Sunday, September 18, 2016

Martha's Vineyard in a Bathtub

I have no idea if this crazy plan is going to work. Everyone I told about it said I was nuts. Probably true, but it still might work.

Martha's Vineyard in a 12' Dinghy- I spend the first half of my vacation working on my tiny boat, getting it ready for open ocean and to sleep in. I install a battery, bilge pump, a charger for my phone (which I use for navigation), a bench seat that also holds my gas tank, tent poles to support the canvas cover, and a sleeping board that I can move into position for sleeping. I'm ready for the seven seas.

I boat out and spend one night camping in a tent on Washburn Island, Waqoiut Bay. That's been on my bucket list for a few years! Then on to Martha.

Nice Secluded Campsite on Washburn Island
The wind is 15-25 when I cross the 6 miles from Waqoiut Bay to the Vineyard. More wind and waves than I wanted for my first crossing with my little boat! At least it's a NE wind for a following sea. I get knocked around but I'm very happy to arrive, kinda dry and still floating. My toy boat made it!

I go into Edgartown and notice that my dinghy looks different from all the other dinghies at the dinghy dock. Mine has the bright red canvas covering the bow, gear strapped all over the sides, the big bench seat, a kiteboard hanging off the back. I stand out like a circus clown among grey suited businessmen. I worry that I might be told to leave because I'm obviously not a tender for a yacht but nobody says nothing. They just stare, (in admiration I assume).

I love kiting and spending the night in Cape Poge. I anchor near the lee shore and set up the boat for sleep as the setting sun paints the sky deep orange and the almost full moon creeps above the horizon. Beautiful.

Kiting in Cape Poge, Chappaquiddick

Now's the test. Can I really sleep on this tiny thing? I have just enough room to stretch out on my sleeping board. Clearance between my forehead and the canvas is about 2 inches. I drift off to sleep to the sound of ripples lapping at the bow. I feel like I'm sleeping on an air mattress adrift on the ocean. I sleep 8 hours, more sleep than I've had in forever.

I learn a lot about cruising in a boat. How the dinghy docks work, where to find showers, ice, fuel, and legal anchorages. Many harbors have amenities such as the dinghy docks etc. set up for visiting yachts. I feel like I'm cheating because my dinghy is my yacht but these amenities are great. It makes getting what I need way too easy. I could stay out here until the snow flies.

Getting Underway Early, This is the Moon Setting as the Sun Comes Up

With light wind for a few days, I boat around the island and explore all the bays and harbors along the way, (I cover 80 miles in 2 days according to my phone, 40 miles per 6 gal gas). What I learn- Katama Bay is off limits for legal overnight anchoring. Edgartown is great and has everything I need right there. Oak Bluffs has a vibrant party feel, almost a Caribbean vibe. The west side of the island is fairly secluded and rocky with striking cliffs that I want to climb, rocky areas where I want to snorkel. Menemsha has a fishing village feel with a beautiful hidden cove that I find to anchor in. The south side of the island is fairly secluded but not varied, except for the stunning cliffs at Gay Head. No harbors or shelters on this entire side, not a place I would choose to break down please.

Menemsha Night
The Menemsha cove is my high point of the trip. Glassy water encircled by marsh and stubby trees. 3 deer watch me enter the cove before bounding away. I eat my dinner anchored in the middle of this secluded pool as the golden full moon rises. Fish are jumping all around the boat. I stretch out in my dry sleeping bag surrounded by whispering water. The night is perfect.

On the last day Josh boats out with a friend to meet me and to do some kiting and fishing. I've had trouble off and on with my 25 HP motor during the trip. Now it finally dies. Unbelievable timing! This is the opposite of Murphy's law. If anything can go wrong it will at the best possible time. Josh goes to work and determines that my motor is not getting a spark. Done. He has my old 8 HP on board as his back up motor. We swap motors, (not easy but Josh doesn't hesitate), and I'm saved from a near death experience.

