Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Just a quick "Merry Christmas" to all, and to good things in the new year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good Times

Looking forward to three days up along the southern shore of Superior this weekend. A stop at the "Thirsty Pegan" for beers and pizza tonight, then we find our way to some kayaking on Superior and Lake O, hiking the trails, saunas, some social time with friends, and some good music (I may even bring a guitar along). Lots going on these days ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Aleut II

Another Valley boat! Four of us have pooled our resources to buy a lightly used Aleut II. We had it out last night on one of the local lakes to check it out a bit, and I brought along the Poseidon to use as a photo ship to record the maiden voyage. With two good paddlers in the boat ... this is about the only view I could get! It really is a performance kayak. It edges nice .. we never once needed to use the rudder to turn. I was getting a little carried away with the leaning, but nobody wanted to roll it last night. Hmm. I think it should roll just fine!

Friday, August 28, 2009

SOF Covering

Well I was just going to repaint the SOF so I could seal up some of the little holes. As I was trying to clean off some of the silicone spots I had dabbed on as a temporary fix for some of the major leaks I got carried away. The skin was somewhere around 5 or 6 years old so it was time to check out the frame work anyway. I found everything in remarkably good condition under the fabric. I should consult a couple of the local builders here on the what I should do next, but it looks pretty strait forward, maybe oil the wood, decide what to cover it with and do it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

We're Going!

I have to wonder how many people cancel trips because of the forecast. I know this lake can make its own weather, and we have to take in all the information we can to make a safe decision. But ... Only a few short hours ago the forecast was even worse than the earlier one.

Small Craft Advisory is Cancelled
Wind less than 15, waves 1-3 all weekend.

Apostle Island Weekend

The plan is to head up to the Apostles tonight and spend the weekend with a group on the islands. Tonight is Oak, then Stocton for Saturday night. The weather forecast is not looking like it's going to be one of those calm relaxing weekends. Winds up to 25 kts and 4-6 ft waves for today, then 3-5 ft for Saturday. So many times the near shore forecast changes quickly. I've driven up with a forecast of calm winds and less than 2 ft waves and when I arrive I find the lake all cranked up with wind and waves. The group I'm going up with isn't ready for 3-5 footers. Will have to watch the weather closely and make some decisions soon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

More Skeg Stuff

I suppose I shouldn't beat up on P&h for the Cetus skeg issues .. when I first picked up my Valley Nordkapp I had some issues with the skeg. It was so stiff I could hardly move it, I then took the boat on a quick trip to the Apostle Islands without taking the time to find out what the problem was and promptly bent the cable when I forgot to raise the skeg as I paddled up to shore on Basswood Island. I spent the rest of the weekend with the skeg stuck half way. the fix on the Nordkapp was to replace the now bent cable, and tip the boat upside down and spray WD40 in the little hole where the cable comes out in the skeg box until the stuff is running out the slider. That seemed to fix the Nordkapp cable skeg .. also I attach a short rope to the skeg so if the skeg ever gets stuck in the up position, I can ask one of my paddling companions to reach down and yank the rope to free the skeg. A not so much fun task when the water temp near freezing! I've added the rope to both the NDK and the Nordkapp, and have had to use them a number of times. Most of the folks I paddle with do the same. Much better than a bent skeg cable! I also had problems with my NDK Poseiden with the seemingly trouble free rope skeg. For some reason the whole system was binding, and just didn't work well, also the tube the rope went through leaked. I took everything all apart cleaned it up, reset the bungee tension, and tightened up the leaking tube. I also had to re glass around the skeg box for some leaks there too. Both these boats have had trouble free skegs now for years, and I know the Cetus will be resolved too. P&H needs to be commended for standing behind there product and taking care of the problem.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cetus Skegs

A close friend has just purchased a new P&H Cetus. An awesome boat to paddle, very responsive, edges nice, good stability. The only complaint she has with the new boat is the skeg is almost impossible to operate. Douglas at "Seakayak Photo" has written a comprehensive post on the subject and has spent a good bit of time working on the Cetus skeg also, and anyone trying to fix the skeg issue should check this out. She brought the boat over to the hanger today so I could help her install a new compass for her up coming trip to the Pukaskwa next week, and we also wanted to have a look at the offending skeg. If she can't resolve it this week she will have to take her old boat on the trip instead, the skeg is just that hard to operate. I spend a fair bit of time working on mechanical things .. aircraft have a plethora of cables, pulleys and such, and looking at this set up I can see a leverage problem from the start. I really don't think the small cord is binding inside the cable housing. The angle is off coming into the skeg box enough that the cord is chafing, and will break at some point. We may try a lighter shock cord first, it that doesn't help I'd recommend taking the boat to the boys at Northwest Canoe for some modifications to the cord angle. Some sort of cam to offset the increased tension from the shock chord could work too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Black and White

From my last post Silbs mentioned he would like to see this image in black and white. The sky was a bit washed out so I added some saturation to bring out the clouds ... I like it ... I wouldn't have thought to try it in black and white. Always learning!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sand Island

I finally got around to adding some images from the Apostle Island trip last week. Lots of wind and waves. Our campsite was protected from the wind so any waves that came through to the beach were coming from around the point. The big stuff was out a few hundred yards. Real fun weekend!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two Harbors and Point to LaPointe

I've been going to the Two Harbors Kayak Festival now since 2003. It's been sort of a personal annual event. This year however I didn't enter any of the races, or even participate in any of the events, I just showed up and watched some friends start the race in the fog, and then headed off with DaveO, Chris, Steve, and Cheryl on an outstanding 7 mile paddle along the North Shore. We put in a little before Split Rock and went up to Silver Bay. It was a real nice afternoon, and I didn't miss pounding away on an 18 mile race at all.
The real fun event I did participate in this weekend was the two mile swim from Point to LaPointe as a support paddler. I swim pretty much like a rock, I can do it, but not for any distance. These people really impressed me. An open water swim for two miles in Lake Superior is in my book a daunting task, and not to be taken lightly. I was assigned "community swimmer" Todd. Todd impressed me more than the elite racers who started in the first wave who everyone knew would make the finish. The community swimmers are the everyday folks who are getting out and taking new challenges. These people were required to have a kayaker as an escort all the way across. I was happy to be asked to go along with Todd as he did the two mile swim. He did an outstanding race!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Point to LaPointe

Heading to Bayfield tonight for an early morning paddle with 200 swimmers. The Point to LaPointe swim has been going since 2006 starting with 24 swimmers, and in just a few years has grown to 200, the max allowed by the Coast Guard. Myself along with 30 other kayakers, will be escorting swimmers across the bay. Then it's off to Two Harbors for the Annual Kayak Festival. I'll be arriving late so I'll not be able to enter any of the races, but it's a great place to hang out for the rest of the weekend anyway.
Last weekend I had my little Optio W20 along with me on an Apostle Island trip with DaveO and most of the skoac renegades, I think I may have some water in the camera because the photos I took all weekend didn't turn out so well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cooper's Hawk

We had a Cooper's Hawk with a broken wing here at the airport yesterday. Birds and airplanes don't mix well ... sometimes the birds will take down the occasional plane, but most of the time the birds lose. This little guy managed to get off the runway and hid behind the hanger where we were able to keep him out of harms way. We called the Raptor Center and they came out to pick him up right away. A little excitement at the airport!

Update: At first we were told it was a Coopers Hawk. After some checking I think its an American Kestrel.

Update: 7/29/2009 We spoke with the Raptor Center today and yes it was a Kestrel. They had to put it down because the wing was way to damaged.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday Nights

What a great evening last night. The SKOAC skill are sessions on Lake Calhoun every other Wednesday night, and last night was a nice turnout. I think we had 18 people show up to work on everything from draw strokes to rolling. Michael got his first roll in last night by the way! Congrats Michael! The ISK group on their Wednesday night paddle even stopped by to say hi, with Jeff showing off the new Romany Surf he picked up from Chris at Boreal Shores Kayaking in Bayfield last weekend. Jill was sporting a brand new P&H Cetus she picked up at Midwest Mountaineering. Two new boats, one new roller, and a new resteraunt to check out afterwards so, really a nice evening. And I left my camera in the Jeep so no pictures.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Even with two paddling clubs, and many friends, I still do a lot of solo paddling around the cities. But when you add the uncertainty of paddling on Lake Superior, it makes more sense to go with others. Now I get the free time, I call the park service and get a campsite. I send a quick email out to a few folks and find schedules just aren't going to work so .. what the heck .. I go anyway. The big lake has a lot to offer the solo paddler, as long as the weather cooperates we're good to go. A solo trip out to Oak Island is an easy 5 mile paddle from Red Cliff Marina, the crossing out to Oak is a quick 2 miles. Really not much more than a morning paddle. A little exploring the shoreline on the East side of the island, head back and set up camp for the night. I did have to share my little island with a group of 7 women that showed up later in the day. Not that I am complaining ...

