Friend’s Visit, RZ96 on Woods Reservoir

My best friend, a fellow who lived at the top of the steps at SBTS, same dorm, same floor that I infested during my time as a Southern Baptist seminarian, is visiting this weekend. I’ve asked him to be my son’s godfather, and we’re having a baby-dedication service at the Cafe Church tomorrow.

Eric injured his back not too long ago, so today we didn’t paddle far at Woods Reservoir. I’d planned to paddle to the lake’s south shore, then left and under the causeway, maybe stop for a sandwich or something at Morris Ferry Dock, and on up the Elk looking at the scenery and talking about the nature of life on earth. However, with Eric’s injury and the wind blowing from south and west at 20 mph, we paddled right upon reaching the south shore. Eric tends to paddle with his arms, we hadn’t worked out a cadence yet that prevented paddle clashing, and we were headed into the wind, more or less. The crossing took awhile longer than it usually does.

On the other side we turned right, ate the sandwiches we’d brought, and paddled along the shore, out of the wind, then around a point where windblown, white-capping chop could be seen past two pilings that once supported a duck blind. Into the wind we continued along the shore until we reached a fork, and allowed the wind to push us slowly drifting as we ate more of the lunch from the cooler. We found a shallow place where Eric was able to get out, walk about, and stretch his back.

We poked around in the shallows looking at turtles, trees, some frogs jumping. We paddled against the wind back out to the lake, proper, then out toward the middle. There we ate some oranges, throwing the rinds into the water. Some floated, some sank. I rinsed my hands off in the lake.

Crossing to the rec-beach, Eric sighted along his paddle and pretended to empty a clip on full-auto at a distant motor boat headed our way. I looked at the boat, thought, “Excrement,” and said, “Dude, that’s the police boat, we’re gonna get hassled.” The officers, however, stopped where they were, and we paddled on. We were not even hassled when we tied up at the rec-beach courtesy dock.

After resting our aching backs laying flat on the sun-heated dock’s abrasive coated surface for awhile, we got back in the boat and paddled back to the put-in.  Under way again, it seemed we had developed a  cadence that resulted in no further clashing of paddles as we made our way along the lake’s north shore.

I’d brought along a Klepper paddle, at least 40 – 50 years old, and Eric used my Renshaw Greenland style paddle.  The Klepper’s about 245 cm, and the Renshaw maybe 223.  Probably, for this boat, I should have a 240 cm paddle for the stern paddler, and a 230, 235 for the bow.

Predictably, there were some people fishing there near the 850. I reckoned they’d just have to cope with our noisy and fish-disruptive presence. We exchanged polite small talk with them, a shaved-headed white man of indeterminate age, and a stout black woman with a tattoo on her bare upper right arm. I heard the woman say to her companion as I sponged out some of the RZ’s bilgewater, “Look at that – he’s got a farmer tan.”

“Better than a tattoo or the skin cancer I spent my sun-tanning youth working on,” I thought. Pretty funny, actually, the things people say.

We managed to get the RZ (at 18′, it’s longer than my car) up on the roof-racks. Inverted, so it rested on the coaming for better support than it would have had hull-down due to the distance between the racks. I tied it down pretty tight, but the wind blew the kayak around a bit as I drove back to the house. I’ll probably need to buy some longer straps in order to really secure the boat laterally. I did not move forward or back while driving.

The process yesterday morning of getting up, getting the paddling gear loaded up in the car, getting to the put in, getting to RZ96 assembled, getting on the water a lot later than is for me the norm, served to inform me that I am an obsessive freak when it comes to paddling. I over prepare; have goals related to getting on the water early; distance and destination; expectations for those who accompany me on my travels. I experience anxiety if I’m not on the water early. No wonder I have a hard time finding anyone willing to kayak with me.

Eric said he’s always been the same way about cycling trips – not really about fun, but about distance goals, endurance, preparation, and slow-burn annoyance with others who didn’t seem to take the activity as seriously.