Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speed, and the need of.

It is all subjective as far as speed goes with the Outback. The Hobie Mirage drive is an outstanding design, and allows for some easy paddling. But the hull design of the Outback, while nice, wide and very stable, does not lend itself towards speediness. It is amazing how much of a practical lesson in physics a short, wide boat can give.

Of course, I didn’t purchase the boat to go fast on. I bought it because of its stability. A stable platform means that I can experiment and learn various things about moving around on a SOT kayak and not be overly concerned about a huli.

I clocked my speed over ground using my GPS the other day at about 5.5mph. This translates to about 4.8 knots. Not bad, considering I am out of shape, I was pushing against the current and the wind, and I am out of shape. Since I was measuring my speed over ground, and not how fast the boat was actually moving in the water, it is hard to judge. If I really wanted to get picky, I could probably pickup a pitot tube to figure out my speed in the water, but speed over land is actually more important.

To give myself a little mechanical bump in speed, I installed the ST Turbofin upgrade from Hobie on the Mirage drive. The standard fins on the Mirage drive are teardrop or blade shaped. The ST Turbo fins are shaped more like wings or airfoils, and are about 3 inches longer and larger overall. In addition, the ST fins have a rigid section in the middle of the vertical plane, which alters their hydrodynamics even more.

The upgrade should equate to more torque from the fins and an increase in speed.

Of course, I am still out of shape. Unfortunately I can’t fix that in 20 minutes like I did with the fin upgrade.

More soon,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Proof of life, err, Plastic

I just wanted to show off my boat. My picture taking habits are basically nil - I don't think to take pictures, and so they rarely get taken.

Here is the green boat on top of my orange car.
From Kayak pics

More soon,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shakedowns and Stirfry

I took the boat out on the Willamette up by Sellwood park on Monday night, and we went out to Henry Hagg lake yesterday. Cruising up and down the Willamette the other night was pretty cool. I was out on the water as the sun was setting, and so the view of the West hills was very nice. There was some sort of regatta going on off of the west bank. That was fun to watch. Unfortunately, I only had my IPhone with me, and took some craptastic photos. Not much to see in the photos. Oh well. The boat tracks well, the drive system is easy to use, and getting up to a decent cruising speed takes very little effort.

Out on Hagg lake I basically ran a shakedown of the boat. Tested out launching and landing in shallow water, casting from the boat, sitting sideways, and accessing hatches. I am trying to figure out rod storage for surf launches and landings – having rods above deck may be my only option, as I was unable to stow m 6’6” trout set up using the center hatch. Of course, I didn’t bother to break the rod down, but from the little practice that I got yesterday changing the terminal rigging, I don’t know that I would want to do that. Having to re-thread the guides would be my biggest concern. A little more practice and I should have the solution worked out.

Dropping and retrieving a crayfish trap was pretty easy, which I hope will translate into crab pots in a couple of weeks. I have a Hobie livewell for my boat. Basically it is a big bucket that has a water pump in it. Since the use of livebait is a no-no on inland water systems in Oregon, my plans for it are as dry storage, or on the days when I drop traps, as a holding tank for crabs or crayfish. So I think I have the handling of live pinchies taken care of.

I think I may take another shakedown cruise or two to really figure out the mechanics of moving around the boat, but the overall ergonomics of the Outback are good.

High on my list of add-ons will be extended rod holders, a fishfinder/GPS combo, and an anchor system. But those are projects down the road, and for another post.

While on the subject of shakedowns, I want to touch on the burn that I got yesterday. I burn pretty easily, and I know it. Being on the water makes the burn even more likely. Not only are you contending with the Sun beating down on you, you also are dealing with the reflection of the Sun bouncing up at you. So even if you are wearing a nice wide brim sun hat, you may end up with a bad burn on your face, because of the reflection. Here in Oregon, the hours between 11am and 2pm at the height of the summer are when sunlight is at its most intense. If you are going to burn, chances are those four hours are when it will happen. But even in the late afternoon – or perhaps I should say, especially in the late afternoon, the risk of a burn while on or near the water is high. Now the sun is coming in at you from a very shallow angle, and so you get both the direct rays and the bounce, often times in the same area of your body.

Yesterday out on Hagg lake I kept all of this in mind. UV blocking sunglasses, brimmed hat to cut glare and help protect my face from direct exposure, and SPF 35 sunblock liberally applied to every exposed body part every 35-40 minutes. And I still got burned. Not terribly, but enough to remind me.

Of course, the burn is on my legs. Which are not normally exposed to the sun, as I tend to wear long legged trousers on a regular basis. Yesterday I chose shorts. So my whiter than white legs got an enormous amount of sun exposure compared to what they normally get.

Wear your sunblock, and limit your exposure.

More soon,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kayak in hand. Okay, on top of the car.


The kayak is purchased. I’m still working out the details of storage, but foresee PVC piping construction in my future. Good thing I played with Legos, Erector sets, Lincoln logs and Tinker Toys. Ahh, Tinker Toys. I actually had a pretty immense (or so I thought) collection of Legos as a child. Which I dutifully passed on to my little brother when I outgrew them. When He outgrew them, he just sold them. Shows you what I know.

