Tag Archives: Blackburn Challenge

133 Days Until The Blackburn Challenge

Joey’s Christmas present was the deluxe GMG baseball cap. When he gave it to me he said, “I want to see you wear it in this year’s Blackburn Challenge.”

Joey. Mister Motivator. I did that paddle five times around Cape Ann and last year I took it off. So I was thinking instead of the GMG baseball cap I would wear a buttermilk pancake instead.

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

But I changed my mind. Why putter around the Cape in a motor boat when you can do it with a paddle? As of last week I am sixty years old. I already checked and there are no age brackets in the Blackburn. Not that I would have come close to even sniffing a ribbon since most of the leather and sinew paddlers in my kayak class are older than me and the last I see of them is around the Annisquam Lighthouse.

So it’s on. I have 133 days to fit into my kayak. Saturday July 25, 2015. Here is a map. Here is a timer. Here is a link to the details of the Cape Ann Rowing Club who do an awesome job on the race with food and beer at the greasy pole finish.  And the warmup is the Essex River race on May 16, 2015.

May 16. 64 days away. I’ll do that too or I’ll eat my pancake.

I'll go faster with a new hat.

I’ll go faster with a new hat.

Blackburn Challenge Registration is Open!!!


Click the emblem to register. It is so easy. Do not be put off by the scary registration form. This is the year you do it. Paddle all the way around Cape Ann with 300 other boats. Rubber Duck has done it five years in a row and although there are amusing videos of Paul exiting his kayak the 23 miles was fun. The cold beer and the pulled pork sandwich at the end was awesome.

Since Rubber Duck now has the Blue Duck with a 225HP Suzuki on the transom she may go around the Cape this year a little quicker than the last five. Yes, she may be wimping out this year. Does anyone want to take the real Rubber Duck on their kayak?

Michael Chamness (Wings and WavesT) Blackburn Challenge Photos

Hey Joey.
Gloucester photographer, Michael Chamness (Wings and WavesT) just uploaded
some amazing photos from the Blackburn Challenge. Check these out! If you
like them, please share them with GMG followers.

These are raw, unedited photos showing the ‘true grit’ that goes into this
‘marathon’ rowing/paddling event- 20+ miles circumnavigating Cape Ann. Like
Blackburn himself, these racers are determined to reach their personal goals
with courage, determination, stamina and the support of fellow
rowers/paddles and spectators. What a great local event with participants
from near and far (one paddler flew in from Hawaii!)
The finish line offered a ‘rainbow’ of boats on Pavilion beach as rowers
celebrated after finishing to delicious BBQ from Red Bones of Somerville,
Ipswich Beer, and rockin’ music from Orville Giddings. Despite some dramatic
and threatening lightening flashes streaking against a black sky, the
weather held out so the race could finish with a flare! Looking forward to
next year’s Blackburn Challenge! For photos from Wings and Waves
email:wingsandwaves@comcast.net. For details about the Blackburn Challenge
log onto- http://www.blackburnchallenge.com/CARC_Contact.html.
Thanks Joe!

Blackburn Challenge 1991 From Fred Bodin

This may have been the Seine Boat with hibachi and keg.. Notice there are two extra passengers. The one in the bow is the bartender, and the one in front of the cox is the grill chef. Rowing is always a good time. If you’d like to row, visit Home page: MaritimeGloucester: Oceans of Discovery, Gloucester, MA 

That’s where I rediscovered the joy of  rowing.



Chickity Check It! Trash Paddler’s account of The 2013 Blackburn Challenge

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Sizzling Blackburn Challenge 2013

The sun had just climbed above the horizon (at left) as I paddled down the Annisquam River to Gloucester High School where rowers and paddlers would register for this year’s Blackburn Challenge.  The event is named for Gloucester fisherman, Howard Blackburn, and it commemorates his desperate mid-winter rowing of a banks dory 60 miles to refuge back in 1883.  Howard Blackburn’s principal adversary was bitter cold temperatures that took a costly toll on his fingers and toes.  Nonetheless, he toughed it out and prevailed.  Participants in yesterday’s event faced the opposite extreme….HEAT!…and plenty of it!!!  The questions going through my pre-event mind were "is it prudent to wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) while exerting in this kind of heat?" and "do I have enough drinking water onboard?"  My answers: PFD would be strapped to my deck and 100 ounces of water proved adequate.
As participating boats congregated near the starting line, a bit of a traffic jam occurred when human powered boats of all types were passing under a raised drawbridge (most probably a "don’t do")…

for the rest of the entry click here

2013 GMG Blackburn Challenge Live Blog

Follow Our Boy Paul Morrison on his journey around Cape Ann aboard kayak via his cool Rubber duck tracker (works great on smartphones too)

