This morning we gathered a foursome at Bush Lake for some tuneups. The Voice of Reason is heading up to the Apostles with a group of her women friends, including her sister, The Mayor, and the Bessemer Convivialist. GalwayGuy just wants to nail his roll and RonO and I are attempting to add some new crazy rolls to our repitoire. We worked on wet exits, T-rescues, paddle float rescues, cowboy reentries, high braces, low braces......in other words a kayak smorgasbord. All went well with the usual mix of successes and failures, perfect and not so perfect, but it was all good on an absolutely perfect summer day. We pulled into the shallows and Ron and I got out and started working with GG on his roll. His layback was very nice but the paddle sweep kept diving. On about the third attempt I heard a familiar snap.
The last time I heard that snap was last April. I was test paddling my soon to be purchased Valley Aquanaut HV about a half mile off the Duluth ship canal in Lake Superior. Lucas from Midnight Sun and I were out on a beautiful spring day putting my potential new boat through its paces and watching a 'thousand footer' leave the harbor, downbound for Cleveland or some other downlake port. Air temp was 60F, water about 38F. I'd just done my second high brace when I heard the snap. I was almost instantly upside down with half a paddle in my hand. This was my favorite Sitka spruce Greenland stick, made by Peter Pestalozzi up in Ely, MN. I managed to roll up with the larger half of the paddle. This was also the first time I'd worn my new Kokotat semi dry suit so I guess that got a good test too.
GalwayGuy was bummed about his paddle, which we had repaired and he had painted in the colors of the Irish flag. It will be repaired once again. In the interim he grabbed my Viking War Club, a stout Greenland stick that I'd carved from Basswood up at the North House Folk School and painted in the colors of the Norwegian flag. I lent him some goggles and RonO suggested he watch his paddle postition and that he would tap on his hull when it was set up correctly. Ron tapped and up GG came. We were all pretty fired up about it and he managed to hit the next dozen rolls in 3 different boats (Ron's Romany, the VOR's Avocet, and his own Skerry). Add one more roller to the skinny stick rolling fraternity! Major thanks to RonO and his superb diagnosis of what needed to be done to get the boat up. He also took the picture at right and at bottom with his high tech waterproof camera. It was a good day on the water.