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Old November 17th 04, 02:59 PM
Mike McCrea
 
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Default Trip Report - Gentlemen's Assateague Trip 2004 (long)

Gentlemen's Trip 2004
Assateague Island national Seashore
November 11 15, 2004

OC1 Dave Hone, JD, Ben Palmer, Alan Reid
OC2 Wes Dias/Topher, Tom Wilhelm/Brian Sill, Alan Nathan/Jim Obert,
Dave Maneval/Mike McCrea

The stated purpose of this year's Gentlemen's Trip was to test paddle
four new tandem tripper hulls Nova Craft Prospector 17 in Blue
Steel, Old Town Penobscot 186 in Royalex, Wenonah Prospector 17 in
kevlar and a Mad River Freedom 17 with the second generation IQ system
and to put a few tarp and shelter systems through their paces (Cooke
Custom Sewing Tundra Tarp, MEC Mantis shelter and NRS RiverWing).

The true and widely acknowledged purpose of this gentlemen's trip, of
any gentlemen's trip, is to eat well, drink better and generally live
like kings in the backcountry. Since a true test of these large
tripper hulls would necessitate hauling 1000+ pounds of gear in each
boat these two intentions meshed nicely.

With Maneval flying in from Florida for this trip I would be packing
all of his camping and paddling gear. Dave somehow found it necessary
to conclude every pre-trip phone call with a reminder of his critical
gear needs, ending every conversation with the same stock phrase
"Don't forget, I can drink a lotta beer". Thank goodness we were
assigned the eighteen and a half foot freighter.

Even so all of our test boats were filled to (and beyond) volume
capacity, each sporting a towering midden of a belly pile. I had
serious doubts that the mountain of gear that was disgorged from vans
and trucks at the put in could possibly be accommodated in those four
canoes, but fit it did. There was some question as to whether the
paddlers would still fit; Tom and Brian were ensconced in form fitting
hollows that resembled a seat of a Gemini spacecraft constructed
entirely of camping gear.

Launching our well-burdened beasts beneath a rainy sky we rounded the
point into the windy and open waters of Chincoteague Bay and
immediately turned for the beach. Not that due east was our intended
course; it was simply that the onshore breeze immediately caused our
boats to weathercock severely.

It was at this point that I realized that Dave and I had no spare
paddle. Oh, I had brought spare paddles. A pile of spare paddles. Back
at the van. Dave had only a 280 wood deux-ender in the bow and I a
favorite old Voyageur stick in the stern. No spare. Topher and Wes
quickly remedied this launch chaos oversight with the loan of a carbon
bent shaft, but even with Dave and I both stroking full out left I
could only get in a dozen or so licks before I'd have to throw in a
right rudder pry to bring the bow back into line.

No spare paddle, but we do have the golf umbrella sail. Dave stored
his paddle, unfolded our umbrella sail and away we went, sailing out
through the Tingles Island channel at speed, shedding a bow wake,
riding waves on the pull of the anti-weathercocking umbrella jib.

This was the first time I have ever had an accomplished sailor as a
bow-brella setter, and having a partner who is attuned to the physics
of wind in a sail made a startling difference. Dave would adjust and
reposition to keep us speeding on a true course, leaving me little to
do in the stern but regret that the cooler was inaccessible. So adept
at umbrella sailing was Dave that we managed to cruise under sail
power every chance we got, including a broad reach run that saw us
surfing waves at a hellacious clip.

I'm willing to bet that a golf umbrella will soon be a standard item
in Dave's gear pile.

As we made our way south along the bay some of the boys began to
demonstrate their proclivity for taking the road less traveled. Tom
and Brian elected to swing outboard and tackle Tingles Island on the
bayside. Wes and Topher made straight for the Tingles channel. Dave
and I stuck to our sailing course. Alan and Jim lazed along behind at
a more leisurely pace. This independence and freedom to chart our own
courses was made possible by confidence in each other's abilities. No
need for handholding, no mothering no whiners, no worries.

