Friday, September 23, 2005

Phantom Lake Prop Test

After a quick trip to a new propeller finishing company with a load of propellers that were nearly destroyed by the company I normally had do the work, I returned with a pair of "test" propellers. These props were thinned, rough finished and balanced. One was put on my boat.

So, where to test them?

Originally I thought to drive up to Idylwood Park in Redmond. There is a nice dock from which to launch, though it is a bit of a walk from the parking lot. I could listen to another segment of the latest book on CD that I had been following, too.

I let the day slip away, though, and ended up going to nearby Phantom Lake. The drive took only a couple of minutes and the walk to the dock was shorter.

The lake level was pretty low. The boat hit the muddy bottom as it was slid stern-first off the dock. I ended up gently dropping the bow over the side with a splash since there was not quite enough depth to get the boat to float otherwise. Oh, well!

I got in and pedaled slowly to the lilypad choked entrance to the lake, trying to not snag any vegetation in the propeller. With the skeg fin removed the prop was more likely to grab a stem or two and I didn't want my tests results clouded by the possible presence of bits of crud on the shaft.

Eventually I got out into the open water and began a warmup pedal.

It might have been psychological, but the new prop seemed to be faster. There did not seem to be as much resistance as I pedaled faster. The fact that I was wearing pants rolled up to the knees didn't help, however, and it was not long that I regretted not forgoing a water bottle, too.
After making a circle around the diminutive lake I made a couple of high speed run attempts.
The first was into the wind, and the gps reported a top speed over 9 mph.

The second was with the wind at my side. The gps reported a top speed of about 10 mph.

Hmm, I remember being able to reach over 10 mph with one of the original boats and propellers, though I was wearing clipless bicycling shoes and the matching pedals at the time. Perhaps I need to go back to wearing them if I really want to make an improvement in my race times!

I headed back to the dock, which was a little hard to find behind all the shoreline shrubbery.
After pulling the boat from the water I noticed that the hull was covered with slime from the lake. Yuck! That could be another reason the boat wasn't going faster - too much scum in the water!

We'll have to try this again under better conditions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Budd Inlet Race

Official course map

Overcast and calm

I've done this race several years in a row. It is one of my favorites because of the excellent lunch, subsidized by Evergreen Rowing, and the camaraderie of the people involved.

All ready to go

I managed to get to the Swantown Marina pretty early this morning. It was good to have some extra time to spend preparing for the race. This meant I could actually put my boat in the water at the ramp's dock (with the much more gentle ramp and lower edge), bring it over and tie it up at the breakwater dock out of the way. The dolly, extra clothing, etc., could then be stowed in an out of the way place, freeing me to take more event photos and not be late in the water.

Unlike last year, when the start was delayed over an hour due to fog, this year's weather was better at the start. Though there was a layer of low clouds, they stayed well above the water before the race. In fact, just as we began placing the boats in the water the clouds had pretty well dissipated and turned into a beautiful blue sky.

Hauling to the dock


The standard pre-race meeting was held. Besides laying out the course, describing the safety rules and pointing out potential obstacles, Steve Wells, the race director, insisted that everyone have a good time and have a smile on their face regardless of what happens. He also insisted that everyone who registered should get a meal ticket, and that anyone else who wanted lunch would have to buy one. They were going to be diligent this year about collecting tickets!

The meeting ended and everyone began taking their boats down to the docks. Many of the rowers chose to launch from the end of the ramp rather than wait their turn at the low floating dock moored to the breakwater dock. This was probably a good idea as there was quite a line for the 4 and 8 man rowing shells to put in.

Wide open water ahead

I managed to sneak past and climb into my Cadence. From there it was literally smooth sailing to the relatively open waters at the end of the dock and beyond.

Shallow water at the start

Well, maybe not quite so open. Today's low tide was a minus tide. That meant that the water level would be lower than the mean low tide and more of this shallow harbor's bottom would be exposed than normal. In fact, the lowest point of the tide was expected to be somewhere around the end of the race. This meant that at least one or two sandy and somewhat muddy islands would be appearing right in the middle of the race course. A couple of years earlier I managed to run aground in my Escapade pedal boat. It had a much deeper draft than the Cadence. Still, there was no guarantee that there would be enough water to take the shallower, more direct route!