I boat back to the mainland at night because the wind is almost still. I use the full moon for light and my phone for navigation. Lights on the mainland, shining off the black water, act as a beacon. It's stunning!

I'm sad to go home to a backlog of work emails, phone messages, estimates, invoices, scheduling headaches, and all the trivial ups and downs of running a small business, although I'm glad to be back with Barbara.

This trip was a bucket list trip that I didn't even know was on my list. Until very recently it hadn't occurred to me that it might be possible to live and sleep on a 12' dinghy for a few days, not to mention crossing over to Martha's Vinyard and back. It took a little creativity but that was part of the appeal. Out on the water I had a feeling of complete freedom, joy, and adventure, with many moments of tranquility and bliss. I think I was using a part of my brain that's dormant in 90% of my life. Now I'm using all of my brain to think about my next trip.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Martha My Dear


Josh and I make it over to Martha's Vineyard in his boat for kiting and fishing! This has been a goal for both us with our boating this year.

Josh kiting in Katama Bay
Is it crazy to come over here with his 40 year old motor that cuts out frequently? Yes, probably. It helps that we have an auto mechanic on board. Also Josh has a small back up motor just in case. Still it takes a little faith or foolishness. We have plenty of both.

With Josh, Darren, Kaitlyn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Are You Thankful For?


Blue skies overhead, a trail beneath my feet, wonderful hiking company. This is what I'm thankful for!

Ben On top of Mt Flume

2 peaks- Mt Flume, Mt Liberty. Flume Slide Trail up. Liberty Spring Trail down, with Ben.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

You Never Forget How to Ride a Bike

8/21/16 Kiting with Josh

This is Josh's first session in 2 years. I thought I'd get to see some really good crashes! I was disappointed.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My New Kite Boat

  Goodbye little red bathtub.
Kiting in Chatham 7/16/16

  Hello little gray bathtub.
Kiting at Horseneck West End 8/5/16

My old boat was 10'. My new one is 11.5'. Just big enough to get myself into some real trouble. I'm sorry to see the old red boat go. I have such great family memories in that little old boat.

Josh's boat is still bigger than mine.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sandy Session

Sandy Neck- Sandy feet, sandy hair, sandy brain. I love it. This is how I relax.

Kitesurfed, Sandy Neck, Barnstable, ENE, E, 12-18, 17M Fat Lady/ Mako 150.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Egg on my Kite

I've been using my teency tiny inflatable boat to kite off the grid a little. I'm drawn to the wild, secluded spots like South Monomoy. I can't kite there anymore, (legally), so I'm doing some exploring and poking around for new venues.

Egg Island, near Kalmus Beach. I launch from the sand bar at low tide and kite in the kiddie pool.

This bar is exposed for only about 2 or 3 hours before and after low tide. The main beach in the background would be an easier launch but it's off limits. It has massive signs saying so and a guard actually patrols the beach.

I can't say I didn't see the signs. You can read them from 10 miles away.

Is this spot worth all the effort of boating out here? No, not really. I just like the challenge of finding a way to kite an otherwise inaccessible spot.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Chatham Light

Oh yeah, I love this spot in SE! Especially on the outgoing tide. The waves, sand bars, slicks all line up beautifully in this wind.

Sand Bar at the Mouth of Chatham Harbor

My favorite spot is on a sand bar off South Beach near the mouth of Chatham Harbor. This may be one of the very few remaining spots in the world without a kite ban. How lucky is that?! We had better enjoy it while we can.

Chatham Lighthouse, Kitesurfed, ESE, SE, 15-25, With Jean, Jamie, Rich.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ban Kite Bans.

Assachusettes is becoming the world capitol of kite bans. I think the authorities won't stop until kiters have been officially declared an endangered species. That's probably the only way we'll get any rights. Then they'll have to put up signs, ropes and barriers to keep birds from interfering with us.

Taking a break on Great Island

All the kite bans make me nostalgic for windsurfing. I go to Kalmus for a good ol' windsurfing session. I get some good ol' forearm cramping and muscle failure.