For The Paul Morrison rubber duck tracker Click Here

Send in any photos from the race and I’ll post them to the live blog.

Look for Mr Rubber Duck and Paul he’ll be wearing a bright orange shirt-

2013-07-15 11.38.40-2

Paul writes-

Park in front of Gloucester High School at 7AM tomorrow and go out back and check out these boats! High Tech SUP paddleboards, tandem canoes, sliding multi rowing boats, fixed multirowing boats, Banks Dory, Workboats, fixed and sliding doubles and singles, outrigger canoes single and double, sea kayaks single and double, fast sea kayaks, high performance kayaks, even Hawaii Five Oh outriggers with everyone yelling hut! hut! hut! 225 boats all told.

Or hang out somewhere on the shoreline or on Pavillion beach after 11AM and watch these boats race to the greasy pole finish line. Whatever you do, do not stay inside on this beautiful weekend clicking on the Rubber Duck Tracker! OK, maybe once, then get in a boat and get out there.

Cape Ann Rowing Club (website) puts on a great circumnavigation of Cape Ann Race every year. This is the 27th running.

7:17AM Update:

Looks like Paul and RD have made their way to the Race Start out behind GHS-



Looks like he’s in starting position just off Dun Fugin.


8:09AM Update:

Aaaaand he’s off!


8:56 Update:

Up The Annisquam they go-


9:42 Update:

Working their way toward the tip if the Cape-


10:33 Update”

Heading Southeast Off Rockport-


12:32 Update-

Approaching Brace Cove


1:57 Update:

He Made It!


Blackburn Challenge 1987: 2013 is tomorrow

Fred Bodin posts:


The Blackburn Challenge, 1987. The cox of the Seine Boat Nina blows the war horn for power strokes. This heavy boat is filled with one ton of pure muscle and brawn. Notice the bow wake, and the wake off her stern. A very impressive sight – I can still hear that horn. One my striking memories of the Seine Boats racing was one of them plowing through the Atlantic Ocean with a smoking hibachi over the side grilling hot dogs and burgers. Of course there was a keg aboard. Row on!

Fred Bodin photographed the Blackburn Challenge from 1987 to 1992, from the committee boat.

Blackburn Challenge Tomorrow! Saturday!


Park in front of Gloucester High School at 7AM tomorrow and go out back and check out these boats! High Tech SUP paddleboards, tandem canoes, sliding multi rowing boats, fixed multirowing boats, Banks Dory, Workboats, fixed and sliding doubles and singles, outrigger canoes single and double, sea kayaks single and double, fast sea kayaks, high performance kayaks, even Hawaii Five Oh outriggers with everyone yelling hut! hut! hut! 225 boats all told.

Or hang out somewhere on the shoreline or on Pavillion beach after 11AM and watch these boats race to the greasy pole finish line. Whatever you do, do not stay inside on this beautiful weekend clicking on the Rubber Duck Tracker! OK, maybe once, then get in a boat and get out there.

Cape Ann Rowing Club (website) puts on a great circumnavigation of Cape Ann Race every year. This is the 27th running.

Blackburn Challenge this Saturday July 20, 2013

Blackburn ChallengeWatch hundreds of human powered watercraft start at Gloucester High School, down the Annisquam River then continue all the way around Cape Ann finishing into a 15 knot headwind before turning at the Dogbar Breakwater  then on to the Greasy Pole Finish line. Everyone is practicing:


That was just a piece of seaweed on my paddle right?. Accelerando to molto allegro.

Details at Cape Ann Rowing Club website click here. And a map here.

Cape Ann Rowing Club Blackburn Challenge this Saturday!!!

