by Brian Vincent
(- Please see the amended disclaimer that follows this blog entry. Thank you.)
Last Sunday the sun was out and the water was calling. I decided to head for the James River. The family loaded up and lit out for Scottsville, Va. We opted to float from Hatton Ferry to Scottsville, a stretch of river that I volunteered to patrol. Before the New Year, I took a James River Association RiverRat training course and adopted this section of the James. The JRA describes RiverRats here:
"The James River Association (JRA) and its James Riverkeepers are recruiting the James River's first line of citizen defense, the RiverRats. This program engages volunteers to patrol the James and its tributaries and to take action to protect and restore the entire watershed. JRA RiverRats document potential pollution sources and effects while also reporting natural patterns in river hydrology and wildlife sightings. RiverRats are also proactive in protecting their river by committing to action projects in their communities."
We pulled up to Hatton Ferry, the last poled ferry in the United States of America, and started to unload. The ferry was established in 1870 and is still in operation from April through October.
We piled into the Mad River Canoe Journey 167 that I grabbed out of our Used Boats section. They don't call that thing the "river truck" for nothing. It is tough, super stable and fun. Be warned though, it is heavy (88 lb.), something I learned loading and unloading it by myself.
The trip also gave me a chance to christen my Christmas present, a beautiful Bending Branches Expedition Plus Canoe Paddle, though I had to do it from the bow of the boat. ;) If you've followed this blog, you are well aware of the playful bow/stern battle I have with my gorgeous wife.
The sunshine came out, bringing the midday temps up to 65 degrees and we had a great family float. My daughter sat up in the bow with me and we monitored the river together. She pointed out hawks to me and I pointed out river otters to her.
The trip was a success. I monitored my stretch of the James River and the whole family got to enjoy the outdoors on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The water looked clear, we saw plenty of wildlife and no points of pollution were spotted. We rounded out the trip with a stop at James River Brewing in Scottsville. The promise of post-paddle beverages was instrumental in my selection of this section of river and James River Brewing does not disappoint. I recently tried two of their specialty brews, the Green Eyed Lady- A Belgian Inspired Ale finished w/ Pistachios and the Seamus Reserve #1- an Imperial Smokey Brown Ale. Both of them were excellent. The tag line alone is awesome, it's like the story of my life in a slogan :
"Forged in History, Brewed with Abandon"
After a little live music in the JRB pub and a taste of their sweet nectar, we loaded up the shuttle vehicles and headed for home. The only downside to a good family canoe trip is the separate vehicles needed for shuttle, but it makes for a good photo.
Getting out of the house and rallying the troops can sometimes be tough. Both my wife and I work full -time, plus we have a small child and a dog. Sometimes the weekend hits and all you want to do is chill at home. It makes it hard to volunteer your time, to give up what you think you want to do, for what you know you should. Due to holiday craziness, work and family responsibilities, I had not been able to get down my adopted stretch of river in December or January. It had been weighing heavy on my mind, so it felt good to get out and do it. I love hanging out with my family in the outdoors and I love pitching in and giving of myself. It is important for me to plug into advocacy and volunteer endeavors like the James River Association. It rounds out the sense of community that I crave and fulfills my desire to leave the world a better way. That is how the world becomes a better place afterall, through that shared sense of responsibility, and that genuine desire to help out. We are all responsible for creating the community we wish to live in and it starts at home. Pass it down from generation to generation. If legacy is all we leave behind when we go, I want my daughter to remember me as more than a good dad. I want her to know that I endeavored to be a good person and good steward of the land as well.
*Recently, as a result of a picture from this trip and a previous blog post, ARC was contacted concerning the dangers of winter paddling. It has sparked a conversation about the subject and I support any dialogue in pursuit of safety. Informed decisions are the best decisions in most instances. I thank those who wrote to us and hope to honor their concern by sparking a conversation with you, our customer base.
Appomattox River Company always advocates for proper immersion attire for cold water paddling. Paddling like all outdoor pursuits is inherently dangerous. Be careful out there and stay educated on the risks. InÂ an effortÂ to educate, I offer the following website dedicated to instruction on the perils of paddling in cold water. It offers some good tips on protecting yourself from the dangers of winter paddling. Make informed decisions. http://www.coldwatersafety.org/nccwsRules3.html
Visit the NCCWS link and tell me what you think. Thank you.
Disclaimer: The actions taken in this blog represent actions me, the author, and my wife chose to engage in and do not represent any opinion or policy of anyone other than me, Brian Vincent.