Friday, April 30, 2010

All According to Plan . . .

The new paddle is progressing nicely. I've managed to afix the two maple tips and do a rudimentary shaping. So far, everything is going according plan. The new paddle is on its way to being both light and strong and, hopefully, a real looker. I'm now to the point where I need to do the final marking of the blades. For those measure-bators, the paddle is now at 41.25 oz in its very rough shape. That's on par with most of my sub 30oz paddles I've made in the past - woohoo!! I'm excited about doing the final shaping to see how the whole thing turns out!!.

One of my major obstacles to paddle-making is my lack of "facilities" I work out of a very small woodshed - so small that I can't turn a paddle around in it!. It has no heat and the power is provided by a 100 ft cord!! I have an antiquated workbench with a warped top that my Dad bought about 30 years ago. Still, I manage to produce nice paddles thus proving that, it does not take equipment and space to produce paddles - just the will to do it!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gettin' Tipsy!!!

I've decided to try a new way of toughening up the tips on my paddles. I'm going to make them (the tips)from solid maple. My first attempt at doing this involved the use of wood biscuits - a wonderful invention often used in furniture making. I'm not going to go into detail about them here but just Google "Wood Biscuits" and you'll see what I'm talking about. To make a long story short, the biscuits did not work well in my last paddle attempt - see my earlier entry - so I'm trying something different this time. I've decided to run the outside maple laminations up the side of each tip. This will add a fair amount more gluing surface and the outside laminations will also provide extra support to the tip join. I'm very optimistic about this paddle. The only thing is that it took a long time to make the tight joins and it starting to p!ss me off. Luckily it turned out well on the first tip so I now have the enthusiasm to complete the second. But that's for another night!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in!!

The title of this entry is a line from The Godfather III. How does it apply to kayaking, you ask? Well, last weekend I offered to attend a session for those wishing to make their own laminated Greenland paddles. I've made a number in the past and, so I thought, was happy with my current paddle. After seeing Dean and Stan's new paddles take life on Saturday, I felt the urge to build yet another. Hence the title of this blog entry!!

A few months ago I started a paddle that was both very stiff/strong yet incredibly light. It was a laminated paddle made from spruce, Western Red Cedar and maple. I hollowed out the loom and added maple tips and blade edges for protection. Things were progressing fine until I realized that I made an error in marking out the shape and ended up screwing up the whole thing!! It never made it past the initial sanding phase!!!

Here's a picture of the damage. (The backdrop for this image is my dog's bed (Don't ask) and that's why it's so hairy and fuzzy.)

After watching the guys work on their paddles, the idea began to formulate - I want to try that last design just one more time because I know I can get it right!! Fast forward to today (Monday) and after a trip to the local Home Depot, I'm now face and eyes into another paddle!

I managed to find a piece of 2x6x12 Western Red Cedar that was not only blemish free BUT dry as a bone as well AND with near-perfect grain. What a find!! I'll have enough for at least two paddles from this one as there is so little wastage!!

So far tonight, I've cut the spruce centre lamination, plus the two smaller cedars as well. I hollowed out the centre lamination loom as per the image below and glued the three strips together. That's enough for now!!

The spruce centre lamination with, what I've decided to call "speed holes" that reduce the overall paddle weight.

For my first number of laminated paddles I used Interlux Epiglass epoxy. My problem is that I don't have a heated workshop so any gluing needs to be done in the comfort of my living space. Epoxy is not the best thing to be mixing and curing in your kitchen or living room. I did some research and came up with an alternative that is working great for me so far. I've switched over to Elmer's Waterproof Glue. It's a PVA adhesive very similar to the "white glue" we've all come to know and love. Unlike epoxy or polyurethanes, it cleans up with water (just like the stuff we used in primary school) Get it on your hands? No worries just wipe if off in your work pants!! Drip it on the floor? Wipe it up with a wet rag. And no smell whatsoever. High initial tack. Clamp for only and hour or so. 24 hrs for full strength. And ANSI Type 1 water resistant to boot. Did I mention that a 473 mil bottle (enough to do at least two paddles) only costs about 10.00. Hooked on Elmer's, works for me!!!

Applying the glue around the "speed holes"

The whole assembly is drying right beside me on the living room floor - right between the dog's dish and the rabbit's cage and none are the worse for wear because of it. No fuss, no muss and no funky and obnoxious odors to contend with. All is right with the world!!!

I'm not sure how much I'll get done tomorrow night. Tuesday's our night at the pool and I generally don't get home until 11:30 - although that has not stopped me from doing some nocturnal paddle work in the past!!!

We shall see what we shall see!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's a hard rain gonna fall!!!

Make no mistake about it, we've been hit with some pretty heavy rain over the past few weeks. One of the spots that we like to frequent as paddlers here is St. Philip's gut. For those unfamiliar with the area, a river runs out through a channel created by two breakwaters (jetties) and out into the ocean. It's what I would call a moderately flowing river - the water inside the breakwater is generally much less salty than the outside.