How did this sneak up on Rubber Duck? Timer says 4 days left to train! Time to get serious and kick the chipmunk family out of the scuppers and get paddling. Back by popular demand, the Rubber Duck Tracker (click). If you click now you might catch the daily training run to Stone’s Pub for the mandatory three Fishermans IPA’s as Rubber Duck figures out how this new software works and not have it drain the iPhone battery. Save the link to your smartphone and get out there and watch the race. Rubber Duck tracker goes live at 8AM Saturday. Major hint: to actually watch the race think of this dot as the end of the flotilla of 2oo plus boats. Anyone actually winning their division will be an hour or two in front of Rubber Duck. RD likes to make sure everyone makes it to the Greasy Pole finish line and the Cape Ann Rowing Club promises there will be cold beer for RD on tap at Pavillion Beach.

This will be the fourth year in a row for Rubber Duck. Here is a photo taken by Donna Ardizzoni hanging from a rope off the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge as RD paddles by last year. I almost fell in when I heard my name floating down from high above the Annisquam River.


Visit the amazing Cape Ann Rowing Club (click here) and view the 2013 registrants for the race. Check it out and sign up for next year’s race. The majority of paddlers or rowers are super serious athletes who probably ran a marathon the day before but no one will make fun of you (at least to your face) if all you want to do is finish the challenge. You get a marvelous perspective of every nook and cranny of the shoreline of the most beautiful island in the world.

We Used To Brew Before Cape Ann Brewery

We used to brew in the kitchen before we discovered the Cape Ann Brewing Company.

Brewing the old way

Brewing the old way

Then we found out that it was so much easier to just load up a set of six empty growlers (a growler is a half gallon jug) and walk into Cape Ann Brew and say, “filler up!” Bam, that just happened.

We did make a few tasty brown ales but every once and a while we would get the dreaded taste of rubberband. Chew on an old rubberband. That’s it. But no more. Before you go you can click here to see what is on tap. Bring back those empties and these growlers filled with tasty brew are very economical. Try the sampler then fill up on your favorites. The fiesta stage is cutting down on parking but circle the block, you can do it. Have a fish taco while you wait.

ps. 44 days until the Blackburn Challenge.  Register now and add 44 growlers to your training regime. Circumnavigation of Cape Ann Complete!

Good Morning Gloucester Podcast April 17,2013

Podcast Host Joey Ciaramitaro and guest Paul Morrison Taped April 17th, 2013

Click to listen-

Earth Day

The Word “Broad”

Revisiting The Good Harbor Beach Repair Timetable Predictions

Rubber Duck Race

Craig Kimberley’s Bikini Speedo Dodgeball Movie Premiere At the farm Bar and Grille

Blackburn Challenge Registration

Blackburn Challenge Registration Opens Today!

Donna Lind has sent the email. The 27th running of the Cape Ann Rowing Club Blackburn Challenge Registration is now open. Click here for Registration and Race info.

The Rubber Duck signed up today for her 4th paddle all the way around Cape Ann. Click the map below for Rubber Duck’s Blackburn Challenge timer (108 days to go until Saturday July 20, 2013.)

Cape Ann Rowing Club Blackburn Challenge

Cape Ann Rowing Club Blackburn Challenge

Rubber Duck has been faster each time she has paddled it. By the time she is 80 she will win it. RD will also have the popular GMG RD real time locator running during the race.

Rubber Duck is also registered for the warmup, the Essex River Race on Saturday May 11th. Both are a lot of fun.


200 Days until the Blackburn Challenge

The timer is set. You’re sitting there on your butt thinking of a New Year’s Resolution today. How about joining the Cape Ann Rowing Club Blackburn Challenge in a paddle around the island on July 23rd? That butt a little too big for the kayak? Divide the lard you need to drop by the 29 weeks until the paddle. You can lose a half pound a week can’t you? You get a great sense of accomplishment and a wicked cool T-Shirt. The Essex River Race on May 11th is only 130 days away. Put down that Nacho. The Cape Ann Rowing Club puts on a great event. If Rubber Duck can do it the last three years, you can too.

