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    Newburyport, MA
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    Greenland paddling, canoeing (new)

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  1. I don’t know, give him a snorkel or air tank, a bit of floatation and a dry suit?
  2. First day of spring and I convinced Donna to drop me and “Pure Bunny Jr.” (my Northstar Trillum 14’6” solo canoe) off at the Ferry Park launch in West Newbury, right by the West Newbury side of the Rocks Bridge. Geared up (including dry suit - the water’s still cold) and got on the water just before 3PM. Initial plan was to paddle downriver to the Amesbury town boat launch (about 5.3 miles or 5,038 Smoots), and then possibly extend the trip to Cashman Park boat landing (another 3.1 miles or 2,913 Smoots). Launch was smooth. I started out using the Adirondack sneak paddle - long blade, narrows from head to tip, somewhat like a voyageur paddle, but without the sharp shoulders. Very small palm grip, which makes rotating the paddle for things like a sneak stroke very easy. Wind picked up almost like it knew I was on the water, and what I had expected to be a NNW wind behind me turned out to be in my face blowing up river. After passing under the bridge I worked over to river left to try and catch some wind shadow, but didn’t find much shelter there. The paddle to Amesbury itself was pretty and uneventful, a fairly sunny afternoon with moderate temps. Just kept working into the wind, but the Trillium handles it extremely well - I love that boat. If I had been soloing in Pure Bunny Sr. (a Mad River Malecite) it would have been a whole different experience. The Trillium is tuned as a lake boat, designed to track well in the windy conditions. It has a low profile, so not much for the wind to grab to start with, and just a small amount of rocker in the stern which helps keep it from weathercocking. The consistent flair in the sides means when you need to turn quickly you can lay it over on its side to let the stern slip and really spin. But if you keep it upright, tracks very nicely. One comment for kneelers - the Trillium's low profile means there isn’t a lot of clearance under the seat even with the short hangers. I’ve got size 11 1/2 feet and was wearing low profile Chota Mukluks and I still had to twist my feet sideways to get them under the leading edge. I’m not concerned about entrapment (been in the pool with the boat and can easily get out), but it can make a longer duration paddle hard on the ankles. Got most of the way to Amesbury when I decided to change position from kneeling to off leg extended, paddle side leg folded under the seat. Worked well and took some of the pressure off the folded leg by giving a bit more room to stretch the foot out. I also switched from the sneak paddle to the Dri-Ki otter tail. The sneak paddle has a varnished shaft and that, combined with no callouses from not being on the water for most of the winter, meant I had developed a small rub spot on the inside of my shaft (right) hand thumb. The Dri-Ki is oiled and doesn’t have the same tendency to create hot spots. Did the first leg to Amesbury boat launch in about an hour and a quarter, including position shifts and a bit of playing in the eddy behind one of the Rocks Bridge supports. Decided to press on to Cashman Park, so paused to let Donna know before moving on. The second leg of the trip was more “interesting”. The wind picked up, blowing straight upriver, and the river narrowed at the I95 and the Chain Bridge. Water got swirly with boils and picked up a speed as it was squeezed. I chose to stay in the channel on river right - I wanted to look at the old shipyard boat ramps on the southwest (Newburyport) side of Carr Island. Not necessarily the best decision of the day. No danger of capsize, but river right side of Carr Island is also the tightest squeeze for the main flow of the river and with the wind blowing at what I later found out was up to 20 mph there was a fair amount of wind direction v. water flow confusion going on that added small chop to the swirling water. I did mishandle an eddyline in the gap between Deer and Eagle Islands and briefly ended up heading down river backwards, but was able to leverage another line to get back to where I was facing the same direction I was heading in. Once past Eagle, I snugged up to the shore of Carr Island, which provided some wind shelter, so from that point it was mostly just digging in to make the last bit. I switched paddles again, to the Dri-Ki beavertail for a bit more grip and slogged on down to the boat ramp at Cashman Park. The second, shorter leg took just about as much time as the longer first leg and the paddling was more “interesting” - again, nothing dangerous, Class 0 water, but I”m still learning eddy management, so it was a nice short tutorial courtesy of the Merrimack and the wind. Overall, a good first day of Spring paddle - helped to knock some of the rust off and provided a bit more learning - all that one could ask for. Respectfully submitted Keith
  3. kattenbo

    Astral Brewer water shoes...

