Tag Archives: Sea Kayaking

I Did It!

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

On the beach after the race

This was the fifth year that Vlad and I raced in the Blackburn Challenge, the 20-mile circumnavigation of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. The race is named for Howard Blackburn, a 19th-century mariner of uncommon grit. (You can read about him here.) Any human-powered watercraft can participate, and there is usually a wide range, from paddleboards to rowing shells, dories, and dragonboats—plus several flavors of kayaks.

Thus far, I’d placed every time, helped out by the relative smallness of the field of women sea kayakers—there are typically only half a dozen or so in my class.

After collecting two third-place and two second-place finishes, I yearned for a first. Last year I missed it by a mere six minutes. And I just knew I’d gotten faster this year. I’d trained hard—though not as consistently as I’d liked—and still had some stamina left over from completing the Everglades Challenge earlier this year.

So I was pretty sure that this would be my year.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Containers.

The key to efficient expedition kayaking is the successful management of containers. It’s taken us a while to learn that lesson…

How will all this stuff fit into those two little kayaks??

How will it all fit?(2014 Everglades Challenge)

It’s a matter of the right containers

Camp in the woods(2011 Hudson River paddle from Albany to NYC)

to be able to find things when we need them

Found it!(2012 Long Island circumnavigation)

and quickly set up camp before the evening mosquitoes swarm

Setting up camp(2012 Long Island circumnavigation)

or make dinner on a dark beach before the tide comes flooding in…

Dinner on the beach(2014 Everglades Challenge)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Contrasts.

Spot the kayak in these photos—

At the bottom of the food chain 1
At the bottom of the food chain 2
At the bottom of the food chain 3
At the bottom of the food chain 4
At the bottom of the food chain 5

The first set of Contrasts was here.

Where Are the Whales?

By Vladimir Brezina

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Last Sunday, the current was predicted to ebb through the morning, then flood in the afternoon. Perfect for a paddle south, through New York Harbor out to sea!

But then where, exactly? Round Staten Island? Or to Sandy Hook? But we’d been there just two weeks before

This summer, we’ve been hearing a lot about whales. By all accounts, whales have been positively frolicking about, just outside the harbor. A whale-watching boat, the American Princess, has reported sightings almost every day. And many of these sightings, of feeding humpbacks as well as pods of bottlenose dolphins, have been off the Rockaways, just a mile or two from shore.

So that’s where we decided to paddle on Sunday.

In the event, we didn’t see any whales. (The American Princess didn’t either, that day.) Perhaps fortunately, neither did we see any of the great white sharks that (we read later) were present in that same area at the same time…

But it was a great ocean paddle nevertheless. Here are a few photos—

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Paddling Cape Ann

By Vladimir Brezina

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Summer’s here—it’s high time to make our summer paddling plans!

And, as in the last four years, those plans absolutely have to include the Blackburn Challenge—our favorite open-water boat race. It’s 20 miles around Cape Ann, Massachusetts. All manner of human-powered boats take part—canoes, rowboats, dories, kayaks, surfskis, outrigger canoes, dragon boats, stand-up paddle boards—making for a fun day out on the water and afterward on the beach.

Last year, we raced in the Blackburn Challenge, then spent another two days paddling leisurely around Cape Ann.

In eager anticipation of this year’s trip, we’ve been looking over the photos from last year…

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Kayaking Maine’s Western Rivers

By Vladimir Brezina

Cuckolds Light

On each day of our three-day Memorial Day weekend in Maine, while Johna was off pursuing rough waters, I went for a leisurely paddle. Here are a few photos. They are less interesting than usual, because I lacked my kayak model and had to substitute lobster buoys as foreground interest…

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So There I Was… In Maine

By Johna Till Johnson

Freshly Pressed on the WordPress.com home page!

Every good kayaking story starts with “So there I was,” according to Carl Ladd (of Osprey Sea Kayak fame). In keeping with that adage, here goes:

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Setting off along the Maine coast

So there I was, bobbing up and down on the frigid waves crashing into the rocky coastline of Maine’s Sheepscot Bay.  The swells were substantial—four to six feet, big enough to rip someone from her kayak and deposit her and the boat on separate rocks.

That exact thing had recently happened, in fact, to another paddler.

Fortunately neither she nor her boat sustained damage, but it was a strikingly close call. One moment she was riding the surf, high over our heads, after a larger-than-usual wave broke suddenly. The next moment she was struggling in the water, and we all winced as we heard the hollow sound of her fiberglass boat crunch into the rocky shore.

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What a Difference Just a Few Miles Make…

By Vladimir Brezina

Same paddle, same day, morning—

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and evening—

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More photos coming as soon as I can process them…

First Sandy Hook Paddle of the Year

By Vladimir Brezina

This past weekend, it suddenly felt like summer in NYC. How better to celebrate than with one of our favorite paddles? On Sunday, we paddled from Manhattan through the open waters of the Lower Bay

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down to Sandy Hook

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and back again to Manhattan…

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Here is a selection of photos from the trip.

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Everglades Challenge, Reflections: What Worked, What Didn’t

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

← Previous in Everglades Challenge

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The day after: Johna and Cynthia trying to take apart Johna’s stuck paddle…

“You should write down what worked, and what didn’t,” DolphinGal advised us when she was doing our gear check the day before the start of the Everglades Challenge. So, a tip of the hat to DolphinGal (who has a pretty impressive story of her own to tell about what worked, and what didn’t, in her Everglades Challenge, some years back).

Here’s what we wrote down…

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