Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wonders of the basement.

It's amazing what you have in your house you have NO idea is there. No this isn't a fear mongering commercial about mold,bed bugs,H1N1. However the material things you purchase and forget about can be surprising.

I'm not a material need's person. However I have collected a ton of crap I don't use or need. This spring we stopped the "we may use it" attitude and sold, gave away donated everything we didn't remember using in the past year.

I have been fascinated on paddles as of late. Designs,types,and the art aspect has been creeping in as well.Some people out there are as handy with a jackplane and pull knife as they are with a paintbrush. I have stumbled on some pretty awesome talent googling around during the past week.

I was on Murat's paddle making page and was blown away by the design and artistic nature a paddle can take. Add in some functionality and it's a perfect paddle.(Note I never mention other site's, however this one is one to check out)

He uses wood burning as a decoration as well.I mentioned this to my wife and she quickly mentioned that we had one in the basement.....

She had bought it for one of her crafts, used it once and put it in the basement to die.Now this isn't a professional model. In fact it's a little "junky" one. Never the less I know my great grandfather would have done some awesome detail work if he had it!I find if I think like that I stay more matter what the results.

Here's a pic above of the wood burner.It has various burning tips that I ended up experimenting with, with varied results. Above is my caribou/rune writing experiment.

Suddenly my afternoon turned into burning wood at the kitchen table.Definitely a interesting way to decorate some wood. I am about as good a artist as I am a woodworker, however I believe if I keep the design basic as I have it may add to the simplicity of the paddle I build.

Here's a few designs I ended up burning.that black blob in the bottom is a mantaray.....yeah. I am pleased with the others which took mere minutes to burn on.

Maybe it will make a small appearance on my next project.

And in closing thanks to all the people who drop by to check out my little paddling blog.I hope you enjoy.Thanks to those who leave comments, and those who follow my blog even more. It's nice to know someone's reading! Thanks again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Walnut Greenland paddle complete

She's all done.
This project has taken quite a while due to the fact that the rough lumber needed to be planed off. I purchased an electric planer as my block plane just wasn't "cutting it".(Lame eh?)
Anyway once I made the rough cut surfaces flat my block plane worked just as well as it did on pine. Having very limited woodworking experience I dunno if walnut is a easy hard wood or not. I didn't find much difference in working with it overall in comparison to pine.

So when I left off last time I had the rough shape cut. Today I cut the angles to the 8 faces and finished her up.I used 60 grit sandpaper to remove the band saw and plane blemishes I had created,which worked good on my random orbit sander. I then went over it with 100,then wet the whole paddle down and hit it with a 120. I would have liked to finish it off with a 200 or a 220...I just couldn't find any.
The tung oil really brought out the colour,as you can see above.The grain on the walnut is amazing.
The difference in tones with and without the oil.
I tried to remove as much excess as I could to lighten the weight. However I wanted to keep the dimensions that work well for me. My last project I followed Matt Johnston's dimensions just to get the hang of it. This time I measured for myself using the fathom and cubit. Another way to measure is to stand the paddle up and reach your fingers up over the top of the blade. However this doesn't take into account people with extra long or stubby leg's. Both ways of measurement seem to be about the same for me.

I went with a more oval loom instead of the rounded one I did with the last. It feels to fit my hand a little better than the previous.This project did take quite some time. Reasons ranging from away visiting family for a week,not being able to work on it during 7 month olds naps,nighttime for 3 yr old etc.
Here is project number 1,and 2.You can see how much I had shaved the last paddle loom down. Something I wanted to avoid with this project.
Here is the final project (minus two more coats of tung oil). Overall for my second paddle I am very happy with the final product. Carving a solid walnut paddle was more of a experiment for me. Let's face it the natives who have made paddles from northern Russia across Canada to Greenland used what they found. No lumber stores,no internet experts. They did much the same as myself and used good ol trial and error. If it washed up on the beach and was suitable and needed as a paddle....that's what it become.
Overall the paddle's costs were: $40.50 ish
63 dollars- 2x5x8 walnut rough lumber (a lot of lumber left for future lamination project)
2 bucks-3 sheet sandpaper
50 cents-3 coats tung oil

Time-overall around 10 hours

Hope you enjoyed. Any suggestions are totally welcome of wood types etc. I'm open to suggestions on another solid paddle wood type to do next.Unlike a member of a northern tribe of the past,I have no peers to learn and develop the skill with.Comments are welcome and encouraged

I have also been seeing groups of people getting together with some hand tool's while camping and rigging out some paddles while sitting around at camp.Weight wise for a 2 day trip what would be a few tools divided between a bunch of people?I think that would be a excellent early summer camping trip for a group for sure.Heck what a way to end a trip with everyone paddling back with their own paddles!