here's a link to the photos from the weekend.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Apostles - Packed up ready to go -

I haven't made it up to Lake Superior as often this year as in past seasons, so when I have some free time I need to take advantage of it. When I checked on available campsites in the Apostles for this weekend I was surprised to find Oak 1 open. Usually all the nice sites are taken right away. Being a last minute trip and everyone's busy schedule it looks like this will be a solo trip. I haven't done any solo trips to the islands yet, so this should be a fun weekend. Weather looks ok ... calling for winds in the 15 kt range with waves 2-4ft until late Saturday, then lighter winds with calm to 2ft. That may change, and it often does so, like always I watch the weather pretty close. So 4:00 pm I'm off ... Back on Sunday night.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July Weekend

Other than a windy weekend on York in June, I haven't been out on the islands yet this year. With a three day weekend and some camping permits in hand ... many thanks to Courtney ... our small group of six paddlers had some of the best weather the big lake has had to offer in many weeks. That and NO bugs all weekend. I think during the summer months its a timing thing, and luck! The stars aligned and it couldn't have been a better time to be on the islands.
We even found some new sea caves we hadn't seen yet, along the rocky northeast shore of Manitou, and on the north shore of Bear we found some really huge sea caves. Some we were back in 20 feet or more.
We had the opportunity to check out the Raspberry Island Lighthouse since the recent renovation. Really nice! The tour is worth the time to see and listen to, the gentleman on staff there gave a presentation worthy of the history of the lighthouse.
I did meet this fellow .. he had devised a way to bring that little bit more gear along by towing a little whitewater kayak along on trips. If you look closely there is a 6 ft 2x4 with a skeg to keep it going strait. He was with a huge group was headed to Sand Island for the long weekend. I was thinking he was maybe hauling the beer?!
Anyway ... a great weekend. Lots of good food! Good weather! And no BUGS!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Intro to Lake Superior Weekend

Every year in June we offer an "Intro to Lake Superior" weekend for people in the club that want to get out on the big lake for the first time. We use Basswood Island as a destination because its only about a mile crossing, and usually a very protected bay when the wind starts to blow. Unfortunately this time we had an East wind as an unusually strong low pressure weather system came through. We had some new paddlers on this trip so we elected to camp on the mainland for both Friday and Saturday night. We did to the normal clinics on Navigation and map reading skills, along with plenty of talk on weather. Saturday morning we wanted to get everyone out in the wind and waves to get a feel for the lake, and also to let people push their limits a bit. We headed along the shoreline into the wind first, did some turns and maneuvering to get the feel of the wind and waves from all directions. The lake decided to calm down a bit while we were out, so we turned down wind to visit one of the shipwrecks. How long the lake stays calm is anybodies guess, so we then decide to make the crossing to Basswood to maybe check out the sea stack at Basswood. A little more than half way across the lake decides to let the wind and waves begin again. Well, one capsize, and some directional control problems we changed plans and headed back to the mainland. A little towing involved and everyone got a real lesson on how fast Lake Superior can change her mind.Sunday brings about more of the same wind and waves. Everyone who knows the area and still wants to paddle can find a spot to go. It seemed everyone had the same idea. Bark Bay Slough is a secluded place to go when there are small craft advisories and getting on Superior is a bad idea. We did get out for a nice paddle, the wind though was still blowing hard. Along the way we ran across two people who were getting blown along the shore, one of them in a solo canoe. She had almost no control and was getting into trouble. Chris, the good guy he is offered to tow her back to the launch. I really don't know how she would have got back otherwise.

Even the lily pads were having a hard time hanging on!

Bark Bay slough is a great place to check out regardless of the weather. Birds, and other wildlife are plentiful in this hidden little sanctuary.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Greenland Thing

