Thinking About Another Kayak

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.

Aleut on the Elk River

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.

Magellan Sat Route Photo

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:

Elk R 7-8-17

Not far upstream from Prairie Plains Road Bridge.  It turned out not to be as jammed up with broken trees as it looks here.

Elk River Snake

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.

Winged Visitor

This creature landed where you see it and rode with me for about a mile upstream.

Elk R Local Color

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

Campsis radicans growing on a tree overhead.  Also the name of my old Pouch E68 kayak.

Some Water...

The camera got wet; I guess I paddled more vigorously than usual, yesterday.

Lunch Stop

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.

Flooded Creek

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.

Flooded Creek Water Plants

Here’re some of the plants growing under the water on that flooded creek.

The Way Out

And here’s the way back out to the Elk.

Floating Downstream

As someone has noted on a 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.

Prairie Plains Rd. Bridge

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.

Red Car Blue Boat

And there’s the car with the kayak on top.

Lateen Rig

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time untangling and laying stuff out. What I’ve got is at least one complete Folbot lateen sail rig – four leeboards, two thwarts, one complete and the top half of another mast, a complete sail-frame (dunno what it’s called) and a couple of spare parts (spars?), three sails, two tillers, two plywood Folbot seats, two Folbot Big Glider deck seats (one’s pretty trashed), and one of the smaller ribs to either the Glider or Super, and an ancient vinyl Folbot bag in stately blue and black.

The gentleman who gave me the rigs and oddments said he and his brother had the two Folbots. First his own was stolen, and then that belonging to his brother. The sailing gear, it’s my guess, was kept separately from the boats, but has had no use for them, and was unwilling to discard them.

All the ropes or, um, sheets will have to be replaced. The wing-nuts on the thwarts are seized, but may respond to liquid wrench. One of the thwarts appears designed to fit a Super, which had a gothic-arch cockpit similar to that of the RZ96. That bag needs a cleaning, but appears intact and, with the exception of a giant-sized zipper in need of, I think, paraffin, is in excellent shape, and will make a good hull and gear-bag for the E68.

Maybe some pictures tomorrow if I get home early enough to fool around with this stuff.

Thursday 4 September: I got out in the yard with the Great Blue Heron after work, and monkeyed around with parts, spars, masts, yokes. It took me ten sweaty minutes to get the one remaining wing-nut and bolt off the Super’s yoke or thwart. Then I took two bolts, which came off easily, from the Big Glider thwart, and added them to the former (Super thwart uses three, whereas Glider thwart uses four).

The bow end of the RZ96 cockpit, with the mast partner and its corresponding step, below, forms a somewhat narrower angle – that is, it’s pointier – than the likely bow-tend of the Super’s cockpit. So the the thwart, with its rounded triangular supporting piece below, does not set far enough forward to match the Pouch’s mast partner/mast-step.

I can, however, use the thwart and leeboards, considerably more delicate than same Folbot parts, that came with my Klepper rig. Because it was windy, and because I needed to get the RZ96 disassembled and back in its bags and stored before what appeared to be a rainstorm struck, I didn’t fool around with the sails. Maybe this weekend.

Got The Sail-Rigs

Two of the sail rigs are now in the back of Thursday, the silver 850. I’ll unload them in a minute, and see about getting the back yard mowed. I got a late start yesterday afternoon – Caution-Lady made pizza, and we watched episode three of Petticoat Junction – so only got the front yard mowed. That was great television.

Folbot lateen sail-rig, came with three sails, a Folbot parts bag, four Super seat bottoms, a hiking seat, two tillers, two thwarts, two sets of leeboards.

Folbot lateen sail-rig, came with three sails, a Folbot parts bag, four Super seat bottoms, a hiking seat, two tillers, two thwarts, two sets of leeboards. I stupidly forgot to bring the two rudders...

I arose early this morning, drank coffee, ate oatmeal, washed the cars, cleaned and dressed eight wheels, eight tires, aired them up. By the time I’d finished that, Caution-Lady wanted me to hold little ’76 for awhile. Then it was time to drive down to Chattanooga. I-24 crosses the Elk, and I kept thinking the next bridge was the river. After what seemed a long way, I passed the Elk River sign, and crossed over the point to which I intend to paddle tomorrow.

