Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beautiful SPOT Test Day

It was a beautiful day on the lake today. The wind direction didn’t agree with the forecast, but it was 5-10 kts. most of the day, so one can’t complain. It was 31-degrees when I pushed the Micmac off the ramp at the Canadian Recreation Area at 0800. The first part of the drill today was to test the SPOT. On the right border, if you click on “Follow Ibi’s SPOT Track, you can see roughly the route I took. I’m really pleased with it. I was following the shoreline, and since it only transmits every so often, segments between the reported positions, like the trips into the side streams between positions four and five, and nineteen and twenty, aren’t shown. Nevertheless, it’s quite precise enough to located someone quickly when they’re in trouble. Also, the tracking feature is really nice for anyone who wants to track someone’s trip. If you would like to paddle a leg of their trip with them, you don’t really have to be too concerned about communications. When you see that they’re about to reach your position, just plop the canoe or kayak in the water and paddle out to meet them.

If you had been following the Everglades Challenge, you had a chance to see the SPOT in actual use. Most people involved in the event had never had first hand experience with a SPOT rescue, but when it occurred, they were quite impressed. One entrant in a kayak with a sail got caught on the crest of a wave and yawed sideways. The sail flipped her. She was having trouble getting the kayak upright, and was becoming hypothermic quickly in the cold water. She realized she would become cold and physically exhausted quickly, so she hit the SOS button. The communications center in Texas called her shore contact person first. When they realized the kayak was offshore, they decided to contact the Coast Guard right away. With the GPS coordinates given by the SPOT, they picked her up, got her and the boat ashore, and had her checked at the local hospital. Everything worked perfectly.

Back to today’s trip, I found that one of the feeder streams into the lake had been fenced off by several strands of barbed wire. I am one that doesn’t believe that waterways should be restricted, but it appears this is becoming an all too common practice. To me, it’s no different than putting barbed wire across a road. But, again, that’s just me.

This tree stays there just because it’s a creature of habit, and that’s what it’s used to doing. I saw a bald eagle, but he was very wary and wouldn’t let me get close enough for a picture. We played leapfrog up the shore as he moved tree to tree ahead of me, but after about the third time he flew out over the lake and circled around behind me.
The lake was substantially higher than my last visit, by several feet. The sun continued to warm the day until it reached 65. What can I say? Really nice! I made a couple stops at the Big Bend Rec. Area., both up and back. It is closed during the winter, so I had the entire place to myself. I picked a picnic table near the water, close to where the canoe was pulled up on the shore, and enjoyed lunch. The run for the day was 9.7 miles. Happy paddling--Jim.

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