I may have found another thing to do besides eating like a pig and getting intoxicated (peu chaud)dans le camp!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In the blood?

So no paddling today.Spent another 20 minutes on the paddle and may finish it up tomorrow.
It's hard to believe that my great grandfather was a master boat builder.Big saying in the family is your not a carpenter until you build a boat.Well he sure was.What a lost art in our generation.Here he is in a cut over where they would find a nice grove of trees and cut and build right there.

I don't know much about who this boat was for,or in fact why the "N" on the sign is backwards.

However that's me great grandfather far right sitting on his beautiful creation in the making.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Walnut paddle and Champlain's journeys

There is no doubt I'm a fair weather paddler after October comes to a end.Anytime before...bring on the "suck"! Bad weather builds kayaking skill's and character.Not to mention writing about how nice the weather was is good for about 2 sentences...7 foot waves and thunder...NOW THAT'S A ENTRY!

However the past two days has been hovering around plus two- plus zero (I'm a optimist!)as well as being very humid and foggy.I decided rather than go freeze down to my bones I would skip the South nation river.Heck it's on my parent in laws back lawn..I'm sure I'll get around to it.
Instead of paddling...

Something I have really gotten into has been reading up on the areas I am heading into.The history of the french and english here is quite rich.And doesnt compare at all to the native tribes who called this place home.History is very rich,and varies on the account you read.Very interesting area.

I found this book at my local library looking for some information on the route Champlain had taken into Morrison island just offshore of Pembroke.Surprisingly this is only one of a couple books on Champlain at our public library.I was amazed that a area with the Champlain connection would have very little on the man.

Couple cool things just off the start of this book is that it's part of a series of books called "The makers of Canada,printed in 1905.I absolutely love the musty smell of old books.Makes it almost sacred.I find myself treating it very carefully.It is a very general book,however some interesting history indeed.They can all be found here for free.
Should be finishing this one up tonight.I was a little discouraged on the route explanations were very vague.there is another book on Champlain that goes right into his descriptions...still looking for that one.

So that has been my "kayaking for the past few days at the in laws.Finally back to my own abode,I'm throwing all my efforts back into my solid walnut paddle.
Here is the pic of the rough cut I was left with last week.
Here lays the mess in my basement.Glad I have a 3 yr old who loves cleaning this stuff up.All 4 sides of the blade portion planed finally.Done the remaining three in about 20 minutes tonight.

Beautiful grain eh?

As you can see I didn't get precise with the electric planer.I'll get the rest off with my block plane tomorrow before I start cutting out the paddle shape.

I'm on a bit of a push this week to get the paddle finished as the weather is looking like crap at best until Saturday.So if I can get it all finished up I can try it out.Not to mention I am waiting on a good SOF kayak book to arrive,which will be next on the list of winter things to do.

I feel myself being driven to create my own kayak,my own paddles and to jump out of the "arm's race" for the 5000 kayak and the 500 dollar paddle.Not to mention I am actually really enjoying the woodwork I am doing.

Don't get me wrong I still love nice kayaks (my Point 65 Whiskey 16 included).Just wouldnt mind having my own boat and paddle.Wouldn't mind having something I could totally wreck and repair myself.

Hopefully next post will either be a trip report on a river/lake,or a complete paddle.

....then bring on the kayak building!
Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

South Nation River.Iroquet land.

View South nation river in a larger map

Today I managed to head out to a auction. This was quite a new experience, good atmosphere. However having that eat up most my morning I decided I wouldn’t go kayaking. Then around 2 o’clock I got the bug and off I went.

The South Nation River is one I have drove over million of times at Cass Bridge visiting family. It always looked like a unappealing mud pit, that most likely turned into a ditch in a farmers field somewhere. Not much forest didn’t appeal to me. After having a look online I noticed this thing was a actual Canoe/kayak route. Multiple day trips. Check out their page at:

150km of paddling routes right here in the Valley. The water movement is much like the indian or muskrat river that I mentioned here before. Very slow moving at least in the section I was paddling today. Hard to believe this once was a huge white pine forest. Now for the most part you will see Manitoba maples in sparse places along the river bank. The clay is very thick and doesn’t seem to be water soluble. Sticks to everything...including my paddle.

