Climbing Kayaking Pool

Early Fall Ramblings

It’s that time of year where I always feel like summer has slipped away before I had the chance to do everything I wanted. This year, in particular, I didn’t get out in the kayak very much; lately, though, I’ve been making up for that. Last weekend, Michael and I joined a few of my geocaching friends for a really nice 9-mile paddle on the Patuxent River in southern Maryland, and today, Cathy and I drove over the bridge for a morning paddle on the headwaters of the Chester River. I love paddling this time of year, as the temperatures and humidity start to drop and the leaves start to turn. I hope to get out one or two times in October. I’ve occasionally considered starting to acquire some colder-water paddling gear, so that I can keep paddling later into fall and early winter, but have yet to take the plunge. It seems like a paddling jacket, wetsuit and neoprene socks might be an economical way to extend the season for a few weeks. Then, I could see if I get enough use out of that gear to warrant a larger investment in a dry suit, which would allow for year-round paddling.

Many years, I find myself wishing that I had gotten in our pool more often, but not this year. According to Apple Health, today was my 83rd time in the pool in 2021. Working from home 3 days a week provides more opportunities to swim during the day, as I can keep an eye on the weather and pick the best time to jump in the pool. The weather this month has helped to extend the season, as well — we have had a lot of sunny days, and no extended runs of cool, damp weather, which is what led to the early demise of last year’s pool season. I can’t even remember the last time I was in our pool as late as September 30. We will see how long we can keep the season alive. In October, the leaves make it tougher and tougher to keep the pool clean, and eventually you reach a point of diminishing returns, where the hassle of cleaning the pool exceeds the desire to swim.

I am hoping to do a little bit of outdoor top-rope climbing this fall. I have still been climbing regularly at the gym, and still really enjoy it. Earlier this year, I picked up some equipment to rig up a top-rope self belay. When I can get my act together, I want to head to Ilchester or Alberton Rocks and do a couple hours of solo top-rope and rappelling. I had been waiting for cooler, less humid weather, and it seems like it’s here now.

Anyhow, that’s enough for now…


Kayak Repair

In 2014, I bought my first kayak: a used Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125. Based on my research, I believe it is a 2006 model. It had some wear and tear when I got it, and it’s gotten even more wear and tear in the 7-or-so years that I’ve owned it. Last summer, when the keel sprung a leak, I decided that it was finally time for some long-overdue repairs. I don’t (yet) possess any winter kayaking gear, so winter is my off-season, making it a great time for this. One of my winter goals is to get the old Tsunami seaworthy again in time for spring. Here’s what’s on the plate.

Keel repair: The keel leak has broken me of my bad habit of “scraping” myself into the water on concrete launch ramps. Little did I know, but plastic hulls aren’t indestructible. After some research, I learned that it’s possible to “weld” new plastic onto the hull. The important thing is to get the same kind of plastic used for the hull, so I went online and ordered some Wilderness Systems brand weld rod stock. I used my old Radio Shack soldering gun as a heat source, and a putty knife to smooth the molten plastic. It wasn’t all that hard, and everything was going really well, until the soldering gun died. I heard a “pop”, it went dead, and that was all she wrote. I’m pretty sure the leak is patched, but it still needs a little bit more plastic, and some shaping up. I may try using my heat gun, or my 25-watt soldering iron, to finish the job. Then I’ll do a leak test, and sand the finished product a little bit to smooth it out. We’ll see how that goes.

New bungee rigging: My old deck bungees were losing their elasticity, and getting threadbare in spots, so I ordered some bulk bungee cord and replaced them. That’s a rather easy repair, but it can be tricky to cleanly cut bungee cord without it fraying. Similar to synthetic rope and accessory cord, you need to use heat to seal the ends. My favorite trick is to take an old table knife or saw blade, heat it with a propane torch until it is red hot, and then use it to slice through the cord (don’t forget to wear oven mitts 😀). It’s quick, easy, and leaves a nice, clean end.

The bungee cord on the carry handles, as well as the paddle holder, has also seen better days, but appears to be a smaller diameter than the deck rigging. I’m going to need to order some of the smaller diameter cord to replace those.

Bulkhead resealing: This one is TBD. My foam bulkheads have leaked for a few seasons. A couple of winters ago, I tried to fix them with silicone sealant, but the repair didn’t last. This year, I broke down and bought a kayak-specific bulkhead seal kit, and am going to see if that does the trick.

This kayak has taken me on some great adventures over the years, and I’m hoping that these repairs will give it a new lease on life.