On the water again — winter sculling

It’s so strange to be rowing in February that I feel compelled to note the news that I circumnavigated Grand Island this morning in my second row of 2008. Maybe it was the two dozen copies of the book that arrived yesterday, maybe it was the flat-as-glass conditions, I am inspired and any time I can get off of the erg and on the water is a good day indeed.

I also learned I can stand in 35 degree water in barefeet and absolutely feel no pain or cold. This is either a good thing or an indication that I am turning into wood from the ground up.

I was paranoid the whole row, worried I’d smack a winter mooring stick, flip the boat, and go into massive heart attack mode or turn blue from hypothermia. This makes me wonder what the risk analysis would be by an actuary if trying to decide which was worst for me — cycling the byways of Cape Cod or sculling over its waterways?

Erg Blogging: Holiday Challenge 2007 Honor Board

Holiday Challenge 2007 Honor Board

The goal: row 200,000 meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

The reality: 6666 meters per day, with no days off. Hard to accomplish with any travel on the calendar (which I have).

The plan: 10,000 per day to build up a cushion for down days on the road.

The strategy: in each workout row four 2,000 meter pieces with a 2 minute, 30 second recovery row in between the pieces. Four hard work pieces adding up to 8,000 meters and four 2.5 minute pieces, averaging 500 meters each makes the entire workout an relatively easy 10K — all in all about 41 minutes of rowing.

I’ve done it before, and I hope to do it again. This is an awesome way to combat the bilious influences of holiday imbibing and engorging.

If I succeed I get a pin and the right to buy a t-shirt.

A new pair of oars

History – Shaw & Tenney – Orono, Maine

The five-foot basswood crap oars I’ve been nursing for five years are about three strokes from giving up the ghost and having invested several coats of Epiphanes varnish, Churbuck Yellow  on the blades, and tacked on leathers and buttons, I’ve decided enough is enough, no more lipstick on the pig, and for once it is time to get some real oars.

I looked at a pair at an antique shop on Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend, the lady quoted $125 for a so-so pair of six-footers, maybe 50 years old. I was tempted, but I was basically paying New York prices for something some hedge fund manager was going to turn into a piece of wall art. It was time to call Shaw & Tenney, makers of the best oars on the planet, and the third oldest marine manufacturer in the country.

I dropped $180 for a pair of six-foot spruce oars with a leathers/button kit I’ll sew on myself. These should, knock on wood, wind up in the hands of my grandchildren. I was tempted to get ash — the “ash” breeze is the old nickname for rowing — but ash is heavy and overkill for a set of dinghy oars.

This fall I think I’ll clamp a sculling notch on the transom of the dinghy and learn how to propel myself with one oar. Interestingly, Shaw & Tenney charges more money for a single sculling oar than they do for a pair of conventional ones.

Spring sculling – OTW

OTW = on the water, shorthand in my rowing log for an outdoor scull around Grand Island. This morning was perfect — temperatures in the 60s, no wind, water like glass. So down the road I go with my boat, launch in the mud on an extremely low tide, climb aboard, get my muddy feet into the stretchers, turn on the SpeedCoach and off I go at 24 strokes per minute for 45 minutes and 9200 meters around the three bays of Cotuit, Marstons Mills and Osterville.

After three months of garage workouts, staring the grill of my car, rolling back and forth on the ergometer listening to heavy metal and electronica, a scull on smooth water in a wakening spring landscape is just the ticket. This is a rowing day — I’m off to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester to see my daughter’s first race of the season.

%d bloggers like this: