Kayak Canoe Alabama

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Byrne's Lake II

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

As I drove home across Mobile Bay and saw a pretty good wind and chop going on out in the bay, I decided to find a calmer place for an evening workout. So, I headed up Hwy. 225, about 6 miles past Buzbee's, to Byrne's Lake County Park. My last paddle there was a couple of months ago, so it was time to check it out again anyway. The dirt road off of Hwy. 225 was especially muddy at the start, due to the every afternoon showers, but with the new roadwork going on, it was much smoother than it used to be. I assume it will be paved, when finished.

When I arrived at the put-in at 5:50 PM, it was overcast, humid, 80 degrees, but no wind and water like glass. The tide was just starting to fall, so I took off in my new kayak to set a new standard for my 4.2 mile Byrne's Lake speed course. I first paddled up stream to the first Y, turned around and headed out to the Tensaw. The S-turns were obviously harder to negotiate, so I tried to take them wider and make up time on the straights. I made it out to the Tensaw River turnaround in 20:16, which was an eye opener, and took a short water break.

The trip back was just slightly slower, as I paddled up against the falling tide. I made it back to the pier and boat ramp in 41:26, setting a new benchmark to shoot for in the new kayak for future paddles. I doubt the two fishermen on the pier gave a hoot what I did, as they sat on their buckets, filling up with the bass they caught.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Causeway to Mobile River Workout IV

Sunday, August 29, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I really looked forward to paddling this course with the new kayak to see if I could continue the approximate 10% time improvement over my old kayak. I started at 6:35 AM with a temperature of 82 degrees, overcast sky, a breeze coming out of the north, and a rising tide.

I began somewhat conservatively, heading west between the Interstate bridges and then turning north into Delvan Bay. The wind in my face turned out to be brisk, as it stirred up a pretty good chop the whole way up. There were quite a few osprey out either standing guard in the dead trees along the west shore or out fishing. I made it to my first checkpoint at the Pontoon Saloon in 1:01, which was not particularly fast, as it was only a few minutes faster than what I would have paddled in the old kayak. Spanish River was protected and the water was flat, so I picked up some time and made the turn into Mobile River at the high electrical towers in 1:17:10. When I got there, a long barge loaded with coal was just passing and heading upriver.

Although the tide was rising, not giving me a good downriver current, I decided to pick up the pace even more down Mobile River. I made it to the highrise bridge in 1:45:45 and stopped for a short rest and drink. As I started out again, there was another barge backing out from the west bank and turning downriver. I caught up to it and slowly creeped up alongside and ever so slowly moved ahead. It was a good mental motivator to try and pull ahead of the barge as I passed along through downtown Mobile. I stopped at the Alabama Shipyards just downstream from the Cruise Terminal for a drink and in a time of 2:21.

The sun came out and the temperature rose quickly, so I decided to hit the last section hard and get off the water as soon as possible. I made it around the turn east out into Mobile Bay and headed back north toward the Causeway Bridge. The wind had slowed somewhat and the chop was not as big. With a following current I was able to make it to the bridge in 2:49:50 and knew I had an outside chance to get close to breaking 3 hours. I made it to the Interstate Bridges in about 5 minutes and sprinted the rest of the way, making it back to the Exxon in a total time of 2:59:31.

The finish time was very satisfying, as with less than perfect conditions, I was able to paddle with an overall pace improvement of more than one mile per hour and breaking the 3 hour barrier.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Bay Minette Basin to Blakeley River

Saturday, August 28, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Full moon paddles are usually fun, exciting and well-attended. This one was no exception. Linda and I arrived at Buzbee's at 6:20 PM, and found a full parking lot and a beaming Mr. Buzbee with a fistful of cash. There were probably around 20-25 kayaks and canoes of all sizes and shapes. Most were newcomers and some even first-timers in a kayak.

After some instructions from Bob Andrews, our tripleader, we started out at about 6:50 PM heading west towards a cloudy sunset. We stopped to look at early blooming red cardinal flower and light purple water hyacinth along the way. Most of the newcomers were interested in seeing the several alligators we came across out in front of us.