Racers ready

After milling about enjoying the increased maneuverability and responsiveness of my boat (due to the removal of the anti-weed/anti-obstacle skeg), taking photos of the competitors and generally getting in the way, I ended up on the far end of the starting line from the dock. This was intentional as I had never started this race from this position. During previous races it seemed that the ones who started way over here were the fastest and the first to the first turn, so I wanted to see if it really made any difference.

Shore side racers

Dockside racers

The signal was given for the race to start. There were quite a few rowers near me, along with an OC-2 manned by two strong paddlers. As this was my first real race in quite some time I started pedaling moderately fast, getting my heart rate to the mid 150's. I was more concerned with getting fewer blurred action photos than top performance.

For whatever reason, it appeared that the racers who started closer to the dock were going faster and were further ahead. Hmm, perhaps the grass is greener on the other side!

Regardless, there certainly were more opportunities for drafting over there. Sigh...I'll just have to go it alone for this race!

Lots of rowers

Vern & Janet nearby

There certainly were quite a few rowers over here. Most of us stayed to the east of the sandy island emerging from the shallows, hoping there was enough water left in the channel to keep us from grounding. There was.

Vern and Janet were paddling fairly close by in their OC-2. I entertained thoughts of drafting them, as we were going close to the same speed. Nah - it was too early, and I was actually going faster than they were. It would be better to keep up the pace and put them well behind. In fact, they were probably starting to slow down slightly after the initial adrenaline rush at the start.

Run aground?

At Priest Point I saw a couple of kayaks on the shore. Could they be racers in trouble?

I pointed them out to Vern, who probably thought I was oxygen deprived. It turned out that these folks weren't in the race after all. They were mere tourists who stopped off to take a look at something. Bah!

1st turn ahead

Steve near 1st turn

It was something of a slog going to the first turn marker. Most of the other racers seemed to be heading considerably far to the west of the line I and a couple of other boats were taking. They must have been confused. Regardless, it seemed that they managed to get to the turn well in advance of me. Steve Bennett, who generally seemed to finish somewhat behind me - when I was in good condition - was ahead. He threaded his way through the legs of the marker and made his turn to the east just before my arrival.

"Steve, you should be disqualified - or have to go back and go around the marker!" I called out to him. He pooh-poohed that suggestion. I wonder why?

Catching Jeff

I made the mistake of drinking a bottle of juice before the race. It had filtered through, and now a pit stop was in order. Rats!

After veering a little off course for privacy and taking care of business I now had to try to catch back up to where I was.

The first person was Jeff Wong. It took but a few hundred yards and then he was behind me.

At the second turn

Lampi at 2nd turn

Vern and Janet were just ahead when we reached the sailboat marking the second turn. I made certain I was smiling, or at least not looking like death warmed over, for the photographer stationed on the boat.

The boat turned fairly crisply around the moored sailboat, and a refreshing southerly breeze began blowing onto my face. Ahhhhh! That felt nice!

Heikkila's ahead

Jeff following

As it turned out Jeff had been following me, making use of the wake from my boat. My speed at this point seemed to be a bit slower than normal at only 6.5 mph, so I told Jeff I was going to slow down and check things out. He thanked me for the ride and continued ahead while I ran through the weed clearing process.

Hmmm, it appeared to have no effect. That wasn't too surprising as the only things I saw floating in the water were the occasional large white jellyfish and the errant stick or two. I guess the reasons for the slower speed were my lack of conditioning and fighting the ebb tide. Oh, well. Onward!

I was cruising for a while and passed Jeff once again. The Heikkila's were still ahead in their OC-2, but not for long. Off in the distance near the shore I could make out Traci Cole in her HPK. She might have been taking advantage of a lesser current to fight there, but I would be more concerned with encountering eelgrass or other flotsam in that area.

1st 4X passing

On the tail of the 4X

A few minutes later I heard the sound of the first 4X rowing shell as it approached my port side. Here was my chance to try drafting!

I angled toward them, increasing my cadence and snapping a few photos. I managed to drop in behind them, snap another photo, and then pedaled like a madman to catch back up to their stern.

Unfortunately, their boat was a bit too clean in the water and there was not much in the way of drafting assistance - at least as far as I could discern. It was too much work for me to keep up, so I dropped off and waved farewell.

Heading towards Priest Point

Traci kept close to shore. Off to the right I could see Steve Bennett in his fast sea kayak keeping on a course nearly a quarter mile from shore. Why he chose such a nearly middle of the route was beyond me. It would seem to combine the worst of the ebb current and the light headwind, not to mention the lack of quick visual feedback that progress was being made in that watery expanse.

