I’ve been communicating with a seller who’s got a Seavivor Greenland Solo with one broken part. Sent the photo to the folks at Longhaul Folding Kayaks and they opine the repair can be effected at a reasonable price. I’ve asked for some additional photos before making an offer. And, of course, that’s going to be contingent upon my wife’s willingness to go along with my justification for the expense.
With the 2003 Anniversary Edition Folbot Aleut I bought in late June, I drove to McMinnville again to float the Barren Fork River from Smooth Rapids to the VFW lodge. My son and I paddled that length of river in our Grumman canoe. Longer ago than that, after a rainy week, I’d taken the Aleut to Smooth Rapids only to be advised against putting in there by the guy in charge that day d/t debris, etc.
In late September, I finally got back to Smooth Rapids with the Aleut, but by then we’d had about no appreciable rain on the Upper Cumberland Plateau for about two weeks, and I had some concerns about low water level. Still, hypalon’s supposed to be a tough material for hullskins, and I numerous times dragged a 75# wood-framed solo kayak with PVC hull over rocks and fallen trees and heaven knows what crud may choke a laughably small river’s channel. Without mishap.
During my late September paddle/float down the Barren Form & Collins rivers, I had reason to regret leaving a handy painter in the car. Two or three times I my kayak hung on rocks and one time I just got out and pulled the Aleut, wagon-like, behind me. I started writing this post about a month ago, but I’d already prepped the snapshots, so here they are:
Bow and stern sections, respectively, with NRS medium float bags. Inflated, they take up most of bow and stern sections under the deck. Pretty good displacement for the 12′ Aleut, I’d guess.
That’s the Smooth Rapids restaurant, office, store up there on the hillside. Restaurant seating is available up there on the deck. You can drive down near the put in, then back up the hill to a parking lot out of frame to the building’s left.
That’s how I got the Folbot’s seatback to stay in place. I’ve got the seatback’s tension pretty high and lean forward when paddling. Sort of like a backband, but not quite. Just making due with what I’ve got.
That’s the first kayak paddle I ever bought – probably close to my own age, it’s about 240 cm in length and is a Klepper paddle. I tried it out on this river float trip and found it far superior for the purpose than my Eric Renshaw Greenland style paddle that’s a lot shorter. Also, the Klepper paddle’s got metal riveted to the blades’ edges which proved helpful this day. I think in future this is the paddle I’ll be using with the Aleut at least until I get a longer Greenland paddle. I think I mentioned in a previous post about smashing fingernails against the Aleut’s deckline D-rings using the shorter paddle; not a problem with the Klepper paddle.
I wish I’d had time to get out and paddle a Franklin County slough, today, but instead dropped off the Jamis for some repairs and the Sprite frame for headset. Stopped by a gun store and range where I spoke with a fellow I haven’t seen in several years, entered a drawing for a “tactical” shotgun. If I win it, I’ll review it here.
Although in anything but a hurry, I’ve spoken with the owner of another Seavivor for sale. This kayak’s in need of a repair and I have not yet seen photos. I was able to get some longerons made for the Pionier I owned a few years back, and successfully dealt with tears on my Pouch solo’s deck closure arrangement.
I was able Monday at lunch to speak with the Seavivor’s owner by telephone. He’d already sent photographs by email. The kayak’s beautiful, but at present I cannot justify spending what the Seavivor’s doubtless worth. Still, it was certainly worthwhile to meet, however briefly and by telephone, another folding kayaker.
Back at my desk, I found myself effortlessly and efficiently going about my work-related tasks – paperwork associated with a long, structured interview conducted during the morning hours. In that work, I experienced a sense of inner peace which came as a surprise when I noticed it. Contentment for the time being and living reasonably, well within my means.
I’m thinking about getting another kayak. This, the holy grail of American made kayaks, a Seavivor Greenland Solo. I’m very interested. The kayak’s long at 17’4″, and reputedly fast. It has no sponsons which, I think, is a bonus in terms of skin fit, weight, handling. The Seavivor’s located a long way off, which is logistically maybe a problem. Also, it’ll be heavy compared to my Folbot Aleut, but I may still be strong enough to manage its weight. Anyhow, I want to go far and go fast on the water.
A few things I’ve learned about myself and folding kayaks are: I like to keep them put-together most of the time; my driveway and yard are lousy environments for storing a folding kayak assembled; I tend to dislike assembling at the put-in even when that makes better logistical and kayak-care sense.
My experience with the RZ96 has informed me that the squirrels in my neighborhood pose a hazard to any stationary thing softer than their teeth. My experience with 450s has informed me, to my shame, that even covered, in the yard moisture will wreck wood parts.
The two kayaks I currently own are safely stored disassembled in their bags. I have room for a third. I DARE the local squirrels to take their teeth to my aluminum canoe, which does stay out in the yard.
Last Sunday, my son and I skipped church and floated the Barren Fork River through McMinnville in Warren County. We put in at Smooth Rapids (who shuttled us back for about $11.00) and took out at a concrete ramp in the VFW parking lot – a downstream journey of about six miles. Another father and son team paddled with us; the kids threw rocks in the water, talked, went for a swim, shared snacks. After we got back to the outfitters and put the canoe back on the Cross Country, we had a pretty good lunch at the restaurant the outfitter operates overlooking the riverside launch point. Here are some pictures – I’ll add a few more later as I noticed none of those I’ve posted below are particularly good representations of the river as seen while paddling downstream.
