Paul T Morrison & RD
Preliminary results posted on this page. It was a perfect day. Nice high tide in the Annisquam, flat water most of the way around, lovely breeze, choppiest water was the last two miles in Gloucester Harbor.
So Russ Cone and Tom Bohrer go around Cape Ann in a sliding seat double in 2 hours 26 minutes. Are you serious? 9 mph or around 7.8 knots! The harbormaster will give you a ticket in the “No Wake” zone going that fast. How is that possible to do for a hundred yards much less over 20 miles of bumpy water? It is possible because a majority of the contestants in the Blackburn seem to be only made out of leather and sinew and have likely run an Ironman triathlon in the past week. Conversations at the high school before we take off, “I only drink coconut milk and free range basil the day before so my potassium levels are high and I don’t get twitchy.” Well shit I wish someone had told me that before I had three martinis and pork ribs the night before because I sure got twitchy out there.
For the rest, you should really click on the Blackburn Challenge 2016 Results. Each posted time is a story. The SUP stand up paddles mostly made it under 5 hours. That is amazing. I always find the most amazing are the dories and work boats posting faster times than me. Rubber Duck is in a 30 pound kayak and they are in a quarter ton or much more boat. You could pile ten lobster traps in the stern and they might add a few seconds to their time.
So how did the Rubber Duck do? I finished. 5:22:07. My goal is to break 5 hours but I blew a seal at Lanes Cove. Maybe three seals. They jumped in my boat and wanted to party. No wait, wrong type of seal. I whip down the Annisquam and actually still see the leaders of SK kayaks at the river mouth. Which means I am going too fast and not pacing myself. And sure enough one elbow and one leg get a case of the twitchies and I have to take my feet off the pegs and straight arm paddle for 30 minutes while I dream of coconut milk. Sandy Bay is a stretched out nightmare that never ends and by Milk Island I am in survival mode. Just finish. By Good Harbor Beach I want to paddle in and throw myself onto the shore but I would scare the kids and the piping Plovers would run away. Being a local I know exactly where Brace Rock is and how long the Dogbar Breakwater is (over two thousand gruesome feet!) and Gloucester Harbor measures exactly two miles and every whale watch boat wants to kill me. I swear one missed me then backed up to try to finish me off, OK the mind goes after 5 hours of paddling.
Greasy pole, time is recorded, flip boat to lay in water for ten minutes then on up to pour two pints of cold Ipswich Summer Ale down my throat. That wasn’t so bad. Let’s do it again!
Lessons learned: Everyone else has a winged paddle in my group. They giggle at my Werner Cypress paddle. Who knew? Not me. Getting one of those. Coconut milk and basil. Yup, potassium next year I’ll have a case, no martinis for 24 hours. 2017 I break 5 hours. Nothing damaged, feel great, time for a nap, this typing is making my poor pruney fingers tired.
And last but not least, The Cape Ann Rowing Club pulls off another flawless race. An all volunteer army gets 300 contestants into the water with humor, keeps an eye on them for 20 miles with the safety boats all the way to the finish line and beyond including picking up the errant pulled pork plate on Pavilion Beach.
OMG! Tomorrow. Since last year was not a cake walk around Cape Ann there are a couple of things your boat has to have. You were sent a list. Go to 3 Lanterns in Gloucester to pick up that safety whistle for $1.75.
Row Open Water Northeast has a map of safety boats. Also good links, possibly Bib numbers for tracking participants.
Cape Ann Rowing Club has tons of info, start times, links.
RaceJoy is the mobile phone app for tracking participants. Ask the people you want to track for their RaceJoy Bib Number. (This list may be posted on the above sites.) Find Blackburn Challenge listed under Massachusetts then find Rubber Duck Bib #40.
7:15AM the Stand Up Paddlers take off from the Gloucester High School. All manner of rowed and paddled vehicles then start up the Annisquam.
8:45AM the six man Outrigger Canoes start HUT HUT HUTTING down the river.
