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Dan Foster

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  1. It used to be that if you sent a drysuit in to Kokatat for a gasket replacement, they'd do a free water test and make repairs, am I remembering that right? Now they've got a separate $45 factory water test option on the page where you'd order a gasket replacement. They also now offer annual service plans. Has anyone sent in a suit for a gasket replacement recently? Can you confirm whether or not they are still doing complimentary water tests, or if you need to order that as well?
  2. You might also join the Merrimack Valley Paddlers FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/244781862345264 There's talk about pool sessions at Colby Sawyer college. Ongoing discussion about all the local pool sessions this season: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wheresthewhitewaterat/permalink/10166860482295174/ AMC CT has pool sessions posted, others may follow: Appalachian Mountain Club - Event Listings (search for keyword "pool")
  3. Join the "Where's the Whitewater at?" facebook group. They've organized Wednesday evening pool sessions in Athol, MA, and Sundays in North Adams, MA. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wheresthewhitewaterat Athol Area YMCA Duration: 1 hr 45 min Public · Anyone on or off Facebook Kayak rolling indoor pool session! Location is the Athol YMCA. Address is 545 Main Street, Athol, MA 01331. The pool will be open from 7pm-8:45pm. Please show up a few minutes early to thoroughly rinse your boat inside and out with the provided hose bib on the pool deck. Cost is $15/pp for the session and payment can be made by either cash or Venmo to myself upon arrival.
  4. Ed and Joe: See option 2 here: U.S. Office of Coast Survey GIS Data The NOAA Chart Display Service renders NOAA ENC data with "traditional paper chart" symbols, labels, and color schemes familiar to those who have used NOAA paper nautical charts or the NOAA Custom Chart application. It's not the same as the old raster charts, but it's a bit more familiar looking than the global ENC symbology. Unfortunately, it's really only useful for those of us writing mapping apps - it's not designed for end users. But it does sound like NOAA is listening to feedback.
  5. I have some large pieces of 2" white closed-cell foam, which was previously installed as side flotation in my canoe's former whitewater outfitting. It's not as dense as the new minicell stuff, but the price is right. I'm currently using three pieces, laminated together with contact cement, as a pedestal/saddle canoe seat, and have been thinking about building my own kayak bulkhead out of it. It's got various cut-outs to fit around thwarts and seats, so probably best to bring over a cardboard template of your hull shape and we can see if there's a piece that would work.
  6. The National Weather Service is considering adding a new Wave Detail line to their marine forecasts, which will indicate the primary and secondary swell height, period, and direction: Old: TONIGHT...NE winds around 10 kt. Gusts up to 20 kt this evening.Seas 3 to 4 ft. New: TONIGHT...NE winds around 10 kt. Gusts up to 20 kt this evening.Seas 3 to 4 ft. Wave Detail: E 3 ft at 7 seconds and E 2 ft at11 seconds. They've got a feedback form if anyone wants to chime in. Seems like a useful addition to the paddling forecast! Experimental Coastal Waters Forecast Wave Component Update (weather.gov) Proposed Coastal Waters Forecast - NWS Boston/Norton, MA (weather.gov)
  7. Ahhh, right you are! Google Earth shows a fair-sized house nestled in the woods. A further review of the park maps shows that Eastern Head is part of Acadia NP, but the Ear is privately owned. My apologies to the owner for our brief stop on the beach.
