Monday, July 30, 2012

Kayak Trip - Wrap Up

Arived in Georgian Bay Friday morning, starting off in Victoria Harbour,  put the boat in and was on the water around 11am,  was beautiful and flat calm,  spent most of the day paddling around Southern Georgian Bay area,  Victoria Harbour over to Honey Harbour then back to Port Severn to spend the night at the locks.   By the afternoon the wind picked up and was coming across the bow with 1 meter waves,  my boat just plowed through them and enjoyed a little more than flat water for a change, especially when not paddling directly into it.

As I got to the locks, my best friend was in the lock behind be so he stopped for a chat,  he just picked up his new 40ft Fountain Express Cruiser,  definitely a much nicer ride than my little Kayak,  but a tad more expensive on the Gas too....  

I setup camp met two really nice couples moored at the locks for the night, they were the best people I have met on the trent and we spent the night swapping stories and drinking (they supplied - woohooo) was a great evening all around and stumbled into the tent around 1am. 

Got up the next morning and decided to head back out on the Bay and spend the night at Beausoliel Island,  the wind was pretty strong and the waves were pretty high so didn't want to spend the afternoon fighting waves and wind,  turned across the bay and headed back to Victoria Harbour,  my thinking that after two weeks of being out and about, with all forms of transportation, it was ok to call this trip a day,  get home a night early and take a day off before going back to work.   Was home @4:30,  nice shower, hot meal and comfy bed.  Ahhhhhh.   Plus I missed my travel partner and wasn't the same paddling alone.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kayak - take 2

Well, I lost Julie to work, been a great vacation so far, started off in kayaks then switched to boat then decided to do a bike trip.

Julie and I came home Tuesday night, packed up bikes, drove to St Catherines to do the niagra/welland loop (150km). Wed cycled to Niagra Falls via Niagra on the Lakes for some wine tours, stayed in the falls for a night out, woke up to rain and cut trip short and headed back as they were calling for two days crappy weather, did 2/3rds of distance but only 1/3rd of loop, definitely going to go back and do again.

I'm off for 3 day solo kayak trip in Georgian Bay to end vacation.

Will be back to blogging

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jeff - day 7-11

Decided not to blog for a few days, was just a normal vacation so didn't want to bore anybody, took boat down trent for a few days, buckhorn down to campbellford then back, just over 300km in 5 days, was very relaxing and enjoyed time with Julie (in her happy place) and was a great time, it's tuesday now, we are heading back to city and taking the bikes our for a two day cycle trip.

I will be back in the kayak solo for friday, saturday and sunday.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Julie Day-6

Im not a "stick in the mud", but 5 am is too late to still be partying from the night before!
I probably got an hour of sleep between the pounding music, the shouting, the puking in the lake (several times), and the jumping in the lake (thats just gross). I kept listening for cries of help thinking some drunk idiot was going to drown! Arghhhhhh!

I was physically and mentally exhausted when morning came. Jeff slept through it all (how does he do that)? The wind is blowing and i know i dont have what it takes today to repeat yesterdays battle into the wind!

In my 13 years of Triathlon racing i only DNF'd once...and thats because officials pulled me off the course because i had hypothermia!
Im not a quitter! Which is why today was a hard decision to make. I felt like i was quitting on Jeff and disappointing him. Im glad he paddled on without me.
My sister-in-law Charlene came and rescued me and back to Buckhorn via truck for me :)

I think i was back at resort for 15 mins before i was ready to go for a run. This is what i LOVE to do. I was back in my "happy place" again.

Stocked up Pontoon boat with drinks and made dinner for Jeff and Charlene.

Tomorrow our boat has a motor...Life is Good!!!

Jeff - Day 6

Today was a solo day for me :( after exhausting day yesterday, and Julie up all night with noise of people throwing up on party boat beside us (stink bomb people from restaurant) and the wind blowing through the tent at 7am, just wasn't meant to be. Called Char to bring my truck and take Julie back. I feel for her, more because she thinks I am disappointed she cut it short, I'm not.

It's both our vacation and only fun if we are both having fun, three high wind days are enough to try the best of us. Tomorrow we switch to motorized water transport for the next week.

I however, decided to paddle home solo, was essentially a repeat of yesterday with more wind for longer period, left lock at 10:30 after my Tim Hortons and seeing Julie off (she was smiling) headed out Bobcaygeon channel with strong wind in the face and 3 foot crashing waves, oh boy this is gonna be interesting, good news is once into pigeon lake wind was off port side and made great time to the bend into Buckhorn lake.

Unfortunately, means wind in the face for next 16km, boy did it blow hard, was ok for first 2 hours but then it gets tiring and stopping just blows you back just as fast. I must say, my kayak was meant for wind and waves, can't believe how well it tracks with the wind coming from any direction, today was 25km wind with 40km gusts and didn't feel need to put rudder down once, just cuts through everything. Also figured out comfortable seat setup so wasn't tired from sitting for 6 hours.

Got back to Oak Bay at 4:30 and basically unpacked the kayak into the boat, julie was waiting on shore with a drink for me and made me yummy dinner. Walk for ice cream and all set to continue vacation on different mode of transportation.

Will still post details to blog and I will get back into kayak towards end of trip when Julie has to go back to work.

Nap time

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 5 - Jeff

Sitting on the edge of a pier typing this as the sun starts to go down over the trees, just finished dinner after a long day paddle (even if only 28km).

Woke up early and started to pack up the kayaks while Julie slept in a bit, eventually she got up to help out but was almost done anyway. Today's destination, Bobcaygeon. Left at 10am and slight breeze behind us, down chamong lake we go, was a beautiful day and calm waters all the way to the halfway point, we needed a break after 3 hours non stop, extra paddle seat helped but still, a long time in the same position. I did let julie use my carbon fibre paddle though, and haven't gotten back and probably won't.