Windsurfing is hard work! It can age you quickly. I was a young man when I started windsurfing this morning, a tired, frail, old man by the afternoon.

Kalmus, Windsurfed, 15-30, SW, WSW, 4.2/Surf 85, 5.2/Acid 94, with Martin, Jay, lotsa others.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Plover Sandwich

High tide, solid north wind, and the parking lot in Sandwich is still open to outta towners. Life is good! After my session I walk out to the point so my skin can absorb a little more of the rejuvenating sun and salt.

Injured Plover? Nope, she's just faking it. This plover built her nest way out on the point where everyone walks. Every time someone walks near the nest the mommie fakes an injury and limps away from the nest to lead the mean humans away from her eggs. This is what soccer players call flopping and plovers are great at it.

The sad thing is that the nest is way below the astronomical high tide mark. It doesn't bode well for the survival of this particular plovers gene pool. Maybe that's as it should be.

Town Neck Beach, Sandwich, Kitesurfed, N, 14-22, 12M Rally/ Mako150, Solo.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Windsurfing Wimp

I got back on a windsurfer today. I know! Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.

I thought it would make me feel young. Like bringing back old times. Or not.

Windy Hardings
Overpowered on my smallest sail and board, 3.5 meters/85 liters. Didn't I used to use this rig up to 50 MPH? I was young then, I think. I hit a few jumps, a few jibes but I'm nearly shaking with exertion after just 4 or 5 runs. I rest, do a few more runs, then I smarten up, pump my 6 meter kite.

A windsurfer and a kitesurfer stop to have a leisurely chat
Being overpowered on a windsurfer, exhausting. Being overpowered on a kite, not so exhausting, dangerous.

Luckily I'm not overpowered on my 6m kite today. I still kite cautiously with all that air and water moving around me so quickly. Hey, at least I got to rig a sail and a kite in the same day.

Windsurfed, Kitesurfed, WNW 25-40 MPH, with Windsurfer Jay, others, Kiters Chuck, Liam, others.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Franconia Ridge: A Werewolf's Tale

Midnight hike by the light of the silvery moon. Hike 5:30 PM to 1:30 AM, very icy. 

Everybody had practiced their wolf howls for this 2 mile long ridge hike. We make it to the beginning of the ridge, 4800 feet up, but the 40 to 50 MPH winds are howling louder than we are. We abort.

Our werewolf spirit is undiminished. We howl our way down the mountain. I howl myself right to my truck and into my sleeping bag. I sleep the sleep of a tired wolf.


Hiking by Headlamp

Night Hike, Little Haystack. Trip Leaders- Karen Hoagland, Jonathan Niehof, Fred Smith, Ellen Tsai, Keith Watling.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Three in One

I kite. I hike. I kite. Mayflower Beach, East Sandwich Game Farm, Horseneck Beach. Not an extremely restful Sunday. At least I'm not spreading myself too thick.

Mayflower, Kitesurfed, NW, 10-22, 12M Rally/Mako, With Brad, Jean, Frank, Bryan, Others.
E Sandwich Game Farm, Hiked, 3 miles.
Horseneck, Kitesurfed, SW, 18-25, 10M Rally/Mako.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Windy Sunday

The White Mountain Higher Summits forecast is calling for a mix of sun, clouds, snow,  high temps around zero F, winds 80 to 100 MPH gusting to 125. Nice Spring hiking weather.

Unfortunately,  the hike I'm doing is completely in the trees, and mostly on the lee side of a ridge in NW winds. I'm missing out on all the excitement of hiking in those hurricane force winds. The good news is that I get to stay alive.

The View from Hancock

 Hiked, Mt Hancock, South Hancock, 10 miles, 6.5 hours. Solo.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Gone Sightseeing

Good sightseeing session! Mayflower to Sandy Neck, to Barnstable Harbor, to Chapin, to Mayflower. By the time I get back everyone has packed up and left. I don't take it personally. I switch to my surfboard and keep going until the wind disappears. It's good to be kiting again!

