The Paddling on the Colorado River continues.


The pics are in the same folder on flickr as yesterday’s post.

For an overview of the trip you can see this page

Michael Storer’s USA trip posts

http://www.flickr.com/photos/boatmik/3978286183/in/set-72157622510542194/

So .. the morning was calm, but the paddle today was much longer.

Remember that I am not a real Canoeist.  I have paddled quite a range of different boats at some time or another, I do know basic strokes, I have used canoes to do several day tours (Noosa River, Hawkesbury River) but this trip was to much more remote areas.  Closest towns 50 or so kilometres away, we were likely to be pretty well the only people on that area of water after the weekend, we had to carry everything including food as there are no shops.

If I capsized it was self rescuing too … it was unlikely that there would be anywhere flat to pull ashore.  The area also can have temperatures down to zero at nights, sudden rainstorms or gales that blow up out of nowhere.

So … REAL canoing … or kayaking.

So the day before the boats arrived one by one.  The sailboats were the slowest because of a lack of wind coming in an hour or three later than the canoes and rowboats.

Here is the Penguin sailing in

Penguin dinghy cruising into our harbour

Penguin dinghy cruising into our "harbour"

Followed by Mike and Michelle in the Sea Pearl

Sea Pearl gets closer

Sea Pearl gets closer

They wheeled upwind to drop their sails and to assess the approach.

Sea Pearl head to wind

Sea Pearl head to wind

The ripple rock was even more spectacular here.

Rock formed when this area was the bottom of the ocean.

Rock formed when this area was the bottom of the ocean.

So I talked about the great meal put on by the Texas Canoe contingent and a good nights sleep … we headed off onto the much longer paddle of the second day.  It was about 15 miles compared to the 6 of the previous day.

And there was no wind at all for the sailboats.

I caught up with the sailboats and they were doing this.

I caught up with the sailboats and they were doing this.

Jim Thayer in the bigger double ended sailboat was being towed by the little Penguin.

They were moving along slowly.

Then the three rowing boats came through while I was dawdling along.  We actually were going pretty much the same speed – in fact I was able to keep ahead of everyone for much of the day.  This is a boat designed by Paul Gartside and built and owned by Jeff Saar.  It is very pretty and goes very well.  The sail is for downwind only as there is no centreboard or leeboard.

Jeff Saar

Jeff Saar

The three rowboats were travelling together and looked picturesque because the hull designs were so different.

Three Men in Three Boats

Three Men in Three Boats

In the flat and light conditions I amused myself by shooting behind big rocks and ambushing people.  Joe, Sandra and Chuck got into it too.

Joe and me going the wrong side of boulders that have dropped from the cliff.

Joe and me going the wrong side of boulders that have dropped from the cliff.

Reflections - it was hard not to pull out my camera every 37 seconds.

Reflections - it was hard not to pull out my camera every 37 seconds.

I even started to feel enthusiastic about the rocks!

I even started to feel enthusiastic about the rocks!

There was a much wider part of the lake to move along.  The wind had come up to about 15 to 18 knots from the front so it was hard to paddle against it.  On the good side my kayak was nicely set up for paddling upwind – it weathercocked well because the skeg was perhaps a little small so the deepness of the forefoot made it very stable against the wind and waves.

I ended up having a nice race against the Dory and the Double ended rowboat – which I won by some margin (they may have not known that it was a race).  Was also fun using a few islands to block the wind and waves and working out which shore was most protected.  The waves were big enough to knock me over if I was careless.

Castle Butte - our target.

Castle Butte - our target.

But it was sunny and warm.  The pic above was an isthmus of flat and hard rock.  I stopped there to watch for the others because I didn’t want to become separated from the group.   The Gartside rowboat went past me while I was waiting for Chuck, Sandra and Joe.  We did not see it again that day as it overshot our campsite and ended up a few extra miles up the lake.

The philosophy was that each of us was self sufficient.  That if we got separated we all had a tent, food, water.  Some even had a dog – there were three on the trip.

