Archive for the ‘out-of-state paddling’ Category

Muscongus BayThe best part of the time in Maine was when Mark, a local guide, and I paddled with a Boy Scout Troop for five days and four nights within Muscongus Bay. Mark asked me what we were getting ourselves into when he discovered that we were on the water with ten youths, 13 to 17 years old, and four adults.  Mark was accustomed to paddling with active adults in their mid 30′s to 50′s.  I assured him that it was going to be a relaxing ride in the country or it was going to be a roller coaster of torment.  All I had to do was ask two questions.  He was very puzzled with that statement.

We got to the boat launch unloaded the seven tandems, our single kayaks, and all of the kit.  Then waited as we ate Wicked Whoopie Pies.  Not to digress, but yum!

wicked-whoopies

Everyone arrived in two large vans.  We greeted them, I found out who the Scoutmaster was and asked my first question, “Could you introduce me to your Senior Patrol Leader?”  He smiled and and quickly introduced me to their SPL.  I introduced Mark and myself then asked the youth “what is your float plan for the next five days?”  He grinned from ear to ear and said he has been looking over the charts for two weeks, he has a few places in mind for camping, and then wanted to know if he could organize the scouts to get the gear dispersed among the kayaks.  After his answer I smiled to Mark and whispered “hold on you are in for a treat”.

I have been in the Boy Scouts since I was eleven.  I have seen it all, the good, the bad, the understood, and the misunderstood.  It is a volunteer organization that is created by volunteers and run by volunteers.  And the things that motivate volunteers is as numerous and diverse as the people themselves.  Luckily this was a troop organized around the philosophy that boys are to learn to be leaders.  And adults are spotters only to be used for advice.

The youths had a plan.  They quickly asked about the most efficient ways to pack their boats.  And they understood my analogies about backpacking balance and weight distribution.  In fifteen minutes,  everyone had boats assigned, packed, and were ready for the float talk.  Mark talked about safety, navigation, communication, and group management on the water.

maine

The first morning we paddled in protected waters watching and coaching everyone on paddling.  These youths comfortably paddled at a three mile an hour pace.  This was a faster pace than Mark had planed on.  We made it to Crow Island in no time.  After landing I smiled at Mark and said “you will fall over backwards if the SPL responds to my next question in the way I think he will”.

We had plenty of time in the day to play but a few things had to be done and I wanted to see if the SPL, SM, and I were all on the same page.  I commented to the youth that now we had gotten to the island ahead of schedule “what is the consensuses on how we should conduct ourselves this afternoon?”  He scratched his temple and said “I think we should get camp ready for the night, get dinner prepped, and then if you and Mark are willing can we paddle more?”  Wow, if only every troop was like this.

Maine

I have to say that as I reflect on this paddle it appears to be to good to be true.  And the reality gets better…

After camp was set we discussed a plan and went searching for seals and found them.  Unique mammals, seals are.  Then it was back to the island for dinner.  Some of the scouts had stayed at the island cooking.  We were treated to some tasty vittles made in a box reflector oven.  That’s right the guides did not cook.  In fact the scouts even served us and washed our dishes, utilizing the patrol method.  For every meal the youths were split into three groups: those who prepared the fire, those who cook, and those who clean up.  With all of the organization and attention to detail these boys were more organized than most adults.

Then as the sun set I heard the sounds of boys.  “Three, two, one…o’ no… too early…”  silence “three, two, one…o’ no… too early…, silence “three, two, one…o’ no… too early… yeah!”  Yes this was one of their nightly rituals.  That, and skipping stones.

We stayed on Crow Island for two nights.  We visited the waters around Thief and Cranberry island.  And on day three we relocated camp to Black Island.   That is where I finally decided after skipping rocks with the other leaders to go for a swim.  So cold, the water was.  I never felt water that cold.  Well so I thought.  December 31, 2012 Darren and I went whitewater kayaking down the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania.  That is a story for the future.

On the last night I shared a treat with the scouts.  Traditionally, the last night of every camp out I eat Jiffy-pop.  I had a great time with these young men that I gave the SPL the Jiffy-pop to make.  First words he uttered was “cool, we’ve never made popcorn on a camp out”.  He walked away knowing that I just wanted a little popcorn.  From the beach the other leaders and I could hear them discuss the directions.  And then their excitement as it began to pop “it’s going to explode…quick take it off the stove!”  Then to hear their dismay when they opened it only to realize that the steam had made the dome.  Quickly they mashed down the foil and put it back on the stove.  This resulted in an aromatic presence of scorched popcorn.  I did get a sorry form the guys.  I smiled and then told them the story of a few of my old scout friends melting an aluminum dutch oven, as I munched on scorched popcorn.