We made our way along the north edge of Bay Minette and turned north up into Yancey Bay. About half-way up we turned west into a narrow un-named channel that Bob calls Gamewarden's Cut. This travels fairly straight until it opens up into the Blakeley River just north of the split between the Blakeley and Apalachee Rivers. On the way through the Gamewarden's Cut, I swatted a few deer flies and managed to swat my prescription glasses off of my face and right into the water. I got into the chest-deep water and tried to feel around for them with my feet, but to no avail. Another good learning experience, this time about bringing glasses along on a paddle without some type of protection to hold them around my neck!

We hung out in the Blakeley for about 15-20 minutes, waiting for everyone to catch up and gather for drinks and snacks. We started back after the sunset, with the moon partially showing through the light cloud cover. Our pace picked up considerably on the return, when thunder and lightening off in the distance, suddenly seemed to move towards us very quickly. When we made the last turn towards the visible Hwy. 225 bridge about a half mile away, it was every boat for itself, as several boats went into race mode to try and beat the approaching storm. All made it back safely, packed up and got out before the rain hit, so it was another successful and fun-packed moonlight evening.

Apalachee River to Causeway XI

Saturday, August 28, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This morning was an interesting contrast to my last several workout paddles on this course, in that the breeze came out of the north and the tide was rising which changes the dynamics and strategy for an overall successful time. The temperature at 7:30 AM was an already warm 84 degrees with a clear sky, when I put in at Riverdoc's. I had Pass Picada to myself as I headed east into the rising current. I made it to the Apalachee in 8:45 and as I passed Riverdoc's on the return, my time was a good 15:10, although a little slower than Thursday night.

I made very good time heading to the Causeway, where several fishermen looked on and nodded their heads as I flew past. I slowed somewhat from there, heading into the current on the rest of the way to my turnaround, but still hit a PR split of 30:14. With that uplifting realization and a good long drink, I started back and when I got past the Causeway, where the current changed to following, I really turned it on back to Riverdoc's and set another overall PR of 49:43. This was my first breakthrough of the 50 minute barrier, so it was particularly sweet.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway X

Thursday, August 26, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The conditions were pretty good for a fast paddle on a hot and muggy night in the delta. I put in at Riverdoc's at 6:05 PM with a breeze coming out of the south, 92 degrees, cloudy, humid, thunder off to the north and a falling tide. I headed east past the restaurants and heard a little live music on the Blue Gill's deck as I passed, making the Apalachee River in 6:55 with the current. My return against the current brought me past Riverdoc's in 14:55, as I continued on towards the Causeway. There were only a couple of fishermen, who barely looked up as I passed by. I made it to my turnaround in 32:50, which seemed slow at the time, as I thought it over while taking a short water break.

My return was decent, although I felt I could have expended a little more effort, as I made it back to Riverdoc's in 50:07. Since I was in the new kayak for only the second time, this was a new PR for the course. The new kayak is feeling great as I am getting more used to it and paddling fast in it. It will be a whole new learning set, when I get into some chop or out into the Gulf.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway IX

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

There are so many different variables that affect performance and overall improvement, that it is sometimes hard to gauge how you are doing. But, one of the more important factors, even more so than current speed and direction, is the kayak you are using.

In that regard, I am now having to adjust time targets for my various set courses, as I just acquired a new faster kayak. So, I now have a new benchmark to gauge future performance.

I put in at Riverdoc's at 6:00 PM with the sky cloudy, 86 degrees, wind from the south and a falling tide. Since this was my very first time in the new kayak, it took me a little while to get used to it and get into a good rhythm. I reached the Apalachee in 7:10 and back past Riverdoc's in 15:10. It was a little more difficult heading into the wind towards the Causeway, where there were quite a number of fishermen looking on. I was pleased to see my turnaround time at the Exxon was a much faster 33:12. After a breather and drink, I hit it hard on the return and came in at a much faster 50:28. This is roughly 10% faster than what I would have paddled in my older kayak with the same effort, so therefore the new benchmark. My good gator buddy was waiting again for me with a smile at the Riverdoc's finish.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Fairhope to Dog River Double Crossing II

Sunday, August 22, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I started out earlier this time in order to beat the heat for at least part of the paddle. I was in the water and starting across the bay from the Fairhope Yacht Club beach at 6:05 AM, just before sunrise. The temp was around 76 degrees, no wind, calm water with high tide around 4:45, so for the start, there was little current. The sky was clear, so I was able to see across the bay and focus on the Dog River Bridge without having to look at the GPS.