Encountering Alan Reid in the Tingles Channel, bobbling about in an
empty boat we quickly deduced that he needed some ballast and, not
wanting to witness yet another out of control foundering necessitating
Coast Guard rescue, we generously allowed Alan to paddle back to the
Ferry Landing and pick up the pile of fire wood that remained behind.
Nothing is too good for Alan, and that's why we give him so much of
it.

After arriving at the Pine Tree backcountry site we hauled gear and
hauled gear and hauled gear some more. Coolers, beer, firewood,
drinking water, more beer, tents and tarps and sleeping bags and yet
more beer. Tents and tarps fortuitously erected during a lull in the
wind and rain we were ready to party hearty. Of course most of us are
eligible for AARP cards in a few years and we were all in our sleeping
bags by 7:30. Party hearty would have to wait for another night.

As we turned in for the night (OK, early evening) we wondered what had
happened to Hone & JD, who were to have paddled in a few hours behind
us. What happened to them will hopefully be told in their own words,
but the short version has to do with the utterance of the hauntingly
familiar phrase "Trust me; I'm an excellent night navigator".
Launching at dusk as the rain pelted down and the wind gathered
intensity and Dave and JD paddled out into a coal black moonless
night.

The longer version has to do with bivouacking for the night in the
marsh and memories of flatulent tent mates that are perhaps best left
repressed. That they were less than mile from our campstead at the
Pine Tree site is perhaps best left unmentioned.

Saturday morning our commando camping comrades appeared at Pine Tree
just in time for a chef Davey breakfast that couldn't be beat eggs,
hash browns, sausage, and coffee. Laden with cholesterol against the
gale force winds we began a day of landborne adventures. An
all-terrain bocci game in which Wes and I trounced all comers. A beach
hike or two. Topher demonstrating how to pole a 17' Prospector in gale
force winds (DougD would have been proud).

As dusk settled the nocturnal horseshoe game got underway, with
glowing cyalume sticks attached to the shoes and poles as usual.
Topher seemed particularly adept at night horseshoes, but then he
seems a quick study at most things.

As the horseshoe tournament continued a night beach hike was begun,
the highlight of which was chancing upon a rare wildlife sighting, the
Greater Inebriated Freakindeacon, caught unawares in full briar
stumbling display as he tried to stuff his campchair back into its'
stuff sack. Without first folding it down.

Back acamp the night drew to a close in the traditional manner; Dave
asleep and snoring in his lawn chair, me handing him things to test
his highly developed autonomic grasp response. Just like old times.

Sunday morning saw a hungry horde of gentlemen Duckhead clamoring for
breakfast. This was problematic because Vic, our Sunday breakfast
cook, was still MIA. Never fear, Chef Davey, having packed an entire
bag of potatoes as well as extra bacon, extra sausage and extra
pancake mix stepped in to pinch-hit, managing multiple cast iron
griddles, pots and pans on two stoves, a hibachi and a fire. Chef Vic
has been dethroned; the king is dead, long live the king.

Topher's contribution of breakfast Bloody Marys seems destined to
become another Gents tradition, as does hauling in a 30-pound sack of
potatoes. The siren call of Bloody Marys and smell of bacon sizzling
drew in yet another delayed launch companion as Ben Palmer finally
arrived. Two days late is better than never.

By late morning Sunday the wind had abated to a manageable 20-knot
zephyr and a clam and mussel foraging expedition was underway. Wes,
Topher, Brian and Tom gathered a large quantity of mussels, Davey
diligently plied his clam rake and I helped by sitting in the comfy
piles of dried baygrass that stretch along the shoreline line like a
neverending row of free-range Lazyboy recliners.

