Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I got out of laundry duty this week... while Joan took care of that, I got out for some kayak sailing. The weather weasels were calling for building, gusty winds; seemed like a good time to see how this rig does in those conditions.
Before mounting the sail...
With the sail...
Heading out in light winds...
As the wind built, I tried out different points of sail again. Tacking and gybing, I discovered I a flaw...
The hat. I've been wearing a wide brim hat while kayaking, but last week when I tried out the sail, I had a ball cap on... the main sheet kept grabbing the brim on the back. Tack, grab hat, gybe, grab hat again.
I like the clear portion on the sail...
As the wind built, I put the camera back in the waterproof box. I also worked some stomach muscles I haven't used in a while... leaning as the kayak heeled. Reaching: good; close hauled: work. Downwind: well, I suppose a whisker pole is getting too complicated for a kayak. ;-) It got to the point where I pulled ashore, took the sail down, and pedaled in... somewhere beyond 15 knots of wind. I noticed it was easier to pedal without the additional wind resistance of the sail. Still, in more constant wind conditions, I am liking the sail kit.
Back to the coach, and off to Jackson. Gusty winds all the way down there. We walked around the square, window shopped, had some lunch at a good burger place, and found the PVC necessary to make a furler for the sail. I'll get to that next time I get some free time.
Off to Yellowstone tomorrow to see friends.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Yes, I know - it's actually Tuesday. But, it's our "Friday", because we have the next two days off. A 13 1/2 hour day. Beautiful start to the morning...
First mate, Tony, took a photo of me at the helm before we headed out...
It was great to have Tony on the boat again. He was First Mate last season, but came late this year and has been working mostly on the docks. A true southern gentleman, folks enjoy his narration, as do I.
We had a nice group for our breakfast cruise to Elk Island, then 4 scenic cruises for the rest of the day. A Park Service person rode along on our 3:30 cruise and then asked if he could have "a bit of my time." That bit turned into an hour of questions... they are trying to put together a set of standards for boat crews in the National Parks, and he had ridden with me before. He liked what he saw and wanted my opinions for helping determine those standards. I suggested he visit with the marina manager, but he wanted suggestions from "the guy at the helm." He offered to buy me supper after that, but it was time for our sunset cruise.
Just another day at "the office."
19 days to go, and we have the next two off.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Breakfast on Elk Island this morning, then I changed into my blue shirt. Got some work done on a couple of our boats, then the wind kicked up... I went out on the rescue boat to check on a family that was out in two canoes. They were fine, paddling around in a protected cove. I visited with them for a few minutes and could see that they were handling the canoes with no issues. I radioed in that they would be out for a while, yet.
The response on the radio: "Can you go to the north end of the lake and tow in a boat that has had a complete electrical failure?" (Like the Coast Guard, the NPS does not do towing, except in dire circumstances.)
I ran back to the marina to get my grab bag, some water, and a dock hand on the boat to help with the tow. The manager gave me the boat description, a cell phone #, and the general location of "somewhere up north, drifted ashore."
"Well, that narrows it down... not."
When I got out in cell range, I called the people... crappy connection. No surprise. I called them back... and found out that they didn't know exactly where they were. Everyone was safe; their cell phone battery was about to die.
The waves were stacked up, moving with us. Not a great ride, since we were trying to hurry north... and knowing that we were going to take a real pounding on the way back south. I drove the boat all the way to the north, where the Snake River comes into the lake... where the water is REALLY shallow and there are stumps just under the water. Ugly. No sign of the boat. I assumed we must have missed them somehow and turned around. Within 10 minutes, I saw some movement on shore... their boat was mostly in some weeds and they were waving a red flag... they were tucked back in a little cove that we couldn't see while heading north and they didn't have enough phone battery to call us to say that they could see us.
We got them off the shore and turned around. Four adults and one infant onboard. Enough PFDs for everyone. I let them know it was going to be a long, bumpy ride back and asked if anyone wanted to transfer to our boat. Nope. "OK, hold on and we'll get going... and we'll keep a constant watch on you. We'll check every couple of minutes to make sure you are all OK."
The waves were 1 1/2 to 2 feet and closely spaced. Yep, it was a back-bustin' ride... for 2 hours.
The seats in the rescue boat are well sprung, but you have to brace your feet and push into the seat with your back to not get bounced out of the seat in these conditions. For two hours. When we got them back to the marina, I put them at the courtesy dock, while two dock hands brought our small jonboat around so we could put them on their trailer.