The place I took the photo from above ended up being the campsite for most of the group – as some were pretty tired when they got there.

But Chuck, Sandra, Joe and Randy and crew met up with me at an island near the corner of the lake adjacent to Castle Butte.

Randy and Crew

Randy and Crew

Finally we found a cove with good protection about three bays from Castle Butte.

And we waited for the others to turn up.  They didn’t.  So we were going to miss out on the group meal.  We did an Audit and Sandra figured out a cool one pot stew (unfortunately adding meat before realising that Randy was a vego too – Sandra felt terrible about that, but Randy was super nice about it.

The trailer sailor came to check on us and told us where the others were .. about 2.5 miles back.

Cool reflections.

Cool reflections.

More

More

Then the weather started changing and the tents were being buffetted by the wind – and then later through the night.

More clouds more wind

More clouds more wind

Wind was about 15 to 20 knots and after a night of poor sleep (my noisy tent kept everyone awake) we woke up to paddle back and see if we could find the others.

We met them back at the previous place I had stopped and found the dinner the previous night had been delicious and that they had found a rattlesnake in amongst the driftwood near the campsite.  We had simple stew, but no rattlesnakes – not a bad deal.

We found that there had been a serious weather alert for strong winds and rain.  We agreed to head back to the camp of the first night for a short paddle back to Hite on the second day.

With the wind behind we made good progress and got there in about half the time as the upwind paddle the previous day.

Lots of wind

Lots of wind

It was quite different at the old campsite – big gusts blasting through.  I found a little niche out of most of the wind and decided to leave the noisy fly off the tent and sleep under the stars.

I was woken by rain on my face so quickly put up the fly and accepted it would be a noisy night.

Morning

Morning

We quickly ate breakfast.  The wind had risen to 25 knots or maybe a bit more and we were in open kayaks.

Granola again (said Sandra) I dont mind (said Michael)

Granola again (said Sandra) I don't mind (said Michael)

We had two lots of hail and some icy rain in two bursts while eating breakfast.

Rain and wind clouds.

Rain and wind clouds.

The paddle back was one of the most scary things at times I have done.  It would have been impossible for anyone to paddle back against the wind.  My boat that would also go so nicely upwind was hard to steer downwind and kept wanting to turn broadsides (Chuck will experiment with increasing the skeg size).

Looking back upwind after getting in.

Looking back upwind after getting in.

The wind was aligned with the canyon on each leg and as we got down the end of each straight bit the chop would build.  Maybe reaching 2ft 6″ and closely spaced.  On the up side it was possible sometimes to surf on the chop which I only did accidentally at first and then when I found the kayak didn’t do anything silly I used it more and more as we got closer to home.  The width of the stern and the volume prevents much squat so it surfs very easily.

Joe had disappeared again, so Sandra was slightly worried and Chuck and I were suppressing it.  We couldn’t see his boat ahead at the campsite.  Just before pulling in I turned upwind and Chuck took a pic with his waterproof camera.  Of me battling the chop.  I wasn’t making any headway at all.

Paddling like mad and going backwards.

Paddling like mad and going backwards.

But where was Joe?

We were back at the launching ramp – however we realised it was the secondary ramp and found Joe downwind of  the primary one.

The two rowboats turned up next.  Randy had left a bit before and had capsized not far from camp.  He recovered and managed to manouver the boat onto a narrow ledge.  The others saw this and decided to stay at the campsite.

We helped the rowboats load up

Loading the rowboats

Loading the rowboats

We gave them a hand to load.  Then finished loading ourselves and we were on the road.   Texas via Roswell (I’m going to find the tackiest alien museum and get pics for my brother.

On the road.

On the road.

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One thought on “The Paddling on the Colorado River continues.

  1. […] of canoeing, I’m reminded that I’ve been enjoying boat designer Michael Storer’s weblog about his current visit to the USA, which has included some boating through the fabulous scenery of […]

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