Thursday, December 31, 2009

Storm paddle (properly named!)

Storm paddle indeed! I have been picking away at this one for three nights now. Two of those has been a freezing rain storm and another -26 with humidity of 77%. Which are to numbers that indicate BRRRRRRRRRRR.

Even though paddles that are starting to take over my basement I decided to try my hand at a storm paddle. I went with some sizing I had found online with a 28 inch blade and a 7 inch loom which is my 2 hand width measurement. Of course therefore a 70 inch paddle overall.

I did a lamination of a pine Loom and spruce blade edges. Due to having enough clamps and taking my time the lamination came out quite well.
I got the idea afterwards that I would trip the blade tops closest to the loom down as seen in one of my national geographic magazines I have posted previously. I'm guessing it was to stop the amount of water running onto the loom, but may be corrected on that. How well this will work? Only time will tell. I have also had thoughts of putting a wrap of rawhide at the loom ends to prevent water from running down from the blade as well, maybe a future project.

The colouring turned out kit of weird, but looks neat to me anyway. These were both stud grade 2x4x8 that were buried under snow for quite some time. I picked two that were not warped like many of the rest.
Overall storm
It is a extremely light paddle, and I could make a smaller loom however I perfer a slightly "boxy" loom instead of a oval.

paddle cost : about 3 dollars.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New year! 10 things I learned in 2009

I was thinking how to end this year’s paddle blog. Could I actually decide on a top 10 paddle destination list? Could I end with a list of things to do in 2010? While both are excellent post idea's I thought I would end with 10 things I have learned in 2009 that will of course follow me into the New Year.

- 2 pieces of 2x4 cut into 8 inch pieces are golden while landing in rocky places. After a short overnighter with Mike and Tersh to Oiseaux rock Mike showed me that using this simple thing reduced the wear on the gelcoat. I began carrying them. Once in Georgian Bay they really came in handy during rough landing spots where I used them as runners to slide over rocks. Adding in my rigid paddlefloat I would pull the kayak on the runners and take the rear 2x4 and put it to the front as I hauled the kayak forward over rocks. Being loaded down with kit it was impossible to portage without dekitting.

-I learned my limits in relation to km. My furthest day paddle was 53km in total on the Ottawa River. I now know I can paddle further, as I had plenty of gas left. I also know I was a little sore the next day. A bit of practice at 50km days would rid my body of the soreness and maybe a potassium pill would aid as well. I know if a trip call's for a 50km plus stretch in the future I would have no problem.

-Rolling. After a blunder of a rolling class that I spent a lot of money for. And an expensive drive to and from Ottawa for it; I walked away very disappointed and learned nothing. However that didn’t discourage me. I watched video after video, read what I could. Two afternoons of wet exit after wet exit....I was finally upright at the end! It was the best feeling in the WORLD! Knowing that no one else did it for me but me was an absolute high; not to mention a huge confidence boost. It is one of the many tricks to right my boat in conditions, which will definitely aide both my confidence and skill's development in 2010.

- A repair kit is required in a kayak. If not in every kayak at least one in your group. After punching a hole in my kayak on the "wild" side of the Ottawa, I realized that if the hole was worse I wouldn’t have been able to paddle to the Ontario side to Deux riviere. I had no repair options. Having a repair kit I could have prevented a huge risk in the crossing, and possibly fix the problem in total and carried on. This also demonstrates my lack of understanding for fiberglass and gelcoat repair, which I really need to learn in 2010.

Above: Current storm paddle I'm making today.

- Greenland paddles are fun and easy to make. There are a TON of resources out there and many people willing to help. I have "networked" with many people over the past few months and have made constant improvements in both design and functionality. Building paddles came about when I really couldn’t afford to buy a Greenland paddle after my purchase of a bent shaft AP paddle and a new kayak; and I really wanted to get into Greenland rolling. I find it a relaxing hobby as well as rewarding. I will be continuing to produce paddles in 2010, and who knows one day I may start selling a few for cheap.

- Joining a club/group was very rewarding. Those who know me understand I despise self appointed bureaucrats of certain organizations around our area. However I stumbled on TK2O by accident and am glad I have. Being quite far away from Ottawa I have not made it out on many day paddles in the national capital region or skill days but have been paddling with a small core group of what I would call "kayak trippers”. The club is not so much a club anymore, as possible legal issues made it dissolve. However there is a small message board where "members" throw out their paddle destinations or plans and others can join in. I've met some great people I otherwise would have never met through this group. It also changed my concrete opinion on people from Ontario being unfriendly self centered people. There are some great people out there from Ontario, and I have paddled with a few of em. Thanks to Mike, Tersh, Darryl, Charles. It was good paddling with yah in 2009.

