Now that we northerners are in the absolute sweet spot of the summer rolling season, I've been rolling pretty much every time I've been out on the water. Even Gitchee Gumee is pretty nice, at least in the Apostles, this time of year. It seems fairly ridiculous to wear a tuliq in thisweather and water temp but the sad fact is that I can't seem to roll worth a damn without it.
I love being in the water on a nice summer day. I have yet to set foot in the backyard pool that we have in our little townhouse complex but faithful blog readers know that I'm a virulent anti-chlorite. Why suck chemicals when I can be on a nice fresh water lake in five minutes? For some reason however, when I tip over with a spray skirt and life jacket my rolls just aren't as sharp, don't feel right, and I miss significantly more rolls than I do while wearing the tuliq. We all know the feeling when we hit a roll perfectly. The boat comes around smoothly, our paddle sweep is hardly felt, and we are effortlessly upright almost before we know it. The screwups result in muscling the paddle, a violent hip snap, or a quick scull to save your ass before you splash back into the drink. We're still up but it just feels wrong. One reason might be the balance thing. With the tuliq there is virtually no water in the ears, a frequent occurrence when rolling bare headed. Buoyancy is another factor that might be in play. Even though I never wear a life jacket with my tuliq (ok, don't worry....I have an inflatable around my waist most of the time) the natural buoyancy of the one piece paddle jacket/spray skirt seems to help. Having the damn life jacket on, and I've never liked them, ever since I was forced to wear one of those bulky, orange, around-the-neck things as a kid, can throw off the balance a bit but I don't think any of these thing are the true cause of the bad rolling form. I think I have the yips.
The yips are when a golfer can't make a three foot putt to save his life. When a baseball catcher suddenly can't throw the ball back to the pitcher or a second baseman can't make the toss to first base. I was out on Wednesday playing with rescuse, cowboy reentries, and all sorts of fun in the water stuff. When I tried a forward finishing roll I just could not hit it. After a couple aborted attempts I became pissed off and yanked my tuliq out of the day hatch. First attempt of the same roll wearing the tuliq felt like a home run swing. I was up in a flash with no excessive arm strain, near paddle breakage, or any other maladies. Don't get me wrong, I can still hit most rolls adequately and consistently with a life jacket and spray skirt, its just the feel and nuance of the more subtle rolls that is escaping me.
Fortunately help is on the way. I dropped RonO off at the airport on Wednesday for his month in Homer, Alaska, ostensibly working on airplanes but paddling as well. He won't be around to critique my rolling efforts but he did email me that the Homer Brewing Company's Best Bitter is superb. Next Saturday however, I will have Turner Wilson and Cheri Perry critiquing my rolls up in Bayfiled at a Boreal Shores Kayaking sponsored traditional paddling event. Then its off to Grand Marais, MI for the symposium there and then back to Minnesota for the Traditional Gathering up on Lake Mille Lacs with Helen Wilson and Will Bigelow dissecting my rolling efforts. I think with that kind of rolling instruction horsepower I should figure it out. In any event I'm not worried. Like a hitter that's in a slump and I'll roll my way out of it and have a hell of a good time doing it.
In another bit of blogging news, RangerBob is back in the saddle and once again appears to the right of this post. The vagaries of Facebook, with its privacy issues and limited mini posts has driven him back to more extended writing and the blogosphere will be better because of it. My company has suggested that Twitter might be a good social media option for us, but I told them that I've already authorized a half dozen or so of my co-workers to euthanize me if I ever 'tweeted', so it would be impossible and very dangerous for me to open a company Twitter account.
Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend everyone. Paddle, drive, blast fireworks, and party safely.