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(10/18/98 -- Keith Attenborough) What flavor is that humble pie? (aka Keith has a bad day


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Consistent with my own suggestion, so far endorsed by only one other, but for some of us it doesn't take much encouragement, here is a trip report from this Sunday's jaunt.

Decided to take a morning lap around what on the chart is called "Bigelow Bight", but what I think is more often called Ipswich/Essex Bay. Figured to launch from Pavilion Beach (the site of this coming Saturday's Show and Go), paddle along Crane's Beach, past the mouth of the Essex River, continue along the North Shore of Cape Ann to Lane's Cove, then head straight back to Pavilion. Total planned distance, about 12NM. Laid it all out the night before, plotted some compass headings for practice, filled in the log board I sometimes carry when I'm really impressed with myself.

Got up a little later than planned, but still cleared the house in good order and put in at 08:10. Headed out against the incoming tide, but with the wind at my back. The tidal currents can be interesting in this area, with distinct eddy lines emphasized by the wind against tide effect. Nothing like Bob and crew saw at Wood's Hole, which is good since I'm not up to that stuff, but enough to expose a relative novice like me to what it feels like. Headed down along Crane's, enough offshore to be out near the bouy line.

Wind kicked up, which initially was kinda cool, I mean, hadn't I just gone through BCU 2/3 Star, sweep strokes included. Paddle, sweep, paddle, sweep, paddle, sweep, paddle, oh, to heck with it, skeg, paddle, paddle, paddle. Love that skeg. Kept moving along, singing my song.... Beginning to think to myself, "Self, you just might be ready to go with Leon on the Cape Ann circumnavigation."

After about twenty minutes, begin to feel stiff, especially in the back and abdominals. Hadn't had that feeling in a while, must just need to focus on stroke style, get that good trunk rotation that the BCU folks talked about, I'll be fine. Then I remembered -- trunk rotation is good because it brings the strong muscles of the abdomen into play. There is an underlying assumption here, that the paddler actually has abdominals -- I don't. Oh well, keep going, it's a beautiful day.

Got to the mouth of the Essex River and by this time had the torso flexibility of quick set concrete -- just absolutely stiff. No idea why, but just really tight. Decided enough is enough and headed back. Into the wind. The gusty, small whitecapping wind. The operative term was "slog". Finally got back, never in any danger, just very, very stiff and with the exciting prospect of being sore for the upcoming week. And completely puzzled as to why. Had only gone 7.5NM and taken 3 hours (considerably slower than normal).

Later that day, the light dawned (and memory came back). In an attempt to be Joe Kayaker, I had decided I needed a "tighter fit" in my boat. Figured I would start by shortening my foot rest a little to give me a snugger fit into the seat and better brace. So I added a quarter inch (that's all) of closed cell foam to the foot rest. It was enough. Apparently the changed leg angle combined with the added pressure from having less leg stretch acted to lock up my hips and lower back. It had happened a couple of years ago in another boat, but I hadn't remembered initially. It is also consistent with a written comment from Nigel Foster in an article on footgear -- he mentioned wearing a pair with a thicker sole than he was used to and being very uncomfortable.

Lessons learned: (1) Minor adjustments can make a major difference -- that quarter inch of foam is history. (2) Fit the boat to you, not you to the boat. Padding should give you good purchase and help you hold your position, not cause you to be shoe-horned in.

Oh yeah, that humble pie -- tastes like Advil and smells faintly of Ben-Gay.

See you on the water.


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