Even at a distance it is possible to vicariously enjoy the tactile and
auditory sensations of successfully dragging a clam rake; the ting of
a tine on a shell, the fingernails-on-chalkboard rasp of the rake
grazing past a beefy quahog. A most pleasing sensation, especially if
you are comfortably ensconced in a bed of dry baygrass, drinking a
beer, watching someone perform the backbreaking labor of dragging a
clam rake.

What an enjoyable crew of foragers we have out today. Brian cruising
past repeatedly, first soloing one test boat and then another,
stopping off to gather Dave's accumulated mussels and ferry them back
to the Jambalaya pot.

Wes D somehow combining the grace of a southern gentleman with a
devious Yankee twinkle in the eye, Topher full of live and ready for
anything, CWDH starring in the demented entertainment channel, Alan
Reid in his windblown element.

Oh yeah, Topher's Jambalaya. Some gentleman with better culinary
descriptive skills than I will have to do it justice. Suffice it to
say that, much like heating with wood, Topher's Jambalaya warms you
twice.

Sunday night saw a reprise of the traditional gentlemen's activities
night horseshoes, hikes to the beach and tomfoolery fueled by beer and
bourbon and Monday morning rolled around too soon. The Daves, JD and
I were loath to depart and so dawdled and lingered and puttered,
watching the other gents load out, pack up and paddle away.

Even this seemingly simple act had its humorous moments, most of them
provide by Jim and Alan. As Jim packed their canoe, strategically
calculating exactly which item would best fit where, a steady stream
of vaguely non-specific and curious comments were offered by JD:
"Thanks, I need the ballast""Leave room for my gear""Think it'll all
fit even though the boat got a foot shorter?"

Eventually the assembled gents caught on to the fact that Jim was
diligently packing his gear into JD's canoe, haven mistaken one red
Mad River for another. As this mistake in identity became more widely
known a circle of secretly amused gents gathered round, awaiting the
moment when Jim finally caught on. It was worth the wait for his
expression alone as the truth slowly dawned. Truth, on a gentlemen's
trip, is always slow to dawn.

The repacking of the correct canoe was perhaps performed with more
haste and less strategic gear placement, and as Jim and Alan pushed
off the remaining gents noted a significant list to port. As they
rounded the point their left gunwale dipped to within an inch of the
water, eliciting a nonchalant wave of the hand from Alan and a betting
pool from the remaining gents as to exactly when and where Jim and Al
would ship their first wave. We await a trip report of their
listing-to-port trip back to the launch site.

The longer we delayed our departure the better the weather became.
Enjoying this, the best weather of the trip - warm, sunny and breeze
abating - the Daves, JD and I delayed our departure long enough to
wring every ounce of sunshine from the day, paddling out the last
remaining miles at sunset and arriving at the Old Ferry Landing as
darkness descended. Perfect timing, and a perfect ending to a near
perfect trip.

I'm already looking forward to the next Gentlemen's Trip. A combined
Duckhead and Silent Otter outing next winter on the Suwannee. Pick me
up at the Jacksonville airport will ya Dave. And remember, I can drink
a lot of beer.

  #2   Report Post  
Old November 17th 04, 04:23 PM
nafod40
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Mike McCrea wrote:
Gentlemen's Trip 2004
Assateague Island national Seashore
November 11 15, 2004


Lovely report, thanks.

  #3   Report Post  
Old November 18th 04, 05:57 PM
kansasman
 
Posts: n/a
Default

nafod40 wrote in message ...
Mike McCrea wrote:
Gentlemen's Trip 2004
Assateague Island national Seashore
November 11 15, 2004


Lovely report, thanks.


yes, thanks for the report~
  #5   Report Post  
Old November 22nd 04, 07:02 PM
Mike McCrea
 
Posts: n/a
Default

George wrote in message

It would be nice if I could write as well as you, maybe you should
turn pro.


The thought has crossed my mind, but I've come to enjoy living
somewhat above the poverty line. (I lived below it for long enough).

What was the tick level like this time of year?


Zero ticks. The tick plague is more of a spring (and summer) thing.

