New Folding Kayak

If you’ve noticed, in the Flickr feed at main page’s left side is a photo of a blue folding kayak. That is a Long Haul Mark I solo boat with expedition hull and associated accessories and I should be in possession of it by month’s end. In time to do some Fall paddling before freezing weather sets in. This week, I’ll send my Bombergear Radiator drysuit in for service and should have that back about the time the kayak gets here. So looking forward to time on the water in a single that’s faster than my Aleut. Got a second hand Werner Camano paddle from Ebay a week ago.

Update 10-23-20

The Mark I is scheduled for delivery next Wednesday. 🙂

Last Saturday, 10-17-20, I sent my ancient BomberGear Radiator drysuit to Drysuits Plus, Inc, in Texas for needed repairs. It’d been folded up on a shelf in my bedroom closet for about the past 10 or 11 years. Gaskets both brittle and gooey. I thought the suit would be fine in that temperature controlled environment. I was wrong.

The postal service still hasn’t completed the delivery. Mail-in voting? Yeah, right.


Umbrella Sailing Woods Reservoir

Three Saturdays ago, my youngest nephew and I set out for Woods Reservoir with The Great Blue Heron atop Thursday, my longsuffering Volvo 850 sedan.  We drove out to the boat ramp near the hunter’s check-in station off Old Brick Church Road.  One other vehicle was parked nearby.  We unloaded the kayak, piled our stuff aboard, rigged the rudder, and set off.  We first explored down to the left of the boat-ramp, passing a duck-blind along the shore at our left.  We poked around a bit in the shallows, as far in to the overhanging branches as we could manage, then backed out again.  Paddling back out toward the brick pumping station near base housing, we turned right and explored down another branch, crossed to a courtesy dock intended for the use of DOD personnel where we pulled the boat ashore and sat on the dock to eat our lunch.  My mom, with whom my nephew had been staying, made us sandwiches and I can’t remember what else.  Because we didn’t want the sandwiches to turn, we ate our lunch around 10:00 am.  After lunch, we paddled into the shallows of that branch, too, then back toward the main body of the lake.  As we paddled out, the wind was at our back, so we deployed the golf umbrella and sailed a bit.  The wind was much stronger the further we went, and we sailed out to Little Elder Island, a rookery for every kind of local waterfowl.  Usually the island is covered with thick foliage, but it appeared this year’s drought conditions significantly diminished its growth.  We saw herons, egrets, duck-like birds.  The island didn’t stink as badly as it usually does, but we still probably risked acquiring histoplasmosis paddling as close to it as we did.  Paddling back to the put-in against that strong breeze required real effort.  We ate our generic fig-newton cookies and drank water in a sheltered inlet before paddling back to the boat ramp.  Here are some pictures:






Stuff I’ve Been Thinking About

Blog Posts

My blog posts, in grammar, content, and style, tend to have the character of telephone pad doodles or the things one writes in the margins while taking notes during a meeting, lecture, or while reading a book.  Mistaken is the person who expects this or any blog to conform to scholastic ideals of “penmanship” or rigid notions of propriety.

Stodgy Canoe Guy

One of the things I like about paddling is the woodsy ambiance or vibe associated with paddling.  It’s especially evident in the preoccupation with things like sandpaper, tung oil, needle-and-thread, preparedness, self-reliance and mutual aid.  And the clothes.  At least the clothes I wear – floppy hat, old permanent press work shirt, long baggy shorts, etc.  For the most part cheap, plain-looking clothes that dry quickly.  I’ll leave the bright colors to the guys zipping around on jet-skiis.

Other Drivers on the Road

Something is wrong with the people who drive their cars, outer elbow (because this is probably true in England as well as America) on the window ledge and forearm hanging down against the outside of the car-door, palm backward, resembling to me a large, usually fat, white-bellied dead fish.  It’s like the driver lacks the energy or some other quality of life that separates the living from zombie-like necessary to so much as control all of his or her limbs, in addition to operating a motor vehicle.  Usually, this type of motorist drives too slowly and seems to take pleasure in aggravating the drivers behind them who, for some reason, cannot yet pass them.  Also, and this is similarly galling, this sort of driver seems to be saying, “I AM TOO BIG, THIS CAR CANNOT CONTAIN ME, I AM BURSTING OUT OF THIS CAR!” which is, in itself, pretty offensive.

I think license plates on vehicles should bear some device or color-coded tag that allows other motorists to determine at a glance the vehicle owner’s Performance Intelligence Quotient (or PREFERABLY some entirely new measure of intelligence specific to motor vehicle operation).  Maybe something that could be abbreviated DIQ.  Drivers are going to let you know all about theirs, anyway, but it would be nice to know at a glance in order to plan lane changes and passing before it becomes necessary to dodge some erratic manifestation of deficiency or impaired ability.  Drivers with seriously impaired DIQs could be required to drive vehicles like that Obama soap-bubble, the so-called “Smart Car” – that way when they crash their vehicles into other vehicles or buildings they will do less harm to other people.

The use of cellular telephones by anyone operating a motor vehicle should be prohibited; pull over to talk on the phone.

Feeling Rich

When I bought that canoe Ohio last week, then took it to the White River and paid the outfitter there a measly $13.00 for shuttle service, I felt rich.  A man who has his own canoe is a man of substance, and a man who can use his own strength and sense to propel it on the water’s surface is a man who feels rich, indeed.

I do not know why, having owned five folding kayaks, I never felt that way before about owning and paddling that type of boat.  Folding kayaks are uniquely beautiful.  They tend to be more expensive to purchase than canoes.  I think the difference is a sense of permanence.  A folding kayak is designed to be put away or packed for easy transportation to the location of its intended use, whereas an aluminum canoe is designed to retain its shape and withstand the elements through time.  True it is that folding kayaks are designed likewise to last through time.  The most recent of these that I have purchased was manufactured around 1962 and was watertight when I got it.  The Grumman canoe is 36 years old, the Pionier kayak is 47.

I felt a bitter sense of loss when it was time to put the canoe in to the barn loft at the farm last Friday.  The feeling is similar to what I experience every time I disassemble one of my kayaks.  The feeling roughly translates thus, “Have I used this boat for the last time?  Is this the last time I perform this task?”  What doesn’t translate neatly in to words is the knowledge that some or other that will be the case.  I will use my kayak or canoe for the last time, and I may not know the experience is my last with that boat until time provides a vantage point for perspective, or events translate me in to the past tense and my next phase of existence.

These unpleasant feelings that I wish to repress seem consistent with an unconscious fear of death, although I seem to be in fairly robust good health at present.  As a young drunkard 26 or 27 years ago, I sought but did not find death.  As a man in middle age I seem to be aware of other feelings pertaining to my mortality.  Although they are clearly as long-lasting as any hardshell paddlecraft, the folding kayak has an ephemeral quality – skin stretched over a frame operated by whatever it is that I consist of – that is similar to that of man and animal.

Ready to Paddle

Atlantic Street Stepford 001

Another beautiful day in Stepford - calling for rain this afternoon, but considerably warmer temps than we've had in the last little while


I awoke earlier this morning than I’d intended to, could not get back to sleep, got up and made some coffee.  The Sony Handycam program I installed the other day had completed overnight the task I’d given it – to backup some raw video clips to DVD after converting them to WMV format.  Took far longer than I expected – hours.  Windows Task Manager reported less than half of the available RAM was being used at any of the several times I checked, but CPU usage monitor indicated a consistent 92%.  This Hewlett-Packard DV6 has an Intel DuoCore processor that’s not particularly fast.  Maybe I will back up the same video files without first converting them to see how long that takes.

6:22 am

I’ve been up awhile, and it’s only 6:22 am.  I’ve just made a lunch to eat while I’m on the water.  Peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, trail-mix, and generic fig-newton cookies.  Pretty heavy on the carbs.  I’ll have a huge bowl of oatmeal before I leave the house.

Today it’s my goal to paddle the Pionier 450S folding kayak I purchased last fall.  I intend to try out the spraydeck/skirt combo and the rudder with the boat today.  Probably will paddle no more than eight or so miles – this will be my first excursion since my shoulder surgery last August, so I want to ease into this.  The Pionier’s far lighter than my Pouch E68, and is sponsonless.  I will probably try cartopping the kayak deck-down because the Gothic-arch cockpit is long enough the coaming should rest easily on the 850’s factory roof-racks.  That, and the fact that I never did spring for carrying cradles for the E68.

