Friday, December 31, 2010

Year-end Paddle on the Blackstone – December 31st

Well, as 2010 came to a close, I got out for one last run on the Blackstone. It seems appropriate that my year-end trip should be a solo run at River Island Park. The level was low (2’, 450 cfs), but it was fine for solo paddling.

As I was paddling under the P&W Railroad Bridge, I noticed this statue of Mary set up down by the river. I’m not sure how it got there, or who set it up (access would only be available by boat), but it was nice to see it there.

For me, 2010 was another great year for paddling. I try to do at least one big trip each month, and here are some of the more significant ones:

January – Crystal Section of the Farmington
February – Upper Shepaug
March – Lower Natchaug
April – Knightville section of the Westfield and the Upper Millers
May – Lower Otter Brook
June – RICKA Flatwater Training
July – RICKA Whitewater Training and the Wood/Pawcatuck
August – Fife Brook and a RICKA Flatwater trip on the Lower Deerfield
September – West
October – Lower Ashuelot and the Big River
November – Contoocook - Peterborough to Bennington
December – Pawcatuck from Shannock to Richmond

I also did a lot of solo trips on the Blackstone, many of which I captured on video. Overall it was a great year, and there are still plenty of rivers I would like to paddle.

New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 – I have a few:
  • Practice rolling the C1 - who knows, maybe I’ll get it down eventually
  • Do at least one camping trip - I’ve got a bunch of options up in ME or on the NFCT
  • Get more trashy - and arrange a trip with the Trash Paddler.
Happy New Year everyone.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pawcatuck – Shannock to Richmond – December 26th

We were originally talking about going to T’ville yesterday, but with a snowstorm approaching, we decided to stay local instead. At Jim’s suggestion, we ended up padding the Pawcatuck River from Shannock to Richmond. This is a section that I hadn’t done before, so it sounded good to me.

I met Jeff and Jim at the Richmond Fishing Area around 9:00 and we ran the shuttle up to Shannock. The run is about 4 miles long and has a little bit of everything – flatwater, quickwater and a few easy rapids. The level was low but fluid – 100 cfs, 2’ on the Wood River Junction gage; 75 cfs, 1’ on the Kenyon gage. Snow was just starting to fall as we reached the put in.

Just downstream from the put-in in the Shannock Village are the rapids of the reconstructed lower Shannock Falls. A 2’ drop at the end of the rapids would be fun if it wasn't for a large boulder placed in the middle of the river just downstream. This boulder was supposedly placed there to provide a rest eddy for the fish, but I suspect more than a few boats will get pinned on it. Due to the low water, and the mid-stream boulder, we decided to line this section.

The next mile is flatwater leading to the Route 122 bridge and the easy rapids in the old Carolina Mill Raceway. We did two runs through the raceway, and then began picking our way through the blow downs until we reached the Carolina Canoe Campsite. As we took a break, Jim lit a small fireplace – a nice treat on a snowy day. Its amazing how much heat a small fire can produce.

The snow was falling heavily by the time we got back on the river. We headed down to the Richmond Fishing Area where we ran the dam and did a little surfing in the playspot. By this time, the roads were starting to look bad, so we loaded up the boats and headed home to sit out the storm.

My Pictures
Trip Description from Rhode Island Blueways
Richmond Fishing Area from Google Maps
Kenyon Gage
Wood River Junction Gage

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Story – and its true, honest

You’re probably not going to believe this, but its true. I saw Santa Claus, and he was not in a sleigh being pulled by reindeer. He was in a canoe - a red canoe.

Here’s what happened. It was Christmas Eve a couple of years ago. I had finished all my shopping, so I decided to take my canoe out for a short trip.  As I was unloading my gear, I looked downstream and saw what appeared to be a man in a red suit poling up the river.

I ducked out of sight as he approached, and watched him push up a small drop...

... and head upstream.

I decided to follow him.  Eventually, he pulled off the river where a small group had already gathered. Curiosity got the best of me, so I pulled my boat up on to shore, and walked over to talk to them. I learned that the man in the red suit was Santa Claus, and the small group that had gather by the river were his elves. 

I also learned that much of what I thought I knew about Santa was wrong.
  • First, Santa doesn’t live at the North Pole - he lives in Rhode Island.
  • Second, Santa doesn’t deliver toys in a sleigh pulled by reindeer - he delivers them in a red canoe that he poles up to the rooftops.
  • Third, Santa’s favorite drink isn’t hot cocoa - its Sailor Jerry. He says that it does a better job of keeping him warm on those cold December nights.
When he was ready to leave, he offered us some Sailor Jerry.

Then he headed off to begin his night’s work.

I know its amazing, but its true. Pictures don’t lie.  ;-)

Ware River - December 6, 2009
Ware River - December 2, 2013

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Retrofitting the Impulse – December 18th

I spent some time yesterday getting my old Impulse ready to paddle. At some point, I’d like to replace the pedestal and straps, but that’s a big job, so it will have to wait.  For now, I spent $8 on tie-downs and $6 on para cord and re-rigged the bag cages. It came out OK. I would have preferred black para cord, but all I could find locally was blue - maybe it will grow on me.

I took the boat out this afternoon for some flatwater paddling down at Rivers Edge.  It doesn't turn like the Encore, or carve as tight a circle, but I'm starting to get use to it again.  I'll have lots of time off for the holidays, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some paddling in.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What to do in Winter - December 12th

The Woonsocket Police called this week, but there has been no sign of my old Encore.  I did take my Impulse out for a couple of hours yesterday to see if I could still paddle it - definitely a disappointment. Compared to the Encore, the Impulse won't turn, won't surf, and is a bit of a barge. Oh well, I guess I'll get use to it.

It was too cold and rainy to paddle today (even for me), so I put some old winter paddling clips together into a video.

What to do in Winter from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

It looks like fun.  I'm definitely looking forward to some winter paddling - even without my Encore.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Someone stole my canoe - December 4th

Can you believe it? I was paddling yesterday at my usual park and play spot at River Island Park with my Dagger Encore. Usually, I just carry the boat back to my car, but yesterday I had plenty of time, so I went a little further downstream. When I was done, I left my boat near the Main Street Bypass and walked about a quarter mile back to my car. By the time I got back, the boat was gone – it couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes.

I checked the river thinking that kids might have pushed it in – no sign of it. It walked along the bank thinking someone may have stashed it so that they could come back for it later – nope. Someone must have picked it up and carried it off. The police station is literally a couple of hundred yards away, so I walked over and reported it missing in the unlikely event it shows up somewhere.

In hindsight, leaving the boat unattended was a stupid thing to do, but why would anyone in Woonsocket steal a 20-year-old whitewater canoe – its not exactly a fishing boat. I’m guessing it will end up for sale online.

Fortunately, I also have an old Dagger Impulse, so I do have a boat to paddle. Still, I really liked that Encore. I guess I’m going to be in the market for a new (used) boat. If anyone sees an Encore for sale, let me know.

Pictures of my old Encore

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sideslips and Ferries

There’s a good thread on freestyle paddling running on After reading the section on sideslips, I went back to some video that I made before Thanksgiving below the Martin Street Bridge. I thought I would see lots of examples of sideslips and cross sideslips. To my surprise - not so many. Here's the video:

Practicing Ferries from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Its interesting to go back and watch this video after the fact. I realized that I do a lot more paddling when I do ferries than I would have thought, although it is good practice for the cross forward. I also use the bow draw a lot more often than I would have thought.  It works here, but I'm not sure it would in bigger water. I definitely don't use sideslips as much as I would have thought – I’ll have to work on that.