Where’s Tom??

June 11th, 2006

Hi all,

He’s off!  As Tom has posted, he’s at the Shear residence.  Wanna know where he stops next?  Click on the link at the right under Blogroll “Where’s Tom??”. 

 Stay tuned for updates!


The End

Lake Michigan reminds us who is boss on day 1

June 11th, 2006

The marine forecast was right on the money…  morning winds out of the NE waves 4- 6….  then a little break…  after a stop at Gilson Beach in WIlmette winds picked up again waves 2-4…  air and lake temperature was around 61F

GPS odometer 22.2  moving time 7:48  movng avg 2.9 mph…   one of the hardest paddles I can remeber…  I am beat…

Leaving LPBC with me at 8AM:

Mary Jo Shear, Humberto Garcia, Tim Flentye, Tom Bamonte, Glenn Marker, Linda Atwood and her husband, Tom Dombroski…

Linda and husband turned around at the Diversey Harbo entrance after testig the small craft advisory conditions…  (smart move!)…

Bamonte and Dombroski turned around at Montrose…  Flentye and Garcia and Marker stopped at Gilson for lunch with Mary Jo and I.  At Gilson we ran into Wendy and Paul Redzinski and Keith Heger.   Wendy and Paul were playing in the surf.  Keith just happened by…

Mary Jo and I  continued north Tim and Glenn and Humberto went back to Rogers Park…

The last 10 miles were tough… the wind picked up…  We stopped at Glencoe beach (mile 18) and Mary Jo decided to stop but encouraged me to go on…  I did…  The last 4 miles were tough given the conditions…

I am now at the Shear residence where we had a BBQ with her family.  Eric (my son) and Catherine (his friend) and Peggy (my wife) as well as Tom Bamonte and family came for the BBQ as well… The Shear hospitality was amazing…

Time to hit the sack!  Bill Burton is joining me for part of the trip to Illinois Beach State Park…   wind still in my face, but 5-10knots and waves a measely 1-2ft!  So hopefully tomorrow will be a little less of a reminder fomr the Lake about who is boss…

thanks to all who joined me…  it was great having so many people around!

The End

exciting weather for launch

June 11th, 2006

Will need to go easy until noon and see what the reality of the lake is…  doesn’t look too bad from my window at 6AM

 marine forecast:





The End

Launch Tomorrow, Sunday, 8AM from the Lincoln Park Boat Club

June 10th, 2006

Weather forecast is for northeast winds 10-15 knots waves 2 to 4 feet.  Several paddlers have indicated that they are starting with me at the Lincoln Park Boat Club:  Mary Jo Shear (who plans to do the entire 21 miles); Tim Flentye, Humberto Garcia and Tom Bamonte.   Should be a challenging first day into the wind.  We will probably stop at Gilson Beach just north of Wilmette harbor for lunch…  that will be about the halfway point to Park Avenue Beach in Highland Park…  My wife and son will be meeting me up there for a BBQ at the Shear residence assuming we have any energy left…  :-)

The next post will be after I  have done some paddling!

The End

Weather gods aren’t smiling at the moment!

June 9th, 2006

I can see the lake from where I am typing this.  For the last week or so the lake was very calm.  Before that, it was typical May weather… lots of wind and waves.  Yesterday I listened to the marine forecast and predictions of strong NE winds were in the forecast.  Sure enough, this morning at 630AM, the wind was blowing and the waves were 3 footers…  Small craft advisory, etc.  :-)   

One of the Lincoln Park Boat Club members (Ben Bradley) who works at Channel 7 is working on getting some coverage of Sunday morning’s launch.  Also got an e-mail from Windy City Sports (Kate Bongiovanni, who had talked to Tom Bamonte, president of CASKA) who said she wanted to talk to me about the expedition.  So we may get a little press coverage for the trip and the LPBC and CASKA.

