Thursday, August 13, 2009

Two Harbors Kayak Festival

After supporting the Point to LaPointe Open Water Swim last weekend, and testing the quality of the South Shore Nut Brown Ale and Whitefish basket at Mortys, RonO, the ManFromSnowyLegs, and I headed for the Two Harbors Kayak Festival. We had received a report from PeggyO (I'm working on a blog name, be patient) that the race, which was scheduled for Saturday morning, had been postponed until Sunday. We had high hopes of perhaps racing in the Betty's Pies 5 miler but it was not to be.

It was a confusing weekend to begin with. Normally in our tidy little world, the first weekend of August is the Two Harbors event and the second Saturday is the Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival in Madison, WI. Knowing this well ahead of time caused the womyn to reserve the group site on Oak Island for their event back in January and we guys were salivating over the prospect of setting up our folding chairs next to the Real Ale tent at the beer fest and not moving until we were both satiated and saturated. The Two Harbors folks however, decided that their event was the first full weekend in August and Friday was 31 July. This caused the beer festival, the kayak festival, and the womyn's weekend to all fall on the same date. Our agonizing was ended when the Madison connection failed to get tickets for the beer fest. 5,000 tickets go on sale May 1st and are gone in approximately 3 hours. A person needs to line up at roughly 6am at one of the 5 outlets (mostly bars) for when the tickets go on sale at 10am. There is an email lottery for about 1500 tickets but that's a real crap shoot. Last year tickets were spotted on EBay and CraigsList for $150-$200. Even I can't drink that much beer! The WoodFondlingBarrister had asked me to safety boat and I figured to hell with Two Harbors if they wanted to throw us a curve on the dates. RonO and MFSL thought that supporting the swim sounded cool and off we went.

The race was cancelled on Friday night in light of the NOAA prediction of those 20-25 knot NE winds with waves 3'-5'. The organizers must have not realized that National Weather Service accuracy this year in local Lake Superior forecasts is roughly the same as a Major League Baseball lead off hitter, right around .318. We were happy because we thought we had the option of racing Sunday but BDahlieOfMahtomedi, who had arrived that afternoon as well, told us they would not take his $40 and had told him registration was closed. It normally closed the day before the race (Friday) but we figured that since it was still 'the day before the race' we were good. It was not to be. Instead we watched MrEngineerGear, PeggyO, my friend Pat from Thunder Bay, and a few other acquaintances get ready to race. The wind and waves were cooperative but it was so foggy that it made it tough to see 400 yards. This caused the race to be modified to hug the shore rather than cross the bay to the point, and also caused both the 5 mile and the 18 mile to be shortened a bit. In the end it came off and everyone did well.

Our entourage on the other hand, had a large breakfast at Betty's Pies and then paddled from Split Rock River up to Silver Bay Marina. This is a very scenic paddle past the Split Rock Lighthouse, Gold Point, and over the wreck of the Maderia, sunk in the legendary storm of 1905. There are precious few places to land and a weather eye is needed for this nine mile trip. Last Sunday GitcheeGumee gave us a lovely swell and a tailwind, and we played around in some rock gardens, gawked at the tourists at the lighthouse, and then capped the paddle off with beer and appetizers at Cove Point Pub. We were far from disappointed in not racing and actually hatched an idea to collectively purchase a boat over beers. More on that in another post. Even though the weekend began in mild confusion and disarray, everything, as usual, turned out just fine.

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