Friday, December 31, 2010

                                  Keeping It Simple
I cannot believe all the things that have been invented, so far, in my lifetime. They say that if a yard stick represented all the time Humans have been on earth, 99% of knowledge would have been accrued in the last 1/16th of an inch. Still, with all the instant communications, reality shows and the like, I still find the simple things most satisfying.

Family, a paddle alone or with friends, camping and sitting and staring still top my list of joys in my world. I hope you have found yours and wish you all blessings, happiness and good health in the coming year. And, as always...Please...

Paddle safe...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is Self Rescue In Conditioins  Realistic?
A New Hook

ACA and BCU differ on this question. Where as ACA instructors teach the paddle float rescue, the BCU takes the position that the that technique is not possible in conditions. BCU coaches, on the other hand, teach the re entry and roll as its self rescue method. For those of us who often paddle alone, this is a topic of the utmost  importance. In fact, many of us practice both the paddle float and re entry rescues with the hope that, should the need arrive, we will be able to get back in and upright should we dump in conditions. Now, it appears, there may be a new consideration.
The February issue of Sea Kayaker magazine just came. and it has an interesting article by Christine Burns entitled, Heel Hook Self-Rescue. In her article, which is well illustrated by Bob Burnett's photography, she explains and demonstrates a paddle float rescue using the heel hook to re enter. As many of you know, the heel hook is becoming the standard for assisted T-rescues since more people seem to succeed at it when compared to to "swimming" onto their rear deck.

I have not had an opportunity to try this idea, but I will as soon as possible. It looks promising, but I do wonder how practical it will turn out to be in conditions. After all, it still is a paddle float technique. We will, I am sure, find out as more of us give it a try.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

                                         Hanging out,
                                  Wandering Around
I have been delinquent in posting lately as I have been land locked by the ice. When I don't paddle I tend not to write. This has been one of my longest periods during which I have been unable to paddle in part due to lack of launch areas, but also due to family and medical issues. It is going to be above freezing for the next three days, and I am hoping something will open up for launching. In the mean time, I've been hanging out and wandering around...sometimes with my camera.
 I suppose it has had its upside. After all, I did rearrange the mess in my room and can now actual walk a straight line from the doorway to the computer. 
And, I did get to do some for-the-heck-of-it photography. Now, however, I need to get afloat once more.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not Looking Good...just now
I checked out the beach to see if I could find a launch site. Someone had posted that there was no ice there. That turned out to be an illusion.
What appeared to be beach included 15-20 feet of ice. More over, it ended in over hangs that made launching and, even more, recovery unsafe. The wind was on shore, and there were chunks of ice battering the over hangs (and any one who might have been standing there.

The search/wait goes on

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Coast is Not Clear Here in Milwaukee

I have been told that the South Shore Harbor is all ice. Not too amazing since that is quiet water inside a break wall. In hopes of finding some shoreline from which to launch, I went to the lake front yesterday and took a look at the places where we often can get a kayak onto the lake.
 Everything was coated with ice. Above is the little "bowl" at McKinley. It is here that we often find a place to sneak onto and off the lake.
 Looking north was no more promising.
This is the shelf of ice right on the shore of the "bowl". I once pitch-polled right here in similar conditions and wasn't enthusiastic about launching alone. With support, I think this would have offered a fun paddle.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Am Frustrated
It should be Christmas today. The temp is just around the freezing mark, there is little wind and a fluffy snow is drifting down. But it isn't Christmas, and this weather is ideal for a winter paddle. Problem is that our launch sites have shore ice that makes it unsafe to launch and harder to land.

I don't know what this stuff is good for.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not Just an Illusion

   In a recent email from fellow kayaker and author, Aaron Stander told me he had purchased a very responsive kayak that weighed around 45 pounds. So I went to this site ..
 They look good, and I trust Aaron's judgment.
Worth looking into? Anyone have experience with them?

Paddle safe...

Monday, December 13, 2010

First Impressions

Up to now, I have been shooting the Pentax Optio W30 out on the water. It is a good camera. Since I am aware of the eventual failure of most waterproof cameras, I decided to treat myself to another and bought a Canon D 10. Although I have just begun to use the D 10, I do have some early pro/con impressions:

Both Cameras: PRO: Both take excellent images and are truly waterproof.
                        Con: Because waterproof buttons need to be slightly recessed, both can be somewhat difficult to operate with gloves or mittens on.