If you think I am a little obsessive about times and performance, this may be a little over the top, even for me. Since there was no current, no wind and no fog, I didn't have alot to do while on the water except concentrate on stroke form and turnover speed. So, while on the way over to Mobile and after I got into a good stroke rhythm, I started counting breath cycles and stroke turnover and decided to count the rest of the way. Interestingly, at least for me, I averaged 20 breaths per minute and 80 strokes per minute for a 4:1 ratio. This carried through for the whole paddle, so at roughly 2:05 per each crossing, I used a total of 5,000 breaths and 20,000 strokes for the trip.

I did see alot of pelicans, who were out diving and a couple of fishing boats slowly pulling their nets behind. There were many birds following the fishing boats, trying to pick up anything that fell through and came to the surface.

I made it to Dog River in 2:06, which was the same time I made on 7/25. But, this time, even though the temperature rose about 12 degrees to 88 by the time I got back to FYC, I was able to make the return in 2:08, for a total paddle time of 4:14:31. This was a huge 12 minute improvement, due in large part to bringing plenty of water this time. The training is still going well and on track for October.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway VIII

Saturday, August 21, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

What a difference the day and conditions make to affect performance. This morning brought out close to ideal conditions with a temperature of 78 degrees, no wind and a moderately falling tide. I started out at Riverdoc's at 8:00 AM and headed east towards Blue Gill's with water like glass, no activity at any of the establishments and not even any gators watching out for me. I made it to the Apalachee in 7:17 with the following current, turned and made it back to Riverdoc's in 17:18 against the current.

I continued on, past the Causeway with a few fishermen looking on as I came across my only gator buddy of the trip. The rest of the paddle west was with a following current and I hit the turnaround at 36:50. This seemed slow, but remembering the current flow, I was comfortable that with a strong paddle back, I could salvage a decent time. After a quick drink, I hit it back against the current to the Causeway and then had following current the rest of the way back. My finish time was 54:34, close to my PR of last week. So, again, its all about the current, as intermediate split times can be deceptive as to anticipating a finish.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway VII

Thursday, August 19, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

It has been over a week since I was last on the water and I was anxious to get out and see if I had lost anything. While off, we traveled to Roanoke to see our oldest, Bradley, get married to Misha. It was a great time, everything went very smoothly and the newlyweds seem destined for great things as they start off their new life together. I even got in a couple of days of mountain biking in a great park, with plenty of vertical (a big change from Mobile!) and technical one-tracks to give me some great workouts and beautiful vistas.

One thing that is constant about paddling the delta is knowing that every trip will be different. This particular workout started out with a stiff 10-15 mph breeze out of the SE with 90 degrees and not much current. The tide charts indicated two highs and two lows this day, with the closest a high tide at 4:15 PM, before I started at 6:00, with the next low tide (very little drop) at around 11:00 PM.

So, I headed east towards Blue Gill's, hugging the south shore to try and stay out of the wind and came across my good gator buddy right away. He winked as I passed and I called out "Howdy" to him. There was a live band playing out on the back deck at Blue Gill's, so there was a nice audience as I smoked by. However, when I got to Apalachee, my time of 8:20, didn't seem so smokin' after all. I doubled back and stayed more out in the middle of Pass Picada to try and pick up a little crossing breeze, but my return time was still slow at 17:00.

The conditions got worse as I headed out into open water and angled southwest towards the Causeway and then WNW on to the Interstate bridges. When I got to the turnaround, I was surprised to see my time was a faster than expected 36:10. Somehow the wind, partially to my back, was helping push me along, even though I was fighting to keep heading straight. Once I saw the time, I knew the return would be ugly, as it was directly into a headwind. So, I took a drink, hunkered forward and took off. It was a struggle, and gave the fishermen along the Causeway something to chuckle about. But, even with the tough wind conditions and the week layoff, I managed to finish in 56:13, which I thought was respectable.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway VI

Tuesday, August 10, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The weather was the key tonight as I tried to fit a paddle in between two thunderstorms. I arrived at Riverdoc's at 6:00 PM with ominous skies hanging over Mobile. Earlier in the afternoon, a big storm blew through and left the temperature low at around 80 with no wind and a falling tide with a fast moving current. So, at the moment, I had very good paddling conditions.

