Saturday, April 29, 2006

Kayaking, Part 2

Loaded Up

As "promised" in my previous kayaking post, here's a picture of our (Beth's) Mini loaded up for a kayaking trip. Pretty silly looking, eh?

Well, we went out again today, this time to McDaniels Marsh. This body of water covers well over twice the area of Grafton Pond, although it's extremely shallow. I remembered to take a GPS unit this time. We paddled together to about 1.25 miles away from where we parked before Beth decided to stop for a rest while allowing me to go on for a while alone. I got to what I believe was pretty much the far end of the marsh, at 1.65 miles from the car.

We saw a painted turtle, some small fishes, and a few ducks. I also spotted a couple of amphibians (newts or salamanders, I'm guessing), a kingfisher, and a healthy looking snapping turtle.

When we got back to shore I flipped my boat to try draining it, and (much to my surprise) discovered that there were about a dozen (maybe more) leeches attached to the hull! Which leads to my question of the day: Does anyone out there have advice for the best way to humanely remove a leech from a kayak's belly?

I'm really quite bewildered as to why they would have attached there in the first place. Surely, they didn't find it loaded with any tasty juices!

The best approach I was able to come up with for removing them was the "grab and pull" technique. This was fairly easy in the case of the smaller ones, but the larger ones really had quite a good grip on the boat and weren't too keen on letting go. I have nothing against the leeches (although I really don't want to transport them around the state) and I have no desire to cause them any harm. I can't help but think that the amount of squeezing I had to do to maintain my grip must have been uncomfortable, if not downright damaging, to the poor creatures. Perhaps I'm underestimating just how hardy they really are. They certainly turned out to be less squishable than they look!

After getting my hull cleaned, We flipped Beth's kayak and found leeches there, as well. She had fewer of them, which I'd tend to attribute less to the color difference in the boats than to my having gone farther into the marsh than she went.

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