Two months later I got a package in the mail.  It was from the Scoutmaster of that troop.  In the package was a thoughtful letter and two Jiffy-pops.  It was a very fun and rich time.

jiffy pop

The package from the Boy Scout troop reminded me that it is the thoughtfulness and support of others that make every adventure possible.  It is the support of family, friends, locals, training, and commonsense that make expeditions possible.  A lot of my friends who have written about their adventures for magazines are always beholden to the desires of the editor.  And the thing lacking is what sometimes happens at home while they are paddling.

– Jeff

I will post the rest of the story in five days:

lobsterIn July of 2012 I enjoyed the opportunity to work for H2Outfitters.  I was on the water everyday for my four week vacation.  As many would think it was a working vacation.  And the time away from home helped me focus on a few things.

As a paddler we tend to focus just on the water; the reality is water is the tie that binds us and the kayak is a vehicle to find something.  What I found in Maine was food.  I ate lobster, lots of lobster.  How could I say no when it was only five dollars a pound.  The lobster was so plentiful I could buy it directly from the fisherman that caught it, only minutes ago.

My day began at 5 am.  Now this is surprising to Sean and everyone who knows me, for  I do not rise early, nor am I lively before 7am.  Upon waking I ate a lobster salad, took the dried PFDs and skirts of the clothes lines, packed up the truck, drove to the shop, unpacked, unlocked the kayaks, unlocked the shop, and prepared for the 8am morning rentals.  From 8am to 8pm I ran the shop, taught classes, managed rentals, and led two four person tours.  One tour was mid day and the other was a sunset paddle.

Elis Oragne PopWith a tight schedule I did squeeze in a lunch.  I ate some great chowder from the Salt Cod Cafe.  The chowder sometimes had pieces of lobster in it.  I consumed gallons of Eli’s Orange Pop.  And yes I occasional had a Whoopie Pie, yum.

After 8pm I closed the shop, loaded the truck with wet PFDs and skirts, and drove to the house I was staying at.  Then I washed the PFDs and skirts and placed everything on the clothes lines.  After all of the work was done I grabbed a bite to eat, did the hygiene stuff, watched a movie with Jeff and Cathy, called my wife, and went to bed around 11pm.

Bailey Island General StoreThat was my normal routine.  Occasionally a guest would tip me with dinner or drinks at one of the local hangouts.  And some mornings I would have breakfast at BIGS.

I knew it was going to be work because their window of tourist sales is short.  Granted I was not prepared for perfect weather everyday.  Typically they have fog some mornings, with a little light rain midday.  Everyday I was there was sunny, warm, no rain, and no fog.  It was also funny when the locals remarked about how humid it was.  For this Florida boy, there was no humidity.

Between doing all of that aforementioned stuff around the shop I made time to dress up the shop.  With more than ten years of retail management experience, I have a critical eye when it comes to sales, for I was a jewelry manager.  I dusted, scrubbed, and merchandised products to maximize desirability.  I even suggested a new chart/advertisement that guests could use.  On one side was a chart of the local waters that they were enjoying.  On the flip side was a class menu of what we offered.  And the best thing was they could mass produce it in-house on waterproof paper.

Maine Jeff Fabiszewski H2Outfitters

A group of enthusiastic paddlers

The best part in Maine was when Mark, a local guide, and I paddled with a Boy Scout Troop for five days and four nights.  Mark asked me what we were getting ourselves into when he discovered that we were on the water with ten youths, 13 to 17 years old, and four adults.  Mark was accustomed to paddling with active adults in their mid 30’s to 50’s.  I assured him that it was going to be a relaxing ride in the country or it was going to be a roller coaster of torment.  All I had to do was ask two questions.  He was very puzzled with that statement.

We got to the boat launch unloaded the seven tandems, our single kayaks, and all of the kit.  Then waited as we ate Wicked Whoopie Pies.  Not to digress, but yum!  Everyone arrived in two large vans.  We greeted them, I found out who the Scout Master was and asked my first question, “Could you introduce me to your Senior Patrol Leader?”  He smiled and and quickly introduced me to their SPL.  I introduced Mark and myself than asked the youth “what is your float plan for the next five days?”  He grinned from ear to ear and said he has been looking over the charts for two weeks, he has a few places in mind for camping, and then wanted to know if he could organize the scouts to get the gear dispersed among the kayaks.  After his answer I smiled to Mark and whispered “hold on you are in for a treat”.

– Jeff

I will post the rest of the story in five days:

Taking Extra Time On Your Journey

Posted: June 9, 2011 by maynardc in blog, out-of-state paddling

How often do we plan a trip, pack our stuff, run out the door, race to our destination, load our boat, paddle within a specified time period, and then race home ignoring a place or places that we wouldn’t mind seeing if we just had the time? Well this year, on this particular trip, I decided to make a slight detour and take a little extra time, one whole day to be exact, to explore a small geographical area of the United States called the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

So first off, let me state for the record that my destination was a great little kayak symposium in Swansboro, North Carolina hosted at Barrier Island Kayaks (BIK). This is an annual sea kayak symposium comprised of participants from around the United States and coaches from across the pond with a variety of course offerings. More on the symposium and its host Lamar Hudgens, owner of BIK, in a future post.