Anyway, pictures will soon start appearing in this blog, as I will actually have something to take a picture of.

Props out to Dave and staff at Next Adventure.

Of course, I was talking with one of the girls working there - she asked me what boat I was buying, I told her, she said "so you're a fisherman?" Evidently most people in Portland who buy the Hobies tend to be fisherman.

I have kind of put the cart before the horse with the kayak. I take delivery of it this afternoon, and I am still in a pickle as to where to store it. It is 13 feet long, which means that it is unlikely that I could take it inside of my house, around the corner that leads to the basement stairs, and down said stairs. The casement windows that lead into the basement are likewise too small and do not have the correct angle available.

So I am working out either storing the kayak on top of my landlady’s garage, or perhaps out in the side yard, on risers under a tarp. Either way, I have to figure out how to keep the ‘yak from walking off when I am not around.

More soon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My new obsession

I am about to embark on a fishing adventure. I have new skills to learn, new risks to take, and hopefully rewarding experience – and fish.

I started fishing at a relatively young age. Initially my dad would take us out the night before and we would collect worms from the compost heap and the garden. The next day we would end up down on the Potomac river, and I am guessing we would bobber fish the worms. Ah the heady days of being six and not knowing a thing in the world except that you love your dad and that worms and fish are both slimy.

We eventually graduated to the point where Dad would take us out in a little rented rowboat. We would leave the dock and dad would row us up or downstream, in the relatively rocky and fast part near Chainbridge. I remember catching eels more than anything else. Most of the time the eels would meet a bloody end.

My early years included going out on a 17’ Boston Whaler in the islands of Maine, and pulling up an enormous Ocean Pout on the hand line. That trip was my first experience with sea urchins. Later we would take a small boat in Cape Cod, and pretty much only caught dogfish. Another year we would fish from the bank of a river near Rehoboth Beach, as well as dig with our toes for clams.

My father’s side of the family is Southeastern Chinese, and has an affinity for all things fish. I remember an unusual evening during a vacation to Kauai. My Grandmother discovered that we could harvest sea cucumbers off of the reefs near our rental. We brought back a few, and Grandma cooked them. The problem was that she had never cooked a sea cucumber in her life. At least not a fresh one. Boiling sea cucumber is an unforgettable smell. Kauai was also were I went on my first deep sea charter for Tuna. That was a great ride.

My mother’s family is from the Tidewater area in Virginia and Maryland. Gloucester and Saluda, Virgina. I did not spend nearly enough time in that part of the world, but as a little boy I fished from piers and jetties and beaches along the mid-south Atlantic. Blue fishing in the Chesapeake bay, crabbing, and getting stung by jellyfish all along the North Carolina Outer Banks.

I stopped fishing at about the age of 17. The last trip that I clearly remember was with my mother, her father, and my sister. My grandfather had wanted desperately to be closer to us, but family decisions kept that from happening. We went out on a small boat, about a 30 footer, with one of his distant cousins up in Maryland. I can’t remember if we actually caught any fish.

My family history is full of boats and fish and fishing, but because of the way that I grew up, very little of that was apparent to me. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I actually learned how to tie a clinch knot. I am, for all intents and purposes, an autodidact fisherman. Yes, some people have shown me some skills, but a great deal of my knowledge and working experience has come in the past three years. My father would rig everything up for us when I was a child – hooks are sharp, and bait is potentially yucky. But now I want to be self sufficient, and have many books on knot tying and fishing, and the Internet is a goldmine at times.

About five years ago my friends dragged me out to Henry Hagg lake to do some trout fishing from the bank. That re-kindled my interest. But it wasn’t until about three years ago that I realized I live in a truly bountiful region. And I set my sights on Steelhead and Salmon fishing. That demands that you learn knots and the names of rigs and what goes with what. Which is great. I still have a tremendous amount to learn, and in three years I have not even had a nibble. But one of these days I will get it right.

The newest component is a kayak. I realized, while digging clams a couple of months ago, that the bays that I regularly dig in have crabs in them. And that crabs are generally easier to catch in quantity from a boat, and not the shore. I also realized that these bays and estuaries have fish in them. Which again, may be best accessed from a boat, and not from shore. I live close to Sellwood bridge on the Willamette river. This section of river is a hot spot during salmon runs, as it is a narrow section of the river. For the most part, the salmon in this part of the river are accessible by boat.

I could go on, but suffice to say that I wanted a boat of some sort. And a power boat or drift boat while cool and all, just isn’t practical for me. Not enough money and no real storage space for one. It boiled down to a pontoon boat or a sit on top kayak. Both have their merits, but I decided I wanted a kayak. Pontoon boats really are great fishing platforms, but the conditions and locations that you can use them are limited. Additionally, I am limited to a car top carrying system, and getting a pontoon boat six feet overhead without a lift seems a little awkward. Plus, pontoon boats depend on inflated pontoons made out of fabric. Which, given my propensity to be really, really rough on my gear, sounds like a bad idea. Rotomolded thermoplastic sounds good to me.

I take delivery of a Hobie Outback this upcoming Monday. And thus begins the fishing adventure.