SUC it!

I don't know why this is not more popular.  Most canoes paddle much faster and better that the standup boards I have tried.  They carry more gear and passengers easily.  They are easier to carry. In fact canoes are built for carrying over land to the next lake by foot.  And to top it of canoes are easier to carry on a care.

Guess it is time for me to get a long paddle so I can try this properly.

I'm not the only one with the sickness!

I am so glad to find others willing to chop and cut perfectly good boats to make them a little better in ways they want!  I seem to have this driving need to modify everything I touch to make it better.  I am glad someone else is doing it.

Here below is a test paddle by one of the Hurricane Riders kayaking team after modifying a NDK Romany.

Flat Water Surfing at Carolina Beach

I was king of reminded about that quote from "Jaws", "You're gonna need a bigger boat".  I felt like I could have done better with a Sea Kayak given that the waves were small and not very steep. But I had a great time! 

Thanks Virginia and Curry for the pictures and the late lunch!

And thanks Chris for coming along!


I always hated the way my Cobra Expedition Kayak turned.  It took about 10 to sweep strokes to turn it 180 degrees if you edged it.  Turning it flat only increased the sweep count to 11 or twelve strokes.

I had paddled it for a few years and liked most everything about the boat, but one afternoon with my friends Dawn and Lee I noticed that could keep up with them but had to go work much harder and go farther because I could not turn the kayak.  So I started looking to sell it and trying to find something similar.   Unfortunately there is nothing close to what I want for sale within a 500 hundred mile drive.

I wanted plastic for dragging over rocks and logs in my local rivers.  I wanted a sit on top, because it is so much easier to get in and out in shallow water or on and off rocks or logs. ( I think this is why must wade fishermen prefer Sit on Tops)  I wanted it at least 17 feet long and no more than 24 inches wide for decent speed. And finally it needed to handle a 250 pound load for racing and more like 310 for cruising.  If you know of a boat like this please bring it by, because I still want to find it and try it.

Since I couldn't find a boat that was better for me than the Cobra Expedition I decided I would make the Expedition better for me.

 Here is the boat with the mark of how much I wanted off of the skeg.

I found the skeg was solid!  So I had planned the cuts all wrong.

Here the skeg is removed.

I left plenty of solid stuff fo future rock dragging resistance.

I tried welding it back together with a heat gun like I had seen some people try but it is very easy to get whole sections too hot and bendy this way.  In the future I'll stick to welding plastic with and iron type plastic welder and a hair dryer to keep things warm.

Here is the boat post skegectomy operation. Ready for a test paddle!

Well I am a little sad that I uglied the stern of my boat up so much.  I am trying to smooth it out with G-Flex epoxy, but I've been having some adherence issues in spit of pre-sanding and flaming.  So I have a good bit of work to do before it is pretty.
On the good side it now paddles much better!  I can turn it 180 degrees with five strokes with edging and 7 or 8 strokes if I keep the hull flat!  Aslo it is easy to paddle without the rudder because small adjustment for wind are made simply with a bit of edging during and a bit of sweep at the beginning of the forward stroke.  It now paddles like some of my favorite handling kayaks. I can't wait to take it in the surf again!

Neuse River - One of my Favorite places to paddle

The Neuse river is one of my favorite places to paddle here at home.  Soon, we plan to move less than a 10 minutes drive from a canoe launch on the Neuse.

At the outlet of the Dam from Falls of the Neuse Reservoir there are good places to practice some white water skills. 

When the flow is just right there are some good surfing waves.

A paved greenway follows the river and crosses back an forth across it so you can easily walk or bike it and see the paddlers and anglers on days when you do not have time to launch a boat.

As you can see this urban section of the river in Raleigh escaped the industrialization that many rivers experienced.  Down stream of Wake County it is a different story along the river.

This is taken from the greenway bridge as it crosses the river just downstream of the Old Milburnie Dam Canoe Launch.  This is the one section of the river that require a portage because of this 10 foot dam.  In the future they plan to tear this dam down.

This is the long path from the parking lot to the canoe launch ramp at Poole Road.  This is the last launch in Wake County I have used.  It would be very prudent to bring a cart for your boat as it is now about 100 yards from the "improved" parking area to the unimproved canoe launch.

At each section along the greenway where there is a access to a road they have put in these beautiful markers.

And Finally I will add that Anderson Point Park is a great place to launch a boat or get married!
Check out the Neuse river Paddle Map on Google Maps for more information:

Kayak Accessory Attachement

I've had great service from Tom's shop and saw this nice video about outfitting your sit on top kayak.

