Glad they are doing this in mid-winter! Start at timestamp 0:40.
Glad they are doing this in mid-winter! Start at timestamp 0:40.
First pictures from the Passaic River Rowing Association boathouse thanks to a brave soul who went down there today. The water height set a new record and the river played around with an 1100-lb. dock gangway like a toy, but on first inspection no major damage except to the high school rowing shed. My boat was on the third rack up, which is where the water rose to, so I’ll see if anything happened once I can get down there.
Since they were supposed to remove the Passaic River Rowing Association docks this Sunday, I figured I’d get one last row in today as it was a beautiful 60-degree fall day in New Jersey. Unfortunately when I got there, the docks were already out! Bummer.
So I went for an awesome 10-mile land paddle instead using my Kahuna Big Stick. Many of you have asked what land paddling is, so I’ve attached some “belt-cam” video taken with my Windows Phone that shows a first-person perspective on the technique and speed involved. As always, it’s a great core, lat, glute, and balance workout that left me dripping, but also amazing fun.
Thanks to row2k.com for some great pics from the Head of the Christina. These are from the halfway mark on the course, right when we took the decisive power 10 to pull through the competition into the lead. I am in 6 seat in the Passaic River R.A. boat (navy with gray sash).
The power 10:
The result (I guess bow seat must be a sculler ):
Well for only the 2nd time in 26 years, I flipped my single. Shows it can happen to anyone. I was doing the Crossfit Endurance workout of 8 x 2:00 on, 2:00 off, when on the 2nd piece something underwater hooked my left blade and held it just long enough. At steady state I would have been OK but at full speed the boat corkscrewed around the stuck blade, got sideways to the current, and I decided to ditch rather than risking a bent rigger or broken oarlock.
Some history…the last time I flipped was in the San Diego Fall Classic back in like 1993 or 1994. If I recall correctly, Xeno Muller was in the race, I was ahead of him in the start order, and he was charging up behind me. I decided to see how long I could hold him off for the fun of it, so I put the pedal to the metal but was trying not to wake him out, so I wasn’t looking ahead and I clipped one of the permanent buoys in Mission Bay with my oar. The funny thing was that the top gate of my oarlock broke off cleanly, the oar popped out but stayed in my hand, and I stayed perfectly set as I was going fast. It was like a slow-motion instant replay. I was able to quickly put the oar back in and row for a little while until a speedboat wake got me from the side. With no top gate on my port oarlock, there was no way to get back in the boat. No safety boats seemed to notice, so I had to swim it back to San Diego Rowing Club, which meant about 20 minutes in 55-degree water.
This time, the water was not quite that cold, and was surprisingly clean despite the horror stories. I did not feel my skin starting to dissolve quite yet.
I undid the thumbscrew on the backstay, got up and over (just like on a SUP, albeit an 16-inch SUP ), but then realized that I was maybe 300 meters from the dock with the tide in my favor. Rather than trashing the deck of my boat getting back in the cockpit, I just slid back in the water and swam it back to the dock.
Those are the breaks – hopefully it will be years until the next one!
With the Passaic River cresting today, the USGS flow meter at the Dundee dam, which is the tidal boundary of the lower Passaic, shows a flow of 24,700 cubic feet per second. The normal median flow for this time of year over the past 4 years is 317 cfs. No, that is not a typo – the flood is pumping 77 times the amount of water down the river than would normally flow right now. In late August the flow is usually low and a lot of debris starts to sneak up on the tide. Not this year! The highest median flow recorded on any day in the last 4 years was roughly 6,700 cfs during the St. Patrick’s day floods after the blizzard 2 years ago. I was on the water during that, and it was hard to make headway upstream, but still rowable with some excitement in a single. I can’t imagine what it would be like today with flow 4 times that! If we’re lucky cleanup at PRRA will begin Saturday. Nereid’s situation is getting worse, not better, with the surrounding residential area beginning evacuations this afternoon.
Stay tuned and stay safe in Jersey!
Thanks to row2k.com for a link to this article in the Sonoma County Press-Democrat about rowing in Petaluma, California. I rowed there for about 10 years, did the original website for North Bay Rowing Club, and can testify that it really is an ideal, and often overlooked, place to row. The first thing you need for a rowing club is good water, and Petaluma has the best and longest rowable water of anywhere I’ve ever rowed, on par with the Connecticut River at Dartmouth. I love that Greg Sabourin, who founded the North Bay Rowing Club, is now trying to develop an all-around small craft center for rowing, kayaking, and stand-up paddling. When I visited last month, I not only got to row, but also to SUP, on the Petaluma River. Great water, almost no boat traffic, and an ideal climate make it a great location for pretty much any kind of athletic training, especially for rowers who like to cross over into cycling. Plus, as mentioned in the article, it is one of the few places where you can do a 26.2 rowing marathon with only one stake turn, and flat enough water to do it in a racing single. I’ve done that race in the days before it became the “Petaluma River Marathon” on Labor Day weekend, when it used to just be an unofficial mass scrimmage for all kinds of human-powered watercraft, and it is a blast. Let me tell you, after a bad winter on the east coast, an earthquake last week, and now a hurricane which has shut down Passaic River rowing most likely for 2 weeks, I am missing being in “Eden!” At this point I’d settle for just the quake risk, because at least out west they are prepared for it! If you are ever visiting the Bay Area, take a run up to Petaluma, rent a kayak or SUP board from Clavey, or meet the friendly folks at North Bay Rowing Club for a spin on the river. If you need a contact there, ping me on the blog and I’ll hook you up!
North Bay Rowing Club Docks, about to launch in a Hudson 4X.
Turning a 4X at the Red Buoy (10 miles round trip)
Stand-up paddler on a Tahoe SUP flatwater board north of the turning basin bridge
Surftech bamboo SUP before I launched in the turning basin
My old friend Greg Sabourin, mentioned in the article linked above.
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