So long and thanks for all the Kayaking!

I have bought a canoe paddle and will mostly be using this unless I am surfing or trying to learn to roll.  Some of my friends say I am canoeing whenever I use a paddle like this, so my Kestral is now a canoe!

If you want to try a "canoe paddle" in your kayak I recommend a shorter one.  For me a 48 inch bent shaft works very well in a kayak.  In an actual canoe I like a bent shaft between 50 and 52 inches and I like 54 in straight shaft paddles.

I've only used this 48 inch Harmony shadow bent shaft one time so far but I loved it.  I wonder how they will rate me for the Lumber River Challenge.  Will it be Recreational Kayak,  Sea Kayak, or Canoe.

It think it will help me to have a goal so I am shooting for 5 hours for the race plus five minutes for each drag over.  If the water is about average this would be a very good time for me.  

I think it was the great Verlen Kruger who said you get more miles per flapjack with the single blade and I think he was spot on.

Help! I need a hatch cover!

Here are pictures of the hatch cover I need for my New Wave Kayak Products - Buzz.

Yoga Strikes Again!

I just saw this link to the Yoga poses all of us should be doing to be paddlers:

While I really do admire the skill, flexibility and fitness level of these Yogis. I don't think this is the way to begin increasing your flexibility.  After doing easy Tai Chi warm up exercises for about a year or so, I think I might be able to pull of some of these poses, but only after I have really worked at limbering up.

Just once I'd like to see some Yoga that is practical for the beginning paddler.  None of the strong paddlers I know do these poses before a 20 plus mile day.

If you know of some beginning Yoga to try before a paddle I'd love to learn about it!

ACA Levels out of whack?

Recently, I had reason to review where I was in skills and determined that I am pretty solidly in the beginner range.  This seemed about right to me as I have received ACA level 2 training and the levels go up to a 5.  However I noticed here on level 4 training at the ACA site:

the following information:

"Course Location / Venue: Ideal location will have a moderate current not to exceed 4 knots, a short crossing of 1 to 2 miles, and a tide rip with a large well-defined eddy. Current should not be moving into an area of danger and there should be a variety of landing options down current. Winds should not exceed 10-15 knots"

It seems pretty weird to me that 15 knots is considered advanced level 4 conditions as I paddle in those conditions with regularity. I'm thinking these should be considered level two conditions.  Certainly I'd want a level two instructor to be trained in these conditions as they commonly occur without warning.

It appears that the BCU does it like this as well.  If that is the case maybe they should realign the conditions to go with the level of skill.  Or maybe I should not go out whenever the wind is over 15 knots and the waves are over 4 feet?  It seems reasonable to go out in these conditions but I do tend to self rescue a few times on every surf day.

What do you think?  Are the condition levels out of whack with the skill levels being taught?

UP Michigan - Rec Boat and Canoe Heaven!

Recently I went up north and was able to spend some time seeing the sights and naturally I got in some time paddling.  No sailing this time, but I got to go flying which is just as good for me.

I thought all these planes would be useful for scouting out new places to paddle, but I was wrong.

To find a new place to paddle you merely have to turn down a road you have not traveled and there will be a new to you lake or river.  I think it is impossible to get more than a few miles from a good place to paddle.

So we did a lot of that in between scouting for future trips.

Summer camp with the family was a fun break, I hope to go back there every summer.

Shame on you Current Designs!

OK guys, this is the second time you have done this to me.  I emailed you that I needed a boat part that had broken.  It is no fault of yours that the parts break; nothing lasts forever.  Immediately, I get an automated response thanking me for me email. Then I wait and nothing happens.

Last time I did this the local dealer was able to contact you, but you sent him the wrong part.  So this time I ordered the new rear hatch from a dealer from Hurricane Kayaks.

I love your boats, but if I can get something similar to what you make in the future, my preference will be for almost any other brand.

It is a shame you do not even respond to folks who own your kayaks!

Good bye old boat; hello new boat.

Recently I sold my Tarpon 160.  It was a great paddling and sailing boat and it did everything well and a lot of thing wonderfully.  But I had a faster boat, a lighter boat that surfed better, and no short boat for really twisty creeks or whitewater so I decided to let it go.

So long to my old friend the Tarpon:

In it's place on the boat rack is a new to me but very old kayak made by New Wave Kayak Products called  a Buzz. Here is a picture of the Buzz:

Please call me when it rains.