Far ahead a large vessel was moored just off shore. I used it as a goal, pedaling at a heart rate of about 151 bpm.

With the sun in my eyes it was necessary to put on my Sound Rowers baseball cap to help shield them. This meant that my head started heating up and began sweating even more. It was too bad I don't have a decent visor!

Priest Point ahead

Jeff behind

A few minutes later I reached that large vessel. It turned out to be someone's motor cruiser, moored just offshore and in the middle of a bunch of smaller boats.

The human dynamo named Traci Cole was even further ahead as she skirted the shallows near Priest Point. Vern and Janet Heikkila were still just behind, closer to shore. Jeff was a bit further away from shore and also behind.

I had to make a decision. Should I try to return through the shallows, hoping there was enough water so as to not get grounded? Should I take the longer route around the shoals and newly emerged islands where there was no question of depth - but also no question that I would place further behind?

Seeing Traci making it through with no apparent problems I chose the risky route through the shallows.

The depth of a heron's leg

Up ahead it appeared there was a heron standing in the channel with the water nearly up to its knees. That might just be enough for my propeller and rudder to clear the bottom. Well, if not that, then enough to at least auger through to the finish.

I pedaled on, the gps reporting a speed of over 6.5 mph. The ebbing tide and shallow water were both conspiring to slow me down. Of course, this should be affecting the other boats in the same manner, but that was no solace to me!

Gee whiz - that channel was getting narrower and shallower the further I got into it. Was this the right decision?

Traci continued onward with no apparent problems. Maybe it would be OK for me, too.

Moments later the propeller began making a light crunching sound, which went away, and then came back. Uh, oh. It was hitting the bottom.

I continued pedaling, but the going got slower and the pedaling got harder. The water looked like it was even shallower up ahead, as the short legged shore birds seemed to be hoofing it across the channel.

My wake continued down the channel with a height of at least 6 inches.

Reverse wasn't working too well, either.

Not wearing water shoes for this race I declined to exit and portage. Instead, the canoe paddle was deployed and used to turn the Cadence about to return to deeper water.

Running section

Just as I did this the first 8 man shell came alongside. "It's too shallow", I shouted to them. They were going too fast to stop, but at least they managed to not run over my boat. They, too, grounded shortly afterwards.

Vern and Janet grounded as well. They got out and scampered through the water.

I was back into water deep enough to pedal when Jim Szumila approached in his Cadence. "It's too shallow, Jim!", I told him. "You have to go back around the island".

He didn't listen to me; rather, he continued on slowly through the shallows.

Meanwhile I pedaled hard, backtracking around the two islands now protruding from the water. Two other 8's managed to ground themselves and I managed to get some photos between the hard breathing and over the islands. Could Jim actually be making his way through the channel?

Jim pedaling through

Rats! He was! I pedaled harder, pulling on the pedals as well as pushing. Maybe, just maybe I could catch him if I sprinted as fast as I could.

Vern & Janet ahead behind 8

Vern and Janet could be seen paddling their way to the finish, too, just ahead of Jim.

My legs were cramping, my overtaxed muscles complaining, but still I pressed on. I had to catch him!

Jim managed to cross the line just seconds before me, with just one boat length between us. His time was 1:17:44.

Jim heading to dock

Good work, Jim!

After crossing the finish line with a time of 1:18:01 I circled around, taking a few more shots as my legs recovered.

Heading to dock

Jim heading to dock

Remembering that there were a bunch of hungry folks already on shore I decided to head in. It would not be good to miss out on lunch!

As I stepped onto the dock the muscles in my left leg turned into an excruciatingly painful charley horse. It was hard keeping my balance, and I almost fell over. Yeeowwww! After some massaging it eased up enough that I could hobble up the ramp towards the lunch area.

Lunch menu

Good food

Grilled salmon

Lunch was an al fresco buffet with a green salad, toasted garlic cheese bread, pasta salad and grilled salmon. Dessert was in the form of lemon bars and fudge brownies. Yumm!

It turned out that there was enough this year for anyone who wanted to have seconds.

I was stuffed!


The awards ceremony started while I was retrieving my boat from the water. I guess I didn't hear the horn - oh, well.