When I get home, I’ll let the boat dry out, leave it assembled in order to affix a keelstrip to protect the hull from further wear.  Yesterday, I spoke with Mark at Long Haul Folding Kayaks – his company sells gray keelstrips  17’ long and 2.5” wide that he said may be applied with neoprene cement.  I’ll probably buy one and cut it down, saving the remainder to use as patch material if that ever becomes necessary.

After the hull-work’s completed, I’ll disassemble the boat and see about any frame stripping and varnishing.  I need to have a look at that E68’s frame, too.

Again, I am writing this post using Windows Live Writer, so we’ll see how it works when I include a picture.

Some Pionier 450 S Frame Photos

I’ve already posted most of these in a Facebook Album, and may also put them in an album at Folding Kayaks website.

As you look at some of these photos, you’ll see what appears to be a powdery residue on the keel. Either the hullskin is turning to powder, or talcum powder was used when the boat was last assembled in order make eventual disassembly easier.

My blog stats show that two people have already downloaded the assembly instructions for this boat – happy to know there are some others interested in assembling a Pionier 450 S.

Some Pouch E68 (Single 2000) Details

Here are some snapshots taken a couple of weeks ago for Chris Paton intended to provide detail about the E68’s bow hatch and the arrangement by which the hinged coaming is attached. I already posted them on Facebook, but thought those interested in the E68 who are not on Facebook might like to see them.

WordPress gallery software is pretty lame in that it’s arrange by whatever feature does not ever work for me, so the images in this gallery will post in random order. I’m too lazy to make captions for them. The inverted pictures (the kayak was upside down on sawhorses) are intended to show that the hullskin’s left (or portside) sponson sleeve is unevenly sewn forward resulting much bulge above the gunwale. Astern, however, the sponsons on either side bulge as the intended, sort of below the gunwale bilaterally. The kayak’s original skin, which had not hatch, was better fitted to the frame, and although extremely worn, was all in all a better piece of work.

Father’s Day

Today is the second Father’s Day in as many years that I will be spending the morning at a worship service, then afternoon with extended family. Previously, I’d taken the day off for the annual Childless Man’s Paddlefest – an event observed, now not at all, but then only by myself. However, today, as at about this time last year, I am a father.

Bad Monday

Monday late afternoon or evening, for about a minute, I knew my son had died and held him in my arms helpless to save him. Out of desperation, I placed him on the living room floor and began artificial respiration. His 24 pound body was still HOT from the fever he’d been running, but his skin had turned a blue gray color and his eyes stared fixedly in the direction determined not by his mind, but by the position in which his head lay. His lips were blue. His body was neither rigid nor floppy.

Clear airway, tilt head, cover mouth and nose with my own mouth. Three breaths, instead of the prescribed two. Some chest compressions. Noise as the air passed out of his lungs, over his vocal chords, and out his mouth. My wife had already called 911.

Somewhere in all activity, I prayed while I worked, but not coherently. God doesn’t require my direction to work.

My son’s arms moved a little, but I thought that was just dead nerves twitching as the biomechanical mass shut down in no real order. Then he made a sound unrelated to CPR, and I listened for a heartbeat. It was rapid-fire. I listened for breath, and picked him up. He clung limply now to my neck and I took the phone from my wife. I don’t remember what the 911 operator said after I gave him details about our son’s condition and exactly where to find our house. The guy hung up or the connection was lost.

I could hear a siren, so carried my still breathing boy outside so the driver could easily see which house was ours. My wife rode with him in the ambulance and I followed in her car, which has the child carseat. At the hospital his temp was unreal high, but his other vital signs in the ambulance and in the ER were more reasonable. I still think the hospital should have kept him overnight and monitored him, but they concluded “Febrile Seizure” and with the okay of the on-call pediatrician, discharged him late that night.

By Wednesday, the fever’d gone and it has had no recurrence. He broke out with pink spots Thursday which seems to indicate he’d had roseola. Friday and Saturday, he was his usual happy, inquisitive, toddler-self. He still knows all the words, songs, and activities he knew before his fever and seizure. He seems a little more open-hearted, happy, loving since he got sick, and a little less arrogant. That made me worry about whether he might have lost a few IQ points due to sickness, but our pediatrician laughed at that, said there was no reason to think the fever or seizure had affected his mental processes. Maybe he’s more open because he knows we really will take care of him?