Choosing the right sails for your kayak or canoe.

 Notice in the title is says sails not sail.  You have more than one paddle and I most sailors will have more than one sail.  The advantages and disadvantages of different sails outlined before in this blog may lead you to choose the sail you want. In addition you need to consider what type of sailing you are going to do.  Are you going to fly in and set up your rig on rented boats?  In that case and easy to install system is very important.  Are you going to take your sail on long distance expeditions far from civilization? If so you’ll want the most simple robust and easy to repair system.  Are the winds steady where you sail or variable so you’ll want a reefing sail? 

A beginning sailor will most enjoy a simple system that is easy to use.  An experienced sailor will enjoy a system that allows him to adjust every aspect of the sail for maximum performance.   Sail size plays a big role in enjoyment.  Most kayak sailors use a sail of one meter square or slightly less.  WaterTribe races put sails of one meter or less in the same category as all regular sea kayaks as they have decided a one meter rig is basic gear for expedition cruising when 50 miles a day is the required distance.

Beginning sailors with sea kayaks less than 24 inches wide should begin with a sail no larger than one meter square.  When the wind is gusting just up to a fresh breeze of 15 knots or so even balancing the small sail can be difficult.  If you are learning to sail in the summer when the water is warm and the winds are light a sail of 1.5 meters square might be great if your sailing grounds have light winds.  If you really have light winds in your area or you just want to go as fast as possible in a sea kayak 2 meters of sail can be a lot of fun.   If you are paddling a heavily loaded tandem, then a single 2 meter sail can make the miles go by while one of you rests, sleeps or does other boat chores.

 The ACA standard sailing rig is a 44 square foot (4 meter) lateen sail.  This has been the ideal summer rig for standard open canoes for over 100 years.  Canoe sailing was much more popular in the past.  4 meters is a lot of sail for a kayak.  Even a 28 inch wide rec boat is quite a bit less stable than a typical 36 inch wide canoe.  In a canoe there is room to shift all of your weight to one side of the centerline.  In a kayak the entire seat is 14 to 16 inches wide so there is no room to shift to the side to balance the rig.  You’ll need to sit on the back deck and be ready to move quickly to balance a 4 meter sail; I highly recommend it that you try it if you can this summer.

For practical purposes that involve more than just sailing back and forth on the lake, I never use more than 3 meters of sail. And quite often I’m did this kind of sailing in a very comfortable small cruiser the 28 inch wide Wilderness Systems Tarpon. One of the best ways to have more sail area is to have more sails.  If you are just starting out and you get the least expensive and smallest Flat Earth Kayak Sail to start learning. Then you will be able to add a larger sail next summer when the winds are light and your skills are better.  This system will easily fit inside your boat or on your deck and you’ll be able to increase your daily mileage on most trips in winds from 5 to 35mph. 

In the lowest winds you can put the large sail in front and the small behind you. As the wind increases you’ll want to have it set up so you can drop the small sail and stow it on the deck without going ashore.  As the wind increases further, you might drop the large sail and raise the smaller sail.    When you get your second sail, make it a different size from your first sail so you can sail in more varied wind conditions.   With most sail boats the second sail is a jib and it is easy enough to add one to most kayak sailing rigs.  If your kayak is a downwind boat without a lee board or centerboard, you might be best served by adding a spinnaker.  Spinnakers can add a lot of sail area but they are not the most stable of sails.  If you spend time watching racing you’ll see that spinnaker handling offers the best chance for viewing sail crashes and dramatic changes in the race positions. So spinnakers are best for light winds, wide awake crews, and sailing for sailings sake.

1000 miles a year? Not this year!

So I'm looking back over the last couple years and it looks like I spend very close to 500 hours a year on the water except for this past year.   I do not track the mileage at all, but I'm wondering if I did, could I paddle 1000 miles in a year?

Day trips for surfing take a lot of time with about six hours of driving and four hours of surfing.  I'm really whipped at the end of these coastal day trips, but I have no idea how many miles I paddle during them.  I expect it is not a lot as I'm often paddling backwards as much as forwards.

In the winter I only paddle about 15 hours a month and we don't go very fast when we are all bundled up.  in the summer I paddle 3 or 4 times a week, but I'm not sure I'll be in town for the after work paddles with my new job travels.

I think this year I'll try to keep a written log of each paddle and see just how far I get and how many hours I spend.

Another thing that always surprises me is the lack of paddling done by paddlers who have far better skills than I.  I must be a really slow learner.  The last two years
I've met some incredibly skilled whitewater paddlers who usually paddle once a week at most.  I think I will take a page from their book this winter and try to attend some pool sessions to see if I can learn to roll.