When I received my email from Gail regarding the classes and who was teaching what, she said there was some room to change things a little bit after things got going. Once the symposium started, it became apparent that changing things around was going to be the norm, and not the exception! The traditional classes were full up, along with rolling. Both of my favorite subjects! I had been first assigned to the beginner classes, and by all rights that was where I should be, given my short tenure as an instructor. But I couldn't help wishing I could have the opportunity to help teach the traditional classes with Doug Van Doren. I could hope, right? At the instructor meeting at 8am on Saturday morning, when it was asked if anyone could help teach the traditional classes I raised my hand and was ready to give it a go. but to be honest I had to tell the lead instructors that .. yes, I've been paddling with a gp for the last 5 years, but if you want me to teach high level skills, and the like .. I will be in over my head. Doug assigned me with Lynn and Lynn for the first half day. This was perfect! I had the opportunity to work with two skilled instructors, with students who were just getting into Greenland paddling. Fun stuff to see people start to understand how the Greenland paddle works! My teaching assignment for the class was draw strokes .. I think I did OK. For the afternoon class, I fully expected to again help with the beginner class. But to my surprise Doug had me tail along with him and Mark Rogers from Superior Kayaks to help teach the advanced strokes class .. was I over my head to teach advanced Greenland strokes? Maybe. I was there to observe, and help as asked. But with Doug leading the class I was able to model after him and things went really well. He is a skilled teacher! It is amazing how well he can hold the attention, and keep a large class together while we drift in the wind across the bay. What I found I liked about the class was the practical use of the paddle. Nothing complicated, just the common sense way to use a tool in the water, to its fullest potential.
What I do find interesting though is the use of the Greenland paddle in just about any kayak. My little blue skin boat with the little white globs of silicone sealant to plug leaks was the only one on the beach all weekend. With the exception of Mark Rogers display boats. Greenland paddling is becoming all about the paddle. I'm not sure if that's the right way to go.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inland Sea '09

Back from the Instructor Update and Inland Sea Symposium. Lots to talk about, and lots of photos to go through. Now next weekend is an intro to Lake Superior trip with small group from the club. Hopefully I can sit down soon and get some thoughts and words together from the symposium. I had the chance to work with some really great people last week!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Inland Sea

I'll be heading to Northern Wisconsin Wednesday morning. I hope to make it to Chris Gmeinders Grand Opening of his new shop in Bayfield .. "Boreal Shores Kayaking". He's been hard at work getting ready. Nigel Dennis will even be there for the opening. It should be a fine event, and a great addition to the town of Bayfield Wisconsin. Then I'm up for an instructor update, and a weekend of teaching at the "Inland Sea Kayak Symposium". Sunday seems a long way off right now, I'm sure the week will fly by.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Class of '09

Teaching kayak skills can be as difficult as it is rewarding. I had the pleasure to work with 4 great instructors this weekend with our "Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and Rescues" course. But the real stars of the show were the people who came out to spend a day learning as much as they could about strokes and rescues. I've not seen this much effort put out by such a large group of people for quite some time. I ended the day as tired as I was rewarded.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Midwest Demo 2009

Well ... the rain and fog was replaced by wind that was gusting upwards of 30kts this year. This made for an interesting afternoon. I think the canoes had the hardest time with the wind. Our safety boaters did an outstanding job, as usual. Many thanks guys!

When things were slow we had a few of our dedicated rollers checking out the water, Ron S from Novorca Paddles brought the boat he and Alex Pak built this Winter. They were pleased do find out how nice the boat handled the wind. I'd like to spend a little time in this boat this Summer.

A side note: There were 350 people that signed in and tried out boats at the demo! Wow!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boat Demo

Last years Midwest Mountaineering Boat Demo was cold, and wet, the fog kept rolling in making it hard to keep track of people in the demo boats, but after all was done we were given a nice sunset. Every year SKOAC helps out with the demo by providing safety boaters to watch over paddlers as they try out new boats. And every year someone manages to go over, makes it a fun afternoon. This Thursday it's at Lake Nokomis and the weather looks to be a bit nicer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Good Medicine

Medicine Lake on the West side of the cities is close by for an after work paddle. The ice is out and the paddling season has begun in the Twin Cities!

Monday, April 13, 2009

North Shore

Some photos from the North Shore over the weekend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Crow

