On the Water And In The Woods

Sea kayaking, sailing, and lightweight backpacking in the-Chesapeake Bay, Mid-Atlantic region

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Delmarva Paddlers Retreat 2006

I don't always attend the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat each year, for a variety of reasons. Often, the retreat falls on an October weekend that is packed with other boating events - the Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival at the Saint Michaels Maritime Museum with its sailing canoes and kayaks is a large enough attractant that about half the time I attend that instead. And of course there is the Annapolis Sailboat Show.
However, this year I decided to attend the Retreat because there was a good chance JP would have her skin on frame kayak complete, and I was ready to find some new rolls to work on in my Outer Island. Both JP and I have taught at the retreat in the past, and looked forward to doing so again this year.

Some of the guides (aka instructors) were arriving a day before the event began, to get set up and network, so JP and I headed off with truck fully loaded to join them. Noon that day found us driving down US-1 in Delaware. When JP asked what I wanted for lunch, one choice stood out. Dogfishhead is a pub/microbrewery that we discovered the first month it was open, and have enjoyed ever since. A great place for really good beer - particularly, IMHO, pale ales. I was not disappointed. A six pack left with us for the weekend revelry. Nothing better than handing a good beer to a good friend while talking kayaking!

The event is held at Camp Arrowhead, Lewes, Delaware. There are cabins, tent camping, or TREE HOUSES! We tried them last year when they were new, and liked them. Same results this year.

The weather predictions had been degrading all week long, and the pre event day found spatterings of rain and some wind. By the next morning, the first official day of the event, the bay was bouncing, and my wrist mounted anemometer read a solid 34 mph wind directly onto the beach. Seas were a two feet with the occasional higher wave, all closely spaced as is typical for a northeaster in this area. You can see the conditions on the photos. The northeaster combined with a full moon to provide some very high tides. This was the highest tide I have seen at any of the retreats, and it put the dock underwater. JP had to hold on to the pilings at the end of the dock as she did guard duty during the weekend to keep people from getting upwind of the dock and carried into it. Needless to say, the pool saw a lot more usage for rolling class than in past years. We were however, able to give some people their first experience of rough conditions in a very controlled environment, and were able to do the on-water classes on Sunday.

Some general highlights of the weekend:

Friday evening lecture on kayak camping the Oregon coast in a SOF by Brian Schulz.

Saturday evening lecture by a Danish kayaker (name escapes me right now) on his club's trip to Eastern Greenland to help the fledgling east Greenland kayak club learn to build SOF boats. Good sense of ironic humor there.

Saturday, making sure I still could do my rolls in rough conditions. Everything seemed to work, though I didn't try my hand roll in that stuff!

Catching up with Keith Attenborough, former CPAer and fellow paddler. Keith does helicopter rides :). And willingly wrote about it afterwards in a way that has benefited many of us -keeping all of us safer out there. Thanks Keith.

Having fun at the benefit auction - where else can a couple of people run up the bids against each other and have so much fun? Much appreciation and thank yous to the manufacturers and people who donated items for the auction - locally, Chesapeake Light Craft made some donations via JP for the games that we thought were so good we put them on the auction table instead. Anyone know what the "scum rises" bumper sticker brought?

Seeing some of the Chesapeake Paddlers Association members who were there for the first time figure things out - making paddles, learning rolls, discovering SOFs.

Bay conditions on Saturday. That's the dock under water.

Carly doing a balance brace in a Skin on Frame kayak.

Dave setting up to do something. Note the looks of the onlooking CPAers. Dave, paddle?


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