Hey Diddle Diddle, Running the Kenduskeag, 2016 edition

Todd and I missed the 2015 Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race by means of failed calendaring, and have been determined to make 2016 happen. Although the family couldn’t make it like last time, Todd drove out Friday night, and we completed our final preparations. The 16’9′ Old Town Discovery (aka the “tank”) was hauled out from winter storage for its first paddle of the year. This year the water was lower than 2014, so we were expecting something more like the 2013 race, in which we passed Six Mile Falls unscathed, but swamped at Shopping Cart.

Saturday Morning, race day, we rose early, and Katie helped by dropping us and our gear off in Kenduskeag, and leaving the Mazda in Bangor. While we weren’t perfectly prepared, we are getting our bearings on what is essential and what is helpful for this race. We scoped Six Mile Falls ahead of time, and met a wiseman who gave us some tips and introduced us to the terms “rooster tail” for standing waves of a rapid, and “hey diddle diddle” (straight down the middle). This year it’s Tim’s turn astern.

We were boat 373. Boats launch five at a time, by number every minute starting at 8:30am. The first ~10 miles or so are pretty harmless flat water. A good time to catch up. Then came the dreaded and celebrated Six Mile Falls (photos can be seen in hi-def at Whittling Fog Photography Camera One and Camera Two).

We came in river right, and through the channel, just as planned, bear and stitch hats proudly donned.

We aim for the rooster tail.

We ride down the main channel, and take on some water.

But, we seem ready for what’s next.

 However, at the bottom end, we take on too much water, as Todd is notes. Not clear what the sterns-man is trying to signal.

 Then we run into both a rock and another canoe, which seals the deal.

 Todd’s bow still up, but not for long. We left the dry bags helpfully un-sealed.

This is the result. Note the rock.

After swamping, we find the family and haul the boat over to dump out the water.

 On reflection, we surmised that we had too much of our brawn, and weight, in the bow. Todd weighs nearly 40 pounds more than I, and it’s all solid pounds. Upon considering this, we took to having Todd lean back as we crested the next few rapids, which worked well.  Then came Shopping Cart, the killer of the 2013 attempt.

Shopping Cart has some big standing waves.

Mike Alden of Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race.com captured our performance here nicely (better shots at kenduskeagstreamcanoerace.com)

Todd deploys our new strategy right as we sink the big one.

 Still leaning back.

 Boom!  We crested it.

 Now, for some reason, it appears that I attack Todd with my paddle. A little thank you for saving us form swamping at shopping cart falls, I guess? I don’t recall this part.

In truth there was more than a little magic to our passing of shopping cart, and a lot of chance involved in lots of parts of that race.  But, oh, what a nice way to break in the spring!

Notes for next year (2018):
– cover the bow
– light guy in front, power in the rear
– less food/clothing
– don’t change until much closer
– double car drop off worked well
– give bowman more steering authority from the get-go
– camelbak for the sternsman
– no water jugs
– one dry bag
– fruit or packaged food only, no tupperware, etc
– hand wear or pogie
– warm hat, sun hat, show hat
– sweater, dry layer
Too far:
– lighter, shorter boat?
– air bags, big blocks of styrofoam or blue board? legal?
– better fitting wet suit for TW?