Tag Archives: Blackburn Challenge

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.

2012 Community Blackburn Challenge Live Blog and Paul Morrison GPS Live Tracking Map


Most Importantly before we get into the meat of the Live blog I’ll provide a link to Paul Morrison’s Live GPS Location Tracker Here  (The GPS Tracker will be turned on at 8AM to save battery but you can still check it out now. This is a real time tracker so if you see him coming up to where you are on Cape Ann run out to the water’s edge and give him a holler.  I’ll randomly draw a name from people that submit photos of Paul on the Race Course before the end of the day for a Real Deal GMG T Shirt $20 value.  His GPS Tracker even works on smartphones so there’s no excuses.  Bookmark that cool ass link and track his freaky Rubber Duck Toting Around Ass down on your smartphone.

Send in your pictures from the start middle or finish and I’ll add them to this post which I’ll keep stickied at the top of the blog and regular scheduled posts will update below this one.  I’ll also give regular updates from our Paul Morrison’s GPS Tracking Map as to his whereabouts around the Cape.

A note to all Blackburn Challenger Competitors and their families-
Swing down the dock after the race to get a free Good Morning Gloucester Sticker and have your picture taken for these pages Representing!

The Blackburn Challenge – July 14th, 2012

Click to View Current BBC 2012 Registration by Group

New – Click to View Current BBC 2012 Registration by Class

From The Blackburn Challenge Website:

Time Limit Update – 6 Hour limit to complete course. Chase Boats and Timing will finish after 6 hours. Racers are paddling at their own risk after 6 hours on the course. Please plan appropriately if you believe you can not complete in 6 hours.

The Blackburn Challenge is a 20+ mile open water circumnavigation of Cape Ann. Participants row or paddle small boats in the open ocean waters around Cape Ann, and conditions can vary dramatically throughout the day. Occasionally the water can be very rough, with strong winds and high waves.

Paul Morrison writes this pre-race entry-

Saturday: Give a Hoot and a Holler to the Blackburners

Good Luck Paul and All the Other Brave Contestants in this year’s 2012 Blackburn Challenge from the team here at GMG!

Google Map of path around Cape Ann different than Paul Morrison’s GPS Live Race Position Tracking Map Found Here

Here’s Paul Morrison from last year (you can see the Rubber Duck Tracker mounted to the bow of his Kayak)-

Paul Frontiero Photo

Here is our 2011 Blackburn Challenge Coverage

Below this line begins our Live Race Day Coverage-

Last Update from the Live Tracker Was A Test At The High School Launching Area at 6:38AM- Looks Good For The GPS Tracker Paul! –


Update 7:39AM: Paul Morrison Rubber Ducky GPS Live Tracker Is Live

Click here for live ,tracking map so you can stalk him like the stalker freak that you are

Donna Ardizzoni posts live shot of Paul Morrison’s 2012 Blackburn Challenge Rubber Duck GPS Tracker-


Paul Morrison and Rubber Duck Tracker Pre Race From Ed Collard-


Update 8:11AM:

He is In The Water Just Past The Train Bridge-

Click here for the live map


Update 8:24 Rubber Ducky and Paul are off- averaging between 4 and 5 mph


Our Paul going under the A. Piatt Bridge photo from Donna Ardizzoni-July 14, 2012 Paul going under the A Piatt 

8:37AM Update:

Well past the A Piatt Andrew Bridge and approaching the first entrance to Jones Creek.  Speed 5mph Uploading video from the starting area now


8:52AM Update:

At The Mouth Of The Annisquam River 4mph


9:25 Update:

Coming Up On Lane’s Cove


Mary Page submits-

Blackburn challenge from Rust Island

Pictures I took this morning of the challenge looking across the Annisquam at the frog rocks

10:16 Update:

Just off Pigeon Cove and maintaining that 4mph pace.


11:23 Update:

Passing Good Harbor Beach

Click here for live GPS Rubber Duck Tracking


Update 12:21:

Approaching Eastern Point Lighthouse and Dog Bar Breakwater


12:43 Update: 3mph

Heading For Home Stretch and Pavillion Beach! C’mon Paul Finish Strong!!!!

Click here for live GPS Rubber Duck Tracking


Blackburn triumph!

from Crescent52

Blackburn Challenge 011Blackburn Challenge 012

Two Days to Blackburn Challenge and Everyone is Ready

Including Rubber Duck. She has been pumping iron (and a one and a two, OK now)

and has now moved on from the Horribles Parade hat she was sitting on last week and is now safely strapped down to the forward kayak cockpit with the secret Rubber Duck Tracker GPS System® attached below the black seal. Click the link to go to the Rubber Duck Tracking System®.

The Blackburn Challenge will start behind the Gloucester High School and the starting gun for her race is 8:20 AM this Saturday. She will start paddling and activate her Rubber Duck powered GPS system around 8AM. Then it is up the Annisquam River over to Halibut Point, down Sandy Bay past Rockport then all uphill into the tide and southwest wind along the backshore to the DogBar Breakwater then turn right for another uphill two mile paddle to the greasy pole. Right now the tracker is showing Rubber Duck as she went to Falmouth Inner Harbor to catch a bluefin tuna on Tuesday (photos when available). Be sure to “refresh” the page and you will know exactly where she is all day which will be about two hours behind the winners although she is quite svelte now for a Rubber Duck and might burn some rubber on the track. So if you have nothing better to do check it out and meet us on Pavilion Beach a little after noon Saturday. Paul Frontiero will be there to capture the exit from the kayak on video.

