Monday, June 21, 2010

Solstice Row Beyond The Indian

"...and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth...seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness." - Conrad

June 21st, 2010. The Summer Solstice. On this longest day of the year, something motivated me to break my planned afternoon workout and venture beyond "The Indian", that native American visage painted on a large boulder that we normally take as the upstream terminus of rowable water. And on this particular afternoon, I happened to have my cell phone on board. So I thought I'd take a few photos of this beautiful, but infrequently traveled, portion of the Housatonic, and publish them in The Catch.

Now, here's a little something of a disclaimer: I am not advising any one who hasn't done so already to follow my lead and row beyond The Indian. There's a lot of hazards up there. It's certainly no place for a novice or some one just getting used to our river. I've been up this way many times, often during conditions of low water, and know where most of the major hazards are, as well as the main channel. Recently, the river has been high, and on this particular day, there was a significant flow and a lot of disturbed water. So my advice to most is just to enjoy this travelogue for now, at least until upstream conditions calm down a bit.

That said, here are some of the photos I managed to take....

The above photo shows the view looking back as you enter the somewhat wider expanse of the river just upstream of the relatively narrow channel that begins at The Indian. Here, the water was flowing fairly swiftly and required some firm rowing to make good progress upstream. Generally, the Shelton/Monroe side of the river is safer, initially, as there is a deep channel cutting right along the shore. But with the higher water level, I was able to row nearly right up the middle.

A little farther up are several beautifully situated homes overlooking the river. But don't get too close! There's quite a few rocks on the Oxford side, along with some visible swells forming over them. Just upstream of the homes is a pretty impressive, steep rock wall. As you're nearing the rock wall, the deep channel begins to shift toward the center of the river, and you need to do likewise.

This photo shows the middle portion of the large rock wall, just a bit beyond the homes.

The upstream end of the rock wall, on the Oxford shore. You can see from the photo that the water was getting a bit tumultuous at this point...

Finally, the upper boundary of rowable water more or less occurs just a tad upstream of this rope swing and climbing ladder on the Oxford side. It was near this structure some years ago that I had a chance encounter with Marlon Brando, who was unintelligibly reciting some weird poetry at the time....(just kidding, folks!)

And this is the end, my friend.....the view just upstream of the rope swing. Just about 50 yards farther up, water is boiling over large boulders. Between the separation in the trees on either side of the river, almost in the center of the photo, is a large grey structure, which is the Stevenson dam. The water at this point was strongly forcing me back downstream, so I heeded the river's advice and gingerly turned the shell around to head back home.

On much calmer days, I've been able to row about another 75-100 feet beyond this point, in the center channel, with large, submerged boulders on either side. "Turning around" in that case means back-paddling until the channel is once again wide enough to spin the shell. The above photo was taken on a different day, under relatively calm, low-water conditions. You can plainly see the large rocks ahead, which are hidden in the previous photo. You can also make out the outline of the center channel.

The ride downstream was a bit exhilarating in places. Initially, I stayed in the center of the river, but then steered toward the Shelton/Monroe side to stay in the channel. In the above photo, there's a large, submerged sandbar just off the Shelton shore. This bar is plainly visible when the river is low, but it was completely submerged on this particular day. The bar was causing a column of water about 4-5' wide, right alongside the shoreline, to flow much more quickly than the water where I was (essentially a Bernoulli effect), forming its own fast moving stream.

A view of the last few rocks on the Shelton shore, and then finally...

...The Indian! Unfortunately, the light shining through the trees blurred part of this photo. I continued heading downstream, and resumed my normal rowing regimen in the more tranquil waters. You know...with the water skiers and personal water craft guys! :-)


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Club Update, May 6 2010

Hopkins Redux: We are pleased to say that the Hopkins School has reconsidered, and will be rowing this year after all! Apparently a warm response from parents of the young athletes caused Hopkins to make rowing a priority for the fall once again: the board was informed at the end of April. We will be pleased to welcome them in the fall.

Sunshine Committee: Nancy Brackett reports that Sandy Blanchard and John Sword are recovering nicely; Sandy is home from the hospital. Both are probably impatient to get up and at 'em! We are sad to report that Norm Thetford's mother passed last week at age 96: please see the full report in the post immediately below.

Derby Sweeps and Sculls: Save June 5 on your calendar now!! We need our usual enthusiastic volunteer turnout for this smaller, but mighty, regatta. If you are new to the club, please know that we raise a major portion of our budget through this and the Head of the Housatonic in the fall, making it possible for us to have a membership cost that actually does not represent what it costs to run the club. It's also a fun way to hang out together and remember that even though we have many differences we are all NHRCs!

