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Beyond the Verge


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Okay. I did it. I showed up at the Charles to "race" with the sprint boaters and former Olympians. And, I came in way, way ahead of everyone who stayed home to watch TV.

Thanks to Marc Schlosser for the forward stroke clinic and video taping last Saturday. My goal for the night was to try to maintain the proper stroke over the distance (which I thought would be 3 miles since I intended to only do the "short course" but turned out to be 5 miles since only that course was being done).

Thanks to Ken Cooper for being so encouraging about more sea kayaks showing up. There were more this time. If we get enough of them, we can jam up the river and those fast sprint boats won't be able to get through on the way back from the turn-around to beat us. :-))

I now have a "personal best" time (1:10) that I will try to beat when I do this again in 2 weeks.

Interesting (to me at least) highlights:

For the 3 mile course you head immediately upstream. For the 5 mile course you head downstream. Never having been there, I just followed the group - catching enough of a glimpse of the last paddler around corners to know which turn to take next. Once I was beyond the range of the casual rent-a-boat paddlers it got very quiet and peaceful. (I realize this is a somewhat different experience than the sprint boaters and other sea kayakers had.)

I decided to paddle with my eyes closed to concentrate on my form and how my boat felt. A great exercise: let the paddle drop on the right, at my feet, turn the torso while keeping the high hand high, let the paddle drop on the left, turn the torso while keeping the high hand high - listen to the water, see if I can make it more quiet... quieter paddle, quieter boat, eyes closed. Then all hell breaks loose on the right bank-SPLASH, SPLASH. Two big Labs jumped in the water right next to me. Scared the beejesus (sp?) out of me. I nearly capsized. And broke my rhythm too. :(( So much for paddling with my eyes closed.

Okay, so I paddled throught the lily ponds, occasionally shaking the vegetation from my paddle - is there a better line through there that others found? Turning yet another bend I see a boat house in the distance. I had not realized there was a second boat house on the Charles. How tasteful to have built it in the same style. Wait a minute. Where am I anyway? In Massachusetts. For sure. Keep paddling. No other racers in sight. Duh! I'm back to where we started.

I suddenly had a vague recollection of Marc saying something about the 5 mile course heading downstream then back up and following the 3 mile course. Okay. Now I'll do the course we did Saturday, but I can't remember which bridge was the turnaround spot. Surely I will spot someone returning and can ask. Yep. Here they come. No one looked in the mood for a little chit chat about directions, however. Fortunately, for me, Marc was not feeling that great and decided to paddle about rather than stick to the course. I got to have some company for the last .5 mile up, and the return trip.

What I learned: My forward stroke is definitely coming along when I concentrate hard, but falls apart when I tire or stop paying attention. The seat of my Gulfstream (and probably any other boat I ever buy) is definitely coming OUT. I'll fiddle with a foam seat until I get it right. Having to take my feet off the foot pegs to stretch my legs (which were cramping and going to sleep) every 2 miles of steady paddling is not acceptable. And, it causes me to lose time!

Liz N.

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I had a similar canine incident last summer on the Saugus River. Someone’s Rottweiler lunged at me through the eel grass. Fortunately the dog was chained, halting the attack right at the waters edge. It scared me so badly I almost hit a shopping cart.

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