Friday, April 25, 2008
A very wet demo
A group SKOAC mambers volunteered as safety boaters for Midwest Mountaineerings canoe and kayak demo last night. Memories of last years demo, soaking up the sun, paddling a boat or two, eating grilled hot dogs, and generally enjoying spring were drifting through my brain when I told RonO to count on me to help keep the paddling public safe from themselves. That idyllic scenario didn't quite play out last night.
The forecast was not optimistic. The old adage in the Great Lakes states is that if you don't like the weather just wait 10 minutes. It took a bit longer than that but the gentle rain at the 3pm start quickly turned to a deluge, filling canoes and kayaks waiting to be demo'ed. The fog formed rapidly and our buddy Aras, who parked on the opposite side of one mile wide lake Calhoun, had to make the first blind crossing of the lake that I can recall to get to the demo. It was a hardy group that was testing the boats also. Over 100 folks, mostly interested in the touring sea kayaks, came out to paddle. I think the miserable weather may have convinced the rec boat folks to wait for another time. RonS, the Bessemer Convivialist, and another paddler that I didn't see got to haul the three folks out that went over in the 42F (5C) water. Two of them were actually dressed for immersion. Many of the safety boaters including Alex, ChrisG, GalwayGuy, and myself could not resist immersing ourselves in the first fresh water rolling opportunity of the season.
Back to our changing weather. An offshore wind quickly came up and just as quickly switched 180 degrees to an on shore wind. This blew the clouds away and shortly after the demo ended the sun came out. We all agreed however, that putting your boat and gear away, getting changed, and having that essential post paddle beer was much more pleasant in the sun. No problem paddling in the rain but attempting to pack sodden gear and boats in the rain is another, much more depressing story. Cheers to the hardy souls that needed to get out and try a boat or two and thanks to the intrepid SKOACers that kept an eye on them on a less than perfect April evening.