Sandy Neck Solitude

Kitesurfed, Chapin, 15-22, NNE, NE, 12M Rally/Mako 150, Surfboard, with Brad, Kitermike, Dave, Pam, Frank, Sandy, George.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What I Learned This Winter

Mt Madison- I celebrate the last day of Winter with one more glorious, frosty hike!  Temp 10 to 15 F, wind 40 to 50 MPH on top of the rock pile. Yeah, old man winter is blowing us a goodbye kiss.

Ellen bracing against wind near the summit
For My Future Reference

New Sleeping Bag, What I learned This Weekend-
REI Expedition -20F Bag. I sleep in my truck at the trailhead to test this baby. Temp gets down to about 10F. The bag is super cozy! But I still need 1 layer long understuff on me and 1 layer underneath me. If I use this bag at -10 I think I'll need an insulated bag liner or I could wear my long underwear, puffy pants, puffy jacket, balaclava, or all of the above.

Layering for Hiking, What I learned this Winter-
If Under 30F:
Bottom- Very thin long underbottoms with Gramicci thin stretch nylon pants. Rain paints above treeline or if below zero F.
Top- Patagonia waffle base layer. REI waffle zip mid layer if under 20F or above trees. Rain jacket if below zero or above trees. light puffy jacket for additional mid layer if extreme cold.

If Above 30F:
Bottom- Skip the underbottms. Use nylon pants only. Rain pants above trees.
Top- Patagonia waffle base layer only. Don't even pack the REI mid layer. Bring thin puffy jacket for mid layer above treeline, with rain jacket for wind.

Extra Layers- Heavy puffy jacket and pants for emergencies or long rest stops in all temps.

Note- Contact Lens were a huge help for strong winds and temps under 30F on Mt Washington, Mt Jackson, Mt Madison!

Boots- My Keene's, (Summit County 3), rated for -40, are super warm, and relatively light. My feet stayed warm today with 2 wool socks even though they were damp with sweat. For extreme cold or multi day hikes I should try vapor barrier bags to keep my feet completely dry, or rent Scarpa Inverno double plastic mountaineering boots from MIT Outing Club to try them out.

Mt Madison, Hike Leaders- Joe Comuzzi, Ellen Tsai.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Back and Blue

I'm back! Back in the harness again.

It's great to be kiting again, even if I do get a little banged up from an over abundance of enthusiasm and under abundance of caution and restraint. I can say my first session in 2 months started with a bang. No trouble jumping over the sand bars. It's the landings I don't like. Bad crash.

I don't let a tiny little thing like a dislocated rib stop my fun though. I switch to a strapless surfboard and go back out to The Cut. My under abundance of caution carries the day.

Brad Riding the South Beach Cut

Kitesurfed, Hardings, SW 15-25, 12M Rally/Mako, Surfboard, with Brad, Jay, Joe, Eli.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

It's All About the First 10 Minutes

It's nice to start off a hike on a beautiful Winter morning feeling strong, confident, youthful. Well, the strong youthful feelings lasts until I hit the first incline but it feels great for those first 10 seconds.

Temp mostly in the 20's F, high temp close to 30. No wind. Perfect Winter hiking conditions. This hike has 2 1/2 miles above timberline along the Franconia Notch ridge between Lafayette and Lincoln. One of the nicest hikes I've done, in some of the best weather for doing it.

Alright, I'm ready for some beach weather and kiting next weekend!

Hiked, Mt Lafeyette, Mt Linclon, loop route. Solo. 9 Miles. 8 Hours.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Warm and Rimey

O.K. I can take Mt Washington-in-Winter off of my bucket list! All it took was 12 hours of  AMC Winter Hiking classes in the Fall, hiking every weekend this Winter to get in shape, skills training for a full day with crampons and ice ax, unseasonably warm weather, great leadership, and 1" of skin off of my right shin.