No Mosquitos, although there are usually still a few skeeters on
Assateague in mid-November the gale force winds undoubtedly helped
keep them down this trip.

I really thing that fall and winter, anytime from early November on,
is the ideal time to visit Assateague - provided you can deal with the
wind and weather that is common then.

Late winter/early spring, up until about the first of May, is second
best. While the water is much colder then and the ticks out in force,
the wind/weather is often better.


  #6   Report Post  
Old November 23rd 04, 04:13 PM
Tinkerntom
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Blakely started a post back in Sept, about that last final trip. I
think something like this is most appealing. You could just pile a few
stones for a marker, spread the ashes, and come back and visit every
year.

I might not be able to participate, but it would sure be fun watching
all of you having a good time.

Liked your story Mike, sounds like a good time! Having fun living it.

KOP, Tinkerntom, KnesisKnosis, Life, Live it!
  #7   Report Post  
Old July 24th 05, 11:52 PM
MB
 
Posts: n/a
Default

weweweweweOn 17 Nov 2004 06:59:41 -0800, (Mike
McCrea) wrote:

Gentlemen's Trip 2004
Assateague Island national Seashore
November 11 15, 2004

OC1 Dave Hone, JD, Ben Palmer, Alan Reid
OC2 Wes Dias/Topher, Tom Wilhelm/Brian Sill, Alan Nathan/Jim Obert,
Dave Maneval/Mike McCrea

The stated purpose of this year's Gentlemen's Trip was to test paddle
four new tandem tripper hulls Nova Craft Prospector 17 in Blue
Steel, Old Town Penobscot 186 in Royalex, Wenonah Prospector 17 in
kevlar and a Mad River Freedom 17 with the second generation IQ system
and to put a few tarp and shelter systems through their paces (Cooke
Custom Sewing Tundra Tarp, MEC Mantis shelter and NRS RiverWing).

The true and widely acknowledged purpose of this gentlemen's trip, of
any gentlemen's trip, is to eat well, drink better and generally live
like kings in the backcountry. Since a true test of these large
tripper hulls would necessitate hauling 1000+ pounds of gear in each
boat these two intentions meshed nicely.

With Maneval flying in from Florida for this trip I would be packing
all of his camping and paddling gear. Dave somehow found it necessary
to conclude every pre-trip phone call with a reminder of his critical
gear needs, ending every conversation with the same stock phrase
"Don't forget, I can drink a lotta beer". Thank goodness we were
assigned the eighteen and a half foot freighter.

Even so all of our test boats were filled to (and beyond) volume
capacity, each sporting a towering midden of a belly pile. I had
serious doubts that the mountain of gear that was disgorged from vans
and trucks at the put in could possibly be accommodated in those four
canoes, but fit it did. There was some question as to whether the
paddlers would still fit; Tom and Brian were ensconced in form fitting
hollows that resembled a seat of a Gemini spacecraft constructed
entirely of camping gear.

Launching our well-burdened beasts beneath a rainy sky we rounded the
point into the windy and open waters of Chincoteague Bay and
immediately turned for the beach. Not that due east was our intended
course; it was simply that the onshore breeze immediately caused our
boats to weathercock severely.

It was at this point that I realized that Dave and I had no spare
paddle. Oh, I had brought spare paddles. A pile of spare paddles. Back
at the van. Dave had only a 280 wood deux-ender in the bow and I a
favorite old Voyageur stick in the stern. No spare. Topher and Wes
quickly remedied this launch chaos oversight with the loan of a carbon
bent shaft, but even with Dave and I both stroking full out left I
could only get in a dozen or so licks before I'd have to throw in a
right rudder pry to bring the bow back into line.

No spare paddle, but we do have the golf umbrella sail. Dave stored
his paddle, unfolded our umbrella sail and away we went, sailing out
through the Tingles Island channel at speed, shedding a bow wake,
riding waves on the pull of the anti-weathercocking umbrella jib.