In June 1993, a huge landslide near the former town of Lemieux, Ontario. Approximately 3 million m³ of mud and clay slid into the river from farmers fields blocking up the river for 3 days. Prior to that in 1971 another huge landslide happened just up stream. According to the South nation conservation group, it was caused by the Leda clay becoming so saturated it turned into a liquid. Which in turn let all the topsoil, rock and trees slide downhill into the river.

You can see typical erosion here in this video.


Natural occurrence or lack of forest to soak up the water....I’m not a groundologist and haven’t studies treeology. I'll take the conservations word for it. The river flows through a very flat plain of land, and is quite prone to flooding as we notice every spring. I can't help to think about the everglades flood plains and the damage the high amount of phosphorous was causing to the river system below. Then they decided that they would scrap the Army corps of engineers work, and put it back as (insert your deity) intended to have it. Why? It was a natural filter. Destroying that filter was poisoning lakes below

However I will say that this river seems to be very healthy from a kayakers point of view. Lot’s of muskrat, Blue Herons, fish. Saw 3 muskrat and 5 Heron on today’s trip. Large fish were breaching the water as well.


I had planned on picking up any garbage I saw along the way but am happy to say there wasn’t much. If you decide to go on a day trip throw a garbage bag in your day hatch and pick up a bit. I'm not much of a pack mentality type of guy, I prefer to do little things on my own rather than be organizing a pile of people to clean up a area. If that’s your cup of tea all the power to yah! And thanks! I'll just do it when I do.=0)

In total I only went 6 km upstream for the Cass bridge conservation area. This took me two...yes two hours to complete. For some reason today I done more pondering than anything.

I noticed a rock pile that was no doubt pretty old in one farm field. I automatically thought of my Great Grandmothers garden that she used as a sustainable garden for her family, and the rock pile near it.(Note most Newfoundlanders did...and we were behind in times? lol)

It had grown pretty well over by trees as I became a teenager however there was one little grassy area left and some remains of a fence. Today that is now a new subdivision, for "townies" to escape city life. No one ever bought the land in the family. Heck it was behind a bog, who was going to fill in a huge bog and build there?


So I floated along doing a little reflection on that for quite sometime. Everything from my own garden I want one day, to where I will live once I move name it. Slow moving Rivers tend to do that to me for some reason.

Anyway enough rambling.

Back to Cass bridge. I couldn’t help think of a few people who are in the kayak group with me. Unlike myself they prefer to go somewhere close, with a nice grassy field to stop at for lunch with washrooms picnic tables. This would be the perfect spot. It is a well maintained site picnic tables outhouses overhead protection. I couldn’t help to think maybe this would be a great trip for myself as well. Start in Brockville where the river begins and follow it across the valley stopping at conservation sites along the way to sleep. The Cass Bridge has a beautiful grassy field as well.

However then I noticed the sign:

However I plan on making the suggestion to the South nation conservation group to maybe look at doing as the locks on the Rideau does. Charge a menial fee of maybe 2 dollars to camp there only if you paddle in. No car camping. Could raise a bit of capital, damage to structures would be nil and everyone wins. I'll see what I can do. I have to say I remember when I first started coming up this way in 2002 it was packed full of trucks on Friday night and quite the party spot. I guess that’s the reason why.

Things I learned today: Algonquin tribe is a wide variety of tribes. I had no idea. While I am very familiar with east coast natives I am lacking in this department in Ontario. I was in Iroquet territory. One of many Algonquin tribes as the Kichesipirini are the tribe who lived at Morrision Island up in my paddling grounds. There is also a rivier de La Petite Nation on the North side of the Ottawa river (P.Q) referring to the Weskarini. I found that very interesting. As well up here in Ontario we have Algonquin park. Down south of us in NY state they have the Adirondacks park. Which translates "tree-eaters" in Iroquis, which is what they called their enemy the Algonquin’s. I had no idea. So a few more wrinkles in the brain and a few on the face from the UV.

Excellent float I dont think I can call that a paddle!