A warm Saturday in April, four guys in their early twenties decide to paddle two canoes down the Crow River. The river is high and running fast so they figure they can make some good distance. They drop a car off 20 miles or so down river and pack some sandwiches and beers for lunch. Only one of them is an experienced paddler, but he has only paddled lakes in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota, the other three will be on a steep learning curve. It’s going to be a great day! The first town they come to is Hanover, as they get close someone sees them from shore and runs out along the river yelling something about a dam, they humor the guy and pull up to shore about 50 feet from the drop to check it out. What could possibly happen, the water is going over the drop as smooth as silk, and it’s only a small drop of maybe six feet, it could be lots of fun. Grudgingly they carry the canoes around the dam and are off again for the rest of the adventure. A late afternoon lunch stop on a warm sand bar and they are starting to wonder how long 20 miles of river is compared to the drive on the road to drop the car off, it sure seems like a long time since they started. The river is high here, and much of the water has overflowed the banks and is going through trees. It might be fun to paddle the canoe between the bank and the trees. But they manage to broach one of the canoes between two trees, and now their first experience of ice cold water as it flows instantly through their cotton clothing. The other canoe is in the middle of the river and witnesses the event, they quickly try and turn about to help their friends. In their haste to turn around they manage to go over also. The first canoe was close to shore, so they get the canoe emptied and climb back in to try and rescue the other two, who are still floating down river. Amazingly they gather all the floating possessions and catch up to the other canoe, they had managed to pull up to shore and empty the canoe and were getting ready climb back in. It was still a long way to the car with everyone cold and wet. A farmer sitting at his dinner table just happened to look out his window and noticed a swamped canoe floating down river, and then shortly behind two people. The kind man he was as he drove his pickup down to find them. He brought everyone back to the farmhouse and gave them dry clothes to wear and let them warm up next to the old wood stove. He then drove them down to pick up their car. He was the second person that day to save the lives of those four guys who knew nothing about paddling a canoe down an ice cold river in April.
My blood still runs cold everytime I think about the Hanover dam. I was in the canoe that broached the two trees that warm April day in 1977.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Just back from another great weekend in Madison at the Canoecopia Show. Lots of stuff to see, meeting up with friends for the weekend, and trying to do my part to stimulate the economy. I didn't spend much, if the economy is waiting for me to generate enough business to get things moving again .. I'm afraid we are all in for a long wait! My original plan was to just pick up the new "Eastern Horizons" DVD. Which I did! But after checking out a bug shirt and remembering the ferocious tenacity of black flys, as they go after any exposed flesh during the mid summer season on the islands. I couldn't pass on the price! Plus, I know I could easily double my money by selling it to some hapless soul who ventured out to the islands without protection.
Valley Boats!!

Superior Kayaks had a nice display for the traditionalists .. some cool stuff.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Local Lakes

thought I'd check on some of the local lakes today since the predicted snow never showed, with the ever increasing grassy areas showing up, and the warm sun, I've been anticipating the up-coming paddling season. Although the sun is high, and the warm days have started, the lakes are still quite iced over. In fact, checking out Lake Independence on the West side of the cities I discovered a few ice fishermen along with their pickup trucks still venturing out on the ice. Dave did a post today on the ice conditions on Lake Superior. I've been planning a trip with a few other paddlers to the islands during the the second weekend in April ... we may be moving the date out a bit if things don't warm up some.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Qajaq Preview

Ron Steinwall with Novorca Paddles and Alex Pak have been working diligently this winter on a qajaq. Last fall during the Traditional Paddlers Gathering Ron had brought along a small replica of the design he and Alex had been working on, this design has gone from cad drawing, to replica, and finally to a full size qajaq. I'm looking forward to trying it in the pool this weekend at the ISK Pool Session.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pool Sessions

I always enjoy Sunday pool sessions. If it's the camaraderie with fellow paddlers or just the opportunity to get out of Winter mode and play in the water for just a little while ... either way ... It's worth the effort to deal with chlorinated water, the frozen tie down straps, and frozen gear (after you leave all the wet neoprene in the unheated hanger) for just a couple hours of splashing around in warm water. Our small group of paddlers did chalk up a first roll for our efforts, with Matt getting some good solid rolls in. I've even been able to get some good consistent narsaq rolls in with the SOF, also a reasonable balance brace .. fun stuff! The hand rolls are still elusive though. I can feel it .. it just isn't happening yet. I've done some nice hand rolls in Alex's Yost Sea Ranger, but not in my boats yet. It seems to be a matter of body mechanics that are not quite right yet. Today I spent some time working with a couple new paddlers getting the beginnings of a roll going. Some would say age would have a bearing on learning to roll .. I beg to differ. I believe it has everything to do with a little bit of confidence, and desire.
Lots to look forward to this Spring! Some Spring skiing in northern Wisconsin come mid March, Canoecopia is coming soon! I am looking forward to meeting up again with all the people that put on this great event in Madison ... I may even have to buy something this year. Not sure what yet I really need yet, but I'll think of something.
When you look in the back of the Jeep this time of year there is quite a mix of stuff .. kayak on the roof, snow shoes, skis, paddles, neoprene, and tennis shoes ... makes you wonder about the typical Minnesotan.

Then again, maybe I'm an exception!