A Little bit of Craziness- So I'm on the summit, huddled behind the weather station with the group, temp is in low 20's F, wind is 50 to 60 MPH whipping around the building, everything is white, covered with blowing snow and rime, including us, no visibility. It feels like we are on some distant hostile planet. I have a moment of inner clarity. I can suddenly see how this whole venture might look to others. I can see how some people might think that climbing up here for fun is a little tiny bit crazy. Yeah, I can see that now. I'm glad I don't feel that way.

Our Group Sheltering on the Summit
Lots of boring details for my future reference-

Warm and Windy- We're very lucky. It's a balmy 50 F in Boston, 40 at base of Mt Washington, low 20's at summit. That's 10 degrees above average for the peak! Some hikers turn back, including 2 from our group, (accompanied by 1 leader), because they're getting knocked around too much by the wind. I think if it's any colder or any windier, we'll all have to turn back. If we had last weekends weather we wouldn't have even gotten close to the summit. Such luck!

Front Pointing- The thing that most pushes me to my limits is climbing a short icy vertical section on the Lions Head Winter route. The only way up is to use the crampons and ice ax, kicking the front points of the crampons into the thin ice and rocky wall and trusting that those tiny little points of metal will hold my entire weight, then climbing straight up. I'm sure that 1 little break out in the ice and I'll be falling through air but it holds. This section is a bottleneck that slows all groups down for at least a 1/2 hour wait. Pro guides set up ropes for their groups, (for insurance requirements?). 

Mountaineering Boots- Little torture chambers for my feet. This is how I lose 1" of skin from my right shin. We're required to have mountaineering boots because the stiffness of the sole allows for front pointing with crampons, and they're the warmest boots made. But for 3 weekends in a row I rent them to try to get a good fit and for 3 weekends in a row I get blisters and painful hikes. At least this weekend is the least painful of the 3. Boots are Koflach, Arctis, size 11. The fit seems good but the front of the plastic boot is crimping and digging into my shin as I walk. This is the only really unhappy part of the climb. Next time I should try renting Scarpa Inverno's from MIT Outing Club.

Future Hikes with Crampons and Ice Ax- I was told that Washington, Madison, Adams, are most likely to need crampons and ice ax. They may be useful for a few other isolated spots in the Whites but probably not as necessary. That's good because the thought of wearing those rental mountaineering boots again is very scary.

Best Gas Prises Ever- Ossipee.

Hiked, Mt Washington, 8.5 miles, 9 hours, with AMC Winter Hiking Program/ Above Treeline Workshop. Leaders- Larry Takiff, Elizabeth Ryan, Joe Comuzzi, Joe Danaher. 17 total hikers.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Embrace Your Inner Warmth

Record Breaking Cold in Boston- Yeah, it's a cold morning. My windshield washer anti freeze fluid is frozen. My GPS won't turn on until I warm up the car for a while. Signs on the highway read, "Extreme cold Saturday and Sunday. Plan ahead." I'm planning.

The top of Mt Jackson is 4052 feet, temp -10 F mid day, 30 to 40 MPH gusts. I'm planning to reach the top. I'm not planning to stay there for more than 3 seconds.

Any issues in the cold?

Frozen Eyelashes- Tiny ice balls are forming on my eyelashes. It takes me awhile to figure out what I'm seeing and feeling on my face. Then I get a kick out of it!

Frozen Hands- I can only take my hands out of my mittens for about 1 minute before they get seriously cold. I'm using massive down mittens, glove liners, and hand warmers. I have 3 extra sets of hand warmers just in case. If my hands get too cold it's dangerous because it becomes harder to adjust layers, hydrate, fuel up, and do the self care that's needed to stay warm and moving.

Frozen Wind- Above treeline is intense! I can't face into the wind for more than a minute before I have to turn away. The tiniest gaps in my layers of face protection create slivers of numbness almost immediately. Below treeline the wind is mostly blocked, totally different.

Disclaimer- My above treeline hike for Sunday with the AMC was canceled in honer of the record breaking cold and strong winds. So I hiked solo but I picked a quick, easy, 5 mile hike, mostly in trees, on a very popular trail, and I didn't start until mid day to hit the warmest time. Very sane if I do say so myself.