Steve Wells read the times and handed out the ribbons by class and ranking. Almost everyone who had done this race in previous years had slower times this year. Either we were all getting more decrepit as we aged or the conditions just weren't as conducive to faster times. I vote for the latter theory.

Photos taken during this day can be found here.

My course & statistics
My course and statistics

Here is a link to my 2005 cruises page.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

2005 Bainbridge Island Marathon

At 26 miles in length the Bainbridge Island Marathon is the toughest one day race sponsored by the Sound Rowers. I've done it a couple of times in different pedal boats, and last year wimped out and did the half marathon.

For various reasons this year I decided not to race. Instead, I would pedal from Seattle across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island, take photos of the race and pedal back home. Crossing the Sound would be around 5 miles in each direction, so if you add whatever miles I'd travel taking photos of the racers it would still make for quite a long day.

The forecast was for highs in the low 60's, with showers in the morning diminishing to scattered showers in the afternoon. During the night the drumming of rain could be heard as it poured down from the sky. The morning dawned, dark and wet.

Driving into Seattle the rain stopped, but it still looked quite threatening. I decided to go for the crossing anyway, as a song by Kenny Logins with the refrain "This is it - make no mistake where you are" played on the radio. Perhaps this was a portent of disaster? Maybe I was just being a bit too wishy washy about whether to take the ferry or go it alone.

Launching at Eddie Vine
Looking west to Bainbridge Island
Looking back

I reached Golden Gardens park a bit later than expected. Getting things ready for the water took a bit longer, too, as I had to park the car quite a way from where the boat was being launched. In fact, I was 40 minutes behind my originally planned departure - and I was supposed to take a group photo of the racers before they left!

Well, perhaps the race would be running late.

I launched from the dock at the nearby Eddie Vine boat launch, disassembled the dolly and packed it in the rear compartment of the Cadence. At 8:17 AM I was finally headed out of the marina and west under the brooding sky towards Bainbridge Island.

The water was fairly calm and quiet, with waves no higher than a foot or so. A pleasant breeze kept me cool, though I was wearing a couple of layers of clothing under my PFD.

There were a couple of sport fishing boats plying the waters, too. We generally steered clear of each other and had no problems with getting tangled in the lines as they trolled here and there.

Freighter crossing

After a while a freighter crossed between me and the island. At first there was some concern that I might have been on a collision course, but the freighter was moving fast enough that there was no need for me to wait for it. Even its wake was pretty minimal - at least by the time it reached me!

The gps indicated I had traveled over 4.5 miles, which was the distance that I had estimated it would be from the park to the place where the race started. Unfortunately, there was at least half a mile or more to go!

I pedaled a bit faster.

Finally there

At long last (9:10 AM) I reached the shores of Fay Bainbridge State Park where several boats could be seen resting on the sand. Um, where were the people?

Beach logs
Steve doing director things


After beaching the boat and lifting/dragging it mostly out of the water I dashed across the storm deposited logs towards the picnic area and a white shelter that had been erected there. People could be seen milling about. One of those I recognized as being Steve Bennett, the race director. I walked up to him and asked what the schedule was, and when he wanted the group photo taken.

He said that things were running behind, as one of the safety boats was having troubles with its motor. Otherwise, he expected the race to start around 10 AM rather than 9:30 as planned.

This was good, as far as I was concerned, as it enabled me to take photos of people preparing their boats as well as giving me time to remove the cargo stowed in my boat.

Boats on shore Boats on stands

I lugged the parts to the dolly and the dry bag with my change of clothing back to the registration table under the shelter. That stuff must have weighed 30 or 40 pounds, or so it seemed. A couple of handfuls of M&M's from a bowl on the table served as compensation.

Jim Szumila was there with his Cadence, and I helped him carry it to the water.

Pre-race meeting Group photo

Eventually Steve held the pre-race meeting. As in years past it was up to the racers to decide which direction around the island was the best way to go. Rainer Storb thought that counterclocwise would be better, based on the tides; Steve thought clockwise was best, also based on the tides.

Eighteen boats would be doing the full marathon. Two boats would be doing the half marathon.

Race Route and Lampi's Route
I decided to not actually race as my right knee had been twinging a bit on the pedal over, and I thought it best to be around to take pictures of all the finishers. Yes, I was being a wimp!

Preparing to launch
In the water

Unlike previous races I was one of the first on the water. It was a bit crowded along the shore, and care had to be taken to not collide with one of the safety boats that was beached there or the other boats being carried into the water.

