Posts Tagged ‘Kayaking’

Sea Turtles Adventure

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

I found myself at the boat ramp of the Fort Fisher Basin. It was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It was also going to be a full strawberry moon that evening, an anomaly which won’t happen again for over 50 years. Along with Don and I was Mahanaim’s environmental education expert, Mandy Uticone. Our customers that evening were with the Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department. After a mile paddle along the Fort Fisher sea wall we landed at Zeke’s Island. Don explained the history and use of the island in addition to its estuary purposes. As our break ended we began paddling the second leg to a beach access were we ate our sack dinners. Just over the sand dunes was a newly laid Leatherback turtle nest. The nest was found that morning, marked, and roped off for its protection. Mandy taught us all about sea turtles that frequent the North Carolina shores and how they nest. During the lesson I helped Mandy by reenacting how a turtle crawls from the ocean, lays their eggs, and buries them with their feet. As the sun began to set we returned to out boats for the final paddle back. Half way through the paddle the sun was setting to the west as the moon rose to the east, a perfect ending to a perfect evening.

Mandy teaching sea turtle class

Mandy teaching sea turtle class

Don & Diane Harty own Mahanaim Adventures.  They specialize in helping families and groups to have “Positive & Memorable” outdoor adventures.  Whether these are wildlife view adventure, camping adventure or a simple kayaking adventure.  They provide kayaking adventures on Town Creek, Cape Fear River, Fort Fisher Basin, Masonboro Island, Black River, Holly Shelter Creek and Moores Creek.  Contact them at www.mahanaimadventures.com for more information about all of their adventures.

 

Sam as the sea turtle

Sam as the sea turtle

This Blog was Written by Sam Law. I am Mahanaim Advenures new intern for the summer of 2016. I am a Park and Recreation Management Student at East Carolina, Go Pirates! I love the the ocean and outdoors more than anything. This coming summer i will be writing a blog similar to this each week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures and encounters we have. I hope to see ya’ll out paddling this summer.

Cheers!

Sunset at the Basin

Sunset at the Basin

 

Cape Fear River

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

We arrived at a small boat ramp outside of Navassa, North Carolina. We were headed out onto Davis Creek, which flows into the Cape Fear / Brunswick River. Don and I were preparing to guide a group of folks with the Leland Parks and Recreation Department. The area holds a lot of wildlife unique to the Wilmington coastal area. During the trip we paddled by Eagle Island. This island is located just north of waterfront Wilmington North Carolina. The island splits the Cape Fear River in two, thus creating the Brunswick River (flowing right of the island) and Cape Fear River (flowing to the left side of the island).

The Brunswick River has a unique history. At the end of World War II the Brunswick River held the U.S. Maritime Commission’s reserve fleet. The shipyard was the second largest vessel graveyard in the United States, giving it the nickname of the “ghost fleet”. The North Carolina Ship Building Company was located just across Eagle Island, making the river a perfect location to store the fleet. There were a total of 648 ships in the fleet. The last ship was removed from the river in 1970.

Just north of where the ghost fleet ships were moored, we entered Sturgeon Creek. Just after entering the creek we saw a juvenile alligator sunning on a log. After a quick glimpse he was startled and swam away. After paddling another mile into the creek we landed at our final destination at Sturgeon Creek Park in Leland, North Carolina. With great weather and great company we all had an amazing trip that day. I look forward to my next trip out to Eagle Island.

Don & Diane Harty own Mahanaim Adventures.  They specialize in helping families and groups to have “Positive & Memorable” outdoor adventures.  Whether these are wildlife view adventure, camping adventure or a simple kayaking adventure.  They provide kayaking adventures on Town Creek, Cape Fear River, Fort Fisher Basin, Masonboro Island, Black River, Holly Shelter Creek and Moores Creek.  Contact them at www.mahanaimadventures.com for more information about all of their adventures. (wilderness survival info)

This Blog was Written by Sam Law. I am Mahanaim Advenures new intern for the summer of 2016. I am a Park and Recreation Management Student at East Carolina, Go Pirates! I love the the ocean and outdoors more than anything. This coming summer i will be writing a blog similar to this each week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures and encounters we have. I hope to see ya’ll out paddling this summer.

