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 them...at 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 cockpit...it 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 there...to 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...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sharon and Alec
Tell Them Where To Stick It!
Sharon and Alec Bloyd-Peshkin paddle out of Milwaukee's southern most suburb of Chicago. Excellent instructors, they are familiar faces at Great Lake events and symposiums. The two of them have produced an excellent article on the T-rescue which appears in the December issue of Sea Kayaker magazine. It is well written and well illustrated with photographs. Of particular interest to me was the side bar at the end of the article, especially where they comment on where to stick the paddle during a rescue.

I have to admit that I almost failed an ICE when my paddle escaped during a rescue. I have been in the habit of sticking it under the deck line at the bow with the near end under my short tow line. The danger, of course (as they mention in the side bar) is having the end near the cockpit getting loose and swinging away and out of reach. Most folks, I realize, keep the paddle (their own and the victim's) tucked under their pfd. In their article, Sharon and Alec point out something I hadn't considered, that being the concept of letting a competent paddler hold onto his or her own paddle during the rescue.

I have not seen this performed but want to try it out with friends next time we do some drills. In any event, give their article a read. It will be time well spent.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Rare Day

Today, I have something more important than paddling to do. Even more important than putting together a post with photos. I am off to vote. You?

Paddle Safe...

Monday, November 01, 2010

So Far,
So Good
Okay, I will restrain myself and not go into the old analogy of how life flows like a river. I won't point out that sometimes the river of life flows peacefully, making little noise or fuss. Nor will I point out how the path of the river can be rocky and turbulent. The handful of folks who read this are sophisticated and know all that. All I want to say is that things are, all things considered, going well.

My kayaks float and, more importantly, my family and friends are well. So, as life goes on, I feel that so far, so good. By the way, that expression comes from a fellow who shouted it as he passed an open window after having jumped off the Empire State Building.

Paddle safe...