Sunday, July 31, 2011

Good Stuff v. Crap
My old Romany has the original Yakima foot brace set up in which each petal has a clip that holds it on an aluminum track. It has lasted for years and still works fine. My Cetus MV (this is not about P&H who has done quality work on the boat) came with a generic (at least I cannot find a brand name on it) set of plastic braces like the ones I had on my first Cetus. I didn't like them then because they  occasionally let go and had to be readjusted. This, of course, could be a big problem in conditions and, to me, was not worth the convenience of being able to grab a handle for easy adjustments while under way. In fact, I am able to adjust the Yakima pedals without opening the skirt. I use one foot to compress the lever and move the pedal to where I want it.
A few days ago, just as I was completing a roll, the right pedal gave way. I assumed, of course, that it had unlocked and slid down the track. No such luck. The pedal had actually come off the track. I could not see anything broken and replaced it the next day. When I went out yesterday, it fell off with my first stroke...and will remain off.

Maybe it is because I come from a profession which used only the highest grade of everything and did not tolerate failure; but I am a bit pissed at this system breaking as it did. There was no abuse of the product. Now, I no longer trust this set up and want the old one back.

A little research showed that the Yakima design is now marketed by Werner Paddles. I have written Rutabaga to ask how far apart the mounting holes are (please say 14.5") to see if replacing the units would require new holes in the hull.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gang Aft Aglee
(apologies to R. Burns)

They are 3 nice fellows. The plan was to go out and work on their rolls. The surf zone was too wide, and I could not stand in the water to teach. Besides, there were swells out there as well. So, we worked on braces and had a grand old time paddling parallel to the shore in the zone.

Then some decided to surf and even try a roll or two.

Then things started to happen (and not happen)

Peter surfs in nicely.

 Bill looked good in his skin on frame.
No one died.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Got up around 6 a.m.

It's quiet, at least in the house. My wife and one of my grand kids (granddaughter) are asleep upstairs. Just now I Heard the coffee stop percolating and will soon have my first cup of the day.
There won't be a sunrise. I hear thunder and the sound of generous sized rain drops plopping on the sidewalk outside my window. The weather map looks ugly but will hopefully improve so I can teach my afternoon class. Other wise, I have the whole day to meet an old friend in extended care and to hang with my family.

I enjoy these lazy slow-paced days of summer, but I am aware that I will soon be working on lectures and syllabi and answering often heard questions from students at the university. I have a full life and consider myself blessed. I wish as much for you.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Aaron Stander...
Does it again
I have mentioned him and his work before, but for those who might not know: Aaron is a fellow paddler (I met him at QAJAQ TC), a retired professor (English) and a hell of a writer. Like many successful authors, he uses what he knows and places his series in a Michigan setting. His main and enduring protagonist is an interesting guy of many talents and, I suspect, may be Aaron's alter ego. Imagine my delight when he presented me with his latest work (at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium).

Sheriff Elkins, among his many endearing qualities, loves the out doors and paddles kayaks. He is a keen observer of people, a vegetarian and does his own cooking when at home.

Add to that a series of crimes that need solving, a cast of engaging characters, a little healthy sexual tension and a writing style that kept this paddler up until 2 am the other day and you have the formula for a successful novel. 5 actually.
Medieval Murders is a bit different in that in takes place in a time proceeding the other books (Aaron calls it a prequel, a word I haven't had time to look up and take at face value). It reads as smoothly as the others, and they are all page turners. Congratulations to a nice man on producing another fine work.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Several Blogs Ago...
I promised pics of the application of the ScotchGuard film to the Cetus MV.
 unrolled...before removing the backing
 have to keep boat, hands and both sides of film wet until in place
 Leslie, the ultimate crafts person, handles details.
Paddle safe...
The Old Skin Game

Some Rustoleum paint and the SOF was launched today after over a year in the garage. I never go alone in my SOF as they tend to take on water and can be impossible to wet exit. I sculled and knocked off a few angel rolls; but when I attempted a shotgun I somehow got very disoriented. 
JB and Alan gave me a bow rescue and I was off and at it again. What could have been a disaster turned into a routine procedure.
(photos by JB)
I spent the rest of the afternoon beefing up my thigh braces in my Cetus MV>
Paddle safe...

Friday, July 22, 2011

You Might Want to Try It:
Saw this sail gizmo in the demo room at Grand Marais. didn't spend a lot of time looking, but the quality appeared good.
 Later, saw it in action and seemed to work well.
If you have any interest, contact Patrick at Falcon Sails, LLC.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat Wave

We're having a heat wave in the Milwaukee area with day after day of temps in the 90'sF with humidity that makes it feel as if it is over 100. Air conditioning and rolling in an unusually warm Lake Michigan has been a great way to get some relief. At Grand Marais, on ingenious paddler found shade under boat by digging a hole for herself.

 She seemed happy with her gritty solution.
Where there's a will, there's a way. I didn't want to tell her that her legs were no in the shade)

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sometimes You Don't Need a Boat
Sometimes we just need to hit the books and sometimes we need to practice on land. Kayak lessons often start with the instructor discussing parts of the kayak, how to lift it, etc.. Basics of the forward stroke are introduced on land where the beginner doesn't have to be concerned with the twitchy little boat tipping over. In fact, one of the best classes I have ever participated in as an instructor was on the forward stroke. 3 of us took turns for over an hour showing various exercises to the class. When we finally launched, the instructors smiled at one another as every single student in that class demonstrated remarkable torso rotation. So it is with navigation.
My friend and mentor, JB, specializes in the subject and generally has an on shore session where charts and compasses, headings and ranges, deviation and drift can be learned before actually trying it on moving targets. Here, seen at Grand Marais, he works with a group before going onto the water for the practical part of the course.