  8. In early August 2022, Janet, Kate, and I spent a full week exploring the islands off Stonington, ME, and were joined by Gary for the middle part of our trip. We launched from Sand Beach in Stonington, taking advantage of the convenient and reasonably-priced car shuttle and parking from nearby Greenlaw's Campground. Our first stop was Steve Island, a beautiful MITA island where the wrap-around granite ledges provided easy access to protected cooking sites, numerous sun-bathing, relaxing, and gear-drying options, and views of some spectacular sunsets. Day 2 was the "nickel tour" of the archipelago, including a stop at the flooded quarry at MCHT's Green Island Preserve for a refreshing dip. After two nights on Steve's, it was time to pack up and head south to Kimball, which would be our base for exploring Isle au Haut. We visited the NE campsite on Harbor (spacious site with a tricky ledge landing) and scoped out the two-tent-max site on Nathan along the way. Kimball has its own all-tides landing beach, multiple nice tent pads, and a well-maintained hiking trail that leads up and over the island to a shell beach facing Isle au Haut. It was a great location! Since Kimball and some of the other islands in this report are privately owned, and part of the MITA trail due to the generosity of the landowners, this seems a good time to mention that... Access to coastal islands is a privilege built on landowner trust and visitor care. Visitation guidelines vary by island and owner expectations can change from year to year. When planning a trip, please be sure you have the most up to date information for each island, and be a mindful guest when you visit. The Maine Island Trail Association is a good source of information about many coastal Maine islands open for recreational use, www.MITA.org. MITA membership is the best way to keep current and support responsible use and stewardship of these special places. We pitched camp and then decided to paddle up to the National Park Service's Duck Harbor Campground on Isle au Haut, taking advantage of the lee shore to hide from the wind. We rode waves up the outside of Kimball, catching long rides and enjoying the thrill of zipping along the wild coastline. Rounding Kimball, we realized that the wind had increased dramatically, and that the lee we'd expected between the islands was actually a funnel. We gave up on Duck Harbor (we'd see it tomorrow) and put our full effort into getting back to camp. It was a slog, and the toughest paddling of the trip. We finally pulled into the little town dock at Isle au Haut and had some lunch. Things slackened on the short paddle back to camp, where the whitecaps mysteriously disappeared as we landed, and Gary, who launched to meet us at about that time, reported light breezes on his afternoon paddle to Kimball. Tuesday's weather remained unsettled, so we opted for a hiking day on Isle au Haut. This time, the four mile paddle to Duck Harbor was a success, and we landed as best we could and carried boats up to the grass near the ferry boat landing. (There is slightly better landing a bit further down the cove, but the entire harbor is a slippery, rocky mess below mid-tide). We checked out the six lean-to campsites and then set out for a day of hiking along the Western Head, Cliff, and Duck Harbor Mountain trails. The trail winds its way toward Western Ear, crossing cobble beaches and rocky outcrops before ducking (and harboring) back into the black spruce forest. The overcast skies and swirling mist complimented the trail perfectly, and I felt we were stepping back in time as we weaved in and out of bogs, forest, and wild coast. At Western Ear, we paused to reflect on the bounty of the sea. We then made our way along the Cliff Trail, admiring the rugged coastline of high cliffs, massive slots, and the wild water below. About 15 minutes into our lunch stop, a massive wall of whitewater erupted over a ledge about a quarter-mile out to sea, and we spent some time debating whether it had been doing so all along, just hidden from our view in the fog, or if this was a sleeping boomer, just waiting for the right combination of waves to catch kayakers unaware. We never saw it explode like that again. It was a bit disturbing, as we'd be paddling inside of that ledge on our circumnavigation tomorrow. The Duck Harbor Mountain trail featured some ridiculous scrambles, as we worked our way up (and often down!) granite ledges to a viewpoint several hundred feet above the ocean. We'd had the trails to ourselves up until now, when the bubble of hikers from the 10AM mail boat to Duck Harbor came through. Most notable was a group of five young women followed closely by a young man wearing only green underpants. "It's really hot" was the excuse we were given. To his credit, it was. The gusty winds which had plagued us throughout the first few days of the trip finally settled down, and Wednesday turned out to be a perfect day for our circumnavigation of Isle au Haut. We made quick work of the paddle around the south and east sides of the island, and made a difficult landing on Eastern Ear. Continuing around the outside of the Ear, we were surprised to see someone on shore, photographing us as we made our way around the wild rocky point. There was no sign of a boat, a tent, or even a good place to land a boat, and we debated the possibility of swimming over from Eastern Head for the day at low tide. The stretch of coast "Between the Ears" was spectacular, and thankfully, much milder than the raging conditions we'd seen from above the day before. There were cliffs, pockets, slots, and waves, and we took our time, admiring the scenery and soaking in the interaction between Atlantic swell and prehistoric granite. We landed for lunch just shy of Duck Harbor, at one of the cobble beaches we'd hiked the day before. A steady stream of park visitors hiked through as we refueled and relaxed. Then it was back up the western coast and around Kimball one last time to complete the 18 nautical mile circumnavigation of Isle au Haut. Breaking camp the next morning, we set out for the campsite on the north side of Saddleback Island, where we'd talked to a group of free-diving kayakers earlier in the week. As we approached, a small boat was headed right for the campsite, and the race was on. They got there first, and began unloading large waterproof boxes and some suspiciously-chainsaw-shaped