We stopped for a quick break at this run down cottage with warped slanted dock, surprising they managed satellite tv but can't paint the house. Then headed over to the christian camp as they have a store, I got ice cream and then proceeded to drop on pavement, 5 second rule but gave up after it felt like I was licking sand paper and chewing rocks.

Now the fun part (for me) we headed down pigeon lake which Julie hates on the best of days and bam, strong wind right in the face, I feel so sorry for her, my longer kayak plows right through and the extra strength I have makes it a breeze, I could tell she was struggling and wasn't having fun. After 3 more hours we made it to the locks and quickly setup camp, swim and change of clothes.

Off to shopping (now know why julie left bags at home, room to shop) then dinner where some dolt set off a stink bomb on patio.

Current plan is Fenelon Falls tomorrow night.

Julie day-5

10am and we are off.....

Who knew a slight breeze would turn into the wind from hell @ 2pm.
We are heading from Buckhorn to Bobcaygeon of our favorite spots.
We bought kayak cushions for our seats and today was the trial for these. They past the test! What a good investment they were.
Well, 3 hours into our day we finally found a spot to get out and stretch our legs...not alot of options on Upper Buckhorn Lake. After our break we headed out on to Pigeon Lake. Cant tell you enough how much i hate this lake. Even on a good day it is bad! Today wast a good day!!!
It took us 3 hours to cross and get to Bobcaygeon! I was grumpy to say the least. Not much fun had today!

I am beginning to question why i am doing this? :(

Did a bit of shopping when we set-up and had dinner and drinks on local patio. A group of 20 somethings came in for beers and were clearly intoxicated. Buddy with the wife beater and short shorts on decided that this was the perfect place to step on a stink bomb. Really? Arghhhhh.

Going to be an early night tonight. We are both beat!!!!!!

Jeff - Day 4

Got up after nice sleep (not on ground) and cleaned kayaks while Julie went for a run, was very windy and calling for temps in the 40's, figured best day would be sitting on the beach with cold drinks was in order.

Took a trip into peterborough to wash the pine sap off my truck but really, was more for julie to go shopping, because she didn't have enough selection at the local flea market after her run. I ended up finding a book I had been looking for on making canoe paddles (more for the design templates included) and so spent afternoon in shade reading and napping.

Was very hot day and glad we didn't spend it all on the water, would have been torture, did throw the yak into the water for a ride later in the day and was still windy, made a good call.

Dinner with julie's family, ok all the girls and just me, thanks for ditching me Chris although you left me in good hands and dinner was yummy.

Thanks Chris and Char for the hospitality and one of the nicest places around to take a day off. Oh btw, you left the outside bathroom door open and racoons got into the garbage, I cleaned up ;)

Tomorrow we are off.

Day 3 - Jeff

Slept through the night with no sound of animals or generators, beautiful morning but looks a little windy out. Oh well.

After our standard fare breakfast, we pack up and head out, back the way we came, time to head to Buckhorn. Big Chute is about a 3 hour paddle from swift rapids and severn falls sits at the hour mark, just couldn't get comfortable and sitting for hours is tough when your ass hurts. The wind was picking up and we stopped at severn falls for a break and a drink.

The rest of the trip to Big Chute was an exercise in how slow you can go directly into the wind and how many times the wind will actually change direction to be directly in your face. Was a slog to Big Chute but nothing crazy, nice protected rivers and small lakes. Took an ice cream break.

Was only 2:30 so decided to head back to port severn instead of staying with the racoons, as we exited the railway wind was blowing strong into our face, told Julie we have about 2 km then we go the opposite way so wind will be at our backs, she didn't believe me but local knowledge helps, the old lady who yelled out, it's rough out there didn't help the situation. As we came out into glouchester pool, wind was fierce and waves picked up, our little boats sliced through the waves like butter but I know Julie hates rough water and I'm thinking to self, damn, we haven't hit the open spot yet.

Once we turned the corner it was perfect, yes, waves were on the large side but wind was behind or from the side so easy paddling. Did a little wave surfing and made great time. Got to Port Severn at around 5 and waited for my mother to come with my truck. Good time to have dinner on patio restaurant overlooking locks.

Dinner done and we were on the road by 7:30 after dropping off my mother and making a stop to get padded seat from local kayak shop, hopefully will help with the comfort factor.

Got to Buckhorn at 10, shower and a real bed for the night. Great day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Julie day-4

Ahhhhh...what a diference a good nights sleep makes!
Up early so i can squeeze in a run before we head out on the water. While on my run i notice the wind is stronger today then yesterday and it will be blowing straight into our faces! Hmmm...time to reconsider?

Jeff has kayaks all polished and clean when i get back...and is eager to start. After breakfast i convinced him into taking a day off and not killing ourselves today. It is after all a holiday! to Peterborough to outdoor store and kayak store where he finally found a book that hes been searching for..."Canoe Paddles...complete guide to making your own". hes is in his happy place now!

Lazy lazy day back at the beach. Really way to hot to do anything!
One thing for sure...we are well rested and well fed for our paddling to resume tomorrow. Thank you Chris and Char for the shower, bed and delicious meals. You guys ROCK xoxo.
Until tomorow.......

Julie Day-3

During breakfast this morning a random dog (german sheppard) showed up to dine with us. He startled me as he showed up behind Jeff from behind a tree. Jeff turned around and woke up all the boaters when he screamed...chuckle chuckle...poor guy doesnt like strange dogs!