Blackburn Challenge

Put down the Nacho, Beat the Duck; Paddle!

Blackburn Challenge Wrap-Up

Couldn’t ask for better weather. Cloudy and not too hot, wind really of no consequence. I’ll cover the race from most crazy to least crazy, just the highlights. The full spreadsheet of race results go to Cape Ann Rowing Club Web site here.

First up, the Stand Up Paddle. Local Bay Viewer, Gloucester Will Rich put down a time of 3 hours 57 minutes last year. Less than 4 hours all the way around Cape Ann. Standing up. That is crushing it. So this year he cut that down to 3:37:45 on a SUP. That is officially the most crazy.

Next up, the boats that should not be on an ocean with waves. Sliding seat racers, single and doubles as well as some of the high performance kayaks (HPK) look like they would be insane to paddle with any chop. Place rubber duck in any of them and they would flip in 10 seconds. But Daniel Gorriaran and Scott Whitney posted the best time in a sliding seat racing double at 2:19:54. Are you serious? (But not a Blackburn record. 2009 a sliding seat racing double did it in 2:15. Not sure if that is the overall record. A BC historian could comment and I will correct.)

And last but not least, Rubber Duck. Well, totally improving each year. Here are her times the past four years: 2009 DNS “did not start”, she had bronchitis. Quack. 2010; 5:30 there was beer left in the keg, that was fun. 2011; 5:22 Ed, the duck, and I stop at Andrews Point for a beer and also finished before the keg is done. Cool. 2012; 4:49 OK, cutting off enough time to get under 5 hours and I didn’t fall in the water getting out. The best part is Rubber Duck paddled past Jimmy T before the DogBar Breakwater. I am sure it wasn’t because he saw the rubber one pass him but he definitely picked it up in the last two miles in the harbor but the rubbery one held him off finishing just 25 seconds ahead of him. Mister Tarantino was in a Banks Dory that was more than a few hundred pounds heavier than Rubber Duck’s kayak but pwnd is pwned.

Next year Rubber Duck goes under 4:30 heading for under four hours by 2015. Gotta set goals.

As always the Cape Ann Rowing Club did a superb job officiating and taking care of every racer’s needs, even a slow whiny duck. Best pulled pork ever.  See you next year on the Essex River. Time for a nap.

ps. Only 362 days (unconfirmed July 13, 2013) until the 27th Blackburn Challenge. Start your training now!

Thank you all for the Blackburn Challenge Coverage

Rubber Duck felt like a movie star. The ultimate was paddling like crazy and I hear my name called but I am going under the A. Priatt bridge how could … then I see Donna at the rail way the hell up there (that was a long lens she shot of me with my mouth open stopped in the water agog.)

The whole race Rubber Duck got a shout out from so many points. The race was so much fun I wanted to go around again. Improved my time a bit. Having Rubber Duck face me was much better aerodynammically and we were able to chat so much more.

Time for pizza, thanks all, Rubber Duck and Paul M.

ps. I can’t thank all the photographers because there were so many and special thanks to Ed Collard who not only was at the start along with Donna and Rick, (and all were at the finish along with Kathy Chapman) but he held my kayak as I exited and I did not fall in or over. So, improved time, nice exit, the weather and tides could not have been more perfect,   and this Joey coverage I am just now reading with all the maps is just a hoot.

Paddling around the circumference of Cape Ann, looking into every nook and cranny, cove and craggy point, underlines to me how lucky we are to live in such a place. But it would just be a rocky island without the amazing people who inhabit it.

pps. my internet and mail are down and out and even my iPhone mail is plugged up (you all might get a bunch of mail on a Monday morning reset) so I am back to finishing Joe Garland’s Lone Voyager. I thought I knew the Howard Blackburn story but this dude was amazing.

ppps. And I would be completely remiss if I did not mention what an amazing production that the Cape Ann Rowing Club pulls off for this race. Over 300 racers swarm into Gloucester High School but the behind the scenes work is done as smooth as silk. The pulled pork and cold beer are delish and throughout the race there was a red flagged boat out there making sure we did not paddle off to Nova Scotia. Donna Lind et al., you do an amazing job and I hope it is so much fun you do it again and again because I’ll be back.

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