Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To Each His Own

There is a lot of excitement locally as Brian Shultz of Cape Falcon Kayak will be in town for 2 skin-on-frame kayak building sessions in January. I've a few friends who've signed up for these workshops, and am excited to see their finished boats. (Yes, mine will be finished in time to paddle with them, I'm now sanding and painting, 1-2 more coats left).

Brian's workshops have the advantage of getting a nice, custom sized SOF finished within 8 days, but you do have to pay for the privilege, approximately $1200. This in sharp contrast to my $200 SOF, after 8 long years of building (or actually non-building).

There are other faster and cheaper ways.

I just read an articles about two paddlers who do it their way. It works for them, and they're having great time doing it. Father and son Ben and Daniel Glick started out wanting a fishing kayak. A little design work, $25, PVC piping, duck tape, some plastic sheeting, 5 hours of construction, and they were done. They wrote an article called "American Ingenuity" detailing the story of this build in the online magazine, Duck Works, a magazine about home built boats and their adventures.

Well, Ben and Daniel didn't stop there. Next, they decided to sign up to race in this years Albuquerque’s “Great Race down the Rio Grande”. They'd need to build a double. This new kayak, was also a PVC, duct tape skin-on-frame, using two old bed sheets and some exterior latex paint. They won in the home made division. And they wrote another article in Duck Works Magazine about this newer kayak "Two Seat PVC and Duct Tape Kayak".

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh to be Young Again

We had a wonderful family Christmas with a few days off to enjoy family and friends. Both our kids were home for the holidays. As college students, they both have another week or two before school starts up again. But for Paul and I it's back to work today.

Alan and his friend Taylor (above), have borrowed our sailboat, and taken off to the coast for a few days. They've got the SPOT with them making it possible to watch their tracks.

Yes we are so jealous. Oh to be young again!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Change of Plan

Hmmm, how will we find the river? That's alot of snow!

I just got an email from Mark Przedwojewski, owner of Kruger Canoes, and the organizer of our up coming trip on the Big Manistee River, Jan 9-11. It read:

"We are getting pounded!!! Most of the area we will be paddling in has near 100" of snow this year with snow forecast just about every day in the next week and a half. Jack scouted out our planned take out and you can only get to about a half mile from it, plus parking is non-existent.

I think parking will be our biggest issue next to digging through layer after layer of snow to find ground to camp on. Gathering fire wood will take a lot of work, come to think of it just getting into the canoe from a 4 foot bank of snow will take a lot of work.

I don't want to scare anyone away, but you guys driving in from out of state might be in for not only a treacherous drive, but a shorter and less fun paddle than we had first planned. I think it is getting near a time that we might want to cancel this trip, it will give you guys time to plan another outing closer to your homes."

So now Kristen and I are thinking about a new trip plan for those days we'd already arranged to have off. We're thinking about a 100 mile paddle on the Outer Banks. It'll be great training for our WaterTribe Everglades Challenge coming up in March. And we can still consider it a "Winter Adventure", but just a bit milder on the Winter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

OK, That's Enough

Enough snow in Michigan. It'll all still be there in a few weeks for my trip, but it's sounding like there's more than enough.

Speaking of wintery adventures, The January issue of the National Geographic has 2 stories related to Norway’s historic figure Fridtjof Nansen, a polar scientist-explorer (among other things), whose wintery adventures are of unimaginable hardship.

The first story, “1,000 Days in the Ice” recalls Nansen’s journey of the Fram in 1893 to 1896. During this expedition, Nanson deliberately set out to become locked in by the ice, and to continue riding the floes towards the North Pole. When forced off the ship, with companion Hjalmar Johansen, they continued the journey by sled dogs and kayaks. They didn’t quite make it to the pole, yet at the time it was the largest single advance of Arctic exploration. The return trip home was even more adventurous and harrowing, surviving on walrus and polar bear meat and blubber. They became national heroes in Norway, world celebrities, and had proved many theories about the Arctic.

The second is a polar saga called “Chasing Nansen’s Ghost”. Two modern day Norwegian adventures set out at the North Pole, to follow the same return route of Nansen and Johansen, using skis, kayaks, and para-sails instead of dogs. They are professional adventurers, and mountaineers, and had access to communication and navigation equipment. Their journey was 15 weeks, difficult, adventurous, and no less harrowing for today’s time.

Theirs was a journey of cold, ice, and snow, and hardships I cannot imagine, and will not, nor care to experience. But I am working on my own winter adventure. A Kruger Canoe sponsored winter paddling session on the Big Manistee River, January 9-11th in Michigan. We are planning a great paddle, about 55 miles, with the “focus on efficient and safe winter camping techniques, hypothermia prevention and recovery, as well as an in depth look at fire starting kits and techniques”.

