Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Paddle Log #14: Beaver Creek Reservoir

You may recall from our Monocacy River trip a few weeks ago that then-8-year old ES saw another 8-year old paddling his own kayak and decided he would like to have his own, too.  I was excited about this prospect, too, because it will allow me a little more leg room in our tandem kayak than with me and both boys.

I did some research and decided on an Ocean Kayak Frenzy for ES.  The reasons I chose the Frenzy were:
  • We are very pleased with our Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL, and we also enjoyed paddling an Ocean Kayak Peekaboo while we were on vacation on the Big Island.  
  • The sit-on-top Ocean Kayaks are VERY stable.  Even when I TRIED to flip it over, it was very hard for me to do.  After I had intentionally flipped it over, it was VERY easy to flip it back upright again.
  • After flipping it back upright, it was easy to climb back in and there was no bailing necessary.  There are scupper holes that allow the water to drain.
  • It has positive reviews on various websites like ACK and REI.  
  • It's a nice balance of cost and quality.  It's toward the bottom end of the price range compared to other more fancy kayaks with all sorts of fishing gear and rudders and hatches and cup holders.  At the other end of the spectrum, I noted negative comments in user reviews for other less expensive kayaks about poor construction and stuff breaking.
Last weekend, we picked up an Ocean Kayak Frenzy from the Dulles EMS.  That's where we bought our Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL last year, and I have been very pleased with how helpful the staff is there, and with their prices.  They were having a big sale last weekend, so we went ahead and made the purchase.

ES and I were both very excited to get out on the water and let him try his new kayak.  At the same time, I was also cautious about going out our first time.  Just like the first time we took the Malibu Two out, I wanted to go someplace with calm, flat water just to test it out, so we went back to the Beaver Creek Reservoir over off of Belmont Ridge Road. 

It was HOT out, too.  It started out about 77F when we arrived at the waterfront about 9 a.m. and had climbed to 90F by the time I got off the water at 1 p.m.

First, the boys and I went for a short paddle across the reservoir and back just to try out ES's new kayak.  One of the selling points for ES on the Monocacy River trip was he saw the family that was with us had a tow line.  When the 8-year old got tired of paddling they just hitched him up on the tow line and pulled him along.  When we bought the Frenzy for ES, we also bought a tow-line, and we tested it out.

Testing the Tow Line

My son complained about the Frenzy being difficult to paddle and steer.  I thought it was just growing pains of him getting used to paddling on his own instead of me doing most of the work.  I found out later I was wrong, but I'll get to that in just a moment.

New must-have for future kayaking trips with the boys:  Waterproof notepad for drawing pictures.  As we enjoyed the peace and scenery along the other side of the reservoir, 6-year old YB drew pictures of what he saw.  It was a great way to keep him occupied and involved today.
 A VERY fitting picture for the first page of this notepad.

Turtle and a pair of dragonflies.

Happy Daddy and a tally of things YB saw today.

After we paddled around for a bit, saw lots of fish jumping out of the water, saw two turtles, and generally enjoyed the peace and tweeting birds in the background, we headed back in to the dock.  I had my wife pick up the boys to take them home.  A friend and his son wanted to try out kayaking, so I had them come down and paddle around for a bit to give it a try.  After they were done, I wanted to see what the Frenzy was like.

 Paddling in the Frenzy

Oh boy.  (Not a good "oh boy" mind you.)

The Frenzy was a big swing-and-a-miss.

I almost immediately realized how frustrated ES must have been when he was trying to paddle.  When comparing different models of kayaks, you will hear the term "tracking" used to describe a kayak's ability to stay on course or move in a straight line.  Well, the Frenzy had the tracking ability of an inner tube.  It required continuous effort to keep the bow pointed in the direction I wanted to go.

Our Malibu Two XL has excellent tracking.  I can stop paddling, pick up my camera, take a picture, put the camera back down, pick up my paddle again, resume paddling, and all that time the kayak will have continued to glide along the same direction it was going when I put my paddle down.

Not so with the Frenzy.  If I put my paddle down to take a picture, by the time I picked my camera up, the bow would have swung 90 degrees off to one side or the other.  With each stroke, the bow swung wildly in the direction of the stroke.

