Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Evolved Trash Paddling Techniques

Recently, I received the following email from fellow trashpaddler, Dan:
"Al, I've been enjoying your blog for several years.  I seem to remember a blog post about the tools you use to reach trash and how you hold it down once it's on deck.  I couldn't find it on your blog.  If you've got an article like that, I'd enjoy reading it again.  I did a trash patrol between Gleasondale and Sudbury Rd. in Stow earlier this week and was running out of deck lines after 10 items.  Happy Paddling!"

Recognizing that a trash patrol netting 10 items (or even 1 item) is AOK, there are times when one wishes to recover more trash than what their deck bungees will accommodate.  On those occasions, folks such as Dan may find useful these evolved techniques that I presently employ:

A typical trash patrol starts with positioning my boat as close to the target as possible in order to reach it with my extended kayak paddle.  When working in moving water, I find it safer to keep my boat heading in an upstream direction making it less likely to being turned sideways to the current.   The piece of trash can then be either balanced on the paddle's blade, or drawn back to within reach by my gloved hand.  Once plucked from the water, it is placed under the deck bungees directly in front of my boat's cockpit...

With the trash stored temporarily under the bungee, I'm allowed to concentrate on getting away from the shore and back out to open water.  When there are about a dozen items or so, I reach behind me to where a dedicated dry bag is secured to the deck bungee aft of my boat's cockpit.  The trash is transferred into the dry bag which will hold between 16 and 20 pieces of trash.  Usually, about the time the dry bag gets full, I'm ready to find a spot to disembark and stretch my legs.  This is when the dry bag and deck's contents are transferred into my boat's rear hold where a plastic bag is waiting and the trash is salted and iced for freshness ;)  (only kidding)...

Depending on how much trash is encountered, and how ambitious I'm feeling, this process will be repeated over and over again until the rear hold and dry bag are full.  Large items, such as the 5-gallon pail pictured above, are secured to my boat's deck using multiple 10" bungee cords hooked to perimeter deck bungees.

On one of my better (or perhaps worse) days, my boat looked like this at patrol's end...
A testament to what bungees can do!

While the above pretty much illustrates my present trash paddling techniques, I have thought about future modifications, such as utilizing a small laundry basket secured so as to rest on the boat's front hatch, similar to the system Edthewebguy uses on his Nashua River trash recoveries.  Another idea briefly explored was to tow a mini-kayak as a trash barge of sorts.  Of these two, the small laundry basket seems like the one most likely to be implemented.  One advantage to the laundry basket is that trash can be transferred from the paddle blade directly into the basket-no hands!
For a time, I tried to extend my reach by using a telescoping pole (meant for window washing) equipped with a grass whip blade to pull trash from the river banks or out of the shrubbery.  I called it "The Come Hither" and it worked quite well, until river grit gummed up the telescoping mechanism.  If I do attempt to extend my reach in the future, I'll try to develop an attachment I can clip temporarily to my paddle's shaft during retrieval operations (or grow longer arms).

 Happy Trash Paddling!


PenobscotPaddles said...

Thanks for your tips! I must say I appreciate your efforts more having see the shore of the Charles. It's impressive to see you keeping at it!

Bernie Paquette said...

I also have been wondering how you haul all that trash in on your boat. Thanks for the defining how you accomplish the retrieving and hauling.