Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bear-Proof Kayaks

Thermoformed plastic kayaks like the Delta kayaks Louise and I paddle have become popular over the last few years. They're tough and strong, and can take a beating. But can they take a bear mauling? A kayaker is Alaska can answer that question after a bear had a go at their kayak. Check out the video below:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Another Piece of Gear

I shouldn't be reading Facebook. It leads me to new websites -- sometimes really interesting ones about kayaking! But some of these websites showcase new pieces of gear that I never knew about, and never would have thought I needed.
Kayak Deck Slates.
Okay, paddlers, who's got a deck slate? Or a set of 'em? Hands up, anybody.
Deck Slates.
Kayak Deck Slates? Yes, slates for your kayak deck. They come in sets of two.
For those who were born after the invention of the file card, let alone the tablet smart phone, a slate is an erasable surface that you can write on. Slates are called that because they used to be made of a thin slice of stone called slate, and people wrote on them with a lead pencil.
These deck slates are a kind of laminated sticker to put on your kayak's front deck near the front end of the coaming, where you can reach them while paddling. They're sold online through Paddling Light and they actually look pretty nifty.
Let me be the first to admit that I've never heard of anyone putting slates on their kayak decks, though this website says they're popular in Britain. And now that I come to think about it, someone who needs more than one slate is doing rather more writing while kayaking than I plan to do. And though I have written while kayaking, I do it on a sheet of paper folded into a mini-notebook, with a pencil stub.
Oh, but apparently only one of these slates is for writing notes. The left-hand slate is set up for writing a tide chart. So I guess I could use the right-hand slate for noting what I saw when I pushed my SPOT OK button, or where I took a photograph, or resolutions to vote in the coming election for a candidate who when elected will lead Parliament to reduce oil tanker traffic making all these wakes in the Juan de Fuca Strait.
The listing for the deck slates is clear-spoken and informative, includes tips for installing the stickers, and points out that the slates are "Good in temperatures ranging from -65°F to 225°F." I'll keep that in mind next time anyone in my paddle group doesn't want to go on the water because the weather is too cold, or too hot.
Kayak Deck Slates. Betcha all the cool paddlers have 'em.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Vintage Kayaking in Austria

Here's a clip of vintage kayak racing on the River Enns in Austria. The clip is from September, 1954. Check it out embedded below:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wiffin Spit!

This morning was bright and sunny, with no wind. A perfect day to check out just how nice Wiffin Spit is for paddling, provided one stays out of the current until ready. I got my little inflatable ready to take on the bus, but Bernie ended up driving me there and taking a walk all along the spit from the parking lot by Sooke Harbour House to the tip where the water rushes around.
He may have seen the whole length of the spit, but I didn't. From the water, it's a bit hard to tell exactly where the narrows is. I went a bit closer to the end than the map at this link shows. I didn't want to find the current suddenly, even if it was expected to be gentle and there is no breeze against it to kick up standing waves.
I took a moment to paddle outside the spit, too, by hopping across the parking lot. A good place for paddling, especially in good weather!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Whitewater Humour

As well as paddling, I'm interested in online comics -- and now, Ben has sent me a link where these two interests overlap! In Jennie Breeden's comic The Devil's Panties, she has four comics in a row about her whitewater boating trip.
borrowed from Jennie Breeden's very funny website for grown-ups

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunbathing Seals

Nice note from friend Claire Eamer on Gabriola Island, who intends to go paddling with us the next time we get into her home waters. She says:

Went for a boat ride yesterday near Silva Bay. We had an audience.

Friday, September 18, 2015

International Coastal Cleanup

It's time again to remind paddlers of the International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday September 19, and its Canadian incarnation, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. This activity is an excellent opportunity for paddlers of all kinds to get together and clean up trash along the shoreline in our home waters. It's a conservation activity initiated by the World Wildlife Federation in partnership with local interests such as the Vancouver Aquarium. Some of the cleaning is done by children walking on beaches, wearing gloves to pick up trash, some is done by boaters with ropes and hooks who can haul shopping carts out of streams and harbours. Some is official, some is very informal.
When does your area have an official cleanup? It might be any time of year. If your community doesn't have an event set up, it's not hard to get one started. There are suggestions and a training presentation for how to organize your own event at the Canadian website link above and here. Last year, over half a million volunteers picked up more than 16 million pounds (about 8 million kilograms) of trash during this cleanup.
Don't let the organizational issues concern you! If all you do is retrieve a few floating beer cans someone left in your favourite lake, you're part of the on-going cleanup. For good ideas on how paddlers can do their own cleanup, check out this link for a toolkit. And here's a page about it on Facebook, for when you come back indoors after going out on the water.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Canoes, Kayaks and Whitewater

Here's a vintage clip of canoe and kayak whitewater racing from 1965 somewhere im Germany. Check out the clip embedded below:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Highly Illogical

Last week, Louise and I spent a few days hanging out with friends at Cox Bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino. We didn't haul the kayaks up, but we did our fair share of boogie boarding in the waves. And our friend Karl decided to try riding something, er, highly unusual in the waves.
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How will did it work? Well, you'll just have to watch his video, embedded below, to find out. I don't want to spoil the ending, but [SPOILER ALERT] the chair worked about as well as you would expect it to.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kalamalka Lake

Whenever I'm on a highway and the road passes a lake, I always want to go down to the water's edge and go swimming or boating. Whenever I can, at least I soak my feet and look around. Talking Bernie into stopping for a few minutes got ever so much easier once he got a fishing rod. On several of our trips between Victoria and Edmonton, we would stop to let the twins run around, but he'd also get out the rod and tackle. Now that I own a little folding inflatable kayak, we take it along on any road trips. He doesn't mind me going out on the water in my boat, and I don't mind him fishing from the shore. Sometimes he takes a turn in the kayak too.
Our grown son Ben is on the way back to Edmonton after building greenhouses, picking fruit and para-sailing in Kelowna. (Whenever I feel like I'm a kick-ass kayaking enthusiast, there's always reminders that other sports like para-sailing are far more enthusiastic.) While on the road, he stopped in Vernon and found free wifi at the public library (LOVE public libraries!), so he sent us this photo taken from Highway 97.

Kalamalka Lake, taken by Ben
His note reads:
You could be paddling this. Deep, 5 degree water with fish the size of your arm and a million kinds of wildlife scattered along the shore. Next summer maybe?

Gotta say, he knows how to pitch a paddling destination! After some time at Kalamalka Lake, he left Vernon and headed towards Golden. There, he found what he describes as the best swimming hole in the Rockies. Ten feet deep and clear as glass.

When he can't find a boat to borrow, he just swims a little and floats around. Nice.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kayak Expedition 1930s Style

Here's a silent film of a kayaking expedition up the Hudson River, through Lake Champlain and into the St Lawrence River. Check it out, embedded below.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Sea Lion Belly Flop

My only question is how did the sea lion climb the tower in the first place?
Check out the video embedded below:

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Ocean Films

Are paddlers interested in films about living on the ocean? Well, yeah. Vancouver-based paddlers should be aware of the latest news from Georgia Strait Alliance, about the upcoming Vancouver Festival of Ocean Films. It takes place on September 13, at 4pm at Vancity Theatre.
Three great films will be screened, including one about the life of a surfer and environmental activist, another about saving wild salmon runs, and Thule Tuvalu about the effects of climate change in communities as different as Greenland and a South Pacific island. Click here to see the previews and get your tickets.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Scouting East Sooke

Made time this afternoon (Sunday) to head out for paddling. We intended to go to Kemp Lake so Bernie could do some fishing, but had to head the other direction to put some gas in the rattly van. When the pumps had no power at the nearest station, we headed off to another station, and since that one was half-wayu to Roche Cove, we ended up going there.
Roche Cove is a nice little inlet off Sooke Basin, and we've been there only one time. That day I was paddling with John and Louise, and we did not linger! Recently I rode a little local bus to see East Sooke, and there was the bridge at the mouth of Roche Cove. That's when I got the idea it would be nice to paddle inside the cove and avoid the currents at the mouth entirely. But where to launch in this shoreline park?
Bernie stopped the van in a parking lot big enough for 8 or 9 cars, and we investigated the park. Nice sign, bench, bike rack, and pit toilets suitable for changing clothes! I'd had a good look at a CRD pamphlet, and there's the same image online at the link above. On the map, it looked like along the Galloping Goose trail about 300 yards would be a level area between the trail and shore. The pamphlet spoke of a sandy beach, and said "Picnic at the protected cove after an easy walk from the parking area."
Bernie insisted we walk along the trail to the beach first, and then come back for the boats.
We had quite a nice level walk along the trail. It would be a good place to bring someone who wanted to look at cliffs and bluffs but couldn't climb them. The only problem was that we didn't come to a beach in 300 metres, or 600 metres, or even a kilometre as I'd expected based on the map. There were steep drops to water at those points, not level ground. Oops. There was a footpath down to the end of the cove, with a sheltered shore that showed rocks, not sand.
While it would be possible to portage small boats a kilometre along the trail and then carefully down the footpath, we decided to press on instead of paddling today. Bernie headed us towards Anderson Cove.
That's part of East Sooke Park. From the bus, I'd seen two places for pulling a small car off the road and walking a few steps down a slope to the sheltered water of the cove. Bernie found a small parking lot for 6 or so cars up a short but steep lane from the road -- hard to see from a vehicle as you go past. Here was another sign and pit toilets again. If we were going to launch here, we'd prefer to have rollers for the boats.