I finished my tutoring for finals on Wedensday night and other than dealing with contractors who are putting a new roof on my building and masons who are re-building my parapet walls on my sunporch, I am focused on the trip.  :-)

I delivered a box of re-supplies to Mary Rasmussen and Dan Sandin last night so that when I hit Fairport, Michigan after the Rock to U.P. crossing I will have about 10 additional days of food.  I am planning on having my wife, Peggy, ship some more supplies to Bentley Whitman in Harbor Springs where I plan to do another re-supply.  After that I will wing it for supplies…   Various paddlers like my son Eric, my neighbors Krys Schneider and Tim Flentye as well as long time paddling cohort Dave Kaknes are all planning on joining me on the Michigan side so they can help with resupplies after that.

Dan and Mary tell me that there is a pay phone on Rock Island and that cell phone coverage is pretty good there and that I should be able to communicate my Rock Island crossing plans to them and John Schubert and Leslie who will be vacationing in the U.P at that time and supporting me in the U.P. if needed.  Dan was a good source of information about the crossing since he paddles around there frequently.  Sounds like there may be a bit of a welcoming committee in Fairport of local paddlers.

Peg Cipolla lent me a vacuum packing machine that I have used for custom trail mix, oatmeal, past and rice supplies.  My trail mix consists of nuts, sesame sticks, apricots, peaches, cranberries and cherries.   The Oatmeal mix is organic whole oats, dehydrated milk, cranberries, cherries, cherries, peaches and cinnamon.  Peg Cipolla also dropped off some magic bandages that assure quick healing of blisters, cuts, etc.  thanks Peg.

I have printed off 43 maps representing each segment/day of the trip with a couple more detailed maps showing all the tiny Islands between Rock and tthe U.P.  Today I will laminate them back to back so that I will have 22 8″ x 10″ maps with significant GPS locations and mileage noted.  I will also be bringing a chart that covers the entire lake.  The chart is not too detailed, but a good source of “big picture” info.  I have been using the lates version of Topo USA map software for trip planning.  I like it.  It has the obvious (shoreline elevations) and the capability to plot and measure routes as well as fairly user friendly zooming, labeling and even information links tied to locations and related web sites.  I have used that as well as Google maps to see satellite images of various spots.  If anything I have had too much information to absorb/record.   

I have spent the week finalizing my packing and today I will see if it all fits in my boat.  

Mary Jo Shear has committed to paddling the first 21 mile segment from the Lincoln Park Boat Club and then with all her extra energy is organizing a BBQ at her home in Ft. Sheridan after day 1 paddling.  Hopefully these NE winds will change to breezes by then!  Tom Bamonte will be joining as well up to Gillson PArk in Wilmette and perhaps a few others will join in for various segments.  If the marine forecasts are correct, this may be an intermediate paddler day. 

Well, got to get back to my packing/laminating/loose end stuff…  probably will do one more post Saturday night.   Launch will be promply at 8AM.              


The End

June 4th Update - One week until put-in!

June 4th, 2006

Lots of activity trying to wrap up things on the home front and to prepare for the expedition.  Food for the trip has been purchased and needs to be packages and packed.  The plan is to create portions and supplies that can get delivered to various stops along the way.  The first resupply point will be in the U.P. of Michigan… The next willl be in Mackinac or Harbor Springs…  Still figuring that out.  Homemade jerky by Matt Brown left over from a BWCA trip has been donated along with some awesome sausage and heavily wrapped cheese.  I have purchased various rice, pasta packages, individual servings of foil wrapped salmon and tuna, falafil mix, lots of organic dried fruits, nuts, oats and instant milk.  I plan to package oats, instant milk, dried fruits in custom vacuum packs.  Ditto for custom trail mix.  Peg Cipolla has lent me a machine that does vacuum packing.

I got some new seal line dry bags to add to my collection…  I needed more “small” bags for the Nordkapp.  Also pruchased a lightweight 6 x 8 ft. tarp and a waterproof monocular. 

I think I have all the gear I need, just need to sort it all out and ready it for packing. 

Tom Bamonte, president of CASKA, is organizing a CASKA trip around my launch next Sunday form the Lincoln Park Boat Club and paddle to Mary Jo’s  in Fort Sheridan. 

