Friday, November 16, 2007

Gales of November III: kayak symmetry

It would appear that the 2007 kayak season will end much as it began, with temps in the 30's, a 30-35 knot northwest wind, and horizontal sleet flurries. RonO, the ManFromSnowyLegs, and I began the season that way on Lake Waconia and may have ended it that way on Lake Minnetonka. Seven hardy souls launched from Mound at about 2pm on Wednesday and paddled to Goose Island for a chilly picnic. Instead of camping gear we had the hatches loaded with firewood as well as the customary food and beverages. The launch site was in a lee and deceptively calm but when we got out into the bay we got surf-able swells which prompted the IrishPirate to remark, "This is nearing the limits of my comfort zone". We got a late start and just missed CaptainAnnapolis, who had got out there early and started a fire. We could see him paddling away but the miracle of cell phones got him turned around and back at the festivities. Had he turned his head 45 degrees to the left he would have spotted the flotilla frantically trying to overtake him.....gotta check your 'six' more often I guess. Knowing the proclivities of this group when bonfires, wine, and good food are involved, we all had headlamps for the inevitiable paddle in the dark back to the launch. Minnetonka is far from a wilderness lake so there was plenty of light to see. We also had the lake to ourselves except for a few muskie fishermen.

This third annual Gales of November paddle (scheduled for the closest mutually agreeable date to the anniversary of when the 'Fitz' went down on 10 November 1975) was the first one where there was an actual near gale. The other two were done in bluebird weather. A little cold weather shakedown like this is good to check your gear out in case you decided that a late November LakeSuperior trip was a good idea. RonO checked the western lake Superior buoy before I picked him up and discovered 7.5 foot seas with 5 second intervals. Probably a good day to be on Minnetonka. My Reed tuliq worked perfectly as did the various dry suits. Extremities were a problem. The BessemerConvivialist purchased pogies and didn't wear them until the return trip. She pronounced her curved finger gloves only 'OK' after 3 fingers finally decided to warm up just before we landed on the paddle out to the island. The pogies were declared to be "oh my god, unbelievably warm!" on the return trip. The BC did have some foot gear issues however, which prompted her to beg me to sit on her feet, penguin and egg-like, to warm them up. Bottom line: if you paddle in cold water invest in Chota or some other high mukluk! Getting anything wet in those conditions is a very bad idea.

Blog note: I will be at the deer camp, chasing the elusive Reefer Buck until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The beauty of the place is no electricity, running water, or central heat. Its a vacation in the 19th century. Electronic devices, other than gps units and weather radios, are banned. The one exception is that a 5" screen, battery operated black and white TV is allowed for Packer games and the World Series. My next post will likely be 10 days from now. Enjoy the holidays!

Credits: All photos courtesy of BjornDahlieofMahtomedi, whose local high school football club, Mahtomedi of course, just qualified for the state finals.

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