On the water and into the wind by 10:15. We have Buckhorn, showers and a bed on he brain so we are determined do in 1 day...what we just took 2 days to complete.
7 hrs later, after 3 breaks, 26k and fighting some tough waves we landed back in Port Severn. Paddled right up to a restaurant on the water and ordered ourselves dinner and drinks while we waited for Jeff's mom to come pick us up. She is always there for us...thank you Betty! Xoxo

Packed the car and we were on our way to Buckhorn by 730pm. Arrived @ Oak Bay (my brothers resort) by 10pm...shower, laundry, and a bed! What a fantastic night!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Jeff - Day 2

After restless night with the racoons making noise, slept in until about 9, lazy vacation days are brilliant. Got up and did our typical morning routine, I make breakfast, julie packs up camp, I so get the good end of this deal, although eggs, bacon and homefries aren't a bad way to start the day either. On the water by 10:30, plan is to spend the night in washago at the couchiching lock.

Such a gorgeous day to be on the water, the area between big chute and swift rapids is one of the nicest on the trent, not filled with mansions, quaint beautiful cottages and just nice to slowly paddle by. Power boats are still an issue and have no concept of slowing down regardless of how close you are to them, you get used to it after 4 years but still a pain in the ass.

Stopped at severn falls for lunch and drinks and just relaxed on the patio for an hour or two, forecast was calling for thunderstorms so we decided to call swift rapids home for the night, a lazy 13km day.

Swift rapids is one of my favorite places to camp, secluded and private, had a nice spot on the point overlooking the lake, spent afternoon swimming and drinking, me a little more than julie, the drinking that is. Was an early night. Was also our 2nd anniversary, can't think of any better way to spend it. Xoxoxo.

Then... We started talking about couchiching/simcoe and how they were necessary evils to get to fenlon falls, bobcageon and buckhorn, talked about maybe getting a ride around, hmmm let's go back to ports severn, put yaks on truck, goto buckhorn and continue from there. Plan is hatched.

We may also most likely switch to boat for second week and go the other way to cambelford, I have an urge for chocolate.

Julie day-2

Jeff slept in as he was awake all night anticipating a bear attack. Poor guy didnt sleep a wink!
Eggs and bacon and homefries were on the menu...we eat pretty good for 2 people in kayaks. A couple walked by and mentioned..."Wow that looks good, all we had is cereal". Keep on walking by big shot boaters cause you aint getting any! Remember that next time you swamp us!

So hot today we had to get wet before we started. On the water by 1030am.
These first few days are my favorite part of the Trent. The lakes are beautiful...clean water and gorgeous cottages. I would love to buy a place day maybe...hmmmm?

Had lunch @ Severn Bridge. Here we re-stocked our alcohol and stretched our legs. We are both struggling with getting comfortable.
Original plan was to make it to Washago today but heck....we have coolers and rye on ice so we decided to call Swift Rapids home for the night. 2pm done paddling! Plus, calling for thunderstorms so better to be safe right?!

Perfect camp site...on our own private point on edge of water. Only 2 other boats here. One is an old couple from Florida who are doing the loop. Been out since Apr 21...what a life!

Jeff made me a romantic 2nd year Anniversary dinner. Canned mushrooms and a tin of salad with some baby carrots. While we were on the water today i asked where my gift was (kidding of course)...he said he had in his bag and i would get when we stopped for night. Well, dont i feel bad cause i was kidding. "Thats ok" he says "being with you is all i need". Barf..."Not me i want. Present"! Hehehehe
Well, when i called him out on it he kept up the act and went searching for gift....turns out nothing. Sigh:(

Night was amazing...aside from deer flies, no animals to contend generators kept us up...just the 2 of us on our own little private point....couldnt think of a better way to celebrate our annivrsary!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Julie Day-1

Hard to believe its been a year since our last trip...even harder to believe im doing this for a 3rd year in a row! And, i bought my own kayak! Who would have thought?!

We put our boats in the water @ friends of Jeff's family in Port Severn and started our adventure @ 1230pm. What a hot day...less then an hour into our paddle we found a dock and went for a swim. Some of us kept our clothes on others did not ;)

This year we have decided to enjoy and relax on our trip. No pressure on getting to the end of the Trent as we have already done it. More time will be spent relaxing and just spending time together. Thats what its all about after all.

So, after 3 hours paddling we called it a day @ Big Chute. Set up camp, had some drinks and swim and watched the Chinese people catch sunfish...ewww!

Some guy walks by and says "you guys are brave camping here with all the bears around". Really buddy?! Did ya have to say that? So, at 330am when we heard animals rummaging through the garbage which we cleverly set up beside, we were a little nervous to say the least! Turns out they were raccoons. But still...made for a very unsettling night!

First few days are always the hardest with getting comfortable in the seat. Note to self.....the day before you leave on kayak trip, dont do 400m walking lunges at Crossfit! I can hardly get out of my boat!

All in all a great 1st day on the water with my Man!

Day 1 - Jeff

Woke up around 5:30 today, very long work week and guess I was both over tired and excited to start vacation at the same time. Instead of waking Julie up, and having to hear about it all day I decided to get a head start on packing. Truck was packed and ready to go and once Julie dropped off Jade (daughter) at work we hit the road, en route by 930am. Of course, timed it perfect to stop at MEC in Barrie on the way through, can never have enough paddle gear. Got to my mother's in victoria harbour then drove to port severn (after LCBO) to put in the kayaks, my mom was nice enough to bring my truck back to her place. We were on the water by 12:30.

Damn was it hot out, beautiful day and not complaining, just very hot, had to stop for a few swims along the way to cool off. Surprisingly, very little boat traffic and cottagers up for the weekend, gave us lots of empty docks to stop at.

Stopped at Big Chute for the nightn, very short day of paddling but this vacation has no schedule and not worried about timing, when we feel like stopping, stop.

We got camp setup in a nice spot (we thought) and time for a swim, after julie took a power nap in the hammock and I read and drank for a bit. Some idiot walked by and said "you are brave to sleep here, lots of bears". Really dude? Like we can do anything about it, why say anything.
Fast forward, 3am, sounds of animals in the garbage cans rooting for food, camping spot not so nice now, what was I thinking, julie: "what is that?" Jeff: "racoons", julie: "you sure?", jeff: "not about to go look, so yes racoons". Was an on and off again sleep but by morning everything was fine.