With my disclaimer said, the 12 hour drive to Swansboro turned into a 14 hour drive to Nags Head (a.k.a. the Outer Banks of North Carolina). In the scheme of things Nags Head is nowhere near Swansboro. It is, in fact, about five driving hours further to the northeast. Thanks to today’s smartphone technonlogy I was able to Google two possible campgrounds before reaching Nags Head. The first one was a KOA located in the Cape Hatteras area. The other one was part of the National Park Service and was located at Oregon Inlet. Since the following day’s plans were not etched in stone and given that Oregon Inlet is about midway between the Currituck Lighthouse and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, I figured it would be a good choice. Arriving well after sunset, I pulled into a dark campground and selected a site. What can I say about the campground except that you could hear the roar of the sea, smell the ocean, and feel the sea breeze. It seemed like the ocean was just on the other side of the sand dune from my camp site.

Since I have not camped outside of Florida for some time, I forgot about what time sunrise occurs relative to one’s longitude. Let’s just say 5:00 a.m. is early. So with the sun coming up I felt it was time to hop over the dune and explore the seashore.

Sunrise at Oregon Inlet, North Carolina

Alright so it is about three dunes away (about 1/8 of a mile), but well worth the sandy hike. If you are a camper, put this one on your destination list. While it is a no frills site, you won’t be disappointed. One note of caution, the campground does not take reservations.

So after a brief look at the map the plan was shaping up as follows: Check out of the campground at 7:00 a.m., go south the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and walk it. Then drive back to Currituck Lighthouse, located at the northern end of the Outer Banks, and walk it. Arrive at BIK in Swansboro by 6:00 p.m. Note to self….. this isn’t possible given the driving time involved!!! There is something to be said about old fashioned paper maps and the information on them. Looking carefully at the map I discovered there are ferry routes between the islands. It turns out North Carolina has a ferry system that interconnects the coastal areas with the mainland. Sweet!! All I need now is a ferry schedule and a little luck.

North Carolina Ferry

So with this new information and the realization that the arrival time of 6:00 p.m. was not going to work no matter what I did, the itenary has been changed. So the first thing is to check out of the campground by 7:00 a.m. and then head north to the Currituck Lighthouse in Corolla, North Carolina. Walk the grounds, climb to the top, snap a few photos, and head for Bodie Lighthouse. Walk the grounds at Bodie, and then head for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Walk the grounds at Cape Hatteras, climb to the top, photos, and then like a school kid trying to catch the bus on the first day of class, set off to catch the ferry that runs between Ocracoke and Cedar Island.

There are only two crossing times that I can use for this ferry, one at 3:30 p.m. and the other at 6:00 p.m. Failure to make one of these means being stuck on Ocracoke and not arriving in time for the start of the symposium. However in order to make this crossing it is also necessary to make the ferry crossing between Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke. So given the expected drive time of 40 minutes for the island of Ocracoke and an expected crossing time of 45 minutes between Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke, time management takes over with the realization that I have to make the ferry at Cape Hatteras no later than 1:30 p.m.!! Not a problem except the Currituck Lighthouse doesn’t open for business until 9:00 a.m. Just an F.Y.I. for travelers, you can make reservations for any ferry, which I might add is highly recommended. However, you need to check in at least 30 minutes ahead of schedule or you forefit your reservation.

Ocracoke to Cedar Island 2.5 hours

So having visited three lighthouses, driven past the Wright Brother’s Monument, and caught the first ferry to Ocracoke at 1:00 p.m. , I am now hustling for the next ferry to Cedar Island. Unfortunately in the process of getting to the second ferry, I forgot about the Ocracoke Lighthouse. If you are looking for this lighthouse it moves depending on what map you are using! The lighthouse is located in the Ocracoke Village, which is located by the Ocracoke Island Vistitor Center.

I made the ferry with time to spare, so I played tourist and explored the shops surrounding the marina.

What an incredible one day adventure. Great history mixed with boom tourist towns, oasis beach communities, huge towering rental communities, and the emptiness of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. It would be easy to pick any town or area in the Outer Banks to spend days exploring, not to mention paddling, as each is both beautiful and unique.

So on your next adventure, take a little time to explore what’s around the bend and you may discover a great destination for a future trip. As always, don’t forget to update your float plan or for that matter your travel plans if you stray too far off course.

Happy paddling and travels!!!!! –  Chad

I experienced a a fast and fun filled eight weeks blended with the rocks, strainers, and natural obstacles associated with work.  And due to being a full time paddler, father, husband, coach, and employee at Eckerd College I have neglected my posting obligations.  In the next few days Sean and I will catch you up on all of our adventures.   As a teaser we have…

As we collect out thought and write I would like you to enjoy this Bubble Street comic; it made me chuckle because I have been so tempted…

– Jeff