Monthly Archives: June 2010

Getting ready

29 days until the gun goes off and the race starts and this last weekend my team captain, Tim Murray, made the long drive down from St. Louis. We spent the weekend talking about how he’ll get me from Kansas City to St. Charles, looking at how we’ll pack the gear into the boat, and making some modifications to the cockpit to make it more comfortable. Notice I called HIM the captain. The more I thought about it the more I realized that all I’ll be doing is providing the power to move the boat. In addition to all my physical needs, they’ll have to keep me motivated and encouraged. I know I won’t believe them if they tell me I’m “looking good” so we’re putting together a list of encouraging and motivating phrases the ground crew can use. Things such as:

  • “You appear gregarious.”
  • “You’re looking better than the last time you slithered by.”
  • “Brittney/Paris/Lindsey has just been indicted and won’t be in the news for the next 20 years.”
  • “Where are your clothes/boat/common sense/lunch/left arm?”
  • “You sure are pretty today.”
  • “Those sunburn blisters bring out the color in your eyes.”

Still working on this list, so any suggestions will be welcomed by all.
Seriously, he and the rest of the ground crew will have to find their way from one small town to another (often at night), plan the food, meet me when I pull off the river, and take care of me. It’s a lot to ask of these guys and it shows what great friends they are that they’ll take a week out of their lives to help me accomplish this.

So Saturday, after I got off the lake from my morning paddle, we pulled the boat up into the breezeway at the apartments and got to work. We spent a lot of time fitting padding into the seat area and, while it doesn’t make the boat any faster, it’s a lot more comfortable. And that will be really important during those long days on the river.

Today we loaded it up on Tim’s car and, after church (prayers help, remember?), threw it in the Red River for a test drive on some moving water. I only went about 5.5 miles but it was fun padding through downtown Shreveport, and around the casino boats. Average speed was just over 4 MPH for the hour and some odd minutes but – it was SO COMFORTABLE. Tim’s been snapping his camera so below a sample of the paddling weekend.

On a serious note, we’re up to over $2,200 in pledges for Haiti. Can we make $3,000? And, we welcome two new members to the blog – and the navy. Welcome aboard, Mary and Jacob.

See you next week.


Adjusting the hatch

Padding the seat

In the water for a short test ride


More testing

What a ride!

Headed to the Red River - A long boat and a short car

A long boat and a short driver!

A long boat and a short Driver!

In the Red River

Headed out

Upriver toward Shreveport

Paddle downriver





All I do is Paddle!

Finally! Back to the ramp


Rockin and (not really) rollin

Last week I thought it might be a good time to practice (actually – learn) to roll the boat. You know, the old eskimo roll. I’ve watched quite a few of these demonstrated on you-tube. Videos from the top, videos from under water, side videos, everything. And, hey, it doesn’t look so hard.

So, off to the American Legion Hall on the lake (I called them the VFW the other day by mistake – sorry guys). First step was to beach the boat and assure the guys fishing along the shore that, no matter what they saw, I WAS NOT DROWNING. I left my glasses, camera, cell phone on the shore and – back out on the lake.

I leaned the boat over. I watched water pouring in the cockpit. I fell over completely. And – as per all the videos – I started sweeping the paddle at exactly the right angle. Nothing happened. I executed a wet exit (got out of the boat while under water) and climbed back in. Repeat procedure. Wet exit. Repeat procedure. Wet exit. This is definitely not what I had expected.

Although I have not expertly completed the eskimo roll I am happy to report that I am able to get back in the boat while on the water. Not the plan when I started but, if I manage to flip this thing while on the Missouri I think I can get back in it. And, of course, the quest for the roll will continue!

Meanwhile, as I flailed around out at the end of the dock, one of my veteran buddies took it upon himself to grab the camera and snap the picture below. Me coming to the surface and retrieving the boat for another attempt.

37 days to go before the race.
$1,801.00 in pledges for Haiti (special thanks to the folks at the Brickhouse Deli for their contribution!)
The paddling continues!


Paddling with the Krewe of Atlas

The latest numbers are:

$1,750.00 in pledeges. At this rate I’ll be paddling for $5.15 per mile. Thanks so much to the latest contributors: my in-laws, Patty, Jim, and Ed for stepping up to the challenge like this.
43 days before I put the boat in the water in Kansas City.
112 subscribers to the blog.
Miles this week? I wanted to keep a log of my mileage for the week, as recorded on my GPS, but the batteries died. Best estimate is that I paddled 30 miles. I had hoped to do better but the weather’s been bad and I’m not a big fan of being out on a lake in the lightening. Next week (I hope) will be more productive.

Yesterday the weather did cooperate for a change, and after my morning run (about five hours) I joined the other boats on Cross Lake for the Shreveport Floatilla. One of the Mardi Gras Krewes has THEIR parade in the summer, on the lake, instead of the normal time. So there I was with the Krewe of Atlas. A few highlights of the event…

I started the day early and paddled to the other end of the lake. Paddling back down the middle of the lake a lot of the boats passed me. But, when I finally arrived they were all waiting and cheering my arrival – especially the Baywatch girls in that middle picture. Hey, you weren’t there. You don’t know. I say they were cheering for me! The BP boat, on the right, got a lot of laughter and some boos. I wonder why people in Lousiana aren’t fond of British Petroleum? And the crew of Cajun Wildlife was working hard to have a wild life when I stopped by to talk with them.

