New to canoe

Who knew that the 2014 National Canoe and Kayak Championships were happening this weekend, and just down the road from us at Lock Haven? Joanna has always observed that I lack a flare for the obvious; and perhaps she is right, as I did not regard as unusual all the fancy canoes and kayaks atop cars driving around town this past week. It wasn’t until Saturday morning, when I took an alternate route home after picking up my usual infusion of coffee, that I noticed the hubbub on the north side of the Susquehanna at Dunnstown. Having completed afternoon chores, and gotten the floors vacuumed and the laundry hung out, we took ourselves to town to walk among modern outrigger canoes (OC1 class, outrigger canoe, one paddler) as well as more traditional C4 craft (open canoe, four paddlers). All of the activity stood in dramatic contrast to that which I experienced at an event sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association and which occurred at this very same venue, last year on Labor Day. This canoe and kayak event was quiet, there was no engine exhaust hanging on the air, and the action was of a very different sort. Neither Joanna nor I had ever been to a canoe race and didn’t know what to expect. This experience taught us that canoe racing is very much like attending a 10k road race or half-marathon, there is a bit of excitement at the start, surely lots at the end, and in between, well let’s just say that a canoe race isn’t all that exciting during the in between. Getting ready for and anticipating the start was quite exciting. There was lots of hurried activity along the river as teams readied individuals and their boats for the upcoming event. Equipment was checked and double checked while the paddlers scurried about to secure a PFD, a whistle, and a full-to-the-brim camel pack. Just how, I wondered, could a camel pack figure in a canoe race? Officials announced 15 minutes to start, 10 minutes to start, and then 5 minutes until race time … all racers in the water and to the start line. How exciting. The racers were given a 1 minute warning and told that the start gun could sound at anytime during the remaining 60 seconds. Excitement soared, tensions increased, and then increased more until the blast of the gun broke the unbearable silence. They were off. We watched paddles splash and teams cheer as the boats disappeared into the distance and around a bend in the river. And they were gone. I turned to the fellow next to me and asked, When will they be back? About an hour, he said knowingly, perhaps a bit more. So that explained the camel packs; it was warm, the sun was high in the sky, and the paddlers would be getting an aerobic workout for the next hour or more; they would need to keep hydrated. So Joanna and I walked across the bridge which connects Dunnstown to the city of Lock Haven. We sat in the shade and looked at our watches. We waited for what seemed an awfully long time until, in an instant, we were able to make out a flash of paddles about a mile up river. It was the first of the C4s returning home. We ran for the bridge and waited for the boats to pass underneath. After the last of the class had finished we decided to wait for the first of the OC1 paddlers to round the bend, pass under the bridge, and finish. When they did, we walked back to Dunnstown and among the competitors, their boats, and equipment. We were astonished (from a census of just a few license plates) by the distances folks had traveled to attend this national event.

12 thoughts on “New to canoe

  1. Wonderful photos … especially as it was the first time you had seen such an event and so had no idea what to expect or what to plan to photograph … wonderful, and so colourful!

  2. I, too, am oblivious to the obvious. I have attended one canoe race, actually it was a river race with many different watercraft, none motorized, quite a few years ago. My friends and I chose a section of the river loaded with large rocks to be avoided and, therefore, a bit more exciting. πŸ™‚ There were few mishaps and lots of good photographic opportunities for my friends. This was so long ago that I did not even own a camera yet. I like the perspective of the canoes seen from above.

    • Thanks Steve. It’s sort of weird that, one week, there’s an event sanctioned by the U.S. Canoe Association, and then two weeks later there’s another event, at the very same venue, sanction by the American Power Boat Association! A real study in contrasts. Joanna appreciates paddle-power but I must admit that the power-boat-thing is actually kinda fun … this event attracts a number of different sorts of smaller boats with outboard power. They’re really fast and lots of ‘body english’ is required to race these boats around the prescribed route. This part of the Susquehanna is suitable for racing of all sorts because it’s fairly wide and deep (for the presence of a very small dam). I hope to attend the power boat ‘Regatta’ (as it’s called), and will be sure to remember to bring ear plugs this year! D

      • I am wondering what the degree of “outboard power” might be in the scale of power boats? There are some extremes that I don’t imagine might be on a small river, although I think the Susquehanna is fairly large in places. Ear protection and a fumes mask too. πŸ™‚

        • If you’ve never watched racing like this before it’s certainly a spectacle to behold. The machines are mostly modified runabouts and hydroplanes, weighing 300 – 400 pounds and ranging in displacement from 250cc (going 60 MPH), to 500cc (going 75 MPH), to 850cc (and going a crazy 100MPH)! Although the course is long enough, perhaps a half mile or more, is isn’t particularly wide and that makes for some pretty exciting racing at the turns! Ear protection … a definite YES … I showed up last year without plugs … BIG MISTAKE … BIG, BIG MISTAKE. D

          • I checked out a couple of YouTube videos and will probably pass should the opportunity arise. I watched, smelled and listened to enough modified auto racing when I was a teen to last a lifetime … on the dirt oval or the water. πŸ™‚

            It does look like fun from this perspective.

  3. I can, can u? Great angles for those shots – but I’m beginning to expect this of you! I just checked out Maurice’s video and I did see the gorilla but I had no idea how many times the ball was passed. What does this indicate, I wonder? πŸ™‚

    • Perhaps you can be classified as a highly perceptive viewer but not one for following directions! If that’s the case, then both Joanna and I are just like you … neither of us got the correct count, but we did see the gorilla! I don’t think I’ll lose sleep over it. Oh yeah, thanks for the thumbs up on the images. I remember an old advertising slogan, for a perfume called Canoe … the line was Can u Canoe? D

  4. You managed to capture some very nice pictures. As for being oblivious to things that others notice, I think it’s only natural – we are always looking for some things and, I guess, therefore NOT looking for others. You’re familiar with the so-called selective attention test, right? [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo] Perhaps this is an example of that. Oh and, by the way, me too πŸ™‚ I always trust it to Josephine to spot the important details.

    • It has been a tremendous frustration to me that after years and years of doing something a particular way, Joanna will innocently say something like,’Have you ever thought of doing that this way … let me show you.’ And, nearly every time she has seen something that I have been blind to. And, of course, her way of doing whatever it is turns out to be quicker, simpler, cheaper, more effective, and more efficient. Why am I so stupid?!

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