Rating 2/5(However I plan on doing King fisher route here in a few days.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New walnut greenland started

So the paddle today on snake river didnt come to fruition due to other devoir's of varying degrees of suck.What did work out;I managed to get my wife to pick me up a electric planer!Gonna make producing paddles faster,and my current project done hopefully prior to freeze up.

Two days ago I bought a 2x5x8 piece of walnut.A rough cut piece of lumber,at a crazy price of 63 dollars.I originally went looking for beechwood,however they didnt have any.I have no idea if 63 dollars is a steal or a rip off.I do know it was about 40 more dollars worth of wood I had really planned on!

Either way I brought it home and started working my magic on the lines.Hand planing a piece of walnut is a pain in the ass with a block plane.

In marches the new electric planer.Pictured sorta below.Notice the rough cut of the walnut.

Notice how nice that grain is.I love the colour.

I had a nice piece left over after I cut up the blank.A good 18inches by 5 and a 8 foor by 1 inch.Maybe a canoe paddle or another greenland laminated paddle.

I wish I had my own barn or something but suburbia has sucked me into its realm of craptastic living space.However I have to share my kayaking room with my wood working room.
Anyone know a good use for wood shavings?open to suggestions other than the compost.

So anyway Im pretty excited about getting this paddle going tomorrow.The colour,the grain the smell.Walnut is a beautiful wood.Kinda heavy though,and this is a traditional carved from one piece.Either way if it's too heavy and unpractical for use,it will be a awesome wall decoration for someone.

In closing heres a beautiful pic of a mapleleaf hanging on to better warmer days.Trying to skip the nexus between summer and winter.Much like myself.

Need a little inspiration?

Here's where I get mine.
Hopefully one day I can "stop dreamin about it and do it" as Proenneke says.

And where does one get a wife like Mrs.Stroud.Big fan of both Mr Stroud and living off the grid.Im a big fan of Les as he is a realist.he isnt afraid to rip the head off a animal and eat it.Yet has the environment on his mind.Which I pretty well where I stand.Enjoy killing my food,but would gladly live in a yurt.

I got 14 acres....any hippies wifes for my communal?lol.

hope you enjoy.

(I'll be paddlin tomorrow!Stay tuned.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Irelands eye/thoroughfare then and now

Having a very slow day I decided that since I have no new trip to post about I would do a little revisit back to the Random Island trip we did this summer past.
It's almost crazy how quick time can fly by.Heck it's almost Christmas again!

Well a mere 50 Christmas holidays ago the resettlement plan of 1959 found families leaving their rural way of life and being centralized into larger ports and towns.A distinct way of life,as well as lively hood was changed forever.Some were promised a better life,only to land in a new place where the promises didnt come true.

I have a close connection as my family was from a resettled town in Placentia bay.
I have taken a few photo's and compared them to archive photo's from Memorial University of Newfoundland.As well some photo's MAY be Rob P's hard to tell as I have homogeneous images that were thrown on a CD prior to coming home.

Old pictures taken from:

SUF parade irelands eye 1950.


Post office Irelands eye 1989


E.J green Herring factory. Thoroughfare 1965


St.Georges Anglican Church 1950 Irelands eye


You can learn more about the individual towns by visiting the MUN link provided above,as well as see other pictures of these and other resettled towns.

Unfortunately this is still happening today.In this case not due to government policy,but to out migration of our youth.Being one myself I can't imagine being "up along" knowing that the next time I come back for the summer;my home town no longer exist.

If you have never heard of resettlement and wish to watch a video on the subject click on the link below.If for nothing else you can watch a bunch of boats tow a house.Note this is not in the same area,just the same problem in a different port.Sure was a sense of community back then.Hard enought to get some guys to help move a old deep freeze,never mind tow your house 8 mile.Not to mention the guy has 22 in his family!Anyway I wont ruin the whole thing.

The move:

Anyway that puts a bit of a downer on the post.So here's a video of me and da by's view at the thoroughfare.


I hope you enjoyed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

APP evening trip McManus-smith lake

View Mcmanus lake in a larger map

So having explored most of the Ottawa Valley within my reach I decided to give Algonquin park a try.I am normally against paying fee's,however I have this overwhelming urge to always paddle somewhere new.There is something about seeing a new place every time I paddle.Anywho 13 bucks aint too bad...aint great... but not gonna put me in the hole.

