An easy 90 minutes on a grey morning.

Weather:  Overnight a front came through.  You can see the sharp change in the dew point around 4:30am, and then the spike in the wind around 6:30am.  Since this is vacation, I was blissfully asleep while this was going on.  I got up around 8:30.  It was really cloudy, but the rain seemed to have stopped.  I debated just doing an erg session, but it seemed so nice and flat out on the water. I decided on heading out for a nice long easy row.

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Of course, it started raining again as soon I was outside loading my boat.  But I hung in and it stopped by the time I had driven over to the beach.  It was close to low tide, but there was maybe 6 inches more water today  than yesterday, so no trouble finding a channel out to deep water.

The plan was to do a nice easy row.  I wanted to do most of it as UT2, and it turned out that way.  It was one of those mornings where my HR was pretty stubbornly low.  I can never really figure out whether that’s because I don’t feel like working hard, or if it’s some kind of after effect of a hard session the day before.

I went out without a firm plan about where to go.  I ultimately decided to head out to Billingsgate Island, and then back up to Wellfleet inner harbor.  All together, it was about 16km.  I took one break, about 2 minutes when I got up to  the harbor.  Other than that, I just rowed.

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Workout Summary - media/20170812-164441-Greg Smith 20170812 0922amo.csv
Workout Details
01|02600|14:57.7|02:52.6|000.0|18.5|123.6|138.0|09.4 - beach to buoy10
02|02700|15:24.7|02:51.2|000.0|19.5|139.3|143.0|09.0 - buoy10 to buoy8
03|03800|21:24.3|02:49.0|000.0|21.5|140.6|145.0|08.3 - buoy8 to buoy10
04|03100|17:26.6|02:48.8|000.0|21.3|139.6|145.0|08.3 - buoy8 to wellfleet
05|02365|13:35.2|02:52.3|000.0|21.6|140.7|144.0|08.0 - wellfleet to buoy11
06|01460|07:54.7|02:42.6|000.0|21.4|143.0|145.0|08.6 - buoy11 to beach

It was a bit choppy out between buoy10 and buoy8, but other than that, it was just tasty smooth water.  The tide was slack at the beginning, but by the time I did the last leg back from wellfleet, it was pretty strongly against me.

Tomorrow:  L3.  Probably open water.  I think I will do a row from the wellfleet breakwater out to buoy 8.  That will be 1.87+3.17+2.98 = 8.02km.  Roughly 40 minutes.  I will aim at a stroke rate of 24/25.

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Sunday: The voyage to the wreck of the James Longstreet

The weather is beautiful.  70s, Sunny, brisk breeze from the Southwest, around 15 mph with gusts a bit stronger.

I am trying to do longer rows to get ready for the Blackburn Challenge and I have been trying to get experience rowing in bigger waves. Today’s breeze from the southwest provided a terrific opportunity to do that.

The mission for today was to row up to Wellfleet Harbor and then row all the way to the Red Bell Buoy marking the wreck of the James Longstreet.  This was a freighter that was used as a practice naval target during World War 2.  The wreck is now almost completely submerged, even at low tide, but the buoy provided a challenging target for today’s row.

Here’s the planned course.

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I started at WP0001, which is locally known as kayak beach.  I had printed out the chart along with course instructions.


And then taped it in a ziplock bag to the deck beside the cockpit.  This worked out well, but I need to work on legibility.  I need to make the font bigger and come up with a way to identify waypoints, it was a bit hard to read when the spray was flying!

The actual track shows that I still have a lot to learn about steering in tidal currents.

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The first part of the row was slow and careful as I tried to pick my way between the shoals at low tide.  It wasn’t as bad as last time, but my oar blades were smooshing into the bottom on a lot of strokes.

I basically rowed straight to the green can, and then turned north to toward the inner harbor.  This was delightful downwind rowing.  There was a little bit of chop, and it was on my stern quarter.  There were some nice surfs along the way.

I got to the end of the breakwater, turned, had a quick drink and started to row against the tide and wind.  The first leg, down to a red buoy (WP0004), was good.  The waves weren’t that big and I wasn’t really taking on much water.  After the Buoy, when I turned to WP0005, I was heading straight into the wind and the building seas.  The section from about 7km to 11km was the toughest, slowest, wettest and most challenging rowing of the day.

Once I had the next buoy in sight (WP0005), I turned to the south, and then the wind was on my bow quarter.  This was a bit easier and my pace picked up a bit.  But as I came out from behind Billingsgate Island, I started to experience the long rolling waves that had built up across all of Cape Cod Bay.  These were long period waves, probably 2 feet high, with smaller chop breaking them up a bit.  There was a definite pattern of a few big waves, then a lull, then some more big ones.  It got a bit hairy as I approached WP0006, my farthest objective.  The waves seemed to get steeper over the shallower water here.  I was rowing to a compass course until I was able to see the buoy I was rowing for and then I turned straight to it.  Here’s a little narrative about my objective from the Embassy Cruise Guide to New England.

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I was quite glad to finally get around the buoy, and luckily I did not set off any unexploded bombs.  Then I had a long ride back with the waves on my beam and the wind behind me.

This was a different type of challenge, but quite fun.  My heading was not far enough downwind to surf the waves.  The thing that took some experimenting was figuring out how to deal with radically different water heights beneath each oar.  I found it easier with a slightly higher stroke rate.

