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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Bay Minette Basis (Moan, eh!)
Sunday, December 19, 2004
by Gary Worob


The first rule of writing is to never start out a sentence with "well".

Well, there were eight of us who showed up, but four were immediately MIA and we never saw them again.

It took me two tries to paddle through the bridge at Buzbee's, which should give you a clue as to how strong the wind was. I watched the ospreys soaring overhead and wished it would be that easy to use the wind for movement. But, the only movements were many strokes forward. I tried to not look at the side bank, to see I was barely moving. Somehow, the four of us (Matt, his lovely mom, Nancy and I) made it to the first turn off, where Matt took his monthly photos.

When we came back out of the inlet, the Canadian Arctic blast (hence the Moan, EH!) had picked up even more, and we aimed at little reed islands or stands of grasses to target for the next respite. I had just left a wonderful x-mas party and couldn't believe I gave that up to go into survival mode once more, but we pushed on. I detoured to the fallen oak tree part way up Bay Minette Basin, to try to find some more ancient pottery. None was to be found and so then it was back to the "workout". Matt tied Nancy's bowline to the stern of his tandem kayak, probably out of fear the wind would pick her up and deposit her somewhere south of the bridge. I was relieved to finally make it to the standing oak, where Matt made hot mulled cider and had lots of goodies for all. We celebrated the tough paddle and the upcoming blast home, and toasted the x-mas holiday. We then packed up, and in seconds, were back at Buzbee's to see the setting sun, as well as the temperature.

Our four missing in action probably went up the right channel, the smart way to go. But, we were all pleased we had the experience and look forward to the next Monet, without the Moan. This was the first time in over 40 years, I ever got a blister from paddling. Maybe it was from holding on so tight on the way back, for fear of flying!

Happy holidays to all and, oh yes, all of us won the prize for costume and creations, Matt's mom's homemade pralines, yeah!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bob Andrews Memorial Adventure Event
1.5 mile kayak, 1 mile trail run, 3 mile bike
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Prose by Brint Adams
Festive poetry by Gary Worob

It was a blustery afternoon, with northwest winds at 15 mph, temperature of 50 degrees, partly cloudy skies and the tide starting to rise. Three two-person teams, two solos and three volunteers showed up for the second Adventure Event. This was my first attempt at it, and it turned out very well for a very low-key, no-frills race.

Gary was the starter, timer and finish line crew, while Nancy and Linda were course monitors trying to keep everyone heading in the right direction. The race started at 3:19 PM, with four kayaks heading in one direction, north in Mobile Bay towards Rock Creek, while four cyclists headed out of the FYC parking lot, turned north on Hwy 98, to Scenic 98 towards the trail run transition.

I started out in the kayak phase with Bob, Julie and Jim. The wind kicked up some pretty good two foot rollers coming in diagonally at us, once we cleared the marina entrance. I got off to a slow start, while Bob pulled ahead by 10 meters. It was difficult to get into any rhythm, as we just tried to stay upright. I finally pulled ahead of Bob and made it to the entrance of Rock Creek, with about a 15 second lead. Julie and Jim were already way off in the distance. With the north wind blowing water out of the bay, the water level was low and there was only about 3"-6" of water for about 50 feet leading into the mouth of the creek. I jumped out of my kayak and ran while dragging it to deeper water. I got back in and sprint paddled up Rock Creek to the turns, under the Scenic 98 bridge and ahead to where it became too shallow again. I got out and dragged my kayak over sand bars and around turns for another 50 meters and when I was almost to the takeout point, I fell in some deep water and had to swim and pull my kayak to the beach takeout. I just pulled the kayak up to the side, but forgot to tie it off on a branch. As I started to run up the bank, Bob was paddling around the corner, still about 15 seconds behind.

I decided to run in my Chacos, so with no transition time, immediately started my trail run, albeit soaking wet. As I reached the log bridge across the creek, Larry was just arriving from his run, coming the other way. He let me cross first, which was sandy and a little treacherous. My run was OK, as I kept running the whole way, but not very fast. As I ran up towards the first hill, I passed Nick and Jim and up the final hill, passed Gene before coming out to the bike transition. My transition was good, as I changed into my biking shoes, helmet and gloves, took a drink and got away in about 30 seconds.

This is where I put the most separation between myself and Bob, as I made it to the FYC parking lot in nine minutes with a one-way total split time of 40 minutes, circled and headed back. I passed Bob somewhere just before turning back onto Scenic 98, and hit it hard the rest of the way back. Just as I was approaching the transition area, Julie was starting out on her bike.

I did the transition again, changed back into the Chacos, took a last drink and hit the trail. Again, my trail speed was not great, but I didn't walk either. When I reached the creek, I found my kayak was moved over to the other side and turned around facing downstream. By not tying it up, my kayak probably got loose and in the way of the others, so they parked it over in some calm water for me. I splashed into the creek, jumped back in and took off. It was definately quicker going downstream and with the tide rising some, I was able to cross the sandbar at the mouth of Rock Creek without getting out. The paddle back in the bay was somewhat easier, with the waves behind, but still coming in diagonally. I was able to surf a little and make up some time and came into the marina to the finish, in a total time of 1:21. It was a challenging sprint course and worthy of expansion for future races.