So we headed for home. No actual paddling today, but we scouted two places. Now Bernie will know where I'm going when I hop on a bus to Anderson Cove. Now we know that Roche Cove isn't well-suited for paddling, but it's not impossible, and we had a nice walk along the trail. Not bad.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

New Rope!

Just bought some new gear. Well, something to make new gear. Well, I bought some rope.
That might not be exciting for any real hardbody adventure kayakers, but hey! I get kayak excitement where I can. Sometimes that means making gear. And the materials don't have to come from high end stores selling kayaks and canoes, even though Ocean River is a great store. Often I find useful material at hardware stores.
The rope I bought was too interesting to leave behind. It had a reflective thread woven in with the bright yellow strands, which caught my attention. And a note on the label says "floats" so that made me think of ways I could use floating rope.
Got this rope at Home Depot!
I've checked the hardware store's website for info on this rope. Apparently the 80lbs capacity which is noted on the rope's label isn't the only limiting feature. It also stretches over time, and when compared with other synthetic ropes it's poor at holding knots or resisting abrasion. That means it is NOT good for rock-climbing and probably not a substitute for a proper tow line system from North Water. I wonder if the affordable throw bags I bought a couple of years ago have better rope... certainly that rope is softer and more flexible.
I'm going to try using this new rope for deck line. And my new inflatable Lagoon needs a tender, or a line that stays attached to the bow handle. Oh, the ideas that are milling in my brain!


Friday, September 04, 2015

Patron Saint of Canadian travel by water

Just reading Stephen Hume's fascinating book Simon Fraser: In Search of Modern British Columbia. Among the interesting details that make this book so fascinating are facts about the fur trade in North America. When Fraser set out from Montreal and Lachine on his journey west, the end of the first day's easy paddle was a tiny community called Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. This place is at the narrows of the Saint Lawrence river where canoes turn west to travel up the Ottawa river. There was a small, windowless stone church dedicated to Saint Anne, described by Hume as the patroness of the Canadians in all their travels by water.
Nice to know we paddlers have a patron saint.
Paddlers looking for a good read will enjoy a little armchair paddling with Hume's book in hand! He describes in detail the birchbark canoes of First Nations and voyageurs, and their river routes. The history of travel by water in Canada is described with as much immediacy as Hume's own times on the rivers and lakes.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


Okay, the small boat in use in this video has a motor but I still think catfishing is of interest to paddlers.

Check out this video posted on YouTube if the embedded version below doesn't show for you.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Is It Possible to Canoe Over a Car?

Why, yes. Yes, it is. Especially if you tie your canoe to a second car. Alcohol is recommended before trying this, and you should never actually try it. Just stick to the alcohol.
Check out the video embedded below:

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Your Squee! For the Day

Rosie the kitten was just three weeks old when she was found abandoned and sick earlier this year. Her rescuers were not sure she would survive unless they found a surrogate mother, and they found an unlikely one in Lilo the husky dog. It was all the more unexpected because Lilo had never had puppies of her own but Rosie clearly brought out Lilo's mothering instinct. Rosie eventually was adopted by the whole pack of huskies, becoming a bit of an Internet thing a couple of months ago.
Rosie's latest adventure with her new pack is to enjoy kayaking and paddleboarding. That cat gets on the water more than I do.

And of course, there's a video: