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Bow and Stern - November 1, 1999

Bow and Stern - - November 1999

Bow and Stern

November 1999

The Official Newsletter of the Vermont Paddlers Club

Volume ? + 1, no. 3

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Ye Olde Presidents Page

November, 1999

Greetings VPC members,

We will deal with several issues at the fall meeting and in the next few months. At the top of the list is an election of new officers. As I write this no one has indicated any interest in taking over any of the clubs leadership positions, but perhaps that will change in the next week or so. I certainly hope so because even though participation in many club activities seems to have declined in the last few years, we still have over 150 members and a lot of paddling still goes on under the VPC name.

The club hopes to sponsor winter roll sessions again and several members have indicated a desire to help. If you called me last spring offering to help and havent heard from me, it means I lost your name. Please call again and I will get you in touch with the others.

Ricky Battistoni has offered to put together the spring paddling schedule in 2000. We are going to try a little different approach this year we will have a meeting somewhere for all potential trip leaders and try and build a schedule at this meeting. Faith Knapp of Norwich, VT is going to help us share our schedule with the New Hampshire AMC, which I think is a great way to include more NH rivers in the schedule. So start to think about leading a trip next spring and summer.

Canoe Imports bought a large volume of paddling gear from a local, nationally known canoe maker, and they are going to offer this gear to VPC members at a private sale. The gear includes flotation, PFDs, paddles, dry bags, etc. Apparently there are even some boats involved in this offer. You will receive a post card in the next week or so to announce the time and date of the sale. Get ready for Xmas.

Insurance coverage for club activities continues to be a hassle, if only a bureaucratic one. The clubs affiliation with the American Canoe Assoc. lapsed last January for reasons unknown to me. But we can rejoin at anytime and they offer a level of membership that makes all club members ACA members as well and extends the ACAs insurance coverage to all members participating in club events. This cost $15 per year per member (active member and they have a definition of active member) and for that $15 each club member gets ACA membership, insurance, Paddler Magazine, ACA newsletter and all kinds of other ACA benefits. I believe this cannot be beat and we should rejoin the ACA at this level. We will talk about it at the fall meeting and perhaps decide finally before next years paddling season. Comments anyone?

The club did not offer a paddling clinic for either kayaks or canoes last year because no one wanted to organize the thing. One of the big reasons no one wanted to do it was the insurance paperwork hassles. Joining the ACA and being under their insurance umbrella would eliminate all this and hopefully make running the clinic a more enjoyable and less time-consuming experience for a few people. I know there are people out there who enjoy teaching what they know and I hope that we will have a VPC clinic again next summer. Let me know if youre interested in taking this on.

Thanks to all those who have given of their time and energy this past year.

Eric Bishop


Any of us who ever paddled the Dead River and either camped at Webbs or rode their shuttle will be saddened to hear of the death of Marie Webb. Marie was a good friend of all of us who visited The Forks. The following is reprinted from the AMC N.H. chapter's Wraparound.

WEST FORKS - Maine. Marie Helen Webb, 59 of West Forks, died Thursday, Oct. 28, 1999, at Maine Medical Center in Portland after undergoing bypass surgery.

She was born Jan. 21, 1940, in Jackman, daughter of John and Corrine (Gilbert) Larochelle. She married Edmund F. Webb on Sept. 22, 1962, in West Forks. After their marriage, Marie and her husband made their home in West Forks.

For 37 years Marie worked with her husband, operating Webbs Store and Campground. She assisted her husband in their shuttle service for boaters.

Survivors include her husband, Edmund F. Webb, of West Forks, a son, Andrew Webb, and his wife, Karen, of West Forks.

A funeral mass was celebrated Nov. 2 at St. Peters Catholic Church, Bingham. Interment was at Durgin Cemetery, West Forks, a little cemetery alongside the Dead River.

Those who wish may make a memorial contribution to the Durgin Cemetery Trust Fund, Plantation of West Forks, c/o Ron Burnham, West Forks ME, 04985.

Marie was a good friend to all the paddlers who rode the shuttle, camped at Webbs or just dropped in to say hello. Those of us who knew her will miss her smiling face and friendly French accent. It would be nice if some of us sent notes to Ed Webb.



Grand tour: March 27, 1999

Leader: Ricky Battistoni
Participants: K1: Tim Parsons, Chris Parsons, Megan O'Reilly, Jay Strain, Ricky Battistoni OC1: Andy Meilleur, Tony Shaw C1: Randy Allen (where's the rest of your canoe, Randy?)

The Wells changed into the Waits which changed into the White and in the end became the upper Winooski! It was a glorious day for the "first" club trip. 60+ and sunny but not quite enough water for most rivers. The upper Winooski was at a nice low medium level by noon and we all liked having something like this to work the winter kinks out of our paddling.

Following the first run the group split in half with Tim, Chris, Tony and I staying on the Winooski while the others ran the lower Mad. The excitement came when Tim took a swim while Tony was on shore video taping what he thought would be uneventful, leaving his boat a few hundred yards upstream. Tim made some of those early season bad decisions that we all make and ended up swimming into a strainer. Very scary for those of us who were trying to help. Tim recalled the "climb over" routine and came out unscathed but shaken. We finished grinning, glad to be on the rivers again.

--Ricky Battistoni

Lower Mad River: March 28, 1999

Leader: John Wolfe
Participants: 2 solo open boaters, 1 tamdem team, and the rest k1

The trip was originally the West Branch of the Little River. From lack of water we ended up on the lower section of the Mad. 15 paddlers showed up for this trip! The highlight of the trip was watching Sean & Jason run the tandem down the sneak route of horseshoe falls.(nice swim guys). I was very impressed with the turn out for this trip. It was good to see that much intrest and enthusiasm early in the season.

--John Wolfe

Upper Mad River: April 3, 1999

Leader: Tony Shaw
Participants: K1: Greg DeCell, Megan O'Reilly, Chris Parsons, Tim Parsons, Jay Strane OC1: Peter Downey, Peter Herman, Andy Meilleur, Merle Schloff OC2: Tony Shaw & Barb DeAngelis
Water: over 5 feet (Moretown realtime gauge)

By mid-afternoon there were some who took issue with my characterization of this trip as "novice whitewater". I would count among them my bowperson, Barb, a bona fide whitewater novice, whose faith in me as a helmsman was forever tainted by a broadside encounter with a large strainer (and subsequent swim) just above the Rt. 100 bridge near Lareau's swimming hole. Thankfully by this point in the trip all the noteworthy drops were behind us, and we paddled hard through Waitsfield to the take-out -- in part to gear up for the April 11 Sugarbush Triathlon (and partly just to warm up!).

We were NOT the first to be baptized, with most of the spills occurring in the 1st 1.5 miles. Several small ledges in this section were complicated by strainers left behind by the 6/98 flood, and the banks were less attractive than I remember (for the same reason). Farther down, with mounting confidence / skill / adrenaline, the group deftly handled the 1st 3 substantial ledge drops. The landing above the 4th drop (beneath a new steel bridge on Butternut Rd.) was complicated by medium-high water (over 5 ft. on the Moretown internet gauge) and more debris from the flood. As was the case at the "punchbowl" above, some opted to carry here after scouting. But the medium-high water opened up a rollicking route through this drop on river right which I had the privilege of running twice -- first in Peter's XL13 and then tandem with Megan. Chris earned the "Nailbiter" award here by capsizing half-way down and executing a masterful combat roll, only to be thrashed, endered, and recirculated in the hole at the bottom. I trust the next time he finds himself upside down in a hole he'll have a glove-friendly grab loop on his spray skirt!

The AMC River Guide calls the Warren to Waitsfield stretch class I-II, which fairly characterizes the vast majority of the run. Still, good landing skills and the prudence to scout and/or carry any forbidding drops are essential. We disbanded tired but not beaten, soggy but sated!

