Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More thoughts on the shmangling blog: this time from Brain Day
(disclaimer: Brian is with P&H Kayaks here in the states. I paddle a Cetus MV and have Brian's very old and many times repaired

In response to the previous blog, Brian wrote (edited to condense):

Hey Silbs.  I’m with you that the definitions of high-angle and low-angle paddling are getting a bit confusing these days...

Nowadays it seems that pretty much everybody teaches a “top hand high” forward stroke. Which makes the question of low or high angle is mostly moot. If you keep your top hand roughly at shoulder level and you immerse the blade to the throat, your “paddle angle” will be a function of overall shaft length. Go with a shorter shaft and you will have a higher angle...
.  These days it seems that the closest thing to what used to be considered low-angle paddling is Greenland style forward stroke. Hands are held at chest level or below. Elbows are down. Not much strain on the shoulder from holding up the paddle. That is what used to be considered a low angle style. But with paddles getting shorter and teaching technique becoming more uniform you don’t see it that much anymore in touring kayak circles...

There was more, but I think I caught the essence of Brian's knowledgeable comments. I appreciate them.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wisdom of Gary Simon...

Gary is one of the founding fathers of our Milwuakee kayaking community. He is an excellent teacher and has a gift for clearly explaining the difficult. With his permission, I am publishing here an e  mail he sent to me this morning. (Bold accent are my own)

Paddle safe...
I will try to explain my understanding of the benefit of a more vertical paddle blade, which is based on and related to the concept of slippage.
1. Slippage. As you know, the concept is that the blade remains fixed once it is planted, and the paddler pulls the kayak, ski, etc. to the fixed paddle blade. Stop-action video has proven that, while this is a valid concept, the blade in fact moves back a little towards the paddler (that is, "slips") during the power phase. The less the slippage, the more solid the plant and the more efficient the stroke since all of the power is transmitted to the blade. (Reduction of slippage is the sole reason behind the wing paddle. The airfoil blade creates a lower pressure area on the back of the blade and a high pressure on the face, thus allowing for less slippage. But there is still some slippage, especially if the blade is not vertical; and it is impossible to have a completely vertical blade.)
2. Blade surface area. The more surface area of the blade squared to the water, the less the slippage. One way to visualize this is to think of the difference between a square piece of plywood affixed to a round shaft acting as a blade, and just a round shaft. The square piece would clearly provide for less slippage and a more powerful catch right before and during the power phase. Now, imagine a spotlight shining on the non-power face of the blade and the shadow cast by that light. A perfectly vertical blade of, say 900 sq. inches, would cast a shadow of 900 sq. inches. Now, lean the blade either forward or backward--the shadow the blade now casts is less than 900 sq. inches. So, a more vertical blade will present more area to the water, and should provide for a more solid catch and power phase.
3. The height of the blade varies throughout the recovery through the completion of the catch, when in theory is when the blade is completely buried. I raise my top hand to slightly above my head just before starting the catch, and try to have the top hand somewhere around my chin upon completion of the catch and during the power phase. Pictures can be misleading if one does not try to figure out where the paddler is during his stroke. For example, in the one you posted today of my stroke (last pic), I was somewhere right before or at the start of the catch phase when the top hand was coming down as the blade was inserted into the water during the catch. How high one goes depends on paddle length, paddler size, energy levels, paddle conditions, and various other factors. Does not much matter, but I always try to "think vertical paddle", unless hanging on for dear life. GS

Monday, November 21, 2011

Angle, Shmangle...
I love asking others how they define high angle paddling because of the variety of answers I get. Some point out that the blade is shaped differently and the shaft generally a bit shorter than a paddle for low angle work. Each shape, of course, allows the blade to meet the water at a different angle. Then comes the discussion of what is high angle.
One fellow tells me it means your top hand is above your head. Other say the hand must be over the forehead, above the eyebrows, at eye level, above the chine, etc., etc.. I wonder if none of the above are correct. For instance, what if someone uses a relatively short high angle paddle (205), paddles with a vertical blade and their top hand is about chin high? They are using the blade efficiently while keeping from lifting the top arm high and exposing it to injury. Is that not high angle paddling?

The blade passes close to and parallel to the hull and, except for any criteria of top hand height, is in every way high angle paddling. Or am I missing something here? Should the angle of paddling be defined by the angle of paddling?

Paddle safe...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Once Upon a Time...
...when I was a baby doctor (not to be confused with a pediatrician) at Washington D.C. General Hospital, I had a patient from whom I learned a life lesson. He was in his forties and had moderately severe hypertension. Back then there were only a few meds available, and I was unable to get his pressure down. I presented this to my Chief who told me to put the patient in the hospital. "And do what?", I asked. "Just admit him," was the reply. I did, and within 36 hours the man had a normal blood pressure. Excited, I told the Chief who, in turn, said I could now discharge the patient. When I asked what would happen to the patient, the Chief told me that the man's pressure would quickly rise again and he would eventually die of a stroke.
Why, I asked, had I bothered to admit him. The Chief's answer still stays with me.

"So you could learn that the cause of high blood pressure is life."
Since then, there have been studies that have shown that blood pressure can be lowered in patients who give up TV, radio and newspapers. That is, pressure goes down when people have less exposure to the troubles of the world and all the angst around us. As someone once said (I paraphrase), "Life is too much with us."
You can keep your eye on the national debt for me today while listening to the newscasts on world economic disasters and the rest. Or, you could go for a nice paddle, even if it's just for an hour after work.

Paddle safe...

Friday, November 11, 2011

There is a 4+ year old boy on my mind this Veteran's day. He happens to be my grandson. I am unlikely to be around when he reaches the age of 18, so I want to make my wishes for him known now. I wish for him a world of peace. I wish for him to not have to pick up a fire arm unless he chooses to target shoot. I wish for him a time of no wars and a time with none of our armies on foreign soil. I wish him the gift of world peace.

I was born just before the attack on Pearl Harbor and have never known a time without wars. I have seen war and it ain't pretty. There are, I can tell you, better ways to gather memories.

I know others who have had the same experiences including Bill, next door, and my mentor JB. I know that look when I face another man who has served, especially in 'Nam and that teary gaze we share. I know the monuments in Washington D.C. and The Wall I can never approach without crying. I know, or knew, some of the men listed there.

I know what I know, and I don't want my grandson to know of such things. Yes, I want him to know our history and what has gone on, but I want it to serve as a lesson to him how terribly wrong things can go.

I appreciate the "thank you" comments that have been coming my way. I don't know about other vets but, for me, a smile and a knowing nod would be plenty of thanks. Then, pray for peace for my grandson.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Maybe I'm too Old School...
I read many blogs, most on kayaking. When I have time I peruse paddlingplanet.comand visit some of the sites I see. I have noticed more and more how complicated (to this old head) it has become to comment on some of them (the comments are virtually always +).

I am asked for credentials, identities and verifications and often denied posting my comment because I cannot be verified. The sites take my comments and some take them if I ID myself by my blogspot address. More and more, however, it has become too hard to post, so I don't. Sometimes I can link the posting to my FaceBook page and do so.

I guess I am computer-challenged and haven't kept up with the new ways. Oh well, I have to go fix my typewriter now.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tough Decision...
Do I really want to go back to the noise and stress?

Paddle safe...

Friday, November 04, 2011

   We have often discussed how many kayaks are enough and why. Most of us are not presently paddling the first kayak we ever purchased and it is likely we no longer own that boat. More over, it is likely that we have owned several different boats at different times and presently own more than one. Now, why is that?
   Sometimes, because there is only a limited opportunity to test paddle kayaks, we find that that perfect new boat doesn't work in certain conditions as well as we had hoped. More often, and usually right after taking delivery of our new (or used) kayak, we cast our eyes on some new offering that has lines that speak to us in a way a great work of art speaks to an artist. End game: we want that boat...too.
    Right now, how many boats do you own? How many boats do you own that you hardly ever (if ever) paddle but cannot let go of because it is a classic (e.g. my Romany)? How many boats do you have that you know you will not use and which would serve you better being sold to put cash in your pocket? I don't need answers to these questions, but I pose them to make us all aware of our sickness. Yes, our sickness. We, my fellow paddlers and lovers-of-kayaks are addicted to boats.
   For some of us it is the sensuousness of the curves, or the mimicking of traditional Greenland lines or colors or materials or...or just kayaks in general. Face it, we need help, but a search of the medical literature shows that we are an ignored, disadvantaged minority in this country. Never, in a search of the Congressional Record, has a senator or representative risen to the floor to proclaim the pain and need of the kayak addict (KA). Never has the AMA or any other medical group or college offered training on the treatment for the KA. My dear friends and colleagues, there is no treatment. I am an MD and have discussed this with my colleagues in psychiatry; and I can tell you: that they have little interest in our plight. Knowing all this and realizing that we will not likely see a cure in our life time, we need to address the main secondary need of the KA patient: money.
   Unless the country wants to see crime rates rise as we, like all addicts, pursue the quest for the money we need to satisfy our addiction, our government must pass the F.A.K.E act which I hereby propose:
   The Federal Assistance act for Kayak Enthusiasts is a simple act asking that recognized addicted kayakers (come on, ACA, you need to find a way to credential us) be given a yearly stipend that would have to be applied to the purchase of a new or used kayak. Passing this is critical to our interests, the needs of kayakers and the needs of our country. Upon its enactment:

   1. Crime rates would plunge as we would have the cash we need.
   2. The economy would surge as money flowed from kayaker to kayaker to kayak dealer.
   3. As a result, employment would rise dramatically.

   It isn't going to be easy, so the sooner we get started on this the sooner it will happen. We need a steering committee to organize our campaign for the rights we deserve. We need to write letters, take out TV ads, contact our people in government, organize demonstrations (peaceful) and just get the word out. We are people of action and we take risks. WE CAN DO THIS.

   And, once we have celebrated the passage and enactment of F.A.K.E. we can start working on the B.O.O.B., act: Booty Only Offered to buy Blades.
   Clearly,we have our work cut out for us

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A day "off"...
 Off the lake, that is. Last Saturday was glorious with bright sunshine, little wind and no waves on the lake. So, why not do a little relaxing paddle on the Milwaukee River and enjoy the fall colors?
I launched from a site north of Milwaukee and enjoyed, for a while, a relaxed paddle. I saw a father-daughter duo chatting while enjoying their time on the water, and the colors were great. I meandered from side to side of the river looking at detail, occasionally snapping a picture I knew I would later erase, and generally enjoying the day.
When I turned to head back, the large Ikelos came out and I did a nice aerobic work out. Next morning, I knew I had had some fun and worked my torso well the previous day. It was Sunday, blowing quite a bit. I headed for the big lake.

Paddle safe...