Cheers!

Basic Kayak Safety

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Before going out on the water, the proper preparation is necessary to have a safe and positive experience. If you have never been, it is a good idea to seek instruction from a qualified guide service or instructor. Also, if you are new to an area it is important to do your homework and research the location you are going.

Having a plan is paramount to a safe successful adventure. Leaving an float plan for a friend or family member is a tool that should be utilized every time you go off the grid. An action plan consists of:

  • Where you are going
  • Who you are going with/ how many people
  • When on the water (time period)
  • When you get of the water

It is highly important to remember water, snacks, and sunblock, no matter how long the trip. Remember, Gilligan and the Skipper only planned for “a three hour tour”.

Keeping the right equipment and safety devices on hand is necessary when on the water. Before going out you should always check your gear to make sure it is in proper working order. Some basic safety necessities include:

  • PFD
  • Paddle Leash
  • Reflective mirror
  • Whistle/horn
  • Compass-map and/or GPS
  • Paddle Float
  • Bilge Pump
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water
  • Flash-light
  • Dry bag to carry it all in
  • Dry change of clothes (wicking & warming)

Weather also has a large influence on outdoor activities, specifically water based. It is important to check the weather extensively before and during your trip as conditions can change rapidly. This includes storms, winds, currents and tides.

When kayaking the possibility of falling out exists. No matter if you are the best kayaker in the world, at some point in time falling in the drink is inevitable. By following two simple rules, you can keep your chance at survival at 99.9%. Make sure that you are ALWAYS WEARING your PFD (personal floatation device) when on the water. It needs to be on your body not just in your possession. Secondly, stay with your vessel whether it is capsized or upright. All kayaks, canoes, and small craft come from the manufacturer with floatation build within. Staying with your boat gives you something to hold onto in addition to making you more noticeable.

Finally, paddling in a group can be one of the best ways to stay safe while having fun adventures with friends. If a few simple precautions are taken, you can make a safe and positive experience.

For a quick video lesson on kayak safety check out the following YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otakobRXynM

Don & Diane Harty own Mahanaim Adventures.  They specialize in helping families and groups to have “Positive & Memorable” outdoor adventures.  Whether these are wildlife view adventure, camping adventure or a simple kayaking adventure.  They provide kayaking adventures on Town Creek, Cape Fear River, Fort Fisher Basin, Masonboro Island, Black River, Holly Shelter Creek and Moores Creek.  Contact them at www.mahanaimadventures.com for more information about all of their adventures. (wilderness survival info)

This Blog was Written by Sam Law. I am Mahanaim Advenures new intern for the summer of 2016. I am a Park and Recreation Management Student at East Carolina, Go Pirates! I love the the ocean and outdoors more than anything. This coming summer i will be writing a blog similar to this each week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures and encounters we have. I hope to see ya’ll out paddling this summer.

Cheers!

My First Adventure through the Three Sisters

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

We found ourselves on a river bank of the Black River, kayak paddles dipped in the water, and Don our leader finishing up a safety discussion. We were preparing for a twelve mile journey down the Black River and through the Three Sisters Swamp. As the sun began to rise, our group of nine pushed off. The weather couldn’t have been any more perfect that day. It was slightly overcast with a solid breeze and no humidity, the perfect day for recreational kayaking. Our group of 9 consisted of old friends who were no strangers to kayaking. It was an amazing opportunity to learn from other kayakers while swapping paddle stories. Seconds after hitting the water, the Eastern North Carolina wildlife began to come alive.  ProthonotaryWarbler’s were flying back and forth over the river, while the hooting of Barred Owls echoed in the distance. Further down river we spotted Nutria swimming across in front of our group. The combination of wildlife and perfect Eastern North Carolina weather created a perfect concoction to explore God’s creation and what He has given us. Along the river bank stood Cypress trees in which Pileated Woodpeckers have dug burrows. Each year these birds create a new burrow in a new tree, residing in each for only one season. During the trip one guest reminded us why it is always important to keep close attention to what you are doing. One gentleman in particular found himself upside-down in the water while not paying attention to where he was going. Thanks to his calm reserve and professional attitude we were able to perform a flawless rescue, returning the gentleman to his boat. Roughly 6 miles into our trip we entered the Three Sisters Swamp, a freshwater Cypress forest. This swamp contains trees dating over 2000 years old. Being in the swamp with such ancient beings is truly a breath taking experience. As we exited the swamp the Barred Owl whose hoot had echoed through the forest made his first appearance flying across in front of us. A perfect farewell gift for a perfect kayak trip.

