Tuesday, April 30, 2013
New used boats
This weekend was Midwest Mountaineerings always excellent Spring Expo with one of it's most anticipated events being the Saturday morning boat auction. This year it was sunny and 70F, a perfect sellers market for sure. The year that GalwayGuy and I scored his carbon fiber/kevlar layup P&H Capella it was about 36F and the sleet was coming in on a horizontal plane. That would be the buyers market of all buyers markets with only one fellow bidding against us. He stopped far short of what we were prepared to spend, much to our delight and puzzlement. The mystery cleared when his buddy strolled over to the boat, now sitting on the grass and told him, "Hey, did you know this was a carbon fiber layup?". His buddy, the losing bidder, wandered over, took a quick look, and uttered a one word expletive I can't publish in a family blog such as this one. On another auction occassion RonO and I heisted a sweet Romany for the IrishPirate, right out of the auction queue, after her and the owner agreed on a fair price. This year I was involved in some boat brokering and transport as well but it was far from Minneapolis. Noted area paddler and winterphobe YogaYenny is moving to Hawaii the end of the month. Her sweet baby blue P&H Capella 161 was up for sale and I was pretty sure I had a buyer.
MadCityMary has been a close friend since the Gerald Ford administration. Her and YY are both around 5'5", 125# soaking wet with rocks in their pockets, and MCM has been paddling a large Perception Sea Lion on the big lake for far too long in my opinion. As a marathon runner, nordic skier, and soccer ref she has plenty of power and stamina and I kept telling her she needed a boat that fit her so she could get the most out of her effort and kick some behind. The two women chatted and the plan was hatched for me to deliver the boat up to Washburn this weekend for Mary to test paddle in the now open water north of Chequamagon Bay. She borrowed the VOR's drysuit and on Saturday morning we launched at the Trek & Trail beach next to the ferry dock in Bayfield on an unbelievable spring Saturday morning.
I have both mental and actual pictures of her in the Sea Lion and as she paddled the Capella I actually watched her stroke and technique improve. The narrower boat allowed a lower stroke closer to the gunwales which provided power and efficiency. The snug boat fit around the hips allowed the utilzation of more power from the legs, also transmitting power more efficiently. I told her she picked up roughly a mile and a half an hour from the boat and the improved stroke efficiency. I also explained the mystery of the edging turn using the infamous 'farting on a bar stool' analogy. She picked up on it immediately and the nimble Capella responded like a well trained horse. This was her first skeg boat although she really never needed to use the thing in the light breeze and gentle chop. After paddling the snow covered, runoff waterfall dotted shoreline and heading back to Bayfield, Mary got on the phone and immediately closed the deal with YogaYenny. Both were extremely pleased by the transaction.
Since the weather Sunday was supposed to be more of the same with a bit of a south wind we decided to head out again for further testing. ChrisG of Boreal Shores fame had met us after the paddle Saturday for some barley based refreshment and said he was up for a paddle Sunday as well. He suggested a stash spot, familiar to both of us, and that's where we went. We got some snow covered cliffs, sea caves, a nice ten knot breeze to test the new boat, some clapotis from the cliffs, and a generally excellent late April afternoon on Lake Superior. The air temperature would alternate between a 70F off shore breeze and a 40F air conditioning off the 35F lake surface. Sunny and damn near perfect.
I haven't heard any reports from the Midwest Mountaineering auction although several cronies were there watching the proceedings. I am happy that I did my part in finding a new home for a fine kayak, happy that MadCityMary has a new boat that fits like a glove, and happy that YogaYenny found a home for her beloved blue boat. I guess that the paddle season has started, even though the northern inland lakes are still frozen solid without even any black ice appearing yet. If people dress for immersion, and it can get hot with those offshore breezes, there is no good reason why we should not be on the big lake before the main flood of tourii head north. Heck, Boreal Shores opens for the season this weekend, what better sign can there be that the Bayfield Peninsula is open for paddling?