Bentley Whitman has visited Cross Village, my stopping point between Wilderness State Park and Harbor Spings and has is exploring some options for my camping there.

Rick Isaacson is planning a stay in Door County and will be paddling some of that shoreline with me.  He is looking into camping at Newport Beach State Park and if that works out I will camp there as my stop between Jacksonport and Rock Island.

Steve Bannow is trying to pull together a Brat fry in Sheboygan to coincide with my stop there.  I suspect these will be Sheboygan brats. I have had a lot fo brats but never fried.  Should be interesting cusine!

I talked with Sean Madden, cousin of Keith Heger form the Northwest Passage, about staying at his condo on the lake north of Kenosha.  As it turns out this is about 30 miles north of Ft. Sheridan so day 2 of the trip will either be a 30 mile paddle to their or a 15 mile paddle to Illinois Beach State Park.  We will see how my body feels on day 2 and which way the wind is blowing. 

More later….   




The End

May 28th Update

May 28th, 2006

Yesterday I met Erik Sprenne near Whiting, Indiana to check out the camping possibilities in that area.  Erik is in contact with the Whiting Robertsdale Boat Club about allowing us to camp there.  At this point, if our schedules work out, Erik is planning to do the Indianna coast with me.  The Boat Club deifnitely would work as a camping site and would be a good send off point for the last segment of the trip back to the Lincoln Park Boat Club if anyone wants to join me for the last segment of the trip.

There were some other options for camping that we investigated, so Whiting is definitely a go. 

Erik took me on his famous “industrial tour” past BP and Inland Steel and eventually took the fork called the Indianna Harbor Canal which leads to Grand Calumet River.  We covered about 16 miles round trip and averaged about 4 mph.  We were both pretty pooped by the end.  My thinking is that during the trip if I can cover about 15 or 16 miles in the morning, then take a break for an hour or two, and then paddle the reamining 5 to 10 miles, I should be able to do an average of 20 miles a day.  That remains to be seen.

I did some yoga this morning to stretch out the rather tight muscles from the 16 mile excursion.   I think I will need to discipline myself to do stretching/yoga every morning in order to stay loose and avoid injury. 



The End

May 25th Update

May 25th, 2006

Krys Schneider is in the process of trying to update some of the earlier blog entries…  the web site upgrade wreaked havcoc on the blog…  oh well…  thanks for your efforts Krys.

Well, I haven’t been able to add anything to the blog for a while, so I guess I will just do a little bit of a brain dump to give you an idea of where things are at.

I have mailed out an itinerary for the entire trip to the distribution list that consists of “interested” paddlers and friends who want to stay abreast of the latest news and plans..  If you would like to be on that list, drop me an e-mail.  I will plan to post information to the blog as well, but if you get on my list, you will automatically get news without having to check here. 

Trip planning news:  things are coming together —  in the past couple weeks I have met with Denny Thorley who, along with his brother, are planning to do the Mackinac Straits crossing with me.   I have traded e-mails with Steve Bannow who is paddling with me from Port Washington to Manitowoc.  I will be staying at Steve’s place in Sheboygan.   

I have had conversations with Phil Rohr in Two Rivers and Horst Abel in Manitowoc regarding my paddling in that area.  A group of paddlers is going to paddle south form Manitowoc to greet me and then take me out for pizza if I am still standing after the 26 mile paddle from Sheboygan.  I will be staying at Horst’s place in Manitowoc. 

 I discussed plans for the Indiana stretch with Erik Sprenne who is working to get me permission to camp at the Whiting Robertsdale Boat Club in Whiting, Indiana.  Erik is going to try and paddle the entire Indiana stretch with me if he can work it out.  We are going to do a paddle out of Whiting on Saturday to check the area out. 

I have finalized plans with Erik Matrejek to stay at his father in law’s place near Jacksonport in Door County.  Erik and his wife Lisa may be paddling with me from Jacksonport to Fairport in the U.P. if we can work out the scheduling.  Mary Rasmussen and Dan Sandin inform me that they will be up at their suummer home in Fairport to greet us after the crossing from Rock Island.  I will be staying on their property that evening.  Krys Shcnieder and John  Schubert and Leslie may miraculously appear in Fairport about the same time if all the stars are in proper alignment and I acutally make my ambitious planned miles.