I may look at joining a more serious club at some point in the distant future as one thing that sucks is our group basically "shuts down" during the non paddling months. It would be nice to have rolling clinics for the club in pools etc. I plan on opening my own kayak club (a co-op of sorts) in Newfoundland when I retire in a few years. I have the land and plan on building a small building to house the co-op.

Above: 16 ft kayak packed with 12 days worth of kit,food and a kayak kart to get around dams.
Still rolled and paddled great.

-Efficiency in packing a kayak. Packing a kayak is a mystery to so many people I have seen. I have also seen people actually post their pics of "how to pack a kayak" from a course they TAUGHT that to me looked like a disorganized pile of crap. My job sort of leans into this aspect of my life about being very picky on how things are packed and thus ending with a "system" of WHERE things should be packed and WHY they should be packed there. I believe I have mastered this art with what I pack. My kayak has been referred to as the "freeze dried kayak" with comments of "holy fuck that’s light" as we lifted it over boulders on hard landing spots.

-Efficiency at camp. Sort of tied into the last when my kayak has a system it takes all aspects of kit usage into account. What will I need? When will I need it? I am always the first with the tent up and coffee going and same as in the morning. And it all comes down to having a system. There’s been many a morning (*in fact every day camping this year if I recall correctly!) that I wake up way later than everyone, and am usually the first packed with breakfast done and coffee in hand. I'll keep my system in 2010.

- I have also discovered I don't enjoy solo trips. While most of my day paddling is done solo (and I really enjoy those), I found the mere two days of a solo trip I completed was a bit boring. While it was great to set my own pace, pick my own camping spot; I found it was much more fun to do multiday trips others. I found with others there you can always scoot off on your own to solo explore things and meet at a rendezvous or paddle like a mad man and catch up later. Many people enjoy solo tripping, and I really thought I would as well. However I don't think I will do much in 2010.

Above: Hiking...I think I can see Tersh down there!

- I have found that I am an addict. I live breath, think, speak, kayak 24/7. However I have found that one of the many things I really enjoy about kayaking is the exploration. Seeing that one new spot, and the feeling that induces. It's a real high for me. I have frequently said I was born about 500 years too late.
Above: Me on Mount martin Quebec.

To add to that exploration during lunch stops and breaks I have learned to enjoy hiking to hill tops. And after a paddle in the lower Barron canyon Charles gave me the idea of bringing snorkeling gear. I now never leave without hiking shoes (ankle brace as well) and snorkeling gear. While it is not kayaking it adds to the exploration aspect of kayak tripping.

2009 has been a great year. While I missed the spring paddle season due to being out of the country (again!!!) this summer and fall was a mind blowing, humbling, amazing, learning experience I won't soon forget. I find I no longer read the news full of it's negativity, and focus on kayaking blog's, forums and wood working "how-to's as my means of communication on what’s going on in the world. Kayaking life doesnt bring negativity IMHO.

Life is simple in a kayak.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Imagination flowing into action is reality. Paddle to the Amazon

I have to admit prior to my wife grabbing paddle to the arctic a few months ago I had no idea who the Starkell family were. Upon reading Don's epic adventure Paddle to the Arctic (which I reviewed a while back) I started searching for Paddle to the amazon, which I just finished last almost 3 in the morning.

Words cannot describe this book. It hooked me and had me pushing forward to see what would come next. Have you ever read a book where your actually saying "no fucking way.." out loud? (Ask my wife) Not only was I blown away with the dedication it must have taken, but the circumstances are breath taking.

This short clip sum's it up very well. They are working on a movie, which I can't seem to find much information about. However will grab it the second it comes off the press.

It was nice to see Dana successful...heck with the dedication to do that journey there was no doubt in my mind. Funny thing is I was so attached to the "characters" in this wonderful book I almost feel Dana is my junior, yet he is close on 20 years my senior I would guess. Another example on how attaching this story is, as Dana was only a young man at the time.

Here's some of Dana's music.Wonderful guitarist.

If your looking for that perfect motivating book to get you through the winter blaahhs this is one to keep on the list.

