Sunday, January 25, 2009

Backyard Kayak Storage, Now with Padding!

Finally, after weeks of wanting to do this, I got the materials and time. Outdoor carpet was 50% off because it was dusty and creased, neither of which bothers me in the least given how it'll be abused, around $6. Strips of wood about $3, nails $2.50. So all said and done, I've got maybe $40 in it. I probably could have spent a little less, but what the heck, I've got it how I want it, and you can't put a dollar amount on that.

DIY rocks.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Island Creek to Castle Hayne

Geezer and I paddled on Thursday (Jan. 22) from Island Creek Rd to the little park in Castle Hayne just beyond I40 on the Cape Fear, a distance of roughly 9 miles as traced out on Google Earth. It started off pretty cold, with an ice crust in several spots where there wasn't much current, but warmed up reasonably well by mid-day. Wind got pretty stiff on the river for a bit, but backed off toward the end of the paddle. I'd say we were about 4 hours on the water with a 20 minute lunch break on limestone riverbank just above the old cement plant that Titan Cement has proposed restarting operations. We checked a couple of little side creeks, and on one found a great camping spot; worth an overnight trip this spring perhaps. We didn't see much wildlife at all, but it was a pretty little paddle anyway. At the end we passed under I40, which was interesting because I've driven over that part of the river so many times. I think paddling through the ice was my favorite part, just because of the novelty of it. It was thin enough that bow and paddle both sliced right through. If you rock your hips to make a little wake it makes a crazy crackling/pinging noise as the little waves move away from you. Once again I'm grateful to Mike for his wealth of knowledge about local water and paddling, among other things. I really enjoy our conversations. Hoping for a break in the rain tomorrow to get a Sunday trip in, but I'm not gonna hold my breath. I've got to do a little review of my new paddling jacket. It's keeping me warm and dry. Cheers.

If you look closely, you can see the crust of ice on the water.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


photo by Aimee Wilson

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Backyard Kayak Storage

This is the kayak rack I built in my backyard. I know it's just 4 posts in the ground and a couple of cross beams, but this is the first thing I've ever made in my life with wood and tools. I got some hand tools for Christmas; pretty standard, hammer, saw, level, tape measure, screwdrivers, etc. I got the wood at Home Depot (two 4x4x8' and two 2x4x8) for about $25.

Drilling into the 4x4's gave me a little trouble (density), but otherwise it went pretty smooth. So less than $30, and a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon, and now my boats are well off the ground. As an added bonus, the rack will double well as a work horse and surfboard ding-repair station in the future, and there's even enough room for another boat (like I've got the $ for that). All I need to do now is pad the beams with carpet or foam and I'm good. Cheers.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hidden Creek

For our first paddle of 2009 Aimee and I met my former boss and current friend Colin (Doppler) for a romp around our old digs down at WB. We launched from Jasmine Park on Harbor Island about 2 hrs after the low tide. Air temps in the low 50's, no wind to speak of, overcast, light fog. The launch isn't great; you've got to lower the boats off a 4' bulkhead onto a little sand spit (which wouldn't be there at a high enough tide). The bulkhead is framed so it's easy to scale up and down though, so that helps. We made our way towards Shinn's, over to the old swimming hole in Hidden Creek Masonboro (where some idiots have stashed a floating dock and sofas), back out and across the channel and up through Hidden Creek WB to the old fairway and back to Banks Channel. We were inspected by a couple of inquisitive porpoise in Shinn's, one of whom stuck his head up to check us out. We could clearly see his beady little black eye looking our way. The water was perfectly glassy and amazingly clear the entire trip, enabling us to see channel whelks and other critters along the bottom, as well as avoid running over the oyster beds. We got great looks at loons and cormorants, pelicans, Forster's terns, hooded mergansers, various gulls, great egrets, great blue herons, white ibis, yellowlegs, tri-colored herons, a belted kingfisher, and a probable American bittern (a first for me). The tide floated us right through almost the entire trip and the temp/conditions stayed about constant. I got the best look I've had at a hooded merganser, but I'm afraid the reason why is that he was probably injured and couldn't take off to fly away from us, despite multiple attempts (hunters perhaps?). I got to use my new paddling jacket for the first time (an IR Zephyr LS), and I'm very pleased with it. I was almost too warm today, with just a thin synthetic LS tee underneath, but I'm going to be glad for it on colder and windier days. A beautiful trip altogether. It was nice to paddle my old SMKC haunts. Next time I go down to WB on a similar tide I want to get up Bradley Creek to collect a bucket of periwinkles for a chowder. More later.

From Dredge Spoil, South End of WB and Masonboro Inlet