Lower Michigan plans aren’t quite as nailed down, but they are getting there.  I am meeting with Bentley from Harbor Springs tomorrow to look at maps and plan a visit to Harbor Springs if our schedules jive.  Steve Mullins, a friend with a summer place near New Buffalo has invited me to stay there and my friend Mike Glasser has done the same near Glenn, Michigan.   

Some of the paddlers around the lake have asked if they can contact the local press about the trip…  fine with me.  The smaller bergs may actually consider this newsworthy…  in Chicago, I suspect the Tribune will respond with a big yawn when I tell them my plans.  But I may do some sort of press release if I find some time before my departure on June 11th.

Right now I am focusing on equipment and packing.  I have practiced packing the Nordkapp with dry bags stuffed with towels just to see how many would fit in the vatrious hatches.   My conclusion is that I can fit the following:

In the front tip of the boat I can stuff my super lite, super small thermarest (made for backpackers), and my super lite, super small 55 degree sleeping bag.  Behind that I can fit a full 10L Sealine dry bag.  I can then stuff in two more 10L bags half to 2/3rds full perpendicular to the sides of the kayak and finally, behind that I can fit a 1/2 full 20L dry bag. 

I plan to stuff my tent, fly and ground cloth in a 10L dry bag and stick it between the footpegs and front bulkhead.  I may try paddling with this positioned there this Saturday to see how that feels.   I will put the tent poles and stakes in the back of the boat by the skeg.  I am using a two person Kelty Vortex tent, which is a bit of a luxury, but I figure that the abiltiy to stretch out and move around in the tent will be a nice thing when I am sore from my long days of paddling… 

I have decided that I will take a wet suit instead of a drysuit.  It weighs about half as much (I think those waterproof zippers add lots of weight) and the wet suit takes up less volume.  I discovered that I can stuff my wet suit behind the backband in my cockpit when I am not wearing it.  In an emergency, the wet suit will be accessible if I am anticipating a long submersion.

In my day hatch I can fit my “solar roll” which will have batteries and charger inside.  I will also put my emergency dry bag in that hatch.  This will also be the place I will put my water filteration system as well as a couple Nalgene bottles. 

In my back hatch I can fit two 1/2 full 20L dry bags perpendicular to the sides of the kayak.  Behind them I can stuff a 3/4 full 10L in the skeg area.  And behind that will stuff miscelenaeous small items like my tent poles.

Now that I know what volume of dry bags fits in the boat, I will start going thru my gear list and figuring how much clothing, food, and other items will fit in the boat.  I will be trying to bring items that have multiple purposes…  For example, polypro tops and bottoms will not only provide warmth on cold paddling days, they will also help make up for the super light sleeping bag by doubling as PJs.  I won’t bringing a robe and slippers. 

I have been testing my solar roll which is now hanging in a window of my apartment.  My marine radio was fully dischared and the solar roll was able to fully recharge it.  I have also discovered that the battery charger that came with the solar roll has enough output by itself to charge my cell phone…  so even if there is no sun, I can charge my cell phone form the sun-charged AA batteries…  (there is a cigarette lighter type receptacle in the battery charger so you can conceivably be charging the batterries and something else at the same time).  Bottom line, I am bringing my solar roll and planning on using it.  

I installed my deck compass today.  Also drilled a hole in the skeg and added a loop of string so that when it gets stuck, if I am paddling with someone, they can ”unstuck” it.  I ahve found that the Nordkapp skeg gets stuck *really* easily…  If you seal launch from sand, it will be stuck.  Guaranteed.

Well that’s all for now.  More later.   









The End

This is not going to be a walk in the park…

April 29th, 2006

Today I planned to do 16 miles and see if I could maintain a 4mph pace.  Not so easy.  Winds out of the east/southeast 10 – 20 mph with occasional gusts of 30+ winds…  rain, air temp and water temp 52 degrees (according to my handy dandy meat thermometer that I carry in my PFD).  Waves probably 2 – 4 feet.