I backed away from shore and hung out.

Warming up
Warming up
People began warming up, cruising back and forth among each other, going this way and that. I tried to take photos of each of them, but it was a little harrowing dodging the others while concentrating on framing and holding the camera steady.

Eventually everyone was in the water and the signal to get in a starting line was sounded. That was my cue to head along the course to prepare to shoot as the racers passed by - the counterclockwise ones, anyway.

They are off!
There was some confusion at the start. A signal was supposed to be sounded for the racers to get ready, followed by the "Go!". Unfortunately, several of the racers decided to go upon hearing the ready signal. It was decided almost immediately to sound the "Go!" signal, and off everyone else went.

Rowers passing
Paddlers passing
The rowers were soon upon me. They were quickly followed by the paddlers in surf skis and sea kayaks. I decided to tag alongside Shane Baker, who was paddling his carbon fiber Black Pearl surf ski. We were going about 7 mph, according to the gps.

Shane in Black Pearl

"How is it going, Michael?", he asked. "Pretty good, Shane", I replied.
Between breaths he and I walked about recent non-boating trips, how out of shape we were, etc. When I told him I wasn't actually in the race today and wished him well I think he might have been a little disappointed. Maybe next time, Shane!
Rowers entangled
Ahead we saw that three of the rowing shells had gotten too close to each other and had entangled their oars. We were rapidly approaching them when they finally got things straightened out - and poof! They were gone.
Water getting rough Others approach
I decided to hang out just beyond Point Monroe for the slower boats to pass. The water here was getting fairly rough. It also had weeds floating all over the place, probably from the fairly shallow waters in the bay. The weeds were not a real concern to me today, but I remembered them from races in years previous as the main reason for my fairly slow times.
Next rowers Last rowers
Last but not least
The next folks to come along were a couple in a wherry and the club treasurer in his shell. They were followed by Deb and Sue in their rowing shells and, lastly, by a man and a woman in sea kayaks. The sea kayakers seemed to be paddling along at a moderately slow pace, obviously saving their strength for the long haul.

What a concept. Maybe that's something I should try next time!

Going after Deb Wherry adjustments

After everyone passed by I decided to see if I could catch up to Deb. As I was getting up to speed I happened to notice that the wherry had stopped and the folks onboard were doing something to the rigging.

Since they might be needing help I decided to come alongside and offer assistance.

They said that with the higher waves they needed to adjust the height of the rigging so as to be able to make headway. No help was needed, so they bid me adieu and off I went after Deb.

Going after Deb Raining

She and Sue were fairly close to each other as the headed towards the entrance to Agate Pass, and about a quarter mile ahead. I put the pedal to the metal, but found myself having to clean the propeller several times as weeds found their way to it. Finally, as the dark clouds let loose with a downpour, I decided to give up the pursuit and just pedal at a reduced rate towards the pass.

It was time to put a hat on, too, though I was quite warm from the pursuit.

Agate Pass Bridge in sight Guy in kayak

I waited at the entrance to Agate pass for the other boats to arrive. The guy in the kayak was first, paddling at a relatively leisurely rate. He noticed that the tidal current through the pass seemed to have died, meaning that there would be no assistance heading down the pass. Oh, well!

Going through some waves Heading into the channel
The woman in the kayak came next. The wherry was nowhere to be seen, so I decided to slowly pedal down the pass towards the bridge.

The wind was blowing fairly strongly from the rear, and the rain had stopped. The clouds were starting to show signs of breaking up, but it would be a while before the sun would be out for good - if that was going to happen today!

Public access At the bridge

Along the way to the bridge there appeared to be a short section of shoreline that had a sign on it facing the water. Unlike the generally prevalent "No Trespassing" signs this one seemed to indicate something else. I went in for a closer look.

Sure enough, the sign indicated that this itty bitty beachlet was for public access. Excellent! I would have to remember this place in the future if I ever wanted to launch in the area and not have to pay parking or launch fees.

A few minutes later and I was under the Agate Pass Bridge.

Safety boat
I took a bunch of shots of the bridge. It was a pretty impressive structure as seen from the water, and is the only land-based connection between Bainbridge and the mainland.

Beyond the bridge the passage opens into a fairly wide bay for several miles before narrowing again prior to the connection to Rich Passage.

It was time to turn around and head back to Fay Bainbridge.

Just after doing so and as I passed one of the big concrete bridge supports one of the safety boats cruised past. They called out to ask if I was quitting and turning around. I responded that I was not in the race, but was returning to the park.

Row, row, row your boat

With the safety boat passing I guessed that the wherry must either have turned around or was close by. In fact, they were coming down the pass at a fairly good clip. It also looked like they had gotten a little cold during the downpour, as the woman was bundled up in a hooded rain coat.

Back at the entrance to the pass Heron taking off
Speaking of which, I was starting to get cold. Not only that, but my knee was bothering me some more.

I zipped up my jacket and started pedaling a bit faster. It helped a bit, but not quite as much as it should. Perhaps I needed to eat something, too. It was getting close to lunch time!

Just after exiting Agate Pass I came upon a blue heron perched on a piling. As I approached and snapped its picture it decided to take off. Sorry to have bothered you!

Rough water Wind is up

The wind had grown stronger, and was changing its direction from the northwest to the northeast. The waves grew in intensity, too. Several times some of the water came over the bow and into the cockpit where it then went back out via the speed bailer.

It seemed to take a lot longer heading back towards Point Monroe than it did going the other way. The combination of wind, waves and general fatigue didn't make it any easier, either!

Finally, the nearly obscured tower on the point came into view, and soon I was headed south towards the state park.

Heading south Looking south from the park beach
The wind seemed to now be heading more from the east and the wind generated waves were getting up to 2 feet on this side of the sound. The Cadence merely bobbed up and down them like a cork, and I pictured the bracing that most kayakers would have had to do in order to stay upright. Too bad for them!

With about 13 miles on the odometer the state park beach finally appeared.

I nosed the boat along the shore, jumped out and with the help of Adrian (one of the race volunteers) we pulled it up out of the waves and rested it on the beach. As we did so I noticed that the skeg had on its own apparently rotated upward. Instead of pointing downward, which would help prevent weed ingress to the prop as well as protect the prop from underwater obstacles, it was pointing sideways at the 3 o'clock position.

This was probably due to the first beaching of the boat that morning, when the wave action could have caused it to move aside.

I'll fix it after lunch!

Cooking chowder
Rather than wait an hour for the Barbara's kettle of seafood chowder to cook I took out the other dry bag from the boat's front cargo compartment. In it I had a sandwich, chips, drinks, dried fruit, etc. It was utterly delectable!

The fire that had been built in one of the park picnic grills was also delightfully warm, if a bit smoky at times. All I could think of was spending some quality time in the sauna at home!

As I ate lunch the sun seemed to be getting stronger, though the air still seemed quite cool. Perhaps the day was going to warm up after all.

Beached Cadence
After lunch I returned to the boat. With the help of some friends who held the boat on its side the bolts holding the skeg were loosened and the skeg was put back in place. That should do it!

At about 12:45 we carefully launched the boat and I started off in preparation to get pictures of the finishers before they reached the finish line.

Considering that the half marathon racers were supposed to start their race some 2 hours after the full marathon, imagine my surprise when almost immediately two boats appeared from the south!

First half marathon
Second half marathon
Sure enough, they were the half marathon racers.

As it turned out, they left an hour early not knowing that they were supposed to wait longer.

First to finish marathon (CCW) Second to finish marathon (CW)
Shortly afterwards the double rowing shell piloted by Rainer Storb and one of the folks planning to row across the Atlantic came across the finish line. They were quite happy about their fast time of 3:27:28, which was a personal best for Rainer.

Soon, from the north came the other double shell. It finished at almost the same time as a single shell from the south piloted by Robert Meenk, a US national champion rower.

Weedy waters Done rowing in weeds
During this time I had been cruising back and forth towards the next incoming racer in order to get several photos as they approached the finish line. The water in which I was pedaling was thick with all sorts of weeds, litter, bush clippings, sticks and other detritus that the earlier winds had pushed over towards the island. While I could feel the propeller catch some weeds from time to time, as well as the occasional stick, they were quickly, painlessly and completely removed by the weed cutter and some forward/backward pedaling. It looked like the combination of the skeg and cutting blade was working!

Of course, if I were trying to race somewhere through this stuff it would have had quite a detrimental effect on my average speed. Today, however, I wasn't racing and the junk in the water was merely an annoyance.