Note: ontario hydro has fenced off the swimming area at big chute, such a disappointment, was best area for swimming when I was growing up.

Stupid question of the day, 8pm, french couple asks if it is ok to camp at the chute, uhm no, we just set our tent up for fun and will be going back out soon, of course was nice to her, was just funny. They proceeded to serenade us with a recorder and banjo playing mary had a little lamp, seriously, can't make this crap up.

Perfect first day!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Two day Countdown....

This will be my last post before the trip,  Julie and I leave Saturday morning for two weeks in the kayaks,  our annual summer kayak trip, 4th for me, 3rd for Julie and the first time with our own Kayaks, no more rentals!

We went back and forth on where we were going to go, initially we though two weeks in Georgian Bay but with the new Kayaks I am not sure I want the maiden voyage to be among the rocks, apparently fibreglass kayaks don't like rocks much.  

We are starting in Victoria Harbor in Georgian Bay and playing the trip by ear,  will spend a week going out, then turn around and come back, some of the trip may be in Georgian Bay, some of it may be on the Trent, decisions will be made as needed and we have no plan other than 15 days together on the water.

If you have followed along in years past, welcome back, if you are new, welcome aboard, in both cases we hope you enjoy following along on our trip and we will be doing doing daily blog updates as we have in the past.

Here we go...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Paddle Project - The Finish

This is where the "wood hits the water"  play on rubber hits the road :)   Paddle shapped and ready for final finishing.

Sanding Prep:

This is pretty straight forward, sand, sand, sand, then sand sand sand, oh and then sand, sand, sand,  I start with 80 grit paper then 120, then 220, then 320 then 400 for the final finish and repeated the process a number of times. Spent a lot of time sanding, probably one of the most important parts, any blemish in the wood is going to stand out like a sore thumb so in my opinion, can't sand enough.  I did the first sand with a power sander (black and decker mouse) but from that point forward everything was sanded by hand.

Final Sanding:

I wiped down the paddle with a wet cloth,  this will cause the grain in the wood to raise up and it will feel all rough, once the paddle dried, I re-sanded with 320 and 400 grit only, then repeated the process until damping the wood didn't raise the grain any more,  for me it was 3 times.   If you skip this step then the first time the paddle hits moisture the grain is going to raise up, well worth the extra time.  

Result after the prep and final sanding,  a paddle that is silky smooth the touch and the grain is starting to show through more.   Now onto final stage, the finish.


There are more options and opinions on what finish to use than you can shake a stick at,  spar varnish, tung oil, linseed oil (boiled and double boiled), danish oil, shellac and/or epoxy... enough to drive you insane and make you scratch your head.  Bruce Smith to the rescue.  

Bruce Smith in my opinion is one of the finest paddle makers around,  I own a number of his paddles and just so happened I needed to refinish one of them after a couple of years (50 day canoe trips are hard on paddles) I emailed Bruce and he sent me detailed instructions on how to refinish his paddles, I figure if it's good enough for Bruce, it's good enough for my first paddle.   Bruce is a retired school teacher living in Elora Ontario and now makes hand carved paddles, they are amazing and highly recommend them to anyone.

The process is quite simple but can take some time,  first need Double Boiled Linseed Oil,  I couldn't find it anywhere local so went with Single Boiled.  Boiled Linseed is basically Raw Linseed Oil with a drying agent added to speed up drying time,  Double Boiled just has more drying agent added.  Then use mineral spirits as a cutting agent, could substitute varsol or turpentine but you can get Mineral Spirits at crappy tire as well as Boiled Linseed Oil.  

Needs 12 coats of oil/spirit mixture.

Start with 50% mixture of Mineral Spirits added to the Boiled Linseed Oil, I found 50ml of linseed and 25ml of spirits was good for a couple of coatings.  Apply liberally with a brush, just smack that stuff on, after about 1-2 hours once the oil becomes tacky,  use a cloth and wipe off the excess and rub it into the wood hard.  Once it dries a bit then repeat the process and make sure you rub down with steel wool in between coats.  Cutting with Mineral Spirits makes the oil absorb into the wood more. 

After each 2 coats, add less Mineral Spirits to the mixture until the last 2 coats are using about 15% mineral spirits.  Let the paddle dry for a good 5-6 days after the final coat before putting it into the water.

NOTE: At the half way point, I also put the tip of the paddle into the mixture directly and let it soak for a good hour, basically wanted to make sure the cut tip was nice and saturated.

Finish on Cherry wood is amazing and I love the feel of oiled paddle over varnished any day, also really easy to keep it new, just rub down with more oil.   Cherry will darken with age so really excited to see my paddle after some time in the sun.    This paddle is for my 13 year old son,  although he says he will still take the Bruce Smith tripping, just wants a spare at the cottage, can't blame him.

Really wanted to put his name in the paddle or at least his initials, not sure how yet,  I know I can use a wood burning tool but my artistic ability is very lacking so don't want to mess the paddle up, will most likely practice that before trying on some crap wood.

One option which seems interesting is to use a mixture of Ammonium Chloride and water,  basically you can stencil the wood with the liquid then put the head gun to it, after about 5 minutes the chemicals react and will burn the wood just like a wood burner, will have to try that one out, if i can find Ammonium Chloride,  I have heard that a mixture of Citric Acid, flour and water will have the same effect. 

Also, don't know if I do this before or after finishing the paddle, I think before, which is too late for this paddle

Paddle Project – Take 4...

After making 3 practice paddles (1 greenland kayak , 2 canoe) from cedar found at local Home Depot,  decided I have learned enough to make a serious attempt at making a paddle for real.     A few differences this time around.