--Tony Shaw

Black River: April 11, 1999

Leader: John Wolfe
Participants: Andy M OC1,Eric P k1,Bob M k1,Laura M k1,and John W (k1)

The black was running about 2ft. The air temp was in the high 40s to low 50s. There were a lot of fun surf waves. Laura and Eric split after the first run. Bob, Andy,and I ran it a second time. No swimmers, but I had to rescue Andy when he was stranded on a rock just off shore when he got temporarily separated from his boat on the second run.

-- John Wolfe

Lower Lamoille: April 21, 1999

Leader: Rich Larsen
Participants: Rich Larsen, Paul Kempner, Peter Briggs, Peter Downey, George McIntosh, Tor Bortz

We had a good night for the first (and last?) evening trip of the season, with some clouds, but fairly warm - quite low water for the end of April. The gauge as painted on the Fairfax bridge was only 1.3 feet: with the reported USGS flow at 1400 cfs at the station at 5 chutes. (This station is available on the internet, and is easily accessed from the VPC Home Page. The data provides a real-time method to view the flow from home without driving to the bridge.) We had 6 boats in the group that came down from Fairfax, and another 4 led by Ray Ingram that joined part way down. The trip was mostly just a pleasant float down the river, with no swimmers or other excitement. There were three beavers seen at different places along the river. Because of the low water, I organized no other Lower Lamoille evening trips this spring, but others may have tried some later Wednesday PM trips.

--Rich Larsen

Lower Hudson: April 25, 1999

Leader: Rich Larsen
Participants: Sheri Larsen, Steve Lawson, Peter Alden (OC1), Chauncey Varney & Peggy Varney (OC2), George McIntosh, Ricky Battistoni (K1)

This was an impromptu trip pulled together with the message phone, an email note, and a few phone calls. We had 7 boats, mostly canoes (which is rare these days). The day was clear with a hard frost in the morning but warming up nicely to near 60 later in the day but with still a lot of ice along the shore near the Glen. The river at North Creek was at 5.1 feet - a good level, not really high but still lively. We paddled from North Creek at the new train station to the Glen Bridge with lunch in between at Riparius. It was a nice trip with no swims. Surprisingly, the first part of the trip before lunch took about 2 hours 15 minutes on the water, while the second, somewhat longer portion, took only 2 hours. The lower part does not have any slow water.

-- Rich Larsen

Lower Hudson: May 8, 1999

Leader: Rich Larsen
Participants: Sheri Larsen, Louise McCarren, Ed Amidon (OC1), Jamie Dolan, Ricky Battistoni, Peter Briggs (K1)

The weather threatened all day on this trip. It rained at the put-in and rained on the drive home, but there was no rain during the trip. The river was at 4.3 feet at North Creek. We put in at Riparius and paddled to the Glen. The river is challenging but not pushy at this level so we all had a fine paddle with no mishaps. We also stopped at the Schroon on the way home. The gauge can be accessed through the NOAA website. The gauge was 2.35 feet which is quite low, but the first rapid still seemed runnable. My guess is that the river is still boatable at this level. Now that the gauge can be accessed, we can start checking the river status in advance.

-- Rich Larsen

Hudson Gorge (NY): May 22, 1999

Leader: Tony Shaw
Participants: Jamie Dolan (K1), Randy Allen, Tony Shaw, (OC1), Andy Meilleur, Chauncey Varney, (OC2).
Water: 3.7 feet at North Creek

Chauncey picked a lovely day for his first Hudson Gorge trip with a warm southerly breeze and plenty of sunshine. To play it safe the tandem pair hurried down the Indian River's Gooley Steps before the bubble and waited above the confluence for the rest of us who warmed up at Rafter's Bay until the release began. The nice weather helped make the Indian feel less intimidating than usual.

Terry Ames, Tom Yurista and some friends passed by us during our noontime lunch below the Blue Ledge Rapids. We were glad to bump into them again surfing below the Narrows where they helped us collect a capsized canoe and gear. It was the only swim of the day.