I managed to capture underwater images on both the 8th of April and the 22nd. These shots were taken approximately 100-200 feet off the seaward end of the jetty. Just prior to the 22nd, we had a lot of rain and the river was quite swollen, pushing a lot of fresh water out into the bay. The salt water on the 8th was noticeably clearer and, I'll be the first to admit, warmer than that of the 22nd. Why because the fresh water run off from the river had a major impact on the salt water in the area. Fresh water is much colder than salt at this time of year (go figure) and when the two mix, the water has tendency to get mirky!!

Have a look at these two images. Can you tell the difference - eventhough they were taken in the exact same location??

Friday, April 23, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect . . . In All Things!!!

Last night (Thursday) was the second "practice" session we've had this season. We initially started them up again on April 8th but had to miss last week's due to, shall we say, inclement weather.

A total of 10 paddlers made it out for an evening of rescues, rolling and just general socializing - as we often do when on the water!! It was good night for it. There was no wind and a slow rolling swell. A little more wave action would've made it a little more interesting but it's still only April so there's lot's of time to practice in "conditions".

Dean doing a scramble

Aquaman, aka Clyde, up from the deeps, i.e., just finishing a roll!

Of course there was more than paddle practice going on. I had my camera with me and I'm still trying to get the hang of taking pictures with my gloves on. My gloves are like penguin flippers so fine finger work is impossible. I have a tendency to jab at the buttons until I hit the right one. The problem last night is that I hit a button that accidentally bumped the ISO up to 800!! My camera is not known for its ability to handle noise at higher ISOs so many of my pictures came out quite grainy. Live and learn I guess!!

A somewhat grainy shot of Dean apparently levitating while he's actually sitting on Brian's boat!!

Pictures can be deceiving in other ways as well. Due to the objective natures of the exposure controls on a camera, it can often "interpret" a scene as it deems fit. Below is a shot taken into the sun. The camera detected the brightness of the sun and underexposed the rest of the image to compensate. The effect is a dark and foreboding shot that in reality should be a bright anf "cheerful" one!

In the end, it's all about getting out for some exercise, refining skills and just chewing the fat with likeminded, i.e., obsessed, paddlers.

Cheers all to Brian, Neville, Dean, Eugene, Ralph, Des, Clyde, Tony and Dennis, our most recent addition to the Kayak Brother/Sisterhood

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Path of the Paddle

In 1979, at the age of 13, I designed and built a 13 ft skin on frame kayak. It was a rather crude craft with plywood frames, pine stringers and a painted canvas skin. Having built the boat I needed something to propel it. I promptly made a paddle out of plywood and a piece of handrail. Somehow or other, this paddle still remains in existence. My children found it somewhere and it was left outside for a number of years - lying on the ground in the woods behind my house. I rescued it last fall and it now has safe haven in my shed. I guess the reason I took pity on this poor thing is because it was the first paddle I ever made and, now that I've crafted a number of increasingly complex paddles, this one brings me back to where it all started some 30+ years ago!! I've made a promise to myself that I will take it out one day and actually try paddling AND rolling with it - just to see if it can be done and to bring everything full circle!!

Last year, after coming back to paddling after a very lengthy hiatus, I started making paddles again - and this time with a vengeance!! In the above image I've numbered each paddle:

1. First paddle ever made (by me). 1979. Wooden handrail with 1/2 plywood blades fastened by screws.

2. First Greenland paddle. 2009. Solid spruce.

3. First laminated cedar Greenland paddle. 2009.

4. First solid cedar Greenland paddle. 2010. (Currently on loan to a fellow paddler.)*

5. First Greenland "Storm paddle" Solid cedar. 2010.* **

6. Greenland paddle. Solid spruce Shorter paddle for other "less tall" family members and friends to use.2010*

7. First hollow loom Greenland paddle. Laminated cedar. Incredibly light at 25oz. 2010* **

8. Hollow loom Greenland paddle. Laminated spruce, cedar and aspen. 27oz. 2010* **

9. Hollow loom/blade Greenland paddle. Laminated spruce and cedar with maple tips and blade edges. A fine example of pushing the envelop too far! One blade broke during the construction and not, luckily, while in actual use. Had the potential to be a beautiful paddle!!

* Paddles that I have designated as Black Band Paddles which are distinguished by their black band of reflective tape near the tips.

** Tips are coated with a tinted epoxy.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yakkin' about . . . Qs

There are so many people out there ranting on about recycling but, then again, buy a new BBQ as soon as the venturi, i.e., burner, rusts out!!! My "q" is about 4 years old and the venturi and flavour bar, i.e., stainless steel plate over the burner, were shot. What to do, what to do?

The rest of the unit was fine - the cast aluminum body was fine (as they all are regardless of age), the valves and controls were fine and the side burner even worked. Why should I even consider buying a new BBQ?? Everybody seems to balk at the price of the replacement venturi. Mine came to 50.00 taxes in. Not a big deal seeing that the previous one one lasted 4 years!!! Case in point, when I was looking for my new venturi, a man came up along side me and pointed to his wife and said "See the cost of that (it was 39.00), now look at the cost of a new BBQ (it was 199.00)" His attitude was why pay 40 bucks for a replacement part when you can get a whole new unit for 200?? Where, I ask, is the logic in this!!!