I left Juneway Terrace beach about 1:30PM and headed north to Wilmette Harbor…  I returned and went south to Pratt Pier…  then headed back up north to Juneway Terrace beach.  Pooped.   Moving average 3.9 mph.  Total miles:  11.0  Moving time 2:48 minutes.  My wife reminded me that conditioning means to build up gradually…  Guess I need to do that!  There were small craft advisory warnings for 4PM so I definitely needed to stop, but even without those warnings, I would have stopped…  I was cold and tired.  I did manage to stop on the way north at Dempster St. Beach to get my skeg unstuck and on the way back I stopped there again to use the men’s room and drink some hot tea.  (Got to have a thermos of hot tea if you are paddling a Brit boat in cold water/air).  I will be so glad when the temp starts rising (air and water).  The conditions today definitely underscored how much more difficult this paddling will be compared to the flat Ohio River

The boat.  I found that the skeg is very sensitive to minor adjustments and acts very differently with the wind at your back (needed a lot of skeg down) as opposed to going into the wind (needed a little skeg down).  Beam seas made this a difficult paddle and reminded me that having the wind behind you is sometimes quite unnerving.  The pace going north was definitely helped by the wind… I believe my moving average going north was about 4.5 mph…  coming back  I am sure I was not going over 3.5mph…  I am going to have start loading the boat more to see how it feels loaded… supposedly it tracks much better when loaded… 

I am still getting used to the boat…   I think the deck height is the same as the Dagger Meridean, but it doesn’t feel as high…  my knees are definitely not as bent…  much straighter…   I suspect the seat is higher than on my Dagger and it is cushioned as well…  I will try it without the padding to see if that gives me a little more room…  I am also going to take out the side padding to give me a little space next to the hips…  between a wet suit and the foam pads that come with the boat, I am a little too snug…  of course with any new boat you have to get your body and balance “used” to the demands of the boat…  stay tuned.  Tom Bamonte has given me some insights into training based on his experience getting ready for his trip up north a while back…  very helpful stuff.  

I talked to Dan Sandin about Fairport and the U.P. (Dan is a Chicagoan with a summer place in Fairport where I will stay after the Rock to UP crossing).   He gave me some good ideas about camping in the U.P.  Also talked to Patty Pape (and ACA instructor from Michigan who I know from an IDW/ICE class with NWP) about the U.P and the Mackinac area.  She had some insights as to places to camp and also provided me some links to Michigan DNR that spell out the state’s policy for “dispersed” camping —    meaning camping outside of designated areas…   Exactly what I needed.  Patty also warned me about people jumping off the Mackinac Bridge…   what a bummer if I were to get killed by someone jumping off the bridge.  But not to worry, Sigrid is sure I will die from the unexploded ordnance by Fort Sheridan before I ever get to Mackinac.  I touched base with Krys Schneider (my neighbor) and she confirmed that she will paddle part of the U.P. with me.  We will probably meet in Fairport…  She will be talking to John Schubert about helping her with a shuttle since he and Leslie will be camping in the area that week and providing support as needed.  John may be doing some paddling with me as well.  I have also heard from Erik Matrejek who has invited me to camp at his father-in-law’s place near Bailey’s Harbor.  Erik and his wife Lisa may paddle some of Door County or do the Rock to UP crossing with me.   

I am now turning my attention to the tip of the mitt area of the lower peninsula and am in communication with Bentley who lives in Harbor Springs.  I need to touch base with Denny Thorley as well (his parents have a summer place south of Bentley’s).    Further down the state I have finalized plans to stay near Glen Haven as well as near New Buffalo…  both friends who have places near the water. 

Even further south, Erik Sprenne is using some of his local connections to see if I could camp at the Whiting Marina…  My plan would then be to camp at the Indiana one night , then at Whiting and then back to the LPBC.  Erik is thinking that this would give folks the opportunity to paddle the last stretch of the trip with me and not have it be too long of a trip. 