The Optio: Pro: 1, This camera has a far thinner form making it easier to tuck into the top of my pfd.
                                    2. Can transfer images from camera directly into PhotoShop.
                  CON: 1, Although 7.1 mega pixels is far more than needed for images to be posted, it does limit the amount of cropping that can be done while still maintaining good image quality.
                             2, One of the controls I use the most frequently is the +/- to compensate the exposure. On the Optio, one has to go into programs to do this. This is awkward and time consuming, especially on the water.
D10: Pro: 1, 12.1 mega pixels allow for a lot of cropping.
                2. This camera has image stabilization which helps in obtaining crisper images when the water is up.
                3. The +/- control is right there and can be kept on the screen.
                4. So far, I have found the controls a tad easier to operate while wearing neoprene gloves
        Con: 1, The profile is a bit bulky which is only problematic when tucking it into my pfd
                 2. Must use the Canon Utilities program to download to computer.
Now I need to use the D10 a lot and see what I get.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I Am Amazed That
They Are Amazed
While still in medical practice I often saw men who had retired only to gradually die when they had no education and no interests outside of their work lives. Because of them, I learned to stay engaged and promised myself that I would stay in the game and be active as long as I was able to do so.
 Now that winter is here, it can be a challenge to stay active, especially outdoors. Because of structural problems, I have had to give up down hill and cross country skiing. That has left me with sea kayaking. So, I go out on the lake, occasionally alone and often with other like-minded paddlers. When I mention this to civilians, they are amazed that there are folks out on the big lake in winter. What interests me is that most of these amazed people are younger, some very much younger, than myself.
 Another thing I learned as a cardiologist was that my patients were the age they appeared to be and the age they acted. It didn't seem to matter what the calender said about how old they were supposed to be. Those folks who look and acted young and kept active were healthier and, for the most part, happier.
This philosophical thinking has come to me, as it does every winter, as I approach another age mile stone. Again I sit and try to remember how my parents had appeared to me when I was a child. I believe that when they appeared to be old they were actually in their late thirties, not old at all. Of course, their generation had had harder lives and poorer nutrition than we enjoy today. In any event, I "learned" that 40 was really old, but that changed as I got older and watched my parents being active into their seventies.

Just now, I have a bad cold and laryngitis. Even so, I am watching the weather report with hopes of being out there on the lake this weekend. More over, classes are over soon, and I am hoping to do lots of paddling after that. Yes, I occasionally glimpse at the calendar, but I choose not to act my age. Hopefully, I will eventually amaze myself.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Is it just me?
   This won't make sense unless you're a reader (as I am) of This page compiles blogs from all over the world and publishes them in their original languages. One can click on something interesting and go immediately to that blog's site. Now let me digress for a bit.
   When writing, I have been taught that there is the writer and the editor. The writer spills his guts after which the editor kills the writer's little darlings. One of the hardest skillsfor the writer to learn is when to stop writing. This also applies, in my humble opinion, to photo arrays. That is, one needs to select the best and fewest images that will enhance the post. Now, back to
   Unless I am wrong, many blogs posted in foreign languages contain an inordinate number of photos. A tree is seen in four views and every skillet used over the fire is on display. It is as if every picture taken on that day/trip are posted, irregardless of their quality or usefulness in explaining the post (which I cannot read as it is in a foreign language). If this is true, and I am correct, I wonder how one might  work toward solving that situation (if you are one who agrees it should be solved). Perhaps the best way is by example. For instance, what if someone blogged and did not post a single picture?

Paddle safe...

Monday, December 06, 2010

And that has made all the difference... 
Frost, as I've mentioned before, tells in one of his poems about taking the road less traveled and how that decision changed everything. We often forget that it is only at the beginning of something that all possibilities exist and that each subsequent choice means all the other possibilities are lost. We take the road to the left or right and give up reaching any destinations that the road not taken might lead to. But, it ain't necessarily so.

I have a very roomy and well equipped chemical darkroom in my basement. I have trained in fine art black and white photography with some very fine artists. I love the alchemy and deliberate process that takes place under the glow of the red light. Just now, however, that equipment is surrounded by the stuff stored there, and I haven't made a wet print in over 2-3 years. Still, I love the gray-scale image. I have chosen to do digital imagery because of its convenience. I can stop anytime in the process without having to dump and then remix chemicals. I chose a road, but must I sacrifice all the possibilities of the darkroom?

Thankfully not. And so, I am going to make an effort to capture images with the intent of making them gray scale images. I look forward to this with some anxiety as I am not as skilled with digital processes as I was in the darkroom. Time will tell if this is a productive decision. Either way, I expect to learn something.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Helen Hatches A Hit
(with apologies to Dr Suess)

I met Helen Wilson at a QAJAQ camp in Michigan and quickly discovered she had both technical and teaching skills. I had asked her to help me with my basic sweep roll as it had become an effort to do. She watched me once, diagnosed the problem and made a simple suggestion that fixed everything. Those are the same skills she has brought to her new DVD. 
The quality of sound and images are excellent, and Helen's instructions are clear and the sequences well planned. She brings a simplicity to the static brace and how it relates to lay back finishing rolls. It was just like the time when she worked with me at the QAJAQ camp.
I am pleased to have it in my collection and recommend it highly.

Paddle safe...