It’ll also be something of a reunion of some WaterTriber’s. Kristen (KiwiBird) is driving up with me, and we’ll hook up with Mark (ManitouCruiser), Brian (kapakahi, previously daBiscuit, and blogger Capt'n), John (RiverJohn), and Jack (SeaCamp), and have an opportunity to meet other like-minded adventurers.

They've been getting lots of snow this winter, lets just hope weather doesn't prevent us from getting up there. And that this girl from Hawaii, now living in the milder climates of the South East, can find enough warm winter camping clothes/gear :)

Check it out at the new Kruger Canoes Adventure Blog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Message to the Capt'n

Hey Capt'n of the "O" Dark 30, hopefully not an idiot, but we're all a little CRAZY aren't we.

Those of us down South get an occasional (but rare) snowfall. We have a very old sled of Paul's that's great fun.

But when we get a really nice snow fall, our whole neighborhood comes out to the "big hill" with whatever we can find. It's lots more fun being creative.

Boogie boards and kayaks work just fine. Photos from the Jan 2002 snow fall. Yea we've had a few others since then, but this one is one we really remember.

I'm coming next month for the canoeing, Kruger Canoeing to be exact, but I'm looking forward to some snow too. Hmmm, Kruger sledding, I wonder?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

SOF Update

Got another coat of paint on my SOF. I posted a question on the Greenland Kayak Forum about my painting. I was concerned that even though I feel I am using the right amount of paint, and it appeared to be soaking into the canvas, it never actually came through the other side. I wasn’t sure if it should have been completely saturated through. Responses indicated I’m on track and everything is okay.

Choosing a color was hard (actually for me everything was easy till I got to the skinning part, then I agonized about every detail and stitch, and now finishing). On canvas with paint, you get an opaque and solid covering and not the transparent staining and tinting on nylon and polyester which is so appealing on SOFs. So I wanted what I thought would be a very rich looking color.

In the end I decided on a darker color (because the white hull of my fiberglass NKD Explorer always seems so dirty) that would still give some contrast with the black deck lines. At the local Lowes, I found a brand of oil based exterior paint, Columbia Fast Hide, I liked the brand name, and I liked both the color and name of the paint I choose “Tree Bark”.

I plan to decorate the boat somehow, but want it to be subtle and very low contrast. Still no good ideas on this, but I think my chocolate like brown will allow something interesting, possibly with some black and red paint.

While doing my research on finishes, I found no end to various ideas of colors and decorations. This one really shows some ingenuity. It’s a tie-died nylon, and also interesting is the bamboo used to build the kayak.

Monday, December 08, 2008

U.S. Civil War History Lesson

Sunday, Paul and I were in Newport News Virginia at an Oyster Roast. This was the Eye of the World's informational gathering and meeting at the James River Marina. This was their first kick-off fund raiser event for the Eye’s educational expedition. The picture above is of Adam Domanski presenting the planned joint adventure and educational project. Adam an NC State graduate student is one of the Eye’s adventurers, along with my son Alan, and their friend Anna.

While there, we spent a couple of hours visiting the Newport News Mariners Museum; we really needed a couple of days. We had known that there would be an exhibit about the USS Monitor, a Civil War ironclad warship. She is most famous for her participation in the first-ever naval battle between two ironclad warships in 1862, the Battle of Hampton Roads, in which the Monitor (Union) fought the ironclad CSS Virginia (Confederates).

This was a bit of news to me. I’d always heard it as the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack. I even remember when Alan was a very young boy and built a model of both the Monitor and the Merrimack. The exhibits works to correct this statement of history, after all, the Museum is in Virginia. It seems the Merrimack was the original sailing ship that was refit and provided the hull to the then newly named ironclad, the Virginia. The infamous battle resulted in a draw, but forever changed the future of warships.

We did not know that the museum was the USS Monitor Center, including it's conservation laboratory, viewable by visitors, where the recovered turret, engine, and other artifacts of the Monitor are being preserved after it's recovery off the Hatteras NC coast in 2002. The whole presentation at the museum was quite interesting, and well worth the visit.

There were other exhibits as well. Unfortunately we only had time to take a quick look at there International Small Craft Center. Over 75 vessels are on display documenting the diverse ways in which people around the world have set out to sea. Of particular interest, and a wonderful surprise were the two historic animal skinned, skin-on-frame kayaks, and one baidarka. Unfortunately, this came at the end of our visit, and I had no time to photograph them or find out much information about them. A great reason to go back for a visit.