1)     Went to a local lumber mill and picked out a perfect piece of cherry wood,  1 ½” x 6 x 6,  the board is completely knot free, straight grain and a beautiful pattern.  I much prefer the cherry over the cedar and for canoe paddles will never make another from cedar again.   The wood is much richer and harder and let’s be honest, once done the grain pattern in cherry looks so amazing.

2)     Upgraded some of my tools,  I was using whatever I could find at the local hardware,  specifically a couple of Stanley planes (mini + bench plane) and a two spokeshaves (flat and round),  while they seemed to work ok (constant sharpening) on cedar,  on the cherry wood, well… once that wood gets hard it gets increasingly frustrating.   Went to Lee Valley tools and picked up some replacement high quality blades to replace the stock crap ones that came with the tool,  I also picked up a high end low profile apron plan from Veritas.  OMFG what a difference it makes in hand carving the paddles,  new blades go through wood like butter and makes everything so much easier.   Quality tools make all the different in the world.

3)     More confidence, I know what to expect now and the different stages so this was more fun and less about learning the basics,  still have a long way to go but I am impressed with what I have learned so far.
Here is my paddle completely shaped but with no finish, going to do a separate post on the finishing process.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Gear - Sleeping Pad

I have used the Thermarest Prolite Plus - Regular for a couple of seasons now,  absolutely nothing wrong with the sleeping pad but my youngest son totally destroyed his on canoe trip last year,  instead of buying him a new one, I gave him mine and went out shopping for a new one for me. 

This year Thermarest came out with a couple of new versions for the NeoAir series,   they were really pricy last year and I had heard mixed reviews on durability,  reviews for the new models seem good so decided to give it a try,  I went with a Large NeoAir Treker.   Gives a little more room on the width and the length and isn't tapered like the Prolite Plus, I found my legs always fell off during the night and was a pain (but can live with) and also it's over 2" thick and makes a difference in comfort. I liked the Treker over the standard NeoAir for a few reasons, but more important is the standard feels like chip bag and makes the same noise when you move around,  the material is more "plasticky" and just didn't like the feel. 

NeoAir packs up small, about the size of a 1 litre bottle and way smaller than the Prolites, I like smaller.  The only thing I don't like about the NeoLite Trekker is that it is manually inflated vs auto inflate which comes with the other Thermarest versions,  cuts down on bulk so I'm fine with it,  do miss the auto inflate though. 

Haven't been camping yet to try it out but did setup in my living room and spent the night on it over hardwood floor, VERY comfortable,  will let you know how it stacks up on trip in a couple of weeks but my intial impression is very good and happy wiht the purchase.

Site Link:

First Canoe Paddle

No clue why because I don't own a canoe but having carved first Greenland paddle, decided to take a stab at a canoe paddle,   getting better at it with each paddle and now know what to expect,  first don't use cedar, nice wood but way too soft and dents with just slight press of the finer,  going to switch to Cherry wood and found a local mill yard who can provide.  Next one will be way better. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Julie's New Ride

Not wanting to be outdone, Julie picked up her new Kayak from Sail outdoor store. Current Design Vision 150.  Excited that Julie has enjoyed it as much as I have, now we can both go whenever we want, no more relying on rentals and we have the next couple of weekends planned for a couple day trips before our annual kayak trip.

Here would be my assessment, great kayak, has wide front and rear hatches, smart track rudder system, larger cockpit, wider beam for more stability and plenty of room, storage capacity is nice for shorter kayak, if you think 15' is shorter that is and a perfect kayak for Julie.

Here would be Julie's assessment, I like the color because it matches my pink PFD and the seat is comfortable and you can tilt it to support legs.

I also had to build a second kayak lift to put both kayaks up to the ceiling.  Definitely easier the second go around.


Gear Update - Lighting

Went camping this last weekend and my trust headlamp appears to be defective.  I was using the Princeton Tec Fuel headlamp which is 70 lumen.  Light has been amazing the last 3 years and sad to see it go,  just seems to be some sort of short where the light won't always come on and then any adjustment causes it to shut off.   Time for a new one, and if you have been following along the last 3 years, you know I like gadgets, off to MEC I go...

Petzl MYO RXP Headlamp

Doesn't have the same battery life as my Fuel but I am ok with 50-100 hours on a set of batteries especially with the fact that this bad boy pumps out 160 lumen 77 meters on high and 97 with boost activated,  it also comes with two beam modes,  spot vs wide angle, wide angle is nice because it sprays the light in a nice pattern.   It is bigger in size though because the battery pack (4AA) is attached at the back, comfortable to wear, just takes up more space when packed. Not a big deal for me.

Black Diamond Apollo Lantern

I had a cool little lantern called the Guyot Design Firefly, basically a light that turns your nalgene into a lantern,  great idea but just lacks the light intensity to be useful for anything,  probably the only gear I have bought that didn't live up to my own expectations.  For the last 3 years I have been using a combination of headlamp and flashlight for lighting up the tent at night,  works well but do prefer something more suited,  picked up the Black Diamond Apollo lantern,  throws off 70 lumen on high and has a dimmer switch,  It can be hung from the tent or has these legs that pop out and makes it stand on it's own, like the Apollo moon lander, which is probably where it got its name.  Takes 4AA batteries and according to the spec you get 60 hours,  assume that is on low power though.  Haven't tried it yet in a real situation but should be much better.

Paddle Project - Step 5

Ah... final finishing,  started by sanding everything down with 80 grit sandpaper, then moved to 150 grit and then final sanding with 220 grit.  In between each step, I watered down the paddle to raise the grain out of the wood, then let dry before then next sanding.  I used a combination of a palm sander and sanding by hand,  I have the Black and Decker Mouse which has a curved attachment and that made smoothing out the rounded surfaces much easier,  easily done by hand though, sander just makes it quicker.

