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By Jim Thayer - Colban, Colorado - USA

To Part One

Randy's Tale

Randy

Wednesday was quite an exciting educational day for me. I finally learned, by exceeding them, the limits of both myself and my boat's heavy weather abilities under both sail and oar.

Jake (my dog) and I left Tuesday's campsite too late to catch the early milder winds. Very soon I realized I'd be lucky to hang on, planing and surfing downwind, way too much sail even reefed, waves slewing the boat around, not enough control with the rudder. Turning off the wind brought more water into the boat and took me towards a part of the channel with much more fetch. Tacking or jibing was out of the question.

It was one of those "happened so fast I'm not sure what happened" capsizes, although later I found a (undersized) parrel fastener broken and the mast was bent at the partner. The boat had turned turtle. I called to Jake and he swam towards me, eyes big as saucers. He kept trying to climb on my head. I held onto his collar for fear he'd be lost to the wind and waves, which gave me only one hand for the boat. Looking around, I saw my bailer go drifting away. I swear it was the only time on the whole trip I failed to secure it, and worse, my rowing seat to the boat.

Then out of nowhere Jeff appeared in his whaleboat, right up next to me, shouting encouragement and advice. He managed to take Jake onboard while I swam around to the leeward side and got the boat onto its side. Thanks to the large watertight compartments fore and aft it was easy to right and floated only half full of water, gunnels clear. Jeff loaned me his bailer which I employed furiously. He stuck by me while we rowed into a sheltered inlet. Somewhere along the way Jeff spotted and retrieved my rowing seat. Thank you, thank you, Jeff, for everything!

I got dried out, warmed up, and re-stowed and waited and hoped for a lull, which came about 2pm. The lull held and I rowed with a gentle south wind, rounding the corner to where I could see Hite, maybe two to three miles off. Thought I had made it! Then the much predicted cold north wind hit, early and hard, right on the nose, er, back of the head. I adjusted my rowing technique, pulled hard, and made a half mile or so. Finally, as the wind and waves increased, I could progress no more. Turning around, I rowed a short distance back to a slight indentation in the solid cliff and rockfall shoreline. Visions of a miserable night sitting on a rock danced in my head.

I saw, and landed on, a spot clear of big rocks just big enough for the bow of my boat. By digging and enlarging a bow-shaped hole in the small rocks and mud, then working a driftwood log under the boat about midships and stabilizing everything with more rocks and wood, then piling three big rocks right forward on the forward deck, I was able to secure the boat solidly on shore. Jake had found a bit of a flat spot about 25' up from the boat which someone, perhaps years ago and in a similar predicament, had improved by moving rocks big and small out of the way to create a, well lovely or wonderful would not be an exaggeration, sheltered enclave about 6'x12' overall. Twenty minutes or so of work gave me a dead level dirt floor just big enough to stretch out on. There was a perfect spot for a fire and plenty of firewood.

So, to wrap this up, we spent a very comfortable, even enjoyable afternoon, evening, a tasty meal, reading, watching the waves parade by and gradually diminish over the course of the night. At the first crack of dawn I was packed and ready to go. And a good thing it was that we left when we did and I pulled hard. As I was arriving at Hite, that north wind was starting to blow in earnest.

Tom's Tale


Tom

Ruby

Wil

Heather

Thanks for the support in getting us off on the Kokopelli trip. The first day was great. We tacked our way back and forth into the SW wind. The Mac 25 performed very well. Willie sailed the Swooper Ducker into the wind as well and loved it. Many thanks to Jim Thayer for his generous loan and to the Leinweber's for Ruby's loan of the kayak. Our first camp was at a cove we had stayed at last year. Our second camp ended up short of where Chuck and Sandra had ended up. I made a run to locate them and shore up their provisions.

Weather report looked grim, thanks to John D's handheld. We decided to stay put and wait for the Leinweber group to return. We had a strong, wild tailwind heading back north to our first camp. I managed to fall overboard while trying to retrieve my hat. Willie helped me get back aboard, good lesson in safety there, life vests are great, life lines are even better. We decided to stay put until the wind calmed down at the first camp, a nice little protected harbor.

The next morning did not bring much improvement. The kayakers got an early start, we hoped they would make it safely. After witnessing Randy's capsize, we decided it best to wait it out further. I felt bad to leave the others high and dry for a group meal yet again. We had a window open about 3pm and decided to make a run for it. But by the time we had made a mile or two, 3 to 4' swells from the north had come up (late Wedneday afternoon, I think). Heather was trying to row into it but it was just too much. We had found a small cove with some protection and I went back for Heather. Second good lesson, always take a second pair of hands. It was a harsh experience, but we made it back to the group. The Yamaha 4hp I bought just before the trip proved to be a very worthwhile purchase.

