Saturday, January 6, 2007

Dauphin/Sand Island 6 JAN 07

Glutton for punishment?

I started cutting my sea-kayaking teeth today with a trip to Dauphin Island. Setting off at 7 this morning for DI, I arrived, set up, and launched into heavy rain.No worries, thanks to the sprayskirt and a decent dry-top. Except for my feet (boarding and disembarking), head, and hands, I was as dry as a duck all morning.

Here's the rundown:
7.5 miles, four hours. I spent a considerable amount of time on Sand Island, wandering around and eating a light lunch. Additionally, I spent two hours hugging the shore at Dauphin Island, practicing beaching (keeping a kayak from broaching and getting tumbled ass-over-teakettle when landing in surf can be tricky) and kayak-surfing 2 to 4-foot waves around the jetties near Fort Gaines. My cheap Pelican kayak performed very well. Designed primarilyfor calm water recreational kayaking, it was surprisingly responsive to leaning turns and beat through the chop and the breakers with ease. Not the best or fastest sea-boat, but for the time being it suits me fine.

Beached on Sand Island:
Rain, anyone?

I've made some modifications to the boat. To make it more responsive to lean-turns and trim alterations, I added foam pads to the sides of the seat, to make a direct connection between my hips and the sides. On the aft hatch-cover I've added a mount for a running light, important on water with the potential for heavy boat traffic and for search-and-rescue should I bite off more than I can chew. To help keep gear in the storage compartment dry, I jury-rigged a hatch gasket from a bicycle inner-tube. It seals up much better now.

What a blast! A great way to cap off the week.

Orientation wasn't much of a hassle, by the way; all my ducks are in a row and I'm ready for classes to kick off Monday morning. Not a bad schedule, either; Pre-calculus, Art history, Public Speaking, and composition. All classes complete by 1 pm each day.

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