Below is the boat I've been using most the past two years.  I completely redid the bottom last year and painted it a second time.  Now it looks like it has a thousand miles of scratches on it and I think I'll just keep buffing it out with logs and rocks and sand.

The best part of the race was seeing a lot of friends and spending a beautiful day outside with them.  The second best part was winning this nice quilt that features kayaks in the design and paddles in the border.

Hope Bridge to sports and Stephen Knights program have a great year!

Nice to see friends doing well.

I saw this video that featured some friends from Sea Kayak Carolina and thought I'd share it here.

There is a great community of Sea Kayakers in Charleston!

New Blog to check out!

Alan Stewart designed a bot for the Watertribe Everglades Challenge and you can check on the build progress at

Look like it will be a fast boat and a great use of the Hobie sailing rig.

Sign Up to Support Coach Knight's race!

The Bridge II Sport Parakayak Racing Club presents:
Welcoming all paddlesport enthusiasts, from first‐timers to seasoned racers!
Challenge yourself, have fun, win great prizes, take home a t‐shirt!
Plus, your $25 entry fee will help support our team’ Paralympic dreams.

10 and 3 mile Marathon Races

Family Friendly Sprint Races

Paddlesport Demo Day

Kayak, Canoe and SUP Divisions

Para and Able‐Bodied Athletes

Men’ and Women’ Classes
Registration opens at 8:30

Distance Races start at 9:15

Sprint Races start at 10:30

Boat Demo’s start at 10:30

Awards & drawings for prizes at 12:30
Sponsored by:

For more information and pre‐registration,

S E P T E M B E R 2 8 , 2 0 1 3

Completed another Lumber river Challenge!

This was my second year and while I brought a boat that was 4 feet longer, it turned out that my time was almost an hour slower.  Last year I did not have to get out of the boat at all with the river level at just over 4 feet at the Boardman gauge, but this year I had to get out about three times.  I'd say I lost about 20 minutes to lower level causing suck water and carry overs. 20 minutes were lost because of poor boat choice as I was spending a lot of energy to make the Expedition turn.  And 20 minutes were just because my fitness level it lower than last year.

It was another gorgeous weather day and this was Maria's first time down the Lumber river.  We enjoyed the beautiful trees, birds, turtles, fish jumping, beavers and five kinds of dragon flies.  I definitely think dragon flies are the best kind of flies.

Maria got first place in the 20 miler solo women's kayak division!  Way to go!

Here is a link to more on the Lumber on Sandy Bottom's Blog:

Shuttles explained!!!

This is the best explanation I have ever seen and it works the same way for kayaks as canoes!

Thanks to Paul Mason and!!!

Lumber River Challenge

Looking forward to Saturday!

Below is the Sign up info:



SEPTEMBER 14, 2013



















                           410 COCKMAN RD.

                             ROBBINS, NC 27325





WLRMCDUFFIE@GMAIL.COM         910-948-3238




PHONE #______________ E-MAIL________________________

AGE____   PARTNERS’S NAME _________________________


                   ___10 MILE ___ 20 MILE                              




  SOLO   ____    MALE___ FEMALE___

  TANDEM___     MALE____ FEMALE ____ MIX ____             




Sit on top vs Sit inside

I prefer a sit on top for fishing for the following reasons.


1) It is easier to get in an out for wading. In winter I wear neoprene waders or dry pants, but I still wade and stay warm.


2) It is easier to get in and out when landing or launching.


3) In rough conditions, water comes right in and drains right out - no bailing or pumping needed


4) The increased leg mobility is much more comfortable.


5)  I can put both feet out to the side in the water to add stability.


6) It is easy to sit side saddle to fish when I am drifting slowly.  Sometimes I do this with swim fins to control my drift.


7) it is easy to turn around and face completely backwards to fiddle with rods and gear completely behind me.


8) Self Rescues are easier.


9) Assisted rescues are easier.


10) Less gear is needed.  I don't need a pump or a bailer or a skirt or a cockpit cover.  I have less need for a paddle float depending on the boat. 
I'd love to hear from others what they prefer and why.

When the boat runs you over

I don't know why it gives me so much pleasure to try to surf, even when it is a horrible failure in any terms except for the entertainment value I must provide to other folks on the beach.

The waves were 2 to 4 feet with an occasional 7 footer. My skilled friends got quite an experience getting endos and tumbled by the larger stuff farther out. I watched them go out and come back in.  It amazed me that they held their breth for so long and still rolled up. I was surprised that they were not stripped out of their boats, but they handled it and made it look easy.