    Here's a picture of the Brewers at the start of today's paddle - wearing wool socks, dry suit (Stholquist Swift - nice) booties. Fit very comfortably.
  4. kattenbo

    NDK Explorer Kayaks

    2010 - 2012 Explorers don't really qualify as old models - I had a 1996 "Romany Explorer" (bought new) up until last year when the weight (70 lbs+ with the keel strip, etc. I added) just got to be too much. Fun fact: I got a kick when a younger paddler asked me if I had photoshopped the name decal on the boat - he'd only ever seen Romany and Explorer as separate names - in 1996 there was the Romany and the Romany Explorer. The basic hull and cockpit have remained unchanged. The skeg has changed a couple of times - oldest models had an external skeg control line (not cable) that ran along the deck and down to the skeg. The skeg bungee was also externally accessible. I still think it was a great approach - simple, straight forward and it made the entire skeg mechanism was field repairable. There are now HV and LV versions which do vary slightly in length, width and depth. They are heavy lay ups, even now. Which makes sense if you've ever seen what's considered a "sand" beach in the UK. I loved mine because it didn't need any babying - made a great ice breaker. If you're looking for a new boat, we've got a couple at the shop (Newbury Kayak and Canoe) (and a 3 piece take apart model on display). We don't have any used boats in stock, but there are other shops around that do as well as private sellers.
  5. kattenbo

    Astral Brewer water shoes...

    I've got a pair of Brewers to wear at the shop (Newbury Kayak and Canoe) when I started there in 2016. Needed something for both the waterfront and in the shop and they've worked out great. Can wade right in and then walk out and by the time I get to the shop they not only are drained by partially dry. Also, the quick drain features mean that a lot less water is carried into the boats and the low profile helps me fit my good sized feet into a lot of different boats. I normally wear an 11.5 and went a half size up to a 12 and the length was fine. But milage may vary depending on the particulars of your feet. I did find the width tight for the first season, but they loosened up and are now really comfortable. I'd suggest you give Astral a call direct - every time I did they were very friendly and helpful - even spoke to Spencer the guy in the video when he picked up the phone. I now also have a pair of Astral Porters, not for any good reason, just liked the look. - also in a 12. I've worn both in kayaks and canoes.
  6. kattenbo


    If you like the idea of pogies and want to paddle in colder waters, then a combination of pogies for general protection and thin gloves for the occasional (and hopefully short, you are paddling with a group, right?) swims can work well. NRS Hydroskins are a pair of 0.5 mil neoprene + titanium gloves that are really warm given how thin they are, and the thin-ness helps with deck lines and other things that require a bit of dexterity. They also stuff down small - I carry a pair in my PFD pocket year round, along with my beanie, 'cause that way I always have them. Come into the shop (Newbury Kayak and Canoe) to try a pair. Keith
  7. kattenbo

    NSPN Pool Session - 01.27.2019 - Haverhill Pool

    You did indeed. Good to be back.
  8. kattenbo

    NSPN Pool Session - 01.27.2019 - Haverhill Pool

    Hi Dan - good comment. It really helps with a kayak, where a one hand lift is doable. I'll try to see if it works with a canoe - I don't think the issue will be so much the one bladed paddle - as you point out if you choke up to the point you're essentially holding just above the blade, you'd probably get some support. Where I think the challenge would be for me is to control the canoe with one hand while pushing the paddle down with the other. In my first session I needed both hands to keep the canoe from rolling prematurely and scooping water. I'll give it a shot. I have seen another approach to emptying that I'm also going to try. Could be fun to watch 😀.
  9. kattenbo

    Ready to secede?