That’s the story of how I am still a father.


Quiver Sail on deck at left saw some use yesterday 6/20/09

Quiver Sail on deck at left saw some use yesterday 6/20/09

I woke up early Saturday, and got ready to paddle. Tsunami Chuck sold me a hand-held Quiver Sail that arrived by Fed-Ex on Thursday or Friday. Because I’m a miser, I’d agonized over the past year or so about replacing my Round-Up golf that had umbrella inverted and snapped in heavy wind by the small island on Tims Ford Lake sailing up into Lost Creek Branch. Should I buy a good golf umbrella, or ask for one out of somebody’s garage for free? So, when Chuck posted a classified about the Quiver Sail asking only $35.00 for it, I bought it.

Although the National Weather Service predicted temps in the upper nineties, it also predicted 10 – 15 mile per hour winds. A good day, I thought, to try out the new sail. I loaded gear and boat yesterday morning (because we looked at houses Friday afternoon/evening). I had trouble getting the boat on the roof racks – the front-door prop method failed spectacularly and cussed Godward like a heathen. Finally succeed using angry brute force in racking the 75# kayak, and drove out to the Woods Reservoir public access ramp off Old Brick Church Road in Coffee County.

I explained to God that the reason I was cursing was because of a circumstance so manifestly out of order that in my anger I was inviting him to observe and get angry about it with me. I said I would probably always thus bring wrong to his attention in the hope that he will take corrective action. I told God I would prefer not to feel the need to use profanity, but unless he altered my consciousness somehow, I would probably continue to express the things he’s used to hearing me express. Not defiant or disrespectful; transparent and real.

The ramp was not crowded and the put in was easy. Immediately, my injured shoulder communicated its distress to me, and I worked on paddling technique. That helped some. I was paddling in to maybe a nine mile per hour wind. When I got out by Elder Island, I turned the boat around and deployed the sail. Not much joy there in terms of forward momentum.

I paddled over to Morris Ferry Landing to see what the Arnold Engineering and Development Center’s base commandant has done in terms of public access. I found, to my surprise, a number of vacation trailers still in place and in use up in the trees above the lakefront. Many of the rickety, tin-sided dock structures have been removed. The covered dock by the cafe/store building has been removed.

The public does have access to the site in terms of boat-ramp use, bank-fishing, and swimming. The formerly public toilets have been padlocked, and I saw no trash cans. Simple steps that tend to limit the amount of time members of the general public will remain on site during normal hours of use.

I saw a couple bank-fishing, both of whom I tested when they were high school students, along with their year-old baby boy. An alert-looking blond-headed little boy sitting quietly under the shade of a tree in his stroller observing everything. I congratulated them on their little one, and the fact that they appeared to be catching a lot of fish.

Paddling back under the causeway to the AEDC side of the lake, I found the wind had picked up, but wasn’t blowing in the direction I wanted to go. I paddled back past the smaller Island of the Birds, and again deployed the sail. Worked better in a stronger breeze, but still slower than paddling. I sailed for awhile, then paddled back to the ramp.

Sons and Fathers

At the boatramp, I observed an ancient pontoon boat having engine trouble – whining at high pitch, emitting clouds of white smoke, then stalling out. Two or three men on the deckboat in early middle age. Parked by the ramp was a black Pontiac Firebird, like the one driven by Dwight Schrute (only Dwight’s is some kind of reddish color). Standing at the shore was a young man with long hair. He belonged to the car.

“Engine trouble?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said, “My dad can’t get it working.”

“You never know how your boat’s going to do until you get it to the water.”

Listening to the young man talk with his dad, it was obvious he wanted to salvage the situation for his father. He asked whether he should see about getting the father’s bassboat, and then called a couple of people to arrange its transport. It was important to this kid that things work out for his dad.

I recall when I was young and out for the day with my father sometimes things wouldn’t go as planned, and I always wanted to be able to alleviate his frustration by making things work out well for him. My dad’s tolerance for unexpected and confounding exigencies of circumstance was a lot lower than mine seems to be.