Once that was completed I used steel wool to polish up for the last step.  I didn't put any fancy tips on the paddle or epoxy, just finished oh natural,  using Tung oil, I brushed down the entire paddle and let dry for 24 hours,  did 3 coats of this and voila... done. 

I haven't tried the paddle yet and while far from perfect, it was not a bad first attempt,  quite proud of it actually, certainly learned a lot and will do things differently on the second one for sure, highly recommend this project to people who just want to try it out, was quite fun.  Plus I now have all the tools.   Next one might be a laminated kayak paddle or just a regular canoe paddle.

Here is a picture of the finished paddle.

Paddle Project - Step 4

This is the part where you are supposed to mark off all the shaping lines on the paddle face, used as a guide for when you are shaping the final form of the paddle.  I found I messed up so bad on measuring during the first part of the build, trying to get these measurements equal on all four sides was just not going to happen,  for me I just marked the center line and then shaped by using my eyes to try and get as close as possible to what it should be.  I started with the paddle blades and used a finishing plane (small plane used with fingers) as this seemed to do the best for shaving and carving the paddle.  Measurements are included before and hopefully you will have better luck than I did on the first go around, again, for me, this was more an exercise to learn for the next one. 

I didn't worry about rounding off corners or anything, just wanted to form the basic paddle shape,  I recommend taking lots of time and doing lots of checks to make sure everything is even and proportional on both sides of the paddle on both ends as well.  The more time you take the better it will be when you finish. This is where knots in the wood really became a pain, the less knots the better and make sure you plane/carve with the grain, not against it.

Once you get the hang of it, it actually goes quite smoothly, definitely the fun part of the project so far.  Now how the hell do you round square wood?  This was the part I was worried about, never having done it before I just wasn't sure,  actually ended up pretty easy to do.   Just think of the shape you are carving and take little bits off at a time, for instance on the edge of the paddle, I shaved off the corner on both sides and then progressively worked inwards, after a number of passes it starts to round off,  harder to describe than to do.  End result is nicely rounded paddle blades,  same concept for the handle (just larger dimensions) 

And that's it,  a fully formed Greenland kayak paddle,  just needs finishing touches,  Here are pictures of the paddle after final shaping,  you will notice (maybe) that one side of the handle is slightly larger in diameter than the other side, damn knots, just didn't feel like trying to shave through the knot so left as is,  this was a test project after all.

Paddle Project - Step 3

Now time to finish off the paddle blank before the real fun begins (shapping the paddle)

First mark out the paddle form, I have included a picture below with measurements, mark off the base of the paddle 3 1/2" from the tip and then another line 1" - 2" from where the handle starts,  to make the transition from the handle to the paddle mark off 1/4 of the width and then draw a line from the handle to the line 1"-2" out, then a line from all the way to the end of the paddle using the line you put at 3 1/2" as the intersection point.  Shoul be fairly straight forward using the diagram below.  To draw the end of the paddle (curve) use a plate and just align the end of the plate and draw a half circle.  Do the above on both sides of the paddle.  This is where exact measurements from before will come back to haunt you, the lines need to be perfect on both side otherwise your paddle will all be crooked.  
Now get out that trusty jigsaw (or bandsaw if you have one) and cut out the paddle blank,  I found if using a Jigsaw, don't cut on the line as the blade is far from straight, I left a 1/4" inch space and then planed the difference down.  If doing what I did, make sure when planing that you keep an eye on the lines on both sides to make sure you are even, the more time you spend making it smooth the better, mistakes here will come back and haunt you, as I found out with mine.

Now your paddle blank should be complete,  for mine, I ran over the entire paddle, all edges and sides with sand paper to make sure everything was smooth.  Picture below shows my paddle blank completed and ready for final shapping.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Paddle Project - Step 2

Now I have the paddle board cut to size, next step is marking off the handle, this one is fairly straight forward, the length of the handle is the distance between the outside of your hands when your hands are hanging straight down beside you, think holding the paddle in front of you arms shoulder length apart then measure the outside palms,  in my case the handle length is 18".   First, mark the center of your paddle, in my case the center line is 42" (half of 84" length) mark the center line around all 4 sides, next divide handle length by 1/2 and mark on either side of the centerline, in my case,  9" on the left of center @ 33" and 9" on the right @ 51", as with the center line mark line on all four sides.

At the tip of each end, mark a line on the face of the tip so that there is a 1/2" section,  basically this is where the paddle will taper down to,  on each side make a mark at the same as a reference point for where you are going to draw the paddle line on the side,  turn the paddle on it's side and then using a ruler draw a line from the end of the paddle handle line down to the 1/2" edge,  it's like forming a V on the side of the paddle and this is will be your guide mark,  do the same on both sides of the paddle on both ends.   The picture below shows a cross section of what the above describes.

Now basically you plane the wood down to the line, shave everything off the top and bottom on both sides of the paddle, from the paddle handle line back to the top, most important part here is to make sure the lines are perfectly straight and even on both sides using the pencil lines as a guide, this will form the basis of the paddle, any difference will show up instantly.   I started using a hand planer but was new with it and was difficult going, went with a power planer and made quick work of it,  double check on both sides that you are planing evenly no matter which method you use, takes time but go easy and with the grain and it will shape up nicely.

Having since learned to use the hand planer, because you get more control I would use that now for sure,  also double check by sliding a ruler across the paddle survace as the ruler will show gaps, show be equal across the paddle with now bowing or light showing through. Smoother you make this the better.  I have mine a quick sand once completed.

Now have a paddle blank and the fun begins...