This was the first time I have ever had an accomplished sailor as a
bow-brella setter, and having a partner who is attuned to the physics
of wind in a sail made a startling difference. Dave would adjust and
reposition to keep us speeding on a true course, leaving me little to
do in the stern but regret that the cooler was inaccessible. So adept
at umbrella sailing was Dave that we managed to cruise under sail
power every chance we got, including a broad reach run that saw us
surfing waves at a hellacious clip.

I'm willing to bet that a golf umbrella will soon be a standard item
in Dave's gear pile.

As we made our way south along the bay some of the boys began to
demonstrate their proclivity for taking the road less traveled. Tom
and Brian elected to swing outboard and tackle Tingles Island on the
bayside. Wes and Topher made straight for the Tingles channel. Dave
and I stuck to our sailing course. Alan and Jim lazed along behind at
a more leisurely pace. This independence and freedom to chart our own
courses was made possible by confidence in each other's abilities. No
need for handholding, no mothering no whiners, no worries.

Encountering Alan Reid in the Tingles Channel, bobbling about in an
empty boat we quickly deduced that he needed some ballast and, not
wanting to witness yet another out of control foundering necessitating
Coast Guard rescue, we generously allowed Alan to paddle back to the
Ferry Landing and pick up the pile of fire wood that remained behind.
Nothing is too good for Alan, and that's why we give him so much of
it.

After arriving at the Pine Tree backcountry site we hauled gear and
hauled gear and hauled gear some more. Coolers, beer, firewood,
drinking water, more beer, tents and tarps and sleeping bags and yet
more beer. Tents and tarps fortuitously erected during a lull in the
wind and rain we were ready to party hearty. Of course most of us are
eligible for AARP cards in a few years and we were all in our sleeping
bags by 7:30. Party hearty would have to wait for another night.

As we turned in for the night (OK, early evening) we wondered what had
happened to Hone & JD, who were to have paddled in a few hours behind
us. What happened to them will hopefully be told in their own words,
but the short version has to do with the utterance of the hauntingly
familiar phrase "Trust me; I'm an excellent night navigator".
Launching at dusk as the rain pelted down and the wind gathered
intensity and Dave and JD paddled out into a coal black moonless
night.

The longer version has to do with bivouacking for the night in the
marsh and memories of flatulent tent mates that are perhaps best left
repressed. That they were less than mile from our campstead at the
Pine Tree site is perhaps best left unmentioned.

Saturday morning our commando camping comrades appeared at Pine Tree
just in time for a chef Davey breakfast that couldn't be beat eggs,
hash browns, sausage, and coffee. Laden with cholesterol against the
gale force winds we began a day of landborne adventures. An
all-terrain bocci game in which Wes and I trounced all comers. A beach
hike or two. Topher demonstrating how to pole a 17' Prospector in gale
force winds (DougD would have been proud).

As dusk settled the nocturnal horseshoe game got underway, with
glowing cyalume sticks attached to the shoes and poles as usual.
Topher seemed particularly adept at night horseshoes, but then he
seems a quick study at most things.

As the horseshoe tournament continued a night beach hike was begun,
the highlight of which was chancing upon a rare wildlife sighting, the
Greater Inebriated Freakindeacon, caught unawares in full briar
stumbling display as he tried to stuff his campchair back into its'
stuff sack. Without first folding it down.

Back acamp the night drew to a close in the traditional manner; Dave
asleep and snoring in his lawn chair, me handing him things to test
his highly developed autonomic grasp response. Just like old times.

Sunday morning saw a hungry horde of gentlemen Duckhead clamoring for
breakfast. This was problematic because Vic, our Sunday breakfast
cook, was still MIA. Never fear, Chef Davey, having packed an entire
bag of potatoes as well as extra bacon, extra sausage and extra
pancake mix stepped in to pinch-hit, managing multiple cast iron
griddles, pots and pans on two stoves, a hibachi and a fire. Chef Vic
has been dethroned; the king is dead, long live the king.

