Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Drysuit--Ocean Rodeo Soul

[Eventually this grew into a full-length article in Good Old Boat Magazine, September 2016. I tested the drysuit against cold water immersion suits by, among other things, floating the midst of ice for hours. They really do make winter paddling pleasant.]

It's about the details. The Ocean Rodeo Soul ticks all of the right buttons for me:
  • Attached feet.
  • Attached hood and jacket.
  • Suspenders keep the pants up when the neck is open.
  • Standby mode that allows better ventilation (see animation, below).
  • Durable.I'm going on 3 years now, kayaking and sailing in foul weather.

The sizes are athletic. I'm 5'7" and 165 pounds, and the medium just clears the hips and shoulders, with suitable underlayers.

A dry suit helps a lot. A bit of a struggle, worming the arms in and fitting all the seals, but...

ultimately well worth the struggle.

Extended transoms for boarding are nice...

and the after-paddle swim makes it perfect (the water is 36F). Just testing out the suit, but swimming was actually pleasant.

Very cool... figuratively speaking. Flotation is so good that a PFD is really quite redundant. Do keep a PFD on board.

I later purchased a dive hood (3/5mm) and gloves (5mm). Essential.

It's rather neat to realize that when paddling in freezing conditions, I'm more comfortable that the folks watching from shore.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Smithsonian Institue Environmental Research Center--Rhode River

The Rhode River is certainly not off the beaten track--on any nice weekend expect about 30 boats overnight and 2-3 times that during the day. But head behind Big Island, into the tributary and wetlands monitored by the Smithsonian Institute, and suddenly you are a different place. The occasional water skier or PWC may zip by, but mostly they stay out in the main course, where their friends can see them... I guess. On a weekday generally you will see no one at all. In cooler weather, solitude is certain, just a fraction of a mile from some of the busiest sailing waters on earth. Weird.

You can paddle up to the visitors center, about a mile up the creek, by passing through the narrow opening in the fish-counting dam, a ramshackle breast of wood and plastic mesh, with a now-dysfunctional gate wide enough to pass a kayak and fish, of course.

If your boat is shallow draft, anything less than 4 feet, you can anchor behind the island in about 6 feet of water. The holding ground is variable and not always as good as north of the island, but it is well protected and there is little drag into.

Smith Cove, Little Choptank River


The farther you head up the little Choptank River, the less populous it becomes. By the time you reach Smith Cove, houses are sparse, and the houses that remain are of human size rather than mansion size. I suppose I have nothing against mansions, but their jarring the look at and seem out of place in the natural environment.  Moreover, the trip up the little Choptank, quietly motoring east of green ATN 13 is worth the time for its own reasons. This areas visited by too many cruisers, and I think you like it that way.

The not convoluted and mysterious like the Taylor Island Wildlife Refuge, it's quiet, the ground is firm enough to allow brief walks ashore a few places, and a few bald eagles could be seen in the trees.

Only one local chose to visit. We dismissed him with extreme prejudice.

The holding ground is only average, but the river a small at this point in well protected from all directions. The Cove itself is too shallow, with 5 feet carrying only a few hundred yards inside. But I experienced 15 to 20 not winds from a couple of directions, and the waves were trivial.

Periwinkle Soup

The northwest Indians said the "ocean rolls out the dinner table twice a day," observing that with each low tide an edible bounty was uncovered, free for the picking. For the kayaker, it's even simpler than that, with periwinkles presented at eye level at every turn. They're small size will make you work for your meal, but they're tasty, fresh, free, and just begging investigation.

I'm sure you can Google up 20 better recipes, but this is an easy one I always have the stuff for on board. Given the choice, potatoes and a chowder approach is better, and linguini is very nice.

  1. Collect a lot. Select the largest, about one cup/serving.
  2. Check that they are alive when you get back to the kitchen. Just spread them out thin in some seawater and watch for movement. Takes only a few minutes. Chop vegetables while you wait.
  3. Chop about 1/3 onion per serving. Season with cumin, pepper, curry, and ginger. I add 1/4 of the "chicken" flavor packet. Or what every you like.
  4. Boil the periwinkles in the shell for 5 minutes.
  5. Some say pick out the meat, but I find a nut cracker is faster. A water rinse (stir or shake the bowl) separates the shell bits that you missed.
  6. Simmer meat, vegetables and seasonings for 20 minutes.
  7. Add raman noodles for the last 3 minutes. 
Yummy, rather like mussels.  All summer I seem to bring food home from cruises, finding a good portion of what I eat.