The Cape Ann Rowing Club will be meeting with the Coast Guard tonight to work out the logistics of Saturday’s Blackburn Challenge Race. It looks to be perfect tide, and perfect weather. Hot.
Tomorrow GMG will post info about how you as a spectator can follow your favorite contestants. Go to RaceJoy and download the app to your smart iPhone or Android device. We will publish all RaceJoy Bib numbers of contestants tomorrow. Punch in the bib number, follow your paddler. Want to practice? Rubber Duck is bib number 40.
You might still be able to register for the race but do it now. Click here.
What we know currently:
- You will not be able to follow RaceJoy from a computer. Cool. Get out of your house with your phone, stop following Pokemon and follow real paddlers.
- Bib numbers. Check the bib numbers tomorrow, Thursday, to see who you want to track.
- Find “Blackburn Challenge” under Massachusetts in the RaceJoy app.
- More info tomorrow.
Contestants: Be Safe. Mandatory on your craft, PFD, Noisemaker, Map. It’s going to be hot. Make sure you bring water and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Blackburn Challenge, July 16, 2016. Long range forecast shows partly cloudy 85 degrees for that Saturday. Tide chart shows high tide at 9:30AM so the boats will be flushed out of the Annisquam at the beginning. So, perfect weather, perfect tide.
And for the 30th running of the Blackburn most contestants will be tracked by GPS using RaceJoy. (Click here.) Even if you are just watching the race you should go download the app to your phone now. Besides clicking to see that the race starts in 11 days, 17 hours, 30 minutes, you will get to see a progress report of participants. Rubber Duck will be finding out more about this app in the next week so watch GMG for updates. If you want to try it out on Rubber Duck her “Bib Number” is 40. (RD needs a bib, she dribbles.)
Breaking news: Cape Ann Rowing Club Facebook page might be able to change Rubber duck into a shark!! She feels faster already!
Participants: if you want to be tracked by the unwashed masses of GMG just post your bib number in the comments. Then you will see Rubber Duck closing in on Jimmy T.
Solar Voyager, the remote solar driven boat which had become entangled in a fishing net is picked up by the Royal Canadian Navy.
Two days ago as Solar Voyager was whirring along under solar power from Gloucester to Lisbon 60 miles south of Sable Island and something happened. One of two motors conked out and it was tossed around, submerged a bit, maybe dragged by something. Two days later the motor is still out. The most likely explanation is that fishing line is wrapped around a propeller.
Last night Solar Voyager tweeted: “We could really use some help! Anyone know anyone who fishes in the Grand Banks or has a boat in Nova Scotia?
If you know anyone in the area fishing you can find the GPS coordinates refreshed ever 15 minutes here. Leave comments on this post if you think you might know someone. There is only a 7 knot breeze and 1 foot waves so it should be easy to spot. Think of a large aluminum kayak painted blue. I doubt there are many that size out there.
 add photo of props (photo is from the Gloucester High School Sailing Facebook page)
[second edit] Read comments from Solar Voyager.
Solar-Voyager yesterday morning woke up and one of the two solar panel output’s showed zero output. Redundancy kicked in and yesterday’s travels were heading to Lisbon but last night’s drift occurred earlier because half the juice was made during the day.
But either the connection wiggled back closed or they rebooted it last night because both solar panels are making juice this morning!! Onward to Portugal!
Click here for map and click dots for info. The dashboard on the bottom fo the map also has good info.
I have always been fascinated by this sign out on Route 128 (really now 95) in Wakefield. I grew up poor on the wrong Cape so never made it to Pleasure Island but the exit sign beckons. Driving to work fantasizing about what I would do on my Pleasure Island. :-) Finally turned in last week and it was no Twilight Zone episode. I was not transported back in time. I couldn’t even find “Pleasure Island Road”.
But this Sunday morning I can find out. The Friends of Pleasure Island will have a walking tour of the Island no more. Take that exit 42 (bring your towel of course), and pull into the Edgewater Office Park and park in the first lot on the left. 10AM. Rubber Duck will be on a leash.