In Chattanooga, I took the Fourth Avenue exit, left, then right on 23rd, and left again on Dodd. Passed an old house on the hillside to my right with Tara-style columns painted a vulgar red, and a sign which read something like “Yum Yum Good Chinese Food.” Looked disreputable, like something from a Sax Rohmer novel written in a Southern, Raymond-Chandleresque universe through which I happened to be driving. Urban decay and wild, untrimmed growth of hedges, garden plants, indigenous flowering vines.

Because of an unforeseen communication snafu, I had to wait about 40 minutes for the rig’s owner. I sort of enjoyed sitting in the front porch swing at 154, listening to the insects, air smelling of small flowers from the hedge close by, imagining what the neighborhood might have been like when the front entryways had screen doors instead of bars. I learned to paint houses, replace and glaze window panes, on old houses. I like best the ones with raised, cool, concrete porches.

The drive home was pretty uneventful, except near the I-24 West onramp where a tall black transvestite evidently in the throes of drug addiction, mental illness, or both performed a sort of chicken-dance at the occupants of the car ahead of me. I just nodded to the dancer and drove on.

Got around some unconscionably slow drivers outside of Chattanooga, ran into spattering rain that side of Monteagle Mountain (if that’s what it’s really called), got around a brake-rider on a curve coming back down the mountain. By the time I turned at my street, the Sparks were predicting a number of events both probable, then increasingly unlikely. Moscow will march to France, then do the can-can dance…

Folbot Lateen Sail-Rig

Well, tomorrow’s the day I’m scheduled to pick up the sail-rig.  I don’t think I’ll be back in time to do much paddling tomorrow afternoon, and I am thinking about skipping church, Sunday, to paddle.  Seems the days I skip church to paddle are the days the congregation meets for a meal together, which is a pity because I enjoy spending time with the folks at Cafe Church.

Good Monday on Estill Springs Slough

After a brief rest and stretch, back into the stream of things

I’ve taken some family leave to spend time with my lovely wife and squally infant son this week. It’s also allowing me to make up some time paddling.

Most mornings, I arise about 5:15 – 5:30 a.m. I make a pot of coffee. For the past several weeks, I’ve been eating oatmeal (I ran out of yogurt one morning, and thought, “what the hell? I’ll try oatmeal”), so I put the kettle on to boil. Enter to win a boat at Check email. Look at the Internet news.

Babies grunt in their sleep, make odd, unhealthy sounding noises breathing; they smile in their sleep, open and roll their eyes, fuss and then quiet themselves. This morning, my wife brought the baby out for me to feed so she could sleep another hour. Fed him, then held him until he slept, and put him in his bassinet. I love being a father.

Later, once the little guy was sleeping soundly, I got dressed for paddling then remembered I’ve been wanting to order some flotation bags for the E-68. I telephoned Folbot and ordered the oversized Cooper bags. I apologized to Wanda for associating her name with the bags in this thread. The Swift Canoe bags I bought in 2005 from NRS were never entirely satisfactory, and now lose most of their air, one of them after an hour, and the other after two or three hours. For Christmas I got a bag that also provides dry storage, but still doesn’t fill up all the space in the E-68’s stern section.

Estill Springs City Park - a good place to put-in

Saturday afternoon I tried car-topping the E-68 to make sure it was a workable kayak transport solution. This morning I set out for Estill Springs City Park, or, if the water level was too low for that dirt ramp, the parking lot at Estill Springs Church of the Nazarene.

Volvo Meets Poucher-Boote

I haven’t paddled that part Tims Ford/Elk River since last June, with my wife in the RZ 96. At that time, the water was so low we were able to paddle only as far upstream as the farm houses on your left before you reach the bridge at Spring Creek Road.

All that was left of the house that is gone

Today, the water was up to its customary level for this time of year. I was able to paddle past Spring Creek Road, past the ruined footbridge, around the bend, and almost to within sight of the last bridge before the dam at Woods Reservoir. On my way upstream, I passed by the place where there’d been a tumbledown house inhabited by poor white people the last two or three times I’d been past, but this morning I heard the sound of a bulldozer where the house had stood. All I saw of it was a rusty piece of lawn furniture set upon the high bank.