The rapids between the Narrows and Harris Rift were especially playful, but by Harris it was obvious we'd lost the bubble. A few of us abandoned the conservative route (eddy hopping river left) and took a line down the middle. Under 4' the middle route through Harris did not seem too pushy or turbulent for an open boat.

We played a long time in the wide hole below Harris, filling canoes repeatedly with a few enders from Jamie and moved on to repeat the scene at Bus Stop. Balmy weather made the bony paddle out just slightly more tolerable. Below 3.5 feet it would be a real chore. We reached the now posted take-out at 5:00 pm, a 7 hour trip.

-- Tony Shaw

Green River Reservoir: May 30, 1999

Participants: George & Margaret McIntosh

As most of you have probably heard, the ownership of Green River Reservoir has been transferred to the State of Vermont which will operate it as a state park. What does this mean for the future of this lake, one of the few left which is not spoiled by motorboats?

In the immediate future (meaning 1999, ed.) there will be very few changes. Access to the lake is still free and campsites are available on a first come, first serve basis as they have been for many years.

There is now a state employee there distributing maps and requesting that campers refrain from camping on some of the smaller islands but from what I could see, people were camping wherever they wanted. There was also mention of campsite registration so the state would know how many were on the lake. Some other changes in the works are improvements to the road, now class V, and additional parking away from the shoreline.

The State has inventoried 58 campsites on the lake and has made a preliminary determination of which sites will be closed for rehab, which will be changed to day use sites and which will be kept as camp sites. The result is that of the 58 sites, 23 will remain as overnite sites, 10 will need rehab and about 9 are questionable. The numbers are approximate since the map is quite difficult to read.

I got the impression that more changes will happen next year, partially dependent on what happens this year, and we will see the State taking more control.

--George McIntosh.

Does anybody have more on this? -ed.

Batiscan River, Quebec: Aug. 2-7, 1999

Participants: Merle Schloff, OC-1, Robert Fuller, OC-1

This trip was led by Bill Pollock of Tuckamoor Trips, 7121 Lac Noir Rd. , St. Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec (819 326 3602) and consisted of five days of class I - VI rapids. There were 13 class I, 26 class II, 27 class III, 10 class IV and some class V - VI. In Riviere Pierre the canoes were loaded on a Via Canada train for a 60 mile trip to Lac O Perles. The boats were unloaded onto the tracks next to the river in the middle of the Canadian boreal forest. One half mile upstream is the first nights camp.

The first day paddling was mostly class I - III with one IV and two V. The Vs are runnable but a bad choice of line let to a nasty swim for Merle.

The river was unexpectedly low this year which made the class I and II rapids more difficult. Day 3 began the Gates of Hell section. Paddling beside 300' cliffs we encountered non stop class III - V rapids ending with Batiscan Gorge. Most everything was run. The Vs and the gorge were portaged. Most of the Vs have a variety of lines.

The Batiscan is a combination of the Androscoggin, Ammonoosuc, Hudson Gorge & Schroon. There are long flat water stretches and the scenery is excellent. We saw no people, and the camping was slightly better than primitive. Via Canada rail runs close to the river periodically. Be careful portaging along the tracks, freight trains move along pretty fast!

The guide was professional and personable. Its a great memory.

--Merle Schloff

Dead River @ 2400/1800 cfs: August 7-8, 1999

Leader: Tony Shaw
Participants: Randy Allen, Mike Fullerton, Tony Shaw (OC1), Georgia Meyer(K1), Denise Wilder ( off-water activities coordinator)

Saturday began chilly but was perfect by the time Andy Webb deposited us at the mouth of Spencer Stream. Georgia had recently completed week long kayaking clinic in Madawaska and paddled admirably, as did Mike. Randy divided his time between searching for holes and surfing them, to the delight of everyone in the vicinity. At Poplar Falls I got a not-so-subtle reminder of why to be wary of the line left of center, when a large curler expropriated all but 3 inches of my freeboard. Still, I made it to shore upright! The urbanite tandem pair we encountered shortly thereafter (wading downstream) was less fortunate. We readily tracked down their untethered float bags but their canoe had vanished without a trace!