Rubber Duck was ranting this morning. Went fishing off the rocks and all we caught was a dozen helium balloons with “Happy Birthday” on them. I tried to cast out to snag them before they headed off to Lisbon, Portugal, nailed them but they slipped off the hook. A Kayak fisherman paddled over and I hooked him and he then paddled out and hooked the balloons.
These balloons suck. It is not like they are going to float out there and kill a hundred fish. But eventually they break down in the water into shiny bits and fish eat them. Turtles eat them. Birds eat them. So yes, you could be killing quite a few aquatic animals. Could someone tell Supermarkets in Gloucester they shouldn’t sell them? Worcester? Fine, chances are slim they make it to the coast. But not in a coastal community.
ps. WAZZAT #38, although many good guesses, remains unsolved.
pps. OMG I just realized it is Donna’s Birthday today!! Happy Birthday Donna. I will bring over the slain birthday balloons to celebrate. Since you are the queen of the 1 Hour At A Time Gang you will appreciate that they are no longer fouling our ocean and we can unceremoniously stuff them in a Gloucester DPW Yellow Bag!
There is a perfectly good explanation. First to comment the full reason gets a rare original pink Good Morning Gloucester bumper sticker signed by RD.
 Adding Hint #1: This activity involved Rockport Police Radar. (It could have been any town but right now much easier in Rockport.)
OK, so the Blackburn Challenge has a new twist this year. After you register you get an electronic bib number mailed to you connected to RaceJoy. (Click for info) This software will track everyone in the race. Not sure exactly what “spectators” will see but likely you will be able to follow someone in real time around the course. You could follow Rubber Duck or even better, follow someone who is speedy.
We have 38 days to figure it out. Rubber Duck will post a test run on Facebook or here. Anyone out there who has experience with RaceJoy please speak up in comments. It would be cool to see all the contestants race around Cape Ann but that is a lot of dots. Ask your friends who race in triathlons. I bet they have used it.
Another fun Essex River Race was pulled off by the Cape Ann Rowing Club. This is a voluntary group that does an amazing job each year with the 6 mile Essex Race to begin the summer and the Blackburn Challenge all the way around Cape Ann in July.
In both races there is one certainty, if you are not super fast you pay for it. The wind always comes up quickly and is in your face at the finish while the winners are already eating the Woodman’s Clam Chowder.
Preliminary race results here. A couple of points. Travis Hayes on a paddleboard 1:04:10. Jimmy Tarantino and Joe Cominelli, Banks Dory Double 1:08:48. That’s pretty close to six miles an hour either standing up or rowing a hefty dory. That’s ridiculous.
But on to the Sea Kayaks. John Karoff who I think broke 60 minutes last year wins again. Looks and talks like a totally normal person, a tad skinny but he wins this every year. Before the race Rubber Duck checked the percent body fat of all sea kayak contestants both male and female. None measured higher than 7%. This is when rubber duck looks at who is paddling her boat and does a major SMH and FFS. But check out these numbers. These are preliminary but I’m taking them to the bank and signing up for the Blackburn tonight.
143 matches to “Captain_Yes” meaning 143 boats registered so less than forty slots left. Still time to register. Essex River Race this Saturday morning.
With a little help Rubber Duck fit her fat ass into her kayak this morning. Although she sounded like a champagne cork when attempting a water exit, she fit.
Registration is open until Thursday night at 7 PM but you better register right this minute because the cutoff of 180 boats in the race is rapidly approaching. Click here to go to the Cape Ann Rowing Club Registration page to sign up and get info.
Never entered a race before? It’s only three miles up and three miles back and then hotdogs, beer, and clam chowder await you back at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. If you don’t want to race just go to the causeway in front of Woodman’s and watch the work boats and dories start at 10 AM this Saturday and make sure you stay until noon to see Rubber Duck make it back.
As always a hat tip to all the volunteers of the Cape Ann Rowing Club who make this event a memorable start to the summer.
There is a three day science meeting I go to in a secret location on Cape Ann. I go to all three days because Willow Rest caters it. Rubber Duck gains three pounds.