Z. E. R. O. tracking.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Nil.

I feel bad I didn't listen to ES when he was paddling and just chalked it up to his experience level paddling solo.  After I got home, I washed off the Frenzy and took it back to EMS.  The staff at EMS were very understanding.  They had told me if we tried it and didn't like it that we could bring it back.  We are researching a better kayak for ES now.

In spite of how difficult it was to keep on course, I did enjoy a paddle down to the southern end of the reservoir and back.  I went 2.83 miles in 57 minutes.  It was quite a workout though because I had to continuously paddle to keep on course.  (Aside: That would also be why I only have one photograph to share from my solo paddling in the Frenzy.)  On the way southbound, I was paddling into a light breeze which kept me cool.  Coming back though, I was going with the direction of the wind and the air seemed stagnant around me.  I was pretty overheated by the time I got back.

Stats for the paddle log:
Stats at the end of paddling with the boys.
  • Date: 31 May 2010
  • Time In with the boys: 9:30 a.m. (approx)
  • Time Out with the boys: 10:30 a.m. (approx)
  • Elapsed: ~58 minutes
  • Moving Time (GPS):  51 minutes
    Stopped Time (GPS):  17 minutes
  • Mileage: 1.3 miles by GPS 
  • Avg Speed (GPS):   1.5 mph
  • Max Speed by (GPS):   3.6 mph

  • Stats at the end of paddling solo.
  • Time In solo: noon (approx)
  • Time Out solo: 1:00 p.m. (approx)
  • Elapsed: 58 minutes
  • Moving Time (GPS):  56 minutes
    Stopped Time (GPS):  2 minutes
  • Mileage: 2.8 miles by GPS
  • Avg Speed (GPS):   3.1 mph
  • Max Speed by (GPS):   4.3 mph
  • Sea State: 0
  • Winds: 0-5 kts S
  • Air Temp: 77F at 0900 climbing to 90F at 1300.  It was fairly humid, too.
  • Water Temp: 75-80F

  • Call me a geek, but I tried out two methods of measuring the water temperature today.  The conductive thermometer said it was 80F.  The infra-red thermometer I use for checking the temperature of my car engine said it was 75F.  Either way, the water was pretty nice today.
  • Current:   none
  • Gauge Height:  N/A
  • Rapids?  None. 
  • Hazards?  None.
  • Kit: Our Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL and paddles. Flop hat & sunglasses.  NRS paddling gloves. Long sleeve shirt, swim trunks, Keen sandals.
  • Configuration: I sat in the back seat, YB in the front.
  • Route:  With the boys, we went directly west across the reservoir and back.  During my solo paddle, I went down to the southern tip of the reservoir and back again.  This is the second time my Garmin Forerunner has messed up and combined different data sets.  When I started the first paddle with the boys, I had most definitely reset the Forerunner and started with a trip counter of 0.0.  Yet, viewing it on Garmin Connect, it combined that trip with the previous bike ride I did with YB, so the map is all screwy.  I reset the Forerunner again before I started my solo paddle, and that turned out okay on Garmin Connect.  
  • Other comments (such as wildlife spotted):Turtles, fish jumping out of the water, dragonflies.  Heard a lot of birds, but didn't see any.


Tabor said...

That is nice to learn. I am sure that my hubby who owns one kayak will want another for our grandson. I am a canoe person myself, because I like company and I also do not want to be alone trying to pursued my hubby to turn back at the end of the day!

Justin said...

This looks like so much fun! We just moved to Tennessee and we are near so many beautiful lakes and rivers... we'd love to get out on the water but have zero interest in the hassle of boat-ownership right now. I think this looks fabulous and would be great when the kids get a little older! My husband said the biggest thing he's going to miss about being in the Navy is getting to drive the sub; he loves all the technical stuff and I bet he'd enjoy the hell out of this as a hobby. Awesome!

Also, I wanted to say thank you first of all for all the kind comments you've left on my blog - it's quite an honor! - and secondly, for the POTW nomination! I really appreciate your readership and I'm extremely glad you enjoy reading!