Last fall when I got this all going I thought it would be great to find corporate sponsors who’d kick in to help print White Rock Navy t-shirts for all of you (YOU’RE the Navy, after all). I figured it would be another way to spread the word about the work the Haitian Pilgrims are doing, and provide the sponsors some advertising. That’s the one part of my plan that hasn’t worked out so well. But, if any of you have contacts at a company that would be willing to kick in $500.00 they’ll get their name or message on the back of the shirts, on the boat, and on the blog. Spread the word and let’s see if we get any takers.

What’s going on in Haiti? As far as I know it’s about the same as my last post. The scale of the problem there is so big that nothing changes quickly. So, instead of the latest news how about some old info? Did you know that Haiti was the first country to send troops to the US when we fought the British? Yep, there were black Haitians fighting with the Americans for our liberty. Haiti is the only country ever where there was a successful slave revolution when the slaves beat the French. When that happened, though, the US went along with France in imposing a six million dollar penalty against the new country and refusing to recognize it. That was the start of a long tough road that they’re still travelling. But, as bad as the recent destruction of the earthquake is there’s hope that things will turn around for them. Good people are helping every day through their prayers.

Next weekend I’ll be in Dallas but (weather permitting) I’ll be out on “Lac de la Croix” every evening this week. Still haven’t seen any gators out there and – I AM keeping my hands in the boat. But at some point I’ll need to practice my rolls and flip the long boat over. The middle of the Missouri won’t be the place to learn how to get upright again. More on that part of the adventure next weekend.

Cap’n Ned

A three hour tour

I talked with Mike Frost, of the Haitian Pilgrims, the other day. The news from Boileau is that the village is holding up under the stress of the people who have left Port au Prince to escape the devastation there. The work the Pilgrims have done over the years has equipped Boileau to be something of a buffer for at least a few of the people who have evacuated Port au Prince. One of the two containers of emergency food ordered for Boileau had arrived but the other was still held up in the destruction in the port. The school has grown from about 400 kids to something like 650 – again, new arrivals escaping the earthquake damage – but continues to operate. There are a lot of great people in this group who are working hard for the folks in Boileau.

The White Rock Navy – YOU – have responded. Pledges are up to $1,716.00 at last count. When I’m headed down the Missouri River I’ll be counting the miles as $5.00 a mile. That will help keep me paddling. And we’re up to 110 members of the navy. But, just 50 days to go before the boat hits the Missouri River and a long way to go to get myself in shape for it. I’ve been trying to get out on Cross Lake three or four nights a week and all day on Saturday. I’m usually out there by 6:00 and get back to the apartment around 9:00 in the evening. Since that’s three hours I thought I’d make that the title of the blog this week – and take you on a tour.

Before we get started you’ll need to hum a few bars of the Gilligan’s Island theme song to get in the mood. Let me know when you’re ready.

OK then. There’s a bayou that runs up to the apartments where I’m living, so the boat’s only about 50 yards from my patio. I jump in the boat and paddle down the bayou toward the lake….

Bayou behind the apartment

This stretch is very quiet and full of birds, fish, and other animals. It’s a bayou! But when I come back through it after dark there’s ALWAYS something that jumps out of the water about a foot from the boat and makes a big “splosh” sound. It usually scares the bejeebers out of me! But, don’t worry – I haven’t seen even one ‘gator in here (although the locals tell me they’re around).

At the end of the bayou I paddle under a small bridge. Like the bayou it’s a little creepy in the dark but the biggest things I’ve seen are the mosquitos.

The Bridge

Just past the bridge is a grove of cypress trees growing out the lake. This picture is taken looking back toward the bridge. The second time I got out on the lake I couldn’t figure out where to go through these trees to get back under the bridge. I paddled around for about an hour poking the kayak into the trees here and there (in the dark) until I found the right spot. I’m sure glad I had the boat rigged with nav lights and a good flashlight with me! Now I know to look for that pontoon boat. I sure hope that guy keeps it in the water there.

Off up “Clark’s Pocket” (pockets are coves and creeks are bayous here in Louisiana) and I paddle past the VFW hall.

There are usually a few vets out fishing from the bank and waving. I almost always have to answer the question: “What the heck IS that thing?” Those vets are a rowdy bunch. The day I took this picture they were getting ready for some sort of fund raiser and the band was getting set up.

Just past the VFW hall is the big part of the lake. I get to play in the waves kicked up by the wind and powerboats. The boat handles great in this stuff but I never feel that I’m going as fast as I do in quiet water.

Last stop on the tour, before I turn and head for home and a hot shower, is the Shreveport Yacht Club.

Once I figure out how to paddle the kayak in a suit, with a martini in my hand, I might stop by and say hello to the club members. Until then I’ll stick with the Vets and a cold beer now and again!

That’s about it for the three hour tour. Time to turn the long boat around and head back. Thanks for joining me on the voyage!

Cap’n Ned

PS: Next week is the Cross Lake Floatilla. I’ll be out at the VFW hall with all the big boats – decorated as Mardi Gras floats. I’ll take some pics of THAT and send them on to you.