I headed east, passing some live jazz music on the Blue Gill's deck and blew on past with the nice following current, making the turn at Apalachee in 6:57. The return was, of course, much slower as I passed Riverdoc's in 16:30 and headed toward the dark skies and a few bolts of lightening. Once past the Causeway culverts, the current turned and I cruised in to the Exxon turnaround in 36:16. While I was turning around, a large gator came out from the bank to check me out a little closer, out between the interstate bridges. I clapped the water a couple of times with my paddle, but he didn't submerge, so I eased out of his way. After a short water break and the storm getting closer, I hightailed it back to Riverdoc's. The thunder was clapping just behind me, so I pushed on as hard as I could go. The rain started to come just as I was loading my kayak on the car. My time was another PR in 54:16, so training is still good!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Causeway to Mobile River Workout III

Sunday, August 8, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The weather was great again today, with an early morning temperature of 72 degrees and a nice breeze coming out of the northeast. I started out at first light, around 6:10 AM at the Exxon and headed up into Delvan Bay. High tide was around 6:15, so I got a start without feeling the current effects of a falling tide. With the temperature so agreeable, I made it up to the Pontoon Saloon in 1:05:50 and took my first water break. All of my breaks were alot shorter this trip, due to not having high temps and humidity. I made the turn to Mobile River in 1:22 and stopped again for water at the highrise bridge at 1:52, both of which were faster than last week.

When I first got to Mobile River, I arrived at the same time as a large triple-wide barge, also heading down river. I decided to go out alongside and realized I was ever so slowly pulling ahead of her. When I got to the highrise, I stopped for about 10 minutes and when I was ready to start, the barge was coming up alongside me again. So, I took off and quickly gained the lead again. She followed me all of the way down river and went on straight out into the bay after I turned east into the bay at the mouth of the river. This time down through the docks area, there were alot more ships docked to load/unload and in for repair. There were a couple of real monsters in for repainting. It will really be cool when the cruise ships start to come in to the new terminal in October. Again, there were no Navy vessels in port this weekend.

My next stop was at the turn, where I had my close encounter of the reptillian kind last week. I stopped for water at 2:45, but did not find any gators hanging out this time. The last leg of the trip was the worst, as the wind had picked up, still coming out of the northeast, compounded with a falling tide. So, I sucked it up and headed directly into the wind and against the current, breaking through wave after wave. I didn't arrive at the Causeway bridge until 3:07, so the conditions definately took their toll on my overall trip time. The last short leg back along the interstate bridges was also into the wind and current, so I ended up with a total time of 3:20:16. One good result of the lower temperature, was that I took fewer and shorter breaks and felt alot stronger when I finished.

Juniper Creek

Saturday, August 7, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The meeting time at the put-in was at 9:30 AM, so we left at 8:00 and barely got there in time. From the I-10 Daphne exit 35, the drive will take all of 1.5 hours. We exited at FL I-10 exit 22 and turned left (north) on Rt. 181 to right on Hwy. 90 and left (north) on Rt. 87, to right on Rt. 191 (Shell station) for about 16 miles to just past the bridge, where there is a small canoe sign. The put-in is off to the right, down a dirt road to the creek. We shuttled vehicles to the take-out, which took us backtracking about 6 miles down Rt. 191 back towards Milton, to left on Indian Ford Rd (before you get to Bob's Canoe Rentals), and went about another 5 miles to the large gravel parking lot on the right before you cross the bridge.

There were about 20-25 boats, with a broad mixture of canoes, kayaks of all sizes and shapes and even a couple of inflatables. Linda and I took off early, paddling with Dick & Marilyn, Jim and another newcomer to MBCAKC, along with his two young teenage boys. Most of the rest of the crowd was from the various Pensacola clubs, who took their time getting started and paddled very leisurely.

The cool, clear water had a slight tint of tannin and was very shallow for the most part, with a white sand and river rock bottom. There were many white sandy beach areas around the larger turns, but most were also covered with small worn river rock. The weather was very pleasant for a change in August with the temperature ranging from the mid-70's up to the mid-80's in the afternoon.

We had a very pleasant paddle for about one hour arriving at a large beach area for lunch and swimming. Gary tried out the clay, smearing it on his face, etc. to get the spa treatment effect. We left after an hour and started down the creek for the remainder of the paddle. At about half way, there was the first bridge we crossed under, where some folks left their cars, so they would not have to paddle the whole way to our take-out. As it turns out, I would guess more of the paddlers would have preferred to only go half way, but were committed to push on.