I am really surprised/disappointed that this trip isn't taught in our public school systems. Or the book's used as required reading at high school level.

Anyway off to step into the Imagination mode...

Read this book!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Drawknife, blockplane,and a laser donation to a novice paddle maker.

I had these given to me today! Seems they were bought for one purpose or another, used and put away. So instead of them rusting away I was given yet more excellent tools! Thanks Steve!!

The beautiful old 12 inch drawknife is constructed from a file as far as I can tell. I can vaguely see a few of the file grooves along the top in places.

The block plane is slightly larger than the one I have and is solid steel construction.

What I like is the lack of the stupid locking lever mine has; that always comes loose while planeing.
I had started on a new storm paddle today and both worked very well, however I will sharpen up the drawknife tomorrow.

(Insert really old Austin Powers joke here.)The laser basically replaces the need for a 3' ruler to line up the loom angle and the blade edge.Works wonderful.

The storm paddle however is now firewood. I had picked a old piece of spruce from out in the barn, it wasn't till I started planeing that I noticed a huge split up the center of the loom. I then cracked it over the knee in a slight "hissy fit" and threw it in the burn pile.
Anywho I'm going to a speciality wood shop tomorrow for a look around. Plan on window shopping....but I know I most likely won't.
Kayak plans still dancing like sugar plums around in my head.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Yes yes and Yes!

4 inch veritas drawknife

New work bench!

That folds out and back for ease of storage in small workspaces, and for taking camping etc!

All set up.

5 new 6" mastercraft one handed clamps. Convert to spreaders as well.

I have come to the conclusion that paddle making is a definate hobby up there with kayaking. I was suppose to get a SPOT for Christmas however next year work looks very busy and doubt I would have a real use for it.
I have been thumbing through Chris Cunningham's book on SOF building and am very confident that I could build one. Living right next to Algonquin park here in Ontario I can honestly say I have not been taking advantage of it as I should. Most of the reason is I will not take my new Whiskey 16 in there as I don't wanna beat it up, and the rec kayak is a HUGE pain to portage.
A nice light SOF seems like a great way to go for a "park boat". Nice and light and easy to portage. I usually pack very light so a couple day trip shouldnt be a issue with the limited storage the SOF's offer.
There is something that feel's so rewarding using your own paddle, and I'm sure the feeling is multiplied paddling your own boat with your own paddle.
I'm currently visiting the in laws for Christmas....I brought my tools and a couple peices of walnut!
After taking many peoples advice I sat down and compared my paddles and really think I can get a much lighter paddle by reducing size. Irealized just how strong my canoe paddle was which was shaved pretty small. I took a rubber mallot to it and beat the living crap out of it. It didnt split. Me and my wife were impressed!
Anyone ever build a SOF outta pine? Seems the cheapest wood around here and light.
Feel free to leave a comment!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noel!

Merry Christmas to all! I have decided today that no matter how long I spend away, or how great Christmas is I will always feel the same. A small part of me wishes to fall asleep to the rolling of the waves on my cobblestone beach back home.

Merry Christmas to everyone back home in the republic!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

National Geographic vol.165 no.4 April 1984

Growing up my parents thought it was very important to feed my brain with the "why" questions, and as well stimulate my brain to asked more about the world around me. I found along with the last book in my Christmas parcel a strong memory from my childhood; a national geographic from 1984. Dad had been thumbing through a few of the older ones lately and came across the article "Hunting the Greenland Narwhal" written by Ivars Silis.

As I was reading through I found my connection to the story. Way back in 1984 the village of Qeqertat were very dependent on the Narwhal tusks they were hunting in Qaanaaq. It had become a vital source of income as the "save the seal's" campaign against Newfoundland had destroyed the price for seal pelts.

Besides the seal hunt and the killing of the Narwhal I was amazed at the paddles. I read a lot of articles produced mostly in the USA about "how" a Greenland paddle should look. What size the width/ length MUST be.....Apparently the memo didn't reach Greenland back in the 80's. As you can see above the loom's, blade widths even paddle shapes are totally different. So if you decide to make your paddle, remember IT'S YOURS!! Make it the way you want. If it works it works!

Above: Making a kayak from Ash imported from Denmark. Sorry for the quality.

All the paddles are very beautiful constructed as are their kayaks. However there is a huge variation between the small group of paddlers. Riffsawn red wood cedar? Not likely!

Having this magazine in hand again has made me also decide to get a subscription for my boys as well. many fond memories as a child reading this wonderful magazine.