Don & Diane Harty own Mahanaim Adventures.  They specialize in helping families and groups to have “Positive & Memorable” outdoor adventures.  Whether these are wildlife view adventure, camping adventure or a simple kayaking adventure.  They provide kayaking adventures on Town Creek, Cape Fear River, Fort Fisher Basin, Masonboro Island, Black River, Holly Shelter Creek and Moores Creek.  Contact them at www.mahanaimadventures.com for more information about all of their adventures.

This Blog was Written by Sam Law. I am Mahanaim Advenures new intern for the summer of 2016. I am a Park and Recreation Management Student at East Carolina, Go Pirates! I love the the ocean and outdoors more than anything. This coming summer i will be writing a blog similar to this each week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures and encounters we have. I hope to see ya’ll out paddling this summer.

Cheers!

Last Night

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Last night I had the privilege of leading a sunset kayaking adventure for a Mom and her three kids.  When the Mom scheduled this adventure, she told me that her family had been through some really rough stuff.  The Mom was looking for something for them to do together for fun and to be a family creating a good family memory.    After we got off the water last night as we were walking back to the cars, Mom told me thank you for all we had done for her and her kids that they would be talking about this adventure for a long time.

 

This reminded me of one of the reasons why Diane and I started this business and for some of the success we are having.  You see, when our family was young, we spent lots of time out camping, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing and many other outdoor activities.  The vast majority of the times all went well, some not so well.  Those of you who spend lots of time in the outdoors with kids know what I mean.  However about 7 years ago when my son-in-law started dating Hillary, he made the mistake of going camping with us one weekend.  Our kids spent the whole weekend sharing with him all the fun family memories we had doing all of these things together.  Listing to our kids laugh and carry on with each other remember this time together was a precious gift to Diane and I.

 

Last night I was reminded of this simple fact; that we got a chance to help this family create a special memory that they will cherish now and in the years to some.  I guess that I am sharing this with you because we each have chances each day to make a difference in other people lives.  I guess it comes down to perspective and remember that life is not all about me, but how I can be used by Christ to be a blessing to someone that I meet.

Alligators!

Monday, December 8th, 2014

I am amazed at how fearful most people are of alligators that are found here in the Wilmington NC area. This is one of the most common questions I get when I am leading a kayaking adventure.  Yes, we should have a healthy respect and view these wonderful creatures from a safe distance.  However it amazed how the fear keeps some people from exploring the majesty of God’s Creation just because they may encounter one of these animals.  As a boy growing up in gator country of central Florida, you learned to understand the amazing creatures.  So, like any good Boy Scout here are some facts about alligators that my help you know more about this magnificent creature, and be prepared on what to expect when you see one.

This alligator was seen at the southern tip of Keg Island in the Cape Fear River.

This alligator was seen at the southern tip of Keg Island in the Cape Fear River.

  • The American Alligator is the most prevalent of the three species of crocodilians found in the US.  The Gator’s range from North Carolina down to Florida and then around the Gulf Coast to Texas.
  •  There are very few American Crocodile and Caiman that can be found in the extreme southern part of Florida mainly in the southern portions of the Everglades.
  • Gators live in freshwater wetlands and coastal brackish waters.  Their diets mainly consist of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.  They are more known for their savaging for food than hunting and attacking larger prey.
  • Mating season beings in May as the spring warms up and the females will lay their eggs in June, with the eggs hatching in last July.
  • Between 1948 – 2004 there were only 391 injuries and 18 deaths caused by alligators  in the US.
  • Alligators are active both day and night, but mainly feed at night and resting during the day light hours digesting their meal from the night before.
  •  Don’t let your pets swim in known waters where alligators live.  The alligators will see the smaller pets at natural prey.

Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans and throwing fish remains in the water can attract alligators.  Also, do not feed alligators.

 

 

Before the Adventure Begins

Monday, April 14th, 2014

For those of you who grew up in Boy Scouts, you will know that the “Scout Motto” is to “Be Prepared“.  This was drilled into me during my days as a scout and I can say, most great scout troops still place a great deal of emphasis on this.  To be honest, one of the biggest things that gets to me is watching the vast majority of people take off with their kayaks are woefully unprepared for what they are fixing to do.

This was brought home to me this past weekend when I saw a young couple jump out of their vehicles, toss their kayaks in the water and jump in and go!  No PFD, no sunscreen, no WATER, no clue to the weather coming or going, much less of the river currents that will affect their paddle.  When I pointed out the oyster beds they were fixing to walk into, they could care less (yes, they had no shoes of any kind on).  I could only imagine that they had a less than pleasant time on the water.

It is because of this lack of proper preparedness that I write the next blog.  I hope over the next several weeks to add additional blogs that will help you be “Prepared” when you head out on your next adventure.

IMG_7721

Here are some very basic things that need to be considered before you take your next kayaking adventure.

  • Always try to plan for the unexpected “what ifs?” What if I get delayed? Lost? Injured? Am I prepared to cope with that?
  • Always have a map and compass with you.  This means that you know how to orientate the map and use the compass, so make sure you learn basic map reading and compass navigation skills before you head out on the water.
  • Pick a trip, even a short day paddle and study your intended route on a map at home. Doing this when you’re not stressed allows you time to become more familiar and comfortable with the unique markings of a topographic map and where you will be going.
  • Additional essential items that can save your life when out kayaking:
    • Plenty of water to drink
    • Hat
    • Sunscreen/bug spray
    • Flash light
    • Cell phone
    • Matches for a fire
    • Extra clothing
    • Rain gear
    • Snacks
    • Knife
    • Dry bag for all your essentials to be placed
  • Float Plan.  It is critical that you let someone know where you’re going, what route you plan to take and your estimated return time. If you get lost, the sooner a rescue operation begins the better for your searchers and you.  If you change your plans before you start a trip, call and update someone, even if you simply leave a voice mail.  This also implies that once on the river that you stick with your plan and not deviate.
  • Oh, I am assuming that you will have your PFD with you before you get into the water.

Mahanaim Adventures provide wonderful adventure in the Wilmington and Carolina Beach areas of North Carolina.  We can also customize a guided kayaking adventure to Florida as well as any other location in the Southeast US.  We specialize in creating that memory of a life time for you and your family and friends.  Check out our web page and find out more details about all of our adventure locations.

Team Building and Fear of the Unknown.

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Team 3

Over this past year Mahanaim Adventures, had the opportunity to take several different groups on either a kayak or on a high ropes team building event.  (The high ropes course is called COPE and the elements are the challenges on each COPE course)  Our events are designed to challenge each person and group to learn new skilled needed in successful team work.  As a COPE Course facilitator, one of the cool things I get to witness is how these folks with different prospective and backgrounds learn to come together as a team and solving some difficult challenges/elements.  To see learning taking place while having fun is really cool.

Our team building adventures, especially those that involve a COPE Course, challenges each person to learn new things but also to deal with known truth and overcome their fears.   This is especially true when each group walk the COPE Course and see the elements of the course for the very first time.  I have to admit myself that the first time saw the elements on my first course I was a bit scared.

I remember that these elements looked like fun, but I began to think what had I gotten myself and those who worked for me into.  You see, I had planned a team building adventure for those who reported to me when I working at UNCW.  At that time, our department had some radical changes forced on us and I really needed to challenge them to come together.  I knew at the time it was going to be hard work to deal with these forced changes and I know we had to do this as a team and no one person could do this themselves.   So I signed myself and my staff up for a COPE Course offered by the university.

