August 17, 2009
Since I spend so much time on the water I’ve always appreciated the organizations who keep track of the quality of our waterways and push for water quality improvements. Merrimack River Watershed Council is one of those groups. Their motto is “The Voice of the Merrimack”, which is fitting since they are tuned in to everything that goes into the Merrimack river from source to sea.
I recently contacted MRWC to see if they needed any help with water quality monitoring here in Lowell. After a few discussions we realized there was a section of river downstream of Pawtucket dam down to the Lowell wastewater treatment facility that they were unable to access with their motorboat monitoring vessel. This same stretch is where I SUP all year long, rain/snow/shine, so I knew I could help gather data from my board! Below are some photos of the first SUP Water Quality Monitoring trip that we know of.
I loaded my backpack with all the gear, including bacterial sample bottles and a cooler to keep them chilled for the transport back to EPA, a nifty (and pricey!) water chemistry computer that recorded Dissolved Oxygen, pH, turbidity, etc., and a GPS to mark the location where the samples were taken.
Taking samples at Beaver Brook. The glove is to keep any bacterial contamination from my hand from getting into the water sample.
Heading downstream from Beaver Brook towards Aitken St. bridge. I collected samples from three locations: Beaver Brook confluence, Concord River confluence and below the wastewater treatment facility.
Looking forward to doing this again next month! Check out their website for results of the water monitoring.
August 2, 2009
On a recent Get Out and Paddle night, Oliver, Phillipe and I headed upstream from the boathouse and discovered a cool new spot.
A friend of Phillipe turned us on to a side creek off the Merrimack which went underneath an old Mill buidling. Sure enough, after a 15 minute paddle upstream we found the creek.
What a cool place to SUP! Gliding up the narrow creek then UNDER the mill buidling was a unique, somewhat spooky way of exploring the Mill City. Anyone interested in checking this out let me know and we can do a guided trip. Thanks Phillipe for letting me know about it!
July 19, 2009
Heidi, Eileeen, Janet and JoJo came out to try Stand Up Paddlesurfing on Saturday. Janet set up the weekend class by rallying her friends back in June. These independent, fun-loving ladies weren’t afraid to jump into a new adventure! Now, I’m not saying these girls are old, but Janet did send me an email a few days before the class that cracked me up. It read “We’re a bunch of old ladies, what do we do if it’s raining or thunderstorms?!”
Answer: Try Stand Up Paddlesurfing for the first time! As has been the case all summer, rain and thunderstorms were looming in the forecast. Luckily Janet made the call not to cancel, and what a great decision! The rain ended Saturday morning just in time for our class to start, and it turned out to be a beautiful day, with calm winds and sunshine (so much sun we had to break out the sunscreen).
Despite reservations as to whether they would be able to do it (and several bets going as to who would fall in the most!), they all did GREAT! It was really fun to watch them go from nervous anticipation and uncertainty to standing up, walking on water, developing solid paddle technique and getting a great workout…all while having a great time being out on the water with friends.
By the end of the class, everyone was all smiles and confident that SUP was a sport they could not only do, but truly succeed at. I look forward to paddling with you all again soon ladies, thanks for a fun class! See you on the water again soon….
July 18, 2009
The past few weeks I’ve started teaching classes in Newton through Charles River Canoe and Kayak. These guys run a great kayak program and outfitters shop where you can rent, demo and purchase just about every type of kayak or canoe there is. They are interested in adding SUP to their program, so I’ve been offering initial classes to help get things rolling. So far so good! I’ve had some great classes with some great folks. My last class in Newton (for the time being) was with Beth, Derek, Renata and Karen.
Renata and Karen work for the Charles River Conservancy, a great organization that advocates for improved water quality and public use of the Charles River. Very cool.
The weather started off a bit windy, challenging everyone to dial in their forward stroke and make it to the wind protected area upstream. We all made it and proceeded to paddle up river under the many bridges that cross the Charles in this section. One particular bridge produces an incredible echo, and Renata treated us to some great vocals as we passed through.
On the way back down river we worked on turning skills, ending up back at the boathouse after trading boards so everyone could try the different styles. Once again a great class with great people! Thanks for coming out and learning to walk on water. See you on the water again soon.
July 17, 2009
This past Monday Carol and her husband Wolf came out for a class. The weather was beautiful and they did great despite the less than cooperative wind gusts! Wind is definitely the biggest x-factor when learning to SUP. Going with the wind is great….unless you have to go back against it later!
July 14, 2009
June was officially the 10th wettest on record since 1895, but it might as well have been #1 in my book. Luckily we’ve finally broken the pattern (for now) and it looks like sun and warmth are rolling in! Stand Up Paddlesurfing is much more fun in the sun and warm weather!
After a five day weather delay and rescheduled class, Phillipe, Jen, Oliver and Irene were able to hit the water on Sunday with great weather. These guys were made to SUP, even though Irene didn’t realize it at first. “I can’t do this” were her first words after climbing on board in the first stage kneeling position. Despite her initial reservations, within 20 minutes she was up and paddling and did GREAT right along with the rest of the crew.
Jen’s forward stroke looked great while Oliver was looking cool and collected the whole time (don’t look back though! , and Phillipe was pushing his limits trying pivot turns and tail stalls. The wind was a factor today, as were the half dozen ski boats and ski-doos that made it more like the ocean than a calm stretch of river! We went downstream and then came back up against the wind, not easy for first timers, but by the time we headed back to the boathouse, everyone was using their core muscles and making good progress.
Back at the dock Oliver and Phillipe were working the pivot turns and tail stalls, so I joined them and we all ended up falling in plenty of times. No worries though, this is what it’s all about, having fun with friends and learning new skills that would make Napoleon Dynamite proud. Looking forward to padding with you guys again soon! More photos of this class are here.
June 30, 2009
At 4pm on Monday it was pouring rain in Lowell, something I’ve come to expect despite the fact that it’s officially summer. To cancel class, or not to cancel, that was the question. I checked the radar loop and it looked like this was the last batch of thunderstorms. Not to cancel is the call, and it worked out great!
Alan, Courtney and Matt scored perfect weather and a beautiful evening to walk on water. All three of these guys did great and were cruising all over the Merrimack, practicing balance while learning the forward and sweep (turning) strokes. Alan was styling his strokes and then decided to “cool off” a few times, no big deal, the water is really nice! I always say, if you’re not swimming, there’s more to learn! Courtney accomplished her goal of staying dry (and being a natural) and Matt was really getting the hang of “feeling the flow” of the water with the paddle.
Not an hour after class, the sky unleashed yet another deluge that lasted into the evening. What perfect timing! Hopefully this run of rain will end soon and we’ll be complaining about hot, sunny days and wishing for more cool, rainy ones….right now I’ll take the heat and sun!