From Susan Schofield:

I know it's hard to believe, but the DSS regatta is now less than a month away (June 5). I need some assistance attaching medals to the ribbons. By Saturday, I will leave bags of medals/ribbons on the upstairs window seat near the office. The best tool to use for this task is a pair of needlenose plyers.

Thanks in advance for your help. As you all know, our regattas are run completely with volunteer help, so please mark June 5 on your calendar and volunteer to help out. Volunteers will also be needed before and after the actual regatta date. Let's have another outstanding regatta!

Sunshine Committee: Meda E. Thetford, June 3 1913-April 26 2010

We are sorry to report that Norm Thetford's mother, Meda E. Thetford, passed away on April 26, her children by her side. Thanks to Nancy Brackett, we have the obituary from the Asbury Park Press:

Meda E. (Young) Thetford, 96, of Eatontown, passed peacefully from this life on Monday, April 26, 2010, at her home. Meda was born June 3, 1913 in Palmyra, N.Y., the second daughter of Sanford and Genevieve Young. She graduated valedictorian from Palmyra Classical High School in 1931. She won a New York State Regents' Scholarship to attend Cornell University, where she majored in psychology and earned a Phi Beta Kappa in 1935. She completed her Masters in Social Work at the New York School of Social Work, now part of Columbia University, while living at International House in upper Manhattan. She met her husband, Norman D. Thetford, M.D. while they were students at Cornell. On July 17, 1939, they were married at the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn, N.Y. They lived for seven years on Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where Norman served in the U.S. Public Health Service, and then moved to Eatontown in 1947. They had been married for 69 years at the time of Norman's death in 2008. With a great desire to beautify her community, Meda was the founder and charter member of the Eatontown Shade Tree Commission and a leader in creating the Pride in Eatontown Committee. In these and many other civic affairs, she was active for over 40 years. In 1983, she received a Special Recognition Award from the Borough of Eatontown for her public service.

She is the mother of four children, Virginia and her husband, Professor Ivan Valiela of Falmouth, Mass., Dr. Norman A. Thetford and his wife, Dr. Mary Lou (Williams) Thetford of Hamden, Conn., Lois Thetford, PA-C and her partner, the Honorable Jean Rietschel of Seattle, Wash., and Dr. Constance and her husband, Dr. Clair Hixson of Kingsport, Tenn. Her descendants include nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Meda will always be remembered by her family and her many beloved associates as a woman of great kindness, intellect, courage, and determination to fight for the right. She had a warm smile and a generous spirit that brought joy to those who spent time with her. She was a wise counselor to her husband and her children, and to many other family members and friends.
A gathering of family and friends to memorialize Meda Thetford's life will be announced when arrangements are complete. In lieu of flowers or donations, the family asks that the donor plant a tree or flowering bush in Meda's memory in a location of his or her choice.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Next Board of Directors Meeting: May 19, 6:30 P.M.

The New Haven Rowing Club will be honoring the 1848 ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo by inviting you to a Board of Directors Meeting at 6:30 P.M. at the boat house. In exchange for only 15 million USD, the treaty ended the Mexican-American War. More importantly, it added California to the union, where rowing subsequently flourished. Without the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, for example, there would be no San Diego Crew Classic.

Just kidding! We never need a special reason to invite you to participate in club governance! We always have Board Meetings on the third Wednesday of the month, and members are always invited (although sometimes we meet at an alternate location, so it is wise to check ahead of time if you want to attend.) If there is anything that you want the Board to discuss, please get it to us the previous week.

The Coaching Committee, 2010

The Coaching Committee for 2010 consists of:

Mitz Carr: Chair, Member of the Board of Directors
Audrey Novak: Women's sweep representative
Dean Poniros: Men's sweep representative
Steve Burt: Sculling representative, men and women

The coaching committee's mandate is to deliver the coaching program to the membership in an equitable way. If you have questions about coaching, please direct them to the appropriate committee member who represents your constituency.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Update To The Membership: The Communications Committee

As most of you know, the Communications Committee has, in the past, taken responsibility for producing The Catch and the NHRC listserve. At the recent Board meeting it was decided that to improve cohesion in all club communications, the committee would be restructured and expanded.

Claire Potter will continue as the Board member chairing the committee, in partnership with John Poole. Nancy Brackett has agreed to serve on the Sunshine Committee, which will now be a sub-committee of Communications. Sam Gambrell, the webmaster, will also be part of the committee.

Here is a brief review of our procedures and platforms, so that you may direct any news to the correct people. Please copy Claire and John on any communications with a committee member so that they can double-check that your message is going to the right place and/or speak to you about the appropriateness of the platform you have chosen.