I obeyed the highway signs. I planned ahead.

Hiked, Mt Jackson, 5 miles, 4 hours, Temp 0 to -10, strong wind, sunny, solo.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Head in the Clouds

Final Approach to Summit

We bumped our heads on the clouds as we approached the peak. But we still had views! And views are what it's all about.

Hike, Moosilauke, 10 miles, 7 hours, with Boston AMC Winter Hiking Program. Leaders-
Alex Nedzel, Robert Knudsen.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sleeping on Snow

My first time tenting on snow. It wasn't as scary as it I thought it would be! Actually, it was kinda cozy. But you have to be prepared to use a pee bottle. You don't want to climb out of your cocoon in the middle of the night to wander aimlessly across the snow looking for a toilet. People die that way. The adventure continues.

Lafyette Campground camping Sat night, with AMC/Boston Winter Hiking Program. Hiked N Kinsman and S Kinsman on Sunday, 10 miles, 9 hours, 30 to 40 F. warm! Leaders- Paul Terenzi, Bryan Jones.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Birds Eye View

It's sparkling, sunny, crisp. No wind. I can sit leisurely on the top of Mt Tom, my third peak of the day and my half way point, and enjoy the views without the usual rush to get back to the shelter of the trees. 

A birds eye view of a birds eye.
A few white Jays appear and seem interested in my trail mix. I hold my gloved hand out with some nuts and berries and instantly a bird lands in it. I can't believe it!

I wonder if some miracle has happened in the world to change the usual order of things. Perhaps all conflict, war and strife have ended everywhere. Nature is as one and at peace. The lions are laying down with the lambs. Or is this just one tiny little miracle, orchestrated only for me, on the top of a secluded peak in the White Mountains?

I sit for a long time enjoying the feeling of the Jays landing in my hand, their talons gripping my fingers like a babies grasp. Then I hoist my heavy Winter pack and start the long hike back.

Hike: Mt Willey, Mt Field, Mt Tom, via Willey House Rd, 11.2 miles, 9 hours, Temp 0 to 20F, Solo, Slept in Truck.

Click on picture to see full size

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Tecumseh

Hike, Mt Tecumseh, 5 miles. Moderate hike in dense trees. Very limited views. I wanted to take it easy.

View of Mt Washington from the Top of Tecumsah

It seemed pretty decadent to kite on Cape Cod on Saturday and hike in the White Mountains on Sunday. Does that make me a bad person? Probably. I tried to feel sufficiently guilty about it. But not so guilty that I couldn't enjoy myself.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Take All the Sky You Need

It's snowing when I leave the house, drizzling when I pull into the Chapin parking lot. Wind is gusting to 47, sand blowing everywhere. Yeah, I can feel a little wind chill on my face.

The beach is pretty empty. No problem with crowds at all. It's surprising since the weather is so nice.

Gary claims his little piece of the sky

Chapin, Kitesurfed, 20-35, NNW, 6M RPM/Mako150, with Kitermike, Tyler, Tom from Providence, Gary.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Highland Center Hiking Weekend

It looks like we had a successful landing on the moon.

Saturday Hike- Mt Pierce and Mt Eisenhower, 8.5 miles, 6 hours, with AMC Winter Hiking Program.
Sunday- Short hike up Mt Willard in the rain.

 Fun weekend trip in nasty weather!

Leaders- Larry Takiff, Elizabeth Ryan, Regi James.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Conversation with my Knees

Hike- Dublin Lake and Mt Monadnock from Poole Rd parking lot. 11.5 miles, 9 hours with a full winter pack. This is the longest day hike I've done since I was in my 20's.

I was wondering if my knees would have something to say about that. Yeah, they had a few choice words for me. But I didn't let that ruin my fun. I told them to shut up. You big babies. I'm not going to let myself be pushed around by my own body parts. Nobody likes to be walked on by their knees.