What I got out of this article? Paddles=Functionality! And don't have strict guidelines.

Speaking of functionality I'm going to cut up the walnut paddle. It's a tad too heavy, and plus a expensive wood would go further for lamination. These are my creations of 2009. Canoe paddle not done yet. Got angry making this one, and doubt I will finish it.

I'm hoping to get a few other carving tools now for Christmas. Then hopefully with all the blunders, and mistakes I have made over the past month or so of paddle making I can begin selling a few paddles for dirt cheap later next year. And hopefully give them to a few people to try out if they are heading out for a multiday trip somewhere; just to get some user feed back. The paddles above I am going to keep forever, as a reminder of my progress!

I apologize for the photo quality as my scanner is acting weird today, so I had to use my camera....Sorta felt like 007 for a second.

I hope Santa is nice to all of you celebrating Christmas, and hope you have a wonderful holiday.

However the wilderness awaits my arrival a few shot's of yesterday. Snowshoe hike of 15km in total. Broke the webbing; however Gorilla glue appears to have patched it just fine.

Crazy guys up in northern Ontario. Good laugh. Seem like my kinda people!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Did he just call people retardees?

Sometimes book's date themselves. When I was in Slovenia a few years back my mother who owns a atlas from the early 80's couldn't find where I was. I then explained to her that Yugoslavia had fell due to civil war...anyway I stumbled upon a similar gem last night.

How to build a kayak by Donald R Brann. My dad had picked it up in Brampton Ontario back in the late 70's, as a project he was interested in. However he never did end up building it. So he figured I would be interested and put it in our Christmas parcel that just arrived.

So as I was thumbing through the first few pages the above quote caught my eye. "Teachers should allow students to work with templates. This is especially helpful in teaching retardees and those with reading deficiencies."

"Those willing and able to work alone, enjoy doing so, no longer require recognition and acceptance from peer's pushing pot."
How many kids were forced into the garage with this book?
" But dad I don't like kayaks...." "Are you on the Pot son? get crackin on that planeing!"

Funny thing was this was also a book I picked up at the library a few days ago. The book has full fold out templates for every part of the kayak. I figure a modification of the cockpit, this would make a excellent light portage kayak for Algonquin park.It gives you options of building a 14'3" 16' 9" and 18' kayaks from the plans and templates included.

Retardee's, now lame brains. This book kill's me lol. I love it. Back when you didn't have to get a lawyer to sign off on the political correctness of everything written.

Once you stop chuckling at a simpler time in history, and try and get the thought of Gran Torino's Walt Kowalski (Clint eastwood) explaining how to build a kayak ; it's a excellent resource. Not to mention from a awesome woodworker. Not only does Mr Brann do kayaks he has written on a multitude of wood working projects. The kind of guy anyone with desire to woodwork would love to have as a buddy who lives down the street.

And again once you look past the few cultural/anti-P.C phrases Mr.Brann speaks the truth. I wish I was kicked into the garage with this project. This sure would have changed my life for the better as a preteen. Heck I would have started kayaking at a way younger a boat I built myself!

The confidence that could bring to a teenage would be awesome.

However I'm not sure if you could actually allow a child in Ontario to use a tool nowadays; without having child services after you. I'm awaiting for chair helmets for children here. You know just in case children fall while eating supper or watching tv.

Lucky for my kids they will be 13 and 10 by the time I retire back to my homeland. Where as a child we jumped icepans, carried firearms as 12 yr olds, and mothers packed all our kids lunches and kicked us out the door only to be seen at supper. God I hate raising my kids here.

Right now I think I am going to build the 14 footer just to get practice in building one. I have Chris Cunninghams book on Greenland building as well. However this one seems very simple and well laid out instructions for a wood working novice like myself.

I'll start on this one after Christmas, as I have even been putting off paddle making due to my wish to find woodworking tools in under the tree!

Hope all you lame brain pot smokin kayakers enjoyed the post!

This book is worth picking up. Beautiful drawings and pictures. Would make a excellent first kayak project.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Forest biomass wood, random thoughts

So the pine I collected last night I debarked today with my trusty machete.The bark was slightly rotten and came off very easy. The pine is a bit iffy as to if it will be strong enough to use.

I hand cut out a very rough 2x4x4 as the other 4 foot piece cracked off once I placed it up on the bench to begin cutting. There are some soft spots as I push in but I'm hoping to at least obtain a few good 33 inch pieces for blade lamination. I'm going to give it a week of drying out, and see what we have.