After an hour or so of fairly constant activity there appeared to be a break in the action, so I went ashore for snacks and water. I figured it was also about time to load the boat with all the cargo (dolly, dry bags, shoes, etc.) that had been left behind at the shelter.

I returned to the water. The next racer to come in said that Jim Szumila had broken the chain on his boat and was about 5 miles behind paddling to the finish. Since neither he nor Jim had a tow rope he decided it was best to finish and tell the officials Jim needed assistance.

The race folks were unable to raise either of the safety boats on their cell phones or the radios, so I volunteered to go and tow him in.

Sailboat regatta across the sound
I left the camera with Adrian, asking him to take photos of the people as they crossed the line. As it turned out, however, the camera was forgotten and no shots were taken until I returned.

I unloaded the boat, leaving the stuff on the beach, and headed back around Point Monroe towards Jim's last reported position near the Agate Pass Bridge.

About midway across the now placid waters at the north end of the island I saw what appeared to be an inflatable boat towing another boat. Could it be?

Yes! The second safety boat was towing Jim back to the start. My knee would not have to be punished further.

The safety boat people offered to give me a tow back to the park, but personal pride prevented me from accepting. I pedaled alongside for most of the way and we ended up at the park at pretty much the same time.

Close examination of Jim's chain showed that it had simply worn out and probably was in need of replacement weeks earlier.

Awards ceremony Chowder almost all gone
There were a couple of boats still to come in, but at around 3:20 PM the awards ceremony was held. Special recognition plaques were handed to Rainer and Shane for the number of Bainbridge Island Marathons they finished, and wooden plaques were given to each of the first place finishers in each class. Congratulations!

Safety boats 2nd last boat
Last boat
At 4 PM I finished repacking my boat and started heading out into the water. Lo and behold a man in a sea kayak appeared from the south with a race number on the back. I shouted to the folks on the shore that we had a racer coming in, but it seemed that no one heard my cries. Oh, well. He'd still get a time that was more or less accurate.

Just a little further down the coast I saw another kayak approach, so I headed that way. Sure enough, it was the earlier kayaker's companion who had been doing a great job of pacing herself.

I cheered her on, saying that the finish line was near. She replied "Thank goodness!"

With that I turned east and headed across the sound.

Mostly across the sound
The waters were smooth, with gentle swells and a light breeze. The sailboats that earlier had been abundant were mostly gone now. In the distance to the north some sort of freighter could be seen approaching, though it looked like it would probably pass behind. The south appeared void of traffic.

Still, I had my marine VHF scanning the appropriate frequencies listening for traffic. I heard the Coast Guard a couple of times asking some vessel somewhere if they needed help, and having it declined. I also heard quite a few vessels talking about reservations at some restaurant or another. Was this intended as some sort of incentive for lock master to help folks intending to traverse the Chittenden Locks on the Seattle side of the Sound?

Who knows?

As I reached the middle of the sound I saw one of the Alaskan cruise ships leaving Elliott Bay . Uh, oh - it might just want to head right through where I was right now!

I pedaled faster.

As it turned out the cruise ship kept much closer to the west side of the sound than expected. Whew!

Movie shoot?
Nearing Golden Gardens I noticed a small crowd of people clustered around a large white screen near the water's edge. Out of curiosity I changed course and headed to them to see what was going on.

As I got closer I could see that these folks were shooting a movie - or something - that had to do with a couple of small kids walking on the beach along the water. Camera equipment, microphones, etc., were all around as the kids were told to do this and that.

Entrance to Shilshole Eddie Vine boat ramps
Curiosity sated it was time to head in.

Rather than get out on the beach and get my feet soaked again, the dolly and feet full of sand, etc., I decided to head to the docks of the boat ramp to make my exit.

At 5:30 the boat ramps were pretty quiet, with only the fishermen conversing on a nearby pier. The gps showed a little over 23 miles on its odometer.

After pulling the boat from the water and putting it on the reassembled dolly, I pushed it along the beach path back to the car. It didn't take much time to empty it of cargo, wash the salt off with a garden sprayer and put it on the car's roof rack. In fact, the standard Thule kayak saddles accompanied by the home made central roller worked a lot better than the old home made 2x4 bunks that I had been using. They looked better, too. I guess I'll keep them after all.

It had been a long day, and I was ready to head home!

Photos taken during this day can be found here.

My course & statistics
My course and statistics

Here is a link to my 2005 cruises page.