Sunday, June 13, 2010

Paddle Log #15: Twilight on the Potomac

Last summer, the boys and I went and did the guided twilight tour with Jack's Boathouse.  A few weeks before my dad & stepmom came to visit, this awesome deal came up on Groupon, so we bought the Groupons and made reservations for the twilight tour while my folks were in town for a visit.

After the swing-and-a-miss with the Ocean Kayak Frenzy for my 9 year old eldest son (ES), we took it back to EMS.  The EMS guys are awesome and didn't give us any trouble about returning it.  Isaiah at the Dulles EMS store recommended we try the Perception Acadia Scout for ES.  I was a little concerned that due to it's small size (max load 110 pounds) I wouldn't be able to ride in it myself to check it out.  However, I checked out user reviews for the Acadia Scout on various websites like, and only found positive reviews.  EMS had one delivered from the Annapolis store and we picked it up this week, so Friday night when we went for the Jack's Boathouse Twilight Tour was his first time giving it a try.

I'm happy to report that the Acadia Scout is a keeper.  One of the two managers of Jack's Boathouse, Anna, saw it and commented on what a great kayak it is and that her son used one, too.

In order to make sure we got through traffic and were on time for the tour, we headed toward DC about 2 hours before the tour and picked up some pizza at CPK.  I knew they had picnic tables and adirondack chairs at Jack's for us to sit and eat our pizza.  What I didn't know was that they have several barbecue grills there for you to use.  So we could have taken a cooler with some burgers and dogs and cooked up our own dinner right there at Jack's if we had wanted to.  File that tidbit away for future reference.

It was a gorgeous evening.  I couldn't have asked for better weather for our twilight paddle.  Air temperature was in the low 80's and so was the water temp.

Anna (in the white kayak) and Paul (in the safety boat) 
are the two managers of Jack's.

The guided trips offered by Jack's Boathouse are a great way for beginners to get out on the water and feel safe.  The water is flat and calm with barely any current.  Plus, there were three guides in kayaks with the group plus the manager, Paul, riding in the safety boat.

This paddling trip was notable for a couple of first-time-ever reasons.  In addition to it being ES's first time paddling the Acadia Scout, it was also the first time my wife went with us.  I had her sit in front of our tandem Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL.

I gave 6 year old YB the choice of sitting in the middle or the back, and he chose the back.  Just like last time, I brought along the pad of waterproof paper for YB to doodle while we paddled.

Picture taken by Anna

Picture taken by Paul 

ES in his new Perception Acadia Scout
(Roosevelt Island in the background)

I think the parental units enjoyed it.

There are lots of pictures of my wife smiling, too.

We also tested the tow-line for ES and it worked great.  YB alternated between facing forward and facing backward in the back seat.  When we were towing ES, YB enjoyed facing backward and telling his brother knock-knock jokes - his favorite being the "banana", "banana", "banana", "orange you glad I didn't say banana" joke.

As we paddled around the Rosslyn-side of Roosevelt Island (west side), we saw a few families of ducks and a Great Blue Heron in a tree.  I forgot to put on bug repellent before we went out, but I was pleasantly surprised we didn't need any.  I didn't see a single mosquito the whole time we were out.  I did get a little pink on my neck and arms, but not too bad.

Sunset on the Potomac and the return of the no-paparazzi-hand placed precisely in the middle of the picture.

Stats for the paddle log:
  • Date: 11 June 2010
  • Time In: ~7 p.m.
  • Time Out: ~9 p.m.
  • Elapsed: ~2 hours
  • Moving Time (GPS):  don't know - forgot my 60CSx
    Stopped Time (GPS):  don't know - forgot my 60CSx
  • Mileage: 2.5 miles by GPS 
  • Avg Speed (GPS):   don't know - forgot my 60CSx
  • Max Speed by (GPS):   don't know - forgot my 60CSx 
  • Sea State: 0
  • Winds: 0
  • Air Temp: ~82F and the humidity was low, so it was a nice night out
  • Water Temp: 79-81F

    Like last time, I tried out two methods of measuring the water temperature.  This time, the readings were a lot closer than last time.  The conductive thermometer said it was 81.3F.  The infra-red thermometer I use for checking the temperature of my car engine said it was 79.8F.   
  • Current:   none
  • Gauge Height:  N/A
  • Rapids?  None. 
  • Hazards?  Periodic motor boats on the river, but we were fine on the edges of the river close to shore.  Plus, Paul in the safety boat ran interference for us.
  • Kit: ES first time in his Perception Acadia Scout.  Anna had a special short paddle for kids that she let ES use, too.  LW, YB, and me in our Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL. Flop hat & sunglasses.  NRS paddling gloves.  Short sleeve shirt, swim trunks, Keen sandals.
  • Configuration: LW in the front, I sat in the middle, and YB sat in the back.  YB rotated a few times, alternating between facing forward and facing backward. 
  • Route:  From Jack's Boathouse under the Key Bridge, clockwise around Roosevelt Island and back.

The mileage on Garmin Connect isn't exactly right because I forgot to turn on my Garmin Forerunner until shortly after we had left, and I forgot to stop the Forerunner until we were in the car driving away from Jack's Boathouse.  That's why I normally like taking my Garmin 60CSx with me, because I can edit the data and isolate just the time we were paddling.

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