Heading back, I navigated fine to WP0010, but after that, I maintained the right compass course, but I think the incoming tide pushed me quite a bit off course.  I rowed the specified distance from WP0010 to WP0009, but when I looked around, I could find the buoy at all.  I tried with and without sunglasses, and completely stopped the boat.  Well, that’s not good.

By now, it was a couple of hours after low tide, so I decided to deviate from the planned course and cut the corner to go home.  I was getting pretty tired and I had been out for over 2 hours.  But this was some of the most fun rowing of the day.  The wind and waves were on my port stern quarter, and the wave frequency was long enough that I could surf the front of a wave about every third stroke that I took.  When I caught the wave right, the last 3 feet of the stern would be buried and there would be a great swooshing noise from the bow.  It took some creative rowing to try to keep the waves from slewing the boat around through the process.

I navigated by eye around the north side of the island and pushed hard as I finished the last leg to Kayak beach.  I could barely stand up when I got out of the boat, but I was grinning from ear to ear.

The pace and HR plot below shows how it was tough to row hard when I was going into the wind and waves.  It was easier to push when I was surfing.

bokeh_plot (65)

It was quite a workout.  nearly 2 hours of UT1.  Total time on the water was 160 minutes.

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Workout Summary - media/20170611-171639-Greg Smith 20170611 0844amo.csv


Below are pace and rate charts.  The one from on the left is from the speedcoach.  The one on the right from Crewnerd.  Speedcoach continues to have some trouble finding the stroke rate in rough seas.  But the pace information is a bit smoother.

Tomorrow:  Hopefully on the water in Newton.

M1 4 x 15′ / 4′ 7′ @ 5KP, 8′ @ MP 92.5% (172)


Sunday: The Maiden Voyage of Kanangra

Weather:  I launched right around 8am.  There was a little wind that was dying down.

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The more salient bit of data was the tides.  We are in a period of time called the King Tides.  These occur a few times a year when the moon is at perigee and also aligned with the sun (new moon of full moon).  If they happen around January 2nd, they are even bigger because the earth is at perihelion.  These tides were pretty damn big.

Here’s a view of the Lieutenant Island Tide calendar.

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The squiggle is the tide height.  The numbers above each peak is the time and height of the high tide.  The highest tide of the month was very early Saturday morning (12:46AM May 27th) and was a 13.0 tide.

Aside:  The faint line near the high tide points is the tide height where the water comes over the road to the island.  When these tides are very high, you are cut off for about 4 hours around high tide.

The low tides are correspondingly low.  I launch from a beach that has the best low tide access, but this particular low tide ended up causing me a comic 30 minutes of trying to find deep enough water to row in.

Here it is speeded up buy a factor of 30 to reduce the boredom factor.

Certainly an inauspicious was to start.

Once I got through that, I was able to really try out the new boat.  Here’s my course.

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This chart was made with some a navigation.  A program called GPSNavX which supports plotting course directly on navigation charts.  The GPS coordinates come from the speedcoach, exported to CSV using NK Link, then uploaded to rowsandall, then exported as TCX, then convert to GPX by TCXConverter, then loaded into GPSNavX.  Simple 😉

This part was “on foot”


The row up to Wellfleet was good fun.  There was some light wind was from the SSW, so the chop could build up more as I got further north.  The boat handles quartering waves very well and surfing directly downwind is rock solid and good fun.

I noticed that there were patches of floating reeds all over the place.  These float out of the salt marshes during very high tides.  They had the effect of turning this outing into something like a random bungee row.  I would be rowing along, pass through an area with some reeds and eventually notice that it was harder to keep the pace.  Then, I would stop, back the boat down, wiggle it a bit from side to side and see a big clump of reeds float up from the fin.

I turned and headed out to sea.  The wind basically stopped and there was very little chop.  I just tried to set a nice rhythm and take long easy strokes.  My HR monitor decided early in the row that it didn’t want to cooperate, so I didn’t have that feedback.  My guess is that most of the row was low UT1.

I passed over Smalley Bar, and I noticed the water got appreciably lighter as it got shallower.  At the shallowest, I could see the features on the bottom, but at least I didn’t need to get out and walk.

After that I noticed that my pace was getting mighty slow.  It eventually dawned on me that the tide had turned and was now coming in.  On the chart, you can see that I was in the deepest part of the channel for a while.

I got to Red Nun “6”, and decided to do another 2K to the south.  That would put me at about 20km for the whole outing.   The row to Green Can “5” was very slow because of the tide and I could see it flowing past.

Rowing into the tide, I was doing around a 3:30 pace.  After I turned, with the same effort, I was doing around 2:20.  I calculated out the current.


Here’s the pace and rate for the outing. The first 1000m were paddling, dragging and walking the boat.

Here’s a quick video showing a bit of the downwind with the waves, then me trying to row past the green buoy against the tide, and finally showing the process of getting the reeds off the fin.

Despite the initial challenges, I declare the voyage a success.  The boat is amazing.  It’s noticeably lighter to carry and much stiffer to row.  I can’t say much about how it does in bigger waves, but I suspect it will do better than the Alden.

Anybody want a “slightly used” Alden Star?