When we got there that morning, I had not realized that it would be so challenging and I would have to deal with my fear of heights.  That morning I was forced to deal and act on what I knew to be true and to place my fear aside to help my team accomplish our goals.  In other words, I had to put my faith in what I had learned and knew was truth into action.  I was reminded that Faith is not faith at all, if that faith is not put into action.  This is the same no matter who you are.  You see, I had to act on what I knew to be TRUE and not let my feelings seize the moment.  Once I did that, I not only was I able to help lead my team through some challenge events, but I also realized something else.

team 2

That something else is what I call the excitement of real life.  The fun of accomplishing something that earlier some of us had said, “Yea, right, I’m not doing that”.  This was something that we had learned together.  We learned that even though something may be hard and scary, we can act on what we know to be true and move forward.  When we learn to do this, the challenge is still the same, but we learn we can overcome by working together, using each other strengths and having fun at the same time.  We learned that stepping out in faith does not get any easier time goes by, because challenges are constantly being through at us in Life.  Yet, those lessons learned on the high ropes course that morning helps each of us keep focusing on what is True and Right.

Where are you being challenged at today?  What Truth do you need to focus on so that you can take a step of faith and accomplish what scary challenge lies before you?

Team 1

How to Choose A Kayaking Paddle

Friday, January 31st, 2014

DCIM100GOPRO

I often get asked about how I choose a paddle for kayaking or what the difference between this paddle and another paddle is.  So, I figured that we would spend some time talking about paddles in this blog.

Kayak paddles vary in styles for the different kind of water you will be paddling.  Usually, the shorter the paddle the better is for quick stroked needed in swift water and the longer the paddle, the better for touring and for longer boats.  Also a longer paddle is needed for a wider boat.  Also one thing to consider on a paddle is the weight of the paddle, especially if you paddle for long periods of time.  Always remember, the lighter the paddle the better, but the lighter the paddle, the more expensive the

When selecting a paddle, the most important thing to consider is the comfort of the paddle in your hands.  The better paddles have an oval shaft that provide better control and comfort and will help you get the correct angel.  A lot of kayakers have straight shafts paddles, but there are a few designs that are bent at the grips to ease the strain on the wrists.

The length of the paddle will be determined by several factors like; type of water you will be paddling, the width of your kayak, you size and length of the blades on your paddle and your preference.  The majority of the paddles we use with our tours are between 210 and 230 centimeters long.  The general rule of thumb for choosing a paddle is to hold the paddle over your head horizontally.  With your elbows at a 90 degree angle, you hands should be 6 to 8 inches from the blades of your paddle.

Now for the blades of your paddle; if you have not noticed the blades of the paddle come in various designs.  The larger the blade, the more power you will get out of your stroke; the smaller the blade, the less power per stroke and thereby more gentle to your arms and shoulder joints.   Most blades are spooned for increase water resistance, helping with a more powerful stroke.  Also, some blades are asymmetrical.  This design is for balance of the force on the top and bottom of the blade when paddling and for angle placement in the water.

One last thing about paddles, you have choice between a single and two piece paddles.  I would recommend a two piece paddle.  The reason or this is that you can choose the angle of your paddle with these paddles.  For beginners, it is usually better to have your blades parallel with each other; then as you become for comfortable with kayaking you can then angle the paddle for feathering of your paddle in the water.  Feathering is important for longer distance paddling, especially if you are paddling into the wind for long distances.

Join Mahanaim Adventure for one of our upcoming kayaking adventures or why not schedule a private kayaking adventure for you and your family or friends.  We even offer Team Building Kayaking Events.

Family Camping Part 2 / How to Prepare for Outdoors Activities in Colder Months

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Why do some people consider it unthinkable to spend time in the outdoors during colder months? Yea, it can be cold, but don’t let that stop you for enjoying outdoor adventures when the thermometer drops below 45 degrees? Consider the reverse of that situation; when that thermometer rises to high 90’s during the summer? There is not much keeping people from heading out to a mountain lake and enjoy some camping and other outdoor adventure. What about the people who head to the beach with all those other tourist? During the summer months, it is almost impossible to get a last minute camping site at your favorite camp site at Carolina Beach State Park. Yet in the colder months, you get your choice of site and if you are lucky, there are no more than a half dozen sites filled in the whole campground.