We paddled ahead, dropping boats one at a time from our group and ended up with just Dick & Marilyn and one other canoe and a pair of kayakers. It turned out to be another 2:20 of steady paddling to make it to the take-out, a total of about 12 miles. We loaded up and got away at about 3:30 and guessed alot of the others would not arrive for another 1-2 hours.

It was another beautiful day in paradise, on a beautiful creek with beautiful people!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Pass Picada workout

Friday, August 6, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I was under a tight time constraint to get home for another commitment, so I had to shorten my speed workout last night. The temperature was decent in the mid-80's, but there was a stiff breeze coming out of the north, with a rising tide. So, I opted to do a double loop of Pass Picada from Riverdoc's to the Apalachee River. I took off at race pace and headed for the north shore so I could duck behind the tall grasses and out of the wind. This worked well, as the water was very calm and I was able to get some good rhythm and speed going. I made it down to the Apalachee turnaround in 7:45 and back along the north shore across from Riverdoc's in 16:30.

The second lap went even quicker as I made it to Apalachee in 23:58 and finished up back at Riverdoc's in 32:30. I figure the course was in the range of 3 miles or a little longer. When I pulled back in to the ramp, there was my gator buddy waiting patiently for me to return.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway V

Wednesday, August 4, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

It was another beautiful summer afternoon for a paddle workout. There was no wind, a falling tide and about 85 degrees. My gator friend was there to greet me at the Riverdocs put-in on the Causeway. I took off eastbound on Pass Picada and soon became the attraction for about 15 small kids out on the pier behind Blue Gill's. The turn at Apalachee came in 7:39 with the following current, and back to Riverdoc's in 16:46 against the current.

The run out further west took me past a few fishermen along the Causeway at the culverts and the remainder to Exxon went faster with the reverse and following current in 36:26. I hit it hard on the return and a final kick with the following from the culverts to Riverdoc's, finished in a new PR of 54:43. My gator buddy was waiting patiently for me to return.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Causeway to Mobile River Workout II

Sunday, August 1, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I decided to follow the same course Rob took me on, back on July 3rd, for a solo training run this morning. I started promptly at 7:00 AM under sunny skies, with a 5 mph breeze coming out of the NE. The temperature started out at about 82 degrees with fairly high humidity of about 90%. Another difference today, was that I was starting out right in the middle between tides, so I had a pretty good following rising tide as I started north.

The course starts out west between the Interstate bridges and turns north up into Delvan Bay and on up into the Spanish River. I stopped near the Pontoon Saloon again, although someone was there, and I stayed on the other side of river. This was my first water stop at about 5.5 miles and 1:06:47.

As I made the turn around the high power lines at Mobile River, I noticed my time at 1:24:16. The downside of a rising tide, is the run south down Mobile River is not the fast pace we had a month ago. My next stop was at the highrise bridge at 1:55. So far, nothing remarkable this time of morning, just a few fishing boats and a couple of barges heading north.

I continued on downriver and made my next stop at the Alabama Shipyards, just past the Convention Center and the new Cruise Terminal. No U.S. Navy vesssels in port, so I didn't have to watch out for the guards this time. My time at this point was 2:33.

Still nothing special happened until I rounded the bend east toward the bay. As I cut in to about 20 yards off the shoreline, the water was pretty shallow, about thigh deep and I was passing over several areas of underwater grasses. And then it happened to me for the first time, other than out in the surf. I tipped over after startling and angering a pretty large gator. He came up under the rear half of my kayak and his tail gave me a quick lift out of the water and then a good twist. I felt like I was riding a mechanical bull. If I had been expecting it, I would like to think I would have ridden it out. But it startled me as well and I went right over. Actually, it was pretty refreshing to get wet and take a little break again, as the temperature was now up to about 92 degrees. I walked my kayak in a little closer to shore, took my time to pump out the water and started up again, with my time at 2:47.

The turn back north past the battleship was again with the following tide, but into the wind, so I stopped for one last drink under the Causeway bridge at 3:05. I then turned back under the Interstate bridges and followed along under the eastbound lanes in the shade. My final total time was 3:16:11, which was an improvement of about 8 minutes over a month ago. All in all, it was a good workout under the hot and humid conditions, as I ended up drinking 3.5 liters of water while on the paddle and more on the ride home.