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...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Almost Forgot:
Pool time is here, and I haven't passed on the recommended list of equipment and rules:

1. Flares: Parachute flares burn the longest and are recommended
2. VHF radios: Most pools DO NOT monitor 16. Check with your pool.
3. Rudders: As a courtesy to others, avoid deploying your rudders unless the ambient air causes your kayak to weather cock.
4. As always, carry a spare paddle out there, especially in the deep end.
5. The ACA has officially come out against seal launching off the high diving board.
6. Take the time to get out of your boat/pool and use the urinals (men).
7. Before surfing, be sure your intended line of travel is clear.
8. Remember: Your signal mirror may not function fully in a pool environment.
9. Don't get sloppy and forget to wear your long tow belt.
10. If caught in a rip tide, paddle perpendicular to it to escape.

Paddle safe...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Think Twice before picking up this book:
I first met Aaron Stander at a QAJAQ camp in Michigan (where he lives). A retired English professor and traditional paddler, he is a gentle friendly man with a sense of humor. He is also a magnificent author...which brings us to the point of the blog.

I just finished Shelf Ice, the most recent in a series of fiction involving a certain sheriff. As in his other books, Aaron quickly draws the reader into the story making it difficult to put the book down. So, be careful when you start one of his fine issues, you may be busy for longer than you had planned.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

 I never made it to the launch this morning, but I had good reasons...

'nuff said.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Enjoying the last...
...quiet moments before daughters, son in laws and grandchildren arrive. Blessing for a peaceful Thanks Giving.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Fine Paddle

Last Saturday, we had a NE wind on Lake Michigan followed by an easterly wind during the night. When eight of us, including two visitors from Madison, went out Sunday morning, we got to enjoy the residual energy the wind had visited onto the water.
 Clearing the break wall, we were treated to nice swells coming onshore. We were paddling SSE at the time. Just off shore were some breaking waves.
 It was fun sitting with my paddle on my lap while I tried to catch a few images. All the time I was waiting for a rogue wave to dump me. As it turned out, 3 of our group did swim, and Greg got to do 3 assisted rescues in good training conditions.
This is the stuff we wait and hope for. This is the stuff for which sea kayaks are made.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Behold...the lowly combing
This unheralded part of our kayaks do not enjoy the glamor or attention given to hull lines, deck layouts or even underwater and seldom seen skegs. Quietly, always in the shadow of the kayak's other parts, this vital protuberance encircles the cockpit, albeit the paddler, yet gets little respect. And when it is time for the little boat to take to the sea and the photographers begin snapping the hull parting the waves, the combing is unseen, hidden, as it serves in obscurity.

Even the paddler, feeling secure as he rolls his boat, pays no mind to the unsung rim upon which even the much seen skirt depends on for sealing out the sea. Yea, it works its wonders in darkness while constantly stressed. Only when it is time to get a new boat does the paddler take a long deserved look at this heroic structure and, then, only to see what color he might make the next one. So, relegated to eye candy, the combing gets a brief period of admiration as friends and colleagues look upon the boat and the accent of the colors of the deck lines, the shear line and, lastly, the combing. Then, as if it never contributed to the appearance and performance of the boat, it is once again cloaked by the skirt, (its self dull black) as it once again returns to serve in dark obscurity.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Big Difference
I have spent an enormous part of my adult life on the big waters of Lake Michigan, and most of that has been in sail boats. The quietness of a vessels propelled by an invisible force can bring a wonderful sense of place and serenity to the heart of a sailor.
My favorite boat was a Hans Christian 42 which I finally sold when I lost some function in one of my legs and no longer felt safe out there (I was usually alone). I do, however, remember one of the sayings about sailing: It was said to be a way of going no where, slowly, in great discomfort and at great expense. Kayaking, on the other hand, is nothing like that. There is a huge difference. 
 A kayak, unlike a large sailboat, does not require a slip, complicated maintenance or unique winter storage. No sir. And, yet, a kayak is quiet and without mechanized propulsion or the stink of diesel fumes. Kayaking is entirely different than sailing.
Unlike sailing, kayaking is the art of going no where, slowly, in great discomfort on the cheap.

Paddle safe...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Choosing, Choices, Deciding
Frost, the poet, wrote about coming to a fork in the road and, having chosen one way, the walker had to give up all other choices. He concluded by saying how that choice had made all the difference in the walker's life. But things don't always work that way.
 We  often have to make choices and, having made them, have to live with least for a while. See, the great thought behind it all just isn't true. We pick a pair of clogs to wear and, having done so, we are not (in fact) stuck with them for ever. We can go back to the store and get another pair, another size or another color. So it is (you had to know this was coming) with kayaks. We find the "perfect" boat, choose it, and immediately begin looking for the next perfect kayak. And so, dear reader, I confess to wanting to go back to the candy store for another choice. I pause only to blame Kelly Blades for all my angst.
Many of you know that I own a Cetus which, over a period of about one year, I have come to love dearly. My stroke has improved, and I can make the boat dance or dash. It is as stable as a sofa out in the rough stuff. Still, at the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium last summer, Kelly introduced me to the Cetus MV. He let me transport it to Grand Marais where there was another symposium one week later. That gave me a week of camping and paddling the MV...and that has made all the difference. I immediately became restless.

It was just like my big boy Cetus with narrow hips. One inch narrower (behind the is Swede form) and a bit smaller in the cockpit, it fit like a glove and rolled like my Romany. Good going Kelly. My big boy Cetus cringed and wondered if it was headed for the heap. I was faced with many choices.

Money isn't so plentiful that I can go off buying kayaks everytime I see a new flavor. On the other hand, I ain't gettting younger. What am I saving it for? Well, if I jumped, what color? That black is sharp, but it shows scractches. Besides, robin blue is easier to spot. So what do I want, something that will get me rescued or something really cool that pleases my eyes? Wait a minute, here. I first need to decide what to do. And, if I should order a MV, it wouldn't get here until spring. What do I do with the Cetus? Put it up for sale now? And what would Lady Linda say when she discovered another boat in the Garage?

Decisions, decisions, decisions. So, I decided.

Paddle safe...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Are You In Or Out?
As in sports (read Paddling) and life, there are those who are players and those who are content to sit and watch. I am guessing that most of us are both but that we prefer the former. Certainly there are times when other commitments or injuries keep us on the sidelines. Even then, as we sit on shore and look out onto the water, a big part of us wishes we were out there. On the other hand, a part of us may be content to at least be at the water's edge.
 Even while understanding this, when on the water I wave to those ashore who wave back, and I realize that we are each drawn to the water and enjoying it in our own way.
As with fire, the elements (including water) draw us to their undefinable magic where sometimes just sitting and staring satisfies some inner basic need. At those times, whether on or merely near the water, my soul is at peace.

Pddle safe...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

                  The Only True Growth Industry?
For two years of my life I worked for the United States Air Force. One of those years was spent as head flight surgeon for the 354th tactical fighter squadron. It was an F-105 group, and the missions flown were over North Viet Nam, often Hanoi. I still have lots of memories of that year.

I remember the roar of the after burners being lit, the tremendous g-forces when we rolled or steeply pulled up. I remember the smell of JP-4, the kerosene-like fuel we used. But, mostly, I remember the sights. I remember the Thai natives, especially the ones with whom I became friends. I remember the jungle and  the fires seen around the countryside at night where the huts were located. Even more, I remember rows and rows of fighters and stacks and stacks of bombs. But what I remember most were the men with whom I flew.
Brighter than average, and more psychologically stable, they had degrees in engineering, political science and everything else. Many did not support that war but did their jobs anyway. They came in all shapes and sizes and a variety of temperaments. In fact, the only traits they seemed to share were their fear of me grounding them and their love of flying. I remember those guys and wonder where they are now.