After paying at Sand gate entrance,I enjoyed the drive.Not many people on the go in the park now at all.Saw a few hunters and logging trucks on the way,however once on Mcmanus lake road it was very nice.

The launch is very parkish. Ton's of signs directing you to park your truck in the parking lot,fires are dangerous,murderers kill know all the things YOU know... but some moron out there really needs these signs.These are the same people who would stop on a 100m portage in a panic if the portage sign said it was 97m...totally lost.Waving their GPS around as if swatting flies to get a signal quicker.

However I was the only one around.Nice and quiet,minus some small arms fire from the training area.McManus lake borders the base and turns into Montgomery...which happens to be on the back of a range.

Anyway the launch site is nice and sandy.Beautiful spot.However within the next week I think it will be iced over.There was ice along the shore and the shaded areas was covered in frost at 1pm.Tic toc!

My original plan was to head up to five mile rapids,check out the silver maples in Whitson lake and come on home.However I always depart with one plan and sometimes do something totally different.Today due to time I cut the trip quite short.

The water was flat calm and I putted along at 6km/hr.I noticed a HUGE beaver dam in a small stream which I assume comes down from spoor lake.I decided to check it out.


Yup ice!In the afternoon.Beautiful large dam above.Would we worth checking out.
I decided against breaking ice,it was actually kinda thick in places.You can pick the dam out in the video above...sorta.
Heading up Mcmanus you couldn't help see the massive damage the wind storm had done.the places that are growing over are easily identified by the birch patches.Not to mention the forest floor is covered in logs.You could almost mistake some piles for a log cabin.Good ol mother nature can be violent.

I usually am not inspired by maintained,campsites that require money.I am a backwoods,free living kinda guy.However with two kids and a wife who's idea of camping is any hotel outside of a city limit... I seen a beautiful site and couldn't resist stopping to check it out.She might camp here!
Few tracks in the sand.Dog,bear,beaver grouse....sand tells the tale.

The nice layout.Notice the storm damage in behind he camp.

A beautiful sandy point with a elevated forest floor to camp on..and keep sand outta the kit!I automatically though that this would be a awesome little place to take the kids,and do some "glamping" with the wife.By far it was the nicest camp site on the lake.Only downfall would be it's facing east,however you could set up some chairs out on your point and have a nice clear view to the west.Beautfiul site.

IIRC it was the second on the west side....the first camp site is literally 100m from the launch site.I would be very angry if I paid to camp on Mcmauns and got there to find all the sites minus that one was taken.
Clearly marked with a guide of where to put the Canoe when portaging.What lake you are at-and going to and distance.

very nice trail.

Smith lake above.

The 90M portage is clearly marked on the west side of some fast moving water.The water is moving at quite a speed.You can notice the large elevation difference from Smith lake to Mcmanus.

Nice flat portage.Not many rocks,a very nice short trail.If it was warmer I would have just walked up the "rapid".Alas the days of summer are spent!

At this point I had planned on Portaging the short distance to Smith lake,hauling out my stove and brewing up a cup of chai tea.However a short while ago,I quit smoking.Usually I ensured I had 3 lighters.One in my day hatch one inside my PFD and one stowed away in a compartment safe.Addictions eh?Anyway I now have a lighter placed in with my MSR stove and another in my kayak.Just so I don't forget.

So I decided that without a cup of tea,and with the sun setting quickly I would turn around and head back.Following the east side on the way back to the launch.

Along with the warmth summer provides the daylight goes all too quickly.At 5pm it was getting dark.

One last look before the take out.A wonderful day...and not one other person on the lake.

Here is my solution to 200 dollar waterproof winter paddle boots.Crocks 5 bucks,gortex socks 15 bucks,wool socks free from mom last Christmas.

Logging is a part of Algonquin park,like it or not.Just keep in mind as your driving that there are logging trucks using the road too.They were driving perfect when I saw them coming out of the park,however watch where your parking to take photo's etc if your enjoying nature from your car.Or as we call it "Ontario exploring"lol..just kidding.


On my way out I was listening to Virgin radio...and could help but laugh at the road report,accident on St.Laurent,traffic backed up on Innes rd.Listening to all the congestion problems ...and looking out my windshield was kinda funny to me.No need to call in and report anything on that road!

rating: 2/5 noise of logging trucks,and CFB Petawawa.Nothing overly amazing/beautiful,however a lot of nice sandy beaches on the western side.