Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cape Ann Hiatus with Nod to Howard Blackburn

After experiencing last year's Blackburn Challenge without the logistical complications of an automobile, I decided to give it another go and travel to/depart from the event via my boat.  To accomplish this I set up camp at Cape Ann Campsite amidst cedar trees and glacial rock formations overlooking the Jones and Annisquam Rivers...
 
To prevent last year's "sweat lodge" conditions, my tent was equipped with a battery powered fan which is now an essential part of my summertime camping gear.

Camping at this location put me within striking distance of the Gloucester High School where participants gather for check-in.  I launched into the Jones River from the campground's tidal access and began my commute as the day was dawning...

Arriving at Gloucester High School, a wide variety of boats and paddleboards were undergoing last minute preparations.  This 6-man Hawaiian outrigger canoe had a most distinctive "ama"...

Soon the event that celebrates the legendary accomplishments of Gloucester's Howard Blackburn was underway and more than 300 rowers and paddlers began the approximately 20 mile journey 'round Cape Ann.  As luck would have it, clouds sheltered us from what would have been a punishing sun and, once past Thachers Island, a southwest breeze freshened things nicely.
I arrived at the Greasy Pole finish line with a few castaways that hopped aboard, earlier, as I paddled to the start line...

They much enjoyed their scenic ride and so did I.

There was news at the finish line that most likely this was the last year the finish line festivities will be held at Gloucester's Pavillion Beach, as a major hotel will soon occupy the site.  Hopefully, this great event will continue and a new location for the post-event party will be found.  Henry, the only man to have completed all 26 Blackburn Challenges, put it best: "It's a good cardio check.  If you can do the Blackburn, you're probably good for another year."

In the days leading up to the Blackburn, while paddling around the Jones and Annisquam rivers, I came across this ideal houseboat...

and this ideal home for ospreys...
 
many great egrets...

and a modest amount of trash...
There were 10 recyclable containers (5 redeemable) and 12 pieces of misc. rubbish such as plastic bags, and 2 of those ubiquitous disks that escaped from the Hooksett Wastewater Treatment Plant located 40 miles up the Merrimack River.  These disks are a reminder of how water connects us all.  YTD = 4069

The morning after Blackburn sunrise...

Here's to "High Summer" in New England, and a Cape Ann state of mind!

2 comments:

suep said...

congrats to you ! "good for another year" - that's for sure. will raise a Dark and Stormy to your health !

Suasco Al said...

Thanks Sue. A Dark and Stormy toast to your health as well!