute whenever they want to jump in with a comment. Speaking of jumping in, it takes us a second or two to realize who has started speaking, so it can get confusing if people throw in a quick one word reply or question. Keep talking, or use hand signals (thumbs up, wave, etc) instead of "yes", "hi", "bye". For the best video quality, try to pick a spot in your house with plenty of light and make sure the brightest light is in front of you, and not behind you! (sit facing a window or lamp, with a wall with no windows behind you). Virtual backgrounds (when not sharing a photo with the group) and snap filters (puppy dog ears, and the like) can be extremely distracting. Sit close enough to the camera that we can see your face. It's more fun when we we can see you and your facial expressions! These are meant to be light and airy social occasions and to offer an escape from the news cycle, politics, and negativity. If you get booted or muted, that's why.
  10. Cabela's in Hudson MA usually has a bunch, sometimes tied up along the outside wall or on display inside. I've shopped for fishing kayaks for myself, for a family member on a lake, and for a friend who fishes for stripers off Marblehead. Reflecting on the following might help steer you to a good purchase: - What conditions? Choppy ocean? Placid lake? [how much freeboard, how stable...] - Do they want to stand to sight-cast or fly fish? [wide, extra wide, or so wide it doubles as a dock...] - Are they minimalists or kitchen sink fisher-persons? - Transportation to/from the water? Drag down the lawn from the lakehouse? Car topping? Trailer? [heavy, extra heavy, or ...] - How do they feel about getting in and out of a tippy kayak? I ended up with a plastic fishing SUP which is perfect for my minimalist fishing use - a big flat area to stand/move around on, with a single rod and small tackle box clipped onto a deck line. My friend ended up with a pair of Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 kayaks which are light enough to shoulder onto J-racks on a subaru, and we use milk crates with two rod holders behind us for tackle. My father's main criteria was something he could easily get in and out of, which wasn't obvious until we tried a few options. A sturdy strap tied to the bow toggle helps a lot. A few boat types just to get you started: Wilderness Systems Tarpon Tarpon 120 - 2020 | Wilderness Systems Kayaks | USA & Canada Ocean Kayak Malibu Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 Sit-on-Top Kayak | Cabela's Hobie Mirage pedal kayaks Kayak & Fishing Kayak | Hobie If you have a chance to see a bunch in person, open one of the access hatches and get a sense for how thick/flimsy the plastic feels, and how the rigging is attached. On the low end, I found several promising options that we immediately rejected for durability issues.
  11. This was a great trip and learning experience. I look foward to all the future NSPN incident reports that start with "I was contemplating a diabase sill when the sleeper wave lifted me into the argillite..." Thanks Joe and Bob for all the planning and preparation that went into this trip. Viva Avalonia!
  12. Romaine's sunset paddle: A preview of 2021's "A road less paddled by" trip, for those of you who want to make a true multi-sport weekend of it:
  13. This year's Squam Lake camping trip featured some of the most pleasant weather and paddling conditions that we've ever seen there. Daytime temps were in the high 70s, overnight lows in the high 50s, and the wind was most notably absent. Fall foliage was still a bit muted along the Squam Ridge that forms the northern backdrop for our paddles, but the maples and cranberries in the wetland coves we visited were ablaze. This was the year for paddling in shorts and t-shirts, for lunchtime swims and sunbathing on sun-warmed rocky ledges, for sunsets tinged with a hint of wildfire smoke, for sunset paddles and pre-dawn paddles, for close encounters with loons, and socially-distanced encounters with other looney types.
  14. Last call for Squam camping - please get in touch if you'd like to join us.
  15. Bumping this trip posting to gauge if there's additional interest. This trip and the RSVP deadline was announced in the "before times". Given the slightly different world we now find ourselves in, I'm thinking that if this trip goes forward, it will be limited to 6 campers (two tents on opposite ends of each camping platform ought to allow for social/snorer distancing). I'm asking now for anyone who would consider going to Squam this year *if COVID rates and regulations in New England stay approximately what they are today* to get in touch - either by RSVPing on the calendar, posting below, or sending me a private message.
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