Later, I found out Jim went off the trail run course, by not finding the log creek crossing. He wandered up the hill through some backyards, onto the highway and walked all the way back to the parking lot. Therefore, he and Nick were disqualified.

Here are the final results:

Team (2nd person finish):
Gene, Julie 1:08
Bob, Don 1:08:30
Nick, Jim DNF

Individual two-way total:Brint 1:21

Individual one-way:
Brint 0:40 (1st leg)
Brint 0:41 (2nd leg)
Larry 0:44

Team individual one way:
Bob 0:45
Gene 0:54
Julie 1:08
Don 1:08:30
Nick 1:08:30

The Bob Andrews Very Memorial Paddle
by Gary Worob

Twinkle, twinkle little star,
Where oh where is our last participant?
Has he strayed afar?

Is this deja vous all over again?
Has the memorial event really lost another friend?

Maybe the cool evening air
Made visions of sugar plums
Dance and give him alternative hope,
While the rest waited in despair!

I, the timekeeper,
Waited with baited breath,
Not wanting to hear of
An untimely death.

And thus with adjunct surprise,
He appeared with delight to us
And a gleam in his eyes.

Thank the gods for this blessed event.
Who really knows whereever he went,
And others, wrong turns did take.
But none complained about the race
With no winnings and no booty to take.

It was the second annual Bob Andrews Memorial.
Another event with wind, high waves and struggles and toil.
No use to tell you, that Brint was in first.
But since no one wins this event, no one could do worse!

Thank you Larry for another hair-raising event.
One more big boy almost came and went.
We look forward to next year or even next month,
When one more athlete can fall in the water, another ill-fated dunk!

Your youth and vitality are only matched
By the vigor you show for giving us all
Near fatal heart attacks!

So hurrah and bring on the beer.
The big boys, big girls are tougher this year.
And down the chimney with a whir and a grin,
No lump of coal for the resident, Larry within!

May your stockings be full of warming clothes,
and some more of that funny stuff
You obviously have been putting up your nose!

For such an event is for the mentally insane.
No one else would go out to get lost
For no prizes, no glory, no fame.

We aren't complaining,
In fact we want more.
Can't wait to see what's next
In Larry's full store.

Good-bye for now from the wordsmith, it's late.
I've locked the door and sealed the gate.
Tonight, I'll be wondering the upcoming fate!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Mudhole Creek
Saturday, December 4, 2004
by Brint Adams

With good weather conditions today, six paddlers met at Bruno's and traveled up Hwy. 225 to Cloverleaf Landing Lane and put in at Cloverleaf Landing at 10:45 AM. Our group included Larry, Frank, Bruce, Gary and Jon, who came in to Fairhope from Kansas by sailboat, down the Tennessee-Tombigbee, on his way to Florida and the Bahamas. The sky was cloudy, no wind, 62 degrees with a falling tide, as we started down a swiftly running Tensaw River.

Recent flooding upriver brought high silty water into the delta, with plenty of floating debris and large chunks of water hyacinth. We stayed along the eastern shore and soon paddled into fast and tricky swirling waters in front of the exposed riverbluff at the righthand turn in the river just north of Blakeley State Park. After taking the left fork down the Apalachee River, our crew paddled easily and quickly past the upper entrance to The Cutoff, before angling across the river to the entrance to Mudhole Creek.

The entrance angles back to the northwest, and it was an adventure exiting the fast current with the water swirling around, as we turned into Mudhole. Interestingly, there was a current moving forward with us, which we found turned south down a cut towards Little Bateau Bay. We continued up Mudhole Creek which turned sharply to the northeast, splitting into two tributaries ending in the delta. The water was significantly clearer the further we went. As we turned into the right fork at the split, we came across six Black-crowned Night Herons perched in a small tree. They circled around us after most likely recently arriving from somewhere up north. We also stopped along the way to pick a few dried lotus pods.

On our return, we turned down the cut to Little Bateau, which is not shown on USGS maps. The current was fairly swift as the bay was draining out to Conway Creek and into Chacaloochee Bay with the falling tide. We turned around and started our tough fight upstream and upriver on the way back to Blakeley. Upon exiting Mudhole into the Apalachee, some of us decided to hug the west bank, while others angled across to the east bank. It was a long, hard slog either way, as we dragged into the sheltered waters next to the Blakeley pavilion. Some stopped for lunch, waiting for the others to arrive, while Jon took the trail loop around Blakeley, noting the various landmarks and vegetation with identifying signage.

Once we pulled the group back together, we started upriver and pulled into the hidden entrance of Baptizing Branch, along the north side of Blakeley. This is a beautiful, quiet waterway sheltered from the elements and worth a look. After exiting, we started back up the Tensaw, where most of the crew cut across to the west bank, to avoid the outside of the lefthand turn in the river along the bluff, with the stronger current. Once across from Cloverleaf, they cut back across the current to the take-out.

This was a very satisfying paddle for all, one that took us into an area none had seen before. We all agreed it was a place we would like to return to, in other seasons. Now that we found the cut to Little Bateau, this route would make a great point to point trip from Cloverleaf to Mudhole Creek, Little Bateau Bay, Conway Creek, Chacaloochee Bay and take out along the causeway at old Riverdoc's parking lot.