objects, which turned out to be chainsaw-shaped chainsaws. It was MCHT's trail crew, here for a day of trail work and island maintenance. We made a hasty camp, thanked them for their service, and beat a hasty retreat back onto the water as the saws and weed whackers roared to life. We lunched, lazed, loafed, and lingered on the lovely Enchanted Island, which sports a beach straight out of the Caribbean. Passing Spruce, we debated the possible workings of a granite driveway rising straight from the sea, inflatable boats with drop-down wheels in the stern, and a winch and pulley system at the top of the "driveway", presumably to make it easier to head into town for groceries. Given our own private island and enough free time, I suspect one of us would eventually engineer a similar solution, though probably not without several mishaps involving spilt milk, cracked eggs, and sunken duck boats along the way. On the way back to camp, Janet and I encountered a pair of Harbor Porpoises working their way through a dense field of lobster traps, and floated in wonder as they swam up to and beneath our boats, surfacing every 30 seconds or so take a blowy breath of air before arching back down again. On Friday morning, we waved goodbye as Gary departed for home through the dense fog, and then set out to explore our way down toward Naskeag. We island-hopped through the fog down to Eastern Mark, and then over to the Lazygut Thrumcaps. We found the MITA description of the Lazygut Thrumcaps entirely confusing, as it referenced three islands - one private with a cottage, one (outer) day-use-only, and one (inner) with camping. Approaching from the south, we saw three islands, labelled Lazygut Islands on the chart, with a prominent cottage on the westernmost one, and a large channel between it and the others. It would appear that there are actually FOUR islands here, the two MITA Thrumcaps being separated by about a 6 foot channel that is a sand bar/beach at most tides. Both the western-most and eastern-most have cottages on them. USGS topo shows four distinct islands, my chart showed three, and Janet's showed what looked more like a cove than a bifurcation of the Thrumcaps. Some mention of the "other" Lazygut island in the MITA guide, and the use of some cardinal directions rather than inner and outer, might help future visitors. To make things even more confusing, today's nickel tour of the western islands was affectionately called "Sheep, Little Sheep, Other Sheep, Bigger Little Sheep", in honor of the two pairs of Sheep/Little Sheep islands within three miles of each other. I famously spent an hour last July with another group, hunting in vain through dense blowdown on Sheep (Deer Isle) for "the campsite facing Little Sheep", which was actually located three miles east of us on Sheep (Stonington). Since the fog had dispersed, we paddled across Eggemoggin Reach to Crow, admiring the octagonal house in its center which appears hollow, thanks to its enormous glass windows. A central fireplace and hood must provide an exceedingly-wonderful spot to watch storms roll in across the waters, with views to Acadia rising beyond. We proceeded across to Sellers and MCHT's Hog Island, which has LOTS of group camping options. Working our way back toward home now, we paddled past the first of many Potato islands (this one closed for nesting bald eagles in 2022 - a good reminder to check those MITA guides before visiting!), waved to the Deer Isle Sheep/ettes, and rounded Stinson Neck. There, a huge wooden staircase descended toward the water from a cluster of small cabins, all tucked into the surrounding woods on at least four levels. We were befuddled, especially about the grand descending staircase, which was at least 20 feet wide. This turned out to be the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. The staircase serves as a central meeting point for the artists and artisans who spend residencies there, and encourages the interchange of ideas, and the whole site's architecture has won numerous awards. We enjoyed one final campfire on the beach before tucking in for a final night's sleep on the islands, and our paddle back to civilization the next day. Thanks to MITA, MCHT, and the National Park Service for making these experiences possible, and to Janet, Kate, and Gary for being such wonderful paddling, hiking, and camping companions. Link to more photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UTF15qwiR4F3fbMr6
  9. Just saw this trip posted by AMC - some of you (not me!) have expressed interest in paddling out there. Isle of Shoals - Appalachian Mountain Club - Event Listings (outdoors.org)
  10. Several of the bolt/knob sets on my ~7-year-old Thule folding J-cradles have decided to get permanently hitched. Including, infuriatingly, a pair that I'd removed from the rack, oiled, and screwed together for storage. A couple other sets had to be hacksawed off last season and replaced with new hardware. Until recently, I've installed the racks at the beginning of the season, and left them on the crossbars until autumn. Presumably, salt and water work their magic and fuse the hardware together. I can't be the only one with this problem. What do you all do in terms of kayak rack maintenance, and how have you avoided or dealt with salt-water-induced corrosion of the stock (non-stainless) hardware that comes with Thule and Yakima racks? Has anyone replaced the non-stainless bolts with stainless carriage bolts and knobs? (M6x75mm, 1.0 pitch for Thule, 1/4"-20 for Yakima)
  11. A day or so after posting, you can no longer edit or remove a post without an admin's help. I took a guess at which post you were referring to and removed the phone number and hid the post about the Keowee kayak. If there's something else, tell us which post you want removed and someone with admin powers can handle it.
  12. I'd probably try sticking needle nose pliers through the tether hole, grab the tip of the bungee, and pull it as taut as possible to reduce its diameter. Then pull it through. You could also pull the bungee taut, wrap it with electrical tape or whip it with dental floss to hold the reduced diameter, and then snip off the end. Wrap a tapered "nose cone" of electrical tape to help start it through the hole. Or just drill out the tether hole a bit.
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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