John and Cindy made a wonderful batch of clam pasta and a nice beach fire sustained us for the night. My poor Mac- Gregor did suffer some scuffing and grinding of the gelcoat as it hammered against the rocks all night. But it's repairable. It was then decided to tow a few remaining boats back to Hite as Heather and the Dennisons braved the wind and waves to make it the rest of the way home, Thursday afternoon by now. All in all, not one of our more civilized Kokopellis, but we truly enjoyed being with a great group of friends.

I walked up to the pay phone to check on my car, made a second call to AAA to come fix my truck, and said goodbye to the Thayers and John and Cindy, who were good enough to tow Heather's boat to GJ for us to retrieve later. A very nice older gentleman showed up from Brian's Repair in Loa, Utah, and got my truck running tip-top. We decided to stay the night there, it was very nice, calm breeze by then. We packed up Friday morning and headed for home with a stop at the famous "Mom's Cafe" in Salinas, Utah, which we highly recommend.

So there you have it. Many thanks to the Messabout folks, Dewitt for the great food, hope to do it again next year! Tom, Heather, Wil, Ruby, and Molly Gale

The Texan's Tale

Donna, Ken, John

The Texans have emerged! We paddled out at Hite on Tuesday afternoon. With the wind to our back, the trip was fine, just had to steer straight and keep those canoes/kayaks from getting broadside to the wind. Our kayaker
(Joe Coker) did get broadsided and almost flipped. I'm so glad he didn't as getting to him and helping him in the middle of that ocean of a lake would have been difficult. We camped that night at Natural Bridges and the wind howled that night and all the next. As I headed toward Page, Arizona, I was so glad to be in my car and NOT in my boat with those winds.

We continued to enjoy ourselves as we spent 11 days instead of seven hiking through the beautiful sandstone of Utah and Arizona. I then met up with my husband and nine others for a 60-mile paddle on the Pecos in West Texas, and then a 35-mile paddle on the Rio down Boquillas Canyon. Yes, we Texans are diehards. Good to meet y'all and my biggest regret is not getting to spend more quality time with some mighty good folks.

The Duckwork's Tale

Sandra and Joe

We hated to leave everyone as we did, but we honestly did not think it was as bad as it turned out to be. We did not have any trouble blowing down to Hite, but we could have as the waves were pretty impressive. With the wind, we mainly just steered. I watched my GPS and saw 2.5mph at one point when I was just sitting there without paddling. We did not want to wait until that wind was on our noses. In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to go up into White Canyon for a couple of days rather than stay out where we were. It was a good trip and we look forward to the next one. Thanks to everyone for showing up and especially to you, Jim, for organizing another great Koko.

Dave's Tale

Anita and Dave

It was pretty windy the last mile and we had a heck of a jibe. I should have spilled the wind by relaxing the main sheet, but was hanging on to everything for dear life. Anita was not amused. Terrified would be a better word. I should have tied in one more reef at lunch. But we stayed upright and finally fought the boat onto the trailer. We were zombies for Wednesday and most of Thursday, but I'm sure that a 30-year-old would have been just as tired. Is that right? Is someone half your age really half as tired, or do you just feel twice as tired as you remember? I have no answers. It was great to see everyone again.

Kim's Tale


Kim

Jeff

What with the big crowd attending and the difficulty in sticking together and the early departure, we barely crossed paths this year. Too bad we didn't get to interact more, but I want to thank you anyway for inviting Jeff and I. We still had a great time and would return and do it all again next week, if such a thing were possible. But next year for sure.

Jim's Response

Jim Thayer

Glad to hear that everyone is safe and sound. Haven't heard from Donna's group (Texans), they have probably resolved to stay in Texas in the future. Too bad we didn't get to know them better. Randy's adventure should give us all pause and makes a good argument for cruising in company. His resourcefulness and good judgment in spending the night certainly sets the right tone. Lots of flotation and waterproof bags are the way to go. The choice of course set us up for possible disappointment and made oars or engine a real necessity. Thanks to Cap Gale's good works, I no longer sneer at engines.

While this year's adventure had some disappointments, I think it was a good exercise. I hope everyone will review it carefully and make any indicated improvements to their boat and kit. As for me, I will add a clew outhaul and a bow pudding.

*****


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