As my planning time is starting to run out, please do not hesitate to give me ideas of where to camp… especially in the lower part of Michigan…   thanks for all the great suggestions and offers to help….

Tom Heineman

The End

Expedition Update

April 21st, 2006

I am starting to turn my attention more seriously to the upcoming expedition.  My Masters swimming season is winding down (Illinois State Meet is this Saturday and Sunday).  My team, the Evanston Masters Swim Team  ( http://www.evmasters.org/ ) always does well at State since we are the largest and I believe one of the oldest masters swim teams in the state.  I believe we have won the state meet 24 out of the last 26 seasons.  However there is a pesky Naperville Team that beat us two seasons ago and we now take them very seriously.  I am swimming 9 events over Saturday and Sunday including the rather challenging 200 butterfly…   that would be (don’t laugh) 8 lengths of the pool…  not a fun event, but not too many people enter…  I will get a medal just for finishing since there are only three entrants in this event for my 55 – 59 yr age group…  such a deal… J   If you think paddling around the lake is a crazy idea, swimming a 200 yd butterfly is probably more crazy.  I guess the biggest difference is the 200 butterfly only lasts three minutes while the 800 mile circumnavigation may take 40 days. 

After this masters state meet, I will start training for the circumnavigation more seriously.  I have figured that the aerobic conditioning that I get from swimming 3 or 4 times a week (since early November) for 1½ hours (~ 4000 yards) will be a good training base to work from for the kayak expedition.   Now I need to get on the water in a kayak and put some serious miles in. 

I have begun a “several times a week” yoga routine.  My son has kicked me in the butt and convinced me that yoga is something my body needs.  I purchased a DVD called “Yoga Conditioning for Athletes” by Rodney Yee.   It was recommended by a friend of my son (Ryan Maher) who studied yoga at an institute and met Rodney.  Ryan figured that Rodney’s DVD would be good.  It is.  I have done yoga in the past in classes so this is not completely new to me… the advantage of using a DVD is that I can do it in my own living room and do it frequently enough so that I make some significant progress.  I am hoping to devote a certain part of each day during the expedition to stretching and yoga to help me stay limber and avoid injury.  Hopefully after following this DVD on a regular basis I will have a “routine” down that I can adapt for the trip.

I discovered that the spray skirt I have been using is getting a little old and doesn’t fit the new Nordkapp very well.   Ryan Rushton from Geneva Kayak has offered me a great deal on a spray skirt and has also offered to donate a compass to my expedition.  It is an “illuminated” Brunton 100P deck compass (that will fit the Nordkapp).  Thank you Ryan and Geneva Kayak!  I welcome any and all contributions to the cause!  Pretty soon I will be so indebted to so many folks that I will have no choice but to complete this expedition! 

A friend of mine (a former Chicagoan, Jane Blameuser) who lives in Green Bay has used her network to help find contacts in that northern Wisconsin area of the trip.  She has hooked me up with some of her friends from Chicago who own a place on the water near Fairport, Michigan.  I now have a place to stay after my crossing from Rock Island to the U.P.    Mary Rasmussen and her husband, Dan Sandin, both work at UIC and live in Chicago and have indicated that they will make sure they are at their U.P home when I am passing by…  I am hoping Dan can help me plan the 100 mile stretch between Fairport and Mackinac.  I was a little concerned about this stretch due to it’s remoteness –  I feel much better now that I have some folks who know the area. 

Speaking of people who “know the area,” I talked to Sigrid Pilgrim today about Fort Sheridan.  She assured me that she has inspected the Fort Sheridan area and most likely I *will* indeed be blown up by the unexploded ordnance in the water.   This unexploded ordnance (left over from target practice 50 years ago or so)  is what the Forest Preserve District has used as it’s excuse for not allowing a water trail site there.  Mary Jo, I know you have offered me a place to stay in your lovely Ft. Sheridan meticulously restored house, but when you hear that explosion, assume that I won’t need a place to stay on.   Perhaps my spiffy illuminated compass will survive and you can see if it fits your Betsy Bay kayak.

Stay tuned.

Tom Heineman

The End