Jump to content

First CAM Summer Session (07/16/16)


Recommended Posts

Since the June CAM session had been cancelled to due high winds, this was the first summer CAM session, and a new experiment to expand the traditional CAM trainings into the summer months.  Since the winter classroom workshops and spring on-water sessions are more leadership based, I thought it would be a good change of pace and focus on the individuals becoming assets as part of a group.  The day started out discussing the overall Portsmouth & Piscataqua area, weather (primarily wind), sea state (flat) a quick review of the challenges in comparing tide with currents and the time differences of each between relatively close locations.

The group was then tasked with coming up with a route for the day, and a counter-clockwise circumnavigation of New Castle Island was quickly presented.  The discussion included the ebbing tide all day, how back-eddies would help us, the challenges of rounding headlands against the current, back-up plans, wind hazards, and sea state on the exposed portion.  Everyone was very confident based on all that had been discussed, so we proceeded to discuss other CAM aspects such as how to launch and paddle as a group before putting on the water a few minutes after high tide.

When we approached the break wall and prepared to cross the channel, we decided to wait for two incoming vessels to pass..... and waited....... and waited..... and waited!  These had to have been the SLOWEST boats I have ever seen!  EVER!  The second boat was within a hundred feet of us and I still thought we could make it across with plenty of time, but instead took the opportunity to present the topic of one or more wet-exits in the middle of a channel with approaching vessels.  It was a good discussion taking up just the right amount of time for the power boat (apparently attempting to "sail" up-wind, he was going so slow!) to pass and for us to make our crossing.  it was not an optimal formation, so we grouped up again and discussed how we could have improved it, before moving on and rounding Jaffrey Point.

The shoals just off the point made a liar out of me, and the sea was not as flat as I said it was when Cathy and I took a look just south of Odiornes Point before getting to the boat ramp.  However, Cathy kept calling out "just keep paddling", and the group remained strong since the waves from the shoals died off before really getting to us nearer to the shore.  As we approached a possible lunch spot at Great Island Commons, it was still only 11:30 and people were feeling good, so everyone decided to keep going.  The plan was to group up just south of the Fort Point light house and review the next leg.  As we were making our way and chatting among ourselves, I thought I heard some kids playing in the water behind us, but did not recall seeing any along the shore.  I glanced back and it took me a split second to realize that I was looking at Cathy's boat upside down.  I looked around the group to reassure myself that she was indeed not among us, and cursing under my breath, secured the group and dealt with the "incident".  Hopefully we ALL learned to keep a closer eye on each other throughout the rest of the day.

Once at the light house, we review the challenges of the currents around headlands and the fact that we would be turning into the West winds shortly.  As we rounded the point, the group seemed to be unphased as we encountered our first bit of current, and even with the boat wakes as we headed up river, the potentially nervous among our group hid any signs of trepidation extremely well.  We marveled at the old Naval Prison on Seavey Island while paddling through the lump and bump of the Piscataqua River:DSC01913.JPG

Once we hit the northeastern tip of Goat Island, the group encountered a 3-knot current with a near-building tiderace and got hung up a little bit, paddling well but making no headway.  Surprisingly, it only took the slightest bit of encouragement and getting people to check their progress against the shoreline and made it though with barely any concerns and a bunch of smiles at their accomplishment. While the group got back together and took a quick breather, I took a minute to have a little fun in the messy race, and then got back with the group has we headed on into the area of the Piscataqua River where the island are - what would you call this area?

At lunch, we spent a good deal of time talking about different forms of leadership on different types of CAM trips, ranging from who could be leaders when, and how many or few leaders a trip can have.  I think that the biggest takeaway from the conversation was that paddlers who are not yet ready to lead their own trips should still be encouraged to design and post trips on the Trips forum with the express caveat that they are seeking assistance with logistics, planning, and/or leadership from the more experienced paddlers from the club.

After lunch, the still ebbing tide brought us quickly to the Wentworth Bridge where a number of us took a few minutes to play in whatever currently was left creating eddies at the bridge abutments.  From there, it was the ever-challenging efforts to find and maintain the channel back to the Odiorne boat ramp for a near-exact 3pm return.

I really had a great day on the water with a very adventurous group.  There were plenty of good questions and discussions, and I hope that everyone learned some valuable information about what it means to participate in a CAM trip.  The next session is scheduled for August 27th, and we can only hope for weather this good!  Thanks to all of our participants, and I look forward to paddling with every one of you again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Excellent summary of the day. I enjoyed our group and congratulate you on a super CAM learning experience. You are a very good coach and I do appreciate your ideas and insights on how to interprete CAM rules with a tincture of common sense and experience. Thank you for organizing this and thanks go to Cathy as well, particularly for her purposeful capsize which went unnoticed by everyone cept you-good lesson there! That 3K tide race was a bit surprising and interestingly not predictable by any of the current tables that I looked at last night. Just another quirk of the notorious Piscataqua.



Edited by Gcosloy
add pics
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Rob and Cathy for a great paddle!  The world of CAM and sea kayaking in general is still new to me so I really learned a lot from the discussion of tides, current, wind, channel crossing, etc.  Circumnavigating New Castle and playing in the current under the bridge was a blast.  Great meeting all of the other members too.  Hope to join you guys for the next one!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...