Second and third paddle outings of the season

So far, I’ve done well with my informal New Year’s Resolution to get out on the water earlier in the season. I’ve been out the past three Tuesday mornings, each time launching from Solley’s Cove Park. Last week, I paddled most of the way down Marley Creek, which is the longest creek upstream of the launch. Cathy came along as well. The last time I paddled here was early November 2022, and that day, I identified several potential hiding places for a geocache series I’m thinking about putting out. I checked each of the sites last week, and all but one still seemed viable. I have yet to paddle all the way to the headwaters of Marley Creek, which looks like around 6 miles round-trip, or a little bit farther if I check out all of the side channels along the way. Today, I paddled Furnace Creek and Bell’s Cove, which lie to the north of Marley Creek. I am pretty sure I did the same paddle last year — it’s a shorter creek than Marley, so I paddled all the way to the headwaters. My somewhat meandering route ended up being 5.4 miles round trip. I identified a few geocache sites along here as well, though there aren’t as many good ones as there are along Marley. A lot of the shoreline is severely eroding, a huge amount of it is developed (as is the norm in Anne Arundel County) and some of the more natural areas have posted private property signs.

I am working on trying to find a good setup to haul 2 kayaks plus our new SUP on the van at the same time. It looks like I can fit J-hooks for two kayaks outside the rack towers on either side of the van. The SUP mount should then fit in the middle. I have a love-hate relationship with J-hooks, as it seems like about 50% of the time, I don’t get the kayak side-on enough when I’m hefting it up there, and it ends up partially horizontal, requiring me to “finesse” it back and forth until it slips into the J-hook, all the while hoping it doesn’t fall. If I can get my loading technique down, I suspect the hooks will work OK on the van, though, at least for the short term. The Thule Hullavator loader looks nice, but I don’t think I’d be able to get two of them up there in addition to a SUP mount (and they cost $900 each). A trailer is another option, but most of them can’t accommodate a 16-17′ sea kayak. So, at least for now, I’m back to the J-hooks.

Also on the subject of kayak loading, as often happens this time of year, I’ve managed to tweak my lower back. My back is in remarkably good shape for all the abuse I’ve put it through over the years, but I’m not in my 20s any more, so I have to be more careful with it, which means not bending over and lifting heavy stuff (the old “lift with your knees” cliché). I’ve found that when my back is acting up, it doesn’t like me picking anything heavy up off the ground at all, whether I “lift with my knees” or bend over at the waist. That presents an issue with loading kayaks, as they’re heavy, and they’re usually on the ground. For today, I took the J-hooks off the Honda Civic and put a set of cradles and rollers on that had been on the van. Then, I used a rope extension on the kayak’s pull handles, so I could lift the boat up one end at a time without bending at all. Finally, I used my trusty boat loader extension that slides out of the crossbar and supports one end of the kayak while I lift the other side up. The combo worked out pretty well, and I managed to do my loading and unloading without aggravating my back.

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