    Find a copy of the "2019 Annual Paddling Buyers Guide" (we've got'em at the shop), go to the "Kayaking Trends" article and sneak a read of Neil Schulman's prediction on the bottom right of page 204. Then start saving your hatch covers. (The whole mag is worth a read, but Neil's prediction is spot on). Keith
  10. Pool session as a trip report? Well, why not - it’s a boat, in water, moving. I haven’t been to an NSPN Pool Session since the old days when Bob Burnett was a legitimate threat to world peace (or at least to the stability of his fellow paddlers) and we were in the double pool (anyone remember that?). I showed up at the pool in Haverhill about 10:30 for the 11:00 session in order to take a look around. Nice facility with an easy access route to get the boats from the car to the water. Rob showed up and we took boats (I had two) off the cars and carried them into the foyer so they’d be ready to go as soon as the pool cleared. At 11am we moved in and finished getting ready to hit the water. With just the two of us there was plenty of room. My focus for the session was solo self rescue - emptying an upside down flooded boat and successfully re-entering without assistance. The description of the technique is pretty straightforward: break the airlock on the cockpit, empty as much water as possible, flip the boat (these two steps can be done in either order), then re-entering the boat without flooding it again, all while floating in deep enough water that you can’t touch the bottom. Eezzee-peezee. Right. Breaking the airlock: generally done by rocking the boat to one side until one edge of the cockpit rim is out of the water. One challenge is to make sure the airlock isn’t re-established as you maneuver to either flip or empty the boat. If you’re starting with flipping the boat then emptying it, you can simply continue to rotate the boat on it’s long axis. Depending on the cockpit size and shape and on the amount of floatation in the boat, even a slow roll will normally get some of the water out, but not necessarily a lot. You can then re-enter a flooded boat, but all of the water in the boat makes it very unstable (i.e hard to get back in), and you’re then in for a ton of fun pumping out. You can pump out, then reenter, but if you think pumping is a lotta fun from inside the cockpit, wait until you try it from the outside. Alternatively, you can empty most of the water as part of flipping the boat. This involves breaking the airlock with a slight rotation, picking up the nose (bow) of the boat to get the whole cockpit out of the water while it’s still mostly upside down, and then rotating the boat before you let the bow back down. Again, eezee-peezee. Well, it would be if you could touch bottom. Which you can’t. Two possible approaches, both of which are dependent on a good leg kick. Low lift, slow roll: This is where you tread water, lift the bow to break the airlock and then rotate the boat and water drains from the cockpit. Advantage is that you don’t have to get the entire cockpit out of the water, disadvantage is that if the cockpit isn’t completely clear, it will retain a fair amount of water. The cockpit stays partially flooded with either associated pumping pain or stability issues on re-entry. High lift, fast roll: This is a more explosive move, dependent on a strong supporting kick. It’s essential that you start by breaking the airlock. Once the airlock is broken, it takes a strong kick and hard lift to get the entire cockpit clear of the water, then a quick flip to avoid scooping water back into the boat. If you’re successful, you’ll end up with a reasonably dry, upright boat ready for you to re-enter. I opted to work on the (sorta) high lift, fast roll approach. Started with the lift. After capsizing the boat (harder that you might think), swam to the bow, floated on my back, rocked the boat to one side to break the airlock, and started to lift - and promptly submerged. No surprise - 17+ lbs of flotation in a PFD (+plus natural and wetsuit) isn’t enough to support even a lightweight boat without treading water. Tried again, this time while actively treading water - got most of the cockpit clear of the water, but dropped the lower edge into the water as I started the flip - so while the boat did turn over, it mostly filled back up. This is where I think I should stop and point out that the boat I was working with is a 14’6”, 29.5lb Northstar Trillium solo canoe (yeah, Rob was surprised too). Since it’s an open boat, you have to really get most of the boat out of the water to avoid picking up a lot of water during the flip. It’s actually not a bad vessel to practice with - if you can get a canoe empty, a kayak is a snap. After a bit of practice I found I could