However, I could not get out through the white water.  The period was 3.5 seconds and I always have trouble in short period waves.

I think that this time one problem was that the expedition does not turn well at all, so it is impossible to correct for the next wave, if the first one knocks you off course.  I think my endurance and fitness was good, but my skills are lacking, I brought the wrong boat and I just suck at this kayaking thing.  I seem to have the most fun when I eat it.  This time I actually ate sand.

 Most times I practice surfing I try to do new things so that I capsize at least four time in the day.  This time I capsized seven times without even surfing.

Later as we walked the beach the wave subsided and we saw a teen in a short rec sit on top trying again and again to make it out.  We hooted and cheered when he finally made it.

The bruises are interesting colors but pretty mild and I cannot wait for another go at it this Saturday!

Bigger Rudder is better? We'll see.

New Rudder above, Old Rudder below


I put the Hobie Adventure Island Sailing rudder on my Cobra Expedition.  This is the boat's fourth rudder. Two were the standard rudder that Cobra provides.  Both of those broke in the surf so I made my own from a piece of plastic cutting board.  This flat plate rudder was very strong but I could hear it gurgle every time I pushed it into a hard turn.  When you hear a flat plate rudder gurgling it is acting more as a brake than as a rudder.  The Hobie Sailing Rudder has a nice foiled shape, so it should not stall as easily.  I may not turn better, but at least it will slow me down as much. 

In years gone by, I got an expensive foiled rudder for my Hunter 235 sailboat in a size for a 26 foot Hunter.  It made the boat turn much better, and also allowed me to sail closer to the wind.  At first the local racing authority let it slide. The thought was, a bigger rudder would be more drag and a disadvantage.  Over time they realized it did give me an advantage and adjusted my rating a bit.

I hope to have the same experience with this rudder upgrade.



Roof Rack Redo Number Two

I think I have used this roof rack on several cars so,
 I have the feeling that the Yakima stuff is pretty long lasting. 

First it was on the Buick Road Master
 Then on the Ford Focus

At least if you wash the salt off,
it stands a good chance of out lasting your car,
 or maybe a few of your cars. 
Original Set up on this car.

This iteration was more about making the rack more useful as the basic rack has been on this car for a few months.  This car is not our " Paddling Car"  as I use it to take customers to lunch.  So it cannot smell like a dog even if it is summer.  So the boats live on another car most of the time. However this car is god for long trips and rougher roads and dirt roads so I am setting it up more as a shuttle vehicle.

One advantage of these racks is that they disengage from the "Landing Pads" on the tracks very quickly so they can be removed from the car to make it "work ready" in a couple minutes.

I offset the stacker to one side so it is still easy to carry four kayaks but I can now carry one kayak and one canoe. 

Raleigh Greenway is great for bikes and walkers but they hurt the paddlers with this change

The old Poole road canoe launch is still labeled the canoe launch on it's sign but it has become far less usable.  Now the parking lot is much bigger and it is paved so it is nicer for newer cars, but the wood ramp/steps where you launch are now quite a long walk from the lot, so you better bring a cart.  In addition the landscapers planted tree in just the right place to make it impossible to use the canoe metal racks that were a great help for getting the canoe on or off of your shoulders.  So they have made it farther to carry and harder to lift the boats up.

I guess we should be grateful that they did not put up a sign that said " No launching of boats here."

So far this is very similar to what has happened at the
Buffalo Road canoe Launch as well.

A tip for paddlers wishing to park.  I go ahead and unload and get all my gear set up even when there is no parking because walkers and bikers do not park for the whole day.  In the time it takes to get all the boats ready to launch a space usually opens up.  I have yet to get a parking ticket here, but if I do, then I will consider it a reasonable ramp fee.

Check out the Tsunami Rangers Site

The Tsunami Rangers site keeps on going in spite of a slow period after Eric Soares passing away.  The new articles are as fresh as ever, and there are many older articles that I keep going back to re read.  I really like this site and in spite of  my plans to give up paddling and take up rowing I hope you will check it out at:

Check Out - In the Boat Shed

Mostly I use this blog for myself as a place to find my recreational reading.  I like the fact that the blogs on the right are in order of the most recent post so I am prompted to check out the new writing.

On the left I have added a link to ; I like going there and reading the blogs and looking at all the plans.  Check it out; you might like it too!