I think part of the reason is a fear of the cold and not knowing how to deal with it. I hear from people who worry that their children will get sick if they camp outside during the colder months. Granted, I’m sure this can plays a role in how we get sick, but we are probably just as likely to get sick by being cooped up inside all winter also. As a parent of three kids, my wonderful wife and I wondered the same when our kids were smaller. I also must admit that it is harder to winter camping, but the rewards and memories have been priceless.

Over this past Thanksgiving Holiday’s our family went camping once again. Each morning, it was in the upper 30’s at Carolina Beach State Park, and then warmed up into the higher 50’s on Thanksgiving Day. So in my opinion the temperatures were just perfect. Yet, we were prepared and knew what to expect in the way of weather for this adventure.

So you ask; how to you prepare for cold weather camping? Well here are a few important tips that will help you when you want to attempt to try a colder weather camping expedition.

The first tip is to make sure that you layer you clothing when you go out. Layering is the best way to stay warm as the temps cool off at night. It is also important to properly layer so that as the temps change throughout your cold weather adventures, you can adjust your layers for comfort. More layers as it cools down and fewer layers as it warms up. Remember, layering allows you to control your warmth level by adjusting your clothing. Another important fact is that you can also have too many layers on. You can get warm quickly by properly layering but you can also get over heated quickly. Why over heated? Because with too many layers you will begin to sweat and once you start sweating, your clothing gets wet. With these damp or wet clothing from sweat, as the temps drop you will get colder. If you have a full day of activities planned, you may want to change clothing, getting out of the damp sweaty clothing.

Another part of layering is to stay away from cotton clothing in the winter months. Why? Because cotton dose not wick away your sweat, causing your clothing to remain damp. So when you are packing make sure you pack plenty of clothing that will keep you dry. Clothing made out of quick dry nylons, polypropylene, suplex, polar fleece, wool, thermax and other materials are great for layering.

When getting in your sleeping bags at night, also remember the layering principle. On cold weather adventures with my scouts, often I hear the next morning that a scout was cold. When asked what he wore to bed, I get this layer and that layer of clothing, or the clothing I wore yesterday. WRONG answer. The same layering principle applies when sleeping. First, find out what your sleeping bag is rated for. A 30 degree bag is designed to keep a person warm down to 30 degrees. The problem is that too often what happened is people will have two layers on and then get into their bag and get warm quickly. In the middle of the night the bag gets damp from the sweat and you get cold. In most instances a single layer of dry clothing or long underwear worn in the bag is just fine.

One last thing, dry socks are critical to saying warm. Don’t make the mistake of wearing the same socks you had on that evening in your shoes to bed. These socks are damp and your feet will get cold. We teach our scouts to take off their socks, dry their feet and place on dry socks. When you do this, you will be surprised how warm your feet stay.

The second important item to have is a good sleeping pad. A good sleeping pad between you and the ground is critical. You can have a 5 degree bag and still get cold without insulation between you and the ground. A good closed cell pad or a Therm-a-Rest type backpacking pad are great to use. If you don’t have one of those, you can use wool blankets or even several comforters from you linen closet at home will also work. The key here is getting a good layer of insulation between you and the ground. One last thing about standard air mattresses, they do not insulate you against the cold from the ground. These types of mattresses will allow the air in them to get cold, creating cold mattress for you to sleep on.

Third thing to have is a pair of warm gloves and a warm hat to wear. I typically carry two winter type hats to wear, one for the day’s activities and one to wear at night, even while sleeping. Enough said.

Lastly is a warm fire and warm drink. Having a nice warm cup of hot tea or hot cocoa by the fire at night is warming and cozy. The added benefit is that the fire is something special at camp that no camping adventure is complete without. You don’t have to have a huge bonfire to keep warm, but plan accordingly. Remember don’t let your fire burn unattended in camp, even when you head to the tents for sleep.

Check out Campmor.com for all your family camping gear, click here for a Campmor coupon.

So, are you ready to give a Family Camping Adventure a try in the colder months? If so contact Mahanaim Adventure and we can help you have a fantastic and safe cold weather camping adventures!