tread water, break the air gap, lift the bow and then hitch the boat along until better than 2/3rds of the hull was out of the water. At that point a successful flip was possible. For kayakers: the stern bulkhead and hatch turn the entire stern area into an air chamber, so emptying the cockpit really is pretty easy. For canoeists: using float bags in the bow and stern to supplement any built in air chambers would simulate the kayakers bulkheads and make this a lot easier. Once the boat was upright, it was time for reentry. Basic steps are the same regardless of boat type: get yourself up on the boat in a balanced position, maneuver to drop your butt into the cockpit, work your way into a paddling position, emptying any excess water, settle and go. For kayakers, you can come up over the side just behind the cockpit, balance, get first one leg then the other into the cockpit while still face down, slide into to the point where your butt is over the seat, then turn over. This works more easily if you have some kind of outrigger (like a paddle float). Kayakers can also come up over the stern (cowboy style) staying low with legs in the water, work up to the cockpit, drop butt, pull your legs in, settle, pump and go. So folks find this approach much easier - others, not so much. There are three challenges with a canoe: (1) the boat sits much higher in the water than a kayak; (2) the “cockpit” is open the entire length of the gunwale, making it harder to avoid refilling during re-entry (watch how much of the stern of a kayak is underwater during a cowboy re-entry); and (3) the width of the boat means a longer reach across to get a grip to pull yourself back in. What I found to be successful with my canoe on that day in the pool was to line up closer to the stern than the bow (so I wasn’t reaching across the full width of the boat), use one hand on the near side gunwale, pull it down, setting the boat up on edge, then grabbing the far side gunwale and stabilizing in that position for a minute. Next was to swim the bottom half of me up to the surface, and then a quick lunge to get the top part of my body up to my thighs up and over the canoe. If i could get so my head and neck were over the far side and my thighs were on the near side gunwale, I could balance with the gunwale out of the water. From there it was a matter of edging a bit further in to center, then rolling over and dropping my butt to the bottom of the boat. That’s a really stable position, and in a canoe you have lots of room to work yourself back into a paddling position. By the end of the session I had managed five successful re-entries. I also found that with the Trillium’s amazing secondary stability I could rest sitting sideways with the boat on its edge, gunwale touching the water, legs dangling over the side and just hang out - pretty cool. I’ll be back for the next Sunday pool session. And if you haven’t been to a session yet, sign up for one - it’s a great place to work on your skills in warm water with (usually) plenty of helpful folks around.
  11. Hi Rob et al - was just looking at the Sunday pool session in March (25th). Calendar entry shows it as running from 11am to 3pm. Longer general pool session write up says Sundays are 11am to 1pm (like the one I was just at). Just thought I'd mention.
  12. So...what can you expect at the Symposium? Well, there are a lot of different ways to paddle (anything) - here's pictures of just a few... For committed double blade-ers - look at top left (FYI, I placed just second behind a tandem, paddling a solo canoe with a double paddle - best of both worlds). Top right - using a long pole - great way to get a good view. Middle left - that's the infamous Rock-man - can you say secondary stability? The rest are just pretty.
  13. Great - probably saw you there. Are you going again?
  14. Why am I posting about a Canoe Symposium in an NSPN forum? Bunch of reasons: Bunch of folks (like me) paddle more than one type of craft. Folks are curious, like to try something different (the symposium site provides boats if you don't have one, no charge) The "C" in BCU stands for Canoe - and that august body thinks skills learned in "Canadians" are valuable for folks in closed decked boats. And it's true It's a fun, family oriented event with good people, good food in a great location. They have dedicated kids programming through out the event so parents can go to workshops too. I've been twice - had a lot fo fun, learned a lot etc. Here's a link to the event web site - going to be a good program this year: http://www.mainecanoesymposium.org Take a look - give it a try
  15. kattenbo

    Unsafe VHF Design

    Hi man - been a while. What make model is the VHF you're posting about. Keith