Topher's contribution of breakfast Bloody Marys seems destined to
become another Gents tradition, as does hauling in a 30-pound sack of
potatoes. The siren call of Bloody Marys and smell of bacon sizzling
drew in yet another delayed launch companion as Ben Palmer finally
arrived. Two days late is better than never.

By late morning Sunday the wind had abated to a manageable 20-knot
zephyr and a clam and mussel foraging expedition was underway. Wes,
Topher, Brian and Tom gathered a large quantity of mussels, Davey
diligently plied his clam rake and I helped by sitting in the comfy
piles of dried baygrass that stretch along the shoreline line like a
neverending row of free-range Lazyboy recliners.

Even at a distance it is possible to vicariously enjoy the tactile and
auditory sensations of successfully dragging a clam rake; the ting of
a tine on a shell, the fingernails-on-chalkboard rasp of the rake
grazing past a beefy quahog. A most pleasing sensation, especially if
you are comfortably ensconced in a bed of dry baygrass, drinking a
beer, watching someone perform the backbreaking labor of dragging a
clam rake.

What an enjoyable crew of foragers we have out today. Brian cruising
past repeatedly, first soloing one test boat and then another,
stopping off to gather Dave's accumulated mussels and ferry them back
to the Jambalaya pot.

Wes D somehow combining the grace of a southern gentleman with a
devious Yankee twinkle in the eye, Topher full of live and ready for
anything, CWDH starring in the demented entertainment channel, Alan
Reid in his windblown element.

Oh yeah, Topher's Jambalaya. Some gentleman with better culinary
descriptive skills than I will have to do it justice. Suffice it to
say that, much like heating with wood, Topher's Jambalaya warms you
twice.

Sunday night saw a reprise of the traditional gentlemen's activities
night horseshoes, hikes to the beach and tomfoolery fueled by beer and
bourbon and Monday morning rolled around too soon. The Daves, JD and
I were loath to depart and so dawdled and lingered and puttered,
watching the other gents load out, pack up and paddle away.

Even this seemingly simple act had its humorous moments, most of them
provide by Jim and Alan. As Jim packed their canoe, strategically
calculating exactly which item would best fit where, a steady stream
of vaguely non-specific and curious comments were offered by JD:
"Thanks, I need the ballast""Leave room for my gear""Think it'll all
fit even though the boat got a foot shorter?"

Eventually the assembled gents caught on to the fact that Jim was
diligently packing his gear into JD's canoe, haven mistaken one red
Mad River for another. As this mistake in identity became more widely
known a circle of secretly amused gents gathered round, awaiting the
moment when Jim finally caught on. It was worth the wait for his
expression alone as the truth slowly dawned. Truth, on a gentlemen's
trip, is always slow to dawn.

The repacking of the correct canoe was perhaps performed with more
haste and less strategic gear placement, and as Jim and Alan pushed
off the remaining gents noted a significant list to port. As they
rounded the point their left gunwale dipped to within an inch of the
water, eliciting a nonchalant wave of the hand from Alan and a betting
pool from the remaining gents as to exactly when and where Jim and Al
would ship their first wave. We await a trip report of their
listing-to-port trip back to the launch site.

The longer we delayed our departure the better the weather became.
Enjoying this, the best weather of the trip - warm, sunny and breeze
abating - the Daves, JD and I delayed our departure long enough to
wring every ounce of sunshine from the day, paddling out the last
remaining miles at sunset and arriving at the Old Ferry Landing as
darkness descended. Perfect timing, and a perfect ending to a near
perfect trip.

I'm already looking forward to the next Gentlemen's Trip. A combined
Duckhead and Silent Otter outing next winter on the Suwannee. Pick me
up at the Jacksonville airport will ya Dave. And remember, I can drink
a lot of beer.




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