Many would be in their 70's. Some, I know, died over there, and some went into the Hanoi Hilton and were never accounted for (as far as I know). In any event, that time permanently changed me and is part of who I am today. When I see a Viet Nam Vet, I still welcome him home (because we never were). When I see a Korean War veteran, or one from WW II, I shake their hands. I do all that because we share a brotherhood that those who never experienced war can never understand.
So, today is their day and, more than ever, I think of all the young souls that never came home to wives, partners or kids. And I wonder if it was all worth the terrible price. Perhaps some wars were more "noble" than others. I suspect we all have our opinions. Be that as it may, I never questioned the hearts and bravery of the men and women who have served and serve to this day all over the world. Will these wars never stop? Where can I buy stock in this growth industry?

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just For The Fun Of It
(Greg warms up)
 When assessing why I paddle in all sorts of weather, I keep coming up with the same answer: I enjoy it. Sure, sometimes it isn't the most comfortable thing to do. Sure, sometimes it gets too hot or too cold. Sure, my knee hurts sometimes and sometimes the kayak feels like it weighs 100 pounds. But, then, there are days like the ones we have been experiencing here in the Midwest.
 When I was a kid we generally had a few feet of snow on the ground by this time of the year. Just now, however, we are enjoying sunny balmy days, and we are making the most of it. In fact, I am amazed by how few of my fellow paddlers I see out there. Well, at least some of the land lovers are getting out watch us?
Paddle safe...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Anyone Tried This?

3M™ Hard Surface Protective Tape, PT3112C Clear, 24 in x 200 ft
This is the 3-M product:
The Dupont Imron is painted on.

There is a clear, protective tape (Dupont Imron MS-1) for use on cars. Apparently, you soap up the surface (after proper cleaning and prep) and lay on a sheet of this stuff. You slide it around and smooth it out until it is where you want it, then let it dry. It is supposed to protect the surface against minor trauma.

With the increased numbers of boats with darkly colored gelcoats that scratch easily, I wonder if this is not worth applying when the kayak is new. Anyone know?

Paddle safe...

Monday, November 08, 2010

As The World Turns
Well, here in the temperate zone we have gone from
For many, it is the end of the paddling season; and, for them, I am saddened. Cold water paddling allows us to get outdoors and enjoy our short, often dark, days of winter. To be sure, the risks of hypothermia as a result of a dunking and delayed rescue do increase the risks of being out on the big lake. One needs, in my judgment, to weigh those risks against the pleasure involved. After all, isn't it the pleasure of the sport that takes us out there in warm weather?

 I'm not suggesting one has to camp on an ice flow. I am suggesting that there is stuff out there in winter that is worth seeing.
 A one-time modest investment in a dry suit, some fleece underneath and the heat we generate by paddling actually results in a toasty warm feeling while enjoying scenery such as this.

                                                                 And this.
If you are one of the folks who is thinking about putting your kayak into winter storage, I ask you to just do this once. Borrow a dry suit and whatever appropriate clothing you need for winter paddling (don't forget hats and gloves). Next (this is most important), hook up with skilled paddlers used to paddling in winter and doing rescues in all conditions. Finally, pick a relatively calm day when the temperature is at or just above the freezing point...and go paddling. See what you have been missing and reconsider that storage idea.

Paddle safe...

Friday, November 05, 2010

It's Just
A Matter Of Time
There was a time when all cars were black. There were no other colors. There was a time when kayaks were basic white, or shades there of.
 Then the gel coats began to be colored, and we saw all sorts of solid colored boats. Then, all hell broke lose and one could have any color combo they wished. 
 Some British boats became available with bangles and glitter in the gel coats. Now, the sky is the limit.
 Some paddlers, ordering their first boat, began spending more time trying to decide on their color combo than on which kayak they wanted.
So, it's a matter of time until someone starts a boutique kayak consultant business to help out those struggling with this gut-level decision. There will be soft ware that will allow the consultant to show any kayak with any and all possible color combos so the client can make an intelligent and stylish decision. Then what? Color coordinated paddles and pfd's to go with the boat? Complexion analysis to see which colors are compatible with your karma?

Color is nice and, I guess, important. But, like all fads, I think, this one will fade out as well.

Paddle safe...