Rich's Inlet, North Carolina - Surf Shenanigans

Four of us from the Carolina Kayak Club launched from Scott's Hill Marina ($20 per car parking for their excellent facilities).  Naturally I was the weak link in the surf team as far as skills go, but again I think I had the most fun of anyone!  My lap belt held me in the boat much better than the thigh strap I had always used before, so that experiment worked well.  I only capsized about twice which is half of what I usually do.

On reaching the inlet at low tide there was a long "zipper line" where waves from different directions were meeting each other at the edge of the sand bar. It was a lot of fun to play in the clear water and confused conditions. I could not tell what the boat was going to do.  I'd catch a little wave and then another wave would meet it and push me straight up a bit with a splash. Then I would paddle a bit and be sucked down into a temporary hole for a split second.   I could have played right there all day, but there were bigger waves to surf.  So we went on to find them and Chris made an excellent video that shows how pretty and clear the water was:

The water was very clear and we saw a few little sharks from two to four feet long. Some were surfing along with use.  I always prefer the clear water as the sharks are always there, but they can see I'm not food when I'm splashing in clear water.  If they cannot see me well, I'm afraid they might bite first to see what is making the splashing.

After surfing a bit we paddled down to find a place to camp for our next trip.  We decided after a group consult to land where there were people.  The thinking was that people would be close to their boats on the sound side so they would know where the shortest walk across was.  It turned out to be a good decision and we found a nice place to camp with access to sea and sound.  The surf was starting to dump as the tide came up to the steeper part of the shore, so I had a bit of a time landing.  I stopped to see how the more skilled paddlers would handle it and learned not to stop near dumping surf.  Next time, I'll back paddle quickly to prevent catching a wave or I'll just paddle in quickly at a diagonal angle to the waves.  As it was, a steep one decided I was going to catch it and I was not moving so my bow was plunged straight down into the sand!  Sand for Lunch!  

After lunch we launched into a much higher tide and increasing wind.  It was fun paddling in the bigger swell out side of the waves, but I should have noticed that the building conditions would mean waves breaking farther out in deeper water.

My second capsize was very taxing.  When I came up I noticed my rear hatch sinking about two boat lengths away, so I left the boat and swam for it.  When I got there it was quite difficult to get down to it with my life vest on but with the aid of my paddle I pushed it up where I could reach it.  Swimming back to the boat while gripping the paddle and hatch cover was interesting. When I got to the boat all my other gear was floating close by!  I put in my hat, gear bag, water bottle, and sponge, then flipped the boat over and put on the rear cover quicker than ever before.  Unfortunately the level of water in the rear of the boat made it a bit of a sinker so I towed it in with my short tow and paddle.  Next time I'll want more line to separate me from the boat in the waves.

As I was working my way in the others were standing by ready to offer help while trying not to get dangerously close in the rough stuff.  After I got to shore, the rest of the team came in and helped me sort out the mess and dump out the water.  I saw John make the most fantastic combat roll I have seen in a while.  He was getting pummeled by a big dumping wave and just when you think it would subside it would recharge and bounce him around upside down some more. I'm certain the wave meant to shake him from the very cockpit of his Alchemy, but he held a tight tuck and was finally able to roll up.  I realized that I was holding my breath for him too. 

Someday I'd like to be able to roll in conditions like that.

What is the attraction to Crossover Kayaks?

I do not understand the attraction to crossover kayaks.  It appears these boats are sold to "handle" the white water in local rivers, but they are supposed to be good for everything else too.  The oddest thing to me is that they are most often seen in sporting goods stores like REI.  The folks I have seen who bought them were not offered float bags which are standard equipment needed for most white water boats.

So what I see these crossover paddlers doing is having a really hard time keeping up with their friends who paddle rec boats or canoes on the same class 1 - 2 rivers.  Then when their friends go to the lake or the bay, the crossover paddlers really become disadvantaged because of the slower speed of their boats.

 In fact, the  only place I can see where a crossover boat is better than an open cockpit rec boat is in the surf.  Still a rec boat with a standard cockpit like a Dagger Alchemy would be a wonderful alternative and do most everything better than a crossover boat.

If you can think of a place where a crossover is a good choice, I'd love to hear about it.  I'd also like to add to my list of favorite rec boats so please send your favorite rec boat model to me.

So far mine are:

Dagger Alchemy
Current Designs Kestral
Wilderness Systems Pungo 140
Current Designs Vision
Hurricane Phoenix
Wilderness Systems Tarpon
Wilderness Systems Cape Horn
Walden Passage
RTM Disco

There are so many more boats to try!