Yeah, I'm bushed.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Looking at radar and the hourly forecasts, my take was that the worst of the weather would pass south of us. Turns out that I did a better job of forecasting than the weather weasels, and we had a lovely sunset cruise.
Three weeks to go.
Friday, August 26, 2011
When I took Joan to work, I could see dark clouds building over the mountains... never put off having fun... a guy can get laundry done anytime. So, I didn't have the camera with me, but I put the Hobie in the water and mounted up the sail kit. Easy. I pedaled out of the marina and into the bay with light winds. I tacked, gybed, ran, and reached. With only 25 sq. ft. of sail and the light winds, I didn't get the dunking I expected.
Within a few minutes, I heard the first rumble of thunder... impressive as it rolls through the canyons in those mountains! The visibility was good, I couldn't actually see any lightning, so I ran further out into the lake. More rumbles. Our rescue boat headed out of the marina, on a mission to round up the rentals and head them in. More tacking and gybing on the Hobie for me. Yeah, this is fun. Then, I saw the wind line coming at me on the water... I lined up the kayak for a downwind run towards the marina. I expected a big push, but it just easily picked up speed. I had the sheet in my hand, the tiller in the other hand... might as well try a gybe. Nothing dramatic. Come into the wind a bit, lean a bit in the seat - moving at about the same speed as pedaling. I found that how one positions the pedals to act as a daggerboard makes a difference: close hauled is slow, reaching is fun, running was best with the fins against the hull instead of sticking straight down. Not so different from the SunCat. A LOT different from the F-boat.
When I came into the marina, one of the other captains said, "You were moving right along." Didn't feel like it, but he was probably comparing it to our paddle kayaks.
I found a video on YouTube that shows how to make a furler for the sail, and I can see where that would be very handy. I tried to pick up the PVC for that when we were in Jackson on Wednesday, but no luck.
The scant info that came with the sail said that it is best in winds from 3 to 10 mph (I think). Above that could get interesting. I am guessing it was blowing 8-10 as I came in.
So, with an hour and a half of funnin' around with the sail, I think it was a success. Probably not necessary, since the kayak is so easy to pedal, but I like being a sailor (of sorts) again.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
As the season starts to wind down, we were able to get everyone together for a party at the marina. The manager had a large grill brought down and they made burgers and dogs. Entertainment was by Captain Jim...
Yes, I know it isn't in focus... I couldn't shoot and play at the same time. Well, the flash made it on when I played "Fins"...
And then back off again when I finally managed to talk the boss into accompanying me on his banjo for a rendition of "A Pirate Looks At 40"...
All in all, a good time.
Thunderstorms rolling through this morning; unusual this time of day. Izzy and I got a nice long walk in between the cells. I was planning to get the kayak out today and try out the sail kit... might have to wait until tomorrow (my "bonus" day off).
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Not the song. We woke up this morning to what looked like a heavy overcast... nope, smoke. The fire southeast of us is still burning; no breeze this morning, combined with a high pressure system, and the smoke filled the Jackson Hole Valley...
The smoke got heavier as we drove south, towards the fire. The traffic in the park and south into Jackson was light. We walked around town, visited the dentist, lunch at Mountain High Pizza Pie, a stop at the hardware store to try to find stuff to make a furler for the kayak sail (no luck), and grocery shopping.
By late afternoon, when we were ready to head north to the coach, the wind had become light, out of the west southwest... just enough to clear a lot of the smoke out of the valley. Back home, I took little Izzy for a walk. She came across a finch and ran for it... almost caught it, with a flailing leap in the air. The bird flew into a nearby tree, chirping at Izzy. Little Iz crouched near the tree, chattering back at the bird. Shortly, another bird came to the tree... then another... and another... and a bunch of 'em.
"Um, Izzy, this is starting to look like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, "I said. Time to move on. Izzy was ready to take them all on, but I coaxed her away. She strutted back to the coach... quite the jungle cat.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
It was another beautiful morning as I prepped the cruise boat...
Not my last meal cruise, but the last breakfast cruise for my favorite young first mate, Jill. She is a delight to have on the boat - hard working, energetic, and a great sense of humor (a quality necessary for our boat crew). Here is a photo of her with Chef Mark...
And a photo of Jill with her favorite Captain...
She is heading back to college in Texas. I will miss her youthful exuberance, and trying to make her laugh on the boat.
And a shot of the Elk Island view from the tables...
