Sunday, July 12, 2015

Beginners Again!

South Burlington, VT

Libby and I may be fairly called seasoned sailboat cruisers by now, but regarding cruising by canoe, we are rank amateurs.

  • Last Thursday our intent was to launch TJ in the Connecticut River, south of the Vernon, VT dam.   We were using a paddling guide map to locate a launch ramp.  Well it wasn't what we expected.  Instead of a concrete ramp it was just a gravel river bed.
  • Ignoring the lack of concrete, I backed up the trailer to the water's edge. I didn't want to get the car tires into soft sand, so I stopped far away.   The trailer was not level, and the rails were 3' higher than the water.  As we attempted to launch the canoe, it fell off the rails sideways, and swamped in the shallow water.  Everything in the canoe was soaked.
  • After drying out the canoe, I went to drive the car away.  The front wheel drive car just spun its wheels digging into the gravel.  Oh no!   I unhooked the trailer and headed the car at an angle up slope, and thank goodness it made it.  I then had to drag the trailer up the slope by hand.
  • While canoeing that day, all I could think about was that the car might not be able to climb the steep gravel driveway back up to the highway.
  • How much river could we cover in a day?  Our first time out, I measured a top speed of more than 10 knots.  Averaging 10 mph for a liesurely 10 hour day makes for 100 miles per day.   Well, we don't travel at top speed, and we found that we need rest stops more frequently.  My second itereation extimate, 20 miles per day.  I was only off by 500%.
  • Even with a paddling map, I found it more difficult to navigate than I thought.   Not where to go navigate, but where to look for launch ramps, camp sites, and points of interest to stop at.  I was ashamed to resort to Google Maps.
  • Returning to the launch at the end of the day, I saw I sign that I missed seeing in the morning.  It warned me that water levels below the dam can change dramatically with little warning, and that the place where I left the car parked could have been under water.
Rather than being embarrassed, I am thrilled to start at the bottom of a boating learning curve once again.  It makes things fresh and exciting.
Next blog, I'll report on how nice the river and the trip were.

Tomorrow we are meeting our favorite Quebecois crusing friends to spend a day on their boat.   Hooray!

Our camp site base of operations.

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