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10/03/2018 7:53 pm  #1


Hogan, headwinds and home

Hi folks,

I’ve got a new report up, part two of my Into The Wind trip out of Opeongo. Link is here:

https://allofalgonquin.com/2018/10/03/into-the-wind-part-two-homeward-from-hogan/

Hope everyone has a good thanksgiving,

Drew

 

10/31/2018 10:42 am  #2


Re: Hogan, headwinds and home

While reading your awesome-as-usual trip report, in the back of my mind I was thinking "Wait until they get to Opeongo".  Then you took a water taxi.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.  I am here to tell you what you missed.  This comes from my second canoe trip, August 1981 I guess.  For our last night, we stayed at one of the Opeongo sites adjacent to a portage in the Eastern Arm. 

The plan was to wake up early, break camp and push off "before the wind kicks up".  Yah.  When we awoke waves were crashing on the shore.  It looked just like breakers at the seashore.  We had a very experienced canoe-tripper with us, diminutive, tough as nails, and with a hair-trigger temper.  He was in his early twenties, most of us were 15-ish.  Years later one of the other guys reflected on him saying "he sure was a tightly-wrapped little <expletive deleted>."  True.  It took very little to get his juices going.  There was the episode where a fight was starting at the top of a steep muddy portage entrance while the rest of us watched from the landing.  He was pushed and slid all the way back down to us, which we found entertaining. There was another episode where, sparing details, he rammed his own canoe.  A 10' fiberglass canoe that he and his brother had built (think clawfoot tub).  He had us build speed as we neared the thing while it was beached at a portage entrance.  It was actually my fault he caught it dead center.  I thought he was joking at first, and when I realized he wasn't, I braced us out of reflex, but on the wrong side....then he yelled "WAMMING SPEED!" (minor speech impediment).  The crunching sound was horrific.  Three boys, fully loaded Grumman, at speed.  No damage to the bathtub.

I told you all that because we will revisit his famous temper in a moment.  Back to Opeongo.  Apparently some dads really needed to get back to work the next day - we should have been wind bound.  One by one the boats were put in the water, pointed into the wind, straight off shore, and loaded while guys on either side held the boat in position.  The crew would climb in, and be pushed off into hell.  When I got in our boat (stern), the boat was splitting waves as we loaded, cutting right through them with the tip of the bow barely above water, and the waves passed by, high over the gunwales.  Unnerving.  We're off!

The waves were big enough that when the bow went down into a trough, the stern came out of the water so I couldn’t get the paddle in.  We were crawling.  You almost could not detect any change in position.  The waves were dead on , the wind just slightly starboard.  I discovered very quickly that if I paddled on the starboard we’d push broadside almost immediately.  Bow and middle were free to switch sides, but I was stuck on the left.  Whitecaps galore.  We had no business being on that water.  I’ll never paddle in conditions like that again, ever.  Nobody dumped a canoe, and I don’t know how.

We caught up to one of our boats.  The tightly-wrapped guy had bow, someone in the middle, and in the stern, a guy who wanted to become an attorney (which he did) because he enjoyed pissing people off (which he did).   Putting tightly-wrapped and future attorney in the same boat, especially with future attorney in the stern, was not good planning.

We were inching our way past them.  Tightly-wrapped didn’t like that, so he complained to future attorney about keeping the boat straight.  Probably not the first complaint of the day. “You’re zig-zagging all over the place!”.  Future attorney responded “I’m not zig-zagging, I’m zag-zigging.  Zig-zagging isn’t in my contract”, and with that, he jammed his paddle in the water and back-paddled, immediately taking them broadside to wind and waves.  The distance between our boats grew quickly, and tightly wrapped sounded like Donald Duck having lost his temper.

I can’t imagine how much ground and energy they lost trying to get that Grumman pointed in the right direction.  It was a weak move by future attorney, but from our perspective; comedic gold.

We paddled forever without a break or any easing of the conditions.  As we neared the join of the east and west arms, we stopped by a campsite for a breather, holding onto rocks, puffing our guts out.  Next we would be in the center bay, at the join of the two arms.  The wind would be worse, having traveled over a broader expanse of water, and we’d be further away from land than before. 

As we entered that big bay area, we experienced a different wind direction – from the west, hitting us broadside.  Instead of cutting through waves, we were going up and over them laterally, dipping from trough to top in waves that were more like swells.  From trough to top….I’m guessing between 2’ and 2.5’.  It was ridiculous.  We did take on a little water here once in a while, and our middle man was quick with the bailer.

Some boats ahead of us were heading toward the eastern shore, in the “stem” of “Y” of the lake, ducking behind islands, so we did the same.  It was multiples better.  We hid behind islands as much as possible, and when we cut across to the access point, we benefitted from the trees, so the wind and waves were a shadow of their former selves. 

I think it took us around six hours.  That would be between 2.4 and 2.7 km per hour, which sounds about right, and until we reached the islands I was paddling on the left.   Our bowman got out of the boat and was shivering.  So much worse in the bow.  Our middle man took him into the outfitter’s, poured coffee down his throat and got him warmed up. I vowed that if we ever took another trip that included Opeongo, I would not be going.  The next year we started at Opeongo.  Ugggghhh.  I went of course.

Now, don't you wish you'd paddle that lake instead of a water taxi????

 

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