Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Q&A session with other paddlers, testing the sail kit

The highlight of this week's trip preparation was a Zoom question and answer session on Monday
evening with 20+ other paddlers.  A big thanks to host Norman Miller of Missouri River Paddlers for hosting the event; I got a few good tips and it was great meeting other peeps that either have done the river or are heading out soon.

Our weather finally warmed up enough for me to get onto the water and give the modifications to the boat a test run.  There's a small lake in the neighborhood across the street so I loaded her onto my portage cart and wheeled over.  I purchased the cart for my float on the Lower Missouri ten years ago and never needed to use it.  The Upper Missouri has over 15 dams to portage around with a few being longer distances (up to 2 miles) so it's smart to see how the cart will handle.

I thought my first time using the sail kit would be best in a smaller body of water.  So, after my 1/2 mile "portage," I dropped the boat into the water and gave it a try.  The winds were a bit strong (ca. 20 mph) and swirling unpredictably which made putting up the sail and getting underway difficult.  Since the lake (more like a pond) has such a short fetch, this outing was more about testing the rigging and the overall setup.

Today's weather was gorgeous (sunny, 65ยบ F) with little wind.  I put the canoe racks on the truck and loaded the canoe for the short drive over to Holmes Lake.  Holmes is also a small body of water but large enough to make a few runs downwind and then turn around to learn how to sail upwind.  The conditions were perfect for learning how to trim the sail and test the overall setup.

The route of the Missouri River through North Dakota and South Dakota is a series of five reservoirs.  
I'm hoping the sail will ease paddling across the long distances of calm lake water.  The winds on those lakes are notoriously wicked and I'm hoping they'll cooperate (strong enough to assist and blowing in the right direction).  I'll need to get onto one of our larger reservoirs and continue to master how to sail but today was a good start.

Lastly, this outing was a good time to test my GPS install/placement and the stowage options I talked about in last week's blog post.  It appears that I got it right, everything is within easy reach and organized efficiently.

Time is flying by, my countdown is by the number of days remaining instead of weeks or months.  The goal for the upcoming week is to unpack everything and do a shakedown and repack.  For all my trips, and my peace of mind, I like the last to-do items to be related to logistics and not equipment and packing.

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