Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gitchee Gumee's getting windier

I suppose I better kick out a kayaking post. I'm sure some readers are indifferent or even slightly offended by my two month long deer hunting obsession. I will however, have nearly 50 pounds of ring bologna, all meat weiners, bacon, Ukranian sausage, and brats, not to mention the steaks, chops, and backstraps. Its a good start to the winter larder. One of the crucial elements of successful deer hunting is an acute awareness of the wind. If one looks at the gigantic whitetail snout, it becomes apparent that they can smell any faint unnatural smell in the woods from a long ways away. In a way, the wind is the deers friend and the hunters as well if you take it into account when you enter the woods. As a kayaker on the other hand, I can't think of a time when I thought the wind was my 'friend' and apparently its getting windier all the time on my favorite lake.

Chad Dally wrote an article in the Ashland Daily Press entitled, "Research Showing a Warmer, Windier Lake Superior". The theory is that greater differences between the air and water temp make for more stable weather. A convergence of the two causes windier conditions. It's an interesting read and made me think about wind conditions on the lake over the past dozen years or so. In my unscientific, anecdotal, and completely subjective opinion, I will hereby confirm the observations of the scientists at UW-Madison and UM-Duluth. I'm sure they will be ecstatic when they get the news.

In the first five years of the past decade, I don't remember being windbound at all. Maybe we should have been but were too dumb and inexperienced to realize it. In the past five years though, not only have we been windbound, but on at least a half dozen occasions we've been forced to turn around. The usual scenario involves coming around a point, paddling for a half mile or so, and turning to look your paddling companions in the eye and wait for the first one to say, "Screw this shit, lets head back and have a beer". On the other hand, last season the VOR and I slogged for an endless nine miles from Devil's to York Island into the teeth of a gusting 20 knot northwest wind. We didn't feel nearly so old or so tired when we found a group of college students from UW-Stout setting up camp on York after deciding they were 'windbound'. One of the leaders told me that it had taken them nearly two and a half hours to paddle the three miles from Raspberry to York and they felt it prudent to bag it for the day with the group of rookies.

Surfing when windbound can be tons of fun, the most fun you can have sitting down as they say. When its as windy as the image at the top of the post however, with the only reason the tent isn't blown away being the carcass of the FrugalFisherman holding it down, even surfing becomes problematic. It was that very same day that RangerMark took the flattering photo of me doing my pitcher plant imitation at the top of this blog after a wine and cheese party in a sheltered bog on Rocky Island.

Nope, I can't say that I enjoy wind much at all when on the lake. Providing a bit of chop or a few waves to make paddling a bit more interesting or maybe to give an assist in drift fishing is OK but I'd have to call those breezes. When it comes to a real wind on the water, you can keep it, thanks.


Silbs said...

Interesting. BTW, what model kayak is that balancing atop a wave?

DaveO said...

I think its one of them new Fetus or Cetus or whatever they call em. I think they're made in Estonia or somewhere over there......

Silbs said...

Wow! A Cetus in wind with the skeg up. Will wonders never cease?