The Sunshine Committee: This committee is primarily tasked with circulating news of life events that club members wish to be generally known within our community: births, deaths, adoptions, illnesses, graduations, a new home, marriages and new jobs are all good examples of news that you might wish to have shared. Nancy will also make arrangements on behalf of the club, paid for from money raised by our Saturday breakfasts (thank you, Dianne Kelley for agreeing to coordinate these for another year!), in the event that flowers or a donation in lieu of flowers is appropriate for a given occasion.

Sunshine Committee news will be sent out via the list serve, unless you indicate a desire for your news to go on The Catch as well. Please remember, however, that The Catch is not restricted to club members, and that any news put up there is accessible to anyone in a routine Google search. The list serve is semi-private: only registered users (specifically, people with registered email addresses) can submit and receive email, and the communications committee controls who these registered users are. Non-registered email addresses cannot send to, or receive mail from, the list serve. Being on it does not make you vulnerable to unwanted email from spammers or non-members.

That said, please be aware that news sent out via the list serve ends up on the desktops of around a hundred people: all active members from the roster, and a few selected coaches and friends. Any messages that you wish to send only to closest friends or boat mates within the club should go out via your own email lists: you will periodically receive an updated membership roll from Dianne Kelly so that you can create them yourself.

The Catch: What you are reading now is a blog (short for "web log") that, several years ago, replaced the digital newsletter ably produced for many years by Baxter Walsh. Primarily written by John and Claire, contributors to The Catch include other members of the club as well. If you would like to be one of them, let us know! You may also send us things you have written, reports on events, links to other sites, and issues you would like covered. We vet all posts for good taste, including our own, but we have a broad editorial policy.

Our view is that The Catch should contain items that are of interest to the club. It might be a link to a good article, regatta photos, or posts like this one that notify the membership at large about an organizational matter. As we said above, please remember that anyone in the world can access The Catch. It is not an appropriate place for information that you would consider too personal for anyone other than a friend -- an employer, a landlord, an estranged family member -- to know.

The NHRC website: This is the most public face of the club; it is the site to which we direct prospective members and participants in our regattas (several thousand people a year fall into this second category, hence its importance.) Its use is highly restricted. We are happy to accept any suggestions about improvements that can be made. Please make those suggestions directly to Sam, and copy to Claire Potter and the president of the club, Wayne Huskes.

A Final (But Important) Note: Any member of the club can send an email to the membership via the listserve, either by initiating an email with the correct group address (contact John Poole if you don't have it) or by hitting "reply all" to an email you have received from the listserve. In the past, club members have complained about being deluged with emails from the club that were unwanted, irrelevant and/or in bad taste. Please remember that when you hit "reply all," you reply to the whole club, cluttering their inboxes and perhaps broadcasting a message you intended for only one person. By hitting only "reply" you can respond directly to the person who wrote the email without involving the rest of us.

In addition, we ask you to restrict any use of the listserve to club business only. When in doubt, view this narrowly and ask for the opinion of a member of the communications committee before you send the email. Please do not use the listserve to:

*Air personal disputes, grievances or misunderstandings;
*Advertise business or commercial opportunities;
*Sell personal goods that are not rowing-related;
*Recruit for a charity (these items may be sent to The Catch for publication, however);
*Forward amusing or any other type of spam you have received;
*Participate in club-wide banter about a message received via the listserve.

The committee will be meeting soon as a group to discuss our agenda for the coming year: please send any suggestions and/or concerns about the committee' work to Claire at tenured DOT radical AT gmail DOT com. Click here if you are in any doubt that we wish to communicate with you!

Update To The Membership: The Hopkins Program

Tom Parr has recently informed the Board that Hopkins has reviewed its commitment to rowing and has decided not to continue the program in 2010. Parr informed Hopkins parents of the decision yesterday, citing the relatively few students involved and the logistical hurdles to mounting a truly competitive program off-site. Money does not seem to have been a factor, but the need for the school to devote its athletic budget in a way that spoke best to student interests, transportation issues and scheduling needs were critical issues in the discussion.

Parr thanks the club sincerely for its efforts on behalf of the school, and notes in his letter to the Hopkins community that the school will continue to support students who wish to row as one of their athletic commitments. We at The Catch, speaking on behalf of the Board, thank all of you who made the program possible. Past president Audrey Novak guided our discussions with skill; Mitz Carr helped to solidify the arrangements between NHRC and Hopkins; and Lisa Brailey chaired the committee that surveyed the membership as to its views, allowing others to negotiate a contract that was satisfactory to the club. Too many of you to name were advocates for Hopkins, allowing the club to think about its future involvement with junior rowing in a way that is sure to continue, and made good on your commitment by making the practical arrangements that allowed Hopkins to practice safely at our boathouse.

Thank you to everyone, and our discussions about future junior programming are sure to continue.