Yesterday on Facebook Danito posted he was going for a night paddle. I have been following his training for the EC through Watertribe and Facebook for a while. He lives not to far from me and paddles the Winter Haven chain of lakes. I have always wanted to get down there and give it a try and things just happened to work out this time.
Weather was perfect. Low 60s dropping into the high 50s. Little to no breeze. Just right to keep you moving at nice pace to stay warm. I arrived as dusk was slowly turning into night. I met Danito at the Lake Summit boat ramp. He was ready with his boat by the water. I hustled to get my boat out of the truck, turn on my SPOT, send an OK, and load up. Although the SPOT Tracker doesn’t show it to well we followed the shoreline in a counter clockwise path from Lake Summit to Lake Eloise and Lake Winterset. Total paddle was somewhere just shy of 10 statute miles (fresh water ;-).
I really enjoyed the perfect weather for a night paddle. The Winter Haven area is not too populated so that the night sky and stars are washed out. I enjoyed looking up at the moon and stars while we had the entire chain of lakes to ourselves. Lots of time was spent chatting about all things paddling, sailing & Watertribe. We finished up in about 3 hours maintaining a 3.5 mph pace (fresh water ;-). Plans have been made to do it again soon.
Ape statue at end of canal near Legoland on Lake Eloise
I drove down to DonKeyHoTey’s place to hang out and work on Hare on Fire his 19′ International Lightning modified for the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. Lots of strategy and logistics were talked about. A few modifications to the boat too. We moved the oar locks for better ergonomics (Is that the right term?). Maintenance on the aft through hull and cover was performed. The big item was addressing the rudder. After breaking the rudder in the 2012 EC we have been sailing with the stock Lightning rudder. We need a kick up rudder for the 2013 EC and shallow water sailing. This weekend included building a mock up of the rudder head. A mock up was a great idea because some of the minor details could be worked out on the fly.
I have done the EC now twice. Finished the first year. Crashed and burned the 2nd. For those first two years I went with foul weather gear, two piece dry pants & jacket, and even fishing waders. Both years I started the race by wading into the water. The waders worked for keeping me dry but didn’t breath well. I quickly sweated them up. On the 2nd start the dry pants turned out to be worthless and I was immediately wet. Starting the EC wet is never fun so I have been on the hunt for a quality drysuit. I have done some research, read old WaterTribe forum posts, & monitored ebay. I finally got serious about a month ago and bought a Kokatat T3 large semi-dry suit new. The material reminded me of the waders. The fit was just a hair too big as well. The most annoying part being a loose neoprene neck gasket. I probably could have lived with the T3 material but the size wasn’t going to work. I returned the drysuit and since they didn’t have a medium I went back on the search. About a week later this Kokatat military issue drysuit went up for sale on ebay. It was a medium which was a slight gamble because I didn’t know if it really fit. I made my first bid with 15 sec left and won.
The big features for me are the color and the six cargo pockets. Olive green makes it good for many outdoor activities. Especially duck hunting. The pockets are awesome.There are one on each upper arm and two on each leg. In my opinion a feature lacking in the retail Kokatat drysuit line. I am also very happy with the quality and condition of the suit. I had time to try it on today but not wet test it. The gaskets seem to be ok but I may send it out to have everything checked by a shop or the manufacture. Time will tell. As far as the fit goes…….. Once its on, it seems perfect. Getting it on is a little bit of work. I can now tell you that 5’11” is the top of the range for a Kokatat medium. Don’t want to be over 175 either. lol
UPDATE: After watching this video, http://www.drysuit-repair.com/wp/how-to-inspect-gaskets/, I have mailed mine to Amigos for inspection and possibly repair. I have a feeling that after the repair bill the savings on a used drysuit is not that great. (Still very happy with the color and cargo pockets)
Went to a local lake with the family for a little paddling and sailing. The paddling craft were on the water within minutes but I struggled for what seemed like hours setting up the sailing rig on the Kruger Cruiser. I broke a part on the BSD BOSS outrigger but luckily I had spare parts. (Thanks Dave). For some reason I couldn’t get the akas to go together. With frustration high I set out sailing only to have the port side cable for the rudder’s foot controlled steering break. Luckily the previous owner Greybeard had also installed a rope system for hand steering.
I was able to sail for the better part of the afternoon in a 8 – 12 knot breeze using the main and mizzen BSD sails. I took turns taking out my wife, son & daughter. We all had a great time. I learned a few things about the boat. It tracks amazingly strait going to weather. The helm is perfectly neutral and it allowed me to sail for short periods without no hands touching it. It does well on a close reach but not so great close hauled. I also learned that the boat sails and tacks well with a single lee board on the front aka. Tacking was extremely slow with both leeboards in the water but put up the aft leeboard and the boat picked up about half a knot. Top sustained speed was 6.6 knots. I have to learn a more about the sail plan to figure out what its going to take to get good performance close hauled. I need to test more with the jib but I want to be out with another sailor before raising the 3rd sail.