Saturday evening Georgia opted out of our decidedly pedestrian agenda, and headed to Quebec City for dinner instead. The rest of us had appetizers courtesy of Mike and Denise followed by a hike to nearby (breathtaking) Moxie Falls.

A steady rain began falling before sun-up Sunday with daylong rain in the a.m. (FM) forecast. As none of us felt much like paddling all day in the rain we disbanded. One word of parting advice: If ever you're tempted to drag race Georgia (say, climbing west out of Farmington on U.S. 2/4) pick a moment when the patrolman who lays in waiting is preoccupied with another motorist!

-Tony Shaw.

Winooski River (Jonesville to Richmond): August 10, 1999

Leader: Tony Shaw
Participants: Gary Hafer (K1), Tony, Katy, and Emily Shaw (OC3)

This 3-4 mile after work "float and picnic" is a favorite of the Shaws, being as that the takeout is a playground! Emily had to paddle more than usual to get us there, with Katy still favoring a wrist she broke a month earlier. We didn't get much help from the current either, as this was perhaps the driest point in an unusually dry summer. Gary was very patient with us, obviously just happy to be on the water.

-- Tony Shaw

North Branch of the Lamoille: Saturday, Sept 18, 1999

Lucky participants: Tony Shaw, Randy Allen, Eric Bishop.

Hurricane Floyd deposited almost 5 " of rain in my gauge on Thursday and Friday but by Saturday am. the North Branch was at a very enjoyable level and a beautiful day to boot. We ran from the upper put-in to the covered bridge about a mile north of Waterville. A few of us had a chance to check the water temperature(cool) but there were no serious incidents. This is one of the finest white water runs in the entire state.

--Eric Bishop

West Branch of the Little River: Saturday, Sept 18, 1999

Leader: John Wolfe
Participants: Bob and Jason Marshall and John Wolfe (K1)

We put in across from the Matterhorn on the mountain road. There is another creek that flows into the West Branch that is a lot of fun to paddle. We hiked up the road about 3/4 of a mile. This creek is fast and narrow with a decent gradient. The water level was coming up some. We put on at 5:30 pm. When we came into the West Branch we lost some of the volume so the river was a little bumpy.

--John Wolfe



The searchable online Bow and Stern Archive is taking shape. Still I'm missing a few past issues. They include: ANYTHING prior to 6/75, March issues from 1989 and 1999, and June issues from 1983, 1986, and 1988.

PLEASE contact me if you have any of the above back issues to lend. Tony (879-1655,

AMC connections

We have been invited to participate in an exchange program with the New Hampshire chapter of the AMC. Their newsletter is called The Wraparound and is currently edited by Tom Todd of Lexington, MA. Its a pretty classy publication with photos, even. We may get to that stage by the next issue.

Ill be sending Tom a copy of this issue and you will find a copy of theirs here at the meeting (Nov. , if youre here and not reading this at home later!).


Message from the Editor

Here it is, November again and another paddling season has come and gone. We had a drought and we had a hurricane and a lot of stuff in between. Now our thoughts turn to snow and clearing ski trails. This meeting we also give thought to where the VPC is going. As this page has said before, if we want to have a club that provides instruction, a trip schedule and a place to get together with other paddlers, we all have to pitch in and do something. Me? Im sitting here on a grey, rainy afternoon typing up this newsletter. Its chilly out there and it seems a long way from a sunny afternoon on a wilderness stream, but if we want to do it again next season there has to be commitment. Somebody has to get up and be president, somebody else has to take notes and others have to get involved in the many projects that make us a successful club. Heres hoping that there are enough of us willing to do it.

And by the way, if you have something youd like to see in this august publication, take note of the addresses below. Have a great winter and if you dont like snow, remember, its next summers water!


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