We saw at least three guys paddling sit-on-top purpose designed fishing kayaks not too far downstream from Smooth Rapids put in, and tried to keep our noise to a minimum until we got past. Much later on, we saw three or four guys in what looked like an Oregon drift-boat (only with an outboard motor) – they were also fishing.
We saw numerous turtles along our route sunning themselves on logs.
Some rocky cliff faces with undercuts, as above, in many places to our left as we paddled downstream.
A lot of this kind of water grass we saw during the entirety of our trip downstream.
Got out of the canoes here so the kids could swim and throw rocks into the water. It was here that we picked up a number of rocks, and piled them in the boats so the boys could throw them when we continued. Easy fun, and I was happy to note they didn’t throw them at each other.
Here’s where the Collins River meets the Barren Fork River. On the map, the stream’s marked Collins River past this point.
This point is not too far from the VFW parking lot take out.
Did I mention the Folbot Aleut is slow compared to the kayaks I’ve been used to? It is. Back when I was paddling every available free day I had, was used to traveling fast and a lot farther. This weekend, I’d planned to paddle the river that runs alongside McMinnville, Tennessee, putting in at Smooth Rapids and having them shuttle me back from the VFW lodge – only about 8 miles and maybe four hours, but downstream so the Aleut’s speed limitations wouldn’t bug me as much.
NOAA indicated only 30% of thunderstorms which meant, to me, 70% chance of no thunderstorms. Weather radar imagery was clear. I attached the Folbot to my car’s top, put my overpreparedness gear in a large bag and that bag in the car and set out. You’ll notice what I’d failed to do before driving 30-odd miles – didn’t call the outfitter to make sure they were operating.
The fellow running the place asked, “Are you sure?”
“Why would I need to be sure about this?”
“The river’s at flood stage – we’ve had storms all week.”
“Yeah, the weather has been crap.”
“Whenever we have storms here, we get trees falling across the river.” He went on to mention that two or three people had died during the past couple of months in the area – a kayaker on that stretch of river a couple of weeks ago when his boat capsized caught in a strainer and he panicked, and two swimmers drowned at Rock Island. He said he had no way to tell whether the water was passable. Said the water was about three feet above normal level.
“Would you do it?”
“No,” he said, “and I’ve (paddled those eight miles) a hundred times.”
So, I left and went in search of some other water to paddle. On the way back to I-24, I looked for an access point to Womack Lake, but finding none, I decided to put in at Prairie Plains Road Bridge, on the Elk River in maybe Coffee County, and drove out there.
This time, I’d remembered to take my Magellan Cyclo 505 to measure progress in addition to what my wife considers my usual over-prparedness. It might have been about 11:00 a.m. when I arrived at the put-in. No one else was there, and during my entire paddle upstream and most of my paddle downstream past where I’d launched, I saw no one else on the water.
The furthest point on this image shows where I found a place to eat lunch. The 505 unit shared a PFD pocket with my camera and it’s touchscreen apparently got bumped and it shut itself off. I didn’t get much past this point after eating. A ways into my paddle back downstream I again looked at the unit and recorded part of the downstream paddle.
I did see about 30 turtles sunning themselves on logs, one large snake, also sunning on a log, and three otters swimming fast downstream while I ate my lunch. A few great blue herons, numerous other birds I couldn’t identify, and a flock of swallows swarming around the bridge as I came back downstream.
A few pictures with brief descriptions from start to finish:
Not far upstream from Prairie Plains Road Bridge. It turned out not to be as jammed up with broken trees as it looks here.
So, as I was paddling by I saw what looked like an iguana sunning itself on a log. When I got closer, I saw it was instead a snake curled up, sunning itself on a log. I snapped the picture when I got a little further away using zoom. During the rest of my time on and around the water I remained mindful of the possibility of snakes on over-hanging tree limbs and nearby logs.
This creature landed where you see it and rode with me for about a mile upstream.
My photographic skills and camera failed to capture the bright beauty of these occasional pink flowers I saw from time to time on either bank of the Elk.
Campsis radicans growing on a tree overhead. Also the name of my old Pouch E68 kayak.
The camera got wet; I guess I paddled more vigorously than usual, yesterday.
Here’s where I backed in and ate my lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwich and one of those wafer-cookie bicyclist snacks – before paddling out and turning left. I made maybe two-tenths of a mile more upstream before I turned back. I’d wasted half the day driving to McMinnville and then trying to find access to that small lake. And the current was stronger the farther upstream I paddled.
On the way back downstream, on my right, I explored a flooded creek that’s normally impassible. I got this far and photographed the flooded vista beyond.
Here’re some of the plants growing under the water on that flooded creek.
And here’s the way back out to the Elk.
As someone has noted on a FoldingKayaks.org forum thread, the Folbot Aleut is stable enough you can sit back put your legs up outside the cockpit. Floating back downstream was lot less trouble than paddling upstream. I ate another pbj sandwich and relaxed a bit.
There’s the bridge beyond which is the dirt ramp where I launched a couple of hours previously. I paddled down farther, toward some of the islands at the top of Woods Reservoir, got repeatedly buzzed by a wasp, whack the snot out of the insect with my paddle, turned around and headed back to the car.
And there’s the car with the kayak on top.