Sunday, May 27, 2007

Torch River

Last weekend we went north to canoe on the Torch River. We drove up Saturday and met Larry in Choiceland and Larry led us towards the campground on the south side of the Torch River where we intended to launch that day. However, it seems that our Honda Accord (or perhaps my driving skills) were no match for the rural roads which are soft after the spring (a wet fall followed by heavy snows this winter), and made much worse by the couple of inches of snow they received the day before (odd feeling, driving in to a canoe trip passing fields completely covered in snow). We got stuck but thankfully Larry's son's 4x4 truck easily pulled us out. Extricated from the muck, Larry suggested that there may be another route, but we decided to play it safe and stick to the main roads, particularly since my mother-in-law was getting worried about having to shuttle our car on muddy roads. Thus, we launched from the Love bridge instead, and paddled to the White Fox bridge.

Though shorter than originally intended, our paddle Saturday afternoon was excellent. Our weather was cool with a breeze, but very warm in the sun. The high riverbanks were completely white with snow wherever there was shade. Areas that received a bit more sun were often yellow with flowers. The rapids along that stretch seemed larger and more numerous than I remember from last year. Since we were a lone canoe and travelling with our daughter in cool weather, we ran the river quite conservatively. That meant we didn't do as much "playing" as originally intended, passing by many opportunities to surf or practice eddy turns and focusing instead on having a dry run. It was funny to see our 5 year old daughter focused on snacks and quite oblivious to the whitewater while mom & dad negotiated a path amongst the boulders and rode through the waves. She had a lot of fun on the Torch and so did we. We had intended to run the river again Monday but in the end did not due to the steady rain which eroded away our resolve (and didn't improve road conditions either).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Nice Weather for the Long Weekend

We're off to the Torch River again for three days of whitewater canoeing. "Whitewater" was intended to describe the frothy water through a rapids, not the frozen stuff falling from the sky! Actually, that forecast doesn't look half as bad as it did a few hours ago, even though rain figures more prominently than it did. 18C and some rain sounds pretty good!

Wish us luck!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It Floats!!!!!!

With the kayak nearly complete and a beautiful day that seemed perfect, we decided to try the new kayak on the water. After supper on Tuesday we loaded up the kayak and took it the 700 m to the local suburban park, a conservative location for our test paddle. Rob & Lynette and the kids came out for the unofficial launching.

My wife & I were very happy with how it paddled. We expected that it might feel a bit 'tender' as it is a boat that's a bit narrower from the kayaks we have experience in (poly boats such as the CD Storm and CD Squall), but it didn't. In fact, it seemed very stable. The conditions, being glass calm on a small pond, were not exactly conducive to testing the limits of a craft designed for use on the ocean open with a load of gear, but it was a starting point to gain confidence in a craft I am intimately familiar with, yet have only been introduced to. My wife reported that the kayak seemed fast to her. It was easy enough to keep going in the right direction and certainly turned quickly. Also the custom fit Snap Dragon spray skirt seemed to fit very well (tight to get on, but not difficult). The seat needs some fine tuning but seemed pretty comfy and the addition of a backband will certainly help.

Of course, we took a couple of photos (click photos for larger versions).

The girls check it out for fit:
My wife takes the honours of the first paddle:
My turn:
A bit closer up:
Rob's turn:
Now the kids go for a spin:

I took a couple of videos too. Video was taken using a point & shoot digital camera so don't expect high resolution, plus I lost some resolution when uploading it to photobucket. Clicking on the thumbnails should take you to the video.

My wife and daughter:
My wife & older daughter:Rob:
There are still a few things left to do before I can call the kayak complete:
  1. Finish the seat
  2. Finish the backband
  3. Build the bulkhead footbrace
  4. Install deck bungees
  5. Polish the dust out of the varnish.

Monday, May 07, 2007

See Andy, I Told You It Would Work!

I installed the soft padyeyes this weekend without incident. The padeyes are made of a loop of weebing, with the ends melted to form a flat base. The webbing loops were then inserted through tight slots cut into the deck, allowing a place for the deck lines & bungee cords to be anchored. A couple of months ago at the boat building workshop I organised, Andy asked how I was going to manage to install the padeyes at bow & stern extremities. He seemed bemused when I told him I had some ideas and said to let him know how it went. As it turned out, it went very well. My method involved a small washer, some fishing line, a needle, and a magnet. I tied a length of fishing line and dropped it through the slot cut into the deck of the kayak near the tip of the bow. I then used the magnet on a pole to retrieve the washer and bring it to the hatch opening (I could have tipped the boat up to allow the washer to slide down, but the magnet proved handy). I tied a second length of fishing line to the washer, and used a needle to stitch the fishing line through the corner of the padeye. I then coated the base of the padeye with silicone in order to seal the hole once the padeye is in place to prevent water from leaking into the hatches. The fishing line, washer, and padeye were then pulled through the slot until the corner of the padeye could be gripped with a pliers and pulled into place. The whole process was very easy.

14/05/07 - Update: We noticed this weekend that a robin had incorporated my padeye installation system into it's nest. The length of fishing line & washer must have gotten caught on our shoes and dragged out into the yard. While sitting on our deck on Sunday we noticed that there was a length of fishing line hanging from a newly built robin's nest above our heads, complete with washer. I guess it has offically been recycled.