As for me, I popped the replacement venturi in with no problem. As for the flavour bar (and here's the kicker) - I had a road sign (Detour) kicking around in my yard for years (my son picked it up somewhere). It's a very heavy gauge aluminum and perfect for a new flavour bar. Badda boom badda bing, fifteen minutes later I have a perfectly functioning BBQ again. Total cost 50 bucks - or 56 bucks if I go whole hog and slap a new coat of heat resistant paint on it!!!

Happy Qing

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The PVC Chronicles - Chapter The Second

A while back there was discussion on our club news group about the hazards of paddling in very cold weather. One of the topics revolved about the chances of your pump freezing up and becoming inoperable. Suggestions were made to place the pump inside the boat and, hence, out of the elements.

The following is a pump mount that I came up with that using a 3" suction cup (with 1/4" mounting bolt) and a three inch piece of 2" PVC pipe. Simply cut enough out of the pipe lengthwise to ensure a solid grip on your pump body. I rounded the edges for easier clipping in of the pump as well as to remove any sharp edges that may try to hook your legs as you beat a hasty exit.

I had to cut a portion off the foam on my pump but no big deal. I also put a bit of epoxy on the bolt threads and between the cup and the pipe - simply because I tend to overthink and over build things!! Sorry for no "in boat" shots - I tried but they did not want to come out right. Instead, I've got an "on the wall" shot!!!

This mount has been pool-tested with success. I actually forgot it was there for the whole session. A quick lick of black satin paint and we're ready to go!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eyes Wide Shut . . .

When I first started to roll (Oct 2009), it was in the heavily chlorinated water of the local pool. At first I was having a bit of a problem because I really wanted to follow the paddle with my eyes but I had a hard time opening them under water!! I bought a face mask. Once I started using the mask, I would focus on following the paddle with my eyes and I found it easier to keep my head down and to complete the roll.

Then I decided that a mask was not really all that cool and that if I ever capsized at sea, the chances of me having on a mask were slim to none. I bought a pair of goggles and a nose plug. While not as watertight as the mask, they did afford some protection from the chlorine!! This setup also FELT a little more like what it may be if I capsized in open, i.e., salt water.

While the chlorinated water hurts my eyes and nose, the frigid salt water did not. I decided that when I roll in salt water, I would not wear my goggles at all. (I practiced a few times without the nose plug but figured the sinus rinse really wasn't worth it. (See my blog's main image to see the salt water gushing from my nose after a roll))

Last night in the pool, the rubber gasket gave out on my goggles. It was at this point that I decided that I'd no longer use any eye protection while in the pool. I also decided that from this point all rolls will be conducted with my eyes closed. Well, that's the way it's going to be in the event of a capsize and I might as well get used to it now!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Necessity (or cheapness) is the Mother of Invention . . .

For those of you who know me, you also know that I have some strange addiction to making things out of PVC pipes/fittings. (I guess I should've been a plumber rather than a librarian but I digress!!)
Well, a few weeks back I bought a new camera to take with me while paddling. I've always been intrigued by handsfree videos so I figured I'd try to make my own deck mount. Guess what was my first material of choice? Yipper, CPVC pipe (the smaller beige variety) which is readily available from your local hardware store. Coupled with a 3" suction cup, a set of chair leg protectors, misc nuts, bolts and washer (see image below) and you're good to go!!

Put them altogether (in this case I used the head from an old table top tripod) and you have this:

If you don't have a tripod head, you can make one for mere pennies using a 3/4" CPVC coupling, a 1/2" CPVC cap, two washers, two nuts and a short piece of 1/4" coarse threaded rod. Here's the final result

The beauty of using the CVPC system is that there is myriad of confgurations (ooohh big words) available. Here's just one example:

I've left many of my connections loose (unglued) but have used pins to hold them together. That way they are sturdy, safe and easily changed.
Sorry about there being no detailed instructions. I'm waiting to hear back from my lawyer re the patent. Just kidding of course. If there is anything that you'd like me to expand upon, just drop a message.
Stay tuned for more PVC adventures. As a teaser, I've just put PVC tips on my Greenland paddle and I'm in the process of testing a PVC under deck pump holder. Pretty exciting, what?

Sunday, April 11, 2010


After diligently watching the blogs of fellow kayakers AND after buying my first waterproof camera, i.e., kayak-safe, I've decided to create my own blog.

Will this blog be any different than the scads of others? That remains to be seen. Still, we all come to paddling with different experiences and expectations. It is these that give us our uniqueness!! (Not bad!! Only two paragraphs into this blog and already I'm waxing philosophical)

This is an open invitation to come to my blog, stay a while, drop a message if you feel so inclined and, as they said in the Beverly Hillbillys, "Y'all come back now, ya hear?"