Having the idea in my head of a biomass paddle is appealing in a few different ways. It's an abundant renewable supply of wood, No new wood has to be cut to supply my paddle addiction, traditionally in the north driftwood was used, and most importantly it's 100% free.

Obsessed with the new idea, I decided I would go out today and look for some birch dead fall. After walking 4 hours (and having a tea boil up) I found what appeared to be a nice small piece attached to a erect but dead tree.

Once I got it home and begin cutting it I was very disappointed. It immediately cracked and fell apart in 3 pieces. As well the wood is very soft and easily dented with a fingernail. I managed to cut a few very small pieces out of this log, once it dries I'll have a better idea if I can use it or not. The cold had made the moisture freeze inside the log and of course it felt very solid. Different story once brought inside.

I wish I had thought of doing this before the cold hit. Most of the beaches are littered with old growth logs from the early 1900's. These are in much the same condition as what you would find as drift wood on east coast beaches, bleached almost white and very dry. Would have made for a good workout towing a log home with the kayak.

Oh well next year now I guess!

The weather changed a little warmer today and the snow felt wet. The middle currents on the Ottawa opened up a bit, however the bay's inside are still frozen over.

It's hard to believe me and my oldest were out swimming, and I was teaching him to paddle a mere 60 odd days ago. Man does time fly. Heck in mere months he'll be 4.

After reading Hap Wilsons book I couldn't help but see the myth's today. As I bush bashed around I came to this:

Automatically my mind raced over what story I could dream up in a mythical sense. Either way I thought It looked pretty cool in it's surrounding of strait pines.

Will my idea of paddle making from blow downs/ dead fall be a success? I am very skeptical at the moment. I believe it would be a great idea after maybe a wind storm etc, however due to decomposition of the wood I'm finding; I am not sure it will provide enough strength.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rivers of the Upper Ottawa Valley. Hap Wilson

I'm not much of a follower. Never really have been. Therefore I tend not to idol worship many local canoeist/kayakers here in Canada at all. Heck I called Kevin Callan "David", which he didn't seem to appreciate. Guess he's a household name here in Ontario...whoops. Sorry Kevin.

I actually have one of his book's on Algonquin park, but honestly I really didn't pay heed. It was a guide book and I was more interested in what was inside.(I'm leading into something here...I promise!)

I picked up a book today which was unreal. I have rediscovered our local library over the past couple weeks, and stumbled on Rivers of the upper Ottawa valley (myths,magic and adventure.)

The title says it all basically. This is a comprehensive,detailed,cornucopia of awesomeness. Everything from maps of what Algonquin tribe lived where (and a bit about each) to legends,to safety, oh and it's a guide book as well!

I can't sing enough praise of this book. And while I didnt know much about Hap Wilson about 12 hours ago; I took the time to "google him" (that don't fucking sound right does it?) Interesting man with a excellent way with words.

Having signed it out from my library I do plan on buying a copy just to keep as a reference. For not only river related information; but the history,myths and legends which will now enrich my travels along the river. Did you know Chalk river is devils land? I will say no more! Now besides bears at night I have about 10 good stories to ensure every rabbit breaking a twig incites thoughts of demons as well!

If you ever lived in,paddled on,thought of going to the upper Ottawa river and her beautiful rivers which flow over beautiful country to be assimilated into her; this is the book for you. I wish I had found this earlier this year. It's the kind of book which get's you excited about a area, and honestly has given me so much information about things I never knew existed in my own backyard.

The book cover above is of a old copy published by the CRCA (Canadian Recreational Canoeing association), the new publication is much different with pictures instead of Hap's art on the cover.(Point I forgot all the illustrations and Art work are done by the author as well.very very nice work)

I'll be keeping an eye out for other books written by Mr Wilson. It was truly a inspiration to read during the freeze up.

Other than that I found a nice strait piece of pine deadfall tonight out snowshoeing!(WOW eh?)I have been trying to find nice downfall to supplement my purchase of wood. I know how "chic" environmentalist of me eh? Not really. And besides if I said It was someone would complain that I was removing forest biomass and killing the forest anyway. And besides I hate being a follower...I do my own thing thanks!

Being dark kinda early now I got minimal looks snowshoeing through suburbia with a 9 foot log on my back.... although they are probably getting use to the stuff I do.