Paddle Project - Step 1

Ok, thought I would include some details on how my first paddle is making out and comments on what I will do differently on the next one (this is my practice paddle)

Starts with a piece of wood,  I went with a 2x6 cedar paddle, wider than needed but have to have a 2x4 with as few knots as possible and a good grain.  2x4 is a challenge because trying to find one without knots is an exercise in futility and because 2x4's are generally cut from smaller trees the grain is usually the center, you really want the grain to be completely horizontal throughout the paddle because it makes shaping easier and the end result is more aesthetic. With a 2x6 or 2x12 you can usually find a 2x4 section that has fewer knots and a good cross section grain and then you can cut it to fit.

Next paddle, will go to a real lumber yard, not home depot and get a nice Western Red Cedar plank with NO knots (they come back to haunt you)

First step, cut to the correct paddle length, I don't have a table saw, band saw or skill saw, I marked up my section of board to a 2x4 and then used a jig saw to rip down the line,  obviously the cut was anything but straight so I then grabbed my trusty power planer and straightened it out,  this was a big  mistake, you can't fix a crooked line no matter what you do and the rest of my measurements from that point forward were off,  next paddle I will take it and get the section cut perfectly straight.

Now I had to measure paddle length, stretch your arms out as wide as possible (think I caught a fish this big) and write down the measurement, then add the distance from your elbow to your finger tips and add that to the first number, in my case ideal paddle length is 84", out with trusty jig saw and cut it to length,  again,  only have jig saw to cut and plane, crooked again but not so bad on the end,  would be nice to have good saw for these cuts,  next time either will pick up a saw or use hand saw with a guide block to cut it straight,  jig saw just doesn't cut it.

With all that done, I know have a blank to work with, onto next step

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Hobby

Got it into my head to build my own Greenland Kayak paddle,  trip to the hardware store for all the neccessary "tools" because I am going to build this thing by hand, no power tools, with selection of block sanders, rasps and clamps in hand, I head home with a shinny new (straight) cedar 2x12 board with a nice section I can use for the paddle.  I clamp my board to the table, stand back and stare at it dumbfounded...  Now what....   Ok, I do have the plans and insructions but who am I kidding, I am so far from comfort zone I have no clue... 

Step 1, don't own many power tools, drill is about it, no table saw, no band saw, no skill saw, no jig saw and a crappy hand saw.  Say to self, "F this" I run out to get a jig saw and figure I will cut out the blank and then plane it down, instead of driving down the street and having it cut.  While I am at the store I know I need a new jack plane because the block plane will take too long, oh wait, power planer cheaper than the manual one, hmmm,  power it is..

I get home, hook up my Jigsaw, measure out everything and start cutting away,  easy as pie, just not straight,  get out my new planer and wow, the thing takes shape quickly and I have the rough outline of a paddle, and looks like a paddle, sort of...

Only thing less straight than my cuts would have to be the "straight" lines I drew for a guide, WTF, am I really that hopeless I can't draw a straight line between two points that were measured twice and used a damn ruler?  lines are straight yes, they just aren't equally positioned on all sides...  Requires a lot more block plane by hand to finish up the blank. 

Now onto the block planer, would think this is easy, the guys in the video just tear off the wood like it's made of butter, me, shit I can't even get the thing to catch the wood,  after about half an hour I finally start to figure out the adjustments and technique, call it a night.

My next phase will be to plane this paddle out as much as possible and then will start to carve the paddles and the handle... I have to figure this is going to take me much longer than expected, hope it turns out ok, because at this point, I have paid more in tools than I would have to go and buy one,  sort of defeats the purpose though...

Update when I have something to add...

First Trip - Denied

Totally sucks,  was all prepared for the first trip in the new Kayak,  took the day off, headed north on Thursday night, picked up some last minute food items and was all set to head out Friday morning, woke up to 60km winds, pouring rain and lightning, not a good time to be out on Georgian Bay,  spent most of the day looking out the window and waiting for a break in the storm, not to be.

Forecast was calling for much of the same for the rest of the weekend, so packed up Friday night and headed back to the city, dismal failure on all fronts.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

First Ride

Nothing worse than picking up New Kayak on a Monday and not being able to get it into the water until the following Tuesday, talk about a tease,  Julie was getting pretty tired of me spending time in the garage just looking at it. 

Didn't think I would be able to get out but the kids ended up having plans at friends and Julie was working, hmmm what should I do,  how about strap this thing to the truck and hit the water.   Was a little interesting trying to get the Kayak onto my truck by myself, ended up having to lie it across the bed of my truck sideways then get onto truck bed and lift onto the roof, reverse when I get there.  Must be a better way, hmmm may have to build something....

Went to Holland River for a test drive, put in and started paddling towards Lake Simcoe,  boat rides so smooth and fast,  ok, was empty so doing 8km/h empty with no wind isn't probably breaking any speed limits, it was so nice to just get out, new paddle works amazingly as well, overall I am very happy with my new Kayak and can't wait for an extended trip.

Got about an hour into it and Julie finished work early,  decided to turn back and take a ride up to MEC and see if we could find her a kayak. Packed everything up and headed home. 

When we got back from MEC, Julie was laughing at me,  spent the next hour waxing and polishing the water spots off my Kayak.  At this point she is just shaking her head, she didn't say much though because I did finish painting the back deck before going kayaking. 

The background picture on this blog was the first picture I took while out on Holland River in the Yak.

New Ink

For years I have been wanting to get a tatoo but could never find anything I liked enough or had any meaning so just never got around to it.  Finally found one that I liked and seeing as Julie has been "bugging" me for awhile to get one, just made sense.   

This is my new tattoo on the left arm, Kayaker, though it was pretty cool looking, while I would like to take credit for the design, alas, I stole the idea and hope the original owner doesn't have an issue with it or some sort of weird copyright issue.  It's actually a company logo (part of it) but not in Canada so not like getting a pepsi logo or anything, nobody knows unless I tell them.  In the end the company gets some free advertising.

