What I learned in a 100 mile kayak race – Watertribe NCC2017

WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge 100 mile Expeditionary Kayak Race

June 23rd through June 24th 2017

This event was scheduled for last October but Hurricane Matthew put a damper on that date when it roared through the Carolinas.  For this event Tropical Depression Cindy on the Gulf Coast was providing a constant S/SW winds over 18mph progress was slow to say the least.  Generally I have to throttle back my pace to 4.5mph but I was lucky to hit 3mph even with the benefit of a bit of sail power.  More often the common speed was closer to 2.3mph.  On long 8+ mile crossings it is very difficult to keep the “Are we there yet?” out of my head.  At my usual pace I should have been able to camp out at the house I rented in Marshallberg, NC at 55 miles from the start but rather after 12 hours of paddling I had just made it 29 miles.  Roughly 2.4 mph.

Below is a list of Positives, “Cool Stuff”, and rather than the second half not so great which I’ll call them “Experiences of Greater Learning Potential”.

“Cool Stuff”

  • Paddling with stingrays – while approaching the tip of Piney and Raccoon Island it wasn’t shallows I was in but rather lots of 18″ diameter rays, skates more likely.
  • Pelicans fishing – Again at Piney Island there must be an abundance of fish as evidenced from the squadrons of Pelicans plunging into the water, feeding.
  • Marine jets – paddling just outside the exclusion zone of a USMC target range gives you a great ringside seat for watching F-18 Super Hornets flying maneuvers.
  • Sleeping under stars on a beach – 70 degree nighttime temps make the bivvy sack overkill.  This might be a more common experience for southerners but it’s a rarity for me.
  • Freezing Nalgene Cantene drink bladders prior – with wicked high humidity and 80-90 degree air temperatures freezing the drink bladders prior to launching is AWESOME!  Wow, cold sips so hit the spot!
  • Preplanning gps legs – Setting up the possible routes as sections is far easier for course modifications on the fly.
  • Parakito insect repellent bands – These things are Great!  Using essential oils in a paraffin pellet these velcro’d bands can be worn or attached anywhere.  No dousing yourself or clothes with chemicals and they smell pleasant.
  • Over the winter I’ve been training two fold.  Well, perhaps 1 & 1/4 fold.  I spent more time on marathon run training for another goal of mine so I knew that my paddling endurance training was going to rely more on maintenance of the conditioning I had worked up to last Fall.  While I got the blisters I expected my recovery time was fairly short and after 5 hours of sleep I was recharged enough to head out to Checkpoint #1, until some other things happened but that’s in the Learning Opportunity list.
  • CarboPro augmented with Nuun electrolyte tablets is dynamite.  10 scoops of CarboPro and 3 tablets to a full 96oz. bladder keeps Carbs going into the engine and Nuun tabs providing enough flavor to keep your tastebuds interested in drinking more without diluting yourself into hyponatremia.  I’ll say again, freezing these solid before the event was fantastic!

“Experiences of Great Learning Potential”

  • Now I understand blowout tides, and how!  What’s a Blowout Tide?  “Classically, this happens, sometimes after a severe storm, and at times centered around the full or new moon, when an extended period of offshore winds (winds coming from the shore, blowing towards offshore) blow for such a time that they increase the flow of the outgoing (Ebb) tide in an area.” [from stripersandanglers.com]
    • For me this resulted in being stopped at 4am after 29 miles at the head of Club Foot Creek where the Harlow Canal begins.  For a few others left high and not quite as dry, whom passed me while I camped.  This is how they got out;
    • For me it simply meant that there was no chance of making it to Check Point #1 in time and it was time to find a landing.
  • Bandanas as face protection pose a problem when they get wet.  You can’t breathe!  Think waterboarding.
  •  An extra bottle of water would have allowed me to cook up my Good To-Go meals extending my range if I were to take the go-around for day two on the Intra-Coastal Waterway.  My extra got retasked to drink water due to the heat.
  • Socks don’t deter mosquitos.  The rest of me was fairly proof against mosquitos with netting draped over me and wearing a Parakito band but my ankles, I have to remember to spray the outside of the socks!
  • Pre experience tent pole setup.  Don’t wait to experiment setting up a mosquito net tent when exhausted and at night.  I quickly gave up and just used the fabric to drape over me.
  • Training – I need to take the time to train more so as to carry on with Day 2 as it might be exhausting conditions like Day 1
  • iWatch will run out quickly if Display On Raise is turned on in Settings
  • Spray the bottom side of ground cloth with insect repellent to keep the sand fleas away.
  • Get a hydration tube insulating cover.  This would also help in saving some liquid as I was interested in drawing up the ice cold drink from the reservoir not the sun heated liquid in the tube.
  • Don’t try a new sunscreen for such an undertaking. I turned out to be somewhat allergic.
  • Bring alcohol cleaning pads to wash up and de-gunk at the end of the day.  Also a good psychological booster.
  • 96 ounce Nalgene Cantene hydration bladder only lasts approximately four hours in blistering summer heat as opposed to six hours in more temperate climates. Bring at least one if not two extra full frozen Nalgene canteens

One thought on “What I learned in a 100 mile kayak race – Watertribe NCC2017

  1. Always enjoy reading your post race accounts since I learn something. When I first checked your spot and saw SeaDawg in a house in Marshalltown, made me smile and think “how appropriate.”

    Seeing the mud paddling/sailing videos gave me a better idea of the creek’s conditions. Gotta be tough on your skeg box. And your psyche. Reminded me of similar photos of the Nightmare portion of the EC when the tide goes out and the paddlers are stuck, waiting it out.

    Hadn’t heard of CarboPro or Nuun products. Hammer, yes. Will do a comparison as I’m looking for something that will let me skip stopping for lunch during an future event.

    High heat and humidity are wretched and debilitating; your training clearly paid off.

    The conditions thrown at you make me even more grateful to live and paddle surrounded by the Great Lakes.

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