The fire that is southeast of us is growing - up to 2,900 acres now...
Another look at the sailing catamaran from the other day...
And a fun surprise: a Corsair F-28 on the lake. It launched at our ramp, we saw it out on the water, and they are spending one night at our transient dock. Sure made me nostalgic for Wide Open, our former Corsair...
That is a lot of work to set up that boat for only one night here. I heard that they are traveling with the boat, doing one night at a time on different lakes.
TGIF... today was our "Friday", the last day of our work week. We had a nice series of cruises today, finishing the day with the marina manager and guests on our boat; enough passengers to make it a two boat sunset cruise. It was another beautiful day on the water... two sunsets on the last cruise, and delightful guests. Nice way to finish off our work week.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Yesterday started out cloudy, with potential precip showing to the southwest on radar. Looking at the track, I could see that it would likely slide to the south of us, and made the decision to go ahead with the breakfast cruise. Early, the sky was lovely...
The clouds built up after that, but breakfast went off fine. The guests were treated to a rainbow over Mt. Moran (and my camera was on the boat).
By the time we arrived back at the marina, the sky was partly cloudy, with plenty of sunshine and blue sky. It stayed warm and precip-free the rest of the day, even though the weather weasels called for a 30% chance for afternoon thunderstorms.
On the afternoon cruise, I came across an interesting sailing catamaran...
I later looked it up on the internet (Cat2Fold) - a 36' sailing cat that is trailerable. Takes a couple hours to "unfold" and set up. Double wishbone type rig, one on each hull. Open bridgedeck area, kinda like the old Mac 36 cat, but this one-of-a-kind boat has a canvas enclosure on that deck. It reminds me a bit of a MaineCat 30, without the hardtop. Interesting.
Also during that trip, we saw a plume of smoke on the horizon (may be a bit tough to see with all the clouds)...
Not that close to us, I'm guessing about 25 miles southeast in the Gros Ventre mountains. It's the first forest fire we've seen from the lake this season.
More stupid boater tricks, mostly the rentals... including one boat where there was a kid standing on the bow of the small skiff, an armada of kayaks and canoes turning/stopping in front of the cruise boat, and one group on a powerboat who got lost, returned late, AND their toddler fell overboard! The results could have been disastrous, but they were indifferent about it... we only found out about the kid falling overboard when I picked up the toddler life jacket that they had and it was soaking wet!
"Was this kid in the water?" I asked. "Intentional or did he fall over?" No one else in the boat was wet. The mother's response, "Yeah, I guess he kinda fell over." I had stayed after my late afternoon cruise to assist with this late/lost boat... it makes my heart hurt when people are so indifferent about the potential dangers on the water, especially with their kids.
When I got home (Joan had to work an hour later than I did), we had a visitor...
Little Izzy was checking it out through the window. When I took her for a walk afterwards, she was pretty leary...
"Didja see the size of that thing???" I assured her that it was just a youngster AND they don't eat cats. ;-)
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The storm didn't last long, but the call was already made. Joan was able to re-book almost all the people on tomorrow's breakfast or dinner cruises.
This was the first day that we could see a noticeable decrease in visitors. To be expected, as we get later in the season - school has started in many places, kids are back in sports... time to be home. We will see another increase around the Labor Day Weekend, and then it will taper off. Marina operations will close on September 18th, then it will take a few days to get boats out of the water and winterized. Less than 5 weeks to go.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
So, I will have to wait another week to try out my new sail... unless I can come up with some sort of insubordinate behavior that would get me sent home. And, I'm OK with that. ;) :D
The sail is red/white/clear; kinda reminds me of a windsurfing sail. Crisp. Pretty. According to the photo-copied instructions, optimum wind speed for use is 4 to 10 mph. Can't wait to try it out... our winds here are either calm or 15G30... should be fun!
Town was just as packed as usual. Still no sign that the season is slowing down. We had lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant... not the spicy Tex-Mex stuff we occasionally get in the Employee Dining Room. It reminded me of home - a very nice change of pace.
Back to the coach, and a motorcycle ride for me... once again, Joan has to go into work on her day off to close the store. It seems like I was the only one on the road who was aware of the speed limit while riding today - people came up fast behind me, tail-gated, then passed on a double yellow line... one after another.
"Slow down, dumas, you're on vacation!"