Countdown to Blackburn

Cape Ann Rowing Club Website

Blackburn Challenge Just 7 Days Away on Saturday, July 14

And Registration ends tonight, Saturday, July 7 at midnight.

So click here to register now!

Click here for a map of the course.  Look familiar? That’s because it’s Cape Ann. All you have to do is get into your watercraft with an oar or paddle at Gloucester High School and paddle over to the Greasy Pole but go the long way around Cape Ann. You’ll have lots of company (304 already signed up) and cold beer and a pulled pork sandwich awaits you at Pavilion Beach.

Cape Ann Rowing Club Website

15 Days Until Blackburn Challenge

This has snuck up on the Rubber Duck so she is doubling her work outs.

And a One and a TWO, OK all done. As always if you are tracking Blackburn, the timer to the starting gun is here. And a map to track Rubber Duck is here.

Rubber Duck promises to have a real time Rubber Duck tracker so you can track her progress around Cape Ann and meet her at the Greasy Pole. She promises to be there before the beer runs out.

Of course, to check out the names of the 224 plus paddlers just go to the Cape Ann Rowing Club website or go to their page here and the link is in the middle of the page.

Registration is still open but do it today or else you might have to settle for just cold beer, the pulled pork and the massage but not get the uber cool T-Shirt. If the Rubber Duck can do it …

2012 Essex River Race Roundup

For race results this link downloads a nice excel spreadsheet.

My race roundup: Nice day, I did not fall in, the beer was cold and the hot dog was tasty. The band did a nice job on some Fleetwood Mac covers a la Stevie Nicks. I finished in 1 hour 18 minutes 37 seconds. John Karoff who won my division finished in 58 minutes 29 seconds. If I had twin 150 Evinrudes maybe I could cut 20 minutes off my time. I happened to be chatting with John as we waited for the start since he had the same boat as me and I mentioned something about wishing I had gone kayaking at least once this spring before today. He said he had gone once, to something on the Charles River, a 19 mile race with many half mile portages. Meaning he had to pick up his boat and run to avoid dams and waterfalls. It was then I knew that although he seemed quite pleasant he was a mad man and was not surprised he took first place.

Other crazy people. Will Rich of Bayview and SUP The Coast fame (as in he paddled standing up all the way from Key West to Maine) finished first on a SUP board. It looks like there is a motor under his board, his time 1 hour, 2 minutes, 32 seconds. Crazy.

A James Tarantino of Gloucester rowed a banks dory to a time of 1 hour 24 minutes 6 seconds. A banks dory is about as opposite as you can get from most craft in this race. No carbon fiber, kevlar, teflon composite. A banks dory is made from large trees and  300 pounds of cod in the stern would not slow them up by much. The cod may add a minute or two to Jimmy T’s time.  That would be a good addition to the race. Then we could have a nice fish chowder at the finish.

OK, so who did the course the fastest? Borys Markin was sitting on something called a HPK single, or High Performance Kayak. These are long, thin, razor blade shaped, space age fiber crafts that I think if I sat in one I would be in the drink within a minute. Borys finished the race course in 42 minutes 41 seconds.  This is one of the reasons why I attend these races. These faster craft start the race after my division. So during the first 30 minutes of the race, packs of fast boats scream by one after another. As they do I try to imitate in some small way the technique they are using to paddle.  But not entirely. If I kept their cadence up I would blow a seal in less than a minute, but still instructive.

On to the Blackburn Challenge, just 55 days to go. Saturday July 14.

I would be negligent if I did not add that the Cape Ann Rowing Club did another amazing job with the Essex River Race. They make it fun for the normal as well as the athletically off their rocker types. Everyone who paddles in either the Essex or the Blackburn have come to expect a smooth race with nary a hitch and CARC keeps pulling it off.

If you go to the Blackburn Challenge website there will be photos posted over the next week or so. I don’t have anymore photos so I will just post a gratuitous photo of Homie biting Rubber Duck’s butt. (Homie doesn’t want her to race anymore.) 

76 Summer Days Until the Big Race

(Sung to the tune of 76 Trombones)
Seventy six summer days until the big parade,
with at least a hundred and ten dory rowers motoring away.
They were followed by rows and rows of the finest kayaks;
the cream of the Cape Ann waterways!

I’ll quit with one verse …

Blackburn Challenge: Saturday July 14.  There will be a kayak pod of “not the extremely swift” led by Wendie Demuth.

Click map for more  links and info.

There is also a short 5 mile race in the Essex River on Saturday, May 19th. Just go to the Cape Ann Rowing Club Web Site and you can sign up for both right now! Go ahead. It’s easy. You are probably an SK-male or SK-female boat length say 18 feet beam 25 inches. They take MasterCard and you get a cool T-Shirt you can wear to the GMG Mug-Ups to prove you did it. (SK means sea kayak which is what you have unless you are the Lance Armstrong of kayakers. Check your kibbles and bits to see if you are male or female.)

Rubber Duck signed up for both! ( I have got to hide the credit card.)

Rubber Duck Kayak Quick Tips: If you are thinking of going out to get in shape the water  temp at AO1 buoy today is 46F:

1) Do not kayak alone. 2) Wear and buckle up a PFD.  3) Dress for the water temp, not the sunny air temp. 4) Stick to the shore like glue. 5) A hand pump, a paddle float, a waterproof handheld radio tuned to VHS 16 are all good things to strap on your boat but only if you know how and when to use them.

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