Ben Lawry, one of the most innovative teachers I know, has a dry land rolling class that many have found helpful in learning the set up position, etc. before trying to cope with it all in an inverteed craft.

If you are an instructor, consider what can be covered on land where the students feel more comfortable (at first) and can learn without fear of tipping.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pop Quiz
Which of the following is NOT heard during a sea kayak symposium?
   a, rotation, rotation, rotation
   b, elbows up on a low brace
   c. elbows down on a high brace
   d. reload

Think you have the right answer? Well, if you chose a, b, c or d, you're wrong. The right answer is e (implied), none of the above. At the Grand Marais symposium there is always a race consisting of staff-participant teams. It starts with a dash to the boats,
 has a rather bizarre route
and requires that the racers endure the water torture section of the course.
It is in this section that Steve Scherrer could be heard urging the young folks to "reload". It was also hear that some "adults" went nuclear with buckets. No one died.
Next time, study for these quizzes.

Paddle safe...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Home & Catching Up
My junk is all over the garage, there is a pile of laundry and I have a ton of wonderful memories of  a 10-day excursion. Two symposiums and camping with my good friend JB have left me with lots of fond memories and numerous images I need to sort through.

This was a good trip. First of all, no one died (there was one dislocated shoulder handled by several medical types including JB and myself). I believe I did some of my best teaching this time around. I re met old friends and met some new ones. Through out, I was with quality folks all of whom I would be happy to have in my home.

I will work on the photos and get them up as they are available. Right now, I want to bask in the memories.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I woke and opened the flap of my tent to be greeted by a gentle surf washing onto the sandy shore. Grand Island lay in the background under cloudy skies. The 10 knot wind was a chilling 55F.2 sea kayaks lay over to the side while the musical sound of JB snoring in the next tent could just be heard above the wind and waves.  Life seemed pure and simple.

When I finally came out of my tent, I turned to see huge RV's, cheek to jowl, some actually hooked up to sewer lines. Many had dishes to receive satellite TV signals. Bulking air conditioners sat on their roofs. Considering the cost of the vehicles and the means their owners must have, I figure they were "camping" in conditions more congested than their neighborhoods. I wondered why they bothered.

Was it the scenery? The camaraderie of other RVers? I saw no kayaks or other toys on most of them, just chairs to sit out front under the awnings attached to their mobile homes. Still, they were all friendly and seemed as happy as myself to be away from what ever we all get away from. No matter. Life is short and can be as good as we make it. Heck, maybe I'll get a bigger tent.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I was taking some photos this morning and, as I returned to the camp site, I saw the ghost of E Hemminway sitting in front of JB's tent. I just had to post again

Paddle safe...
Dude, what happened to my roll?

I roll fairly well, 100% with a GS. Yesterday, u[ here on Lake Superior, I was rolling with the big Werner Ikelos blade. When I tried the smaller Tybee blade, however, things changed. I made it around but had to low brace to finish. Same happened when I tried JB's Cypress (205). It bugged me to no end.
 I tried different speeds with no change and still do not know what the problem is. I hope to get myself video taped to hopefully see what bad habit I've picked up. Until then, I remain baffled and frustrated.
On another note: I apologize for the drop in frequency and quality of these posts. I need to get my photogenic brain back in gear. I promise better in the future.

Paddle safe...

Monday, July 11, 2011

I am content

Camped on shore of Lake Superior with JB. Paddled and missed some rolls. The sun just kept shining

 We wiil soend 2 days here before going to Grand Marais to teach.
For now, 'nuff said.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

DKSKS a Wrap

In Michigan with JB to camp before headed to Grand Marais for the GLSKS. Door county was blessed with good weather, competent instructors great leadership and dynamic students.

 I saw a lot of progress during those few days.

No one (including our own Chris) was murdered in the making of the symposium.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Here We Go...

Well, we actually go tomorrow at about 6am when JB picks me up for our big annual road trip. Traditionally, this consists of teaching at Rutabaga's Door County Sea Kayak Symposium, camping on the south shore of Lake Superior and, finally, teaching at Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium (BTW: We have room for you if you can make it to either of these).

The weather reports through this weekend are for excellent conditions for teaching beginners and for camping. The Cetus MV is living up to all my expectations, and the camping gear seems to be in good repair. As I write this, I am waiting on my teaching assignments knowing I will enjoy and throw myself into whatever I am assigned to do. After all, I will be on the water doing something I love to do...teach.
I will take along my laptop and, hopefully, get up some pics along the way. Given the choice, however, I will paddle more.

Paddle safe...

Monday, July 04, 2011

Another 4th

Here, in America, it is the fourth of July. Flags are out,  parades will be held throughout the land and there will be fireworks tonight. All this to celebrate a courageous experiment that resulted in this unique country. The main goal of all this was to provide freedom which, if you read bumper stickers, you know isn't free.

So, a moment to remember and thank those that made it all possible. Some, sadly, made the ultimate sacrifice and only live on in memories of families and loved ones. Happily, many came home, and we greet one another with nods of an underlying knowing of the preciousness of this day.

Stay safe, be well and savour your freedom.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Back to Phil's

 I've written about Phil before. He is one of the driving forces for kayaking in Wisconsin, especially NE Wisconsin. In addition to running a busy good old fashion diner, Phil has promoted the use of old kayaks as planters throughout Two Rivers. Usually, JB and I will stop there on the way to the Door County Symposium (see you next week, Phil). This time, Alan and I made the stop on the way to our camping trip.

Paddle safe...