Soon to be a rowing rig

I plan to go  back to rowing a canoe like I started doing when I first moved to North Carolina. This is my first aluminum canoe, but the first canoes I paddled were aluminum so I am going back to what I used to do in two ways.

Two Generation Canoe

Jim's old canoe needed a refit years ago and I patched it up and then his friend Walter patched it some more and painted it.  Now it is time for another patch and paint refit, so Mike helped me load it on the car and I took it to Daniel.

I saw this picture shortly after he got it.  It looks like he went directly to using it in spite of its condition. In the past I have done a similar thing with this very boat.  It wore layers of duct tape for about 2 years before I patched it.  It looks like Daniel is carrying on the tradition of using boats a lot and working on them as little as needed.

New Car with Old Racks

My son came over today to help me drill holes in the roof to add a set of tracks from Proline.  The tracks were about $50 and will allow me to use my old Yakima racks that have served me through several cars. 

I decided to reuse them instead of buying new racks because they are still in great shape.  If later I choose to spend several hundred dollars to upgrade to wider Thule racks I can get ones that fit these rack tracks. 

It took about an hour after I went to the sotre to buy new drill bits.  Unfortunately they were having a tools sale so I bought more than just the bits.

The racks can be removed in about two minutes but the tracks are now a permanent part of the roof.  I think it looks good on this car.  Even better than it did on the old Focus.

Maybe the is even better looking on this new car than it was on the old Buick Roadmaster.  The new Caliber hauls gear more like the Buick Roadmaster. Get fuel mileage like the Focus, and with 7 inches of ground clearance handles dirt roads and trails better than either of them. 

Jim Ladd

Jim Ladd
Rest in peace little brother.
We had some mighty fine canoe trips together.
I'll miss you.

Problem Solvers

For a few years I've been looking for the a kayak that will paddle to the inlets where I like to surf.  I  mostly like to play near inlets that are a few miles out from any car parking as these places have the  fewest board surfers and swimmers that I might disturb.  Also inlets usually provide a good mix of conditions in a small area so I can almost always find something challenging without being over my head.

But the perfect boat for this mission has eluded me.  I really like how a Dagger Kaos and Cobra Revision surf, but they can't keep up with my sea kayaking buddies on the paddle out or back.  If I try a maneuverable sea kayak for surfing like a Dagger Alchemy, I miss the real feeling of surfing. There is no bottom turn, cut back, or even a faded entry for me with these boats. They just are not as easy to turn and it is really had to set a rail when all you have is a softish rounded chine.

But finally Clipper canoes had published the answer on their Facebook Page!

I guess Clipper makes the best surf boat hauler.  I think I want one set up with oars. I let you know how the experiments turn out.

Consciously Incompetant

The shape of this boat makes it handle much differently than my other boats

My new Cobra Revision  does not respond well to an outside edge but really turns with an inside edge which is opposite of what I use in my other boats most of the time.  It is really taking me a long time to adjust. I hope to become unconsciously competent with it, but then I wonder if I'll be able to go back to a sea kayak and paddle using mostly the outside edge.

I noticed when helping with a class last year that one of the students asked the instructor if they were making correction strokes and edging the boat as the class weaved its way along the shore.  The instructor guessed so but stated that she was not aware of it, she was just naturally paddling along.  This month I got reminded of how it feels to not have a feel for a skill, I hope I can learn to use the boat better, maybe it will make me a better mentor as well.

Surf Lessons from the Sea

Throwing your weight around can be a good thing.
Foot straps and foot plates really help to shift your weight forward and back.

The foot straps in the picture above are actually re purposed handles rivets in place on my Cobra Revision.  So far it has worked well for me.  On my next project I am thinking of installing a pulling bar on my Kestrel 140 like some of the racing paddlers use for even less floppiness and more secure footing.

Surf straps save hands.  I never let go of the boat soon enough.  Surf straps made of 2 inch webbing with a knot in it can be a real hand saver when attached to the bow and stern.  They drag in the water and can look a little dorky, but they really help when you are trying to lead the boat on your way out or in from the surf.

Playing in the white wash can really help your skills.
Maria calls this playing in the weenie waves, but it really help to be very comfortable here.  Working to be able to take these little white waves right on your side has really helped my bracing skills.  I've also learned a lot about the easier ways to get out by not trying to get out.  I learn move about paddling and boat handling here than anywhere else.  It is also nice that you are right near the shore so you can just stand up when you get dumped.  You can get dumped a dozen times in a day here before you are worn out.  It's a lot easeir than learning on a deeper break where each capsize or failed roll can result in a long swim accompanied by multiple beat downs from breaking waves.