The river’s current became discernible above Spring Creek Road Bridge, and was certainly in evidence at the footbridge piers. Before I got to within sight of the final bridge, however, I found the current too swift, and the rocky bottom too near the kayak’s keel. Turning the rockerless 16.5′ Campsis Radicans in midstream felt like one of those flying loops performed by an antique biplane looks.

A place to stretch where stream once flowed

I paddled back to where a very small creek flows in to the Elk, got out, stretched. To my right a spring gushed forth a small waterfall, and to my left the place where a small stream no longer flows.

On my way back downstream, I explored the sloughs now flooded, which were completely dry last June. I’d paddled them before, but now they are full of the weeds that grew up when the waters receded. I ate my lunch at the “steps” across from Estill Springs City Park. Dunno, but I think the structure is part of the foundation of a former railroad bridge. The Union army probably blew it up during the War Between the States. I can’t find it on any maps. Rain fell, and of course the wind blew against me, as I paddled across the bowl-like portion of river/lake toward the rail and auto bridges that cross the water at the Nazarene church.

The Best Farmhouse

Then I paddled into Tims Ford Lake proper, past the Nazarene church, Taylor Creek branch, and Rock Creek Branch. Found a shiny “Happy Birthday” balloon, popped it, and stashed it with my lunch trash to take home and throw out. On my way back passed the best farmhouse I’ve ever seen – just a plain 1950s brick house beautifully situated. Passed a shack that’s only a year or two old that’s probably worth more than the house I live in.

I’ve uploaded a gallery of photos from today’s paddle. They are in chronological order, and can be found here.  Contrast Good Monday with Rotten Friday

Another Sail Rig…

Instruction-sheet for Folbot\'s famous lateen sail rig.

A gentleman from Louisiana has offered to give me one of these sail-rigs. Hoping to pick it up in May or June. I believe it will work with the RZ-96.

My first boat, a 1967 Folbot Square-Stern that consistently bloodied my hands and took time I didn’t have much of in my attempts to render the craft useful, came with one of these sailing rigs. I pretty much gave the boat away to a fellow who wished to use it at his friends’ North Carolina beach house. He said he had experience with these boats, and wanted it for sailing. A couple of months after taking charge of the ancient behemoth, he sent the following pictures:

I wish I’d kept the boat, if only for the red sail.

Here’s a very interesting page with photos of 17′ Folbot Super (no longer manufactured – Folbot now makes and sells the Greenland II).


Traffic’s way down since I moved over here. One of the better features WordPress offers real public commenting – anyone who wishes to comment on this blog may do so without signing up for a WordPress account. Odd thing is, I keep getting hits over on the Yahoo site even though I’ve posted notice that it’s abandoned. Well, I like abandoned buildings and waste places, so maybe it’s not that strange that others continue to find their way to that place now inhabited only by the screech-owl and the ghost of my online self.

I added a link over there (at right) under Folding Kayaks & Camping that you should look at. It’s the website of a guy over at whose moniker is Flatwater. He’s taken the time to post trip reports, some photos, information about Folbots from the 1970s.

I once had a Folbot Square-Stern I bought from someone at the Folbot Forum for $100.00 plus shipping. My wife hated the boat, and I basically gave it away. The things we do for our wives. Well, I’ll be honest, I’d reached a point where I needed a boat to use, not one to wrack my brains and slash my hands trying to “restore” or at least make useable.

Finally, I just rechecked a web address (but I don’t know if you’ll want to look at it) given me by a guy I met at Gath Baptist Church in McMinnville, Tennessee, on your left as you go from McMinnville to Smithville. He performed a solo at a service my wife and I attended. We’d been invited by my old friend Jeff, who was serving as interim pastor/pulpit-guy. Jeff and I served the people of the State of Tennessee as probation officers for juvenile offenders in Warren, Van Buren, and whatever the hell the name of that county is in which Woodbury is situated.

As I was saying, that web address, which had been inactive for over a year, is now populated with a website. And the guy’s got some of his music available as mp3 downloads. Reminds of 1970s folksy-hippie Christian music. It’s funky, homegrown, and at least one of the songs is horrible, but horrible in a horribly fascinating way. My friend, Jeff, and this guy served together in the United States Marine Corps years ago.

Speaking of hippie Christian music reminds to point to the website of Radio Roswell, who claims that genre as his own.

The baby’s been fussy today, and my wife has a “motherhood can be trying” look on her face. I better get busy with stuff around the house.

No pictures today.