Now that I’m the dad, will my son be burdened with the sense that he’s got to make sure things turn out okay for me? I hope not.

Work Day

Saturday I spent most of the day trimming bushes, clearing away the resultant horticultural debris, scraping and sanding a window, assembling my single-seater Pouch E-68 kayak, attempting to repair two vinyl floatation bags, discovering an impenetrable plug has developed in my tube of otherwise malleable (therefore presumably usable) Aquaseal, and priming that one window and four others previously scraped and sanded.

Let me say that I hate doing yard work. Hate having to touch the plants. Hate the bugs. What I didn’t mind was the fragrance of cherry blossoms (three or four trees blooming in the yard), being in the sun, the smell of bug-spray.

Abrasive bummer

Abrasion bummer

Setting up the boat I noticed the triangular patch at the cockpit’s fore-end has worn through the outer layer of PVC. I don’t remember seeing this last year. I guess it must have resulted from the coaming rubbing against the patch during use or transport. Certainly it could not have occurred while the skin was folded up in the ancient vinyl Folbot bag that’s been repurposed for the Pouch’s use.

Each of four bags purchased from the manufacturer developed leaks like this.  The first set of two the company replaced in good faith.  After the second set failed, I decided I wouldn't hassle the company further.

Each of four bags purchased from the manufacturer developed leaks like this. The first set of two the company replaced in good faith. After the second set failed, I decided I wouldn't hassle the company further.

I managed to smear some vinyl adhesive (because I couldn’t get past the Aquaseal plug in the tube mentioned supra) into the gaps on two bags, and plan to check on the repairs’ efficacy this afternoon. Also this afternoon, I’ve got to finally set up a computer and get it ready for shipping, and make a DVD. It’s unlike me to be this busy on a weekend.

Dabbs Ford to Bluebell Island, and Back Again

After paddling as far upstream on the Elk as I had the patience to paddle, I turned downstream, and below Dabbs Ford Bridge picked up this rider

After paddling as far upstream on the Elk as I had the patience to paddle, I turned downstream, and below Dabbs Ford Bridge picked up this rider

This morning, I was on the water by 7:20. I wasted some time poking around the shoreline just upstream from Prairie Plains Road Bridge, or, as I think it is more properly known, Dabbs Ford Bridge. Paddling backwards out of one narrow place, the rudder banged against a submerged log or stump, and would not straighten out. I flipped it up, still turned ninety degrees right. I paddled back to the put in, got out of the boat, got the rudder unjammed, then headed upstream again.

My ambitious goal was to reach I-24. Tommy Rogers, at the TSRA forum, said he didn’t think I’d make it even as far as the Tyson plant at Highway 50/64. Too many fallen trees blocking passage, too many shallow rocky places. He said he tried it last year, became frustrated, and turned back.

Tommy was right. I made it upstream to a point where I could hear, or thought I could hear, traffic from the highway. Getting that far, however, involved getting out of the boat in three or four places pulling it behind me like a child’s wagon, and in one place dragging it over fallen trees. I made less than 10 miles today, but it took about five hours, round trip. My photos are here.

On my way back downstream - working hard, not smart.

On my way back downstream - working hard, not smart.

A couple of times conditions had me wishing for an aluminum canoe, a can of gas, and a chainsaw.  I think I would’ve been more likely thus equipped to persist in my exploration.  Not too far from Dabbs Ford, I met a couple of guys with a cooler and fishing poles paddling toward me.  First time I’ve met other paddlers on the water anywhere on or around Woods Reservoir/Elk River making purposeful use of a boat.

I waded a lot, this trip, and was mindful of foot placement around driftwood and submerged logs afraid of losing a toe to a snapping turtle. The E68’s tough PVC hull did fine, and the keelstrips appeared no worse for the abuse at day’s end. When I returned to the put in, I checked my car’s clock (I’ve lost my watch), and it said 12:00.

Too early. I got back in the kayak and paddled downstream to the lake. On the way, I picked up a butterfly that rode with me until I took the boat from the water for the drive home. Car-clock said 1:00 as I drove back toward Miller’s Crossing on Prairie Plains Rd.

Dramatic bow of Campsis Radicans

Dramatic bow of Campsis Radicans