Why this one?  Well,  I have a pipe dream for what I have termed the "Ultimate Kayak Trip" and requires about a 8 months,  definitely not feasible at the moment given personal life with kids, Julie and work,  kids will eventually goto university, work can be dealt with eventually and one thing about Julie is she is very supportive when it comes to the things I do (can't ask for better than that)  who knows maybe she will come with me.  So this tatoo is a reminder of that trip and one day have the means to actually do it,  all begins with a simple concept and seeing as I have permanately inked the idea on my arm, well...  Maybe it will just come true.

First Trip...

Took tomorrow off work and going for a 3 day kayak trip, fully loaded and camping.  Sucks that the weather is calling for rain Friday and Thunderstorms Saturday, oh well, bought this kayak to use it and not letting a little thing like electrocution stand in my way. 

Julie considered coming but has work and family matters this weekend, not to mention the forecast doesn't lend itself well to her idea of a fun weekend.   I don't mind solo but would have much preferred her with me.

Haven't decided where I am going to go yet but am packed and ready.  Will post info when I get a chance, this will be my first real test of the new boat.

2012 Gear List - Jeff

I have done full reviews of most of my equipment on previous trip sites, feel free to email me directly if you want to know specifics about any of the items.

Kayak Equipment
·         Kayak (17ft – Fibreglass Seaward Tyee)
·         Kayak Bilge Pump
·         Main Paddle (Werner Kaliste Carbon Fibre)
·        PFD (Kokatat)
·        Nylon Skirt (Seal Zipper Entry)
·        Sealine Baja Deck Bag
·        Throw Rope
·         Paddle Leash
·         Sponge
·         Bow/Stern Ropes
·         Bumpers (x2)
·         Bailing Can
·        Cockpit Cover (for evenings)
·        Kayak Tie Down System (for transport)

Navigation Equipment

·         Garmin Dakota 20 Handheld Waterproof GPS
·         Garmin BlueChart & G2 Vision Marine Charts
·         Sunto Orca Deck Compass
·         Brunton ACD Summit Pocket Weather Station

Safety Equipment
·         Handheld VHF – Standard Horizon HX270S
·         First Aid Kit – Safety First Full Kit
·         Flares + Bear Bangers
·         Signal Mirror
·         Strobe Light
·         Fox40 Whistle (plus spare)
·         Ditch Bag
·         Waterproof Matches/Box
·         Fire Starter (Swedish Fire Steel)
·         Emergency Fuel Tablets
·         Headlamp (Petzl Myo RXP Headlamp)
·         Leatherman Multi-Tool Knife
·         Emergency Blanket
·         Titanium Dive Knife (PFD Attached) Wenoka

Electronic Equipment
·         Waterproof Box for Blackberry
·         Waterproof Lock Bag for Cables/Wallet
·         Portable chargers (battery operated)
·         Blackberry and Blackberry Playbook
·         Sony Reader 
·         Spare Batteries
·         Wall Chargers (BB/Camera)
·         Waterproof Case (i1015)
·         Waterproof Headphones (H20 Audio)
·         Digital Camera – Olympus Stylus Tough 6020
·        Portable iHome Speakers
·        Telemax Portable Backup Charger

Personal Items
·         Casio Pathfinder Sports Watch
·         Dry Bags to pack all equipment
·         Towel
·         Sunglasses/Sunglass Strap (plus spare set)
·         Log Book (Rite as Rain)
·         Waterproof Pen (Inka Titanium)
·         Pencil/Pencil Sharpener
·         Playing Cards + Portable Cribbage Board
·         Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss/Toothpicks/Q-Tips
·         Deodorant / Biodegradable Soap / Biodegradable Toilet Paper
·         Razor
·         Tylenol / Tums / Lip Balm
·         Afterbite / Bug Repellant / Mosquito Coils
·         Sunscreen / Solarcaine
·         Polysporin
·         Cortizone Cream
·         Anti-Chafe Cream
·         A5-35

Camp Equipment
·         Tent (Marmot Limelite 3P - with Julie)
·         Tent (Marmot Limelite 2P - when Solo)
·         Tent Repair Kit
·         Thermarest Pillow
·         Portec - Peak Hammock
·         Chinook Technical Inflatable Pillow with cover
·         Sleeping Bag
·         Silk Liner Insert
·         Thermarest Sleeping Pad  (NeoAir Trekker - Large)
·        Thermarest Fitted Sheet
·         Thermarest Trail Chair
·         Thermarest Repair Kit
·         Nalgene Water Bottles 1000lm (x2)
·         Nalgene Lid (Guyot Design Gription)
·         Water Filter System – MSR MiniWorks
·         Water Bucket – Collapsible
·         Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
·         Primary Stove - Primus Himalaya OmniFuel
·         Secondary/Backup Stove - MSR Whisperlight International
·         Primus Fuel Canister & MSR Fuel Bottle (20oz White Gas)
·         Cookware – MSR Blacklite
·         MSR Spice Kit
·         Plate/Bowl/Mug
·         Utensils – Titanium Fork, Spoon, Knife
·        Super Kim Can Opener
·         Mini-Folding Chair
·         Spare Rope
·         Duct Tape
·         Garbage Bags
·         Trowel / Mini Broom & Dustpan
·         Mini – Umbrella
·         Retractable Clothes Line (x2)
·         Lantern - BlackDiamond- Apollo Lantern

Clothing / Paddle Gear
·         Paddle Jacket – Level Six
·         Rain Jacket - Marmot
·         Paddle Shoes – Solomon Amphibian 2
·         Paddle Socks
·         Paddle Gloves (heavy)
·         Paddle Gloves (light)
·         Paddle Shirts – Long Sleeve (x2)
·         Paddle Shirts – Short Sleeve (x4)
·         Paddle Shorts (x4)
·         Paddle Hat (Tilley)
·         Camp Clothes (casual & warm)
·         Sandals