And speaking of dumas(es) - the location of our coach gives us a good view for some stupid RV driver tricks. This morning, we watched a guy in a nice diesel coach jump the curb... then slam on the brakes, back up and jump the curb again in reverse, then jam on the brakes again, and slam the transmission into drive and jump the curb yet again! Joan said, "I wonder how many of their dishes are still in the cabinets?" All those moves looked pretty abrupt from the outside.
When I returned from the motorcycle ride, there was a truck blocking the road to our coach. I got around it by riding on the dirt... no one in the driver's seat, a small kid in the passenger seat. In front of the truck was another nice diesel coach who had somehow managed to get the coach into a site facing the wrong direction and was doing some "tree trimming" with the sides of the coach. I might add that there is a sign just before that turn that says, "No vehicles longer than 24 feet." I'm guessing this was about a 36' coach.
I went over to the driver to see if I could be of any help. "No, we are obviously somewhere we shouldn't be. I don't know how this happened."
I'm guessing he didn't pay any attention to the directions the campground folks gave him, made THREE wrong turns, and somehow got a 36' coach turned the wrong direction on a single lane road! Pretty impressive.
His wife came running up about that time... she was the MIA in the truck... apparently, she abandoned it on the road and walked back to the campground gate to see what they should do.
The easy thing would have been to back onto the road and drive out the short distance the wrong way (it's a one way loop). But, nooooooooooo... he proceeded to slam that coach around, doing more tree modifications and then backed the wrong way out!
Bet they're having a fun vacation.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I took Iz for several walks, including a trek down her favorite route, through the nearby empty campsites. At one point, she poked around a bush... made a flying leap at a butterfly... no contact. Then swatted at something else... the bee didn't much appreciate that and stung her in the paw. That's the first time something fought back, and she wasn't too happy about it.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Every morning seems more beautiful than the one before. I may need to leave my camera at home, 'cause I already have quite a collection of marina sunrises. This morning, there was a bit of smoke in the air from a fire in Idaho, making for a beautiful diffused color on the mountains...
Another long day at the helm today, and down right chilly this morning... 31º on the docks. It made for some slick surfaces on the boarding steps and on the boats. On the REALLY bright side, we had NO mosquito situation with our breakfast cruise on Elk Island. One in a row! I heard a few guests complain about the cold, but no one said a word about getting eaten alive.
Plenty of guests on the scenic cruises the rest of the day. This is about the time that things will start winding down, but we haven't seen that, yet.
Our new C-Dory friend, Dave, came by to say good-bye when we were getting ready to head out on the breakfast cruise. Nice to have them here; to see them have fun in the area and get to visit with them about C-Dorys.
And now: two days off and absolutely glorious weather forecast!
Monday, August 15, 2011
About 5 weeks to go. As much as we love this place, we are looking ahead... some might call it "itchy feet," amongst 5th wheel owners, it's called "hitch itch."
Another beautiful morning, two boats for the breakfast cruise. The mosquitoes haven't let up much, but we are supposed to get a couple cool nights, tonight and tomorrow night. It was 46º when we got up this morning... the mosquitoes here laugh at that temp.
Mother Nature gave us thunderstorms this afternoon. I went out with the manager in the rescue boat and "herded" rental canoes, kayaks, and powerboats back to the marina. Not soon enough, though; the storm dumped rain on us before they could get back... and hail... and lightning. Big fun when out in the metal rescue boat. We also had a shuttle pick-up for a hiker in Moran Canyon... all the way across the lake in that rain, wind, and lightning. The hiker was happy to see us, and was at the pick-up site early.
The dinner cruise was canceled this evening due to the weather... an easy day of only 9 hours for me! Joan took off early, too... nice to be home together shortly after 4:00.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
What a spectacular morning! I was in early to prep the cruise boat and was treated to a full moon setting over the Tetons...
There were quite a few people with cameras set up in the marina area when I walked down the dock. While I am no doubt biased about the marina being one of the prettiest places in this park, it was pretty obvious that I am not alone. Especially with the full moon.
When I got to the cruise boat, there was a couple out on that finger dock; they started to leave as I boarded the boat. I told them, "You sure don't have to leave on my account. Stick around a few more minutes and you will see the first light hit the mountain peaks."
"We don't want to be in your way," she said.
"You are certainly not in my way. It's a treat to share the dock with someone who appreciates the beauty of this and is willing to get up early to capture it," I told her.
And just a few minutes later...
It never gets old. Look close at the image above, and you will see the moon right at the top of the mountain on the right.
Nice way to start the day.
It was a long driving day for me... starting with a breakfast cruise, 3 more scenic cruises, and ending with the dinner cruise. It was a beautiful day, but hard to top the views from early morning.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Another glorious day off today. While Joan puttered around the coach, I took the Hobie out for some fine kayaking... light breeze, morning temps in the 60s, bright blue sky... perfect!
Heading out of the marina...
Then out towards those beautiful mountains; islands to pedal around, I had the water almost entirely to myself...
A great view of Waterfall Canyon. Nearly 7 miles away... can you see the cascade and the horsetail falls?
Then out of the main part of the lake and poking around the bays and through this shallow passage...
Back to shore, out of the water, and into the truck. Easy.
Joan and I drove down to Signal Mountain Lodge for a leisurely late lunch, then some cat walking. Nice day off.
Well, mostly. Joan had to go in late this afternoon to help close. One of the "perks" of management. On the way to take her to the marina, we came across these nice folks...
Dave and Ginny, from the C-Dory Will-C, all the way from Pennsylvania. They will be staying at Colter Bay for a few days. We didn't take a lot of their time, since they were in the process of getting their boat ready to launch. We also got to meet their furry companion, Lucy... all 55 pounds of her; no photo, yet, but I'll work on that.
It was just the C-Dory infusion I have been needing. I talked to a couple last week on a CD-22, but they had never heard of the C-Brats and "... didn't do much with computers." It's surprising how that forum tends to make you feel like you have so much in common.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I had to laugh while reading the thread on Right-Of-Way... or any discussion of Rules of the Road... or any thread on stupid boater tricks.
This is something I deal with EVERY TIME I head out of the marina driving the cruise boats. There are 36 rental kayaks, 15 rental canoes, 15 rental powerboats, and a marina full of privately owned boats, as well as a boat ramp where boats are constantly being launched and retrieved. And there are times when it seems like ALL of them are coming at me in the narrow opening from the marina to the bay!! They turn in front of us, start crossing our path and stop, roar past us in a no-wake zone... damn, I've seen our cruise boats get hit by those rental powerboats when we're still tied to the dock!! (yes, really) All they need to rent any of the above is a credit card.
Forget the Rules of the Road... this is a water jungle, and you have to know that 99% of the people out there don't know "the Rules", many of them have never run a boat, paddled a canoe or kayak, and probably don't speak enough English to understand the instructions they're given. ("When you're about to run into something - STOP PADDLING!!")
I explain to my first mates that we are following "The Good Neighbor Policy", and we do our part by using proper sound signals (knowing that no one else knows what we're "saying," but hopefully the wandering hordes will at least turn their heads to see that there's a bigger boat moving nearby). See and AVOID. Neutral and reverse are my friends. A mate watching behind and in my blind spots.
A sense of humor and some patience helps... I have the former in spades, still working on the latter.
Oh, and do all this on a schedule.
Jim B. (anxious to get back on my own boat)
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Our last work day of what seemed like the longest week, yet. Fortunately, all I had to do was drive a boat all day. It was another typical day, weather-wise... for most of the day. Before our 6:30 Sunset Cruise, a check of radar showed that we were definitely going to get some weather before we could get back to the marina.
We had 2 foot waves on the way south out of the marina, but that leveled out nicely when we got in the lee of Elk Island. Coming around to the south of the island, it was more rock ‘n rolling. Heading to Moran Bay, we could see the storm clouds coming at us...
My first mate and narrator, Terry, had to hold on to one of the posts in the boat... one hand for you, one for the microphone... or something like that.
It wasn’t bad, some wind, spray, and wave action. I told the guests that we were throwing in the whitewater trip at no additional charge!
On the way back to the marina, storm caught up with us... I was watching in on radar on my Droid, so there was no doubt that it was moving faster than we were. Truth be told, I was having a lot of fun with the ride. Looking back over my shoulder, I could see the guests were having fun with it, too - no one had a death grip on the seat back in front of them.
By the time we got back to Colter Bay, the wind had gotten a lot stronger and changed directions... surf’s up, Dude! The marina is normally well protected, but we had a lot of wind as we came to the dock. I kinda enjoyed the challenge of making that arrival look good. As usual, Joan was on the dock to catch lines... but with the strong wind, our off-duty captain came to the dock to assist, as well.
We had two boats for this cruise. Since we got back first, I went to the other boat to help with lines... we all have each others’ back with our captain crew.
This is Tuesday, which is our “Friday”... we’re both looking forward to a couple days off.